Esoteric E-02 Phono Preamplifier Review
December 6, 2022 § Leave a comment
The Esoteric E-02 is as serious a piece of electronic kit as I’ve ever had in my system, revealing better qualities than I’ve experienced before in terms of its powers of resolution, textural detail and finesse, impressive soundstaging, bass presence, and slam. My reference Pass Labs phono certainly delivers the goods and has a mellower touch, particularly with orchestral music. But the E-02 is notably the more powerful of the two units—blessed not only with its own velvet hand for rendering acoustic music but also a closed fist in a velvet glove for rock, jazz, and dynamic vocals. What’s more, it has fine physical lines—with a luxurious though understated aesthetic to its build—and a plethora of useful features that are supremely elegant to engage with, all of which make it instantly recognizable as part of the Esoteric line of prestige electronics. If I could summon the great novelist Ralph Ellison from his “hidey-hole” in Heaven to experience just what the E-02 can get from the likes of Nat King Cole, Ellington’s Orchestra, and contemporary opera diva Anna Netrebko, I guarantee he’d join me in a chorus of hosannas and kyries, as Esoteric’s phono preamplifier extracts a music both jubilant and pensive from my mono and stereo cartridges that is a sonic séance of body and soul. If you’re in the market for one of the best phono stages at the $10k price point, I urge you to audition the Esoteric E-02.