Esoteric VRDS-NEO not reading discs

I have an Esoteric K-01 cd/sacd player that is around 7 years old.  Recently the transport tray began to have a problem.  It would only open part way on the first 3 trys.  I was told that it needed a new transport drive belt, so I replaced the belt and the tray opened fine.  However, now the laser does not read the disc consistently.  It has played fine for a few hours, but most of the time it reads "no disc" or "disc error."   have contacted Esoteric and there only response is that I need to send the unit to an authorized Esoteric repair center.  They also have told me that the service manual is not for sale to the public.  This unit has been off Warranty for many years.  The cost to send it to the repair center is over $100 each way.

All this trouble for a part that costs around $0.40 for a generic replacement, and $16 for an authentic belt from Esoteric.  This player cost around $20k new and it is  rendered inoperable after 7 years because of the failure of a cheap belt. I do not think I should have to pay hundreds of dollars to have it repaired.  It does not seem fair to me that Esoteric will not help me to fix this problem myself.

What do you think?  Is there anyone out there who can help me to understand what the problem is with the laser not reading discs properly?  I am willing to pay someone for their help.


The are several threads about Esoterics authorized repair centers.  WARNING, you will not enjoy reading them.

Lasers have a limited lifespan. If it's not on its way out, it might need to be re-aligned. Count yourself lucky that you can get service or a replacement part if you need one. 7 years is a pretty good run, how many years do you think is the right amount for free repairs and shipping? 

My experience with CD players not reading discs is the laser is getting weak or failed. I’ve had problems like you describe on other manufacturers but have no knowledge about Esoteric. Good luck!

I do not think shipping your CD player to Esoteric for around $200 both ways is too much for a 20K product is unreasonable. Your player has the same transport as mine, the VRDS NEO which is one of the best on the market.  If it is a laser problem, they use a special alignment jig to repair. Most likely in your DIY repair you bumped something in the laser assembly and it now needs to be realigned.    It does have to go back to Esoteric as no one else has that jig.  

Think about repairing an exotic car, it’s the same scenario.  I would bite the bullet and ship it out.  Otherwise, you now have a 20K boat anchor.  


I do not think shipping your CD player to Esoteric for around $200 both ways is too much for a 20K product is unreasonable...

+1. I know it can sting, but I consider occasional costs such as this just part of the hobby, even if obviously it's not the fun part. A product such as the Esoteric deserves the best service available, and it's a very specialized product.

Think about repairing an exotic car, it’s the same scenario.

Yes, it's part of the cost of ownership.


Maybe try the Allsop CD Laser-Lens Cleaner before you send it off. Ultimate 8 brush system. After it loads, it instructs you skip a track and when to remove. It was the only one of its kind that worked for me after trying a few others. It worked right away. May also help with skipping CD-Rs.

The tray and pickup assembly probably just needs realignment and to be plugged out/in again with a power cycle. This is also an easy fix unless the CD player is seeking back and forth on its own. In that case, it is likely a mainboard issue: track 1, changes to track 5, then to track 2 etc. basically driving itself crazy.


I am hearing from a number of you that I should expect to have problems with the drive and laser pickup on my Esoteric K-01 after 7 years, and that I should expect an expensive repair from "experts."  My best response to these comments is that I have had one of Sony's original Sony ES sacd/cd players for over 20 years and it still functions perfectly.  It has never been in for repair or adjustment.

@russ751, I owned a Sony SCD777ES which was a 50 pound $3500.00 SACD player.  Couldn't be fixed by Sony at 8 years old.  Gave it to my son to scrap the copper in it.  Sony is no better, usually worse for their equipment failures.  Sony also did not support the SACD that they helped bring to market.  Sony Music never did make much of the music available in the SACD format.

Well stereo5 it looks like you got me again.  I am sorry that your SCD777ES is no longer working.  Mine works fine and still sounds good.  None of this helps me to understand what is happening with my K-01.  Nor does it help me to find a path to getting it fixed other than a rather expensive trip to an authorized Esoteric repair facility.  I may have to sell it as a "boat anchor" and purchase another brand that I have trust in.

I have to agree with others that $200 in shipping cost is a small price to pay if means another 7 years of service?  The only question you need to ask is can I replace the Esoteric with an equally good machine for less than the cost of fixing the K-01?  Pretty sure you know the answer already.  I own the Esoteric and would not be getting rid of it.  

Sorry to hear about your Esoteric issue.

 I wish I had a answer.  I would contact Bill Thalman and make an inquiry as to availability and possible repair. He is excellent and I have used him for Conrad Johnson repairs/mods in the past and he was prompt, professional and reasonable.

