pl | en




„Master Sound Works”



he Tokyo Television Acoustic Company was established in 1953. It was created to cater for the audio equipment needs of the newly set up national television NHK. Later, it changed its name to Tokyo Electro Acoustic Company, which is abbreviated to TEAC. The change of the name was connected with expanding the field of activity. Since that time, TEAC devices have been mainly associated with the audio domain. We can still find them in almost every recording or mastering studio. While I was working in the studio of Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Cracow, there was a TEAC’s DAT tape recorder, cassette players and two half inch multitrack (analogue) recorders.

In 1987, TEAC entered the market of consumer audio, creating the ESOTERIC brand. Next year, we will be celebrating its 30th anniversary. It now offers integrated and two-piece amplifiers, as well as Super Audio CD players. For many years, at least in Europe and the USA, the company was known not for its complete products that were hard to find outside Japan, but for its Compact Disc transport called the VRDS (Vibration-free Rigid Disc Clamping System).

It is one of the most perfect mechanisms of this type that has ever been created. That is why one of the best CD transports of all times – apart from belt-driven CEC transports and the Philips CD Pro-2 – is the P-0 model, created by the Esoteric company to celebrate its 10th anniversary (1997). I think that the American company Wadia, which used to offer CD players only, has been successful largely thanks to using the VRDS.

Another change in the history of the company took place in 2003. The Super Audio CD X-01 player and the universal SACD/DVD UX-1 player were launched in Japan. The newly created SACD/DVD VRDS-NEO transport was used in them, which meant that the CD-only VRDS became history. Alongside these two products, Esoteric offered the G-0s Rubidium clock that was used in Universal Music Japan mastering studios – it was stated that it was used to master a given CD on the OBI attached to the CD.

Together with the VRDS-NEO, the Esoteric company entered a new stage of development. Since then, it has also focused on the Super Audio CD format. However, it also appeared really quickly that the new transport can handle the CD format equally well (one that was then predicted to disappear from the market quickly). Thanks to these advantages, Esoteric transports have been adapted for use in many exquisite SACD players offered by other companies, e.g. dCS, Soulution, Audio Aéro, Playback Designs and others.

It was possible because TEAC sold its transports to other manufacturers, just like Philips before (e.g. the CD Pro-2). However, it is worth adding that the Esoteric company left the best versions for itself. Two years ago, the Japanese decided to end its sales. It was because the Sony circuit decoding signal from SACDs ceased to be produced, which called the whole SACD project into question.


As I have mentioned, the Esoteric company celebrated its 10th anniversary in 1997 with the P-0 transport, which embodied all of the company’s expertise. The 20th anniversary was celebrated in an equally grand fashion, giving the world the VRDS-NEO drive and players that were based on it, as well as initiating the Master Sound Works series. The first title, which had an appropriate anniversary logo, were Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Overtures conducted by sir Colin Davis. The album’s catalogue number was TDGD-90013. Unfortunately, I do not know the previously released albums that the number 13 seems to refer to.

The series is still being released and the latest title is labelled with the catalogue number ESSG-90153. It is easy to calculate that 140 titles have been released so far – both in the form of single and double albums, as well as boxes containing a few discs. You can find a list of all the titles with their short descriptions, covers and information on availability HERE.

These are stereophonic hybrid Super Audio CDs, i.e. two-layer discs with a CD and SACD stereo layer. There is a new remastered version of each of the discs, prepared together by the Esoteric and JVC companies. Almost all the titles that have been released so far have been prepared by two experts: Motoaki Ohmachi (the ESOTERIC COMPANY, production) and Kazuie Sugimoto (Victor Creative Media Co., Ltd. Mastering Center, mastering). However, it is worth mentioning that the first album was prepared by a different team consisting of: Okihiko Sugano (“Stereo Sound” magazine, director), Tetsuya Naito (Sony Music, Nogizaka Studio, mastering) and Motoaki Ohmachi (TEAC ESOTERIC COMPANY, production and planning).

Remastering takes place in JVC studios. It is carried out in the digital domain in the DSD format. All the album covers include the information that “master tapes” are used in the process. However, it seems unlikely that Decca, for example, could have made its analogue master copies available to any outside company. It is much more likely that digital copies are prepared in its archive and that these are “flat transfer” 24/96 PCM copies that the abovementioned people then work on. Unfortunately, I do not know how it is in the case of other companies whose recordings are published by Esoteric.

