The C-03 preamp may have been Esoteric’s first preamp but it was so well conceived that it was a stunner of a preamp. Listening to it is like listening to music reproduced in its purity. Background was dead silent and black. There was no nuances or coloration introduced into the music when using the C-03. The last time we came across something similar to this was the Luxman C-800f and even then, the Luxman did not enjoy the same transparency as the C-03. Some may argue that too much neutrality borders on being “sterile” but we didn’t find that and instead love it to bits. Put this into a first rate system and you would be amazed by the level of detail and accuracy it will extract out of your source unit. The C-03 is a line level only and truly excels with digital source units.
Cosmetically, the unit is in great shape. One tiny area around the bottom right corner of the faceplate has two small surface marks but rest of the unit looks really good. We have the original boxes, manual and remote. This preamp is a hefty unit and weighs almost as heavy (if not heavier) than some power amps. Shipping will thus be a bit more expensive.