Esoteric Wireless Wonder

Innovation comes from surprising places. Esoteric has always focused on pushing the state of the art with their flagship and pricey digital players (the financially squeemish can skip to another post now), but they've also begun to accommodate digital media wherever it may be found.

Though the digital disc is far from dead, streaming media is the new reality. With this in mind the company has created an upgrade for the D-05 DAC which enables wireless streams in addition to the usual wired suspects.

The USB upgrade kit allows wired or wireless transmission of data from anything with a USB port. A small card with a USB jack and two small antennas is inserted into the back of the D-05 and a USB dongle, the size of a typical memory stick, is inserted in the USB port of the source.

The system can stream Linear PCM signals decoded at your PC or Mac, with sampling rates up to 16 bit / 48 kHz (for both wireless and wired connection). The wireless connection features 2.4GHz wireless transmission up to approx 100 ft.

I heard a brief demo of a wireless stream from a small PC and the sound was fabulous. The D-05 converter is priced at $7,500 and the USB upgrade kit is tentatively priced at $1200 including installation. Availability is planned for the first quarter of 2009.

Alex Sorrell's picture

This is what I've been looking for - good wireless audio from one room to another. Too bad I don't have and Esoteric DAC.

Corbey's picture

As Wes Phillips wrote when he reviewed the Slim Devices Transporter, "I suspect that we have to thank our lucky stars that Slim Devices comes from the world of computers, where folks squeeze pennies until Lincoln yelps in order to preserve market share—if the company was from the high-end audio sector, there'd be a three or a four at the beginning of that price, if not an extra zero at the end." He was, of course, correct, and we're seeing the result in the audiophile bling coming from Esoteric and many others. It's much more expensive, but I suspect that it has much less functionality.

S. Chapman's picture

Inovation? What's he talking about? This is a "me-too" product designed to take advantage of the trend toward music servers. The audiophile companies have finally realized which way the wind is blowing, that's all.

Frederic B's picture

The D05 is the only standalone DAC so far with the AKM 32 bit chip which is very special indeed. If you wanted that sound and wireless transmission, so far, you were SOL (well, you needed yet another box in your system at a minimum). Now you can have both. If you own a D05 and want to go wireless it's good news and if you have a wireless network at home and want to upgrade your DAC to one of the finest available today it is also good news.What's the problem?

suitzmi's picture

Sampling rates up to 16 bit / 48 kHz is the problem, and would be a problem for a lot less money, too.

xsparky's picture

I would purchase this Dac in a heartbeat if it would accept hi rez(24/96 or 24/192) downloads from a P.C.or Mac via the Firewire port. But it does not!Esoteric missed the boat on this one! 16/48 is unacceptable.Back to Linn or Weiss I guess.

Ampalang's picture

Production models of the optional kit will transmit data with sampling rates of 24-bit 96 kHz for wired USB connections and up to 16-bit 48 kHz for wireless transmission.

Mark Gurvey / Esoteric's picture

As mentioned above, production models of these optional kits will transmit data with sampling rates of 24-bit/96 kHz for wired USB connections and up to 16-bit 48 kHz for wireless transmission. This is currently the limit for chipsets used for PCM streaming of compressed or uncompressed audio via USB connections. Any hard drive based data can be used if operating from a Windows or Apple based system. Once this information is received, Esoteric then up-converts the digital signal to 176.4 with 24 or 32 bit D/A conversion. Availability is planned for Spring 2009 which also includes a new integrated player with wired capability into 32 bit DACS. Optical and SPDIF/Coax input will also be available.