Esoteric equipment is used in the mastering process: the top-class D/A D-01VU converters, the Rubidium G-0Rb master clock and the ESOTERIC MEXCEL cables, i.e. top Acrolink cables from the Mexcel series. When we look at available photographs, it appears that the devices are modified, e.g. by adding self-made feet or raising top plates.

Let me add that three LPs with the Esoteric logo, cut from a digital DSD master and pressed on specially modified lathe cut 200g vinyl (with the omission of one step in the process of preparing the master copy) were released as part of the Master Sound Works “Limited Edition” series in April 2010. These are:

  • W.A. Mozart, Piano Concerto No.20 K.466 & No.27 K.595, Decca/Esoteric ESLP-10001,
  • Antoni Dvořák, Symphony No.9 in E minor, Op.95 "From the New World”, Decca/Esoteric ESLP-10002,
  • Manuel de Falla, The Three Cornered Hat, Decca/Esoteric ESLP-10003.


Titles released by the Esoteric company include almost only the music of classicism, Romanticism and that of new classics (the 20th century). They are limited to the major record labels, such as Sony, Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Erato, Teldec and EMI. The first and so far the largest box was released in December 2009, including 14 discs with the recordings of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring Des Nibelungen. We get a new box once in a while. The first box with jazz music, 6 Great Jazz, was released in 2015. It includes recordings from the Blue Note catalogue.

The albums that I am referring to become collector’s items right after they are released. It is because they are published in a very attractive way and have exceptional sound, but mostly due to the limited number of pressed copies. It is enough to say that the first titles were released in 300 and 500 copies, whereas the most popular ones – 1000 and 2000. Rumour has it that the CD layer has the features of XRCD24 (in the end, remasters are made in a JVC studio). However, I cannot confirm this (information regarding Esoteric recordings is really scarce). The LPs have been released in the number of 1000 copies.

Taking into account the limited supply, it is not surprising that the prices of these albums are very high. Each costs ca. 55-65 USD (+ duty and VAT), but it is enough to look at to get dizzy. Indeed, you can find some albums costing 60 USD, but these are the most popular second-hand ones. As a rule, however, we get prices exceeding 100-150 USD for a single album. Most of them are simply unavailable and, if we do find one, it may cost as much as 250 USD (!) per copy. Let us add that vinyl versions are really rare and a new copy might cost 500-600 USD.


Taking all of this into account, I do not understand why we had never gathered as the Krakow Sonic Society before to determine the real sound value of these recordings. Finally, we managed to meet and compare selected titles, including both jazz and classical recordings, to other Japanese and classic European versions. We met at Janusz’s home, so we mainly focused on the CD layer. I am sure we will return to these recordings and look at the SACD layer one day.

I am mentioning SACD because we listened to hybrid SACDs, focusing on the CD layer, during a meeting of the Krakow Sonic Society many years ago and we came to a unanimous conclusion that it sounds worse than a regular CD made using the same master copy and pressed by the same pressing plant. However, this has changed. I cannot say why, but so-called “hybrids” often sound better that standard CDs, even when we listen to their CD layer. Go figure!

We selected seven titles for comparison – it was an A/B comparison (A and B known). We listened to the first album to „warm up” and we gave our opinions on the rest of the titles. The first version in each of the pairs below is the Esoteric album and the other one is the „reference” version:

