Ayre C-5XE MP, Simaudio Moon Andromeda, or Esoteric K-01X

Wanting to upgrade my Proceed PDT/PDP CD transport/DA converter from the early 1990's.
I am wanting to play many hundreds of Redbook CD's that I have collected, and I also want to start acquiring  SACD's.
I prefer to listen to classical and jazz, but I also listen to some rock and pop music also.
2 channel stereo listening only. 
I am running a pair of Mark Levinson No. 20.6 amps and a No. 26S preamp. B&W 801 Matrix Series 3 speakers.
Out of the 3 players listed:
Ayre C-5XE MP
Simaudio Moon Andromeda
Esoteric K-01X

I am wanting to buy a used CD/SACD player that will give me the biggest gain in 2 channel stereo reproduction. If the Esoteric K-01X sounds even a little better than the  Ayre C-5XE MP and the  Simaudio Moon Andromeda, I will spend the money. If there is another brand that you feel is better than any of the 3 that I have listed, please advise and/or educate me.
I know that the 3 players that I have listed cover a wide price range. I have talked to Ayre and they will hands down say that the  C-5XE MP will compete sonically with anything out there. At the same time I would like to know if the Esoteric K-01X is sonically superior to anything up to its price range.

I have not kept up with the technology advancements in CD/SACD players for the past 25 years so I have been reading everything that I can to get caught up. Lots of people on the forums that own/have owned a lot of great CD CD players/transports/DA converters. A lot of great units out there. All opinions welcome.

I just bought a used Ayre DX-5 DSD that does what my C-5xeMP does plus has a USB port that accepts files sent to it by Roon.  Thus my C-5 is available if you're interested.  The C-5 has an uncanny ability to step out of the way so music sounds as though it is not being reproduced.  The DX-5 DSD and QX-5 Twenty share that ability.  I think Ayres strives to achieve it.


I would seriously look at buying a Oppo 105 or 205 universal player, then add a music server like an Aurender, this would make for a future proof system where by you can burn all your CD’s /SACD’s to the Aurender then access and organize it all with the stellar Conductor app! Plus, you can have the Oppo modded to include tube pwr supply and tube output stage. What fun! And awesome sound too.





Matt M
You may want to look into a streamer instead.  Streaming through Tidal or Qobuz gives you access to millions of albums many in high-def through the use of MQA.  Some people see MQA as an evil capitalist plot, but that hasn't been decided yet.  Some people think it's a good idea and improves sound quality, but that hasn't been decided yet either.

Streaming does appear to be the future of digital though.  I would look into it  before committing to buy an expensive player and a large quantity of CDs and SACDs.  If you decide MQA is an evil capitalist plot, I'd go with the Esoteric or Sim Audio player but you'd have to listen to them to decide which is right for you.
Something you may also want to consider is excellent separates. I have been using an Esoteric K-03x in both a speaker system and a headphones system. I decided to try a DENAFRIPS Terminator DAC and I found its SQ to exceed that of the DAC in the K-03x in every regard. The Terminator is simply in another class. I then substituted a Jay’s Audio CDT-3 dedicated CD transport and was further surprised at its superiority over the much vaunted Esoteric transport. Together, I am so impressed that I have ordered another set so I can have this standard in both my speaker system and headphone system. I simply cannot go back to the Esoteric. I have not heard a K-01x v K-03x but the K-01x would have to be way way better than the K-03x to match the CDT-3 / Terminator combo. I would guess that you could buy this combo new for a similar price to a secondhand K-01x. Do not be put off by their relatively modest price compared to some of the outlandish prices being charged by others. They punch way above their price. The CDT-3 however does not have SACD capability. I have a number of SACDs but many more CDs and prefer to maximize Red Book.