In February 2015, I reviewed Esoteric’s Grandioso P1 SACD/CD transport, D1 mono digital-to-analog converters, and G-01 master clock generator. At a total cost of $91,000 USD, these state-of-the-art components in five hefty cases of aircraft-grade aluminum are not for the faint of checkbook or rack space.
Those with shallower pockets, fewer racks, and only one spare audiophile power cord might be more interested in the Grandioso K1 ($27,000), an all-in-one SACD and CD player, and DAC. The K1 doesn’t offer the no-holds-barred performance of the P1, D1, and G-01 stack, which uses a 36-bit digital-to-analog processing algorithm, dual mono D/A converters in separate cases, and staggeringly robust power supplies. Still, the K1 has tricks up its sleeve, perhaps foremost its use of the newest and highest-performing DAC chip from Asahi Kasei Microdevices (AKM), the AK4497, which has yet to make its way into the Grandioso separates.
With its new DAC chip, and its smaller size and lower price than the Grandioso separates, the Grandioso K1 promised to make for an interesting review.
Transport: One of the most critical parts of any disc player is its transport, and in the K1 is Esoteric’s best: the much-revered VRDS-NEO VMK-3.5-20S. Designed many years ago and since then constantly improved, it can read SACDs, CDs, CD-Rs, and CD-RWs, and is used in Esoteric’s other high-end disc spinners, the K-01X, P-02X, and Grandioso P1.
Weighing 11.5 pounds (26.5 pounds including its steel base and feet), the transport makes its competitors seem pitiful. Take the disc tray. Although its sole function is to deliver a disc to the transport, it’s made from a solid block of aluminum.
Also, while many audiophile transports spin discs by supporting them with a small chuck, the VRDS-NEO VMK-3.5-20S uses a 7”-diameter platter of vibration-resistant duralumin not unlike those found in LP turntables. Duralumin, an extremely hard and strong aluminum alloy, is commonly used in aircraft construction. The platter is dyed black to absorb any diffused reflections of the laser beam that reads the disc’s data.
The VRDS-NEO transport tightly clamps the disc and bends it to a specific curvature. According to Esoteric, this stabilizes even warped discs, ensuring that the data spiral of pits and lands remains at the optimal angle for reading by the laser beam. Since discs are then always read at precisely the same angle, Esoteric can use a shaft-mounted, fixed-angle laser first developed in 1997 for Esoteric’s P-0 transport. The laser pickup’s travel over the disc is guided by a thick threaded pole. Esoteric states that the wire-hung pickups used in virtually all other CD transports are adversely affected by vibrations, which can knock them off axis.
The platter is driven by a motor, designed and built by Esoteric, that rests on a rigid stainless-steel bridge almost 0.8” (20mm) thick. Esoteric characterizes this motor as “high-flux-density,” “magnet-driven,” “coreless,” “three-phase,” and “brushless.” In layman’s terms, it’s built to quietly, durably, and rapidly spin discs at extremely precise speeds. To reduce friction, the motor’s spindle, which spins the platter, rests on two ultra-high-precision ball bearings that permit micron-level accuracy of rotation.
The motor is electronically driven by Esoteric’s proprietary VS-DD servo driver circuit, which uses a three-channel discrete amplifier instead of an integrated circuit (IC) chip. The amplifier’s high-quality waveform ensures that the turntable’s speed of rotation is extremely accurate even when powered by the fluctuating voltage of household AC.
DAC: For each channel, the K1 usesfour of AKM’s new 32-bit AK4497 DAC chips. The AK4497 is the highest-performing DAC chip AKM has made. (The chip also appears in Esoteric’s new N-01 network player.) The use of multiple chips allows the K1 to use a digital-to-analog algorithm that converts PCM signals at a resolution of 35 bits -- 2048 times the resolution of 24-bit processing. (The mono Grandioso D1 converts signals at a rate of 36 bits.)
When the DAC chips have converted the ones and aughts into an analog waveform, that waveform is amplified by two MUSES03 operational amplifiers per channel. These op-amps, made by New Japan Radio Co., Ltd., are hand-selected for audio quality.
The Grandioso K1 contains four high-capacity toroidal transformers, one each for the spindle motor, left channel, and right channel, and the fourth for other circuits: the front-panel display, disc drawer, and clock. Electric Double-Layer Capacitor (EDLC) arrays, one per channel, power the buffer (amplifier) circuits. First used in the Grandioso C1, each EDLC contains Nichicon capacitors witha super high value of1F (1,000,000uF).