  • JOHN COLTRANE AND JOHNNY HARTMAN, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, Impulse!/Esoteric ESSB-90138, SACD/CD (1963/2015) w: Impulse! 6 Great Jazz, „Master Sound Works”, Impulse!/Esoteric ESSB-90133/8, 6 x SACD/CD (2015)
  • JOHN COLTRANE AND JOHNNY HARTMAN, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, Impulse!/Universal Music Japan UCCI-9003, „Best 50 | No. 3”, CD (1963/2001)
  • PEGGY LEE, Black Coffee, Decca/Esoteric ESSB-90146, SACD/CD (1956/2016) w: 6 Queens of Jazz Vocal, „Master Sound Works”, Esoteric ESSO-90143/8, 6 x SACD/CD (2016)
  • PEGGY LEE, Black Coffee, Decca/Universal Music K.K. UCCU-9631, SHM-CD (1956/2008)
  • PEGGY LEE, Black Coffee, Decca/Universal Music K.K. UCCU-9517, „Jazz The Best | No. 43”, gold-CD (1956/2004)
  • MONICA ZETTERLUND & BILL EVANS, Waltz for Debby, Mercury/Esoteric ESSB-90148, SACD/CD (1964/2016) w: 6 Queens of Jazz Vocal, „Master Sound Works”, Esoteric ESSO-90143/8, 6 x SACD/CD (2016)
  • MONICA ZETTERLUND & BILL EVANS, Waltz for Debby, Mercury/Philips/Universal Music (Japan) UCCM-9064, “Immortal Jazz on Mercury | No. 14”, CD (1964/2002)
  • OLIVER NELSON, The Blues and The Abstract Truth, Impulse!/Esoteric ESSB-90136, SACD/CD (1961/2015) w: Impulse! 6 Great Jazz, „Master Sound Works”, Impulse!/Esoteric ESSB-90133/8, 6 x SACD/CD (2015)
  • OLIVER NELSON, The Blues and The Abstract Truth, Impulse!/ Universal Music Japan UCCI-9030, „Best 50 | No. 30”, CD (1961/2001)
  • JOHANNES BRAHMS, Violin Concerto in D Major, Op.77, David Oistrakh, violin, The Cleveland Orchestra, George Szell, EMI Classics/Esoteric ESSE-90044, SACD/CD (1970/2010)
  • JOHANNES BRAHMS, Violin Concerto in D Major, Op.77, David Oistrakh, violin, The Cleveland Orchestra, George Szell, EMI Classics 2 14719 2 (1970/2008)
  • GUSTAV MAHLER, Das Lied Von Der Erde,Fritz Wunderlich, Christa Ludwig, Philharmonia Orchestra, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Otto Klemperer EMI Records/Esoteric ESSE-90043, SACD/CD (1974/2010)
  • GUSTAV MAHLER, Das Lied Von Der Erde,Fritz Wunderlich, Christa Ludwig, Philharmonia Orchestra, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Otto Klemperer EMI Records 5 6689 2, “Great Recordings of the Century”, CD (1974/1998)
  • ARNOLD SCHOENBERG, ANTON WEBERN, ALBAN BERG, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Herbert von Karajan, Deutsche Grammophon/Esoteric ESSG-90017, SACD/CD (1989/2009)
  • ARNOLD SCHOENBERG, ANTON WEBERN, ALBAN BERG, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Herbert von Karajan, Deutsche Grammophon 2531 146, CD (1974/2014)


PEGGY LEE | Black Coffe

The first recording seemed incredibly filled to me, large, or even extra large – but not in the sense that the instruments were so large, but when it comes to sound saturation – that was incredible. Any other version, including both the SHM-CD and the gold-CD, also seemed saturated, but, in the end – thinner, as if including less information. Everything took place on the same stage, but there was less of everything in these versions. Let me put it this way – when we fill space with a substance and it is completely filled, we “feel” it with all our senses. However, we can pump it up, increase pressure and make it even “more” filled – and this is what the Esoteric version sounds like. I liked it, as I value saturation, fill and the quality of being “packed” with sound. I know the album by heart and it is a bit anorectic.

When it comes to the SHM-CD, I really liked it, while the worst version is the gold-CD one where the stage was withdrawn to a large extent.

Ryszard S.
I paid attention to completely different aspects than Janusz, as I wasn’t thinking of saturation while listening to this album. Honestly, the Esoteric version did not make a good impression on me. I perceived it as having the aesthetics of the „old cinema”. Both the saxophone and vocal had a „rough” and „grey” quality. The SHM-CD version had a warmer vocal and a purer saxophone, while the gold-CD – a rhythmical, present counter bass.

I was expecting an „esoteric” epiphany, but I did not get it. Anyway, it is not the best Black Coffe I’ve ever heard – it is not her repertoire. It is hard to say which version is better, as they were simply different. However, none of them caught me by the heart. I listened to all of them – and that’s it.

Ryszard B.
These are three different versions for me. The Esoteric one made the best impression on me, mostly due to the amount of tones and colours. Unlike Janusz, I did not pay attention to saturation, but to colour. The subsequent versions were getting worse and worse, and the gold-CD version was as if covered with patina – monotonous and boring. Another thing that got worse with each version was holography. Backgrounds were pulled up on each of the versions – so much that everyone played on one plane on the gold-CD version. For me, this disqualifies this type of a recording.

But… I am saying this as we have a comparison. If we didn’t have these three versions and listened to them separately, each would be fantastic for me. As we can compare them, however, the leader is the Esoteric version – at least for me.

