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Esoteric C-02X C Series Line Stage Preamplifier



Esoteric C-02X C Series Line Stage Preamplifier

Grandioso Lineage
Representing the next generation in a proud lineage of audio excellence, the C-02X Stereo Linestage Preamplifier and its matching Stereo Power Amplifier S-02 feature state-of-the-art circuitry in a discrete dual mono configuration that dramatically conveys all the power and energy of music. Assembled one at a time in ESOTERIS's Tokyo factory and incorporating all the knowledge and technology of the flagship Grandioso line, these two new models accentuate the refined qualities of audio reporduction with expert draftsmanship and handmade precision.

The preamplifier is a crucial component that determines the ‘sound’ of an audio system, and represents the passion and commitment of its makers. As the crowning achievement of the Esoteric Sound, the Grandioso C1 opened new horizons for ‘Made in Japan’ preamplifiers. Now, this expressive power gives birth to the next-generation C-02X; a stereo preamplifier created to transcend the concept of high fidelity and resonate with the refined sensibilities of engineers and musicians alike.

Audio expression, symphonic beauty, artistic passion, the concert hall's spatial feel, 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.

Independent Dual Mono Design
The C-02X's DC power supply features a fully independent dual mono design that completely eliminates inter-channel interference. Its dedicated bank of five generously rated power transformers for each channel also blocks noise from the power line, enabling a pure, natural amplified sound. Grandioso technology reveals itself in such detailed refinements as the careful layout of the power supply circuit boards, which further contribute to the C-02X's superb sound quality.

Fully-Balanced Configuration Provides Excellent S/N Ratio
The preamplifier's source signal is first received by dedicated buffer amplifiers integrated with each input, from which the circuit configuration is balanced at each stage. Through the elimination of common-mode noise and reductions in circuit impedance, a pure, noise-free signal is fed to the gain amplifiers via the shortest path possible, for an exceptionally high signal-to-noise ratio.

The C-02X's Esoteric-QVCS* volume control employs four precision switched resistor ladder networks, which change in unison as the volume knob is rotated. This arrangement allows the signal paths for the left and right channels and their positive and negative phases to be kept totally independent and as short as possible. Consequently the sound has superb clarity, excellent channel separation and highly accurate phase characteristics. The elimination of audio board wiring to the volume control further contributes to a reduced signal path, while preventing degradation of sound quality and helping to maintain the low distortion one would expect of a reference model.
* QVCS: Quad Volume Control System

Ultra-Low-Noise Logic Control
Built into the front panel, the logic control section is totally isolated, both physically and electronically, from the preamplifier module by way of an optocoupler. To assure low-noise operation, it also shuts completely down when not in actual operation, thus eliminating all possible influence on the C-02X's audio circuitry.

Highly Responsive Low-Noise, Low-Impedance Power Circuit
Five independent high-capacity power transformers, coupled with large banks of reservoir capacitors, provide power supply circuits that have exceptionally low output impedances and very clean and stable outputs. The low-noise silicon carbide (SiC) Schottky barrier diodes used in the high-speed rectifier circuit further enhance resolution and the signal-to-noise ratio for significant improvements in sound quality.

ESOTERIC-HCLD* Output Buffer Boosts Current Transmission While EDLC* Power Supply Ensures High Stability
As a line driver, the preamplifier must be able to fully drive the power amplifiers and faithfully convey the music signal's wide dynamic range. The key to achieving this is a circuit that provides both high current drive capability and high speed. The C-02X's output buffer circuitry delivers an exceptionally high current drive coupled with a high slew rate of 2,000V/µs for sharp response. Independent buffer circuits for each output and symmetrical circuitry for both the hot and cold phases of the XLR outputs maximize instantaneous output current capability.
Located closest to the output buffer circuitry, the EDLC* Super Capacitor array, originally developed for the Grandioso C1, was adapted as a highly stable power source. Its compact physical size belies the extraordinary 100,000µF (0.1F) capacity it provides each channel, for high levels of instantaneous output power and strong, steady bass reproduction. Integrating these two technologies, the C-02X preserves musical dynamics that would otherwise be lost if smaller current transmission levels were employed between the pre and power amplifiers, allowing it to reproduce a breathtaking level of audio reality.
* HCLD: High Current Line Driver * EDLC = Electric Double-Layer Capacitor

