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Esoteric N-05


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Recently bought N-05. Before that I have used Linn Majik, Lumin A1. All are streamer and DAC in one. This is by far the most satisfactory streamer to me. I am not saying Linn and Lumin is inferior to Esoteric but it is more appealing to me. Linn is smooth and silky suitable for chambers music. Lumin is good at the mid-range but the extension in both ends seems not sufficient. Esoteric is good at all 3 ranges and has more inputs, i.e. coaxial, optical, usb, ethernet. It can play DSD as well.

MetalNuts

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Look very nice, no AES-EBU digital input seems a little amiss but then probably 90%+ will not use the digital ins.

Source:

*Aurender N100 (no internal disk : LAN optically isolated via FMC with *LPS) > DIY 5cm USB link (5v rail removed / ground lift switch - split for *LPS) > Intona Industrial (injected *LPS / internally shielded with copper tape) > DIY 5cm USB link (5v rail removed / ground lift switch) > W4S Recovery (*LPS) > DIY 2cm USB adaptor (5v rail removed / ground lift switch) > *Auralic VEGA (EXACT : balanced)

 

Control:

*Jeff Rowland CAPRI S2 (balanced)

 

Playback:

2 x Revel B15a subs (balanced) > ATC SCM 50 ASL (balanced - 80Hz HPF from subs)

 

Misc:

*Via Power Inspired AG1500 AC Regenerator

LPS: 3 x Swagman Lab Audiophile Signature Edition (W4S, Intona & FMC)

Storage: QNAP TS-253Pro 2x 3Tb, 8Gb RAM

Cables: DIY heavy gauge solid silver (balanced)

Mains: dedicated distribution board with 5 x 2 socket ring mains, all mains cables: Mark Grant Black Series DSP 2.5 Dual Screen

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Its controller app, the Esoteric Sound Stream looks very similar if not identical to the Lumin app:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/esoteric-sound-stream/id1087231964?mt=8

So I suspect, like the Lumin, the N-05 is an OpenHome (aka UPnP with Linn extensions) supporting streamer, although it may also support standard UPnP/DLNA.

 

How does the N-05's Sound Stream app compare to using the Lumin app or even the Linn Kazoo app?

Can the N-05 be used with other apps? - eg for iOS, Lumin & Linn Kazoo apps (both OpenHome) or even the Audionet Music Manager app (standard UPnP).

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Its controller app, the Esoteric Sound Stream looks very similar if not identical to the Lumin app:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/esoteric-sound-stream/id1087231964?mt=8

So I suspect, like the Lumin, the N-05 is an OpenHome (aka UPnP with Linn extensions) supporting streamer, although it may also support standard UPnP/DLNA.

 

How does the N-05's Sound Stream app compare to using the Lumin app or even the Linn Kazoo app?

Can the N-05 be used with other apps? - eg for iOS, Lumin & Linn Kazoo apps (both OpenHome) or even the Audionet Music Manager app (standard UPnP).

 

I was told by the salesman that the Esoteric Sound Stream was actually written by Lumin and needs minimserver installed. The salesman used Kinsky for the audition. So I believe that those apps can be used.

MetalNuts

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Recently bought N-05. Before that I have used Linn Majik, Lumin A1. All are streamer and DAC in one. This is by far the most satisfactory streamer to me. I am not saying Linn and Lumin is inferior to Esoteric but it is more appealing to me. Linn is smooth and silky suitable for chambers music. Lumin is good at the mid-range but the extension in both ends seems not sufficient. Esoteric is good at all 3 ranges and has more inputs, i.e. coaxial, optical, usb, ethernet. It can play DSD as well.

 

Nice move from Esoteric.

And it covers DSD, something that Linn is lacking at the moment. nice...

And is much more flexible with the usb and other digital inputs...and can use as a server..wow!

and it can connect an external clock...more wow!

Digital filtering (of both PCM and DSD) can also be enabled or disabled as desired. > wow again!

 

Let's see it it swings my boat in sonic terms, which is the most important thing...

 

I wonder: would it be a good solution to play from upsampled music by hqplayer?

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Nice move from Esoteric.

 

I wonder: would it be a good solution to play from upsampled music by hqplayer?

 

I'm using a Esoteric K07x ( which looks to be pretty much identical DAC-wise, although the N05 may be closer to K05x) to do just that up to DSD256 with the Esoteric's own upsampling and filters turned off. My answer would be yes, although maybe not the best value option if that's all you want to do with it.