I had a very negative impression of the SHM-CD version. The vocal was completely blurred and disintegrated. In the case of the Esoteric and gold-CD versions it had the expressiveness and meaning, while with the SHM-CD version it was blurred. The trumpet with a mute also sounded much better. It is hard for me to choose between the Esoteric or gold-CD versions – but I have a definitely negative opinion on the SHM-CD.

I absolutely disagree with Wiciu. The SHM-CD was the best for me. The trumpet was pulled back on the gold-CD version, not fully clear. For me, the SHM-CD version was simply the nicest, velvety, calm and pleasant.

I agree with Marcin – i.e. I choose the SHM-CD, with the Esoteric version as the runner-up. The gold-CD version is the worst. It is kind of the same, but everything is dim. In the case of the SHM-CD and the Esoteric version, the vocal was full and vibrant, while on the gold-CD version it is cut. Even though I choose the SHM-CD, I could also live with the Esoteric version.

I liked the Esoteric version best – it was absolutely phenomenal. I felt as if that was a “modern” album, i.e. one recorded according to the best contemporary standards. While listening to the first few seconds of the SHM-CD, I thought: “What kind of clamour is this? How sharp, how glassy!” I needed a moment to get used to it and to the format. After that, I came to the conclusion that the SHM-CD version sounds like recordings from the 1950s on the radio – with all their problems. The Esoteric version sounded fantastic, as if we were back in that era. The gold-CD version was something in between – it had interesting patina and it was pleasant. However, it was far from the spectacular sound of the Esoteric version.

Wojciech Pacuła
All the three versions are compressed, but in different ways. The gold-CD version is a safe buy and something that is purchased by people who do not want to do what we are doing now, but want to have something nice and pleasant. The SHM-CD surprised me in a positive way, on the one hand, as it had the energy, the spurt – i.e. something characteristic for live music. What matters here is something unexpected and surprising – and the SHM-CD is exactly like this.

On the other hand, in my opinion, the Esoteric version sounded the best. I think it was the most compressed version, while the SHM-CD was less compressed and the gold-CD – the least. However, we are listening to this at home, on our equipment, with a CD and, considering all these limitations and the way they influence our perception, the Esoteric version was the best – full, dense and lively. Needless to say, it was a creation. If I were to say what was closest to a live event, I would say it was the SHM-CD. However, we are not at a concert where these limitations do not exist and the advantages of such a performance become drawbacks when we listen to music at home.

So, I will add something that came to my mind after listening to three Esoteric recordings. It seems they have some features in common that make them different from all other versions. It is pleasant, safe and nice sound. I haven’t heard it yet, but it seems to me that it is also free, without accelerating and getting nervous. It has clear features of a remastered version that could be heard with all the three versions that have been played so far. This is some kind of a creation. However, we are also talking about averaging here and it is a bit ostentatious. I am for the Esoteric version, but I cannot fail to notice what has been “done” to it.


For the first time, I was definitely more impressed by an “ordinary” Japanese disc than by the Esoteric version. It spoke to me as if someone was talking to me, as if it was singing to me, while the Esoteric version did not. I am amazed, as the SHM-CD version is also available and I was planning to buy it, but now I know for sure I won’t do it.

Rysiek S.
I do not know the piece too well, it is a bit monotonous. To the point – for the first time I liked the Esoteric version better, as it was more moderate and coherent. I prefer this version due to something dense in its sound. I do not hear any special emotions in the vocal and for me this is a rather cold message. To put a long story short – I choose the Esoteric version this time.

Rysiek B.
I have a problem and mixed feelings. So far, Esoteric versions have been the leader for me but this time an ordinary Japanese version is better. The message is more musical and pleasant. Perhaps it is not as precise and rich in information, but the presentation is more involving and has more swing.

The Esoteric version is “made up”, so everything is polished and smoothened. The basic version was much better and I felt as if I were at a concert at a club. It is a more interesting, emotional music. The Esoteric version sounds as if it was really well recorded, but does not engage the listener at all.

I must praise the Esoteric version for the first time. I am not going to go into details, but it seems velvety and nice.

A little digression: when we talk about jazz, we always mention refinement and detail. However, while listening to subsequent jazz recordings, one might say this is simple rubbish. Each song starts in the same way and all of them are based on four chords. Talking about the listening experience, I can say I liked the ordinary Japanese version better. It was lively and had a kick, a bit like the SHM-CD before. Quoting our host, I can say this is “pure bullshit”.

