A complete stack of Esoteric’s Grandiodo line of supreme products stimulates my salivary glands like few other pieces of gear. Long time fan of the Tokyo based brand launched by TEAC thirty years ago, Esoteric has been a leader in digital audio playback and currently produces a complete line of electronics including flagship monos and a linestage pre-amplifier. Add the supreme double chassis SACD transport and monoblock DACs for a rig that screams built quality, attention to detail and smooth sound.
For the 2017 Munich show they decided to partner with B&W and used the latest 802D3 speakers in satin white for a touch of class. This proved to be among my favorite systems when considering bottom octave speed, cohesion between bass and midrange, smooth female voices and piano but it failed to impress on top extension. There was a certain degree of harshness on the upper registries, similar to what I have heard on other occasions with the latest D3 series B&Ws, including the launch of the 800D3 last year in Munich. On that occasion I was not 100% sure on where to attribute the edginess and my thought was that the DAC section of the Classe pre-amp was to blame, then after listening the D3 on other circumstances and different set ups I came to realize that the diamond tweeter does not behave well when pushed above a certain spl. Pity for a room that had it all, the looks, the names and the heritage.