Mutoaki Ohmachi, Esoteric's founder and resident genius, is a man full of passion. At CES2009, he spoke about the importance of music in his life and how hewing true to he sound of music had always been the motivation for Esoteric products.

That kind of personal mission statement used to be common for the big Japanese technology companies—at least in the flagship departments—now that kind of old-scholl audiophilia seems radical.

Ohmachi-san walks the walk though—he had 10 classic Decca recordings remastered to SACD "to original master tape standards. They're available on hybrid SACD—and they do sound revelatory.

Also on display was the new 200Wpc A-80 stereo power amplifier ($10,000). The A/B amp was on static display, so I didn't hear it, but the Class-A 50W A03 stereo power amplifier ($12,000) were sounding pretty special driving large Verity Audio speakers. Punchy, yet not forced, Dvorak's New World Symphony, filled the room with vivid, dynamic sound.

The A-03 is pure Class-A and completely dual mono. It sports two independent high capacity toroidal transformers, and current delivery of 24 amps (17 amps continuous. It's beautifully built.

The A-03 can be bridged to deliver 200W.