where to go beyond Esoteric x05


I'm looking for a jump in my digital source. I currently own an Esoteric x05. Budget is around $3k. Any dac in that budget will make a good impact (bel canto, berkley, ayre, acoustic arts etc ?) or any suggested swap with another cd/sacd player that will cost me like $3k ?

Thanks in advance to all repliers
Whats wrong with the dac in your X -05? I doubt any of the dac's mentioned will give you 3,000.00 better sound than what you have now. IMHO, it would be a step sideways
Stereo5...I am guessing Icorem wants his next unit to act as an outboard DAC for PC or music server sources as well disc-based transport. The X-05 does not have digital inputs so can only operate as a stand-alone disc spinner (CD/SACD).
I much preferred the Doge6 to the X-05. I really wanted to like the Esoteric, as it played SACD and was absolutely beautiful. I kept it for over 6 months to try and break it in, but I just couldn't learn to love it. I thought the Doge was much more musically satisfying and harmonically complete. Frankly, this was the first time I've ever preferred a lesser-priced component, and I almost want to believe that my X-05 was somehow malfunctioning. In any case, that was my experience. I also really preferred the Ear Acute to the X-05 and the used price would fit within your preferred range. You don't hear much about the Ear lately, but it's a great player for the money, IMO. BTW, I'm a big Harbeth fan as well, so perhaps our tastes would coincide on the CD player as well. Of course, if you must have the SACD feature, these players won't do it, but frankly, the CD replay was so good on both players, I ended up giving up SACD for better CD.

Well I think the big problem here is that you don't need a better CD player or a DAC. I am pretty sure you would benefit more from a new preamplifier.


Esoteric dealer.

Indeed SACD is important to me as well as having a digital input for future use of a server.
I'm going to audition next week the x05 with the bel canto 3.5 that my dealer told me will take me to digital nirvana.
Icoum - Funny you should mention that, because when I had my X-05, I purchased a DAC2 to make it more listenable to my ears. One would think it would cause a ground hum, running ICs from the player directly and the outputs of the DAC, but it didn't.

Why a new pre ?
I recently purchased the mc601 from Music culture and it is (to my ears) a hell of a pre and an excellent value alltogether. I didn't say i'm not happy with the x05 but rather seek an opinion if I will benefit (having a $3k budget) replacing it to something like a used k03 or adding an outboard dac.
I see the Esoteric K03 and K01 as superb DACs first, which just happen to have a great quality transports built in. When you use them as a pure DAC they act as a pure DAC and sound fantastic. I think this has been said before, and I agree with it completely. If I were looking for an excellent stand alone DAC I would still look at these two from Esoteric.