Hey Scott great speakers! I run a pair of AN-J/lx's with a 15 watt pushpull 2a3 amp to great effect. I am a fan of the 2a3 tube over the 300B, to me the 2a3 is more transparent with more drive than the 300B. However as with all things YMMV. I will say that's a pretty large room for K's do you listen loud?
Thank you all for these helpful responses. The attack will be incremental. I've ordered AN Lexus speaker cable (my setup requires 3M runs), and a single 2M length of AN-Vx interconnect between transport and DAC. I use the transport quite a bit. We'll see how that goes for a while. Thinking I'm going to save my pennies for a pair of Empress SET's. -Scott
At the recent Capital Audiofest, Vu set up Audio Note room at their behest. His store is extraordinarily interesting—all of the gear (except trade-ins) is tube-based, and some of it is the store’s own build or items built in collaboration with a builder in Italy who specializes in Western Electric rebuilds and reproductions. I’ve been there and witnessed numerous shoppers experience an audio revelation from hearing properly set up Audi Note gear. An even more profound shock awaits those who hear the Deja Vu-built custom horn speaker systems that utilize vintage drivers or reproductions of vintage drivers. This place must be experienced by anyone who can get to the DC area.
Here's a question in regards to markhh2's comment: If the Oto is the bomb (which I do not disagree with. I've heard the same comment from another source) for matching with K's, would Manley Mahi's be worthy of consideration? Both have the same power tubes (EL 84). Oto is 10W SET, Hahi is configurable to triode mode at 20W. So what's more important in considering amp/speaker matching? Type of power tube or configuration? Is there a concern regarding distortion at 20W? Any and all thoughts on this are welcome.
I have not heard a direct comparison between the two (although I’ve heard both), and either would make a fine choice. The Oto is a terrific sounding amp that works well with any reasonably efficient speakers. Of course it works well with the AN-K.
i would expect a lot of other tube amps would sound fine too. I am partial to 6L6 or KT 66 amps. I particularly like the Synthesis A40 (60 wpc KT 66 amp), which comes with a good built in DAC and remote control (a big plus to me).
several years ago I built an Audio Note L1 EL84 pp kit amp for a friend and was most impressed with the outcome. They now have a V2 listed with Mundorf silver/gold coupling caps for $1,100. This is a steal.
I can honestly say that this would likely demolish anything you are going to find at anything near the price point for driving the K’s (I own a pair of Snell K’s on which the AN’s were based). There is a level 4 version for $2,650, $2850-$3,100 with phono. But the base model sounds simply wonderful and will rock da house if need be. Into K’s it’s not second rate wrt SET’s (I build them) and gives very good account at low vols. It’s swings and roundabouts really.
If you can find a friend who is handy with a soldering iron I would say this is definitely the way to go for the lower price range. If you have a larger budget, then obviously I would advise you to broaden your search, but still not discount the L1.
Haven’t heard the Mahi’s so I can’t comment on them. The OTO is an integrated vs the Manley so you’d need a preamp. Music Reference makes a fine EL84 amp as well. Audio Note kits is another great option. I’ve heard the OTO AN K’s many times, wattage is not an issue. My OTO SE drove my E’s with no issues.
I don't think you would go wrong with the choice of an OTO. As to changing coupling caps, this is a matter of personal taste, so be prepared to switch back if the new caps are not to your taste. My local Audio Note dealer, who also builds his own tube amps and linestages, HATES anything Mundorf. I have not done any serious comparisons myself, but he has, and does not like them in either amps or speaker crossovers. He also hates Duelunds. This is a matter of taste and system tuning, so don't expect any particular change to necessarily be an upgrade, regardless of price and reputation.
Certainly upgraded Audio Note parts should be considered because their gear is voice for these components. This same dealer has Audio Note parts lying around that are probably worth a small fortune. Many years ago, I asked about some caps on a shelf and was informed that they were silver foil Audio Note caps that cost north of $1,000 each.
