Audionote Soro SE, or cheaper single-ended?


I'm looking for a budget single-ended intergrated amp. The Soro, at about $1300 used, is as high as I'd want to go. Should I consider the alternatives, like Radii or Dared, or is Audio Note heads and shoulders above those?

I have really enjoyed my ASL FOX Ki22. They seem to be going for about $800 to $900 on the used market. I recently put in some Sylvania 6sn7wgt in the preamp section, and the performance is really satisfying. I haven't heard the SORO, but I would also consider it, especially if you like one-box solutions (line and phono stage).
The Soro is a great piece for the money and has plenty of power when compared to most SET amps. I would take the Audio Note over the ASL any day. I owned a P2SE amplfier (what is in the Soro) for about ten years; wonderful amp that is going to be replaced by a much more expensive custom built 300b single ended amp.
The Soro is really damn good with superb phono section and it sounds like 80 watts to boot.

My friend and I have talked more than once how good it is for the money.

A no brainer IMO
I have to agree with my friend Phil, pairing the Soro with the right speakers you can easily ask yourself, "why pay more?". I am looking forward to hearing it again.
Any basic thoughts as to how something like the Soro might sound with Silverline monitors?

You can't go wrong with any Audio Note amps. So go ahead and enjoy.
I agree with Phil & Carl too. I also have the Soro SE Phono, and a pair of ASL Wave 8's. I like the Wave's a lot. I like the Soro a lot more. I know the Wave's are not the same as the Fox, but the only ASL amps I've heard that I like better than the AN are the Hurricane's, and even then, not by much. For $1300, you'll be kicking yourself in the ass if you don't do it.
For those of you who don't recommend the Fox: Have you actually heard one? Seriously, if you want to help this guy, you can't compare the ASL Waves to the Fox. By the same token, the Hurricanes are, again, tottally another species. They are as different as night and day.

The Fox is a highly unique expression of SET design; there aren't many things like it. If you don't recommend the Fox, you should be able to tell SPECIFICALLY why due to experience. My experience is that there aren't many deficiencies, especially at the price point.

LOOK: I'm not trying to steer anybody away from the SORO; I'd like to try one myself. All I'm trying to suggest is that the ASAL Fox might be a bargain, depending on needs.
I understand your point, and yes I have heard it. I should have been more specific. I didn't compare the Waves or the Hurricanes. I only said "The ONLY ASL..." And I never said it was in any way deficient. But Crazy, you are correct, I was a little vague. I just bought the Waves for shits & grins. Still lookin for more; I want to use them in my HT.

I didn't spend a lot of time listening to the Fox, maybe four hours, in a digital based system. The system pieces are similar to mine, sans vinyl. The fact that I could make a decision in four hours ought to indicate something....

The first thing I didn't like is no auto-biasing. I am lazy, and like to roll tubes. Biasing each time is, to me, a PITA. The second thing is no phono. Since my main focus is vinyl, no phono stage didn't do it for me. The Supratek has made no phono a moot point, now, in my system. That's the nitpikin' out of the way.

Those things made difference to me, but they might not to others. First off, I liked the sound. But it soon became obvious there was something missing. I guess it was just kind of lifeless, or maybe not as quick as the Soro. The bass was about even, but the Soro just does more things right, and carries more "weight".

I would have liked to A/B them, but the real world of no dealers of ANY kind around here precludes that. I still think that in the same system, the Soro would spank the Fox.

I don't normally do "reviews", because I hate trying to describe sound, a very subjective topic. I just know what sounds better to me. And in my case, I think the Soro is a clearly better piece, IMHO.

Now, I'd like to hear the Fox with some different tubes. It could make a world of difference. The 6C33C-B driven by 6sn & 6sl7's leaves some room to play. But so does the Soro, even thought it's more costly just because it has 13 tubes (phono version). And, unless you buy it used, the Soro is not really a "budget" piece at four grand. The $1300 (previous post) refers to the one here for sale, no phono (not mine either).

