Esoteric F-05 Integrated - any opinions?


I was wondering if anyone has heard the newly-released amp from Esoteric.  There does not seem to be any reviews on the internet (that I can find).
greginnh
I took a leap of faith and purchased one.  Very glad I did!

It would be interesting to hear your initial review. What did it replace?
It replaced an Accuphase E-470.  It's still breaking in but is already performing better. 

Hello Greginnh,

How is the Esoteric fairing now (with another week under it's belt)?

I've been considering going 'intergrated' (currently no genuine preamp just a two line passive switching devise .. which I had bought to fill in for a time having sold my CAT Ulimate Mk1 preamp 4 years ago and have done nothing since .. can't make up my mind!).

I've considered the Accuphase E-470, have seen details of the new Esoteric (F-05), and have even 'casually ..ie not serious sit down and listen audition' to a T+A PA 3000HV (very heavy and expensive in comparison to the other two but still cheaper than buying a new separate power and preamp).

Currently I have Evolution Acoustics Micro 1 with Shunyata Anaconda interconnect and speaker cables, Triton Mk2 and Sigma power cables into modified Oppo D105, Dynavector HX 1.2 power amp (Aussie amp) as well as the Triton. I also have an Accuphase T-1100 tuner (my last purchase 4 months ago) but have a JPS labs cable 'feeding' it with intention of putting a Sigma on it as well.

Every time I look at separates I think expense and every time I think intergrated I think compromise! ... a vicious circle of inaction!

Before the Micro 1s, I had a pair of Proac Response 2s which went 3 years ago. However I sometimes miss a certain 'something' the proacs gave me (the Evolution Acoustics are very transparent but with ceramic drivers I still perceive a certain coolness). So a further consideration could be to go back to a current Proac model (D2) or go Harbeth Super 5s.

The amp is still a priority but if I change the speakers would I find myself 'short' in amp performance and have to go and spend good money again.   

    

@stan5468 if the thought of class A ever interests you I'm running an Accuphase E-600 with a brand new pair of Harbeth SHL5 Plus's and I can't think of anything i've liked better. If you're anywhere near Rochester NY you're more than welcome to come have a listen. 

Hi donjr,

Thanks for the offer but I'm not in the US.

I've also considered the E600 as part of the mix (for ultimate sound out of an 'Integrated'), but the thought of heat (when I sold my CAT I managed to borrow a friend's BAT 52 preamp... and I almost cooked myself; ... I put it into the system, went away for an hour, came back to list and had to switch it out of the system half an hour later due to the heat... and it was also the middle of summer and the room had became uncomfortable to be in!), so I've shied away from class A ever since. 

My listening room is small to average so class AB (with maybe a low class A component) is more the go.  

Hi Stan,

Thus far, I am totally enamored with the Esoteric.  I have about 50 hours on it.  I really can't find any shortcomings at all.  It is noticeably better than the Accuphase E-470 on all counts - especially the warmth which reminds me of my Class A gear I used to own.  It has plenty of power and all the features one could ask for.  Apparently much of the technology for this amp has trickled down from the Grandioso line.  There are lots of programming options as well (naming sources etc.).  Build quality is superb.   For those who are looking for a full featured integrated, with phono and headphone stages coupled with balance and tone controls, I cannot think of a better value today. I think that I can easily live with this integrated amp for years to come and resist my OCD tendencies to keep buying new gear.

Having owned a Luxman L-590AX, Accuphase E-470 and Gato AMP-150, I can say without reservation that the Esoteric F-05 betters any of these by quite a bit.  Since this is a relatively new piece of equipment, I am not aware of any reviews yet.  If you have a chance to audition this amp, please do - you will be very happy you did!

Hi greginnh,

Nice to hear that the Esoteric is settling in and meeting your expectations of 'sound quality'.

