Esoteric X-03se vs K-03

I've enjoyed the X-03se for some years now in our 2-channel system. I'm curious however, as I've yet to see any reviews that directly compare the old to the new - X-03se to the K-03. I've read the published reviews, and realize the K-03 has improved accessibility (USB, etc), setting adjustments,et al, but are we to assume that, because it is the upgraded version, it improves upon the X-03se sound/presentation in every way? Anyone been able to do an A/B?
I can't offer any assistance but will follow the thread as I have pondered the same question after owning the X-03SE for a number of years now and have wondered what, if anything, the K-03 would do in my system. We seem to have similar tastes…so whatever you find out through auditioning would be much appreciated!
the K-O3X is a step up from the K-O3 better DAC- better clamp locking on the disc, and 34 bit.
Yes, I've noticed from previous threads, etc. that we have similar equipment and sonic interests, Dodgealum. I wish it were possible for me to audition a K-03 along side our X-03se, but no regional dealers within a day's drive. Let's hope that one of our A'gon colleagues has had the experience.
I had the X03SE for a few years and upgraded to the K03 about a year and a half ago. If you would have told be the improvement upgrade before I did it, I would not have believed you. I did it just to upgrade as I went with new amps, so figured go with the times and get the new model. WEll, it does everything the X03 SE does and then add in some of the best digital I have ever heard. The K03 can be used as a dac, the X03 cant. The K03 is more resolving, deeper soundstage, more info, detail, gobsmacks of emotions, etc. Basically, it blows it away.
Thanks Cerrot for your perspective. Opinion in more than one publ. review seems to be that redbook CD playback is somewhat disappointing, although SACD's are stellar. Similarly with just using it as a DAC seems to be far preferred. Do you concur with this? Largely a redbook CD guy here, with a fair collection of SACD's as well. This is why I've enjoyed the X-03se all these years, and didn't really know how the K-03 compares in this format.
Hi Mbump, I disagree totally with that part of the reviews. Don't know what they were listening to. The redbook is awesome. I have a Berkeley DAC with a Tara Lab The One Digital Cable and the internal dac blew the Berkeley away. The K03's redbook is stellar. Most of what I listen to is actually 44.1k and NO dissappointments! I think the K03 is one of the ebst 44.1k players available. Run for an audition.
Thanks, Cerrot. With the X-03se, I've always been impressed with both redbook and sacd. Obviously, a difference in presentation bet. formats, but both with tremendous detail, staging, and frequency balance. Depending on the recording, the X-03se can, at times, come across as a bit analytical and with a slightly narrow stage/placement. This is perhaps some of the motivation/curiosity to the K-03.
Well I finally have the opportunity to have a K-03 in the home for little while, on loan from a colleague who’s in the recording industry. Keeping in mind that these are very early impressions, as I’ve 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 I’m 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.
Don’t know – you can take from this what you will. Obviously, much more listening to come. What I’m 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 that’s what this is really all about ~!