Best SACD: Modwright OPPO vs Esoteric X03 series?

There seem to be about 5 of each available on Audiogon right now for about $3k +/- $300. I can maybe stretch my budget and lay my hands on cash in few days. In the mean time, I need to decide which type is likely to sound better. I am running a hodge-podge system made from a few 'over achievers' and a lot of attention to detail. Amps are 600w D-Sonic and the preamp is a W4S STP buffered passive. Speakers are 6.1 Genesis and most of my cabling is from Kaplan or his new Waevform Fidelity. I have no chance to audition either model as the Milwaukee area is kind of an audiophile dessert, and would appreciate hearing from anyone who has.
I have the Modwright/Oppo 105 unit and it is by far the best sounding digital that I have heard. I know the Esoteric stuff is built like a tank but not sure on its sound quality.I opted to change out the tubes in the Mdwright/Oppo to NOS RCA 6sn7's and a large/tall NOS RCA for the outborad power supply, another big improvement in sound. This combo is pricey but the reward is great fidelity.
Go with the OPPO, not only will you save a bunch of money, the sound will be much warmer and more analogue like, easy to listen to for long periods at higher volumes. Yes the Esoteric is built like a battleship, the OPPO is a very dependable machine as well. Regards,

I cannot answer your question directly as I have no experience with the Oppo.

Purchased a used X03SE off the gon from a cat moving up to the K01. One of the best used purchases I have ever made. I use two turntables, reel to reel, cassette, and Alesis masterlink. The Esoteric is a superb unit and I will state that it is very analog like with warmth and detail. I use tubes and prefer older darker tubes so have some background for a warm presentation which I personally prefer.

Worried about the upgrade from a Sony 777 moving to the esoteric as I have never heard one prior to purchase. One of the best gambles I ever made. In fact, a buddy borrowed it and after a few days ended up buying a K03 from a dentist moving up to the K01. I would love to throw in a K01 but honestly the X03SE is a sheer delight and built to a quality standard that guarantees pride of ownership.

Have Fun!
Thanks! for sharing -steelhead. I, too, am interested in the Esoteric X-03 or X-03SE spinner. I did demo the DV-50/60 series and really liked its SACD playback only.

As you move up the esoteric chain- keep me posted.
Happy Listening!
Esoteric X03 SE without a doubt..When additioning players I heard several including the Oppo and the modified version.Didnt even clome close to what the X03se does but it really comes down to what you want to hear.For me when I read anyone stating any digital is closer analog is simply foolish.Get a turntable if you want analog,thats what I did!
Much Thanks! Missioncoonery-

YES, I want to hear everything that the digital format has to offer (warts and all). I felt like the Esoteric DV-50/60 was an excellent start. I feel certain that the palyback get better as one moves up the product line chain ( I know it does for cables/power cords)!

Which cables/cords are you guys using w/ your Esoteric
spinners? Keep me posted & Happy Listening!
Im running Lessloss signature power cords..Nordost ICs with the Esoteric because I like the speed of their cables with digital.
Very nice! Mission-

anyone else want to shout out on their fave cables/cords?

Keep me posted & Happy Listening!

I use triode wires labs digital American power cord and triode wire labs spirit interconnects on my X03SE.

Dressed it up nice and I am a very very happy camper.

I only want to throw in a K01 or K01X as by happenstance I found two cats both moving from current Esoteric to near top of the chain. The X03SE is a wonderful and totally satisfying (to me) spinner. Very curious about the KO1 but a little out of my comfort zone on price. A used X03 or 3SE would be a fantastic cost to benefit ratio player in my opinion.

Have Fun!
- Elrod Statement Gold (latest gen) Power Cords with P-02 and D-02 (other equipment as well)
- Elrod Statement Gold (latest gen) XLR Interconnects for analog pathways
- Kubala-Sosna ELATION 110ohm AES/EBU XLR cables (2) between P-02 and D-02
- Kubala-Sosna EMOTION 75ohm BNC:BNC clocking cable....

See my system page for comments and more details.
Thank You! Steelhead + Zephyr.

to Zephyr, you own some of the very best cables/cords.
Both KS and Elrod are on my short-list to demo (someday).
I have never read a poor review of nether brand.

Keep me posted & Happy Listening!
Thank you very much,'s what they do for the music, energy and realism of what I hear that I like the most. Let me know of any more specific questions on these and others I've tried (Audioquest SKYs, Volcano, Eagle Eye, Raven, etc...years ago, Tara Labs 0.8 HFX and 0.5 HFX a few years ago and other brands). I'll be glad to help.
I might add before you drop a ton of money on cables..The 03se really sounds great with stock power cord and cheap ICs.It might be more wise to buy entry level stuff of a good brand you like and spend the rest on music....or a turntable if your seeking "the analog experience"
10-14-15: Mattmiller
Go with the OPPO, not only will you save a bunch of money, the sound will be much warmer and more analogue like, easy to listen to for long periods at higher volumes. Yes the Esoteric is built like a battleship, the OPPO is a very dependable machine as well. Regards,