I was going to give the E470 a listen (having bought the Tuner) but the local sales dealer for Accuphase, on a normal basis does not keep it in stock (usually has the E2__ or E3__ ) and another sales dealer keeps the Esoteric line. However there is a better chance of getting the F-05 into stock from that dealer than having the other dealer getting the E-470 in for a listen; so it looks more positive of having to give the Esoteric an audition...... (both dealers are in opposite directions to where I live...40+ minutes in city traffic for the Esoteric; with 60+ odd minutes including 20 minutes on the expressway for the Accuphase)!  

Oddly enough though, the Accuphase dealer stocks Proac and Tannoy speakers, while the Esoteric dealer stocks Harbeth (.... and never the twain shall meet!). 

So you think 120 watts is enough to cover 'all contingencies'? Having an few extra watts under the belt/reserve has always been in the back of my mind. It's a pity the Esoteric is not a 180/200 watt into 8 ohms for extra 'head room'!....  (I may not really need it but it would be nice to have).    

The power supplies in the F-05 are substantial and efficient, doubling the size of most separate power amps with similar output ratings. Unless you plan on propelling a bus around the city with it I suspect lack of dynamics shouldn’t be much of a concern.
It doubles down on 4 ohms so I really don't think there would be a problem! My guess is that the specs are conservative as well.
This just in!

http://positive-feedback.com/reviews/hardware-reviews/esoteric-f-05-integrated-amplifier/

Hello greginnh,

Just to ask further on why you got the Esoteric F-05.....

You said you purchased the F-05 to replace the Accuphase E-470 and I was wondering what made you change? Did you do a direct comparison between the two? You also mentioned in your earlier response about some of the virtues/sonic qualities you noticed ... has this continued to evolve and settle down (I presume you've put a few more hours onto the F-05 since our last exchange? Can you elaborate further on the sonic differences you experienced between the two brands ie is one warmer/cleaner (read overly clean/too clean bordering on hi-fi sounding rather than musical sounding) than the other? 

Having read your initial impression plus the review from 'Positive-feedback', it has 'tickled' my interest again in Intergrated amps again and dealers unfortunately from my end I will never be able to do a side by side comparison ... (different dealers with different brands of speakers).

   

Hi Stan,

The main reason for replacing the E-470 was due to what I considered to be a more of a "clinical" sound than what I liked.  I had plenty of power to drive my current speakers at the time (B&W 803 D3) so I gave up the Class A warmth of my Luxman L-590 AX to meet the needs of my speakers.   I then moved to a new home with a dedicated, but much smaller audio room in which the B&Ws did not play too well.  I sold them and went with Aerial Acoustics 7T and then went on a quest for a slightly warmer, realistic sound.  This was accomplished with the Esoteric IMO.   In my environment, the Esoteric works better by about 10% in terms of order of magnitude. 

Don't get me wrong, the Accuphase is a marvelous unit, just not my cup of tea.  Also, the Esoteric comes with a phono stage where as you have to purchase a phono card or use an external phono pre-amp with the Accuphase.

Hi greginnh,

Your overall summation basically describes the 'road' I wish to take my system to. Since I last posted, I decided to part company with my Evolution Acoustics MicroOne speakers and have gone back to ProAc (D2) (still a couple of weeks away due to the wood finish I ordered). Apart from the last three years with the MicroOnes, I basically had ProAc for the last 20+ years (Response 2 for about 4yrs and then the Response 2S for about 17yrs) and had always found them revealing (for their time) yet musically satisfying. Having been off work for the last few months recovering from surgery to both hands, I've had a lot of time to sit down and listen (while recovering and now drawing to a close......'Dammit'), I felt that a certain musicality was missing especially with prolonged listening; ..l wouldn't say clinical, but, a 'bit cool' in delivery (...ceramic drivers?). So I decided to change.

As for Accuphase, I did a brief listen (with some of my music) whilst at the retailer for ProAc, Accuphase et al, to a system comprising of Accuphase pre/power, Tannoy speakers, that was out of my league, although quite impressive, the manner it revealed the 'whole' reminded me of similar attributes in my system that I was trying to get away from. The retailer in question does not have an E-470 in stock so I would need to wait until he gets one in to replace one of the lower E series intergrated amps. On the other hand another retailer is expecting an Esoteric F-05 to be coming in for demo purposes so I'll get an opportunity to garner a listen there; but, will not be able to directly compare the  E-470 against the F-05,..... thus the reason for asking for a little bit more info from you.

