I have both. The 'Meca is better for redbook, hands down. Much better transport as well.
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I can't comment on the Esoteric, but I'd offer that I've never heard redbook as "listenable" as through the Audiomeca. I have the Mephisto II and Enkianthus combination and have been totally satisfied with both units. I would stop short of saying they're "laid back" but certainly would agree that they're smooth. There may be some folks who want an aggressive sound (if that's what you mean by "dynamic") but I'd rather be seduced by the music rather than beat up by it. Yes it's smooth, but there's no loss of detail or air. To each his own!
I suggest you contact Stewart at Sanctuary of Sound in WA state. He is an A'goN featured dealer and authorized dealer for all three of these products.
I asked this exact same question of him a few months ago, and had to decide if I wanted to put the bucks into a great uni player or even GREATER CD-only player. After talking with Stewart in length, I bought the Mephisto II.X. It is now broken-in, and I could not ask for a better product. I consider it the jewel of my system. The II.X is certainly the Mephi model to go for due to the custom-made transport and Anagram DAC II 24/192 upsampler. It totally erases the criticisms of its predecessor models - laid-back dynamics and mildly light on bass. The II.X has such a balanced presentation that I honestly couldn't tell you it has any obvious strength or weakness.
Having said that, the Teac is a superb uni player. The EMC ain't no joke either. Both of these tend to have leaner, more analytical sonics then the AM. This whole audiophile game is about synergy, so YOUR system may work better with one or the other. In my system, the Mephi is the best of the bunch for what I was looking for.
Now if it could only play DVD's & SACD's .... Hmmmmm.....
I owned a Dodson Dac with my original Audiomeca Mephisto transport and I felt that the Dodson had a great sound stage and good bottom/midrange, but occasionally the highs were "in my face"... I now have a newer Audiomeca transport and Dac and feel that it is a very slightly better combination. I think I lost a little in the soundstage and in transcient response (very slight change), but the high end is smooth and easy to listen to for hours.
I have the latest combo as well. Mephisto II X and Enkianthus X. I got to know 'Meca through their inexpensive Obsession player and I was so impressed and bought the top of the line separates. Inquisitive A'goners will wonder, then, why I've had my set up for sale. Mainly for simplicity's sake and general downsizing...