So, I hope this helps. IMHO, I don't think any of the options Lousyreeds1 listed are even close to the Soro. It is truly a great piece for an AN Level 2 product.
Jphii: Thanks for your clarifications. I should add some of my own. The Fox is pretty good, but it becomes a different beast with the addition some NOS Sylvania 6sn7 wgt ("Chrome Domes"). It's performance is a little flat with the stock tubes (I think that one of the ways ASL keeps costs down is that they have a sweetheart deal with a Chinese tube manufacturer).

Regarding the SORO, I am intrigued, and I will keep my eyes open for one in my area. What is interesting to me, though, is that the ASL seems to be able to retain its value like most other gear (about 1/2 of its retail value), while the SORO's used market value seems to be really low. Maybe it's just psychology: even if the watts are really good, the average audiophile wants to get as much power for the dollar. Or, perhaps, the quoted retail price is, in reality, very inflated; maybe most dealers sell them for considerably less than that.

Either way, thanks for your comments; they are, indeed, helpful.
Soro models have consistently sold in the 1000 to 1400 range depending on line/phono and condition. They are simply overpriced at retail in my opinion and that is why resale is only about 25% of retail.

Reminder to those considering a Soro. The Audio Note P2SE amplifier is the amplifier inside the Soro (and the preamp inside it is the M1 line or phono). If you are looking at a used Audio Note P2SE ensure it is NOT the basic P2 model; they sold both a P2 and a P2SE. The SE denotes single ended and the basic P2 is a push/pull model is my recollection.

Good point, but I disagree. And, I don't think they are overpriced at retail (sorta, read on). Given the state of quality tube integrateds that are out there now, I feel the Soro should be one of the major players. Plus the phono stage is very high quality. Before I bought my Supratek, I was more than happy with it and a K&K stepup. At it's price point, IMO, the Soro is right there.

For some reason, some AN gear does not seem to meet the 50% of retail used pricing. Currently there are 29 listings in the classifieds under Audio Note. First off, most people are asking more than 50% of retail on some items. Some of the items, like the TT2 that sold, were asking 67% of retail, but we don't know what it sold for (it is sold).

I don't know what any of the AN gear actually sells for new. Since I have this major aversion to buying new gear, I don't know the actual sales price of anything out there, much less AN. But, I bought my new "damaged in shipping" AZ3 speakers for about 60% of retail. And, becuase the now US importer and I had some communications problems, he threw in a set of AN speaker cables FOR FREE. Try that with most other companies. I'm glad to see David Cope at Triode & Co. take over US distribution, instead of just being an Audio Note store.

And, I don't think any ASL integrated is as good as the Soro, or probably even the Oto, much less the Meishu. AN gear may be high at retail, but again, in my experience, it is well worth it. After living with my Soro for a year, I'd have to say that if I was in the market for an integrated in that price range, I'd buy one new, even at close to 5 grand now (probably 4 in the real world).

My personal opinion is that the "split" between Peter & Kondo-san has hurt the value of both parties gear. This is a shame, because most of what has been said on the net is bullshit. I'm not going into it, because it has been beaten to death, ad nauseum, here and other places. I DO KNOW that when I emailed Peter, 3 weeks ago, and asked for a set of schematics for the Soro, and told him I was MORE THAN WILLING TO PAY FOR THEM, he emailed me a set out, gratis, that day. I also need some stand-offs for the PCB's, and he put them in the mail, gratis again.

While I know there are other companies out there known for their customer service, I can say with no hesitation that EVERY time I've emailed Peter Q., stupid question or not, he has gotten back to me PERSONALLY, and always in an expedient manner. This is one of the many reasons I like AN gear. A couple of other reason are build quality, aesthetics, and of course, the AN sound.

Remember, this is my opinion, and as much as I may sound like it, I have no affiliation with Audio Note. I wish I did, maybe I could get a better deal....
The Oto is said to be better than the Soro, and it's cheaper. But it has less power. My experience has been that both Audio Note products and the people who sell it, service it or whatever are all top notch.
Can't go wrong acquiring Audio Note stuff from Truesound (Nick Gowan) in Campbell, CA. He is as good as they get.