MM/MC phono stage board (option)
Dual mono” construction provides excellent signal separation between left and right channels.
MC load impedance value is selectable between 20, 100, and 300 ohms
Functions are easily accessible by using remote controller.
4-layer print circuit board achieves the shortest possible signal path.
Unique power regulator design minimizes unwanted sonic interference to the line stage.
Noise-free, shielded internal wirings.
*The installation of the board includes hardware and software updates of the main unit, thus can only be done at our factory. Please contact your local authorized ESOTERIC dealer for more information.

High-Precision Ball Bearing Controls
The C-02X's elegant volume and input selector knobs are machined from solid blocks of aluminum. Like the Grandioso C1, their control shafts use a VRDS drive mechanism bearing system for high-precision rotation, with no mechanical play in their movements. Rotational torque has also been fine-tuned to provide a luxurious analog control feel in keeping with this high-end preamplifier.

Optimized 3D Chassis Configuration
The C-02X's optimized chassis design features a 2-layer 5-cell configuration that houses each circuit block in its own compartment. This structure shortens the signal path to help minimize inter-circuit interference. The chassis' 5mm-thick steel bottom plate and thick aluminum exterior panels are supported at 4 points by Esoteric's own patented ‘Pinpoint Feet’ (patent No: JP4075477), which enhance chassis rigidity while effectively suppressing resonant vibration.

Other Features
  • Five preset volume curves permit selection of the most comfortable operating feel.
  • Individual input gain adjustability helps minimize differences in source volumes. (Range: ±18dB; 0.5dB steps)
  • Adjustable left and right channel volume balance control. (Range: ±6dB; 0.5dB steps)
  • Selectable phase inversion can be individually set for each source.
  • RCA2 terminals permit switching between normal line output and AV-through output for systems operated in both AV surround and pure two-channel modes.
  • Remote controller features high-quality aluminum finish. Can also be used to operate any of Esoteric's superb line of SACD players.
  • Source component name displays can be programmed using the remote controller.
  • Also equipped with dimmer, mute, and auto-display-off functions.


Analog audio inputs
XLR 2 pairs
Input impedance 10kΩ (LINE)
Input sensitivity
at Rated output 510mV
at 800mV output 200mV
Maximum input level 12V
RCA 3 pairs (RCA 2 can be used as an AV pre-input. RCA3 can be changed to PHONO input with version-up service.)
Input impedance 10kΩ (LINE)
Input sensitivity
at Rated output 510mV
at 800mV output 200mV
Maximum input level 12V

Analog audio outputs
XLR 2 pairs
Output impedance 100Ω (LINE)
Rate output 2V
Maximum output level 15V (1kHz, 0.003%)
RCA 2 pairs
Output impedance 47Ω (LINE)
Rated output 2V
Maximum output level 7.5V (1kHz, 0.003%)

Power supply
AC 230V, 50Hz
AC 120V, 60Hz
AC 220V, 60Hz
Power consumption 21W
External dimensions (W×H×D) 445 × 162 × 468mm
17-⅝" × 6-½" × 18-½:" (including protrusions)
Weight 32kg / 70-⅝ lb

Included accessories
Power cord × 1
Remote cotrol (RC-1315) × 1
AAA batteries × 2
Felt pads × 4
Owner's manual × 1
Warranty card × 1

Audio performance
Frequency response 1Hz to 200kHz (–3dB)
3Hz to 50kHz (–0.2dB)
S/N ratio 116dB (2V input, A weight)
Total harmonic distortion
XLR 0.0004%
RCA 0.0006%
Gain +12dB