To Esoteric P03/D03 owners: try iLink


Remember a year and a half ago or so, talking here on best way to connect the two. All said best way was AES/EBU X2. it seems logical. You could use Esoteric ESlink, and all the "uping" they offer. That is what I did and sound was great. I chosed to listen converting to DSD.

Now the other day a Mexcell esoteric iLink cable felt in my hands by coincidence from old stock of an ex esoteric long time dealer. He told me to try it, and said I had been under using the separates capabilities since the first day. He gave it to me for free, since he does not sell these anymore for a long time... Since he had no economic interest at all, thought he could have a point, although from specs did not make a lot of sense, and decided to give it a try.

Well... The sound is much better. Not a minor change. In all areas. Please try it if you havent and if you can. The thing is like 800 USD, but well worth it, at least in my case. Try to borrow or test; your esoteric dealer should be able to offer a demo (well I got it free but would pay that if I had to). CDs will be played at 44 and SACDs in DSD. No other options. It bypasses the converdion electronics. im not really a tech guy. Seems with Ilink it does perfect bit reading and streams to DAC directly. The ex dealer said it was the best purest way and much cheaper...

Well, not sure on the tech aspects, but soundwise the is a difference, big one, for the better. Not in one particular area. All over; resolution, texture, bass, imaging... You name it. Highly recommended. Major upgrade... Hate those words when talking of cables but...

It could have to do with quality of Mexcell vs my older brand and not the type of cable? Could be but I doubt it very much. I like my old brand a lot and are high quality in all their offering. But regardless of how expensive, Have never heard such a change from swaping a brand of a cable. I will try to borrow the XLR versions of esoteric Mexcell althoug they are insane in price. But just to double check.

In any case just wanted to share this with you, nad if you havent try it I strongly recomend you do as soon as you can (but pkease borrow first. Could be something specific to my system... - doubt it- but do not want to be blamed for amking you guys expending money...)

Any views, experiences from other users?

Oh, and the SACD playing is just something else now....

Hi Eli,

I'm interested...I run these pieces with the Mexcel balanced cabling (dual AES/EBU). You wouldn't happen to be in Southern California for a comparison?

Hi Kevin,

More like in Spain... so that is going to be hard.

But I will be getting a pair of AES/EBU Esoteric Mexcel (I think they are model 6300, but not sure - their top of the line), to compare with iLink. My dealer is going to let me try them for a few days (this time I would have to pay so tehy have to be really good -better than iLink for the asking price)

If they sound the same, iLink is much cheaper. If iLink is better, than what can I say.

You could try to get a loaner from your Esoteric dealer I guess, or maybe from the Cable Company if the have them in their library.

I know how these units sound very well by now, and iLink was far superior to my AES/EBU cables which were not cheap ones precisely (but not Mexcel). I will post results here once I compare.

Are the Mexcels that good vs other brands or is the iLink superior. Will revert...

;-) that would be difficult!

Thanks for the information, it looks from here like a Mexcel iLink cable would be a custom order- from Japan item, so a trial opportunity appears unlikely.

I'll be very interested in your experiences...

The 6300s are what I'm using and like them very much. My understanding is that these units are wired internally with Mexcel cable, so the synergy is probably none too mysterious.

Have you tried any other iLink cabling to see if the improvements you experienced were attributable to the Mexcel cable exclusively, or possibly to the interface itself?


No, that is the only iLink I have ever used. I will be listening to the AES soon.

On paper they shoul be better. Cost wise as well. Flexibility...

But maybe bypassing circuits with iLink makes a diference. It did with my cables. We wil see with mexcel.

Will let you know soon. I think i may have them in for next weekend.

Kevin, I just got the AES/EBU today. They are the 6300. Nice box! Anyway will listen for a couple of days and report how they compare. Done a very quick 10 minutes. Aparently not much of a diference but too early to say.

Kevin, do you listen to the music with the balanced, converted to DSD, PCM 44 (88) or PCM 88 (176)?

I have some preliminary thoughts, and just wanted to check to give you more accurate feedback on what you may prefer when I've listened to them for longer and do more testing on different playing modes.

At the end of the day, have to compare iLink which will only play original rate, with DUAL 88, with DUAL 176 and with DUAL DSD... each is different in character I can tell you already, but need to do more listening, specially with PCMs.


Great. For redbook, I usually listen in dual 176, though also sometimes at 44.1... for SACD I'm always in dual DSD.

Were you doing something similar prior to switching to iLink?



