When I moved to Canada in 2011, I still had my Studio L890 JBL speakers for the fronts and my (then) brand new Oppo BDP-93 as a CD player. All through the Yamaha Z-11 (from Europe and therefore on a massive, and noisy, voltage converter). At that time, I thought the Z-11 was as much as I would ever spend on a piece of gear. Boy was I wrong...

It all changed when I went looking for a better CD player and visited Rob and Ron at Altronics Stereo 2000 in Toronto.

They turned me on to the Esoteric products and helped me with multiple upgrades - most importantly the front speakers from the JBL Studio L890 to the JBL LS80 and now the JBL 1400 Array. You can see a snapshot of an earlier incarnation in the last image. Still using the Z-11 but already upgraded the speakers and using mono blocks for the fronts.

In the meantime, I had gone for the Bryston SP3, replaced it with the Marantz 8802A while, at the same time, investing in better cables from the power cords to ICs and speaker cables.

The next big change was replacing the Bryston 9B-SST with the Earthquake Cinenova Grande 7 BR.

Blu-ray players have come and gone (Denon 4010 and most recently sold the Pioneer 88FD) and I've now settled on the Sony UBP-X800 as a universal solution.

Things have come full circle after I spotted the Esoteric K-01X as a trade-in at Altronics. Since this crazy ride had started with the quest for a better CD player, it's only fitting that my latest addition is (probably) the best and last CD player I'll ever buy.

At this stage, I am considering the Esoteric Stereo pre-amp (the C-03XS) and maybe an upgrade in mono blocks but I might just as well only do some tweaking with cables to see if I can achieve better synergy. But of course cables are tricky and there are a million options and opinions out there.

Speaking of opinions, please let me know what you like, what you don't like, and where you see potential for improvements and better synergies.

Please keep in mind that I have tried to treat the room as much as possible in an apartment. The ultimate goal is to buy a house and hopefully give the system more room to fully realize its potential.

For now, I've stepped up my headphone game with the Focal Utopia and the Bryston BHA-1.

Room Details

Dimensions: 21’ × 13’  Medium
Ceiling: 8’

Components Toggle details

    • Esoteric K-01X
    CD / SACD player
    • Esoteric G-03X
    Master Clock Generator
    • Marantz AV8802A
    Pre-amp / Surround processor
    • Bryston 7B SST2
    Pair of mono blocks for the front speakers
    • Earthquake Sound Cinenova Grande 7 BR
    7-channel amp for center, surround, and surround-back speakers
    • JBL 1400 Array
    Front left and right speakers
    • JBL 880 Array
    Center speaker
    • JBL Studio L890
    Surround side speakers
    • JBL Studio L830
    Surround back speakers
    • Velodyne VDR-12
    Pair of subwoofers
    • Stillpoints LLC Ultra 5
    Isolation feet for the front speakers
    • Stillpoints LLC Ultra SS feet
    Isolation feet under the mono blocks
    • Nordost Valhalla 1
    RCA cable between the Esoteric K-01X and the Marantz 8802A
    • Wireworld Platinum Eclipse 7 XLR
    XLR connection between the Esoteric K-01X and the Bryston BHA-1
    • Moon Audio Silver Dragon
    75 Ohm digital cable between the G-03X and the K-01X
    • Nordost Blue Heaven int
    XLR cables from the pre-amp to all power amps
    • Nordost Valhalla 1
    Speaker cable for the front speakers
    • Nordost Reference Bi-wire jumpers
    Jumper cables for the front speakers
    • Nordost Frey 1
    Speaker cable for the center speaker
    • Nordost Frey 2 Power Cord
    Power cord for the Esoteric K-01X and Bryston BIT-15
    • Nordost Heimdall 2 Power Cord
    Power cords for the Bryston 7BSST2 mono blocks
    • Wireworld Electra 7
    Power cords for the Esoteric G-03X, Marantz 8802A, and Bryston BHA-1
    • Audio Sensibility Testament
    Power cords for the Velodyne VDR-12s
    • Bryston BIT-15
    Power conditioner for the Esoteric K-01X and G-03X, Marantz 8802A, Sony UBP-X800, and Bryston BHA-1
    • Chang Lightspeed Hyperdrive CLS 715

    Power conditioner for the Bryston 7BSST2 mono-blocks, Toshiba HD-XA2, and LG 65EG9600 OLED TV

    • Nordost QRT Qv2 AC Line Harmonizer
    It's all about harmony!
    • Furutech FP-15A-N1 (R)
    Pair of duplex receptacles
    • LG Electronics 65EG9600
    65" OLED TV
    • Sony UBP-X800
    UHD / Blu-Ray / DVD / SACD / DVD-A player
    • Toshiba HD-XA2
    HD-DVD player
    • Bryston BHA-1
    Headphone amp
    • Focal Utopia Headphones
    Main headphones
    • Beyerdynamic T1
    Backup headphones
    • HiFi Man HE-400I
    Another pair of backup (and occasional smartphone) headphones
    • Solid Tech Radius Solo 4
    Equipment rack for the Esoteric K-01X and G-03X, Marantz 8802A, Sony UBP-X800, and Cinenova Grande 7 BR
    • Solid Tech Radius Duo 3
    Equipment rack for the JBL 880 Array, LG 65EG9600, Bryston 7BSST2 mono blocks, Toshiba HD-XA2, and Chang Lightspeed
    • Octane The Edge XL800
    Home theater seats
    Wall panel absorbers to tame the reflections from the seven speakers
    • AC Infinity Aircom T8
    Extra cooling for the Marantz 8802A

Comments 1

I have some of the JBL Models including the LC 310 -1, 4312E , and the 4319. Big Audiophile secrets very nice sounding speakers at reasonable  prices .


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