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Esoteric C-02 Flagship Preamplifier, Complete Set and Mint! $25k MSRP

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Pickup currently unavailable at SkyFi 479

Esoteric C-02 Flagship Preamplifier Complete Set And Mint! $25K Msrp

Esoteric C-02 Flagship Preamplifier, Complete Set and Mint! $25k MSRP

SkyFi 479

Pickup currently unavailable

479 South Broad Street
Glen Rock NJ 07452
United States


This C-02 linear preamplifier might possibly be the highest quality constructed piece that has ever come across our shop - and boy does it translate into remarkable sonic qualities. 

In our lab it measured the lowest noise floor we have ever seen, likely due to the obsessive chassis layout and construction. 

The C-02 weighs in heavier than many 200W amplifiers (!) and looks like a million bucks.  The natural brushed aluminum finish and the elegantly sculpted chassis makes this a perfect match for the Esoteric line of highly regarded SACD/CD players.  We have a few for sale if you'd like a matching set.

On the back you’ll find elegantly laid out connectors, with all the inputs across the horizontal upper section, and all the outputs along the bottom section.  There are a total of five sets of inputs - two are XLR and three are RCA - using the highest quality jacks available.  There are a total of four output sets, two are XLR and two are RCA.  The C-02 is powered by a removable power cord.

Operation is super easy utilizing single volume and input knobs on the front panel.  Most other functions are performed via the leather clad remote which is well made and feels like a glove in your hand. 

There are a plethora of functions if you chose to dig deep, including all sorts of input adjustments for level matching.  There are also provisions to custom label each input to avoid confusion (please let us know if you'd like us to do this for you prior to shipping).  Prior to testing and packing we defaulted the preamp to its factory configuration to allow the new owner a fresh start.  Speaking of the owner, this unit came to us from the original owner who took meticulous care of this piece. There are practically no scratches or dents, with only the slightest signs of use. The display is bright and even and the controls are accurate and responsive. This preamp is complete with every singe piece of literature, original packaging, and accessories. It also includes the first ever triple packed box we've ever seen which is probably necessary for safe transport.

In the listening room, when paired with an Esoteric K-03 SACD/CD player and a pair of Spectral DMA360 monoblocks, this resulted in the most transparent and revealing system we have ever experienced.  And we test a LOT of systems here at SkyFi to say the least...

To top it all off, Esoteric is still in operation with an amazing service center providing peace of mind and ensuring the long term viability of this piece. 

The C-02 on the official Esoteric US Website

Link to the C-02 Catalog/Spec Sheet

Link to the C-02 Owner's Manual

Please click here for detailed specifics regarding our specialized packing process that separates us from the rest.



Original Box








Physical Condition


Working Condition



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 100 Ω
Total harmonic distortion 0.0006% (RCA) 
0.0004% ( XLR)
Frepuency 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 outpu 2 V
Maximum output level 7.5 V (RCA output, 1kHz, 0.003%) 
15V (XLR output, 1kHz, 0.003%)
Power supply AC 230V 50Hz 
AC 120V 60Hz 
AC 220V 60Hz
Power consumption 21 W
Extemal dimensios (W x H x D) (including protrusions) 445 x 162 x 457 mm (17 5/8"x 6 1/2"x 18")
Weight 32 kg (70 5/8 lb)
Included accessories Power cord x 1 / Remote control (RC -1156) x 1 / Batteries for remote control (AA) x 1 Felts x 4 / Owner's manual x 1 / Warranty card x 1
- 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.
- Specifications and appearance are subject to change without notice.
- Weight and dimensions are approximate.


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.

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 S/N ratio.


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.

MM/MC phono stage board (option)

The C-02 is available with on-board MM/MC phono stage as an order option.

* 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. 

Control Knob - Great 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 largealuminum block. The bold but precise finishing, using NC machining and the ergonomic rounded form provides a pleasing aesthetic appearance along with necessary functionality.

* The volume curve options allow you to fine-tune, at low or high volume, a smooth linear increase in volume. It enables you to choose a curve that best suits your system. 

Newly Designed 3D Optimized Chassis Structure

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.

Aesthetics and Integrity of the System 
Achieved by Rounded Form

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.

SKU: 100213