Esoteric X-03 Special Edition SACD/CD player.

My very good friend ask me what I thought of the Esoteric X-03 SACD/CD player? I answered just as above captioned title. He was amused and said "it can't be! Esoteric players tend to tick all the right audiophile boxes, but can come out sounding rather mechanical or analytical".
Top panel detailing, the gold "Special Edition" plague didn't show up on the photo too well.

In this review, I especially looked out hard for that effect but found none of the mechanical, analytical attributes during the term of this review. I played all types of music through it, classical, jazz, pop and rock, but always found the Esoteric to be very musically satisfying, in the context of my system. Maybe my system is bias towards beautifying music, hence could be more forgiving in nature compared to other similar level set ups. What ever the reason, the Esoteric X-03 just fit in to my system sonically like hand in glove. In the past 3 years of comparing high end CD players against my Marantz CD7, I have never found another CD player to sonically advanced over the CD7 convincingly. It's always 2 steps forward and 1 step back type results. With the Esoteric X-03, I have finally found it!
The back panel, note the WBT Next Gen style RCA plugs?

The Esoteric's build quality is of battle ship quality, that was something once my Marantz could claim, but by comparison, it has now being demoted to battle cruiser quality instead!The player weights a few kgs more than my 23kgs Marantz, but the trump card has to be the all aluminium tray! It slides in and out like as if riding on a layer of air! It's that smooth. The review unit has Special Edition logo pasted on to it and the shipping carton, I wonder if it's all those gold plated WBT Next Gen RCA plugs that makes it "special"? Otherwise, from the outside, I can't tell the difference from a regular X-03.
The "Special Edition" packaging.

Let's dissect the sound a little more. From the very first silent notes on a classical track, I could tell this player's noise floor is frighteningly quiet! No hiss what so ever, just an eeri, airy silence, like as if you can hear a pin drop in a large space kinda silence. From the very start the Esoteric's smoothness is very apparent. Some may even accuse it of being too smooth, without character! I beg to differ though. I find this player's tonal balance to be very even and neutral. No added mid range warmth here to seek comfort. The highs have a very special quality that is at once airy and realistic. Playing some jazz music with some elaborate drum work, I find my self playing my imaginary drum kit, I was once a drummer boy many, many years ago. The Esoteric reminded me of the Zildian cymbals and high hats, I used to hit. The snare drums had that special quality too, that is many CD player's weak point, most do snare drums without the initial energy of the stick hitting the skin patch, the Esoteric came closest again to reminding me about my old snare drum kit! The low frequency, if at first did not sound outstanding, is actually the most realistic that I've came along. When the kick drums play, it just sounds so much like my drum kit that I used to play. The Esoteric just makes me wanna stop listening to music and look for my drum kit and jamming partners all over again! It's that realistic! from a musical instrument sound point of reference.

It does vocals very convincingly too, they are always singing in your room with solid density. Bass lines does not have that exaggerated tightness that we're used to with many CD players. The bass lines flow from note to note very organically, without calling for attention to it self, yet, if you decide to look for it audibly, it's all there in full glory. In fact the overall staging and imaging presentation is very organic, and as close as CD players gets to vinyl reproduction in that respect. The images are never card boardy, and never have very strong out lines, just very smooth and organically fade to black back ground kinda effect.
The solid aluminium tray, that glides like on a cushion of "air"!

The Esoteric X-03 also digs deep in to the CD format and retrieves as much information that's possible. And quite like the JPS Aluminata I played with last week, I've never heard so many details in my music like this before. However, the details are all very organically integrated in to the over musical presentation, that whilst you hear it's there you do not find it annoyingly so. Micro and macro dynamic swings are amongst the best that I have tested too.
The Esoteric X-03 even matches like part of the avant garde package, together with the Pass Lab X2.5 and the FE Spider like rack. Beautiful!

All the above I was describing was it's performance in CD mode. I did try the player in SACD mode with the very few SACD titles that I have. I thought unlike the norm, which SACD players tend to short change CD performance to justify it self, the Esoteric never resorted to that game. In fact, I felt it did all it could within the CD format's limitations. Playing SACD just does all the above sonic magic plus a little more. Staging is deeper and wider, imaging just a little more palpable. With the right classical recordings, hall effect is more apparent. Overall, the SACD side of performance is just a little bit closer to the analog vinyl source.

