I have an older Esoteric SACD Player and wouldn’t trade it for the world.
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Hi Milpai. I own the Oppo 205 as well, with reference level Spectral amp and pre, connected and powered by Oracle Level MIT Cables. Imho you simply have not heard what the 205 can give you until you have significant ac power isolation and conditioning. I have upgraded ac power conditioning,step by step, with the excellent ears of my lady partner evaluating every step of the way. I use an Equitech 2Q for common mode noise and MIT products for differential noise. The improvement in detail,musical nuance and dynamics are very significant. I urge you to experiment. I feel if you enjoy your 205 now you may be satisfied with it. One of the major features of Esoteric is their attention to power supply. Friends think I’ve been a bit overboard in my attention to ac power - until we do a listening comparison. No one would ever suggest going back to lesser treatment :). Feel free to question me.
I don't think you can go wrong with either of your choices. The Esoteric
(K-05X) will probably be a bit more forward sounding and detailed while the Marantz will be slightly more laid back in presentation. Not to muddy the waters but have you considered getting your Oppo 205 modded by Modwright? I only make the suggestion because I have a Marantz S8005 modded by Dan and have been very impressed with the results.
Thank You for the responses folks.
@ptss ,Power conditioning was always on back burner for me. So thank you for bringing this up. But one question is - did you compar the Oppo 205 to any dedicated CD/SACD player? I have been reading on Equi=Core 1800 power conditioning. Looks like that is something I can do.
@cmach ,I am not lookin into the modding the Oppo. So replacing that with a dedicated player would be my path. But I would like to consider what @ptss has mentioned about power conditioning, since I have kepth that on back burner for may years.
Like you I put off power conditioning as well. My original unit was a Sound Application XE 12S. A great unit that served me well but it was getting up there in age. Got a chance to grab a Synergistic Research Power Cell 12 UEF and I feel like an idiot for not doing it sooner. It was without a doubt, one of the most significant upgrades I made for my system. A good conditioner will improve every aspect of your system.
Finally! A CD player that helps me resist the desire to grab a record! The Marantz SA-10 has introduced a listening experience that compels me to keep playing CDs. I’ve owned Audiomeca, Hegel, Sony, and Jungson CDPs, among others, but my memory of a 90s Marantz CDP I owned and enjoyed steered me towards the new Marantz. I’m sure other reference players provide similarly expressive and quality listening experiences, but the SA-10 has been a revelation for me. At less than half of what my vinyl rig cost me, it gets me close, provided the recording is of good quality (of course). After 50+ years of chasing the dragon I actually feel like it might just be time to focus much more on the music and less on the gear. Finally!
I seriously considered an Esoteric and I’m sure they are fabulous players. Didn’t have an opportunity to compare the brands and I’m sure I’d have been satisfied either way. Three considerations pointed me to Marantz: 1) the 90s Marantz I owned was the first and only ‘early days’ player in my experience that sounded good to me, 2) the top end SA-10 Marantz cost what a mid tier Esoteric cost, 3) the dealer I bought it from described the Marantz as a player that didn’t sound hyper-detailed nor digital. It sounded like music, not equipment. I have to agree.
I don't have any experience with Esoteric players. I started with Oppo 205 and then bought the Marantz SA-10. The sound difference is not minor - the SA-10 is indeed very musical as mentioned by @markmendenhall . A lot more details but never sounded digital. I love the SA-10 decays - it sounds so natural. In comparison, the Oppo 205 sounds dry, but still a good player at its price.
I've heard CH Precision D1 + C1 at the shop which sold me the SA-10. (Note: The D1+C1 combo converts DSD to PCM.) The shop's installer and another person who came and listen SA-10 at my setup said the SA-10 sounds better. The only reason the shop doesn't push the SA-10 is due to low profit margin, so they only sell it when customer confirmed order, no display or audition in the showroom. I offered the shop owner to compare D1+C1 side by side with SA-10 but he was not keen.
I've also compared SA-10 to Denafrips Terminator: SA-10 wins when both use USB Audio IN. Terminator sounds better with redbook PCM when SA-10 was used as the transport (coax digital to Terminator) compared to Terminator using USB IN. When using coax for redbook PCM, Terminator sounds thicker (full bodied) but lacks the details and accurate imaging the SA-10 produces.
