New Esoteric P02 D02


Seems like there is a new set up separates from Esoteric. The P02 D02. Hven't seen any info out there at all, but it is for sale already at retailers. Not a substitute of the P03 D03 as expected, that are still selling as well, but a new category in between de 01s and 03s. DACs and inputs seem like an upgrade of the K01.

Anyone has any info, or heard of this? You can read about it at Esoteric parent company home page (in Japan but in English).

Price in Europe is 3.000 Euros higher than the 03s per unit (so +6000 EUros higher in total)

Any feedback, info news?

Eli, according to what I understood at in the Esoteric suite at RMAF, the P-02/D02 combo may be replacing P-03/D-03.... but I am not 100% sure. The devices feature very advanced technologies, amongst which is 35 bit DAC. Cost in the US may be approximately $50K.... Aledgedly they have been released, but I have not heard/seen them yet, and they are not yet listed on the US Esoteric site.

If you can, please post the link to the English version of the Esoteric Japan page where P-02/D-02 are featured.

Best, G.
Hi G, its been a while. Good to hear from you.

Yes all the info is out.

This is the link to the pdf with main characteristic. Is from a Spanish online store, but doc is in English.

And here the link to the japan web in English. This is the one of the D02, but if you go to products can find the P 02 as well. Overall much more info than in the US web

Prices are out in Europe (atleast in Spain). They still sell the 03s and just position the new ones a step above. The retail price here for the 2 units increases in 10.000 euros (so like 14.000 USD). The 03s retail for 15.900 euro per unit and the 02s for 20.900 per unit. I guess the rise will be similar in the US.

Many new features re conversion. Whole new set of DACs. Think are the same as the new Ks, but 8 per channel, and lot of care placed to power Suply units, The D02 is like the 01s in the sense it has a dual mono configuration, altough in one single box. Has a USB input. New clocking more accurate and isolated...

Looks very good...
This is the D-02 page here: D-02 link

The AK4399 DACs are still used but, just like in the K-01, with Esoteric DSPs performing different digital filter algorithms. The AK4399 works in "digital filter bypass mode".

Alex Peychev
Thank you so much Alex and Eli, truly fascinating.... I hope someone will be able to listen to these creatures soon in some meaningful environment, and will report some initial findings. G.
HI Alex, considering how familiar you are with Esoteric digital gear, what's your initial view on these 2. Do you think they represent a significant step up from the 03s?

Hi Eli,

Yes, in my view, the P-02/D-02 represent a truly significant advancement compared to the P-03/D-03.

Best wishes,
Alex Peychev
Thanks Alex,

Do you think upgrading just the DAC unit and keeping the transport, D02/P03, makes more sense than upgrading both components, given the price?
Hi Eli,

Esoteric claims some new type of digital interface between transport and DAC that includes non-PLL type of synchronization that is much more desirable than the usual PLL, so I think the P-02 compliments the D-02 in that respect, although I am not sure whether the actual VRDS transport in the P-02 is superior to the P-03. Please note that the well known 10MHz Rubidium external clocks use PLLs and VCOs which, in my view, are inferior to their new synchronization technology. FYI, Ed Metiner and Andreas Koch did a similar non-PLL sync even in their older transport/DAC combos. Of course, I still feel that the asynchronous approach is even better, and use it in all of my products, but that is just me. :-) Everything has good and bad sides, I guess.

Hope this helps!

Best wishes,
Alex Peychev

It does. Thanks Alex. I guess there will be more info out there soon.
Been checking. These have been out for a while now and are for sale (at least in Europe). Assume in the US as well. But no info on them anywhere I can find on the web. No reviews or feedback form anyone or info beyon Japan Esoteric web page.

Anyone know why this may be? Or where to get more info in English (lots of things but only and Japanese and I'm not exactly fluent...

Eli, I suspect we will start seeing more English language information on P02/D02 around CES 2012 in January.... But next time I talk to Esoteric USA I will ask them when English language info may be posted to the US site.
Thanks. But can you buy them there already? While you ask, could you find out if the 03s are still current. Seems so, and that they just positioned the 02 s above, but not sure.