I've seen and heard the Backert gear at audio shows. It is hard to make a sonic evaluation of electronics at a show, but, I did like the very serious people designing and backing the product and I liked what I saw. You indeed should be looking at a power amp, and something from Audio Note is certainly a good place to look initially. While the K's are not in the extremely efficient category, they are fairly high in efficiency and are easy to drive and anything Audio Note offers should be in the running. I have not heard the Empress, but, I do own, and like very much, its sibling; I own Kageki monoblocs (parallel SET 2a3 amps). The Kageki's are slightly on the leaner sound side of the Audio Note family of amps, but they are among my favorites.
If you are talking about an AN Kit amp, I don't think they are affiliated with Audio Note (uk). They have put together similar gear based on Audio Note design and buy those parts that Audio Note offers to the market, but, that does not mean they are as good as the real deal. They may be a good bargain, but, that is not to say they are the same.
Still, I generally like good EL84-based amps because they are lively, and punchy without sounding hard and brittle. I prefer that tube over something like a KT88 or 6550, KT120 or KT150 or other more powerful tubes. Some EL 34 amps are decent, but, generally, I prefer 6L6 or KT 66 the most among pentode/tetrode tubes in common use. There are exotic types, like 350B and th3 349 that I like even more, but, those are extremely rare and expensive (I own a 349 pushpull amp that puts out a whopping 5.5 watts per channel).
Among low-powered triodes, my favorite is probably the 45, but, it is a very low-powered tube; that tube would be followed by the 2a3.
Not that much to go on, but the safer bet would probably be the EL84 amp. My 6.5 watt Kageki (parallel 2a3 SET) amp is enough, for me, with my 99 db/w speakers, but, I don't play my music that loud and on some music, the amp does seem to loose a bit of steam (doesn't really distort, but it stops getting louder). My speakers are considerably more efficient than the AN-K speaker. The issue is whether you prefer the sound of the 2a3 when playing the vast majority of music, and if so, how much would you be willing to give up on the capability to play very loudly. I prioritize good play at very low volume level myself, and the Kagekis deliver on that score. For the record, I currently run a pushpull 349 amp that I actually prefer to the Kagekis in my current system; both are good, the 349 amp is a bit richer sounding and is a touch more dynamic.
please don’t take this opinion as gospel. I would suggest that the dealer is out of line with about 95% of the rest of audiophilia and may be pushing an agenda.
Duelunds are widely regarded as the best caps out there (no affiliation).
just one opinion as to where Mundorfs and Duelunds lie in the food chain:
@scottya118 I don’t know your budget or how flexible you are with it...so this may or may not apply. Member @jazdoc was incredibly happy with an EL 34 build by Scott Sheaffer / Found Music. I believe Scott is currently working on a new / different EL 34 build. If you are open to a bespoke, custom build to your specs and application...I suggest reaching out to him.
I was exposed to Scott’s work when I acquired Mike Lavigne’s ( @mikelavigne ) 2A3 monoblock build. I was so impressed, I went for an all out 2A3 effort in 2021. It is stellar.
If a slight "tailoring" of your sound is all that is needed would a Schitt Lokius suffice at $299 with 15 day money back guarantee?
Seems like a possibility before making a large dollar gamble.
I personally love NOS Vitamin Q 196P’s and use them in my own builds. However, I would not like to see other caps which sound fine, even outstanding to the majority of consumers precluded from consideration on the opinion of one person, hence my proffering an alternative viewpoint for consideration.
Peter Qvortrup’s Audio Note amps are not voiced specifically for Audionote caps, as many were designed when Jensen were their supplier, and these capacitors sound markedly different to those of current Audionote manufacture. Some were even originally supplied with ERO polyester (yes polyester) caps. Good capacitors sound good in these amps. Period.
@scottya118 Although that speaker is an easy load for nearly any tube amplifier, I think you'll find that unless you are in a smaller room that its like a bit of power that a push pull amplifier provides, which will be very welcome- and less colored; more transparent. This is simply because at the power levels most SETs play, the distortion of a push pull amplifier will be dramatically lower, allowing you to hear into the rear of the sound stage with greater ease.