However, I would also like to mention that all Esoteric recordings have well though-out sound and an underlying idea. All other Japanese recordings sound as if nobody was in control of the end result, so things work out at times, but sometimes the effect is not too good. This time, the Japanese version was better, but the next one may be a catastrophe. Esoteric recordings, however, are all coherent and their creators knew exactly what effect they wanted to achieve, which is an enormous asset and great value for me. That is why I choose “the Japanese version” this time, but next time I may make a completely different choice.

Rysiek S.
Tell me, are you feeling completely satisfied? After the presentation Wojtek had prepared about the company, I was expecting miracles from these recordings, but I did not hear anything special, so I am disappointed! There was absolutely nothing charming or amazing in them.

I cannot say anything good about the Esoteric version. However, neither the album we listened to, nor its sound or music charmed me. Perhaps this is why I did not hear big differences between these two versions. It would be hard for me to say which I liked better. So, I agree with Rysiek that if we pay so much money, the sound should have something spectacular that will carry us.

Wojciech Pacuła
In the case of this particular recording, I did not have an impression that one version was better than the other one. However, I will repeat what was said before – the Esoteric version is highly “made up”, i.e. though-out, planned and predicted. The basic Japanese version was simply “successful”.

Back to the point – it could be heard that the Esoteric version shortens reverberation and there is less “halo” around the musicians. There are more direct sounds, which makes everything more pleasant. If I were to spend my money on something, thinking of this particular album, I would not purchase it if I had an older version. If I did not have one, I would buy the Esoteric version to complete my series, the other albums from which are much better than their other versions.

OLIVER NELSON, The Blues and The Abstract Truth

I choose the first (Esoteric) version, as the CD was more obtrusive, sharper and less pleasant. However, these differences were not too big.

I choose the CD version. There is nothing to talk about.

It is a situation that could be compared to real life: a woman has just got up and she has no makeup. An hour or two later, the same woman is ready to leave. After makeup, I choose Esoteric, without makeup – the CD version. Esoteric sounds attractive and transparent, and everything is ordered. However, it is all made-up. Now it is time to wonder if the makeup will not start to disturb us, due to its exaggerated quality. I choose the Esoteric version, as I like it better, but it may appear that I will feel this is just too much while listening to the next album.

I think the differences were not big. I liked both albums, but if I were to choose one of them, I’d select the Esoteric version. The CD was sharper and brighter, but not in a good way, as if it was brightened up.

Rysiek B.
I see it in a slightly different way, as the difference was enormous – in favour of the Esoteric version. I am mostly talking about the variety of colours, purity and transparency, the latter being too high, perhaps – and therefore the version would sound even better in a system with the KT88 tubes than here. Here, it sounds a bit like a produced “studio” recording. However, in this case I am definitely for the Esoteric version.

Rysiek S.
I am in favour of the Esoteric version, even though the other one does not hurt me, either. However, the album is so beautiful that it could be recorded in any way and I would still like it.

My opinion can be summarized in the following way: I am happy I have the basic Japanese and not the Esoteric version. However, I also respect Esoteric – sound fill and saturation are the things than neither of the other two versions has. However, once again, the basic version gives me something that captures me. It carries me… It is so richly arranged that it has got to be shown. The Esoteric version averaged everything emotionally, which I thought was really bad.


JOHANNES BRAHMS, Violin Concerto in D Major, Op.77

At the beginning it seemed to me that the Esoteric version does not make sense a little, as the orchestra was small and kind of dark. However, when the violin entered after about three minutes, it was amazing how cadences, descents and the movement of the bow were shown (I am taking full responsibility for my words). The colour always changed, not only the tone. The simple box version is a failure and I do not even know how to describe it – it’s madness! We need hell for such recordings. Let us move on to the next comparison, there is nothing to talk about…


I definitely choose the ordinary version, as something was happening there and it captured me.

Rysiek B.
I agree with Janusz. When it comes to the pleasure of listening, the ordinary version was better. For me, it was much closer to what I listen to live. The Esoteric version sounded a bit sterile to me, as I could feel its “studio” quality and dryness. This time I agree with Janusz, but I have reservations about both recordings.

Rysiek S.
It does not work out in these acoustic surroundings. There is a pastel introduction, then the flute, etc., but everything is too small. I lack the presence of space, background and placement, etc. which are always present in your system. However, here these elements are small – more in the Esoteric version, but also on the basic one.