To sum up the final arbiter of this review in the parallel car world universe, my Marantz CD7 feels like the previous generation of BMW 740i series(Ken Ishiwata drives mostly BMWs), whilst the Esoteric X-03 feels like driving the very latest Lexus LS430. If you're familiar with both cars, I know I am.

Just a little quibble to note, when changing format(the player auto detects) from SACD to CD, the next disc takes about 30-45secs to load the TOC and vice versa. However, if you're changing from disc to disc without format change, then loading of TOC is no longer than a standard CD player.

All in all, if I had RM$32K today, I'd tell Nelson of Centre Circle Audio that I won't be sending back this CD player to him. But I don't have the $$$, so my lost is now any one's gain! If you're looking for a high end CD player at the price level, do check it out! I have already included the Esoteric to be one of the finest CD player on the lower side of RM$50k, along with the Audio Research CD7 and Meridian G808.2. It's that good, if not better!

Esoteric is sold by Centre Circle Audio, tel: 03-77282686


Felix said...


Great write up!

I am SOLD! Now, where's my drum kit! :-)

Seriously, I've heard about this CDP. Now I know it's true and its that good!

ish said...

dOESN'T SOUND LIKE MOST Esoteric players I know at all.

You are absolutely right though,I think Esoterics has come a long way towards realizing that details without musicality will not win you many audiophiles friends.

very good review;and I suspect the TORUS has contributed quite significantly in fine tuning the CDP

iaian said...

The thing I like the most about esoteric is the gorgoeus!!!!!when matched with tube amps they always sound good ;but they do not dseems to like SS amps that much....Until now.;

look slike finally Esoterics has found the balance that we audiophil;es are looking for.;

kh lim said...

If only you could compare this with Wadia 581SE.......

cheah said...

More than 23kg?

That is more than more than most int amp weight.It isn't a typo error is it?

kcooi said...


do I smell another withdrawal ala Torus soon?

fafafion said...

Mr Panzer,

A thoroughly good review;very good in fact and immensely entertaining

km ng said...

Does the Esoteric have the phase invert switch?

This is one very, very important little switch.

Anonymous said...

yawn....MYR 32K.....sigh...

go and get a vacuum state level 6 mod on an old sony player, with the uber clock and it will smoke it...

Panzer said...


I am sold too! Ha!,Ha!


I heard the previous Esoteric SA-60 in the CCA showroom and in a friend's place, and that mechanical/analytical signature was present then in the older player. The X-03, while have great similarities in sound, but manages to sound musical some how.


I love the transport too! I also love the Burr Brown 170x series DAC used inside, in fact there's only love for the player as a whole.

kh lim,

I'd love to test the Wadia 581SE, if only you could supply the review sample?


Infact the Esoteric's 26kgs, and that's no typo error! My existing Marantz CD7 does indeed weight 23kg.

kc ooi,

No, not this time I hope? Too many distraction going around.


I do my best to give every equipment a fair chance. However it's those that get it so right, that I can write better about.


No phase invert switch I am afraid. I know that's important to you.

Anonymous 9.24pm,

You like your Sony tube/clock mod? it's o.k., I'd be interested to hear it too. However, there will always be people with the budget for things like the Esoteric.

Eth said...

Anon, I believe you when you said the hotrod sony can easily smoke this player as I have experienced it myself many times where extensively tricked out players can leave these 'esoteric' machines in the dust. To me, expensive disc spinners are getting harder to justify these days, I'll rather continue spinning vinyl or jump ahead to hi-res PC audio.

km ng said...


I'm disappointed. (You can insert "very" in between).

At RM32K, and yet no phase invert switch? (You can insert "!!" at end).

Sorry, I view it as an incomplete design for high end applications.

BTW, did you cap any of the outlets? Being a low signal source component, "Telosing" them may have the most audible effect...otherwise "you may not have maximize the sound of the CD player" in your review.

Anonymous said...

anon 9:24,
you sound like sour grapes to me. have you actually ab..ied your sony mod with the x03 ? if not you cannot make comments like that, to be fair. i have tried the x-03se in my system. would you care to let me try your sony mod in my system ? if can i can post you my contact no. i am looking for a good cdp does not matter if diy. ah koh

Hak said...


why i respect your view ,I share a different one.

Last year my buddy and I decided to go digital after years of resisting;both of us are what you call hard core Vinylophiles.

I ended up with a Nove Physics memory player ,and my friends ended up with the dcs Puccini.

