Audio Note (UK) Speakers
Audio Note manufacture a large range of loudspeakers, all with the same sense of voice but different levels of subtlety and complexity and, just as the electronics have their own levels of refinement, reflected in the design, componentry choices and ultimately, cost.
With the speakers ranging in price from $1100 for the bookshelf AX-One's to the AN-E Sogon at $290,000, there are 30 other models between those 2, all offering choices in design and size, finish, driver cone material, magnet material, x-over design and components, wiring harness, even internal or external. Sometimes I'm at a loss when looking at the variations and then I think back to when I spoke to Peter while wandering around the factory and he showed my the newly arrived Alnico Tweeters and I said" If ever I order a pair of speakers, it will have to have Alnico bass and tweeters, external x-overs, Makassar Ebony veneer in piano gloss lacquer...." and we continued on our journey. It was only when I got the email 5 months later to inform me that "my speakers" were ready for shipping did the penny drop and I realised I had "ordered" my pair apparently many months before. That was an awkward conversation to have with Cath and that was before we became the importers into Australia. That's why so many variants to the models, particularly the AN-E.
They start out with the AN-E-D which is only available in a black Ash timber veneer version using all copper wiring with the paper bass cone material for $6,700 or $7,100 for the Hemp cones with standard magnets. All Audio Note Stands for the speakers are $800 a pair.
All the speaker cabinets are made in Austria and the fit and finish are superb, as is the choice of veneers, at last count 19 genuine timber veneers as well as painted finishes, even slate. Don't forget they can be had in Matt or High Gloss finishes over the timber, Matt is standard and High Gloss is $2,050 extra for the E's, $1,550 for the J's, $1,380 for the K's.
The next models up are the AN-E-LX versions which now come in your choice of finishes, LEXUS copper cable internally, full Russian Birch ply cabinets for $9,000 with the paper driver, $9,400 with the hemp cones. Standard magnets still. The High Efficiency version is $10950.
The AN-E SPe changes the LEXUS copper to the silver SPe wiring harness for $10,000 and $10,500 respectively.
Up again, the AN-E-LX HE model gains the high efficiency magnet for the bass driver and silver voice coils for both $11,300 and $11,700 for the hemp.
With the change to the SPe cable in the AN-E-SPe-HE coming in at $12,000 with the paper drivers and $12,400 for the hemp. And this is the sweet spot and the most popular model. Some would say best bang for the buck and all that and if you were running an OTO or a SORO or MEISHU or one of the lower power stereo amps or, the smaller monoblocks, then you would be hard pressed to find a better sound. The combination of 97db efficiency when corner loaded, silver SPe cable, silver voice coils, beautiful finish and very high liveability factor with the speakers located close to the corners of the room means that they just work on so many levels. Add the fact that they will handle future upgrades in electronics means they will still be singing for years.
The AN-E-LX Signature is the first model that takes the x-over of the speaker into a separate enclosure, and given the increased size and complexity of the x-over, it's an easy decision. The drivers are now connected via 1.5 meter leads out through the rear of the speakers, connecting with the binding posts on the rear of the x-over enclosure. Doing this has 2 main benefits, removing the components used in the x-over away from an area of obvious vibration and secondly, allowing much larger capacitors and many more of them to smooth the x-over points so that the integration and overall performance of the two drivers are enhanced. The difference between the AN-E internal x-over and the external Signature version in sound reproduction is noticeable in dynamic shading, in macro and microdynamics and in the increased sense of effortlessness. If you were using some P 4 Balanced mono's or a JINRO, even any of the Silver Signature range, then these models would be well worth saving hard for. The AN-E-LX HE Signatures are $23,800 a pair and the AN-E SPe HE Signatures are $26,200. They only use the High-Efficiency drivers in this range along with the copper foil capacitors in the x-over. All internal wiring from the driver tags to the terminals and the wiring internal in the x-over enclosure is either LEXUS or SPe.
The next model is the AN-E/SPx ALNICO which uses the Alnico magnets for both drivers, wired with SPx Silver and utilises an internal x-over. Cost is $36,700. The Alnico sound is quite breathtaking and very different sounding in that the most subtle detail in any recording is nuanced and beautifully formed. The simple reason is that the magnetic gauss of the Alnico material is so much stronger and linear that the voice coil has no option to respond otherwise and so the sound seems effortless.
There are two further Alnico model with external x-overs, AN-E SPe HE SE Signature at $38,700 and the AN-E SPx HE SE Signature at $49,000 with the difference being the choice of cable otherwise the same componentry.
The next version is the AN-E-SEC Silver which again uses the Alnico drivers also with an internal x-over but with SOGON internal wiring harness and Silver foil capacitors at $62,000 a pair.
The AN-E-SEC Signature comprises the Alnico drivers with the external x-over and SOGON wiring from the drivers down to the x-over enclosure utilising copper foil capacitors and silver wire inductors. There are approximately 16 meters of SOGON LX 96 used in the wiring harness which accounts for a fair proportion of the $91,000 cost but if you listen to the sound, with the right amplifiers, both pre and power, then anything is possible. I have heard these twice, and both times I came away wanting to rewire my Alnico's with the SOGON as that's the only difference with mine as they are wired with SPe. Peter had the Gaku-On's driving him with an M9 Phono, and the other was with the Kegon Balanced mono's and an M 6 Phono.
That only leaves the AN-E SOGON where all the extra spend goes into 2 Meishu sized x-over cases loaded with the very best Silver foil capacitors which collectively add up to 15 kilos of silver in total. I would love to own a pair of these one day, but first, I have to buy that lottery ticket.
AN-K's and AN-J's follow a similar path in the various models starting with AN-K-LX for $3,870 and AN-J-D for $4,650 with the paper drivers, $5,050 for hemp. Likewise, there are different wiring options and x-over options but all with the standard driver magnet material, no high-efficiency option, and only Alnico in the AN-J-SE Silver at $25,700 and the AN-J SEC HEMP Silver for $49,700.
The J's and E's use the same drivers with the exception of the high-efficiency drivers only in the E's. The difference in sound is only obvious in bass extension and room coupling due to the low-end frequency weight that the E's can generate. Depending on your room size, the sound of the J's or E's will be the preferred option one way or the other. The J's can put out the significant bass weight and would be best suited to a smaller room may be in an apartment where most of the listening is done at night whereas the E's are best for larger rooms and solid wall construction. Having said that, the ability of the speakers to play at lower volume levels and still maintain dynamic integrity is one of the major drawcards for them as you don't need to turn the volume up to fill the room with sound and that is very helpful if you do listen in the evening while others are reading or sleeping.
All prices quoted are in Australian dollars and based on a currency range of 0.57 pounds to the dollar. As the currency fluctuates with the exchange rates so will the retail. We cross match the retail price with the UK retail, and as all products are made to order given the options available, the delivery timeframe is between 8 to 10 weeks from order and deposit. We organise delivery once landed and completed the installation and set up personally irrespective of location, be it Surry Hills or Perth or Auckland.[dated 20.7.2017] please always ask what the current prices are as currency variation reflect the date ordered and deposit paid.
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Please note each veneer is different and distinct, no two are the same and colours may also vary from tree to tree. All Audio Note cabinets are 'book matched' so that both speakers are a mirror image of each other. The standard finish is satin. Piano lacquer finishes are available at a premium per pair dependant on the model.
Special colours are also available and include Midnight Blue, Pearl White, Burgundy, British Racing Green, Black, and others. We can finish speakers in custom colours however the cost can be considerable - please consult with us, and we obtain a quote for you.