As mentioned above, Deja Vu Audio makes custom amps. These days, they focus on fairly expensive replica/rebuilds of Western Electric amps. They do get trade-ins of vintage tube amps as well as some of their older, and more affordable, past models. Most of those older amps are pushpull triode amps, though some are tetrode/pentode amps. As a Audio Note dealer, I am sure they can make good recommendations on suitable amps for the AN-K speakers.
There is an interesting builder named Tube Audio Labs that makes some very nice looking amps. I have not heard any of their builds, so I am going on the pictures and the kinds of amps they choose to clone--Korneff, Western Electric, etc. In other words, the builder copies good stuff.
They are affiliated with and have the full blessing of AN UK. The design is by Andy Grove, the PT & OPT’s are sourced from AN UK. The parts quality is excellent and it is in no way a second rate product. You even get a NOS Telefunken driver/splitter. The level 4 transformers are top quality AN C-Core.
What Atmasphere is saying that you might want the bit of extra power that pushpull delivers rather than the flea power of the common SET tubes. What he has been very diplomatic about not mentioning is that he manufactures output transformerless (OTL) amps. Atmasphere's OTL amps are also worth considering. OTL amps are very lively, immediate and engaging. Good ones deliver clarity and dynamics without being harsh or overly "brittle" sounding.
Many OTL amps were not particularly stable and were prone to going bad, which in some cases, meant damage to the speakers. But, this is NOT the reputation of Atmasphere amps. They are quite reliable.
As with any amp, the basic tonal balance is a matter of taste, and to me, the Atmasphere amps are a touch on the lean side. That might not be a problem with the AN-K, because, if anything, they tend toward being slightly too warm and rich in the upper bass. In any case, if you have a chance, you should audition an OTL. The liveliness of this kind of amp can be quite addictive. I've heard one of their bigger amps with Audio Note speakers (I can't recall the model) and the combination sounded very good to my ears. The only other caveat is that on several occasions, I've heard a bit of noise coming from speakers hooked up to Atmasphere amps, but in all these cases, the speakers being used were quite a bit more efficient than the AN-K model so they were more sensitive to noise issues.
Definitely! In a room like that I'd want 50-60 watts. Also you might consider a subwoofer system to break up standing waves in the room below 80Hz. To do this the subs have to be asymmetrically placed in the room so the standing waves are properly broken up- that's not something you can treat with bass traps or DSP room correction, although once the subs are in place and doing their job, those things can be helpful.
If you've had high efficiency speakers you know how careful you have to be about setup to avoid noise! We have a number of customers using AvantGarde and other horns with no worries. For speakers like that we offer a gain reduction plug that replaces a tube in the voltage amplifier. thus reducing the gain of the amp and pesky noises that can manifest upstream from the amplifier.
I just got off the phone with Vu. Whoever recommended that thank you. A most informative conversation. Keep in mind this thread started with me looking for better punch in the midrange. What I failed to mention was that I've been running this rig with a REL T-7. Vu's first comment was that my sub was sucking out my midrange. This was a revelation to me. He then concurred that tubes were the only way to go for the K's. He however, is squarely in the SET camp and suggested Quests given my price range and need for a dedicated power amp. -Scott
Scott glad to hear you got to talk to Vu I find he's typically spot on and can diagnose problems over the phone really well as you learned. You're in good hands for sure I wish I had discovered his shop a lot earlier in my own audio journey.
@pesky_wabbit ANK is in fact no longer affiliated with AN UK that's in fact why they changed the name to ANK as they cannot use the Audio Note name any longer.
I am quite aware of the the rather unfortunate circumstances surrounding Kondo’s loss of the Audio Note naming rights to Peter Qvortrup, who is a rather unscrupulous character who reminds me of someone else who often hangs around here. He was into shipping insurance of all things before he got into the audio game.
There was some very interesting and heated debate on the Audio Asylum after their separation in which Peter tried to defend his actions, but he didn‘t come off looking too good. Google ’liars thieves and magpies’ if you want a good read. Don‘t know if HE‘s managed to get any posts or threads deleted, but it‘s definitely worth a look.