Well I finally have the opportunity to have a K-03 in the home for little while, on loan from a colleague whos in the recording industry. Keeping in mind that these are very early impressions, as Ive only been able to A/B for a few days thus far. Here are a few preliminary comparisons (IMHO):
- Sharper transients/articulations, slightly brighter, crystalline (some might suggest more digital, but I like this).
- Tighter bass
- Slightly narrower soundstage. Source placement less precise in the image, but still great.
- Not as deep a soundstage.
- Much greater detail and truer presentation of timbral colors.
- Transport operation much quieter/smoother.
- Slightly warmer/rounder presentation. A more analog-like objective, though still plenty of clarity/articulation.
- Bass frequencies less defined/slightly muddled.
- Wider soundstage, with much better source placement/imaging.
- Noticeable improvement in soundstage depth.
- Mids are nice, though upper frequencies seem generally rolled off a bit, regardless of filter settings/opt out.
- Timbral sources seem slightly colored and not as true to organic sound.
With the K-03, keep in mind Im just comparing unit to unit no external DAC or clock, USB, etc., and thus far limiting to my reference redbook CDs. I experimented extensively with the upsampling PCM digital options and the 4, 32-bit digital filters, ultimately settling on Short Delay (S_DLY2 filter) @ 2x original sample rate.
Dont know you can take from this what you will. Obviously, much more listening to come. What Im not convinced on in these first impressions is that the K-03 clearly trumps the older X-03se in all things sonically. It certainly has more flexibility and options to slightly tweak the presentation to individual tastes, however. At the end of the day, I guess thats what this is really all about ~!