Wojciech Pacuła
The fact that there is so little symphonic quality here is normal. To build a sound scale, loudspeakers need to have broad frequency response, mainly when it comes to bass. It cannot be achieved in a spectacular way in the case of small monitor speakers powered by a low-power amplifier.

Rysiek S.
If we played a violin quartet here, everything would be large, tangible and abundant. We play Weber and it’s a failure.

Wojciech Pacuła
A quartet would sound nice here, just like jazz, as there are few instruments there. You don’t have to make too much effort of differentiate the scale. Considering its limitations, the system is outstanding. When it is to differentiate between large and small, or bass and treble, it cannot do it. That is why we cannot tell if we have limited Esoteric by this system or not.

Rysiek S.
But tell me, please – when this piece of music opens, it is all delicate and pastel. Thinking naively, in Janusz’s system it should be saturated and harmonious, etc. It could only break down at tutti. But here everything is always small.

Wojciech Pacuła
I think the system does not show big changes in dynamics. The volume of the orchestra is built through such changes, because of which things located a bit further away (like in the case of the Esoteric version), i.e. less compressed ones, seem small. If the system showed large sound, then an ordinary version would be aggressive and closer, while the Esoteric version would have the right perspective.

I don’t agree. I am sorry, but I heard really large sound here. These albums are simply poorly recorded.

I liked the Esoteric version a lot. Everything was smooth and nice.

Rysiek B.
For me it was all artificial, dry and sterile.

Rysiek S.
I try to approach listening to music at home via my concert experience. In this respect, listening to the Esoteric version is completely different. I know this is made up, but I would like something more.

GUSTAV MAHLER, Das Lied Von Der Erde

Janusz S.
For me, the Esoteric version was the one I would like to listen to and have, in every respect – i.e. when it comes to its tone, volume of the vocal and instruments, and even dynamics. It seems to me that in the case of this recording, the Esoteric version showed better diversity of dynamics. Saturation – and everything – was better.

Rysiek B.
I would try to convince everyone to attend a concert because I disliked both versions. They were too tiring to talk about them and this is why it is everything I want to say.

Rysiek S.
Esoteric – yes, the ordinary version – no.

I dislike both versions, as it is a poorly made recording. I am surprised with its bad symphonic quality in your system, Janusz. In this repertoire, there is an enormous difference between what I have in my system and what I hear in yours. What we have here is symphonic noise. The orchestra sounds bad in both versions…

I cannot believe how much the 19th century is a lost time for music. Making something like this after Bach’s works is like shooting oneself on the head. It is a step backwards. However, I understand that the Esoteric company has an idea of what its recordings should sound like, which we mentioned already at the beginning. The company’s recordings always have a specific quality and never go below a certain level. With other releases, we never know what is going to happen to us.


The Esoteric company has developed its own sound signature. The problem is that we evaluated it in one system restricted by its limitations. As Janusz said, Esoteric imposes its signature on us straight away and we either like it or not. In the case of recordings released by other companies it will always be a surprise – sometimes positive, sometimes negative.

To verify our observations, we listened to a few albums with Wicio in his system two days later. Similarly to Janusz, he has got quite small Dynaudio C1 monitor speakers, but they are powered by 70-Watt Jadis monoblocks with eight KT88 tubes per channel. Both albums that we talked about earlier, i.e. Mahler and Bruckner, sounded much better with their Esoteric versions.

To systematize these observations, I will point out the features that one can expect from Esoteric remasters. This is naturally going to be a generalization, as the same features may come across as positive or negative, depending on the system used.

  • Tone is lower and the treble is withdrawn, so the sound is warmer, but can also be perceived as subdued.
  • Sound stage is withdrawn, which results in darker tone.
  • As the stage is withdrawn, instruments seem smaller than in the case of the same recordings released by other companies.
  • Attack is rounded or at least slowed down.
  • Sound is more sophisticated, with a lot of information on the tone, dynamics, and playing technique.
  • Bass is clearly lower.
  • Tone is noble and filled, very dense.

These are just the main features of recordings released by the Esoteric company. Depending on the system, they may be perceived as benefits or drawbacks. One thing that can be said about this series is that it is a really safe purchase, as almost every album from the series sounds amazing. As it can be concluded based on our listening session, however, there are albums that not everyone will like in the Esoteric version. It is also important that jazz recordings produced by the company behave differently than its classical music recordings in a given system – again, everything goes down to how a given system interprets features such as density, depth, saturation, dynamics, scale, the amount of bass and treble, and perspective.