ESOTERIC is the 'high-end' branch of TEAC JAPON. It develops products in correlation with its 'Pro' section recognised in the entire world: TASCAM. The vocation of its products is above all the search of the greatest neutrality and the greatest transparency possible, naturally without neglecting musicality. To do this, all the means available to them are implemented to create the products.
When you take the E-O3 from its packaging, you have the feeling that you are holding more a high-end integrated amplifier than a simple RIAA preamp! The fully aluminium chassis and the 10 kg of the 'beast' are surely part of the reason for this. The equipment rests on three feet specific to the brand, specially designed to reduce the acoustic and mechanic vibrations that detract from the transparency and neutrality. On the facade are three superb selectors: one is used to select the input, as this preamplifier has two phono inputs! Incredibly useful for those who have two vinyl turntables or those that have a turntable with two tonearms, and therefore two cartridges. The left-hand selector controls 1 input that is particularly dedicated to MC cartridges. There are many load adaptations (10 Ω, 50 Ω, 100 Ω, 300 Ω, 500 Ω, 1 kΩ, 10 kΩ) which means that you are bound to find something to please you with the most complex cartridges on the market. Input 2 (left-hand selector) is used to adapt the MM and MC cartridges. In MM position, the load drops automatically to 47 kOhms, but the capacitance can be adjusted with three values: 0 pF, 100 pF, 330 pF. In MC position, we chose between four load values: 100 Ω, 500 Ω, 1 kΩ, 10 kΩ.
Behind the E-03, there is an IEC mains plug allowing you to combine it with an expensive power cable! The RCA sockets are of superb quality and are used to connect large and heavy phono and interconnect cables. After removing the large aluminium cover, the E-03 yields up its fully dual-mono architecture. The power supply is confined to two R-Core transformers (one per channel!) with generous power! (they can supply an amplifier of around one hundred watts!!!) A rectification, filtering and regulation card is also associated with each channel. The RIAA cards are some of the most imposing and complex that we have had the chance to see. The component quality cannot be faulted, quite the opposite. It must be noted that the correction stage or gain stage does not use any integrated circuit, and no operational amplifier, but only discrete components. They have the advantage of being more silent and, also, frequently more musical…
The Esoteric E-O3 has a completely original "DEMAG" function! Indeed, for each input, just switch the selector to it for a signal to be sent to the cartridge and all static charges will be removed from it! It takes 30 seconds. The result is audible, you feel like you have lifted a veil from in front of the speakers.
The first notes knocked us out!!! The sound quality of Nick Cave's voice gives an amazing presence and authenticity, rarely have we heard this with as much clarity and depth. The guitars are incisive, the drums forceful, the cymbals have breathtaking harmonic richness. This preamp gives the instrument textures many nuances, and above all it reproduces these with incredible transparency. On some LPs, you feel like you are listening to a Master tape, some studio effects that were imperceptible on the recordings until now (digital reverb, compressor, etc.), are discerned with surprising obviousness! The sound stage unfolds remarkably in width and depth! Its opening is surprising and the stereo 'effects' on electronic music are incredible. Naturally, you have all these qualities for classical music (opera, symphonies, string quartets) and jazz, where the balance of this preamp works wonders on brass and emanates a genuine presence with no aggressiveness.
The Esoteric E-03 illustrates the perfect blend between the production of an integrated circuit and a tube. Its manufacturing quality and musicality make it a benchmark product and for us it is one of the best five current products. Indeed, not everyone can afford it, but at this price there is no competitor! This preamp clearly reveals the love that the CEO of Esoteric, Ohmachi-San, has for vinyl. WELL DONE and THANK YOU! Very highly recommended
6moons.com - Blue Moon Award - 2010 Franck
All the characteristics are given at 1 kHz
RIAA accuracy: 20 Hz to 20 kHz (+/0.2 dB)
Harmonic distortion: 0.003%
Output impedance: 80 Ω
Maximum output voltage: 18 V
Nominal output level: 500 mV
MM gain: 40 dB
MC gain: 66 dB
Input sensitivity: 5 mV (MM), 0.25 mV (MC)
Maximum input level: 180 mV (MM), 9 mV (MC)
MM input impedance: 47 KOHMS
MM input capacitance: 0 pF, 100 pF, 330 pF
MC input impedance on Input 1: 10 Ω, 50 Ω, 100 Ω, 300 Ω, 500 Ω, 1 kΩ, 10 kΩ
MC input impedance on Input 2: 100 Ω, 500 Ω, 1 kΩ, 10 kΩ
Power supply: AC 230 V, 50 Hz
Power consumption: 14 W
Dimensions: 442×103.5×364.5 mm
Weight: 10.5 kg