I japan web page they have both showing.

You find nothing on the USA site beacuse the USA Esoteric staff, except for the service department, has been laid off. When I called in for some pre-sales information on the P-02/D-02, I was told that Tascam has taken over sales and marketing for Esoteric and all other CE in the USA. Then I dug a bit deeper by speaking with a freind in Japan, seems that Esoteric Company is now only a small sales team to sell Esoteric into the Japanese market. The global Esoteric Company no longer exists. My friend currently works for another Japanese CE company so I guess that is how he found out? Sounds like what they did in the 1990s for the USA customer. Make a spash and then leave the market. Buyer beware.
Really? But they are very active in releasing new products, the company is very active. More than ever I would say.

Do you mean that they closed the US branch of Esoteric? If so what are they planning, going partnership with a local importer?

In Europe they never had an Esoteric Company per se. They work through official importers by country, or set of countries. Their units get serviced if needed directly in Japan. This way of working here is very good. Service is great. Only downside are the long waitings from and to Japan, although never needed service in my case in all the Esoteric i owned in the past. Once I ask for a new P03 to compare the spinning noise of the transport and they sent me a new unit. Had both at home to keep the lowest noise one. The service still the same up to date in Europe.

I guess they are cost coting in distribution or something... Giving up the importer margin but fixing the costs of servicing the market there, no? In any case, sorry to hear.
Eli, at RMAF in Denver Esoteric was live.... and doing very well, I should say. Tim Crable is the new Esoteric US sales and marketing manager. Tim was previously manager of technical services, and is incredibly qualified to head Esoteric sales and marketing.... He has deep technical and user knowledge of the product line, is extremely respected by consumers and dealers... and has a true flair for getting visitors excited about Esoteric at shows.

It is not particularly relevant whether Esoteric continues to operate as an independently run division of TEAC, or only as a brand within the TEAC umbrella. From the wealth of TEAC/Esoteric products being featured at RMAF, and the general public excitement at the show, I could see no evidence of the Esoteric brand and products going away any time soon. G.

Have you looked at TEAC's financials lately? They are losing big bucks. I have also heard that Tsuda and Ohmachi, the heart and soul of Esoteric worldwide are now retired and were never replaced. Tascam Japan and Tascam USA run all CE and all Esoteric now. My freind in Japan told me they laid off over 140 people in the Japan and USA operations combined, maybe more. I was told the remaining R&D guys now report in to Tascam management. Tim Crable is an OK guy but he is really a service manager they recently "dumped" Esoteric on. There are major doubts, even as far as Japan, if they will stay in the USA, maybe get sold, etc. Their stock in Japan has fallen from 51 yen in one year to about 25 yen. So, 50% of it's valus is gone in a year. Check out their declining chart value at: Like we all agree the products to date are great but for the future, I still say buyer beware. (My friend works at Luxman so he is in a good position to know).
If you type in "TEAC Japan Stock Value" into Google search it will come up with the information I mentioned from your choice of Business Week, Bloomberg and the Tokyo stock exchange. Business Week and Bloomberg even let you switch between English and Japanese and you can directly select their financials from tabs. For their last fiscal year end they lost about $17 million dollars. Rumor mill says Panasonic looked at an aquisition but then decided it is not worth it. I still own and love Esoteric but my friend at Luxman tells me after the P02, D02 and K series, they will only update their DACs. No other new hardware planned. Some of their DACs are still 16-48 and 24-96.
Thank you Topofthelineaudio , your friend at Luxman is of course completely unbiased about the future of his competitors.... And thank you for the subtly condescending remarks about Mr. Crable's credentials..... So exquisitely professional of you.
Topo, was wondering,

Are you in the audio business or audio electronic business, or have any economic related interesr?

