Metrum Acoustics Pavane or ESOTERIC N-05 or ESOTERIC K-05X?

I am owning a system consisting of Amp MCINTOSH MA8000 + speaker Dynaudio S5.4 + CDP MARANTZ SA8005. I used to audition computer audio via built-in Dac in SA8005 and MC8000. Now I would like to enjoy a music of higher quality (both in CD and computer audio), therefore I want to replace my DAC or CDP. I have three options for my choice:

1/ Metrum Acoustics Pavane
2/ Esoteric N-05
3/ Esoteric K-05X

I , as a newbie, do not know which is the best. Please give me an advice.

Any help will be highly appreciated!

Thanks all for reading

Hi audioabc,

I have not heard the Metrum and so cannot comment on it.

I have the N-05 which is now past 1000 hours of burn-in. It shares the same AK 4490 chip as the K-05X. I find the N-05 beating my previous K-01 which I used for almost 3 years, in every sonic parameter.

If you only need a new dac to go with your current player as transport, the N-05 is very good value for the money. If you want everything new, then the K-05X should be your ticket.

Here’s the link to the awards list for Esoteric gear - the K-05X as second prize winner, nudged the K-03X to third place.

Rgds. J.
Hi jon2020

Thank you very much for your promt & precious reply.

"I find the N-05 beating my previous K-01" ! Your sentence beats me too! What a nice surprise! I auditioned the Esoteric  K-03 last month and found it wonderful. And I know it is still inferior to K-01 which is often taken better then WADIA S7I.

I will contact a dealer for  an ESOTERIC N-05 or K-05X  after you advice. Both of them have nearly  the same price.

But I wonder why the N-05 is not available in the award list. Is there no award for Network Audio Player? 

Much thanks once more. 

 Best Regards


If your looking at this Metrum Acoustics Pavane  Mutibit dac, then also have a look at this one.

Cheers George
Hi Audioabc, and George,
I own the Pavane and would describe the sound, in short, as natural, detailed, and dynamic.  The 0 to 60 factor is very good.  As with the Hex, it is not overly syrupy, rich or warm, but rather it is clear while being very natural sounding and never edgy, and still displaying warmth when on the recording.
That said, I auditioned Aqua's LaScala Mk II in my home and found it also to be a very nice sounding DAC.  The tube output resulted in a different presentation from the Pavane and I found something not quite as natural sounding (maybe a little forced), which I attributed to the high'ish output of 6V.  Subsequent discussions with the importer indicated that some tube rolling would improve on what I heard.  It was a close call between the LaScala Mk II and Pavane - comes down to personal preference.
I think the Aqua folks have a good thing going so I would really like to hear the Formula.  I have already contacted appropriate folks to get a crack at it once the initial hoopla settles a bit.  At $13,800, the Formula is over twice the cost of the Pavane so the LaScala MkII would be a better comparison.  I hear there may be some trickle-down improvements planned for LaScala and my discussions with the importer from a year or so ago indicate the Aqua folks are quite committed to providing customers upgrade options to their products when possible.
Hi audioabc,

Yes, the N-05 is indeed a pleasant surprise to me too. I would never have expected that Esoteric has improved the sound and the usb implementation to such an extent as to render the K-01 so deficient in comparison to the N-05. The new generation AK chip, improved power supply and analog output stages certainly all play a part in this improvement.

As to the awards list, you may be right about there being no category for network player/dac but the N-05 is srill very new, being launched after the K-X player series.

If your music collection is mostly cd’s, then the K-05X is the better choice. But if you intend to build up your hires library, then the N-05 with its robust usb implementation is preferred.

As I have now ripped my entire cd library to flac, I find the N-05 via USB beats cd’s spinning in the transport of the K-01.

Rgds. J.

Hi goergelofi & mitch2
Thank you for your recommendation and advice. Dac FORMULA is off course good at everything but the price! Its price is over my budget.

Hi jon0202

I prefer N-05 to K-05X because of my hires library (in 3TB). I am wating for the reply from an authorised seller in Japan.

You use Esoteric K-01 as transport and N-05 as external DAC? Wow! Your combo is too luxurious for me to dream of! Congrats!


Hi audioabc,

I actually sold the K-01 for the N-05 and have stopped spinning discs since ripping all of them to flac. Now I play all my music, both hires and redbook, via usb from a computer.

As you already have a large hires collection, the obvious choice is indeed the N-05. Keep us posted of your experience with the N-05 when you have got it.

I will be happy to share my experience with the various upsampling / filter settings together with the usb set-up for optimal sound quality. :)

Regards. J.

I use the cheaper
 with a Meridan player as a transport and sounds very good.


Hi stanwal

Which model of metrum are you using? Could you please give me some idea about it!