After the SA-10 was fully broken in, I've stopped listening to vinyls. I've bought second SA-10 for my other house (which also has Oppo 205) and that's my main source of music playback right now. In all my systems, either Torus AVR or RM are used as power conditioner.
DSD sounds really good with SA-10. I've bought many hires albums in DSD 2x and 4x. DSD 2x can be played back from USB external drive connection behind SA-10. DSD 4x needs an external music renderer. However, SA-10 sounds the best when playing physical media (CD/SACD) or directly from USB external drive.
SA-10 deserves to get more professional reviews. Unfortunately I hardly see any serious reviews by the major hi-fi magazines.
@anwar ,You have put me in dilemma :-)I was getting ready to purchase a power conditioner which I have ignored since 2005. I completely trust your and markmendenhall's suggestion. If I were to make a decision today on the Marantz Vs Esoteric, I am going with the Marantz, based on the excellent and detailed feedback you have provided.
I will now have to decide between the Marantz Vs the power conditioner for my next component purchase. Again - Thank you for the details. Very helpful!
An the other SA-10 owners here, Thank You for sharing your points of view on this spinner. I wanted to demo the SA-10 but one is not to be found here in the southeast U.S. I know these are avail for audition in WI.
The only other CD/SACD player considered is the Esoteric DV-60 which I liked a few years ago. As this model grows older I am unsure about continuance of critical parts via Esoteric/TEAC? I bought an Ayre DX-5 universal spinner as it offers superb CD and SACD playback. Very happy with performance.
I concur that there should be more professional reviews of the Marantz SA-10. Happy Listening!
I have no idea which player sounds better, haven't heard either. But a month or two ago someone was mentioning that the only way to get his esoteric fixed was to send it to Japan, where a certain tool necessary for its repair was located. If true, this would weign in on my buying
If I don't remember this correctly feel free to correct me.
I have not heard the SA10, but am sure it is a fab player having owned the previous flagships.
Now, Marantz voices their CDP's from the midrange which results in a very nice beautify midrange at the expense of more openness and solidity in the lower regions.
This midrange voicing is more tubelike and is "fuzzier" compared to the Esoteric voicing, especially their higher K series players where you will appreciate more openness, cleaner highs and midrange with just a hint of warmth has more bass slam but with a less "golden glow" in the midrange.
Details tend to be less defined and not as pin point in the Marantz's.
Your choice will based on your preferences and music.
For myself, the Esoterics are a keeper and perform on all types of music long haul in which the Marantz can impart that midrange centric presentation over all types of music left me wanting more when i made the jump.
@ptss ,Thank You for making me think about power conditioning instead of upgrading the player.
@cmach and @erik_squires ,
Thank you for providing me details on your experiences with power conditioning.
@anwar ,Thank You for solidifying my decision to choose power conditioner over new player.
I have acquired the Inakustik AC-3500p power conditioner in my system. It has improved my system in a way I never thought was possible. @cmach , I tried the amp "direct to wall" and "through the power conditioner" and I too prefer it through the power conditioner. It did not even take me 15 seconds to figure that out.
Yes, a dedicated CD/SACD player may have helped - but I am not sure it would have made such a difference.
Anwar, I have a new SA-10 on the way. I am surveying the possibilities to connect a music server to the dac via usb. I see that some servers/streamers are listed as not compatible with the s10, although it's likely that software/firmware updates will correct that. But now, Melco is not compatible, and it will not work as a Roon endpoint.
I am wondering if you have any ideas regarding what servers/streamers/software might currently work with the S10 while we wait for the updated soft/firmware?
@milpai You are welcome, and congrats on the power conditioner purchase.
@ejholtom I just bought a used Innuos Zenith MkII with 2 TB internal SSD. Wow, what a difference it makes compared to using Intel NUC with LPS previously. However, DSD 256 playback is not possible currently, and Innous Support told me a kernel update is required. I have yet to do any serious comparison (playing CD/SACD media on SA-10 and thru SA-10 external USB drive vs. playing thru Zenith), but I will share soon.