August 1, 2009

Esoteric 3-in-1

This is an old post of ours in the blog we previously contributed to.

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.

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