Audio Note UK
Am not sure what more i could actually say about Audio Note UK gear that i've not already written over the past two decades. Newbies might have much to say, yet considering the Ongaku has been here, so has the Meishu 300B integrated amplifier silver version, the Conquest, their silver and copper cables, and after over two decades (and an easy foam surround replacement on the 8" midrange/woofer) the AN-J/SPx silver voice coil / silver wired speakers are still here being used (review comparo here). How many people can say they've kept a piece of audio gear for more than 20 years? Anyone? Anyone at all? So what's the deal when even one of those critical reviewer-types refuses to sell a piece of gear? It simply has to mean something, right?
It does as Audio Note UK is a leading force not just in gear, as they are one of the very few who produce an entire system's worth of gear from cartridges, turntables and DACs all the way to loudspeakers and all in-between. Audio Note UK is also one of the only manufacturers who actually invest millions into producing custom parts, hand-wound silver wire output transformers etc and sell these parts to others. Longtime FANatics miss the Black Gate capacitors, so what is Audio Note UK doing? Well, they're doing everything possible to not just produce their own 'Black Gates', they are seeking to produce parts that exceeds the very high expectation we have all come to love about Black Gates (and that's certainly not an easy task). But enough about all that, you probably want to know what they had at T.H.E. Show Newport 2016 and how it sounded.
But before i got to that, David Cope has been a representative for Audio Note UK for many years and his passions are many. During T.H.E. Show Newport 2016 we chatted about him moving on to other hobbies and loves in life and we truly do wish him all the very best. His presence will be missed, yet personally want him to follow his dreams and aspirations. If that means we won't be seeing him during shows so be it. David, get out there and have fun, you deserve only the very best in life.
Ok, and finally let's get to what Audio Note UK showcased here in Newport. Audio Note UK's Cobra ($3500) is a new 25 watt per channel EL34-based push-pull integrated amplifier with an onboard DAC and wireless volume control. Internally it is a production pieces yet the chassis is still in the works so they stuff some other chassis with all the correct bits. They plan to have the production chassis to proudly showcases the tubes, with a raised top at the rear to cover all the transformers. As the innovator of multi-motor turntables, and yes i have the Audio Note UK / VOYD three-motor turntable many years ago, the TT Three ($8000) is their new iteration three motor, three point suspended turntable using Pabst motors. An outboard electronic power supply is included and you have speed switching via electronic rotational speed switching. Audio Note UK's Arm Three ($2000, available in silver or black) is a lovely 9-incher that conforms to Rega geometry and uses a one piece arm tube as well as a one piece bearing block. Wiring is AN UK's silver internally with AN/Vx silver interconnect as the lead out cable. An IQ3 cartridge ($975) is the company's best of three moving magnet (MM) cartridges. It shares the square cross section titanium cantilever and stylus tip with AN UK's $4650 low output moving coil cartridge. And before i forget, basked in the glory for many years with the Io-2 MC cartridge and AN-6c silver step-up transformer. Mind-bendingly great sound that Io MC cartridge!
Ok, let's speed this along so here are the other system bits R Zero ($1750) Phono RIAA stage using 6111WA tubes and K/SPe speakers ($3950 per pair, stand add $640 per pair). These are a two-way, infinite baffle loudspeaker system, 90dB/W/m sensitive, using an 8" woofer mated with a 0.75" soft dome tweeter. Audio Note SPe silver speaker cable internally and the cabinet is all-round veneered Russian birch plywood, which are available in your choice of 20 wood veneers including satin or high gloss finishes.
The sound? Sounds like music to my ears. In fact i can't recall any Audio Note UK system that did not sound like music. Yet what does that really mean? Sometimes you go into someone's listening room and it sounds like an audio system. This is not a negative thing per se, yet is what it is. Audio Note UK systems seem more about enjoying the music. Hours and hours, years after year of musical bliss. Been there, done that and still use their speakers even after 20 years. That pretty much sums it up quite nicely.
Here's a video i did with Peter Qvortrup of Audio Note UK as we discussed high-end audio parts, gear and of course music.