C-02 Line Stage Amplifier

    The Overview

    A Preamplifier Deeply Involved in Musical Expression
    Reaching the Ultimate Height in Analog Audio Technologies,
    the C-02 Invites You to the New World of Sonic Impressions

    The ESOTERIC’s “Master Sound Works” series welcomes the new stereo preamplifier, the C-02. A reference model developed to be the most important component for creating sounds integrative for the system. Preceded by the acclaimed "K Series", the SACD players boasting seamless stress-free sound, the design found its culmination in the P-02 and D-02 with their musically evolved sonics. The C-02 is now being launched to demonstrate the ultimate height of ESOTERIC’s analog audio technologies which produce musical expression never before experienced.

    Our new 3D optimized chassis features a five compartment double-deck structure. Each circuit block is housed in its own compartment so as to place them three dimensionally. This structure greatly contributes to reducing mutual interference between circuits and provides the shortest signal path. Thick aluminum is used for the exterior. The 5 mm-thick steel bottom chassis is supported at four points using ESOTERIC’s proprietary ‘Pinpoint Foot’ (patent number: JP4075477). Vibrations have been suppressed effectively and high rigidity has been achieved.

    Adding the C-02 will provide an aesthetic integrity to the system. The front, top and side panels along with the front corners are made of thick aluminum. The rounded shape of the top panel and the corners, where there are no screws at all, are inherited designs from the separate component system of the ESOTERIC flagship line.

The Features

Dual-Mono Design for Right-Left Independence

 The dual-mono design enables the C-02 to have two sets of power supply circuits (including two sets of power transformers) for each of the right and left channels. This was done in order to eliminate any mutual interference between the channels and to prevent noise being introduced from the power line. Pure and clean amplification is the great outcome.


 ESOTERIC-QVCS (*) is a volume control system, which takes full advantage of this 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-02 now reproduce sounds that are perfectly suitable for the name ‘reference model.’
* QVCS: Quad Volume Control System

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 Rectifier Noise, Low Impedance, High Response Power Circuit (Five Transformers)

 Five different transformers are used (one for each of the five different power sources) - the input and the output amplifiers for both the right and the left audio paths, and the control section – combined with large capacitors make this extremely low impedance and high response power circuit possible. For better resolution and S/N ratio, the rectifier circuit incorporates the parts and components a reference model deserves. As an example, the use of SiC (silicon carbide) Schottky barrier diodes which have higher speed and lower noise than normal Schottky barrier diodes.

ESOTERIC’s Own Output Buffer Circuit with Fortified Current Transmission Dramatically 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-02 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 current output 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-02 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-02, sharing the same front two-channel speakers (and its dedicated amplification system) between music and surround movie applications.
  • Source equipment names can be programmed into the system using the remote controller.
  • Display dimmer, mute, auto-display-off functions are also available.
  • The Specs

    Speaker Outputs
    Rated output power STEREO 200 W + 200 W (8 Ω)
    400 W + 400 W (4 Ω)
    BTL BTL 800 W (8 Ω)
    Maximum output power STEREO 250 W + 250 W (8 Ω) (JEITA)
    500 W + 500 W (4 Ω) (JEITA)
    BTL 1,000 W (8 Ω) (JEITA)
    Frequency response 5 Hz ~ 100 kHz (1 W, 8 Ω, ±1 dB)
    Signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) 117 dB or more (JEITA)
    Total harmonic distortion 0.009 %
    (1 kHz, 8 Ω, Rated output power)
    Minimum required impedance STEREO 4 Ω / BTL 4 Ω
    Gain 28 dB
    Analog audio inputs
    Jacks RCA jacks 1 stereo
    XLR jacks 1 stereo
    Input impedance RCA 150 kΩ / XLR 320 kΩ
    Power supply AC 230V 50Hz
    AC 120V 60Hz
    AC 220V 60Hz
    Power consumption 550 W
    External dimensions (W x H x D) 445 x 220 x 430 mm
    (17 1/2" x 8 5/8" x 16 15/16" )
    (including protrusions)
    Weight 41.2 kg (91.5 lb)
    - Design and specifications are subject to change without notice.
    - This product is available in three different power supply variations 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.