I feel the price is more than justifiable;you get a superbly engineered products that do not sound mechanical,and they are fairly easy to use-mine is a bit more complicated.

Am,ongst the products we tried was a Benchmark DAC hook up to a computer; well the idiom'you geyt why you pay for'stay true.

while it provides good value for money,it is no way;to my 50 y.o ear in the same league as the referance quality CDplayer.

If I could choose a giant killer,it would have been the Marantz SA71s;though not cheap,It ranks right on top as one of THE great a fraction of the cost

Anonymous said...

km ng,
can name me some good cdp below 30k with phase invert switch ah ? ty

Felix said...


I agree with you.

Some people just like to buy lock, stock and barrel and not worry about DIYing anything.

I can appreciate that its by means of keeping things simple.

That's of course, when they have the moolah of course.

Anonymous said...

KM Ng,

I know some people can hear phase difference (or claim to be able to).

But I have this question that I can't find a satisfactory answer, may be you can help me.

Imagine the sine waveform of, say, a 100hz tone, to produce this sound, the speaker cone will be oscillating at 100 cycles per second.
(1 cycle = cone rest point >forward >back to rest point >backward >back to rest point.
Similarly, 1 cycle can also be represented by:
1 cycle = cone rest point >backward >back to rest point >forward >back to rest point).

How does it matter if the cone's first 90degree displacement in the first cycle is forward first (let's call this in-phase) or backward first (out of phase), because the cone in both cases is oscillating at 100Hz, which is what give us the 100hz tone?


Felix said...


Sorry I am not KM Ng but there is definitely a perceivable difference in sound.

Have you heard of the Harmonica analogy?

tim said...


Burmester seems to think it is important too ,that is why almost all of electronics made by them has that little button on the remote that you can control.

as for me,I couldn't be bothered as long as it sound good ;so switch or no switch -no problemo!!!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your reply, I am just looking for a good answer, it not necessarily has to come from KM Ng.

I think the harmonica analogy is not acceptable. A harmonica is a complex mechanical structure. Blowing on it produces different sound than sucking on it, I agree. But both sound different because their harmonic structures are different (same fundamental tone though), I believe, as wind flowing one way incites different combi of mechanical vibration than the other. Surely, the person who came up with this analogy can't be thinking that a recording of blowing on a harmonica when played inverted phase will sound like sucking on a harmonica?

Let's go back to my question, why can a 100Hz sound different when played inverted phase?

I am not questioning that some people hear a difference, I want to know why it sounds different, given that both cases the cone does 100 cycles of push-pull or pull-push, if you like, per second.


km ng said...

Hi TY,

Sorry, can't help you on this as I'm CD homeless (still a vinylsaur).

I only heard the effects of phase invert correction in my friends' CD systems.

But, to my mind, a player costing 32 big ones should have that small little switch to make it full functional.


I think Felix has dropped a symbol (harmonica) ala "Angels & Demons" for us to decipher.

On your rather scientific question, I can only give a rather non scientific reply if you don't mind.

Assuming you have a phase or polarity correct system.

When you play a phase correct recording of a wind instrument, say a trumpet, for example, you will hear the trumpet is blowing air.

But for an inverted phase recording, the trumpet is sucking air instead of blowing.

This can be corrected by the invert phase switch in the CD player or preamp, though I prefer at the CD player before the signal gets amplified.

The above examples correspond to your "forward first 90 degree cycle" (blowing air) and "backward first 90degree cycle (sucking air) respectively - at the first cycle of the trumpet' waveform.

Other than above, you may hear (different degrees for different persons) loss of transient attack, diffuse and somewhat flat images, less bass defination, etc.

The music doesn't really flow as if you are driving with the handbrake slightly engaged.

Try Norah Jones's "Come Away With Me" CD and see what happens.

Just my hopefully phase correct thinking.

Felix said...


The sound of the onset of a 100Hz impulse with cone pushing out (in phase) and cone sucking in (out of phase) give totally different aural and physical perception.

The former exerts a +ve pressure while the latter creates a -ve pressure.

Our bodies and ear can detect this phase shift paradigm at the begining of the impulse.

It may be true however to say that a person walking into the room whilst a pure 100Hz sine wave is playing may not be able to tell whether it is playing in or out of phase as he is not privy to the reference point of the impulse. He does not have a point of detection.