Filters: Like all Grandioso models, the K1 has no user-adjustable FIR or slow-delay filters. This is a blessing, as I’ve found that such filters alter the sound in questionable ways. Like almost all DACs, the K1 does have nonadjustable filters to eliminate the aliasing artifacts inherent in D/A conversion.
Connectivity: The Grandioso K1 has three digital inputs: USB, coaxial, and optical. The coaxial and optical inputs support native DSD up to 2.8MHz, and PCM up to 24-bit/192kHz. The K1 can upconvert the original 16/44.1 PCM signal to 2x, 4x, 8x, or DSD. Via USB, it supports asynchronous transmission and file playback at high sampling rates of DSDx2 (5.6MHz), DSDx4 (11.2MHz), and 32/384 PCM. The coaxial and optical inputs are limited to 24/192 and 2.8MHz DSD.
The K1 does not process Master Quality Authenticated (MQA), the digital music format for high-resolution music files developed by Meridian Audio and since spun off as MQA Limited. Esoteric states that including MQA in its disc players would require a complete redesign of their DAC sections, and that they’re considering its feasibility. They do plan to add MQA to their N-05 network audio player.
The audible effects of MQA remain controversial, but regardless of how it all shakes out, MQA’s absence in the K1 should not be cause for concern. A “renderer,” such as an MQA-compatible music server, can be used to process MQA files and send the “unfolded” (MQAspeak for decoded) signals to the K1. There are also several streaming Internet sites that will decode MQA signals at the desktop level, though such decoding won’t provide all of the sonic benefits claimed for MQA.
The K1 has three analog outputs: XLR, RCA, and Esoteric’s new proprietary ES-LINK Analog connector, which uses analog XLR cables. Esoteric recommends ES-LINK Analog for the highest performance, stating that it is impedance free. Although the only other product that now includes ES-LINK Analog is the Grandioso F1 integrated amplifier, the technology will be implemented in future Esoteric pre- and integrated amplifiers. The K1 also has two digital outputs, XLR and RCA.
Clock: The Grandioso K1’s custom clock, a voltage-controlled quartz oscillator (VCXO), is positioned separately from the K1’s other circuits, such as power and ground. Its large crystal element exhibits extremely low phase noise and has an accuracy of ±0.5 part per million. For increased performance, the K1 can be connected via a BNC coaxial cable to an external clock, such as the matching Esoteric Grandioso G1 ($22,000), which has accuracy of ±0.5 part per billion.
Appearance: Like all Grandioso models, the Grandioso K1 is drop-dead gorgeous, its sculpted faceplate a striking example of contemporary industrial design. Although my Esoteric K-01X SACD/CD player has always looked exquisite to me, now, sitting next to the K1, its looks are plain Jane.
The Grandioso K1 measures 17.5”W x 6.4”H x 17.6”D and weighs a monoblock-like 72.75 pounds. Its thick, rounded faceplate is carved from a single block of high-grade aluminum in a process that takes eight hours on a CNC machine. The massive result is not only aesthetically stunning but functional, shielding the delicate internal circuitry from electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio-frequency interference (RFI). The faceplate’s rounded shape doesn’t permit the use of the interference-repelling retracting tray door found on many of Esoteric’s non-Grandioso models. Even so, Esoteric states that the K1’s faceplate and robust housing provide more protection from electrical interference than do their non-Grandioso models.
On the front panel are the disc tray, the dimmable display, a clock status indicator, an IR remote-control sensor, and buttons for power, tray open/close, menu (to access settings, including a timed-turn off feature), mode (to select disc playback or an external source), and disc playback (stop, play, pause, next, previous). On the rear panel are an AC power inlet, and connectors for inputs, outputs, an external clock (BNC), and signal ground.
The VRDS-NEO transport is supported by four patented pinpoint steel feet (with attached steel cups) that reduce vibrations emanating from the transport. The K1’s internal structure is two-storied: the audio boards and clock on top, and under them the power-supply circuits and drive control. Esoteric says that this prevents magnetic flux and vibrational leakage, and shortens the signal paths.
Esoteric has also improved the isolation of the K1’s digital and analog circuits via the implementation of “isolator chipsets” on the DAC boards. The K-01X SACD/CD player does not include these chipsets.
The K1 comes with Esoteric’s RC-1315 remote control, which has an aluminum body but lacks backlighting. The remote is heavy enough and well made, and I found it acceptably easy to use. Nonetheless, it’s a step back in function and appearance from Esoteric’s previous, backlit remote of leather and aluminum. For a component costing $27,000, I would prefer a remote-control handset that’s more, well... grandioso.
