Dual-Mono Construction Through All Stages, Class A Power Delivery, Quad Volume Control System: Japanese-Made Esoteric F-03A Integrated Amplifier Epitomizes Musical Immersion
Designed with Esoteric's Master Sound Works concept – wherein cutting-edge technology helps authentically recreate all of the information in original master recordings – and boasting many developments used in the company's flagship Grandioso line, the Japanese-made F-03A integrated amplifier is on intimate terms with texture, expressiveness, warmth, body, smoothness, and detail. The presence of a dual-mono MM/MC phono preamplifier, top-rate headphone amplifier, two pairs of XLR inputs, four pairs of RCA inputs, a pair of XLR outputs, a pair of XLR pre inputs, two speaker terminal systems, individually selectable phase inversion for each source, AV bypass, and an aluminum remote control put it over the top.
Featuring dual-monaural construction that extends through all stages (from preamplifier inputs through to the final stage of the power amplifier output) and a Class A power amplifier, F-03A subscribes to four "f"-themed tenets: full analog circuitry; full integration; fundamental focus; and functionality rooted in refinement, simplicity, and passion. Indeed, with F-03A, everything comes down to its premium construction, parts, and architecture.
By maintaining complete left and right channel independence through all stages, and touting reference-class circuit construction, F-03A delivers breathtaking levels of separation, massive dynamics, and incredible precision. Its fully balanced preamplifier section is essentially impervious noise, allowing for sought-after purity and power. The power amplifier stage arrives equally fully balanced and with ultra-low impedance. Add to the equation large-core 940VA custom EI power transformers and 40,000µF block capacitors for each channel in a dual-mono array, and you have the nucleus required for stunning performance. But there's more – much more.
Derived from the Grandioso line, F-03A's amplifier modules feature a three-stage Darlington configuration that utilizes three parallel push-pull sections to faithfully bring out the superb high-frequency characteristics of their bipolar Linear Amplified Power Transistor (LAPT) transistors that supply 34 amperes of instantaneous peak power. Proprietary Low Impedance Drive Stage Coupling (LIDSC) circuitry reduces the drive section's second stage to final stage output impedance, achieving near-effortless loudspeaker drive capability.
Continuing the hit parade, F-03A's proprietary Quad Volume Control System (QVCS) incorporates four switched resistor ladder networks operating in unison to electronically and independently control the left and right channels (and their positive and negative phases). QVCS helps maintain superb clarity, excellent channel separation, and highly accurate phase characteristics. In addition, eliminating all volume control wiring on the audio board results in a shorter signal path – minimizing potential aural deterioration while realizing exceptionally low distortion.
Speaking of defeating noise, all control lines in F-03A are electronically separated from the main body of the preamplifier with the use of isolator elements integrated into the front panel. As for the latter: Every volume knob and selector switch comes machined from solid aluminum and employs high-precision bearing mechanisms for analog-like feel free of any mechanical play. A three-band tone control allows you to adjust settings without worry about impacting sound quality.
Last but not least, the 71-pound F-03A looks striking and benefits from obsessive external construction. Its robust 3D-optimized chassis with thick aluminum panels gives each circuit block its own dedicated compartment. Interference between circuits is effectively minimized while achieving the shortest possible cable routing. Finally, patented steel pinpoint feet support the F-03A at four points to minimize vibration.
We could continue to go on about F-03A's merits – including its Product of the Year and Editors' Choice Awards from The Absolute Sound, Japanese-based Grand Prix Awards, and Best Buy citations from Stereo Sound – but we would rather you see, touch, and hear this worldly musical instrument for yourself. A three-year manufacturer warranty and our 100% Music Direct Guarantee should help do the trick.
"[It] delivers an immersive musical experience that won't leave you thinking about your next amplifier upgrade."
– Robert Harley, The Absolute Sound, Editors' Choice Award