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View Full Version : Esoteric N-05 vs K-01



j2020
June 11, 2016, 08:12 AM
I recently traded in my K-01 for the N-05 dac/network player and the outcome has been most satisfying. The N-05 sports the new gen AK 4490 chip while the K-01 has the 4399 chip. With its usb input, the N-05 betters the K-01 spinning discs in its transport.

Found this link that may explain how the N-05 can sound better than the K-01 :-

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

(Edit : Tried to edit the thread title to Esoteric but could not.)

Mike
June 11, 2016, 08:23 AM
Congrats. Nice looking piece. Does it use the Lumin app? Their website pictures show the N-05 with the Lumin app.

http://www.esoteric.jp/products/esoteric/n05/indexe.html

j2020
June 11, 2016, 08:34 AM
Thanks, Mike.

Yes, apparently the app is designed by Lumin with the Esoteric name tacked on.

A forumer at CA has compared the Linn, Lumin and N-05 and he finds the N-05 giving the most balanced SQ of the 3.
The Lumin uses the Wolfson chip which is very well regarded too.

As the administrator, could you please edit the the thread title to Esoteric? Bugs the hell out of me. Haha!

Mike
June 11, 2016, 08:41 AM
Done.

The Lumin A1 (the original) uses the Wolfson DAC. The top of the line Lumin, the S1, uses the Sabre DAC chip.

Glad you're liking it. I would love to compare it to the S1.

j2020
June 11, 2016, 08:46 AM
Done.

The Lumin A1 (the original) uses the Wolfson DAC. The top of the line Lumin, the S1, uses the Sabre DAC chip.

Glad you're liking it. I would love to compare it to the S1.

Many thanks for the edit.

At MRSP$6500, I think it is a bargain considering the build and sound quality.

Yes, look forward to a comparison with the S1. The CA guy had the Lumin A1.

Mike
June 11, 2016, 08:51 AM
Nice! Keep us posted on how it breaks in. Does it use MiniMServer as well?

j2020
June 11, 2016, 08:59 AM
Nice! Keep us posted on how it breaks in. Does it use MiniMServer as well?

Yes it does. But I haven't gone on to the network yet as the router is way too far from my rig.

Am very, very happy with the usb input via the iFi/AMR USB 3.0. After more than 300 hours of break-in, it is settling in very nicely. I was a bit concerned at first about its SQ vs the K-01 as it "only" uses the chip of the K-05X.
But now, I am simply amazed by its superior abilities.

Ritmo
June 11, 2016, 09:22 AM
Congratulations! Glad you are very happy with the N-05.

j2020
June 11, 2016, 09:25 AM
Congratulations! Glad you are very happy with the N-05.

Thanks, Ritmo/Mike.

j2020
June 17, 2016, 04:23 AM
Update :-

I had the K-01 for about 3 years before recently acquiring the N-05 which now has about 350 hours of burn-in.

1. 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.

2. I am using Windows 10 and JRiver MC 19 with DSP off, DoP for DSD files and set to play from RAM.

3. I use a thumbdrive coupled to an AQ Jitterbug and ported to the PC, Oyaide Continental 5S(all silver) usb cable from PC to the iFi/AMR USB 3.0 which reclocks and regenerates the usb signal. The SQ via this route handily beats playing from the PC's internal hard disk.

4. From the iFi USB 3.0, a bihedral Gemini cable (from the same company) splits power from the audio signal before going to the N-05's usb input.

5. I have not hooked up the N-05 to the network as the router is too far away from my rig.

6. In comparison with the K-01 spinning discs in its transport, the SQ from the N-05 configured as above beats out the K-01 in every regard. This is a night and day difference and not subtle. This could be due to the new gen AK 4490 chip in the N-05 but its usb implementation, power supply and analog output stages may play important roles as well.

7. To me, moving from the K-01 to the N-05 is a massive upgrade for all formats - redbook/hires pcm/dsd. Good redbook can sound as good as hires.

8. There is more detail without any added glare or harshness, instruments are better fleshed out with a more solid bass foundation, highs are airier and more transparent while the overall result is much more musical than the K-01.

