I got the Buffer and the PSU, all with stock cord and it took about 250 hours before it started to sound good.
I have the "3-pack" and I thought it sounded pretty good straight out of the box. I have it hooked up to a Rega Jupiter 2000 that I have always loved - so it wasn't like I was coming from a cheapo or unhappy digital experience.
Somewhat counter-intuitively, the 3-pack sounded softer and rounder at first and more resolving and airy with some break-in.
I agree the Din cables are abominable - they don't even make a halfway decent connection, popping right off at the slightest hint of stress. Any suggestions on replacement cables is very welcome!
I have been thinking of purchasing the "3-pack" as well, and looking for a decent (but inexpensive) transport to use. Since I am starting with a clean slate, do you guys think that it would be better to purcase a $2k player, or go with the "3-pack" and transport? Also, did you wind up spending a small fortune in cables connecting the XDAC / X10v3 to your systems?
From my experience, the 3-pack was a terrific upgrade to the $1800 Jupiter 2000. I can't speak for other players in roughly the same price range: Arcam FMJ, Musical Fidelity, certain Cary models etc - some of the newer machines "may" be significantly better than the Jupiter. That said, I love the 3-pack- they sound incredible, they have excellent build quality and they look very cool sitting on my shelf with their cool blue LEDs and all....
In terms of cable cost, I suppose that depends on what your requirements are. I bought a used DH Labs D-75 digital from Audiogon for around 50-60 bucks - the best value in a digital cable, IMO. As far as ICs go, you need just one extra to accomodate the X10 - I always have several lying around so that wasn't an issue for me.
I purchased the 3 pack as well (replacing a CAL Alpha tube dac) and found it to be a substantial improvement in clarity, extension, air, imaging, etc. - all the things we audiophiles love. But to add to the comments here and to answer the questions re: the cables I discovered substantial improvments by replacing the stock X-PSU power supply umbilical cables with silver ones from Revelation Audio Labs.
I started with 1 RAL cable ($139 each) between the X-PSU and the DAC and things were just getting started. FYI you have to let these break in for about 200 hours (no kidding) for them to sound their best. Big improvement. Then I added another between the X-PSU and X-10. More improvement.
All of that led to trying more RAL cables in the system - first a digital cable, then a Precept power cable - all with significant results. I have written up the results of adding all of these cables to the MF triple threat system in the "Cables" review section (separate reviews for the power supply umbilicals, the digital link and the Precept power cord). Check there for specifics re: how each has added to the resolution, soundstaging and sense of "aliveness", and how they have enhanced and expanded to a great degree what is available from the stock MF units.
Over the end of the summer and the Fall I have replaced all of my analogue IC's with RAL silvers as well - one at a time and always with an allowance of at least 200 hours for burn-in. I have yet to write the review for those but will do so in a few weeks. Bottom line is that they have taken the system to a new level. FWIW I'm using .5 meter silver RAL IC's between the DAC, X-10, Pre (Placette) and amp (modified NYAL Moscode).
This whole adventure started with that one little umbilical cord and became a journey in finding out how much performance can be wrung from the MF trio. The answer is "a lot". These units seem to thrive on the addition of high quality cables, in my case all pure silver.
As I went I also became very curious re: how much using all cable products from one manufacturer would provide a synergistic solution to the question of audio gear interface. My experience has been that the sonc improvements delivered by the RAL cables are definitely synergistic - the benefits increase as you add more cables - and they have truly transformed the musicality of the MF trio, as well as my entire system.
FWIW I have no affiliation to RAL - I'm just a Canuck who stumbled across the Revelation Audio Labs products on A-gon last Spring and found them to be a real revelation and a bargain in the world of exotic cables - at least in my system and to my ears. They are available with a money back guarantee so you can't really lose by trying them. But be sure to let them break in for at least 200 hours before seriously evaluating them.