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I'm using a Esoteric K07x ( which looks to be pretty much identical DAC-wise, although the N05 may be closer to K05x) to do just that up to DSD256 with the Esoteric's own upsampling and filters turned off. My answer would be yes, although maybe not the best value option if that's all you want to do with it.

 

Thanks for your feedback Norton. How do you feel about the resulting sound?

do you convert everything to dsd or do you also use pcm directly?

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I was told by the salesman that the Esoteric Sound Stream was actually written by Lumin and needs minimserver installed. So I believe that those apps can be used.
Correctamundo. I just downloaded Esoteric onto my iPad and it immediately recognized both my microRendu and mimimserver library. It loaded the active playlist (which I launched earlier from Lumin), and is downloading all the album art now. The GUI looks exactly like Lumin so far. Curious to play around after it all loads and see if any difference in functionality.

Digital Source: Synology DS415+ NAS  and Small Green Computer SonicTransporter i5 Running Roon Core > Blue Jean Cable Cat6a >TP optical converter > Sonore OpticalRendu with Sonore LPS> Curious USB > Denafrips Pontus DAC

Analog Source: Dynavector XX2 mk2> Audiomods Series 5 silver arm > Sota Nova Series VI turntable w/Condor & Roadrunner motor controller/tachometer > Nagra BPS battery powered phono stage>

Both: BAT VK51SE preamp> Krell FPB300 power amp > Sound Lab A3 ESLs > > Custom room treatment > 50 yr. old ears(left-handed)

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Thanks for your feedback Norton. How do you feel about the resulting sound?

do you convert everything to dsd or do you also use pcm directly?

 

No, I use it in various ways, for example today I've been trying out wtfplay (see software thread) and the k07x sounds excellent using its own upsampling and filters. Adjectives that come subjectively to mind are refined, quiet, detailed, neutral, accurate. SQ wise it's very much in line with my previous Hugo but with quite a bit more guts to the sound.

 

I bought it first and foremost as a SACD/CD player that on demo was a significant upgrade on my Oppo and, unusually, had its own selectable upsampling/ transcoding/ filters, and could be used as a DSD capable DAC as a secondary consideration. I'm really happy with it as such but I'd definitely want to audition Lampi etc if I was looking purely for a standalone DSD- capable DAC in its price bracket.

 

The N05 seems well priced for Esoteric, especially if you are in effect getting the guts of a $8.5k K05x with a streamer replacing the disc transport. Based on my experience I'd say it was definitely worth auditioning. These latest generaton of "entry level" Esoterics use 2 AK 4490 chips per channel - I got the impression from somewhere that you get maximum advantage from this when using the balanced outputs.

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Nice move from Esoteric.

And it covers DSD, something that Linn is lacking at the moment. nice...

And is much more flexible with the usb and other digital inputs...and can use as a server..wow!

and it can connect an external clock...more wow!

Digital filtering (of both PCM and DSD) can also be enabled or disabled as desired. > wow again!

 

Let's see it it swings my boat in sonic terms, which is the most important thing...

 

I wonder: would it be a good solution to play from upsampled music by hqplayer?

 

 

I have no idea whether the software player like hqplayer or jriver can make it sound better. One of the reasons I change to a steamer is that my RME sound card is aging and sooner or later I have to replace it. The second is that JRiver in the latest version turned on some parameters which it had not before that changes the tags of music library, i.e. replace the genre, album cover which I manually changed/added when ripping which I cannot tolerate.

 

With the use of a steamer, I don't have to bother with the PC, endless update of software player and have more time to listen to music.

MetalNuts

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all,

 

I just got mine 2 weeks ago and am really amazed that the usb input from a PC with AQ Jitterbug sounds so much better than my old K-01 spinning cd's/sacd's in its transport.

 

I wonder if any of you have compared ethernet input vs usb input vs thumbdrive(via the rear A-port) for SQ and would be most grateful if you can share your experience.

Many thanks in advance.

 

Rgds. J.