I would NOT send it to Esoteric if it is the same outfit that is the Teac repair facility in California.  My friend and I have both used the Teac repair and  had very disappointing experiences. (both Teac reel to reel machines so not Esoteric)

I have a XO3SE and K01.  Both purchased used.  Both have been extremally enjoyable and rock solid reliable.  I also had a SCD-777ES and the Esoteric was vastly superior at least in my system.  Most of my audio friends who listened agreed.

IF you decide to keep it and get it fixed  and find someone who can reliably fix it at a reasonable price PLEASE let me know as I intend to keep mine chugging.

A little disappointing as it is a high end Japanese product and the Japanese are usually great at keeping customers happy (at least they used to be). 

Good luck and sorry to hear. 

Thanks for the advice steelhead. How do I contact Bill Thalman?  I also think the Esoteric sounds better than the Sony. I am frustrated with the quality/reliability of the transport. 

If my Esoteric UX-3 ever goes south, I will send it to Esoteric in California.  They now have the special jig to repair the transports which they did not have before. 


I believe you said you replaced the belt for the tray.  If the player was reading the disks before you replaced the belt, then it seems to me you disturbed something in the transport.  If that is the case, then it is not Esoteric's fault, wouldn’t that fall back on you?   My player uses the same transport as yours and I have the service manual   Send me a pm with a email address I can send it to.  I will email it to you if you are interested   


That’s a very kind offer stereo5. I would very much appreciate a copy of the service manual. Hopefully it will help me to better understand the problem and help me to decide where to go from the place where I am at now. My email is

@russ751 ,


I just sent out both schematics and service manual.  Hope it works out for you.




He runs Music Technology and on the website he does list sacd/cd repair service. I have a lot of respect for Bill and if he can take it on I am confident that he can fix it if the special alignment jig is not required for the repair.  Otherwise I guess you are stuck with dealing with Esoteric (Although Teac will never touch my reel to reel again God willing).


In any event I wish you the best and hope you can resolve it with as little pain as possible.  I did not come here to slag other players but the Esoteric handily made other players seem anemic.  My buddy had an Oppo that a lot of folks oohed and aahed over and the Esoteric was so superior it was laughable. Of course at the price it better be, right?

Seriously Man, Good Luck and let us know how the dust settles.

None of this helps me to understand what is happening with my K-01.

As I said before lasers have limited and unpredictable lifespans. My trusted audio dealer would not buy or sell used CD players for this very reason. You are out of warranty, any trusted repair shop can repair your unit (unless parts are unavailable) and they can tell you that in short order. Good luck.



Yes, keep me posted as well. I own a sweet DV-50 player. There will come a time when it will require repair/service per Esoteric/TAP Electronics. Hoping yours is a small issue that can be resolved with a local repair Technician.


Happy Listening!

After reviewing the posts on this forum I decided that needed to send the K-01 to Tap electronics for repair. I will keep you updated. 

Well,  I got the k-01 back from TAP. It is 99% better. It only occasionally reads a “ tray error .”  Unfortunately the up-conversion does not work. I plan to call them on Monday  

Total cost of repairs was around $1000. Shipping total was around $600, and I live in California. 


Shipping total was around $600, and I live in California. 

That seems like a lot for shipping, even for about an 80 lbs shipping weight package.

Was this round trip costs?


I paid $160 via FEDEX to ship uninsured to TAP and the return shipment was $340 insured.  So I should have said $500.  By the way, it can take up to 3 trys before the CD is loaded and I do not get the "tray" error.  I am not happy and I plan to call TAP on Monday.

I would definitely call them on it.  They will of course say something happened on the shipping return trip to you.  



Thank You for the update. Looking forward in reading more about this development.


Happy Listening!

I have had the K01 back in my system for 3 days. The “TRAY” message continues to come up when I close the CD tray. For a while this error was happening frequently after the player had been on for 3-4 hours. There were a couple of times when it took serial open-close cycles before the CD would load  I was getting very pissed off.  I thought more than $1600 spent and the problem persists, and may be worse.

Today I have been playing the K01 for several hours and the “tray” message has come up several times but less often than yesterday and only 1 open-close cycle gets the disc to load and play.

I think I will wait a few days before calling TAP.

I spoke with Sal at TAP electronics today.  He was supportive. He agreed that the “tray” error code was a problem. At this point Sal is going to work with Esoteric in Japan to find a solution. I am satisfied with Sal’s response. I will keep you posted. 



Thank You for the update. Sal is the 1st line at TAP Electronics.

I look forward in reading more about your situation.


Happy Listening!

Thanks for the update Russ.