In music, a dynamic source, there are a multitude of paradigm points for detection of phase shifts, anomaly or alteration.

Phase, as we know it, is used by many bio organisms, humans included to detect and discern directivity of sound.

Felix said...

However, I must caution those who plan the use of a phase switch.

A phase switch effects absolute phase conversion. Meaning, everything playedback will be flipped 180 deg out of phase.

However, in a recording, it is not true to assume that the entire recorded signal is recorded out of phase.

Due to the multiple processed involved during recording, esp. when different venues are involved at different stages, different signals or tracks could be x, y or z degrees out of phase in reference to one another. Flipping the phase switch would only result in inverting the absolute phase 180 deg from original. Then you will have inverted x, y and z phase differetial between one another. In order to determine which is out of phase, you must first determine which signal in the recording is to be used as the "absolute" 0 degree in phase.

Therefore, it is virtually impossible to effectively "correct" an "out of Phase" recording. Assuming that the circuitry design is flawless, a phase switch on any equipment can only help to come closer by inverting the absolute phase 180 degrees.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Hi Guys,
Interesting to note comments on phase inversion. Just wondering why cdps don't come with that switch since it has a sound impact and not costly to instal (invert switch) ?

Anonymous said...

KM Ng,

Quote- "But for an inverted phase recording, the trumpet is sucking air instead of blowing"
You have heard trumpet sucking air? Come on, no sound will come out of it if a trumpet is sucking air. A record of trumpet will still sound like it is blowing air when played phase inverted.

And 90 degrees is 1/4 cycle, not a full cycle.

Agree with you that you are not giving a scientific explanation. However, I think one should exercise some caution so as not to risk misleading others. Sometimes, it may be better to refrain.

I can agree with your subsequent description of the sound characteristics when a record is played phase inverted, because that is what I heard from others too. But my question is 'why', not 'what'.


Thank you for your reply again. This is a good one (3.51pm)! I can work with this.

From your explanation, it is the contention that human ear can perceive difference as short as 1/200th of a second for a 100Hz tone (difference between phase correct and inverted for any sinewave is only the first half cycle), if one can hear phase difference up to 20kHz, then the 'impulse' duration that will give the phase away is 1/40000th of a second. Quite an amazingly short time.

However, I am not here to question human aural sensitivity. I like to think that our ears are really that sensitive.

Yes, this is a plausible explanation of phase inversion detection in music by human ears. If you do come across articles that explore this effect in greater details, pls share here.


Felix said...

"From your explanation, it is the contention that human ear can perceive difference as short as 1/200th of a second for a 100Hz tone (difference between phase correct and inverted for any sinewave is only the first half cycle), if one can hear phase difference up to 20kHz, then the 'impulse' duration that will give the phase away is 1/40000th of a second. Quite an amazingly short time."


I couldn't have said it better myself!

Anonymous said...

Can you all speak english??? Just kidding.


Felix said...

Anony 4.08pm

If my knowledge serves me right, a high quality phase inverting circuitry is quite complex and certainly not cheap at all. The real issues stem from the fact that different frequencies react differently to this same circuitry. One of the greatest problems faced is that the degree of phase inversion for say, 100Hz is completely different from say, 100kHz, affected by the same circuit.

The only thing I know more complicated to implement than a phase inversion switch is, a full spectrum variable phase knob!

The circuitry is very complex.

f8. said...

Hi guys,

I've read somewhere of 2 examples of amplifiers where the positive half of waveform is just slightly more accentuated than the negative half and this makes it approach the transfer function of air.

The first is Nelson Pass' Single Ended Class A design. (Nelson Pass: "Push-pull operation in amplifiers is commonly portrayed by the analogy of a two-man saw
cutting down a tree. Certainly if we are cutting down trees by hand, we would opt for this
method, as it would be much more efficient.
As we are not cutting down trees, I much prefer the image of a violinist holding the bow at one
end with one hand. Only in this manner does the musician gain the degree of control and
precision required to produce the range and subtlety required by music. And so it is with
single-ended amplifiers."

Quite likely, the pull and push strokes of a violinist will have slightly different force.

The second is Plinius' Push Pull Class A where they use purely NPN transistors instead of the usual PNP-NPN complement for push pull. (see 7th paragraph of

Anyway, the argument that phase does not matter hinges on assumption that the waveform is perfectly symmetrical? Which as pointed out above may not always be.

