Marantz SA-10 Vs Esoteric K-05Xs


Hello,Was wondering if anyone has compared the Marantz SA-10 and Esoteric K-05Xs/K07Xs players.My current Oppo UDP-205 is a nice player, but I think upgrading to a dedicated CD/SACD player might result in a better sound.Thanks in advance!
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I have an older Esoteric SACD Player and wouldn’t trade it for the world. 
I have not heard the Esoteric but I have heard the Marantz.

It was suffering from severe digititis listening to Tidal sources. However, there was a crap load wrong with the dealer's set up, so you may have better luck.
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. 
Hi Milpai,
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.

Hi Milpai,
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.

@cmach,What components do yo plug into the power conditioner? Everything except amps? Or do you also plug you amp into the Power Conditioner? I have read both arguments - don't and do plug amp into Power conditioner. It is confusing.
I plug everything into the conditioner but I don't think there is a hard fast rule regarding this. I ran the amp directly into the wall and then ran it from the conditioner. I preferred it through the conditioner. As always your mileage may vary.
Here's how I do things, though I usue a Furman with mulitple zones, I plug in everything:

https://inatinear.blogspot.com/2019/04/power-management-for-frugal-audiophiles.html
@erik_squires ,Very nice write-up. Thank You for sharing.
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! 
@ markmendenhall,Thank You for sharing about the SA-10. Yeah, I keep hearing great things about it. One of these days, maybe, I should drag my Oppo to the local Marantz dealer and compare it to the Marantz.
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.  
@milpai 
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!
anwar 

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.
The SA-10 will sound a bit more organic bringing you closer to the vinyl-feel. Indeed, I have the same record and played in both the table and the spinner they sounded very similar.
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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?
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@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.
That would be great.

I am wondering about the Small Green Computer music server coupled with a Sonore Rendu streamer compatability with the Marantz SA-10. This stuff seems to be well-regarded by users and reviewers and the cost is quite reasonable. 
I've had mine for 4 months and it finally broke in thank god that was a long time!.

Using many types of music, the best I've heard was dither off, Filter 1 and noise shaping 3-1. This gave the most transparent, dynamic and superb balanced sound. I used piano, stand up bass, Trumpets, and Vocals. Some all by themselves. These settings were the ones that made it feel like the players were right in the room with the correct tones, weight, and dynamics, natural.

Dither 1 rounds things off and warms things up but in a bright system or unnatural like many systems today that would be a good choice for the dither 1 or 2 which might bring the weight and soul back to the music. After break-in, the SA-10 is outstanding in CD and SACD and USB flash drive files. Burning some music for compilations in WAV and even MP3 playback great and musical, WAV outstanding of course.

Great value and worth looking into grabbing one, my past players have been Esoteric -X1, K-01, Marantz Sa7, Sony SCD1 and others that I had but had nothing but problems, some big boutique names who use OEM parts and some caused issues with other sections of the player, like overheating and shutting down and not reading discs. Stick with the Players that are built and designed from the ground up like Sony's, Marantz, Esoteric and a few others.
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phillyb
Thank You for the SA-10 update. I enjoy reading impressions and thoughts from its owners.  Feel free to talk about some fave CD/SACD discs that sound particularly well on this beautiful spinner.
Happy Listening!
maipai
Are you still considering an Esoteric or Marantz?
Happy Listening!
milpai: corrected.
@jafant ,After I added the power conditioner, I have decided to stick with my Oppo. It sounds much much different (for the better) now. That upgrade has fallen off my priority list.
milpai

Much Thanks! for the update.