Esoteric offers a one-year limited warranty for the K1, to which Integra, the company’s US distributor, adds two years for all units sold here. In light of the K1’s cost and Esoteric’s reputation for overbuilding its products, it would be nice to see something closer to five years.
The Grandioso K1 came exceptionally well packaged, in a heavy cardboard cocoon that was itself triple-boxed. As I’d already downloaded to my PC Esoteric’s Windows driver for use with my Esoteric K-01X SACD/CD player ($20,000), the K1 was good to go out of the box.
Compared to the Grandioso separates, setting up the K1 was much less demanding not only of cables and rack space, but also of my back. I used cables from Synergistic Research: Galileo LE USB, two Galileo UEF analog interconnects, and a Galileo UEF digital power cord. I placed the K1 on Symposium Acoustics’ Osiris Stealth Ultimate audio rack and used several aftermarket footers, but mostly Synergistic’s MIG 2.0s and Symposium’s Series 2+ Rollerblocks. During part of the listening period I experimented with connecting the K1 to Synergistic’s Active Ground Block.
Each of the above products substantially improved the K1’s performance. The possibility that anyone would use a Grandioso K1 with its own stock molded power cord or a very inexpensive aftermarket cord, or place it on a $9.99 IKEA Lack table, seems as unlikely as a monkey typing Hamlet’s soliloquy.
To stream and read digital files, I used a desktop PC modified with JCAT audiophile components and the JPlay audio player, the latter using Audio Stream Input/Output (ASIO) and Kernel Streaming (KS) drivers. JPlay offers exceptional sound quality, particularly through its KS drivers. However, those drivers are not supported by Esoteric, which advises using only the ASIO drivers. Using KS drivers with Esoteric DACs frequently causes JPlay to stop working, and it can be restarted only by closing and resetting JPlay in WASAPI output mode. This problem needs to be considered by anyone who wants to use the K1 with an audio player that uses KS drivers.
Esoteric also sent me a Grandioso G1 master clock generator. However, I mostly listened to the K1 without a clock -- my report on the effects of the G1 on the K1’s sound will be forthcoming. And while Esoteric offered to also send me a Grandioso F1 integrated amplifier, it was impossible to fit it into my review queue, which meant I was unable to evaluate any effects that connecting them via Esoteric’s ES-LINK Analog connection might have had on the sound.
But be prepared to bleed
-- Joni Mitchell, “A Case of You,” from Blue
Esoteric’s much more expensive digital stack of Grandioso P1, D1, and G-01 substantially betters the Grandioso K1 in speed, timing, timbral delineation, resolution, weight, transient impact, imaging, and vertical soundstaging. However, the K1 produced sound of greater liquidity and fluency, and lower overall distortion, than any other gear I’ve had in my room, including the Grandioso separates. The result was that the K1 uncovered previously hidden fluctuations of intonation and articulation that allowed music’s emotional content to come through recordings as I’d never before experienced with them.
Although I could hear the K1’s stunning liquidity and fluency with well-recorded music of all types, it was particularly audible in the recordings of wind instruments and solo voices, the realism of which the K1 absolutely nailed. This may have been due to the workings of the human respiratory system -- attacks and decays fluctuate erratically, compared to the more predictable, often even linear sounds of strings and percussion.
The K1 revealed newly heard microperturbations in Neil Young’s vocal tone and articulation in “Love in Mind,” from his Live at Massey Hall 1971 (16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC, Reprise). Rather than having a single uniform tonal quality, the tone of Young’s voice now frequently changed in quality and intensity. The result was that his voice sounded uncommonly realistic and emotionally expressive.
Conversely, the K1 revealed several examples of a startling absence of microvacillations of frequency and amplitude. In her sublime recording of “Misty,” from Pure Ella (CD, Verve 539206), Ella Fitzgerald’s voice was free of shimmer and distortion, embodying a serenity that soothed my soul. This was starkly contrasted with the realistic way the K1 reproduced Louis Armstrong’s coarse, ragged voice.
Note that I’m not talking here about pure resolution of detail, though that was certainly a part of the K1’s unique abilities. The Grandioso digital stack is even more resolving than the K1. Yet those separates still somehow lack the K1’s tonal and articulative fluidity, and, to some extent, its ability to convey emotion. Thus, the liquid, textured, and emotionally communicative K1 has taken one more step away from digital’s historic shortcomings.