PS : Grandioso/K-01X/K-03 X share the AK 4495 chip which is one step up from the AK 4490 used in the N-05/K-05X/K-07X

The above observations apply only to my system and my ears. :)

Arcade
June 17, 2016, 04:51 AM
Given the N-05 is basically a K-05x with streamer instead of transport, this is fairly high praise you give! I had found that the shift was about a level up, i.e. the K-07X sounded near the K-05 etc. I wonder if some of the improvement you're hearing is also due to the fact there are no moving parts, and the buffer stage/filtering in the N-05? Whatever it is, a bit of a bargain relatively speaking.

j2020
June 17, 2016, 04:53 AM
Given the N-05 is basically a K-05x with streamer instead of transport, this is fairly high praise you give! I had found that the shift was about a level up, i.e. the K-07X sounded near the K-05 etc. I wonder if some of the improvement you're hearing is also due to the fact there are no moving parts, and the buffer stage/filtering in the N-05? Whatever it is, a bit of a bargain relatively speaking.

I agree it is indeed a bargain compared to my old K-01.

wklie
June 17, 2016, 05:51 AM
I settled down to ORG upconversion and OFF filter for all redbook/hires PCM files after 200 hours of burn-in.

If I remember correctly, you tried the different PCM filters. From google I found that a number of users like the SDLY* filters for (different models of) Esoteric. Do you have any comments about those PCM filters? Thanks.

bzr
June 17, 2016, 06:22 AM
Given the N-05 is basically a K-05x with streamer instead of transport, this is fairly high praise you give! I had found that the shift was about a level up, i.e. the K-07X sounded near the K-05 etc. I wonder if some of the improvement you're hearing is also due to the fact there are no moving parts, and the buffer stage/filtering in the N-05? Whatever it is, a bit of a bargain relatively speaking.

Could be the Kimber Silver is a bit hot with the K-01.....With a more neutral chip the sound is sure to change & be delivered differently.

j2020
June 17, 2016, 06:44 AM
If I remember correctly, you tried the different PCM filters. From google I found that a number of users like the SDLY* filters for (different models of) Esoteric. Do you have any comments about those PCM filters? Thanks.

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.

Hope this helps.

j2020
June 17, 2016, 09:05 AM
Could be the Kimber Silver is a bit hot with the K-01.....With a more neutral chip the sound is sure to change & be delivered differently.

Certainly, this is possible. It all boils down to system synergy.

Mike
June 17, 2016, 09:14 AM
I would love to see the inside of the N-05 vs a Lumin T-1. Anyone have a picture? Wizard?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

wklie
June 17, 2016, 09:51 AM
I would love to see the inside of the N-05 vs a Lumin T-1.

Chinese review with nice photos of the inside:
http://my-hiend.com/wp/esoteric-n-05-%e9%a6%96%e9%83%a8%e7%b6%b2%e8%b7%af%e4%b8%b2%e6%b 5%81%e6%92%ad%e6%94%be%e6%a9%9f/2/

j2020
June 17, 2016, 11:28 AM
Chinese review with nice photos of the inside:
http://my-hiend.com/wp/esoteric-n-05-%e9%a6%96%e9%83%a8%e7%b6%b2%e8%b7%af%e4%b8%b2%e6%b 5%81%e6%92%ad%e6%94%be%e6%a9%9f/2/

Thanks for the link.

If I read it correctly, high praise all round.
But no mention of preferred settings for upconversion and filters.

wklie
June 17, 2016, 01:19 PM
If I read it correctly, high praise all round.
But no mention of preferred settings for upconversion and filters.

True.

It says (my translation):

- Using Audirvana software, USB sounds thicker. Network streaming sounds lighter (leaner?) with higher flexibility (?). Each has its pros.

- When used with G-02 the sound becomes more focused and smooth.

j2020
June 17, 2016, 07:14 PM
True.

It says (my translation):

- Using Audirvana software, USB sounds thicker. Network streaming sounds lighter (leaner?) with higher flexibility (?). Each has its pros.

- When used with G-02 the sound becomes more focused and smooth.

Thanks. :)

wklie
June 22, 2016, 07:39 AM
A forumer at CA has compared the Linn, Lumin and N-05 and he finds the N-05 giving the most balanced SQ of the 3.
The Lumin uses the Wolfson chip which is very well regarded too.


From a Hong Kong forum, someone auditioned Lumin A1 and Esoteric N-05. He chose Lumin A1 because he feels it has more dynamics and sounds less fatiguing for prolonged listening.

