Esoteric Grandioso C1X line preamplifier Review

July 15, 2021 § Leave a comment

Sonically, the subtle distinctions that distinguish these equally excellent preamps are well described by yin/yang. Note, however, that my acquaintance with Chinese medicine and philosophy leads me to invoke these categories in ways that differ from Harry Pearson, the man who first invoked them in audiophile contexts. Plus, it’s also a bit dicey to invoke yin/yang, female/male polarities in an era when many eschew rigid gender roles. Nonetheless, with yin and yang we shall proceed.

Paradoxically, given its more understated appearance, the Esoteric makes the more forthright, more “yang” sonic statement. It knows what it wants to say and does not equivocate. An oboe sounds like this, a bass drum pounds like that. There’s nothing to second guess; it is as clear and transparent and truthful as can be. As Tosca stabs Scarpia, you can be sure she’s not thinking about the balance in her bank account or how well she sang the “Te Deum” last night. The D’Agostino is no more equivocal; its reach is as high, its bass as impactful. But there’s a bit more pastel among the primary colors, more yin amidst the yang. In this respect, the D’Agostino reminds me a bit of the best Pass and Gryphon amplification I’ve heard.

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