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Thread: McIntosh MCD 500 OR Esoteric X-03 SE?

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    Default McIntosh MCD 500 OR Esoteric X-03 SE?

    Dear All,

    I consider to upgrade my SACD player from Marantz SA15S1. There are two choices, McIntosh MCD 500 or Esoteric X-03 SE. I can't make an A-B test. So any input shall be very appreciate.

    Thank you very much

    My System: ML Vantage, Krell 280P, Krell 2250 and Marantz SA15S1

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    i have heard a mac cd -- not sure if it was this one -- I doubt it... but, the presentation was - I would say more warm and smooth.... very nice. All reviews of esoteric have been nothing but stellar.... from a review perspective all have pretty much said the esoteric is very neutral/very analog like without any grain etc... as you have probably read. Can't recall -- does this esoteric model have their best transport - or the version down from it? If it were me -- I would probably go the esoteric route - just because I feel that company puts a lot of emphasis on digital playback whereas - I would consider Mac an amp/pre-amp company... Just my opinion of course.

    If you can't a/b ... can you at least hear them both in seperate locations - and possibly a/b them against something else? Maybe I'm full of it - someone can confirm that... but, if you can get to the esoteric and a/b it with a rega saturn for instance - I think you will determine what type of sound you are looking for... The saturn is smoother/warmer type of sound that I think (emphasize that) - you would get out of the mac....

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    Senior Member kach22i's Avatar
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    Expensive stuff, I see why you seek some opinions.

    Have you seen this review?

    http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/e...c14/x03se.html
    When the X03 was first introduced, it had very little competition in build and musical qualities, certainly none at its price. Things since have changed somewhat. Competition in this segment of high-resolution CD/SACD one-box players below $10,000 has grown fiercer today. The X03SE still leads on build quality and its VRDS transport remains without peer. The 60lb player weights as much as the P05/D05 combined - or as much as a Marantz SA7-S1 stacked on top of a Cary SACD-Pro. It feels as though it'd last forever. McIntosh offers a credible alternative in this segment with the MCD500. Its $6500 sticker and quad differential DACs are compelling and I was pleasantly surprised by its musical progress over the brand's prior attempts. Yet from current experience, none of those machines offer the fantastic combination of X03SE virtues to retrieve the lowest-level information on discs that are so critical to reproducing the ambiance of the recorded event.


    Where the newer players pull ahead (the Cary and McIntosh certainly do) is by offering a digital input to connect a music server and take advantage of the higher-quality DACs in those players. The X03-SE sternly lacks that feature. Esoteric certainly made a first step in the right direction when introducing the USB/wireless module for the D03. Rumor has it that we will see similar modules for the D05 and integrated players sometime in 2009. The X03-SE won't need much to once again pull ahead of a competition resolutely set on challenging the leader. I'd call for digital inputs and a pair of AKM 32-bit DACs for added refinement while preserving the superior PRaT ability of the current version. In my book, that would be all to once again dominate this segment. Esoteric, when shall we see my dreamt-up X03-MKII ? In the meantime, the X03-SE gets another strong vote of confidence and an unconditional confirmation of its prior Blue Moon status.
    I would think that in your part of the world you would have access to some other good stuff like a Shanling cd player with tubes. I only mention it because I like the industrial design of their players, very sexy looking.
    George; Architect
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    one more thought -- (tried to edit the above without luck..) what about the ayre c-5xe? I talked to a guy that had the esoteric and top of the line cary. He thought this was the best and many reviewers use it as their standard... Not sure of price - but I know used they are 4K for the universal and about 1800 for the c-7xe (cd only player). I have heard nothing but great news about the ayre -- and if you are walking the road of big ticket transports ... I wouldn't go there without putting this in the mix.

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    Senior Member tonepub's Avatar
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    The Wadia 581i SE....

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonepub View Post
    The Wadia 581i SE....
    Jeff - have you heard the ayre? Just wondered -- I have never heard a bad review...Just curious about it and the wadia... thx. tim.

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    Super User Rich's Avatar
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    Given that choice, having heard neither player, I would go for the Esoteric in a heartbeat. I think its a no-brainer. But that's just me.
    Rich

    This comment is intended solely for educational purposes and should not be construed as conveying any express or implied warranty of fitness for any other purpose. Said comment constitutes merely the humble opinion of its maker and does not reflect the views of the MLOC or of ML, Ltd. YMMV. Trust your own ears.

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    If I can put in a left field idea (non SACD though)

    The Weiss DAC 2/Minerva DAC

    I have read a number of reviews, one of then indicating it can give the Esoteric a run for its money.

    Been trialling one for a few days with music sourced via firewire from a laptop....WOW!!!

    anyway just a thought.