Judging from your answer, I am looking forward to auditioning the F-05 and if I like will not worry about trying out the Accuphase at all.   

greginnh,

I have been listening to the F-05 over the last few days through Magnepan 3.7i's.  I love the overall sound and am considering replacing my PrimaLuna pre and power amp to simplify - an integrated amp with phono and DAC card fits the bill.  The F-05 I am listening to only has about 20 hours on it.  I've found the top end a bit dialed back - not soft or smooth but less present.  Did you experience any changes in that area after a full break in?
cmaronmurphy - I found that my F-05 seemed to open up fully at about the 100 hour mark.  Using my Aerial Acoustic 7T speakers, I can't say that there was anything lacking in terms of presence in the top end. 
My F-05 just arrived yesterday. At first hour of running, the sound quality was not better than my previous pre-amp/power-amp system, which cost only 1/3 of F05. I was worried my wife will not notice any upgrade.

After few hours of running, F-05 performed better and better. Even my wife is not sensitive at sound quality she still can feel improvement.

Originally, my target was Accuphase E-470, but the dealer I visited have no E-470 for demo. They introduced me F-05 and MBL C51.

Since I have no chance to audit E-470 and I read this review......

Thank you greginnh. I am very satisfied with F-05.
ktliao88,
Congrats on the new acquisition!  I am glad that you and your wife are happy with the F-05.  It's a great integrated amp and for the money, there are few others than can compete when considering all the built in features it has!  You should continue to see slight improvements in sound quality over the next 50 hours or so.  This amp also responded very well to experimenting with different power cords!
My F-05 have run 36 hours.  It is quite warm on the front top and has some smell out after continuously running of 24 hours.   Now there is no more strange smell.  

I am currently using two Oyaide gpx-r power cords for both PS Audio P5 and Esoteric F-05. I still have few more power cords / signal cables for experiment. 

One of the motivations for my upgrading to new amp is the using of XLR cables.  My previous amps accept only RCA cables.  I connected both RCA and XLR cables between DAC and F05 for comparement. By switching the input from RCA to XLR, the increasing of sound spaciousness is very noticable.  

The function of XLR REC out is also perfect for my using of headphone amp.   My DAC ( North Star Supremo DAC) delivers RCA and XLR signals simultaneously.  I used to connect XLR to the headphone amp and RCA to pre-amp.  Now I can use XLR cables for both speaker and headphone system.  It seems e-470 has only RCA for REC out? This adds one more benifit for my choosing of F-05.
 
Hello greginnh,
I consider replaced my Lux 590MKII becouse of speakers (Thiel 3.6 - hard to drive)Lux are very nice colours but a little lack of dynamics.
Can you confirm that F05 is more dynamic and "alive" than Lux? And how about opinion that Esoteric sond is clinic and not musical?

pitr122,

I owned a Luxman L-590AX for a couple of years.  It is a great integrated amp.  Nothing like the sweet Class A sound!  I owned a few amps since that time so my opinion may not be spot on. The F05 is probably more dynamic than the Lux and maybe more alive but they both have different sonic characteristics.  I was very pleased with my F05 but "bit the bullet" and purchased an Accuphase E-600 which gives me the best of all worlds.  If my budget was <$10,000, I would definitely consider the F04 again.   The Thiels can be a bit of a challenge so synergy is important.  In-home trial would be a must IMO.
ok, Thanks
Basically you confirm what I thinking. E-600 is truly good amp but synergy with rest of the system is very important . E-600 can sound excellent but some times (wrong cabling for example) he sounding really poor - for that kind of money.I hope you are satisfied with it.
Anyway I will consider to buy F05 especially to find them in good price but unfortunelly from HongKong (guy name 2Juki) and I little afraid becouse its still a lot of money.