For example, with both the Grandioso separates and, later, with the K1, my significant other and I listened to numerous recordings by Diana Krall, including Doing All Right: In Concert (16/44.1 FLAC, IMC Music Limited). But it was only with the K1 that we cried throughout the listening session. Despite the never-ending stream of components that have traveled through my listening room -- including the Esoteric K-01X SACD/CD Player ($20,000) -- that had never happened before.
At this point, I wish I could tell you something insightful -- that, say, the Grandioso K1’s sound was better or worse with CDs than with SACDs, or that it reproduced some types of music better than others. I can’t. Whether from disc or digital file, classical music, rock, or jazz, the K1 offered remarkable performance for a one-box player. This was no surprise to me -- I have long maintained that at least a part of what makes Esoteric’s digital gear so good is the company’s excellent analog circuitry.
In addition to its fluency, the K1 possesses many standout talents, not least of which are its timbral delineation and pace, rhythm, and timing. I listened to Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola, K.364 (16/44.1 FLAC, Channel Classics). This gorgeous composition gives the two solo instruments equal play in a complex series of exchanges between themselves and the orchestra, the writing for the latter including two sections for violas divisi -- that is, the orchestral violas are divided into two sections playing different parts. For the solo viola, Mozart mostly calls for a scordatura tuning: the four strings are tuned a semitone above their normal pitches. The resulting brighter timbre very closely resembles that of the solo violin.
Many components don’t fully parse the timbres in this work, producing a homogenized miscellany of instruments that are scored to play discrepant orchestral roles. The K1 revealed to a very impressive degree the violin’s silky, soprano-like sound, which exaggerated high frequencies above about 5000Hz. Very expensive state-of-the-art digital playback systems, such as Esoteric’s Grandioso separates and dCS’s Vivaldi stack, reveal a bit more of the violin’s brilliance and sweetness. Even so, with the K1 there was no mistaking solo violin for solo viola, even though the latter was tuned higher. Further, the K1 gorgeously contrasted the vibrant and lustrous tones of the solo viola with the deep resonances of the orchestral violas.
Many consider J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations, written for harpsichord, to be some of the most profound and complex music ever written. The harpsichord has long been eclipsed by the piano, which can convey far more nuances of expression. Nonetheless, a master harpsichordist can express great amounts of nuance through a good instrument, while more accurately representing Bach’s original vision. The key is in the timing.
The slow-tempo canons at the unison, third, and octave in Mahan Esfahani’s unique take on the Goldbergs (CD, Deutsche Grammophon B002537902) were impeccably reproduced by the K1, no doubt due in large part to the rotational accuracy of the VRDS-NEO transport. The K1 not only beautifully showed off the harpsichord’s clean, silvery tone, it also demonstrated Esfahani’s commanding control of tempo and rhythm, both of which are often lost with many digital and analog source components.
The K1’s speed, leading-edge transient impact, and pinpoint imaging all bettered, to a greater or lesser extent, those of the K-01X. On Ondekoza’s percussion track “Fujiyama,” from YG Acoustics’ Test CD II (CD, YG Acoustics), drumstrokes were incredibly clean, detailed, and unveiled. In Beethoven’s Symphony No.9, with Jan Willem de Vriend conducting the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra (CD, Challenge Classics CC72550), piccolo transients were so crisp and succinctly rendered that they brought a remarkable penetrating leading edge to orchestral melodies. In “Walking on the Moon,” from the Yuri Honig Trio’s Star Tracks (16/44.1 FLAC, Jazz in Motion), the three-dimensionality and pinpoint image of Honig’s tenor saxophone was only bettered, in my experience, by much, much more expensive digital gear.
Other than a lack of fluency (i.e., graininess), digital’s archetypal foibles -- sibilance, brittleness, peakiness, and limited decay and sustain -- were either not present in the K1’s sound or were much lower than in lower-end gear. What the K1 didn’t deliver were those last, extremely expensive degrees of timbral delineation, resolution, weight, transient impact, noise rejection, and deep vertical soundstaging, all of which are offered by the Grandioso digital separates.
The Grandioso K1 is an obvious contender for the best one-box digital performer. Further, at least until AKM’s new DAC chips become more commonly used, it challenges and may even better many of today’s state-of-the-art digital front ends in its ability to convey music’s emotional content. That is quite an accomplishment. Thankfully for most of us, multiple component racks, a large loom of cables, and a six-figure bank account are not required to experience just how good it is.