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    Senior Member tonepub's Avatar
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    I've heard them both. The $3000 Ayre CD player is one of my favorites at that price point. Their universal player is also very good and does a better job than most at playing everything well. Most universal players compromise somewhere.

    But the other player I really like at that price point is the Marantz Pearl. For 3k it offers great SACD and CD playback....

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonepub View Post
    I've heard them both. The $3000 Ayre CD player is one of my favorites at that price point. Their universal player is also very good and does a better job than most at playing everything well. Most universal players compromise somewhere.

    But the other player I really like at that price point is the Marantz Pearl. For 3k it offers great SACD and CD playback....
    I think it was stereophile where they had a discussion - and their conclusion at least - was that the universal redbook was better than their cd-only player... But, definitely thanks for the input - I have yet to hear anyone say that the ayre was NOT one of their favorites. I thought you had an opportunity to hear the berkley alpha dac as well did you not? just curious on that vs the all in one players mentioned above....It is really in and around the same price point...

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    Hello All,

    Thank you very much for inputs. There are reasons that hard to make decision. Please correct me if I'm wrong.


    For X-03SE, I agree with every comment that it has the best transport. But, first, X-03SE will down DSD to PCM. I have around 200+ SACD, so this is a main reasons. Second, it don't have digital input. Third, it's an old model and I think they will luanch a new model soon.

    For MCD 500, it has 2 digital input, DSD converter, new model.

    But as Timm said, I'm trust in Esoteric than Mcintosh for CD player.

    Quote Originally Posted by kach22i View Post
    I would think that in your part of the world you would have access to some other good stuff like a Shanling cd player with tubes. I only mention it because I like the industrial design of their players, very sexy looking.
    There are distributor here, I will check with them whether they have SACD player or not.


    Quote Originally Posted by timm View Post
    what about the ayre c-5xe?
    Nice advice, I will check and find time to audit. I'm not sure that it has digital-input.


    Quote Originally Posted by tonepub View Post
    The Wadia 581i SE....
    I also consider Wadia, but retail price here is higher than my budget.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    Given that choice, having heard neither player, I would go for the Esoteric in a heartbeat. I think its a no-brainer. But that's just me.
    Me too, if they only have either digital input or DSD converter


    Quote Originally Posted by Scumurculum View Post
    If I can put in a left field idea (non SACD though)

    The Weiss DAC 2/Minerva DAC

    I have read a number of reviews, one of then indicating it can give the Esoteric a run for its money.

    Been trialling one for a few days with music sourced via firewire from a laptop....WOW!!!

    anyway just a thought.
    Unfortunately, there is no distributor here.


    Thank you all

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    Senior Member asindc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikroski View Post


    For X-03SE, I agree with every comment that it has the best transport. But, first, X-03SE will down DSD to PCM. I have around 200+ SACD, so this is a main reasons. Second, it don't have digital input. Third, it's an old model and I think they will luanch a new model soon.

    For MCD 500, it has 2 digital input, DSD converter, new model.

    But as Timm said, I'm trust in Esoteric than Mcintosh for CD player.

    There are distributor here, I will check with them whether they have SACD player or not.
    Have you checked the USA-version of the Esoteric website? They just released the Esoteric SA-50 SACD/CD player with three digital inputs, including USB:

    http://esoteric.teac.com/audio_players/sa-50/

    Six Moons did a review of it here:

    http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/esoteric18/sa50.html


    As a Cary 306/200 owner, I highly recommend that you look at the Cary 306SACD Pro. I have heard it at a friend's house through his ML Prodigys and it is outstanding. Haven't heard the McIntosh or Wadia to compare, though.

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    I can't speak for the Esoteric as I've never heard it. However, I do own the MCD500, and in my system it sounds fantastic. I have it connected via XLR balanced cables so I can utilize it's stellar DACs. And I'm quite pleased.
    Growing Older But Not Up

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    Senior Member JMAUSGP's Avatar
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    Mikroski,

    Are you playing any SACD multi-channel music? If so, that would effect what you are considering greatly.

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    Super User RUR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikroski View Post
    Unfortunately, there is no (Weiss) distributor here.
    From the Weiss site:
    Thailand, distributor:
    Inventive AV Co., Ltd.
    Mr. Phonglert Lertaraya
    89/36 Unit 101, 1st Floor, HiFi Center,
    Rajdamri Road, Lumpinee, Patumwan, Bangkok 10330
    Thailand
    Phone: +66 2251 0289
    Fax: +66 2251 0278
    Email: phumet@cscoms.com

    I've a DAC2 in my system this week, hooked up to the PS Audio PWT and it's damned impressive.

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