Happy Listening!
I have the original K-05 and have listened extensively to the Marantz SA-10 in an ideal dealer audition setup using the same speakers, amp and preamp I have at home. There was no way I would part with the K-05 for the Marantz.  It was clearly not on the same level.  The K-05x has better DACs and other improvements over the K-05 so it will be in a different league than the Marantz it is safe to assume.
@95dyna ,Good to know on the older Esoteric. Unfortunately assumptions are no good. It is not necessary that a upgraded product may sound better than an older product.
Majority of posters here are own Marantz and nobody talks about esoteric.
I owned most previous top (reference) models from Marantz (7, 14 and 11) and auditioned sa-10. I tried to find alternative to esoteric cdp that cost less. I was not able to succeed. The esoteric k-05x  properly burned sounded more 3d with more details than any marantz (including sa-10).
The sound (one needs to burn esoteric for at least 300-400 hours)  to fully appreciate its sound. Simply saying - the esoteric k-05x sounded close to live than marantz. And I disagree with previous  poster saying that may be newer models from esoteric do not sound better.  I  demoed K-05xs side by side with k-05x and k-05xs was warmer and another step closer to analog than k-05x without loosing any details. I also advise to check luxman d-06u player. This one can compete with esoteric  and even so it's not as resolving as esoteric but it's more analog sounding with bigger 3d stage and  better imaging. Esoteric is more dynamic with better bass. So between luxman end esoteric its a matter of personal choice. Marantz (to my ears) is not in the same league.
@denon1,I never said:
may be newer models from esoteric do not sound better.
All I said was assumptions are no good. This thread should provide information based on first hand experience, not assumptions.BTW, what does the rest of your system comprise?
Totally agree. No assumptions.
my system 
esoteric K-03XS
pass int-250 integrated
Sonus Faber Amati tradition 
cables
twl obsession power cords
denali power conditioner
audience front row speaker cables
jade platinum reference interconnects


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I have the SA-10 and K-07xs in my sights also. Tough decision and lack of demo facilities makes it even harder!
@trebor33,I don't think in future I will go with a disc spinner. I made several changes in my system and am at a point I am pretty happy with the setup. I am also using the UDP-205 exclusively as a DAC for the past several months and have not played a disc. All my CD/SACDs have been ripped as FLAC/DSF files and I have an old laptop exclusively serving as the music player. I use Foobar and am pretty happy with the setup. Eventually I will replace the Oppo with a DAC - this will take some time though.

I like esoteric product , admittedly good, but reliability and repair is my concern.
Are they known to be unreliable then? Been offered a K-05XS but if reliability is an issue I'll pass.
I had the opportunity to hear in the dealer's setup in Singapore a NAIM CD555 and Esoteric K-01XS, and the CD555 easily bested the Esoteric. I then had another different chance to hear a long time owner of the CD555 who replaced his CD555 with one SA10, and then actually dumped the 555 altogether and went in for another SA10 for his second home. At another friend's house, I heard the Esoteric X-05 for many years, and when he replaced it with the SA10, the X-05 was quite fresh in my mind and I could see it was sensational, in detail, richness, tonality and exciting pace. Good as the X-05 had been, the SA10 lifted the friend to a greater level of ecstasy. All this was enough for me. I snagged a SA10, and it has proved to be a wonder, every bit. Very versatile, in terms of type of music, and no weaknesses. A 128GB usb stick houses a bunch of hi res files, so no need for PC audio, and when I play redbook, they sound quite magnificent. So though a series of steps, chained together, i had reached a conclusion which has proved correct.
When esoteric sacd works they are hard to beat, I still miss my SA 10, for their price they should be flawless.
SA10 is proving hard to come by at the moment, here in UK at least.
Trebor33 , the unit that gave up on me is SA 10. Read more post here and see what particular model , that works without issue.Like I said esoteric sacd are superb when there is no issue.Before you buy find out if the model you will buy has available authorize repair shop in your country, it will cost you a lot , to send it back to Japan.
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I had 2 Marantz CD players, the SA8001 and SA8005, both sounded like mid-fi and the controls on both were cheesy and small.  I bought an Esoteric UX3 in 2012 and it is my last SACD player. 
I owned the K-01 a wonderful CD player, had massive attack and dynamics that put vinyl to shame. Loved it. Got ill so I sold the K-01, and the only player I considered was the Marantz SA-10S1. I’ve not looked back with regret. The K-01 still has more massive in the attack, but the Marantz reproduce the music with a flair, a class to it, does not throw things at you it just there to enjoy the performance. 20K vs. 7K in pricing no contest sound-wise, perhaps weight-wise 40 lbs. vs 80 lbs. both are a bit different but both oh so good. Depending on one’s system and gear you might prefer one over the other. I think in SACD discs the Marantz might edge the K-01. The K-01 power supply is much larger which is why it sounds more massive than it should for 20K. But the Marantz with that Mastering Engine design makes USB to CD sound so natural and real. 
Over the years, I auditioned an Esoteric DV-60. I did not enjoy the CD filters? The SACD playback was excellent. Cables and Cords were Wireworld Silver Electra 7 (PC) on the DV-60. Silent Source cables/cords on Pass Labs gear. TAD-1 loudspeakers.

Happy Listening!