The Oto uses EL34 tubes, I think, and that is what the people are after I think over the Soro. Some like that tube better; that's what Nick told me anyway.

Another Audio Note product that is very, very good at the used price is their entry turntable the TT1. One of these with the Audio NOte ARM2 (silver wired rb300) went for 800 from Jeff's Sound Values a couple of months back. That has to be about the best table/arm rig around for less than a grand; has a small footprint, too.
OTO uses EL84, not EL34!!!
Not an integrated, Oliver, but if you want stellar sound, buy a pair of George Wright Mono 3.5's and run them direct into a CD player with internal preamp OR with stepped attenuators. You could also use a passive preamp. For $1430 new, I don't think you will find better for many dollars more. If you are patient, you can find a pair for around $1000 on the used market. In a comparison with 5 other high end SET/OTL's, they bested every one, the highest priced costing $30K. I kid you not.
Hi Howard, indeed, I've done quite a bit of research on these since you first taught be about SET last year. I contacted Alan Yun at Silverline, (I have the SR15's) and he told me that at 90dB efficiency 3.5 watts would be pushing it. Though if I ever move up to even slightly more efficient speakers, these will be my amps.

Would you mind telling me what other amps you compared the Wright's too? Thanks!
IMHO, sure 90db will make sound with 3.5 Watt but lack of lower frequency response. Even for 93~94 db, 3.5 Watt can't produce the bass right. Lack of punch and dynamic.
If you have an active sub to go with it then it will work fine.
Sorry, Oliver. I had forgotten that you had the SR15's. I don't know how I would, since they've come up in many a discussion. I've had the Wright's mated with a pair of 90dB speakers, and it worked, though not nearly as well as with our 104dB horns.

The comparison I was speaking of involving the Wright's was conducted by 5 or 6 reviewers for audio publications, and it was their consensus that the Wrights sounded the most "right". Personally--and I'm sure that I am forgetting some--I've heard the deHavilland SET's, two or three Audio Note examples, of course the Audion (which we still own), several DIY's, Decware, and several others. As has been mentioned here, his 2A3 SET's don't have a big bass presence. We are using them with a powered sub, so we don't lack for bass. Certainly, they don't do everything, but honesty is their forte.

With your Silverline's, an Audion Sterling MKII would be an outstanding match. It's a one-source, 12W EL34 'integrated' (with volume attenuator) that turns ultralinear at a specific volume. You get outstanding SET midrange, as well as tight, punchy bass. They were $2100 retail, so a used/demo example would likely be right in your price range. The MKII is far better than the standard version, in my opinion.

I hope you are doing well, and enjoy the show you are attending in England.
Thanks very much for the info, Howard! I'll do a lengthy write-up of the show if there's anything I hear that really interests me. This is a bit more mainstream than the stereophile shows usually are. Whole lotta home theater and crappy solid state. But there's also some stuff there that I've always wanted to hear, like Lamm, Wilson Benesch, Harbeth, etc.
off topic a bit - Any suggestions on what tubes will warm up the AN Oto se?
I have an Oto SE, and in my opinion it is a pretty warm sounding amp out of the box. Mullard EL84s will sound warmer than the stock tubes, but IMHO there is also a loss of the pleasant clarity and timbre or grain to the music.

I have tried new tubes in almost every position, and the amount of change they bring to the sound varies from a lot (EL84s) to almost none (6922s in the phono stage). I have had good luck with CBS Hytrons and (surprisingly) with Baldwin 6BQ5s; which are still quite a bargain. The latter are hard to find matched, but they are cheap so buy many and match 'em up yourself.
Can oto se, push 86DB Scansonic mb2.5, I don't want to shake the floors and neighbors windows?

I Want tube amp which doesn't make big hole in pocket when rolling the tubes, and also I want to last for ages...
frankly I doubt it, the impedance says 4 ohm so not tube friendly in that department either

just my guess