Anonymous said...

yawn (again)

go see TT Yap at octave electronics in KL.

then listen and compare... more words...just listen!

J.Lawson said...

mr felix,
brilliant explanations!!!yours are the best that i have ever come across.

Thank You!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Felix (5.30 pm)for your simple and concise explanation. As I understand it the phase invert switch is no big deal.

Panzer said...


Now, that's how we should discuss matters! I salute all those involved in the mature and very factual discussion! A round of applause for all! Clap! Clap!

Actually, if I may put my little contribution to the matter of phase. My self, Felix and many others whom have experience in the competitive car audio activities can easily detect inverted phase sound from any particular speaker. We are all trained to do so. We have even trained a few people to detect inverted phase sound. It's not hard at all if you know what to look for.

However, in the scientific world where there's an instrument to measure every thing, then just to be sure, we use a phase checker device to detect inverted phase speakers. And the effects do sound like what KM described in his 3.23pm posting.

However, for me, the phase issue is merely a technical one. sometimes, in a certain weird system and room combo, the inverted phase sound could actually sounds more correct!???

Got cha!

You see there's two type of phase we are talking about, first in discussion here is electrical or signal phase. Second is the phase angle reproduced when the speaker's soundwaves hits your room enviroment, then you ears, I believed it's called acoustical phase. That's just as important too!

I won't be too anal about it, the phase issue that is. But it is certainly a very interesting button/switch to have on your system irregardless. Just hope that button or switch doesn't corrupt sound quality! Ha!Ha!

Felix said...

Much obliged!

Panzer said...

Anonymous 7.02pm,

Thanks for the pointer to Octave Electronics. Yap's a pretty smart mod squad guru. No doubt about it. If you fancy having your CDP modded and feel great about it, I am happy for you.

However, they are others here whom may feel otherwise and prefer an Esoteric instead.

Just as there are those whom feel their Wira-lution is better than a BMW M3, and will question the purpose of spending all that money on a prestige badge.

For those whom appreciated the finer things in life, anything less just won't do. Why? if you have to ask? Because they can!(afford it that is). Simple economics.

I hope you understand.

GCK said...

In this bad times, we should help the economy by spending. I just got a mail from my friend and just want to share it here. Here goes;

The Relevance Of Velocity Of Money & Confidence

The story below is meant to be a funny story, but it also helps to explain the importance of velocity of money and confidence. Confidence in markets, financial well bring and job security have a great impact on the economy. To restore financial health, it is important for people and governments to spend and not just
save. All fiscal stimulus are there to help with spending, especially when the public refuses to spend. Thats mainly the reason why Japan is still in the doldrums since the early 90s till even today, because Japanese save and save. South Korea attacked the Asian financial crisis by spending ferociously, not just the government but the general public took on the advice to spend with gusto and hauled itself out of recession faster than the rest. As irresponsible as it may sound, to continue to spend is a patriotic duty.


It is August. In a small town on the South Coast of France, holiday season is in full swing, but it is raining so there is not too much business happening. Everyone is heavily in debt.
Luckily, a rich Russian tourist arrives in the foyer of the small local hotel. He asks for a room and puts a Euro100 note on the reception counter, takes a key and goes to inspect the room located up the stairs on the third floor.
The hotel owner takes the banknote in a hurry and rushes to his meat supplier to whom he owes E100. The
butcher takes the money and races to his supplier to pay his debt. The wholesaler rushes to the farmer to pay E100 for pigs he purchased some time ago.
The farmer triumphantly gives the E100 note to a local prostitute who gave him her services on credit. The prostitute goes quickly to the hotel, as she was owing the hotel for her hourly room use to entertain clients.
At that moment, the rich Russian is coming down to reception and informs the hotel owner that the proposed room is unsatisfactory and takes his E100 back and departs.
There was no profit or income. But everyone no longer has any debt and the small town's people look
optimistically towards their future.

Anonymous said...

listen and you will understand! more words...just go to TT and listen to vacuum state mods (they are not his...)

guarantee you will be off to sell whatever it is you own or laugh all the way to the bank on money you will save...

the teacs have great in the biz but the electronics....well, designed by engineers with no ears for real music....

hush now, go and listen

Eddie khor said...

Hifi SIFUS here, i plead to you all please do not show your special power anymore!I am lost i cannot see the way now.some say must put on caps, some say must have phase inverion button,some say diy better than made in factory one,some gotsoue grapes,some...(fill in the blank your selflah).Aiyo,now play hifi more complicated than going to outer space!