I'm with Matt on this, the Esoteric players i've heard are good sacd players yes, but there are better sounding rbcd players. So it really depends whether you're heavily invested in sacd's or listen mostly to rbcd's. Also, if you need a good bluray player, the Oppo is a no-brainer & will allow you to play DVD-A, Bluray audio & obviously bluray movies.
it would not even be close between those two players. All you need to do is liten to them both. The Oppo is good for the money. The esoteric is good, regardless of the money.
Everyone knows the MW oppo 105 competes with players up to $15k. No one would deny the Esoteric would have the wood over the Oppo on SACD, but I would very happily throw a fully loaded Modwright Oppo 105 with the Bybee & Audio Magico options up against an Esoteric X03 playing a well mastered XRCD. The other benefit of the Oppo is, you can further improve & tune the player by upgrading the factory tubes to some matched NOS tubes. Any one else car to chime in?
Again as stated, I looked and listened to the MW oppo.Made no sense to me to take a $1300 inferior player ,do the mod which if not mistaken was $25-2600 at that time with a long list of "better option mods you can add to make It sound even better" to compete with what is already a great player right out of the crate.I never bought into the Harley buy it stock and spend a ton to make it sound and look cool.Esoteric was and still is a better made and better sounding player to me.
Would it be safe to say that the Esoteric will still be operating perfectly when the Oppo gives up, given the difference in build quality between the two?
Fair enough Mission. There is plenty of room for all views and opinions here, and no right or wrong. Some folks like tubed gear, others prefer ss. There is no doubt the Esoteric has a very good transport & excellent build quality. But at end of the day, you buy gear based on a balancing act between subjective sound, quality and other considerations such as resale value. Even if you describe the Esoteric as Mercedes, the next guy might prefer a Mustang. Different horses for different courses.
IMO, I would say yes of course..but I don't own the Oppo and never would so I have no experience on build quality and how it would hold up over the test of time..I do own the X03SE.It sounds great with any cables,a slew of different amps I own both SS and tube..........and not one issue!
Aren't we really just talking amongst ourselves since the OP has long since left the discussion? Anyway I'm not particularly concerned which way the OP goes as I have my Vitus SCD-025mk2 which is making glorious music :).
Hi guys, let me give some input....I just bought oppo Modwright...List $4605....bought the Demo unit that was used at last show...$3500... I will not be setting up for a while but I did take out the power supply just 2 take a look....n it did put a smile on my face....quite a ps in a separate... I think we all know what that means....Reasons I bought this unit...I wanted tubes n a great power supply...I wanted 2 be able 2 call n talk 2 the owner or maker on the phone anytime I wanted....which I have done with Dan Wright for a few years....I did ask about the transport....he said he has never had any problem with the oppo transports....I asked him if he could service the unit for a new transport if ever needed or anything else...Dan said yes he would order transport from oppo n do the work anything else I would like...That in a nutshell means a lot 2 me....knowing I can send 2 him n everything will be taken care....Don't get me wrong I do not expect 2 have any problems with the unit...............

Now let me say this....I have been buying high end equipment for a longtime....Don't let the name of ur equipment fool you....I bought brand ML $6,000 cd player n ML $6,000 Power amp and had problems with both of them.... plus McIntosh preamp n poweramp in the past..............

I expect the Oppo Modwright 2 sound great...just like I would expect the esoteric 2 sound great....but just remember guys CD Players are replaced as soon as there is a new upgrade...get the point? esoteric has had there problems with there units including there transports ....n You won't be able 2 pickup a phone n call Dan Wright and tell him ur sending it 2 him 2 make it new again....Get the point......?

Everything you said makes sense. You do leave out one important point. What happens if Dan Wright isn't around anymore. At least if you buy from one of the major high end companies more than likely they will be around tomorrow. Even if the owner dies they usually have someone primed to take over the company. When I purchase high end audio that is always a major consideration for me.
LOL...Dan is in his early 40s...but I am sure there our people who work for him that can service his equipment n make make a living doing so....this has been done before in the past...I now have Passlabs equipment n feel the same way
about there's.....But I really do not worry about that 2 be honest....lets face it I might not be here tomorrow...does mean I shouldn't buy anything lol...that's not my mindset...I think I cover most of my bases when I buy the way another unit I had 2 return was a Ayre poweramp.... the people who are honest with themselves know what I am saying...I am not trying 2 bad mouth anyone brand....but what I am trying 2 point out is QC is not good enough in most Brands....Be well
Taters, not necessarily. Many an established high end audio company which have either changed hands or closed shop no longer support legacy products. For example, Infinity Systems no longer provide any technical support or parts for legacy speakers after the Harmon takeover. They even removed specs off their site. And there is a long bucket list of established high end audio companies which have closed the doors. Going with an established high end brand like Boulder, Vitus or Magico is certainly a safer bet that a business based around modding gear, though as with Infinity Systems, there are no guarantees.
IMO buying a product just because you spoke with or can speak with the owner of the company is foolish at best .I agree with Melbguy..A company based on modding another companys product has no validity to me as an innovator and not taken seriously...but the bottom line is what sounds the best and Esoteric blows that modded Oppo a out of the water IMO
Melbguy1...I am sure its a great player (Vitus SCD) enjoy... I also understand that the Esoteric upper players our top shelf....all I was trying 2 say is there are a lot of great sounding players that cost less... I am not like some people like a little kid n have 2 say mine is the best lol...I am not looking for the BEST OUT THERE....I am looking for a really good sounding player 2 enjoy....I know my Modwright oppo will fill that bill....I also have a Marantz Reference SA/-KI Pearl SA/CD Player...Which I bought because they only made 500 players with the Pearl-Integrated...I have not used much at all...have 2 unbox n see how it sounds....I had another Marantz Reference I was using....I do not listen that anymore but I do love the hobby.

