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ESOTERIC C-03Xs Stereo Linestage Preamplifier
C-03Xs Stereo Linestage Preamplifier MM/MC phono stage board option
A Legacy of Consummate Purity and Perfection Esoteric's new C-03Xs Preamplifier and S-03 Power Amplifier carry on the refinement of the 02 Series' superb qualities of musical reproduction, which stand as a Grandioso legacy. Their minimalist approach to the consummate purity of sound returns to the very source of audio component design to give birth to a rich new range of musical experience. Hand-assembled one-by-one in Esoteric's Tokyo factory, each unit combines the most advanced technologies with an unprecedented level of craftsmanship to give life to a preeminent philosophy of sound appreciation, from which a timeless new standard is born.

Best Buy Components 2018->2019    Stereo Sound "Best Buy Components 2018->2019"
Preamplifier category (below 1,000,000Yen)
HiVi "Best Buy 2018 Winter"    HiVi "Best Buy 2018 Winter"
Contol amprifier I (below 1,000,000Yen)
The fourth prize
HiVi "Best Buy 2018 Summer"    HiVi "Best Buy 2018 Summer"
Contol amprifier I (below 1,000,000Yen)
The fourth prize
Stereo "Best Buy Component 2018"    Stereo "Best Buy Component 2018"
Preamplifier category (550,000 - 1,200,000Yen)
The third prize
Best Buy Components 2017->2018    Stereo Sound "Best Buy Components 2017->2018"
Preamplifier category (below 1,000,000Yen)
HiVi "Best Buy 2017 Winter"    HiVi "Best Buy 2017 Winter"
Contol amprifier I (below 1,000,000Yen)
The fifth prize
HiVi "Best Buy 2017 Summer"    HiVi "Best Buy 2017 Summer"
Contol amprifier I (below 1,000,000Yen)
The fifth prize

  • Stereo "Best Buy Component 2017"
    Preamplifier category (550,000 - 1,200,000Yen)
    The second prize

Best Buy Components 2016->2017    Stereo Sound "Best Buy Components 2016->2017"
Preamplifier category (below 1,000,000Yen)
Ongen Publishing "Visual Grand-Prix 2017"    Ongen Publishing "Visual Grand-Prix 2017"
Preamplifier category (500,000 - 1,000,000Yen)

  • Stereo "Best Buy Component 2016"
    Preamplifier category (550,000 - 1,200,000Yen)
    The third prize

Ongen Publishing "Visual Grand-Prix 2016 Summer"    Ongen Publishing "Visual Grand-Prix 2016 Summer"
Preamplifier category (above 500,000Yen)
Ongen Publishing "Audio Excellence Award 2016" Silver Prize    Ongen Publishing "Audio Excellence Award 2016"
"Silver Prize"
Stereo Sound "Best Buy Components"    Stereo Sound "Best Buy Components"
Preamplifier category (below 1,000,000Yen)
Ongen Publishing "Visual Grand-Prix 2016"    Ongen Publishing "Visual Grand-Prix 2016"
Preamplifier category (below 1,000,000Yen)

At the heart of every fine system, it is the preamplifier that determines one's ideal sound. Applying Esoteric's wealth of knowledge and technology, the C-03Xs carries forward in continuous succession the Grandioso lineage of high fidelity and breathtaking powers of musical expression, drawing on the refined sensitivities of musicians and engineers alike to transcend the boundaries of sound reproduction quality.

Master Sound Works

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.

C-03Xs / S-03

Independent Dual Mono Design

The C-03Xs' DC power supply features a fully independent dual mono design that completely eliminates inter-channel interference. Its dedicated array of power transformers for each channel also blocks noise from the power line, enabling a pure, naturally amplified sound. Grandioso technology reveals itself in such detailed new design refinements as its independent left and right channel power rectifier circuits and its carefully laid out power supply circuit boards, which further contribute to the C-03Xs' superb sound quality.

Independent dual mono design Power supply

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.

C-03Xs Block Diagram (1Channel) C-03Xs
C-03Xs Block Diagram
C-03Xs Inputs Outputs


The C-03Xs' 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-03Xs' audio circuitry.

Highly Responsive Low-Noise, Low-Impedance Power Circuit

Three 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. High-speed rectifier circuits 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-03Xs' 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-03Xs 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

Esoteric-HCLD Esoteric-EDLC

High-Precision Ball Bearing Controls

The C-03Xs' elegant volume and input selector knobs are machined from solid blocks of aluminum. Like the Grandioso C1 and the C-02X, their control shafts use a VRDS drive mechanism bearing system for precise rotation with no mechanical play. Rotational torque has also been fine-tuned to provide a luxurious analog control feel in keeping with this high-end preamplifier.

High-Precision Ball Bearing Controls High-Precision Ball Bearing Controls

Other Important Features

Five preset volume curves permit selection of the most comfortable operating feel. Remote controller
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.

Highly Rigid 5-Cell Chassis Construction Inherited from the C-02X

Chassis construction plays a vital role in quality sound reproduction, and the C-03Xs is built on a 02 Series chassis that is larger and more robust than any 03 Series preamplifier's chassis till now. Its optimized design utilizes a 2-layer 5-cell configuration that houses each circuit block in its own compartment. This provides more space for the layout of components than available in previous 03 Series preamplifiers, realizing a shorter signal path that helps minimize inter-circuit interference. The chassis' 5mm-thick steel bottom plate and thick aluminum exterior panels are supported at 4 points by milled steel isolation feet, which enhance chassis rigidity while effectively suppressing resonant vibration.

C-03Xs / S-02

C-03Xs / S-02

Analog Audio Inputs
Connectors RCA x 3 pairs (RCA 2 can be used as an AV pre-input)
XLR x 2 pairs
Input impedance LINE :10kΩ
Input sensitvity 510mV (at rated output)
200mV (at 800mV output)
Maximum input level 12V
Analog Audio Outputs
Connectors RCA x 2 pairs
XLR x 2 pairs
Output impedance 47Ω (RCA)
100Ω (XLR)
Total harmonic distortion 0.0006% (RCA)
0.0004% (XLR)
Frepuency response 1Hz - 200kHz (-3dB )
3Hz - 50kHz (-0.2dB)
Signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) 116dB (2V input, A-weighted)
Gain +12dB
Rated output 2V
Maximum output level 7.5V (RCA output, 1kHz, 0.003%)
15V (XLR output, 1kHz, 0.003%)
Power supply 230V AC, 50Hz
120V AC, 60Hz
220V AC, 60Hz
Power consumption 19W
Extemal dimensios
(W x H x D)
445 x 162 x 457mm (17 5/8 x 6 1/2 x 18″)
(including protrusions)
Weight 28 kg (61 3/4 lb)
Included accessories Power cord x 1 / Remote control (RC -1301) x 1 / Batteries for remote control (AAA) x 2 / Felt pads x 4 / Owner's manual x 1 / Warranty card x 1
- This product is made available in three different power supply variations, as shown in the chart above.
Make sure that the voltage shown on the rear panel matches the AC line voltage in your area.
- The shape of the AC inlet and plug of the supplied power cord depends on the voltage rating and destination country.
- Specifications and appearance are subject to change without notice.
- Weight and dimensions are approximate.

C-03Xs C-03Xs C-03Xs
C-03Xs C-03Xs C-03Xs

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