I am just a high end consumer. I am not in the business. I am actually a commodities broker who loves great audio. As for Tim, I met him once at a RMAF show and again at Axpona last Aprl in Atlanta. He is a very good man but his background is service and technical support. That is a fact if you look at his profile on LinkedIn. Hopefully he will sell a lot for Esoteric in the USA and maybe grow their business to a wider dealer base. I would assume that is why he was assigned to Esoteric. The financial statements of any public company speak for themselves, as does my freind at Luxman. As I said earlier, I own Esoteric and like the brand very much. My statements on this formum are all based on fact, not speculation or bias.
I honestly could not care if Mr. Crable were a History major instead... I have known Tim personally since the early part of the last decade, and applaude that Esoteric corporate has made the enlightened business decision to entrust a consummate professional with real world experience of Tim's caliber with driving and growing customer-facing aspects of the Teac Esoteric operation in north America.

On a related topic, it is of course quite possible that K-01 and P-02/D-02 may well be swansongs, or at lease may constitute one of the last flagship products from Esoteric to sport spinning motors... Whether we like it or not, and I for one abhor the very idea, the era of the silvery disk may be nearing a gloriously nostalgic sunset. I fully expect that the number of new disk-spinning products by major manufacturers emerging over the near to medium horizon is bound to be dwindling to asymptotic quietude. Until such time however, my quest for the silvery-disk-playing nirvana continues unabated.

Hence the topical question beckons unchanged... How does the P02/D02 combo sound? How does it stack against its competitors? Frantic audiophilic minds want to know!

Thanks Topo for reply. Just wondering.

I am not surprised Teac or Esoteric are showing a lost at the financials currently. Like any other mainly export driven company, the slowdown in Europe and US, still the larger markets in absolute terms, are killing them. Also being Japan based, the Yen is also playing against them big time. Add both things and that could explain. Very widespread effect afecting export driven companies in Asia. Do not have the figure but would guess 60% or more of their sales comes from exports to US and Europe. That hurts any income est. In cureent enviroment. Look at Sony, Panasonic, Pioneer and the likes. i think very similar case.

I am not US based and so do not know Tim or how they work there. Just hope service remains the same for yuo guys.
Well G, in 2 or 3 weeks I will be able to tell you first hand.... And how it compares to the 03s, and others.
Thank you Eli, I am looking forward to reading your comparative observations. Guido
Will do. My 03s are posted for sale at the forum. Hopefully someone will take them before new arrives but if not, will be able to compare directly and post side by side before my dealer takes them.
Eli, very selfishly, I hope you have the opportunity of comparing directly the old with the new *grins!* G.
I would much rather trust my memory for comparation with the 03s...

We will see. I expect some improvement, but not major. The 03s sound very good i dont see how the new can be that much better. For me the quality USB input to a world clase DAC did it. Been holding the adition of some files playback system to this release. All the systems I tried in the past were very expensive, to put on top of the Esoteric cost and did not got the same quality as with the 03s.

So if the 02s are just somewhat better, with the USB input into the D02 to get very high quality file playing will be worth it. Not much more expensive than keeping the 03s and buying a Linn klimax or similar and will sound better.

But regarding the 02s vs 03s for just CD or SACD playing, I do expect a gain but nothing like the one I had from gong to the top of their one box system into the separares.

We will see....
G, I got a call from dealer today... Units are here. Almost 2 weeks in advance of expected delivery. Good! So tomorrow I will hopefully have them home installed.

Will share first impressions soon. More on how they look, features and similar than sound, as it will take a while I guess till i sounds decent...

Eli, that's fabulous.... Can't wait to read about your impressions! Saluti, G.
Eli, how are things proceeding with the P02/D02 combo? G.
Hi G,

Well, been with them for 3 days now. However one of my Classe Omega amp has, what seems to be, an issue with a capacitor and have not been able to listen that much... Dealer is going to pick them up Monday for a revision and repair and will bring a pair of CAM 600 as a loaner while they are on service. Not the same but very nice from him.

Can only listen to the system for now after I let it off and unpluged for many hours, so normally overnight. And after I turn it off, have to wait again for many hours.

Anyway, what I can tell so far is the following.

From a construction perspective, it follows Esoteric standards. THey are like tanks. So much so, that actually they are basically the same as the 03s. You have to look very carefully to tell the difference. Same size, about same weight (maybe a bit more but not even sure), same shape.. same.

