AN-J or AN-E with Meishu

I am using an Audio Note Meishu with AN-K speakers. I'm planning to upgrade to AN-J or AN-E to get a better sense of space (soundstage and image).

The difficulty is the size of the room and its dimensions. The room is 4.5 meters wide and 4.2 meters long (3 meters tall). That's almost a quadrangle. (I might be able to move the stereo to another room in the apartment, which is 5.1 meters long and 3.3 meters wide).

My question is this: Is the roughly 17 m2 of the current room too small for the AN-E? I was planning to go with the AN-J because of the general recommendations from the company but I heard that the Meishu works particularly well with AN-E. I'm moving up from AN-K to get a better sense of space (image and soundstage).

Does anyone have experience in using the Meishu with AN-J and AN-E? In a small rooms?

Fred, in my opinion, your (almost) square room is the most limiting factor. If you are going to remain in that room I would advise keeping the AN-Ks, because they will pump the least amount of energy into the room.

If you were going to move into the larger rectangular room, either the AN-J or the AN-E should work. As you now, these speakers both share the same driver complement (basically) but differ in cabinet dimensions and upgrade options. They sound alike, but also quite different. Personally I would probably lean towards the Js, but that;s just me.

There is an inexpensive way to test which will sound better: find a pair each of used Snell J/IIs and E/IIs in good shape and try them out. While these are not the same as the AN speakers, they are the speakers that Audio Note based the AN-series on and they share similar sonic qualities; just not as much of it as the better (and more expensive) AN speakers. But this test shouldn't cost you more than $500 USD and would be money well spent if it guides you in the right direction. I imagine that you would be able to resell the Snells for what you paid for them or very close.

Good luck
Fred, construction of the room is just as important as the dimensions, wall materials, floor, windows, furnishings, etc. all come into play irrespective of size. I've done a lot of near field installations of large speakers in small, difficult rooms like yours with excellent results and there have been a couple of occasions that rooms with seemingly ideal dimensions turned out to be nightmares because of their construction. More information is needed for any kind of suggestion, even then without being there physically it will be all guess work, but it might be enough to get you going with your setup.

If your aim is specifically better soundstage and image the key factors are speaker positioning and low frequencies. Bass is the foundation that will give you the solid 3d imaging. Bass is also the hardest thing to get right in almost every room, even large ones.I don't know your level of experience with speaker positioning and system installation, that plays into what you should buy. I'm not familiar enough with any of AN speakers to make a recommendation but I would always pick the one with best bass reproduction capabilities.
Your thoughts and suggestions are very useful at this stage. I have limited knowledge of acoustics and greatly appreciate your help. I experimented a bit moving some furniture around yesterday and agree that this makes a big difference on the acoustics and the overall quality of the experience. I need a few reflection/diffuser panels on the walls (I'm probably going with Vicoustic) and wonder about about your advice on bass and soundstage. Do bass traps "only" reduce unwanted reflections or can they also help create better imaging/soundstage?
Bass traps deal with the standing waves in the lower frequencies, the additional clarity will improve every aspect of your sound system. One caveat, you need high quality traps and they can be expensive.
I've been flirting with getting AN speakers for several years. I've heard them only at shows -- usually the AN-E, but David Cope was playing the AN-K at the Newport show this year. The AN speakers are always wonderfully, compellingly musical but I've dragged my feet because I worry that I will find myself missing some of the clarity, detail and air of more audiophile-type designs. I mention this because I wonder if what you are looking to get by moving up the AN line will really be there. It seemed to me to that the K had a bit more clarity in the lower midrange than I remember from the E's I've heard, and I found that appealing. Not really the same thing as soundstage and imaging, but it could contribute to those areas.
I apologize for the delay in my response. I'm not getting notification e-mails for some reason.

Dkarmeli: Thanks very much. Very useful advice.

Drubin: Interesting question. I've been thinking about lot about this myself and I'm not sure there's a clear answer. The Ks are famous for their clarity, I think. I bought them because I could not afford more at the time and immediately noticed their obvious qualities. However, since I got them in 2008 or 2009, I have gone through two stages. The first was a gradual frustration with the closed box. They don't breathe as much as I'd like them to. However, in the second stage, which started once I upgraded other parts of my system (notably with a Sogon interconnect, one of the best purchases I ever made, and then a Meishu amp) I started to appreciate the speakers in a different way. The tone is simply fantastic. Vocals and acoustic instruments sound stellar. So I have developed such an appreciation and affection for these speakers that I'll keep them forever. But only because I also moved them to a smaller room of circa 12 square meters. They are perfect in this room. They have command of the room in a way they didn't in my larger living room where they were before. So with the right room size and a bit of acoustic treatment, I strongly recommend the AN-Ks. I guess it's the same with the Js and Es, although I've heard that the Js should be much easer to position. The Ks still don't have a big soundstage, but it's OK, and it can be improved a bit with a few upgrades to my system (I'm using Silver Sonic T14 speaker cables and a cheap battery DAC and digital cable. I can clearly hear the limitations).
I don't get email updated either, good luck Fred!