Esoteric C-03x Linestage Pre Amplifier



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Stereo Linestage Pre Amplifier

Audio expression, symphonic beauty, artistic passion, a spatial concert hall feel and the excitement of the audience. Esoteric’s Master Sound Works is an audio product concept that recreates all of the music information in original master recordings with the most state of the art technology available today.

Reproduce the beautiful sounds of audio as accurately as they were recorded. The C-03X preamplifier as the embodiment of ESOTERIC technologies, enriches the musical experience of your system to a dramatic extent.

How far can a high quality preamplifier evolve the musical experience of a system? The ESOTERIC's C-03X is indeed a definitive starting point when considering an answer to the proposition. This brand new full balance dual-mono preamplifier brings out fantastic sonic impressions with seamless, stress-free beautiful sounds. This comes as a fruitful result of ESOTERIC's analog audio technologies accumulated over many years of dedicated research. Here is the newest preamplifier in ESOTERIC's “Master Sound Works” series.

"With the C-03, Esoteric brings to market a thoughtful design with top-notch build quality and pleasing ergonomics. It is fast, quiet, and highly resolving with superb microdynamics, and best-of-breed image specificity."- read the full review here.


Dual-Mono Designed for Right-Left Independence

The dual-mono design enables the C-03X to have a power source and a power transformer for each of the right and left channels. This was done in order to eliminate mutual interference between the channels and to prevent noise being introduced from the power line. Pure and clean amplification is the great outcome.

A Fully-Balanced Configuration Gives an Excellent S/N Ratio

Signals are received through the fully-balanced input buffer amplifier design for an individual input system and maintains this balanced transmission at low impedance, so that all inputs can remain free from common mode noise. This fully-balanced configuration increases the purity of signal transmission and provides an absolutely excellent audio S/N ratio.


ESOTERIC-QVCS (*) is a volume control system, which takes full advantage of unit's pure signal paths. By turning the volume knob, the gain variable volume of all the four circuits – right and left channels, positive and negative powers – are activated. In this way, this system keeps audio signals independent (from right to left and from positive to negative), so that sounds are reproduced clearly with good channel separation and accurate phase characteristics. Furthermore, the deletion of cabling from the audio board to the volume device radically shortens the audio signal path and minimizes sound deterioration. As a result, the C-03X can now reproduce sounds that are perfectly suitable for a high-end preamplifier.

Low Noise Operation

The control board for the entire ESOTERIC-QVCS is physically separated from the audio circuit and also electrically isolated using a photo coupler. The circuit design has also taken measures to make sure that microcomputer noise is not introduced into the audio path. This is accomplished by disabling the microcomputer until a function is initiated by the user.

Low Impedance, High Response Power Circuit (Three Transformers)

Three different transformers for the three different power sources - the audio circuits of both the right and the left channels along with the control section – combined with large capacitors make this extremely clean low impedance and high response power circuit possible.

ESOTERIC-HCLD (*) ESOTERIC's Own Output Buffer Circuit with Fortified Current Transmission Enhances the Driving Performance of the Power Amplifier

Looking at the subtleties of the signal transmission between preamplifier and power amplifier, the ability of the component to transfer current efficiency determines the overall quality of the system. The preamplifier plays a significant role in this relationship. Serving as a line driver, it should fully drive the power amplifier to its maximum level to thoroughly convey music signals that can include such a broad range of music expression, from pianissimo to fortissimo. What is required here is high performance via high speed current transmission.

For the purpose of attaining the ultimate performance of the C-03X as a line driver, the output buffer amplifier circuit uses high quality materials and has its own board separate from the input stage. The output buffer circuit provides the high performance necessary. Its slew rate, representing response speeds of 2,000 V/microsecond – is incredibly fast. Since this buffer circuit is provided to each RCA output terminal and to the hot and cold pins of the XLR output, the instant current supplied gets maximized. The C-03X reenacts the breathtaking reality of music whose dynamism tended to disappear in older systems during smaller current transmissions between the preamplifier and a power amplifier. * HCLD: High Current-capacity Line Driver

Extraordinary Usability

Gain per input is widely adjustable with a precision of +/-18 dB = 0.5 dB per step. This reduces volume variations from source to source. Volume balance between the right and left channels is adjustable with a precision of +/-6 dB = 0.5 dB per step. The output phase invert function allows an output that is appropriate for the power amplifier used. In addition, it is possible to individually determine a source-specific output phase and to easily implement phase management for the system. Unbalanced output (RCA), balanced output (XLR) and RCA + XLR simultaneous output are the options. RCA-2 terminals are provided to switch between normal line output and AV through output. This function allows you to connect AV preamp to the C-03X, sharing the same front two-channel speakers (and its dedicated amplification system) between music and surround movie applications. Source equipment names on the display can be programmed into the system using the remote controller. Display dimmer, mute, auto-display-off functions are also available.

Control Knob – Function and Flexibility

The volume knob operates internal gain variable circuits which allows you to choose one of five volume curve options.This flexibility allows you to select the best operability based on the combined efficiency of a specific power amplifier and speakers.

The control knob and the input selector are manufactured by machining a large aluminum block. The bold but precise finishing, using NC machining, and the ergonomic rounded form provides a pleasing aesthetic appearance along with necessary functionality.

Only available from Soundline Christchurch.

 Analog audio inputs

  • Connectors: RCA x 3 pairs (RCA 2 can be used as an AV pre-input), XLR x 2pairs
  • Input impedance LINE:10kΩ
  • Input sensitvity At rated output : 510 mV At 800 mV output : 200 mV
  • Maximum input level 12 V
  • Analog audio output Connectors RCA x 2 pairs, XLR x 2 pairs
  • Output impedance RCA 47Ω,XLR 100Ω
  • Total harmonic distortion 0.0006% (RCA) 0.0004% (XLR)
  • Frequency response 1Hz - 200 kHz (-3 dB) 3Hz - 50 kHz (-0.2 dB)
  • Signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) 116 dB (2 V input, A-weight) Gain +12 dB Rated output: 2 V
  • Maximum output level: 7.5 V (RCA output, 1kHz, 0.003%),15V (XLR output, 1kHz, 0.003%)


  • Power supply AC 230V 50Hz
  • Power consumption 21 W
  • Extemal dimensions (W x H x D) (including protrusions) 445 x 131 x 378 mm (17 5/8" x 5 1/4" x 15") Weight 22 kg (48 5/8 lb)