The DAC has a slightly bigger screen, but not much bigger. And transport has a blue light on top to show when it is on and not playing. Layout of buttons a bit different. And that's it. Rest are like the 03s.

On the back, things are different. Now the power inlets are in the middle of the devices (not to the right like they are in the 03s). I don't like this as much, since power cord has to go in between interconnects, which is not the best.

I think the interior is totally different. Seems like they built it as a double decker or something. It does not have the power supply to one side.

Of course there is also the USB input, but haven't tried it yet.

Now to the options it has, the menus are totally different. Many more options, many new ones. Still getting familiar with it. It is a complete new menu with many more alternatives. Both in transport and DAC. Not only regarding conversion and filter, which has more alternatives, but also clocking, and all other kind of things. Actually a bit complicated but it will only be a matter of time.

Interesting it has, the P03, a new option in the menu of how do you want the disc to be loaded: slow or fast. Slow takes a lot of time. It says in the manual, it is to make sure the disc gets in perfect position for a better reading or something. Well surely it takes it's time. WOnder if it does some kind of buffering of data with this option.

Transport is dead quiet (not like in the P03). Good thing there.

Regarding how they sound, which is probably what interest people the most, not much I can say still. Listened to them for 2 days and then satarted having the problems with one of the amps and have only been able to listen in short periods of time since then.

So far, with maybe 10 hours on them or less, it is very very detailed. Lots of inner detail as well. Very high definition. Big soundstage. Very big actually, for the little time it has on. Strong bass; But sounds a bit to the thin side of things, like if lacked a bit of weight, and a bit hard on the highs as well. Need to get more musical, if you will. I'm sure it will get much better with time. If it maintains the level of detail, and definition, and manages to get the musical and richness of sound the 03s had, it will be a great player.

Another member asked me if I thought it was a break trough for Esoteric. Hard to say right now, but my first impression is that no (hopefully this will change and it well could, since this thing is too new to tell). So far, I would say it seems it will be one notch (or two) above the 03s, but not the kind of improvement that transforms your system, if you know what I mean.

Again this could change, and hopefully it will. Some things are already better than with the 03s. But others need improvement. We will see how better it gets in both, the already better and the ones that are not.

This I can tell so far....

Don't hesitate to ask me any questions you may have. Will try to answer best I can with limited experience and listening time still.

Thank you Eli for the update.... Keep us posted as things evolve! Guido
Hi Eli, anything new on the P02/D02 break-in front? G.
Hi G,

this is a disaster... a mess. As I told you the Omegas went under. I have a pair of CAM 600. They are not the best to my taste. Too hard and non musical... The best listening I've done to the 02s actually were the first 2 or 3 days I had it with the Omegas, even though the things had very few hours on them...

After that, with the loaners CAM 600 I just can't listen to the system for too long. And making any comparation is just impossible, as the 600s just took over all the sound print. So, I'm very sorry to say, I can not give any feedback. This is very bad... Have the combo there, but really can't listen to it. WHat have they done with the CAM 600? I recall the CAM 400 having a much more neutral sound. Much better amp, I recall.

I had over the weekend a pair of ARC 210T. Much better sound. Nicer, musical, lots of body, dynamics, although not the most detailed amp, nor best defined bass (although there was plenty of it). Overall I did like the sound with their pluses and minuses. Still impossible to say how the 02s are vs the 03s, since again different amp characters make comparations just impossible.

Now I'm again back with the 600s and doing very little listening. Just letting the thing play while I do something else.

What a drag... let's see when I get back my Omegas, or something that allows me to compare.
I have received confirmation today from Esoteric USA that the P03/D03 combo has been withdrawn from the US market. It has been entirely replaced by the new P02/D02 combo. G.
It is still for sale in Europe. Maybe they will take it out as well in the near future? For now they say it is still current.

I think it may be a very good opportunity for people who doesn't want to expend that much, to get a great great digital gear. Assume there will be great offers on left stock and quite a few second hand units going for sale...

Regarding my 02s, still can't give any feedback. Waiting for my amps to get repaired or replaced. It is going to take still a couple of weeks, at least... Not too happy at all...