Jon

Innuos Zen Mk 3, Shunyata alpha usb cable, Esoteric N-05 dac/network player, MBL N11 preamp, Bryston 28B SST2 monoblocks, Vienna Acoustics The Music speakers, Kimber Select 1126/1130 ic's, Kimber Select 6063 sc, Shunyata Triton, Shunyata/PS Audio pc's, Shunyata Dark Field Suspension System, Harmonix by Combak footers, Shun Mook Pendulum stand

Industry Affiliation : None

 

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Wow! N-05 beats K-01? I cannot imagine that at all. Anyway I am not a USB fan and have not tried the USB on N-05. From my previous set up with MA-1, the coaxial sounds much better than the USB. Have you tried the sampling of N-05 converting your song to DSF to see if there is any difference?

MetalNuts

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Wow! N-05 beats K-01? I cannot imagine that at all. Anyway I am not a USB fan and have not tried the USB on N-05. From my previous set up with MA-1, the coaxial sounds much better than the USB. Have you tried the sampling of N-05 converting your song to DSF to see if there is any difference?

 

 

What is MA-1?

 

I have tried coax but the result was likely limited by the quality of the iFi Usb-spdif converter which is the only I have.

 

But I am in a good place right now with the iFi USB 3.0 reclocking, rebalancing and regenerating the usb signal from the PC before the N-05. This route beats the K-01 hands down for both redbook and hires. So I won't be out shopping for a better usb-spdif converter.

 

Yes, I have tried upconversion to DSD and it is the best setting for redbook files. With hires files, I use Upconversion-ORG/PCM Filter-OFF.

Jon

Innuos Zen Mk 3, Shunyata alpha usb cable, Esoteric N-05 dac/network player, MBL N11 preamp, Bryston 28B SST2 monoblocks, Vienna Acoustics The Music speakers, Kimber Select 1126/1130 ic's, Kimber Select 6063 sc, Shunyata Triton, Shunyata/PS Audio pc's, Shunyata Dark Field Suspension System, Harmonix by Combak footers, Shun Mook Pendulum stand

Industry Affiliation : None

 

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MA-1 would be the Meitner MA-1 DAC.

 

Thanks, Bill.

Yes, the Ed Meitner of EMM Labs.

Jon

Innuos Zen Mk 3, Shunyata alpha usb cable, Esoteric N-05 dac/network player, MBL N11 preamp, Bryston 28B SST2 monoblocks, Vienna Acoustics The Music speakers, Kimber Select 1126/1130 ic's, Kimber Select 6063 sc, Shunyata Triton, Shunyata/PS Audio pc's, Shunyata Dark Field Suspension System, Harmonix by Combak footers, Shun Mook Pendulum stand

Industry Affiliation : None

 

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Thanks for the info, will try to see whether upconversion to DSD with my setup will produce better SQ.

 

Try to burn in each setting for at least 150 hours.

BTW, if you are trying usb, upgrading from the AQ Jitterbug to the iFi USB 3.0 is a big step up for my system.

Jon

Innuos Zen Mk 3, Shunyata alpha usb cable, Esoteric N-05 dac/network player, MBL N11 preamp, Bryston 28B SST2 monoblocks, Vienna Acoustics The Music speakers, Kimber Select 1126/1130 ic's, Kimber Select 6063 sc, Shunyata Triton, Shunyata/PS Audio pc's, Shunyata Dark Field Suspension System, Harmonix by Combak footers, Shun Mook Pendulum stand

Industry Affiliation : None

 

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Wow! N-05 beats K-01? I cannot imagine that at all.

 

This may explain why the N-05 using the AK 4490 chip sounds better than the K-01 which uses the 4399 chip.

 

https://hifiduino.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/akm-verita-4490-dac/

Jon

Innuos Zen Mk 3, Shunyata alpha usb cable, Esoteric N-05 dac/network player, MBL N11 preamp, Bryston 28B SST2 monoblocks, Vienna Acoustics The Music speakers, Kimber Select 1126/1130 ic's, Kimber Select 6063 sc, Shunyata Triton, Shunyata/PS Audio pc's, Shunyata Dark Field Suspension System, Harmonix by Combak footers, Shun Mook Pendulum stand

Industry Affiliation : None

 

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  • 2 months later...

Here is my update of the performance of N-05 after 3 months burning in and trying all sorts of upsampling and filters. In my system, I find the best SQ is to play the files as they are without any upsampling and no filter. It is strange, when I used D-07, I found SQ better in upsampling 2X and using the filter FIR but now N-05 seems to sound better without any filter.

 

So far, N-05 sounds very good when it plays my limited collection of DSD files which are all very good recordings. The only limitation with Ethernet input is that it can only play upto 2.8M DSD files.

