The choice of my new CD player

I’m using a Esoteric K-03SE CD player more than 5 years, currently I’m interest to get a new CDP, my target are:

Esoteric K-03X
Audio Research CD-9
Metronome CD-8 Signature

I love my Esoteric very much, it built like a tank, work very stable and reliable, very analytical and transparency sound. I heard the latest K-03X even sounds much better (Surely K-01X is better but out of my budget). However, I’m interest to try something new, and I heard ARC CD-9 and Metronome CD-8 also sounds very nice. Does anybody compare these CDP? And what is your choice?

PS: In the future, I’m interest to get an external DAC which has complete different sound with my CDP. At the beginning I won’t use it for CAS, what I will do is to use my CDP’s transport and this external DAC to produce different sound, in this case I can have two different choice of sound. So my primary idea is K-03X because the transport system are extremely good.
Modwright Sony 5400 or Modwright Oppo 105 are very good sounding players.
10-16-15: Dorkwad
Modwright Sony 5400 or Modwright Oppo 105 are very good sounding players.
+ 1. I really liked my old modded/re-tubed Ayon CD-5s which I think in stock form is a better player than the ARC CD-9, though i'm going to vote for a fully loaded Modwright Sony XA-5400ES. Dan knows what he's doing & provides great customer service.
+2 on the Modwright units.
The Sony 5400 and Oppo 105 cd drive mechanism is absolutely no match for Esoteric VRDS NEO drive. Not even close. If I were the poster, I would keep what I had. I doubt he would see much difference from the 03se to the 03x.

I have an Esoteric UX3 player and I refuse to sell it because it uses the Burr Brown 1704 r to r dac chip and it sounds so smooth. It is perfect for my very extensive rock collection.

while I have not demo'ed the Esoteric K-03 nor Metronome (no local representation), I have spent time w/ the ARC CD9.

The CD9 claim to fame is that it has a killer DAC section for computer audio applications (and its ilk) If this is your thing the ARC is right for you.

I have had the pleasure of auditioning the DV-50/60 series and really like the SACD playback -1st and foremost.

Keep me posted as you audition these other players and Happy Listening!
Modwright Sony 5400 with Sophia 6sn7 and vintage rectifier tube is the way to go. I just got one and I am very impressed 
MM622 As a previous owner of a Esoteric KO3 which replaced an EMM Labs SACDSE playback from both players were enjoyable with the beautifuly built Esoteric edging out the older EMM Labs.
   Back to my dealer earlier this year a new player was on the my radar , the Esoteric  KO3X , I was a total convert and was set to buy it however I got distracted in another listening room where the PS Audio Direct Stream Memory Player and their top dac the Direct Stream Dac playing through Focals Maestro Utopia speakers which I have at home . 
I had the sales rep hook up the Esoteric 03x in this room and compared both players through speakers I am totally familiar with ,..

PS Audio ? Well I heard of them of course but didn’t know a single thing about them . Through the PS Audio I never heard sacd playback like this , never ,.and CD playback of known superb recordings is something you have to hear for yourself. The Direct Stream Memory Player is not your typical disc spinner , it’s not at all .
Wow , I just noticed how old the OP question was ,..Opps , too early in the morning , should of had that second cup of coffee ..

in_store, can you please give more details on comparing the Esoteric k-03x with PS audio direct stream what did you like better, what is missing?. Did you end-up buying PS combo? Currently I have esoteric k-05x and would like to upgrade to better sounding cdp or cd transport ad DAC. Your comment s are appreciated.

Thank you.

Denon , I do have the Direct Stream Memory Player and Direct Stream Dac senior. Well I never heard sacd sound so good , I mean really good and standard CDs , well the known out standing recordings are fantastic. So much so I finally sold off my analog front end and most of my vinyl which was hard to do at first but I realized there were many hundreds of Lps I haven’t listened to in decades .

Its a new chapter for me and I don’t mis the fuss and care I put into vinyl playback,
 PS Audio have a brilliant product line with their memory player and top dac in this price category and as good as the Esoteric KO3X is PS Audio do it better . You really need to listen to this combo .
I just noticed that there is used P S Audio Direct Stream DAC available for $3099 at Upscale Audio in California.  I have no contact with this company, but I wanted to tell people on Audiogon about this good deal !