The CT 600 they lent me are not that good at all (at least in comparation). They have gotten great reviews... not sure I can agree with them. So I don not do much listening, if any. Just leave it on to put some hours on them.

Oh well...
Hi Eli, anything new with your P02/D02 combo? Guido
Hi G,

I hate to say I'm still waiting for my Omegas to get home... They are having a hard time with them since the Omicrom are not in production anymore so they will just send a new pair and upgrade to the big ones for a very very reasonable difference!

Good for that, but in the meantime, just waiting... I expect them now this next week or week after the latest and hopefully will be able to start listening and comparing.

As of now they 02s have some 150 hours on them or so. But most of the time I just leave them on playing and do not do any listening.

I have now the ARC reference 210T as mono amps plugged. Today I did some listening. It's hard to compare, since these amps are very different in nature to what I'm used to and played the 03s, but some things I can say already.

The 02s are very very detailed. Far more than the 03s. Lots of texture, inner detail, ambient... you name it. It is very impressive. Even more so, considering the Omegas are more detailed than the ARC 210. With the Omegas these things can be quite incredible is this regard.

SOundstage and positioning also very very good. It is huge all around, deep, wide, 3D... you name it. Also superior to the 03s. However I do want to compare here with the Omegas on. N0t conclusive as of now.

Bass is probably the hardest to asses. The bass of the 210 is totally different to that of a solid state. So although is there, and in good amounts, not too defined or particularly tight, nor articulated. For a comparation of the 02s with the 03s, we will need to wait for the Omegas to be ready. If I connect the CT600, the bass gets much better (although the rest of the things do exactly the opposite), so clearly is an amp related thing. I recall the 2 or 3 days I cold play de 02s with the Omegas, the bass I heard was excellent in all senses, so looking forward to be able to listen and compare once the Omegas are in.

The things are very musical now, but again the 210T has a lot to say there. So can not compare neither in this area. Sound has that tubby sweet sound print so I need to listen with a good solid state amp to make a good assessment here. The 03s were fantastic in this regard. We will see with 200 hours or so how the 02s compare.

Overall, although I fell the Omegas are quite superior to the 201Ts, I can say I could live happy with this combination - 02s + 210T + Ref 40 (bass would probably be the only thing that I would miss big time). But have never heard a system with the 210Ts as amps sounding as detailed and precise while being musical and rich (this is more to expect).

I also wanted to report on the USB input and how sound compared using it as source vs the P02, since for me I think is one of the most important upgrades the 02s bring to the table, in terms of flexibility and in particular regarding hi res files. Unfortunately, I will not be able to do that for a while since I am having a very bad experience there, but none Esoteric related...

Wanted to set up the system while waiting for the Omegas so ordered, what was supposed to be, a "mod" Mac Mini with an external power supply box, from a company called "Mach2 Music"... It has been the worst decision I have done in my life regarding audio purchases. A disaster.

Will write in detail in a separated post about this and this company... (if you can call them to be such a thing...), but to make it short here, these guys have basically taken 5000 USD!!! away from me and delivered nothing of what they had promised. I can say I have the more expensive "stock" Mac Mini in the world, and a bunch of other stuff they sell that does not work, since it is not delivered as they promised and so very much useless.

This guys are a bad joke. What is worse, I have been back and forth with them for over a month now to try to get my money back or all replaced and served as they did promised, but they will not stand up behind at all. They are asking for more money and for me to take over additional expenses to solve (or so they say) all the issues. Needles to say, I will not put a another cent on the table for them to take it and run... More to come on this, but for now, if someone is considering buying from these guys, think it twice... and beware. You can send me a PM if you are considering and want more details. They are a disaster and seems it is going to cost me a lot of money... Maybe they will reconsider and make it up for all their mistakes, but after more than a month back and forth with them, my faith is almost (if not completely) gone.

Ok, i am now able to porpertly compare both units (long history). Although ky amps are not in still and will take still 2 wekks... I managed to get my hand on another pair of Omegas... A review on the 02s will come soon, with info on how they sound plus side by side with the 03s.


