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 connected to 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 with the Panasonic UB9000 on UHD duty.

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 most expensive addition is (probably) the best and last CD player I'll ever buy.

Things have been quiet for a while but since a warranty replacement of my TV earlier this year - a free upgrade to the 77" B9 OLED from LG - I've also gone for the Panasonic UB9000 UHD player (Dolby Vision was calling) and most recently spotted the last missing piece for sale: A used Esoteric C-03X!

I've been wanting to add a dedicated 2-channel pre-amp to my system for a long time and always had my eyes on the Esoteric. The price was right and also coincided with a nice tax return - you could say it was meant to be :)

But since one upgrade never comes alone, I had to add another shelf to my rack (turning it from a Solo 4 into a Solo 5) and also get some RCA cables to hook up my Marantz 8802A to the C-03X for HT throughput.

This should be my endgame system and I don't really see my adding much else, if anything, anytime soon. But as we all know in this hobby, never say never!

And since writing the last paragraph above, I've spent a tidy sum on new cables. Namely two Acrolink power cords and the piece de resistance, a set of Nordost Odin XLR cables. So yes, I think I'm done upgrading the connection from the source to the pre-amp for a very long time!

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
    • Esoteric C-03X
    Stereo pre-amp
    • Marantz AV8802A
    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
    • Audio Sensibility Impact SE
    RCA cable from the Marantz 8802A to the Esoteric C-03X for HT throughput
    • Moon Audio Silver Dragon
    75 Ohm digital cable between the G-03X and the K-01X
    • Nordost Odin 1
    XLR connection between the Esoteric K-01X and the Esoteric C-03X
    • Nordost Valhalla 1
    RCA cable between the Esoteric K-01X and the Bryston BHA-1
    • Nordost Tyr 2
    XLR cables from the Esoteric C-03X to the Bryston 7BSST2 mono blocks
    • Nordost Blue Heaven LS
    XLR cables from the Marantz 8802A to the Cinenova Grande 7 BR
    • Nordost Valhalla 1
    Speaker cable for the front speakers
    • Nordost Reference Bi-wire jumpers
    Jumpers for the front speakers
    • Nordost Frey 1
    Speaker cable for the center speaker
    • Nordost Norse 2 Bi-wire jumpers
    Jumpers for the center speaker
    • Acrolink 7N-PC9100 Mexcell
    Power cord for the Esoteric K-01X
    • Acrolink 7N-PC7300
    Power cord for the Esoteric C-03X
    • Acrolink 7N-PC7100
    Power cord for the Esoteric G-03X
    • Nordost Frey 2 Power Cord
    Power cords for the Bryston BHA-1 and Bryston BIT-15
    • Nordost Heimdall 2 Power Cord
    Power cords for the Bryston 7BSST2 mono blocks
    • Wireworld Electra 7
    Power cords for the Marantz 8802A and Panasonic UB9000
    • Audio Sensibility Testament
    Power cords for the Velodyne VDR-12s
    • Bryston BIT-15
    Power conditioner for the Esoteric K-01X, C-03X, and G-03X, Marantz 8802A, Panasonic UB9000, and Bryston BHA-1
    • Chang Lightspeed Hyperdrive CLS 715

    Power conditioner for the Bryston 7BSST2 mono-blocks, Sony UBP-X800, Toshiba HD-XA2, and LG OLED77B9PUA OLED TV

    • Nordost QRT Qv2 AC Line Harmonizer
    Pair of AC Line Harmonizers
    • Nordost QRT Qk1
    Pair of AC Enhancers
    • Furutech FP-15A-N1 (R)
    Pair of duplex receptacles
    • LG Electronics OLED77B9PUA
    77" OLED TV
    • Panasonic UB9000
    Main UHD player with Dolby Vision / Blu-ray player / DVD player
    • Sony UBP-X800
    Multi-Channel SACD / DVD-A player / Backup UHD Player
    • Toshiba HD-XA2
    HD-DVD player
    • Bryston BHA-1
    Headphone amp
    • Focal Utopia Headphones
    Main headphones
    • HiFi Man HE-400I
    Backup (and occasional smartphone) headphones
    • Solid Tech Radius Solo 5
    Equipment rack for the Esoteric K-01X, C-03X and G-03X, Marantz 8802A, Panasonic UB900, and Cinenova Grande 7 BR
    • Solid Tech Radius Duo 3
    Equipment rack for the JBL 880 Array, LG OLED77B9PUA, Bryston 7BSST2 mono blocks, Sony UBP-X800, Toshiba HD-XA2, and Chang Lightspeed
    • Octane The Edge XL800
    Home theater seats
    Wall panel absorbers to tame the reflections from the seven speakers

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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