Esoteric Demo Hosted by Element Acoustics

Edward Ku of Element Acoustics introduces the program.

There’s something to be said for big monitors hooked up to hi-fi racks bursting with gleaming alloy boxes in a chic, modern, designer showroom.

It grabs your visual attention and it’s hard not to notice the little uptick in adrenaline coursing through your body in anticipation of the sonic rewards to come.

So it was with this tableaux setting the stage that I recently walked into the demo space of Element Acoustics in Vancouver, B.C. for an Esoteric Company event hosted by Scott Sefton, North America sales manager of Esoteric and Edward Ku, owner of Element Acoustics.

These types of audiophile get togethers are always enjoyable from a writer’s standpoint because of the relaxed atmosphere – very different from most show coverage situations where the space is usually small, the room is crowded and attendees can tend to talk over the music being played – the camaraderie of those invited to share in this event and the fact that Ku always puts a delicious spread of food and coffees out only adds to the friendly atmosphere.

I’ve been to enough of these to know I won’t be disappointed by what I’m going to hear because Ku and his crew always curate every aspect of the presentation well in advance so there’s no surprises during the demo. And more importantly, the sound is always compelling and rewarding – sure there might be a few room issues, that’s to be expected in any presentation situation outside of a specially-built room for a particular sound system, but they are always negligible at Element Acoustics because the focus is on getting the best possible sound out of the space. This time saw the set-up shifted 90-degrees from my previous demo visit which featured Stenheim and CH Precision, and conversely allowed the speakers to fire down the long axis of the room.

The system put together for listening consisted of:

  • Esoteric C-03Xs preamplifier – $15,000 (all prices in Canadian dollars)
  • Esoteric S-03 power amplifier – $17,000
  • Esoteric K-03Xs SACD player – $18,500
  • Esoteric G-02X Master Clock – $8,500
  • JBL Synthesis 4367 speakers – $21,000
  • Crystal Future Dream cables: interconnect from $12,600; speaker cables from $25,200; power cord from $7,060
  • IsoTek EVO3 Sigmas $5,600

The music prepared for the program while I was there was a mix of SACDs covering several genres, always listened to by the 30+ attendees with silence and respect – many had their eyes closed during playback. I always find this level of genuine interest in hearing what is genuinely being presented by the sound system to be refreshing (refer to my previous comment regarding show situations to understand why). To have this many music lovers – those with a bent for the recorded event at any rate – in one space quietly appreciating the selections renews my faith in the grace of humanity. Something these days, unfortunately, that can be difficult to discern via social media or on the street.

No matter what was played, the aural theme that stuck out the most for me from this system via the classic 94dB JBL Synthesis two-way loudspeakers was transparency, transient speed, linearity of frequency response, cohesiveness – and, as with other set-ups Ku has helped put together – realistic scale to instruments and vocals on the sound stage, warm timbral and tonal colourations without sacrificing resolution and a deep, black background.

While these could be descriptions of a number of systems, the overarching focus on timbre and tone put me in mind of better tube systems and the speed of attack on leading edges to notes helped the Esoteric gear stand apart – even from solid-state brethren, especially since these traits can be difficult to lock-in consistently across numerous musical genres in my experience regardless of amplification type. Usually acoustic or sparse vocals can stand out for the aforementioned traits, but here it was expressed with sonic candor and emotional heft regardless of the program.

Scott Sefton of Esoteric.

My thanks to Ku and Sefton for their presentations throughout the listening session and in particular Sefton’s good natured banter with attendees regarding the massive, overbuilt, bespoke SACD transport which Esoteric has developed to ensure the maximum amount of information is lifted via laser from the pitted surfaces of shiny silver discs.

Esoteric Audio/Element Acoustics

Everclear's picture

Rafe could review those JBL Synthesis 4367 speakers :-) .........

Bialator's picture

Hello, interesting article!
Have you also heard the smallers 4429?
It was catching my attention that they use the German wooden Harbeth's stands for the JBLs, and as I have a pair of JBL stnadmounters I was curious to know your experience.
Also, are the 4367 having a high image? As they are only arouond 1 meter I was not sure about that parameter, and I noticed they lifted a bit the speakers with some kind of big feet.

volvic's picture

Love conversing with him over hi-fi gear. I just recently found out that my LP-12 originally came from his store. I wish him nothing but success on top of more success.