Any update on how your Esoteric P02/D02 sounds in comparison to your Esoteric P03/D03? I am curious as I also have the Esoteric P03/D03 combo. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,
Hi BB, long time.

Yes I will soon post feedback and side by side with 03s. Will try to do it over the weekend. Have done by now extensive listening and I am ready to post on it.

All I will say right now, the 02s... Have been a great surprise for the good. As good as the 03s are and were for me, and I loved them, the 02s are just something else... I bet these thing are better than the 01s, and likely not by a small margin....

More to come
Thanks Eelii,

I am considering an upgrade to my P03/D03 combo and I look forward to hearing your comparisons of that with the P02/D02 combo.
Sorry it is taking me so long. Lately I am quite loaded with work, which I guess is not a bad thing, and I also tend to do a lot of listening whenever I have some time. I will post some notes now. There is a lot more to say and I will try to do it as I listen more. However if there is a particular thing you may want to know just ask and I will answer best I can…

I already gave some feedback on purely the looks of the units and the options of the menu. Not much differences in the first case. Just smaller things. Your casual observer would not probably notice the difference between 03s and 02s. Both are first class and quality all over. Slightly bigger screen on the DAC, the blue light on top of the transport and that’s basically it. ON the menus options and set up, lots more of alternatives. Some nice ones. Also more options when it comes to listening modes. Most of my listening has been done with no conversion at all nor digital filter, or with the new ESL3. The later so far seems very good, but need to try others.

Now into pure listening, the first thing I noticed when I got the new units was how detailed they were. Right out of the box, almost without the need even to warm up… And that is probably the single aspect that is most significant when you upgrade to the P02 D02 (from the P03 D03, or any other digital that I have heard for that matter). Not that you will not notice improvements in other areas of reproduction. You will. But the level of detail these things can deliver is just incredible. To define it as a next step or similar, is probably just falling short of it…

But, as said, this is not the only improvement as I have discovered with time and as hours of listening have been accumulated. I guess in this case, all the audiophile old topics apply. I will not go through them, or not through all of them at least in this post. Just the most relevant for now.

When I say as “detailed in sound” to a level that really impressed me, I don’t mean that you could actually hear new little things in old familiar recordings… which you could. That is to expect to some degree. What I mean, and lacking better words, is how deep it goes into the main sounds of such recordings. Those that were there already. These units puts them right in front of you in I way I have never heard before. With all their texture, pretended expression and different intensity. Not only like the real thing. It is in this sense, like the real thing performed first row for you. If you want to focus per instance on a single performer out of a recording of several or many, you can actually get so much into what he is doing, how he is doing it, is almost as if you could see it. Is incredible how articulated, how much detail of his playing is offered. But also the intensity, even the feeling, the little variations or changes he does while performing, all unnoticed before...

Take per instance a string instrument in a chamber performance. It does sound so much like the real thing. A violin, viola, cello... In quartets or quintets, it is impressive how you can follow first string from second, from viola. The cello, or the double bass as the case may be, not only goes deeper than in other digitals I’ve heard. It does so in a crystal clear way. Articulated, defined but also with lots of body and punch when needed. Like the real thing, again…. Not only that. You can almost see the stage in all it’s dimension and there, hear actually different intensity and tonality of the performers all the time, all at once. Really is hard to explain for me. In my natural tongue would be. Let alone English.

With big symphonic orchestras it is no less impressive to hear. In space and, once more in texture, tonality. As a whole it sounds fantastic. Right dimension, space, dynamics… It is just so coherent as a whole as well. And indeed very exciting.

I had never experienced before, aside than in real live, the difference between different performers or group of performers in such an extension. If you focus your attention on any of them individually playing, you can actually hear, almost see, what the particular performer is doing. Again inner detail is the word. As good as the 03s were in this regard, they are not even close to such fine level of detail and incredible amount of information transmitted. And those are big words, but it is what I hear and no matter how I say it, you have to hear it to know what I’m trying to describe.