. . . Howard Kneller
- Amplifier -- Esoteric A-03
- Preamplifier -- Esoteric Grandioso C1
- Sources -- Desktop PC with JCAT USB Card and JCAT USB Isolator running Windows 10, JPlay; Esoteric K-01X SACD/CD player; Stanford Research PERF10 and Esoteric Grandioso G1 rubidium clocks
- Other electronics -- JLAudio CR-1 active subwoofer crossover
- Speakers -- YG Acoustics Kipod II Signature
- Subwoofers -- JLAudio Fathom v2 (2)
- Interconnects -- Synergistic Research Galileo UEF
- Digital links -- JPlay JCAT USB, Synergistic Research Galileo LE USB
- Speaker cables -- Synergistic Research Galileo UEF
- Power cords -- Synergistic Research Galileo UEF and Atmosphere Level 3
- Power conditioners and distribution -- Synergistic Research PowerCell 12 UEF SE and QLS power strips
- Isolation devices -- Symposium Acoustics: Osiris Ultimate and Standard Racks, Segue Platform, RollerBlock Series 2+ supports; Synergistic Research: Tranquility Bases, Silent Running Audio VRfp Isobase, MIG 2.0s
- Room treatments and correction -- Synergistic Research: Acoustic Art System, Atmosphere XL, HFT, FEQ
- Misc. -- Synergistic Research: Active Grounding Block, Black fuses; Mad Scientist Black Discus Audio System Enhancer, WA-Quantum Quantum-Sound-Animator, Hi Fidelity MC-0.5 Magnetic Wave Guides, f.oq damping tape.
Esoteric Grandioso K1 SACD/CD Player-DAC
Price: $27,000 USD.
Warranty: Three years parts and labor.
18 Park Way
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Phone: (201) 818-9200
In December 2017, I reviewed and then bought Esoteric’s one-box Grandioso K1 SACD/CD player and digital-to-analog converter ($31,000, discontinued; all prices USD). That’s a lifetime ago in the fast-paced world of digital audio, but some things haven’t changed—for one thing, as evinced by the K1’s successor, the Grandioso K1X ($36,000), Esoteric is sticking with the format of 4.75″ shiny silver discs. From the company known for having virtually perfected the SACD/CD transport, that’s no surprise.
Later that year Esoteric introduced the K1X, whose technologies, trickled down from the P1X and D1X, include Esoteric’s new VRDS-Atlas transport (VRDS stands for Vibration-free Rigid Disc-clamping System) and Master Sound Discrete DAC.. Also on the rear panel are a ground post (spade or bare wire), a 50-ohm BNC connector for a 10MHz external clock signal, a Micro-USB Type-B port for software maintenance, a three-pronged AC power inlet—and, at far left and right, two connectors for the thick and beautifully crafted power umbilicals, one per channel, that optionally feed the K1X direct current from the PS1 power supply.. Each generation of Esoteric digital gear has provided improvements in the things that make recordings sound exciting: transparency, soundstaging, and the faithful reproduction of dynamics, detail, and transients.. With discs, or with digital streams sent from a laptop running Qobuz, I found that the K1X preserved, and in many cases improved on, everything that makes sound stimulating, and with a sound far more harmonically dense and refined than I’d heard from past Esoteric digital components, including the K1.. Amplifier: Esoteric Grandioso S1 Preamplifier: Esoteric Grandioso C1 Sources: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 computer running foobar2000, Esoteric Grandioso K1 SACD/CD player and Grandioso G1 Master Clock Generator Subwoofer crossover: JL Audio CR-1 Speakers: YG Acoustics Kipod II Signature Subwoofers: JL Audio Fathom f113 v2 (2) Interconnects: Synergistic Research Galileo SX Digital links: Mad Scientist Audio Black Magic USB, Synergistic Research Galileo SX USB and BNC digital Speaker cables: Synergistic Research Galileo SX Power cords: Synergistic Research SR25 (power conditioner) and Galileo SX Power conditioners and distribution: Synergistic Research PowerCell SX and QLS power strips Isolation devices: Symposium Acoustics: Osiris Ultimate and Standard racks, Segue platform, RollerBlock Series 2+ equipment support system.
The Grandioso K1 takes its place at the pinnacle of Esoteric's one box CD players built with the finest luxurious materials expected of a flagship model.
