Experience the ultimate beauty of music
The K-01 and K-03 are the Esoteric brand's most iconic integrated Super Audio CD players.
and a new depth to the art of playback
from a device that exudes elegance.
The K series, the eternal icon of the Esoteric brand,
is now updated to a new "Xs" edition.
First launched in 2010 before evolving to its second generation, the X
edition, in 2014, it captivated people around the world with its
incredible playback of music sources. These players have won more awards
than any other Esoteric series, and have become the gold standard of
digital players worldwide. And now this flawless series has evolved
again into a third generation, the Xs edition. Every part of these
players is made from luxurious materials and cutting-edge technology,
from the new DAC platform used in flagship models like the Grandioso K1
and N-01 to the latest digital input parts and the ES-LINK Analog
transmission method, creating a new page in the history of digital
The latest in a winning
Carrying on the high-end concepts and technology from winning integrated
players such as the Grandioso K1 and K-01Xs, the K-03Xs is what
happened when we asked how far we could go, what heights we could reach
with our performance model. The classic VRDS-NEO [VMK-3.5-10] drive
mechanism contains a VS-DD circuit for smooth, quiet driving of the
spindle. Developed based on the new DAC platform used in the Grandioso
K1, the K-03Xs has a differential 4-circuit/channel dual mono DAC and
Esoteric's patented proprietary 34-bit D/A processing algorithm. The
essence of our flagship model can be seen throughout the K-03Xs, from
many of the latest devices to the DSD-compatible USB and core sound
quality features and functions.
The VRDS-NEO mechanism is used in our flagship model the Grandioso P1 to
achieve the ultimate transportation precision. A high-precision
turntable is used to rotate CDs and Super Audio CDs, with mechanical
correction of surface vibration and dramatically improvese reading
precision. The K-03Xs takes this high precision even further with the
VRDS-NEO [VMK-3.5-10]. The VS-DD spindle servo driver is used for
smooth, high-precision servo control. The transport unit weighs 4.4kg,
with a total weight of 11.2kg including the rigid base. The collection
of heavyweight parts includes a duralumin turntable and a 10mm-thick
steel turntable bridge. These are complemented by high-quality classics
from the VRDS-NEO, such as the coreless three-phase brushless spindle
motor driven by a strong magnet.
"Xs" The Art of Mechanical Engineering and the Most Cutting-Edge Electronics
New Dual Mono D/A Converter
The D/A converter section was created based on the latest platform used
in the Grandioso K1, with the very finest premium materials and circuit
technology added to take it to the highest level of sound quality. The
AK4497 32-bit premium DAC device from Asahi Kasei Electronics is
combined with a high-quality operational amplifier MUSES8820. The K-03Xs
has 4 circuits per channel parallel/differential circuit structure for
powerful linearity with minimal distortion. The circuit patterns of the
DAC's power section have been further improved, a clean and highly
stable power supply. Both the digital and analog circuits have more
thorough isolation than previous models, achieving true-to-life playback
with outstanding purity and superb sound stage depth.
High-Bit D/A Processing with Outstanding Powers of Musical Expression (PAT. JP6043052)
K-03Xs combine multiple 32-bit DAC chipsets and utilize a high-bit D/A
processing algorithm to convert the PCM signal to analog at a high
resolution in excess of 32 bits. The K-03Xs supports 34-bit processing.
34-bit processing achieves an astounding resolution that is fully 1,024
times that of 24-bit processing. In the digital range, full advantage is
taken of high-bit data gradation to minimize calculation errors and
provide faithful conversion to analog, thereby attaining outstanding
powers of expression with even extremely small music signals.
ESOTERIC-HCLD*: Esoteric's Exclusive Output Buffer Delivers Powerful Signal Transmission
The ability to produce comparatively large currents and high slew rates
are two of the most important factors that enable an analog output
circuit to accurately transmit the wide dynamic range of a music signal
without degradation. The K-03Xs offers the ultimate performance as a
line driver by adopting high-performance elements with a high current
output and exceptionally fast slew rate (2,000V/μs) for excellent
response speed. Two of these buffer circuits are employed per channel.
By configuring them differentially to drive the XLR outputs and in
parallel to drive the RCA outputs, the available instantaneous output
current is maximized. By maximizing instantaneous current output, the
K-03Xs reproduces the full dynamics of music with breathtaking realism.
*HCLD=High Current Line Driver
"ES-LINK Analog" Method for High Quality Current Transmission
In addition to regular line connections (XLR and RCA), the K-03Xs
features Esoteric's new "ES-LINK Analog" transmission method. This is a
current transmission method that utilizes the high performance of the
HCLD buffer circuit and its enhanced ability to supply high-speed
current. This is the ideal analog audio transmission as it is free from
signal route impedance, thus fully maximizing the system's potential
when connected to a compatible device.*
* A standard balance cable (with an XLR terminal) is used for
connections, but the "ES-LINK Analog" method is a proprietary
transmission method which can only be used with compatible devices.