I have been thinking about getting a Rega of there Top two...besides the ss player they now have a tube is $10,000.---Tube Player a little more..Enjoy ur Vitus SCD Player....I am sure you need not look anymore.
I don't know if the Esoteric blows the Modwright Oppo out of the water. The only thing I would say about the Esoteric is that it is built better. But at over 3 times the price of the modded Oppo it should be.
Missioncoonery...I know that you are wrong, but I hope you feel better...

LOL...Im wrong? bought a player because you spoke with the owner of that company on the phone,,,yes Im wrong..and yes I do feel better lol
Oh that's the only reason why I bought the Player, I didn't know that...Really..
Ok..Sorry, I read your post totally wrong.I guess I didn't quite see when you compared the two side by side in an actually audio shoot out.I thought the fact you pointed out you called the owner and spoke with him and that made you feel safe as a buyer was where you were going with that,my mistake....really
So I too made a side by side audio comparison just like you did even though I must of skipped that in your post.Forgetting the fact the X03se isn't in production anymore and we are still making comparisons with new gear should make the point its a great player.Lets see in 5 years how you feel about the Oppo you bought,if its being compared to new gear and what its worth on the used market...but you do have me on I cant call the owner of Esoteric and ask him which player he recommends buying,lol
You sure assume a lot, n attack a company you know nothing about....N pick out parts of all I said 2 please yourself..Wow Really....
You assume I know nothing about the oppo modded unit which is not true,wow really....I actually compared the two side by side..Im doubting you've even heard the X03se so im taking all this as fluff from you....sorry, but I stand by my personal opinion on which is a better player overall ,which will hold its value better,which is better made....and which sounds better
This thread is going for the missionary position, and someone is going for the two should get a room :D.
I never said the Mod was better, all of that came from ur Mind...That tells me a
I'm sure both players sound great. It's the sound of most discs that sucks!
I never said the Mod was better, all of that came from ur Mind...That tells me a

huh,ok if that's not what your saying why would you buy it?.are we back to the phone call,lol...heres the thing in my opinion...its a failed concept to begin with..Start with a player that's average in some minds and worse with others..throw a bunch of parts at it and charge what $2600 to make it sound good,,,but you can also add these upgrades to make it sound even better,lol that's ridiculous.Why would one fall for that,I guess some do but not me.Ill take a quality product from an established and amoung a lot of thinkers a pioneer in the field of digital.Esoteric
Bdp...Thank You that's my point....if anyone is interested there is a review on the Modwright-Oppo BDP-105 with Modifications in The absolute Sound- issue248-December 2014, Dan only did Mods on the stereo 2 channel part of the player, so were talking high end sound by replacing everything or mostly everything in this area...Plus a huge tube (3) Power supply, which is one the most important parts of any high end equipment...Plus it is a Tube player, which in itself brings something special 2 the sound...which some people call tube magic...I have owned other Modwright equipment...the Man knows what he's doing......
I was the first person to send my Oppo to ModWright. It is a fantastic digital "Swiss Army knife". And with tube rolling it is even better. I sold it to get the new ModWright Elyse DAC, which uses 6922 tubes and Burr Brown PCM1794 DAC chip. Honestly, the Elyse takes digital to a whole different higher level. I am using my Elyse with an Oppo 93 right now. I tried a Esoteric DV-60 as transport, but the Oppo 93 was just as capable. If you can, try out the new Elyse DAC. It also kills my old GNSC Wadia S7i and Burmester 089.
Talk2me, thanks for the info...something for me 2 think about. I just bought the Oppo Modwright which just received The absolute Sound Editor's choice Award.... I do except it 2 sound great n enjoy it....but I do love 2 try Players..... This is at least my 13 when I get the bug ill do what you did.....Plus its so important 2 have First Rate Customer Service like you get from Modwright...Enjoy your new setup...but remember you still have 2 shut it off n go 2 work lol....Be well
I just came across this thread, which I realize is a bit old. I have a stock Oppo 105 and an Esoteric K-03, and while neither is identical to the OP's comparison pieces, I can absolutely say that the Esoteric is far more transparent, detailed, and overall more musical. The Oppo is only better in a few minor functional ways: it fast-forwards/rewinds faster, and it can directly play files from a USB drive. (The Esoteric requires a computer attached plus connection software.)
As I reported last year, I like the Esoteric for SACD playback only.
There are better rbcd spinners, IMO.