The units are not forgiving. If the recording is bad, they will let you know right away. But even in those cases I do find a pleasure listening to good performances in not so good recordings. See, they are also very musical.

Which is probably the greatest achievement. Detail is the biggest improvement and most impressive. Combining it, with a musical, exciting, powerful lifelike presentation, is the hardest to achieve. ONe without all the detail would end up being boring or even tiring. But not the case... and so the mix what finally makes them different to any other ting i've heard before.

Soundstage is just as it should. Also an improvement. Well defined, and as deep and wide as the performance requires. You do not get a sting quartet the size of the Albert Hall. You get it the size it is. Likewise, listening to a symphony gives you the widest and deepest soundstage I have yet to hear from any other digital system.

Another special mention goes to bass, mid and low. It is another big gain. It goes deeper all right, but above all in a much (yes I know the 03s are great) more articulated and defined way.

I could go on and on. But for now I will have to stop. All I have said is quite something when I say it comparing to, nothing less, than the 03s, which for me were and still are one of the finest digital I have ever heard out there.

Frankly speaking I was not expecting this at all. I was expecting a gain, yes, but not of this kind. I do firmly think they are probably the best out there right now, in absolute terms. They are for sure, and not by a small margin, the best to anything I have listened before, including top Esoteric, but also others like top of the range dCS, Linn, ARC and others.

I will write more in a few days as I do more listening, but in the meantime, feel free to ask anything you may want to know.


Some of you know already, but for those who don't I have no interest, direct or indirect, economic or otherwise, relationship or similar, to the audio industry. Just an aficionado that loves music and the hobby. Also, I would urge you, if you consider buying such an expensive set, to listen and try at home in your system, and than decide by yourself. What I've written is a candid, honest, non interested feedback of what I hear. But as always it could to some, small or large extend, be conditional to specific system synergies, or personal perception/preferences.

HOpe this helps and that it proves useful. Not many (none actually that I've seen) info out there of this units (why?).

Hi Eelii,

Thanks for posting. I was wondering if I may ask you some questions.

First, can you let me know how you have configured the P02 and D02 - meaning, how are they connected together and also when you are listening to redbook CD, what upsampling, if any are you using?

Do you notice any difference in the noise floor between the 03 stack and the 02 stack?

Can you comment on the harmonic richness of the 02 stack compared to the 03 stack. For example, how do the upper frequency notes of a piano sound on the 03 in comparison to how they sound on the 02 stack?

Thanks very much, Arnie

I have the 02s as I had the 03s most of the time. Two balanced from transport to DAC. It is the only way as you know to upsample. Same as with the 03s. For cables I use 2 esoteric mexcell, their top of the line. i think they are called 6300. Very expensive really but just the best with these units. Got a pair second hand here, like new for half the price. Still expensive but well worth.

I also tried the ilink with the esoteric iLink cable. Very very good. Almost as good, and only a step bellow the balanced esoteric cables, (at a fraction of cost), and actually better than with other brands balanced cables... I wrote a post a few months back on the ilink cable and the 03s saying how good it was.

Regardin listening mode, I've done CDs with both original -ORG- (so no upconversion at all) and a new mode 48-bit/176.4kHz with new ES link 3. To me this last seems slightly better but not by much and no conclussive. In any case, all that I said above stands for both ORG, so no upsampling, and ES Link 3. Difference between these two is small, really, and many times subjective. Differences and improvements I describe above are, in my opinion, anything but small...

There is also a new Dual AES 8Fs (24-bit/352.8kHz), but have listened very litle this way. Still it was very good and can not say if better than ES Link 3 as of now.

The DSD with SACDs was just as impressive as the rest and the gain from 03s was similar.

See, to me ears, the differences with playing modes are small in the context we are speaking. A matter of taste or even recordings. The difference between the 02s and 03s is anything but small. And anyone should be able to tell fast, personal tastes aside, in my opinion again.

Noise floor is clearly lower. That is why I pressume you hear all those new details in recordings that were not there before. Lots of low level detail.