Wide Range of D/D Conversion According to Source
In addition to the original Fs playback, this series has a function for
up-conversion of PCM digital signals by 2x, 4x, 8x or 16x (maximum
768kHz). It also features a PCM > DSD conversion function using a
proprietary algorithm. DSD is up-converted to 22.5MHz. The unit also
features a DSD digital filter that can be turned on or off as desired.
Three digital inputs (USB, coaxial, and optical) enable connection to a
wide range of systems. Coaxial and optical inputs support DSD 2.8 MHz
(DoP) input and PCM of up to 192 kHz/24-bit.
USB Audio Interface Compatible with DSD22.5MHz, PCM768kHz/32bit and Asynchronous Transmission
The unit is equipped with a USB port enabling connection to a computer.
The driver and playback software (Esoteric HR Audio Player) can be
downloaded from the Esoteric website. The unit supports asynchronous
transmission and a high sampling playback of DSD22.5MHz and
PCM768kHz/32bit, and even enables high-quality playback of studio master
quality sources. In addition to conventional asynchronous transmission
methods, it supports the new Bulk Pet method for an even wider range of
High-Precision VCXO Clock
The clock circuit supplies a high-accuracy reference clock signal to the
digital circuitry. The Grandioso Custom VCXO (voltage-controlled
crystal oscillator) is a high-precision custom clock that utilizes a
large crystal element to ensure exceptional sound quality with excellent
center accuracy (±0.5ppm) and extremely low levels of phase noise.
Clock Sync Function for Synchronization with External Devices
Connecting the K-03Xs to a high-precision master clock generator such as
the G-01X or the G-02X allows synchronization of the unit's operation
with an external clock signal, thereby enabling the quality of the
system to be further upgraded. Synchronization with an external clock is
also available when USB input is used.
The analog audio output can be switched between ES-LINK Analog, RCA, and
XLR. Hot 2 or Hot 3 XLR pin assignments can also be selected. Loss in
audio quality is eliminated with a non-contact system by performing
phase inversion in the digital domain.
Support for Future System Upgrades
RCA (S/PDIF) or XLR (AES/EBU) digital outputs are provided. These allow
the player's performance to be upgraded by the addition of a top-end
Esoteric D/A converter.
* This circuit can be turned off when digital output is not in use.
Chassis Construction and Parts Layout
The VRDS-NEO transport mechanism is positioned in the center of the
unit, directly attached to the 5 mm-thick steel chassis bottom, and is
supported at three points by Esoteric's proprietary pinpoint feet
(Patent No. 4075477 and 3778108) to effectively suppress vibration. The
chassis interior features a double-deck construction. The audio boards
are located on the upper layer of the chassis, being isolated from the
power supply components on the lower layer, and the power supply wiring
has been made as short as possible.
The K-03Xs is equipped with two large toroidal transformers: one for the
analog circuitry and the other for the digital/mechanism drive
circuitry. This design provides ideal power supply capability to all
circuit blocks without interference.
Organic EL Displays
The K-03Xs features smooth-operating, low-consumption electroluminescent (EL) display.
Remote Controller: RC-1301
|Playable disc types
||Super Audio CD, CD (including CD-R and CD-RW)
|Analog audio outputs
|Maximum output level
(at 1kHz, 10kΩ load)
||5Hz to 55kHz (-3dB)
|* Super Audio CD, XLR output
|Digital audio outputs
||XLR connector x 1
||Output level: 3 Vp-p (into 110 Ω)
|RCA connector x 1
||Output level: 0.5 Vp-p (into 75 Ω)
|Digital audio inputs
||RCA connector x 1
(input impedance 75 Ω)
|Input level: 0.5 Vp-p
|Optical digital connector x 1
||Input level: -24.0 to -14.5 dBm peak
|Frequencies that can be input
|44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192kHz,
10, 22.5792, 24.576MHz
||Rectangle wave: equivalent to TTL levels
|Sine wave: 0.5 to 1.0 Vrms (50 to 75Ω)
||AC 220-240V, 50/60Hz; AC 120V, 60Hz; AC 220V, 60Hz
(W x H x D, including protrusions)
|445 × 162 × 438mm
(17 5/8″ × 6 1/2″ × 17 1/4″)
||28kg (61 3/4 lb)
||Power cord set x 1
Remote control (RC-1315) x 1
Batteries for remote control (AAA) x 2
Felt pads x 3
Owner's manual x 1
Warranty card x 1