Sorry, neglected to add that for all settings I am leaving the G-O Rb set to 176.4.

Hope things are working out well there for you.

Hi Kevin,

if by there you mean in Europe or Spain, well.... things are not too bad really right now, that is. Sounds and reads in the distance worst than it feels or looks here. Things are very much ok on a daily basis; you could not tell what is going on by walking in the street or talking to people. But this could change soon considering how things are evolving...

We in Europe can't even agree on how we call each other, so I'm not sure we are going to find a solution for this mess, since it is a complicated situation. If not, things could get very ugly in a not too distant future... for the whole of Euro zone really, and by extension I'm afraid for the entire world. Recession again would be. Let's hope politicians find a solution before it happens, since the cost otherwise will be huge. But if you just look at their track record, not lots of hopes out there...

Anyway, back to a more ludic subject. It is late now. Will give you more detail tomorrow but after extensive listening, I can tell you...

you are ok with the Mexcell 6300. They are better than Mexcell iLink. By much? Not really. Actually the iLink is better in some playing modes, but at 44.1 yours are better.

Now, considering cost of both alternatives, the iLink is by far a better choice since difference is not that big and price is 10 times lower...

If you want the best sound period, yo go for Mexcell balanced. Price performance, clearly iLink.

Well you have the balanced, so not to worry. You are fine.

More detail tomorrow. I did find some interesting things while testing these 2 cables.

Very interesting... Thanks Eli, looking forward to any additional observations.

Well Kevin, the Mexcells made me change the way I listened to the 03s. Really. Both iLink and Balanced were much much better than any other brand I've tried regardless of price.

Which again brings me to say that considering the less than 800 USD the Esoteric iLink costs, it is the best, by far, price performance I know (actually it is the best performance, period, with the only exception of the cables that you have).

The Esoteric Balanced are better. BUT, and this is in my personal opinion and with my system, they are only better if you play the original rates. If you upconvert, then I liked better the iLink.

Much better actually when up converting CDs to DSD. This was the worst sounding alternative, to my taste again, when comparing the 2 cables.

Upconverting to 176 was better than to DSD, but still I liked better iLink at original rate. Better definition, more detail, more like the real thing, but still very musical. Maybe a bit less bass (not even sure) but better defined.

Now when using the balanced with up convertion and filters off, that is when the 6300 got better than iLink. Not by a huge margin but yes, it was clearly better.

All the above is a big surpise to me. Before trying Esoteric I always listened to the 03s (for almost a year and a half) in DSD or sometimes 176. Sounded better. Now I see I was missing a lot for such a long time. Not that the other way around was not good. It was. Is just that with these cables it is much better. Is ironic that I discover this just when I changed to the new 02s.... so basically been underusing the 03s for many listening hours...

So in your case, you are fine. More than fine. You already own the best, to my knowledge. The question really comes to someone who has to buy cables: do they go for the very expensive balanced or for the iLink. Hard to say really. It will of course depend on each one's budget and perception of value. I would recommend people to try both before they buy. Price difference is big, and sound wise is not in the same proportion.

I would say if Balanced are 10, iLink is maybe 9 or 8,5. Is the last point or point and a half worth the extra 7000 USD....? That is for each one to decide....

These results came after long listening sessions, with mostly classical music of all kind, and of course in my system and my room. In other systems things could change. Also maybe with other styles. However I know by now very well how system sounds and can tell changes easily, and very familiar also with music played, so very confident with the findings.

Thanks Eli, Tremendous effort on your part and I'm grateful for it, (and yes, glad to hear that your findings further validate my own!~) Just wondering, are you using an external clock, or did you have the P-03 slaved to the D-03 clock?

Thanks again. Kevin
No clock.... Which makes me think...

I tried the clock in the past twice. Two different times I borrowed from my dealer. Both times I already was familiar with the 03s sound.

I was more than ready to buy if I could hear a difference for the better. Was actualy wanting, in a way, to hear the improvement. But none of the times I was able to hear any big improvement at all. Maybe a small one, but not even sure. Nothing conclusive after extended listening. So both times i declined to buy.

I wonder if the result would have been different if i had listened to the clock with Esoteric cables. Maybe not, but they did change the playing mode of preference big time, so who knows.

Wont be able to try. I already traded in the 03s and with the new 02s with only a few hours on them, clocked to the DAC, I dont have the intention to try the clock for a long while at least til Im familiar with these.

Makes perfect sense to me, and I wouldn't be too surprised to hear that the 02 obviates the need for an outboard clock.

Thanks again, and enjoy!