Esoteric P-2 CD transport System Details
I've been listening to the Esoteric P-2 for about six months with a variety of digital processors. My current reference system is comprised of Hales System Two Signature loudspeakers driven by VTL 225W Deluxe monoblocks via 3' runs of bi-wired AudioQuest Clear. Digital processors auditioned with the P-2 included the VTL tubed unit reviewed in this issue, Stax DAC-X1t, Theta DSPro Basic, and Proceed PDP. Other digital processors used with the P-2 in the past few months include the Melior Digital Center, Aragon D2A, Esoteric D-2, D-10, and D-500, Wadia 2000, and Wadia X-32.
Rather than use an active preamp, the digital processors' respective outputs were attenuated with an Electronic Visionary Systems Stepped Attenuator, which puts only two resistors and a switch in the signal path. All interconnects (digital processor to Stepped Attenuator, Stepped Attenuator to VTLs) were the extraordinary Expressive Technologies IC-1. I've been experimenting with different digital interconnects and had a variety at my disposal, including the Aural Symphonics Digital Transmission Line, one from The Anodyne Group, a JVC coaxial cable, and an Audio-Technica premium optical interconnect. I also had DAT master tapes from which CDs were made (Stereophile's Poem and a jazz album I engineered) for comparisons between CD playback from the Esoteric and DAT playback from the JVC DAT machine driving the same digital converter.
Finally, I compared the P-2 with the digital output of the $400 Rotel RCD-855, thus comparing an inexpensive CD player transport to an ambitious dedicated unit. Although this may seem like an unfair comparison, it nevertheless answers the question "What effect does a CD transport have on the musical presentation?"
My dedicated listening room has dimensional ratios chosen for room-mode distribution, with a high sloped ceiling. All AC power (except the VTL monoblock amplifiers) was conditioned with a Tice Power Block and Titan Energy Storage System.Robert Harley