Harmonic richness... that was probably one of the words I was looking for last night while writing the mini review. That is in good part what i meant when I said you can go so deep into the music. It is very very detailed in such a way: the richness of the music is quite mazing. WIth all the texture, color, definition... however you want to call it.

A piano? You have to hear a solo piano with the 02s. Upper is more natural. Easy to hear the difference. Not that the 03s were bad at all. This is just better in my opinion. Not too soft or sweet, not too bright or agressive. And surely defined. Just right. Again very lifelike. Also other excellent things improving piano performances. The decay of notes, the dynamics, the strength but definition at once of lower registers... Also piano concertos, or piano chamber is much better defines and with the right proportion within the presentation. I was freaking out the other day with Rachmaninov 3rd and 2nd... Likewise a piano duet. Is like if you could actually see the 4 hands. Follow the notes as I haven't been able before. Easy to follow which is doing what and how. While at the same time, all together sounds fantastic.

Hope this helps. Let me know any other thing you may want to ask. Happy to help. If you are really considering them, try to borrow a unit for your house for a few days to compare. But do it if you are really prepared to pay the price. Chances are you will keep it...

Well I better stop this or I may get an offer from Esoteric... I read it myself and think it is overdone. But than go back to listen to them, and it is precisely what I hear that I try to write.

There is only one thing that really has me surprised. You can not read anything in the web, magazines or other about them. No reviews from your usual sources, or the like. They have been out for a while. With the quality of these things I am really surprised. So much was written in the past about other units, and so good. And having owned myself many of the top esoteric digitals, I can say to me this is the best by far. Still out there all is mute mode.

Wondering if it has to do with what other poster mentioned earlier about esoteric having some kind of tough times in the US. Maybe they can't pay adds or similar or other compensations in kind... to reviewers, and so they are being kind of ignored...?
Hi Eelii,

Thanks so much for all of this additional detailed information. It does sound like the P02 D02 is a significant step up from the P03/D03 stack.

I agree with you that there is basically no information about how the 02 stacks sounds - other than what you have written in this thread. In the US, I suspect part of that reason is that I think they just became available here in early January 2012 so very few end users have had them and if any reviewers have them, it will be a few more months before we will read what they hear. The earliest insight from a reviewer will most likely come from Jeff Fritz at Ultraaudio as he has selected these for his digital front end as part of his "TWBAS 2012" (The Worlds Best Audio System). He also selected the Aurender S10 music server so perhaps some comparison of the P02 transport sonics versus the Aurender music server both feeding the D02 dac. I believe the first "public" listening of that system is scheduled for end of March.
P02/D02 is not just a significant step up from P03/ might be preferred over P01/D01...probably P01/D01 needs updating soon...

I've heard P01/D05 and very impressed with it, absolutely natural and detailed, bass and body is quite something! My X03SE sounded thin on mids, lacks in details, highs sounded bright on complex music...X03SE is no comparison to P01/D05. My system and on the system i heard is very similar, the difference was huge!!

I recently wrote to Esoteric, asking for comparison between P01/D01 and P01/D02...this was their reply:

"The D-02 is more versatile with the 8 AKM DACs that do both DSD and PCM decoding. The D-01 only decodes in PCM so it converts the SACD data to PCM before decoding. I believe the D-02 sounds better. I also think if you have a D-02, the P-02 would be a better transport than the P-01 unless you want to do multi-channel."

D02 has 35-bit algorithm to decode all the 1s and 0s...more refined and higher resolution...that's my interpretation...
Hi Eelii,

I have the same dac and using it with p01 vu and g0rb. It has only 30 hrs. by now. It replaced d03 dac.
Did the slightly thin presentation you were describing initially in the form went away or is it still a bit lean compared to p03/d03 ?
I am using Esoteric 7n-pc7300 ac cable and it made it sound a bit smoother tighter and less lean with better vocals right away. But it still sounds a bit leaner than D03.
I will compare the new d02 dac with d01, and d03 with Esoteric p01vu transport and G0rb clock next week. I also have Accuphase dp900/dc901 to compare.
Digital and AC cables are Esoteric. Interconnects are Van Den Hul 3T Mountain and Esoteric 6n-da6300.