Anonymous said...

Well, for DIY my opinion/ experience there's still no/none/nil MOD CDP than can really out perform high end cdp. The analogy of Wira-lution & BMW is a good one. The improvement that MOD cdp made (some that I've listen to)are only emphasize on certain part of sounds and it does not balance musically. Something is missing and if you're a real music lover not'll know what I'm trying to say. The flow is not there...

CDP Mod is very much different than to DIY a pre/amp/speakers (simpler).

If esoteric engineers doesn't have ear's for real music, how many DIY'ers out there have an ear's for real music?. Some know nothing about music, they just tweak freak, some just hanging guitar on the wall to show capable of playing it..but actually only for show off..seriously. Real music lover doesn't have time to do major/excessive much fun wasted for that, and some seems to be unfinished business.

my 2 cents only lah...

* I fell in love with music, than make love through hifi*

Felix said...

I think to pitch knowledge on who know music better is not a criteria for going either the DIY path or choosing to buy High End.

From what I know, for those who are technically inclined, DIY upgrade is actually a viable option to improve on shortfalls of an equipment he/she already likes. Areas like transparency, timing, estension, etc.

Also, DIY upgrades may not necessarily mean cost saving. It could be done to unpeg the cost cutting measures exercised by the manufacturer thus, "freeing" the restrictions on the sound. For those who know esoteric parts like Mundorf S/GIO, you know what I am referring to.

The key aim for any DIY upgrades is to strike an improvement whilst maintaining an overall organic balance to the sound. This balance is of course up to individual perception. I believe, this is where individuals differ and also a moot point for vocalizing differences.

I think for all intent and purposes, DIYing is done in good faith in the aim for better reproduction of music. Not necessarily the the other way around as misconstrued by many.

As for high end machines, they have a sole advantage over any DIY equipment. They control everything from start to finish. Electronics, mechanics and finally, visual appeal. In that sense of the word, no DIY machines will ever "match" a high end machine. Even if you can match the sound, you don't have the visual appeal for your optical pleasure.

It is possible to achieve good music reproduction either either way you choose.

At the end, it's a matter of how stylishly you want to get there. Hence, Panzer's Wira-lution vs BMW M3 analogy. Just that one of it cost more.

tt ooi said...

this link provides how a cust thinkthe ayre cdp bettered his vacuum state cdp;so in essence different people think differently

Anonymous said...


You've got it right there. As my post said some of them and not all. DIY does not mean cost saving?..and I agree again...I've seen it and like I said still under construction after so many years (unfinished business). And I only restrict on CDP MOD on this matter, the pre/amp/ speakers are fine. As I see CDP MOD are much complex than the rest.

I'm not saying all diyers doesn't have music skills but this only to counter on esotoric engineer's issue.

Wira-lution vs M3 issue, may be wira can have the speed of M3 if its were modified very very well..but about comfort of ride, handling. All those are synchronise must have for its balance and speed without control is nothing.

So, my point is diy can only achieve only certain parts but not totally overkill the highend player that we're talking now.

cheers mate!

* I fell in love with music, than make love through hifi*

Diy lover said...

My view on diy- i believe a person's foundation in electronics determines the end results you can get from need to explain more on circuits and their theories,not just talk at high level.I liketo diy too.

Anonymous said...

Got money then buy the good stuffs la. If limited budget but want to achieve good sound then diy la.

So simple.

If people got money what for go and diy.

Feeling of own good high end stuffs very good. This feeling cannot be replaced by diy.

Hi fi must sound good, look good and can show off one la.

No flame ok. Just OMO.

Anonymous said...

Panzer, did you use any tweaks on the cdp esoteric and did it make a difference?

Same question goes for the AR CD7.

Ken said...


If you feel that the comments is too deep for you, just browse through them. Don't have to worry if you do not understand.

Sometimes some audiophiles are interested in just the scientific part of the hobby. Some in the sound. Some just play hifi for years but could even be less knowledgeable than you.

km ng said...


I think Felix has more than adequately explained the whys of inverted phase.

When I said trumpet sucking air, I don't mean it in the physical sense which of course no sound will come out of it.

In recorded music, a phase inverted trumpet will sound slightly muffled with a sort of void at the trumpet's horn which gives the listener the illusion that air is being sucked. I must say this illusion is faint and one can easily miss it.

