I just completed the review of the Esoteric SA-60 for the upcoming AVXpress. It took longer than expected because of the machine’s flexibility, it was like having to review 3 players in one go. Ok, a bit of exaggeration here, but the 3 up-conversion settings in this Esoteric produce differences that are, although not very pronounced, easily discernable, provided your have a transparent system.

So this one is a tinkerer’s delight, I can imagine some finicky audiophile choosing a preferred setting for each CD, or even one for each TRACK on the same CD. It took me one week of nightly listening to decide which setting I like – you can get my rundown of the sound performance of each setting in the full review. I think Maggielurva should pay me an extra allowance for having to run between my listening chair and the machine to make the changes, because you can’t select the up-conversion scheme from the remote, which is a major pain in the you-know-where.

Anyhow, the SA-60 turns out to be a refined and detailed machine on CD. I can’t fault its performance, nothing is missing and everything is done in an even handed manner. Its soundstaging capability and bass performance bettered my resident Copland, but the Copland did not concede easily too and replied with better musical flow.

On SACD though, all bets are off. SACD on the Esoteric is way better than CD, whether on the same machine or on the Copland. It is a pity I don’t have a big collection of SACDs and the format is also not in danger of becoming wildly popular in the market place. I played Telarc’s Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture by Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops on SACD, even my 8 year old son was impressed - by the cannon shots, and he asked for encores. Hehe, this boy has potential.

Anyway, it was a delightful experience getting acquainted with the Esoteric SA-60. Check it out in the upcoming AVXpress.

8 comments:

david said...

Hi, So you think having different upsampling freq is a definite plus point?

HaVE BEEN THINKING OF GETTING ONE[i AM CONSIDERING THE amr,BUT LOOKING AT var ious options]

Anonymous said...

Hi Fi kaki,

Interesting product review.What aprivilige

weekiat said...

Hi,

do you think the vSACD performance is much superior to warrant An investment in SACD player.How does this machine compare to yr SAcd sony player in term of performance?

kim said...

maggielurva shure treated you well

Chris said...

With due respect ,the Copland CDA289 is the one than routionely humbled more expensive machine.

It use a dedicated,well suspend SONY transport,and what makes it better are the fact that they are heavier than your avarage int AMp and it is capable of HDCD decodindg.

I find that most machine that decode HDCD are much more superior in playing Redbook CD than machine that do not

yam said...

I do not know why the SACD hasn't been as popular as it should have been.

The benefit of a good SACD is almost evedince from the very first minute...Actually DVD-Audio was even better [and that was why MERIDIAN was betting for it.

But better and popular are mutually exclusive...

Gray said...

Maybe it is my British biasness, but to me Meridian and dcs set the benchmark for digital playback.]

It is the benchmark against which others should be compared at diffirent price point...very few managed to come near,none has surpassed.JMHO

hifikaki said...

David,
I personally prefer hifi designers to stake a claim on their sound, it is like them saying, “this is my sound, take it or leave it.”

Having said that, the Esoteric’s 3 up-convesion settings is not like Esoteric is being wishy-washy about the kind of sound they wanted to achieve. The settings affect, subjectively, just 5%-10% of the player’s sound. An analogy would be like your lovely wife/girlfriend owning 3 different dresses, and while she may look different depending on what she puts on, it is still the same her.

Anonymous, Kim,
Thanks. Yes, what a privilege for me indeed.

weekiat,
My own universal player is a Marantz DV7001, which is mainly used for movie watching. Compared the DV7001 and SA-60’s sound is like comparing a little puppy against a fully grown hound (the Marantz is 1/5 the price of the Esoteric anyway). However, playing SACD has an advantage that can be heard even through the DV7001- compared to CD, SACD has a less splashy and better defined treble, which can be heard on cymbal for example.

Chris,
Glad to have a fellow enthusiast for the house of Copland.

yam,
Agreed. I think the music industry really screwed up on the SACD/DVD-A thingy.

gray,
Would love to listen to Meridian and dcs if I have the chance