I look forward (with trepidation) about how your issue is resolved.   I will do everything I can to avoid the California place if and when mine needs service.  My friend and I both had terrible experiences with that place.  The damn jig needed for alignment is what I fret over.

Owning a K01 which I really enjoy your issue very relevant in how you get dealt with.  

Hope they make it right and it is spinning flawlessly at some point




An Esoteric player at your level should not exhibit any

Error Code in playback. I own a sweet DV 50 for comparison.


Happy Listening!

I always wonder why Esoteric don’t have good repair service here in the USA? My Sony 9000es modwright ten years then laser gave up.

best on the market no doubt

in case it happens again.

if the laser fails, replace the optical pickup.

Russ, Greetings

Have you got the K01 squared away and spinning?

Curious how you made out with the repair and if it is completed to your satisfaction?

Appreciate an update.


Not wanting to pile onto OPs problem, but I am wondering what is this Esoteric laser alignment jig that we have heard about repeatedly over the years?

What makes the jig so special that until recently there was only one at Esoteric overseas?  And why, at least for me, have I have never heard about any other brand having a problem sourcing or using a jig to fix their cd players? Whatever the jig is.

I started this discussion complaining about the fact that my K-01 Esoteric SACD player would not read discs properly.  I ended up sending the player to TAP electronics and my cost ended up to be around $1500 for their service and shipping costs.  The first time they sent the player back the door still had problems opening but the discs played properly when they eventually seated properly.  TAP had me send the player back, they again worked on the player and returned it, all at no expense to me.  When I got it back after the second repair, the opening and closing of the door is improved but still reads "tray error" at times.  Disc reading is fine.

I feel that TAP treated me fairly, even though there is still a problem with the door.

 My complaint is with Esoteric.  I believe a product at this cost should be more reliable.  I will not buy another Esoteric product.  In less than 10 years of very light use the tray does not function properly. and the upsampling function does not function at all.  Luckily I have gone to a music server and streaming, and the cd/sacd player is less important in my stereo system


The first time they sent the player back the door still had problems ... TAP had me send the player back ... When I got it back after the second repair, the opening and closing of the door is improved but still reads "tray error" at times ...

Everyone makes mistakes and repair of audio gear can be a tricky business, so I can accept that the first repair attempt was not successful. But with the possible exception of shipping damage, there is no damn excuse for the second failure. That’s just sloppy.

I can imagine that you are frustrated and resigned to this unit never functioning properly again. But if I were in your shoes (and I have been, although not with Esoteric), I’d send it back once more. My reasoning is that these companies don’t know they’ve failed unless the customer tells them. And in this case, Esoteric/TAP has failed miserably.


Thanks for the update Russ.  Very disappointing and kind of what I expected from TAP.  That place will not get my business unless I am forced to use it.

I agree that a player of that build and price should be much more reliable.  In a cosmic universal joke my K01 has started to give me the tray error so I get to live the dream. I sold the X03SE a couple of months ago and sorry I did not retain it for a backup.  I did bring up this thread to the purchaser as I brought up the reliability issue as a potential issue down the road.

I am a dinosaur so my plan is to purchase a Denon or Yamaha SACD player as the price will probably be cheaper or consistent with a shipping and repair bill. I also listen to vinyl most of the time so not overly concerned about the sonics.

Esoteric are sonically fantastic but man oh man their reliability and repair facility are a joke.  Very shoddy from a high end Japanese audio company.  The Japanese used to be first rate in support but I guess those days are over.

Sorry to hear it and thanks for letting us know how it turned out. 


My Esoteric UX-3 is going on 12 years old and although it has been trouble free, I am very worried about the problems getting them repaired. If and when I need to replace my SACD player, I do know it will not be from Esoteric due to their inability to repair them properly and the huge price increases. I sold Teac for many years and they seemed to be bulletproof, you would think their higher end top tier equipment would be even better.  I truly believe Esoteric is going to lose out on North American sales because of their poor repair services.  TAP Electronics sounds just like Sony in Laredo, Texas where they can’t seem to fix anything right.  We consumers deserve much better.  Too bad the reviewers never touch upon just how horrible the service is. 



I enjoy reading your impressions and thoughts on Esoteric. 12 years is a nice run. May many years be left in your UX-3 Player.


Happy Listening!

The K-01 Model is older than 7 years old. Came out 12-13 years ago and the next model K-01X came out 8 years ago.



do you know if Esoteric utilizes a 15a or 20a Power Cord (PC)?  I cannot tell with my stock DV-50 PC?


Happy Listening!

They use a 15 amp power cord. I am using an Acrolink PC4030 power cord.  Perrota Consulting gave me a great deal on the used cord. 

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An update on your situation? Another Player purchased?


Happy Listening!