Do try some old big band recordings from Sheffield Labs to listen for it.

BTW, there is one instrument in the orchestra when correctly recorded, is in invert phase.


"Au revoir."


US have their TARP ("Troubled Asset Relief Program").

For our small hifi community, I suggest we have our own TARP - "Troubled Audiophile Relief Program."

I failed all the stress tests which will enable me to apply to TARP (the 2nd one) for additional capital to revive my non performing hifi system.

RM100K at 0% interest unsecured loan would be just nice.



(-20dB silence).

...rm10k? (faint to fade).

Panzer said...

Eddie Khor,

Don't worry, no need to learn rocket science to play hifi. Just brush up a little general knowledge from the www can help a lot too. Or better still, a sifu like Ken, whom is ready and willing to teach is priceless! Go on, buy him a drink, start a Shoalin master/student relationship from there. Who knows where it will lead to? Good Luck on your future undertakings.

Anonymous 2.23pm,

I also diy a fair bit. Not particularly good at it. And also learnt that DIY is not as cheap as it seems, especially if your ambition is to equal or at least nearly equal to high end aspirations. Sometimes when a project goes wrong, it's good money, effort and time down the drain too.

To be honest, I feel really ashamed for the DIY comunity when some joker proudly claims his diy CDP/Amp just slayed an high end machine. It's always proved too good to be true, because it's usually A/B-ed under un suitable conditions, putting the high end machines in to disadvantage.

You can say that your efforts can get close or near the performance of an high end machine, but never surpassed it! Don't forget, in the high end company, there are an army of engineers and have access to all the proper lab facilities, to ensure product reliability, safety certification and off course, sound great plus looking good too! Most high end companies normally have a golden ear or two on their pay roll too! I heard B&W speakers manufacturer has three! Example: Marantz have KI, Pass Lab has Nelson, Vandersteen has Richard, Wilson has Dave and Thiel has Jim.
Get the idea?

I benchmark my DIY efforts against high end machines within it's suitable performance target. The results sometimes get close, but never, I mean, never surpassed the high end machines.

Having said that, I learnt a great deal from my DIY efforts, yes, even the failed projects taught me a lesson or two!

Panzer said...

Anonymous 4.35pm,

At point of writing the review, no tweaks were used, unless you consider the FE Cera ball Spider on the rack to be a tweak?

I later used a pair of Telos Gold caps on to the un used WBT Next Gen RCAs(as I used the XLR outputs) and another CMY supplied Nickel coated cap for the co-axial output. That's all.

The RCA caps helped to bring out the musicality in the Esoteric just a little further.

I have not used the AR CD7 in my system before, but have heard them in 2 of my friend's system. In that sense, and from overseas reports, they do sound potentially phenomenal.


Can I qualify for TARP too? I am not greedy, but just need to pay of the debt I took on the get the Torus Power! Ha!Ha!

Anonymous said...

DIY is great for learning and for the fun of it. Yes, it can also be that DIY eventually may cost more than just buying a high end machine.

However some people DIY to get a specific sound that they want. The high end machines need to get everything right and cater to everyone and suit every taste.

Actually they are both the same. Just that the high end products came from "professional" DIY for commercial purposes while home DIY is less commercial if any.

If you have the money just go and audition the commecial stuffs and buy what you like. No need to DIY unless you DIY as a career.

But i must say that i respect guys who can DIY as they have the brains for it.

When it comes to performance, i believe the high end ones are still ahead but costly.

Eth said...

I have to disagree with your view that Commercial 'high end' is always better than DIY. If the DIY is of good design and uses good quality parts it is absolutely possible for it to be ahead of a 'high end' unit. I do agree from a visual/cosmetic standpoint, commercial stuff is more appealing. And to call the diyer a 'joker' because his ears told him that his design is better than a commercial unit is uncalled for, since you did not do the comparison yourself.. you just assumed... I have heard so many so called high end setups which fail to impress, and so many budget or DIY setups that sounds absolutely fabulous..

Panzer said...


It's ok to disagree as so often is this hobby. I am afraid to say that of the many diy systems I heard over the years, I have only came across a few really good sounding ones. May be I am asking for too much?

If you feel DIY satisfy you more than high end, then I am glad you've found your direction.

Note: At one point a few years ago, I felt exactly the same as you. But just be mindfull that our opinions do change with time and journey.