SUPER AUDIO CD PLAYER The Grandioso K1 takes its place at the pinnacle of this range as an all-in-one Super Audio CD player comprised of only the very best in luxurious materials expected of a flagship model.. Esoteric has also developed “ES-LINK Analog”, an original high quality current transmission method for connecting with the Grandioso F1 Integrated Amplifier.. 35-bit D/A Processing for Outstanding Powers of Musical Expression The Grandioso K1 combines multiple 32-bit DAC chipsets and utilises a 35-bit D/A processing algorithm to convert the PCM signal to analog at a high resolution of 35 bits.. Esoteric-HCLD*1: Esoteric’s Proprietary Current-Enhancing Output Buffer Circuit The ability to produce comparatively large currents and high slew rates are two of the most important factors that enable an analog output circuit to accurately transmit the wide dynamic range of a music signal without degradation.. “ES-LINK Analog” Method for High Quality Current Transmission In addition to regular line connections (XLR and RCA), the Grandioso K1 features the new “ES-LINK Analog” transmission method developed by Esoteric.. This is a current transmission signaling that utilises the high performance of the HCLD buffer circuit and its enhanced ability to supply current at high-speed.. Digital Inputs Three digital inputs (USB, coaxial, and optical) enable connection to a wide range of systems.. USB Support for 11.2 MHz DSD, 384 kHz/32-bit PCM, and Asynchronous Transmission The Grandioso K1 includes a USB terminal for connecting to computers, and the driver and “ESOTERIC HR Audio Player” playback software can be downloaded from the Esoteric website free-of-charge.. High-Precision VCXO Clock Often considered the heart of a digital player, the clock circuit supplies a high-accuracy reference clock signal to the digital circuitry.. The Grandioso Custom VCXO (voltage-controlled crystal oscillator) developed in a joint effort with Nihon Dempa Kogyo (NDK) is a high-precision custom clock that adopts a large crystal element to ensure exceptional sound playback quality with excellent center accuracy (±0.5 ppm) and extremely low levels of phase noise.. Clock Sync Function for Synchronisation with External Devices Connecting the Grandioso K1 to a high-precision master clock generator such as the Grandioso G1 allows synchronisation of the unit’s operation with an external clock signal, thereby enabling the quality of the system to be further upgraded.. This cable adopts a MIL-compliant gold plated SMA connector that was specifically developed for high frequency transmission and an original milled brass BNC terminal designed by ESOTERIC to achieve a secure connection, in order to minimise loss of transmission to the utmost limit.. Specifications GRANDIOSO K1 PLAYABLE DISC TYPES Super Audio CD, CD (including CD-R and CD-RW) ANALOG AUDIO OUTPUTS ConnectorsXLR connector (2ch) × 1 pair. RCA connector (2ch) × 1 pair. Output impedanceXLR: 20 Ohms. Maximum output level (1 kHz, 10k Ohm load)XLR: 5.0 Vrms. Frequency response5 Hz to 55 kHz (- 3 dB, SACD, XLR out)S/N ratio120dB (SACD, XLR out)Total harmonic distortion0.0008% (1 kHz, SACD, XLR out) DIGITAL AUDIO OUTPUT XLR connector ×13 Vp-p (into 110 Ohm)RCA connector ×10.5 Vp-p (into 75 Ohm) DIGITAL AUDIO INPUT RCA connector ×1 (input impedance 75 Ohms)0.5 Vp-pOptical digital connector ×1-24.0 to -14.5dBm peakUSB-B connectorUSB 2.0 standard CLOCK SYNC INPUT FORMAT ConnectorBNCSupported input frequencies (±10ppm)44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, 176.4 kHz, 192 kHz, 10 MHz, 22.5792 MHz, 24.576 MHzInput impedance50 OhmInput levelRectangle wave: equivalent to TTL levels; Sine wave: 0.5 to 1.0 Vrms (50 to 75 Ohms) GENERAL Power supplyAC 230V, 50Hz. External dimensions. (W x H x D, including protrusions). ESOTERIC COMPANY, which was born in the midst of such transition, shall pursue a unique path as a high-end audio brand, by deploying Super Audio CD players equipped with the VRDS mechanism that has sublimated its original mechatronics technology, as well as D/A converters, network players, amplifiers, and clock generators.