So both products have their advantages and suit different people's preferences. Choice is a good thing.

j2020
June 22, 2016, 08:21 AM
From a Hong Kong forum, someone auditioned Lumin A1 and Esoteric N-05. He chose Lumin A1 because he feels it has more dynamics and sounds less fatiguing for prolonged listening.

So both products have their advantages and suit different people's preferences. Choice is a good thing.

From the CA forum :-

"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."

As always, it all boils down to system synergy and our own ears.
Yes, choice is a very good thing. :)

j2020
July 23, 2016, 10:17 AM
Update :-

I have now 1000 hours of burn-in on the N-05 which has blossomed into a most wonderful dac.
Truly, way, way better than the K-01 in every aspect of music reproduction.
Incredible value for the money!

Cheers! :) :):)

jdandy
July 23, 2016, 11:56 PM
https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ceJFp9G7PMg/VzNSd4NWEDI/AAAAAAAAdNw/_Gu_E5Q8lk0Yvh2BYkjF4qHuu3zIWwM_gCLcB/s1600/160219_N-05_top-web.jpg

j2020
July 24, 2016, 12:03 AM
Thanks for the pix.
J. :)

j2020
October 22, 2016, 11:23 PM
From a Hong Kong forum, someone auditioned Lumin A1 and Esoteric N-05. He chose Lumin A1 because he feels it has more dynamics and sounds less fatiguing for prolonged listening.So both products have their advantages and suit different people's preferences. Choice is a good thing.

Hi wklie/Peter,

I took your advice from another thread which I can't find now. Anyway I tried your suggestion of using AC line power adapters for the network. Hooked things up and presto! I can play from the thumbdrive ported to the rear panel using the Soundstream app on an iPad which is essentially Lumin's.

Here's the kicker. With the AQ Jitterbug in series with the thumbdrive, music sounds a whole level better than my previous usb set-up via the iFi USB 3.0. So now, the USB 3.0 is tucked in some forgotten corner.

The difference is indeed night and day - much more open soundstage, more fleshed out instruments, more treble air, warmer and more musical!

My question is why this should be so - am I playing via ethernet or is it still usb from the thumbdrive? Logically, it should still be usb. If so, then the A-port implementation would appear to be way better than that for the B-port. Either that or the pc as a server is very much inferior to the thumbdrive.

Thanks in advance.
Jon. :)

wklie
October 23, 2016, 04:04 AM
Generally, I mention power line adapter only as a last resort - because it affects the power, which in turn may affect the sound quality of audio equipment (according to some people).

If you use a thumb drive, the data flow is from the USB. The Ethernet hardware port is not involved in the flow of music data, but it is still used for communication with the app. As you've found out and validated many others' experiences, using a general purpose computer as a source with USB connection to the USB DAC is not ideal, because the computer EMI/RFI noise passes through the USB cable to affect the sound quality of the DAC. This reminds me of a recent report of replacing MacBook Pro by a dedicated network transport:
http://www.audioshark.org/showthread.php?t=10568&page=2&p=181882&viewfull=1#post181882

j2020
October 23, 2016, 06:50 AM
Generally, I mention power line adapter only as a last resort - because it affects the power, which in turn may affect the sound quality of audio equipment (according to some people).

If you use a thumb drive, the data flow is from the USB. The Ethernet hardware port is not involved in the flow of music data, but it is still used for communication with the app. As you've found out and validated many others' experiences, using a general purpose computer as a source with USB connection to the USB DAC is not ideal, because the computer EMI/RFI noise passes through the USB cable to affect the sound quality of the DAC. This reminds me of a recent report of replacing MacBook Pro by a dedicated network transport:
http://www.audioshark.org/showthread.php?t=10568&page=2&p=181882&viewfull=1#post181882

Thanks for the link.
I guess the iFi USB3.0 is good but not good enough.

johndoe21ro
November 20, 2017, 01:07 AM
Any news? Any new owners? Any new comparisons? :P

AJR
November 28, 2017, 01:28 AM
Ditto. I am considering buying an N-05 and would be very interested to hear if anyone else has recently considered one and decided to go for a different single box streamer/DAC.

Lee Scoggins
December 30, 2017, 01:25 AM
Interesting thread.

hongkong
January 14, 2018, 02:32 PM
thanks ! and what about Accuphase ?