 

Esoteric source components have been neutral and so does N-05 and one should not expect N-05 to make every album good and enjoyable.

MetalNuts

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Here is my update of the performance of N-05 after 3 months burning in and trying all sorts of upsampling and filters. In my system, I find the best SQ is to play the files as they are without any upsampling and no filter. It is strange, when I used D-07, I found SQ better in upsampling 2X and using the filter FIR but now N-05 seems to sound better without any filter.

 

Thanks for the update, MetalNuts.

 

Looks like we have come to the same conclusion about no upconversion and no PCM filter.

 

Esoteric N-05 vs K-01 - Page 1 :-

After 200 hours of burn-in -

 

"As I am quite familiar with the upconversion/filter settings of the K-01, I settled down to ORG upconversion and OFF filter for all redbook/hires PCM files after 200 hours of burn-in. With DSD files, I use DSDFilter OFF. "

 

Esoteric N-05 vs K-01 - Page 2 :-

 

After 1000 hours of burn-in -

 

"I find the FIR1/SDLY1 filters blunt transients a bit too much for my system, the FIR1 more so than the SDLY1.

The FIR2/SDLY2 give better transients but then things became too lean. The other thing about these 2 filters is that while notes emerge from a very black background, there is this great void in between notes that makes music sound disjointed, unnatural - sort of like truncating the decay of notes.

I initially liked the SDLY filters but when I switched back to OFF, music sounds more right, the flow of music is more organic, fluid."

 

Cheers! J.

Jon

Innuos Zen Mk 3, Shunyata alpha usb cable, Esoteric N-05 dac/network player, MBL N11 preamp, Bryston 28B SST2 monoblocks, Vienna Acoustics The Music speakers, Kimber Select 1126/1130 ic's, Kimber Select 6063 sc, Shunyata Triton, Shunyata/PS Audio pc's, Shunyata Dark Field Suspension System, Harmonix by Combak footers, Shun Mook Pendulum stand

Industry Affiliation : None

 

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The only limitation with Ethernet input is that it can only play up to 2.8M DSD files.

 

When happens when you play it? Does it skip over the music and move on to the next entry in the playlist?

 

DSD128 5.6MHz DSD files should work with Ethernet input of N-05.

 

In order to rule out problems from the NAS or UPnP server, please put the DSD128 file(s) on a FAT32 USB flash drive, plug it into the N-05, and try playing from there.

Peter Lie

LUMIN Firmware Lead

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When happens when you play it? Does it skip over the music and move on to the next entry in the playlist?

 

DSD128 5.6MHz DSD files should work with Ethernet input of N-05.

 

In order to rule out problems from the NAS or UPnP server, please put the DSD128 file(s) on a FAT32 USB flash drive, plug it into the N-05, and try playing from there.

 

The display show the track trying to be played and after a few seconds it just skip to the next track without any sound.

 

You are right, from the specification, 5.6M should work on ethernet input but I do not have 5.6M DSD file, I only have either the 2.8M or the 11.2M.

 

I am sorry that I don't quite get what you are talking about NAS problem. I don't have a NAS problem. Regarding your suggestion of trying USB drive, I do not see there any reason trying. The reason I bought N-05 is because of the ethernet input directly from NAS and I do not see any benefit which I can gain in terms of SQ by using USB input.

MetalNuts

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I misunderstood your problem to be a DSD128 problem, which should work.

 

It should play, not skip DSD128 5.6MHz files. It should skip DSD256 11.2MHz files.

 

The standard troubleshooting procedure of any Lumin-style network player is to use the USB storage input which launches its built-in network server, instead of relying on an external NAS. Since you're not actually having a DSD128 problem, please ignore it.

Peter Lie

LUMIN Firmware Lead

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Another update on N-05 is that I was given a master clock G-02 by my friend (which he has no use since he changed his gear). The difference with/without a master clock is subtle in my system. In those days when I used RME 9632 (with clock module), Esoteric D-07 and G-03x, the impact of the clock is significant. So I assume that if a system has more than one equipment that have clock input, a master clock can surely improve the performance of the system.

 

So, if you are using N-05, IMHO, it is not necessary to buy a Master clock, unless you already have one. If you are determined to try adding a master clock, you may try different BNC cable. I have tried Esoteric, Oyaide and Nordost and they sound differently.

MetalNuts

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