High-End Esoteric SACD/CD Player & DAC, "Disc types=SACD, CD, CD-R, CD-RW";"Input formats=DSD64, DSD128, DSD256, DSD512, PCM 32-192kHz,16/24-bit (IEC60958), PCM32/768 (USB only)";"D/A converter=Dual Mono Master Sound Discrete DAC, 64-bit processing & MQA"
VRDS (Vibration-Free Rigid Disc-Clamping System) is Esoteric's unique CD/Super Audio CD transport technology, which has been specially designed to clamp the disc to a same-diameter turntable in order to eliminate the disc's rotational vibration, as well as any extraneous vibration emanating from the mechanism itself.. The Grandioso K1's mighty power supply was the key to its powerful and profound three-dimensional sound.. Its built-in D/A converter features independent power transformers for left and right channels, and the K1X includes a total of four independent toroidal power supply transformers.. Furthermore, technologies cultivated in the development of the Grandioso P1X/D1X have also been adopted, including a new low-feedback DC power supply regulator featuring a discrete circuit configuration which contributes to its powerful open sound.. The internal structure of the chassis features a double deck design, with the audio boards on the upper level and power supply circuits and transformers on the lower level to minimize magnetic flux leakage and vibration, while also shortening the power supply wiring.. Key components such as a clock driver, logic circuit, and capacitors and resistors, are kept independent for each of these 32 elements to ensure the purest output without no loss of musical energy.. The FPGA's* dedicated digital processing algorithm was developed exclusively for the Master Sound Discrete DAC, and has been fully optimized for outstanding playback of both DSD and PCM digital audio data.
ESOTERIC K1X CD/SACD PLAYER / DAC
VRDS (Vibration-Free Rigid Disc-Clamping System) is Esoteric’s unique CD/Super Audio CD transport technology, which has been specially designed to clamp the disc to a same-diameter turntable in order to eliminate the disc’s rotational vibration, as well as any extraneous vibration emanating from the mechanism itself.. The new VRDS-ATLAS platform boasts unprecedented mechanical perfection and superlative audio quality, with heavyweight construction that is fully 127% heavier than previous iterations (6.6kg for the mechanism alone, and 13.5kg including its base).. Adopting a wide & low-profile design for the entire mechanism helped achieve a lower center-of-gravity, and relocating the turntable motor to below the turntable from its previous position above the bridge dramatically shortened the route for grounding vibration and reducing mechanical noise.. The Grandioso K1’s mighty power supply was the key to its powerful and profound three-dimensional sound.. Its built-in D/A converter features independent power transformers for left and right channels, and the K1X includes a total of four independent toroidal power supply transformers.. Furthermore, technologies cultivated in the development of the Grandioso P1X/D1X have also been adopted, including a new low-feedback DC power supply regulator featuring a discrete circuit configuration which contributes to its powerful open sound.. This greatly increased power supply capacity provides a tremendously improved sound quality for exceptional resolution in the lower frequency ranges.. The internal structure of the chassis features a double deck design, with the audio boards on the upper level and power supply circuits and transformers on the lower level to minimize magnetic flux leakage and vibration, while also shortening the power supply wiring.. Our top engineering teams put their pride on the line to design and produce a quality of sound that can only be found in the Master Sound Discrete DAC discrete D/A converter.. The K1X’s Master Sound Discrete DAC is the most revolutionary two-channel stereo DAC circuit in Esoteric’s history, and is based on the original circuit developed for the Grandioso D1X monaural D/A converter.. The FPGA’s* dedicated digital processing algorithm was developed exclusively for the Master Sound Discrete DAC, and has been fully optimized for outstanding playback of both DSD and PCM digital audio data.. Technologies cultivated in the production of electronic circuit boards for audio, medical, aerospace, and defense industries support the high production quality of the Master Sound Discrete DAC.. A high-accuracy clock circuit is the key to achieving superlative sound quality in digital audio playback.. This clock was developed with carefully considered modifications made to the earlier model’s internal circuitry and components to more vividly emphasize the K1X’s ultimate audio quality while further boasting remarkably low phase noise and excellent center precision (±0.5ppm).. The K1X can also be connected to the Grandioso G1 Master Clock Generator for playback, with internal circuits synchronized to a 10MHz clock that features the same high precision as an atomic clock, enabling further pursuit of high sound quality.
Esoteric K-01X SACD/CD Player review
In addition to the ergonomics and convenience, we are intrigued by the possibility of sound performance beyond CD and SACD quality and maybe even approaching vinyl for the first time.. For computer audio, the thought of designing and building a custom standalone desktop or laptop music server with discrete audiophile quality hardware and software is well beyond my current level of expertise (and interest for that matter).. Beyond high resolution music files, I wanted to keep my collection and continue to listen to CDs and SACDs.. I loaded it up with a nice quantity of DSD and PCM files and then experimented with it connected to both the Playback Designs MPS-5 and the Devialet integrated amplifiers.. Magico Q7 Loudspeakers Sonus Faber Stradivari Loudspeakers Pass Labs X350.8 Stereo Amplifier Pass Labs XP-30 Preamplifier Audio Research Reference 6 Preamplifier Devialet 800 Integrated Amplifier Esoteric F-05 Integrated Amplifier REL G25 Subwoofers Playback Designs MPS-5 SACD/CD Player Esoteric K-01X SACD/CD Player Oppo BDP-105D SACD/CD Player Aurender N10 Music Server Synergistic Research Element CTS Cable throughout Rix Rax Hoodoo Component Rack Magico QPod Footers. State of the art design choices include the well celebrated Esoteric VRDS NEO VMK 3.5-20S transport, the Asahi Kasei Microdevices Corporation 32-bit AK4495S DAC IC, and the MUSES 02 operational ampliﬁer.. Please see the Esoteric website for additional insight on all the inputs, outputs and digital filters.. It has me staying up late at night listening to CDs, SACDs and various high resolution files that I have not listened to in years.. I have read various reviews for other components that stated a preference for CDs vs. SACDs or DSD vs. PCM (or visa versa), but the K-01x delivered the goods for all of these formats.. High resolution DSD128 and PCM 192/24 files finally realized their full potential and thankfully justified all the time and energy that I have invested with computer audio.. There is no edge or bite that will smear and homogenize the sound like most strings on digital recordings.. The Esoteric K-01X SACD/CD/DAC Player is currently my favorite digital front end by a long shot (when utilized with the very best servers for music files).
Mono & Stereo High-End Audio Magazine: Magico - Nagra - Tidal Audio - Wilson Audio - MSB - Totaldac - Living Voice - Taiko Audio - Aries Cerat -Thrax
It combines established class-leading features, such as the VRDS-NEO (VMK-5) mechanism and a high-rigidity aluminum chassis, with the latest K1 DAC platform employing a new dual-mono D/A converter, high current output buffer amplifiers and a new power supply.The unique VRDS-NEO VMK-5 transport mechanism featured in this new model incorporates high-precision turntable that greatly improves reading accuracy by mechanically correcting for disc surface run-out.. 34-bit D/A Processing for Outstanding Powers of Musical Expression The K-05Xs combines multiple 32-bit DAC chipsets and utilizes a 34-bit D/A processing algorithm to convert the PCM signal to analog at a high resolution of 34 bits.. As well as the standard XLR and RCA analog inter faces, Esoteric's proprietary "ES-Link Analog" analog interface is also fitted and this is incorporated into the XLR output circuit.. Chassis Construction Together with the D/A converter and output buffer amplifier, the quality of the power supply is also a key factor in achieving high sound quality.. External Clock Synchronization Feature Whilst the internal VCXO-based clock provides a very high-quality clock signal, the audio performance of the K-05Xs can be further improved by connecting it to a high-precision master clock generator such as the G-02X.
A new chapter has been written in the history book of digital players The K-07Xs captures the essence of the Grandioso K1, with revolutionary innovations throughout the design. The Xs lets nothing get in the way of the music, providing an emotionally involving playback experience. The third generation of the K Series S
It has all of the users' favorite construction features, such as the VOSP Super Audio CD transport mechanism and high-rigidity aluminum chassis, along with a range of new ones such as the latest digital circuitry, a D/A converter based on the latest K1 platform, high current output buffer amplifiers and a high-stability, low-noise power supply.. The K-07Xs combines multiple 32-bit DAC chipsets and utilizes a 34-bit D/A processing algorithm to convert the PCM signal to analog at a high resolution of 34 bits.. In the digital range, full advantage is taken of high-bit data gradation to minimize calculation errors and provide faithful conversion to analog, thereby attaining outstanding powers of expression even with extremely small music signals.. For an output stage to faithfully convey the wide dynamic range of a musical performance to the next component in the system, it needs to be able to deliver high currents at high speed.. These are configured differentially for the XLR output and in parallel for the RCA output to provide outstanding linearity and dynamics.. As well as the standard XLR and RCA analog inter faces, Esoteric's proprietary "ES-Link Analog" analog interface is also fitted and this is incorporated into the XLR output circuit.. This takes advantage of the high current drive capability of the HCLD buffer circuit, making it less susceptible to the effects of the impedance of the signal path and enabling the audio signal to be transmitted with improved clarity and dynamics.. Together with the D/A converter and output buffer amplifier, the quality of the power supply is also a key factor in achieving highsound quality.. * This set has an extremely large capacity of 330,000μF, enabling the power supply to provide each section with a clean and stable power source.. The analog audio output can be switched between ES-LINK Analog, RCA, and XLR.. These features are combined with an attractive organic EL display to form an extremely attractive design worthy of a leading product like the K-07Xs and enhance the pleasure of using and owning this Super Audio CD player.