Review: Audio Note E/L Speaker
These speakers have just come into and disrupted my life after 30 years of being an audiophile. I purchased a used pair of Quad 57s when I was 18 years old. So I have known good sound for many years. As wonderful as the quads were I was never satisfied. I stacked the Quads, I added Decca ribbons and I added Janus subs. Then I caught the audiophile disease.
I have owned American speakers, Britts, and even on pair each of Italian, and Canadian. I’ve had huge speakers and mini monitors. I learned about placing speakers way in the room and fell in love with soundstaging and imaging. I love speakers that had a reach out there and touch it feeling. Over the years anywhere I lived dealers and audiophiles have respected my opinions and ask for them. I am also a music lover and hear live music more than once a week. I love Jazz in small clubs and I love symphony orchestras and most years I have season tickets for the symphony. I also listen to rock from the 60s and 70s but not live of course.
I say all this to let you know while I am an audiophile of the worse sorts I do have trouble with the vocabulary after all these years. I had rather say the highs are beautiful or pretty then some audiophile term. Well enough of the qualifications let me tell you in my inadequate words about these wonderful speakers.
The Es are the largest of the Audio Note's speakers. The "L" level was the second from the bottom of the line, but have now been replaced with some other letter in the 3K range. If you don’t know the Es come in the different levels of cabinet, driver, crossover component and internal wiring choices for each size of speaker they make and range in price from around 2K to 20K. If you want more info, visit audionote.co.uk.
I’m very familiar with only two of these speakers the Ls that I own that cost about 3K and the top of line Es that cost 20K. I now have hundreds of hours listening to both and let me tell you they both rock my world. If your value system and pocket book let you then get the 20K ones they are better, but let me tell you it is laughable how close you can get for 3K.
How do they sound? More like live music than any speaker I have ever heard. If positioned correctly and mounted right they load a room better than a Rel subwoofer. After breaking in and with my Kern modified Sony 777 SACD or with one of Audio Notes new transformer coupled dacs or with records they sound more like my Quad 57s than any other speaker I have ever owned at any price. They have the clearest, quickest, and most beautiful midrange I have ever heard. Vocals and instruments are just there with all there dynamics and with unbelievable tonal accurateness. The bass is quick and dynamic and so deep it will blow your mind from such mundane looking speakers. The top end is just beautiful like real music is. Most important these speakers let you emotionally into the pace and rhythm of the music. They are one of the few speakers that are dynamic enough for orchestral or big band music and refined enough for a small jazz quartet or a string trio.
What I am telling you is that these two ways give me what I was looking for 30 years ago when I started putting ribbons and subs on the Quads. They give me a seamless full range sound as dynamic a the Klispch I owned and as delicate as the Quads.
A couple of important notes. I have spent a lot of time with placement on these speakers. They sound great out in the room, but to get the full glory from them they need to be in the corners. If you like me have been listening to speakers several feet out into the room at first this is a hard change but it’s psychological. The truth is the music is in the same place in my room the speakers just moved. Now I can’t imagine why anyone would want speakers sticking out there like that when it’s not necessary for a lifelike soundstage. Second these speakers have huge scale and if you have been listening to mini monitors this may take some getting use to. If you have been listening to large panels or horns then you are already use to this and know it is more lifelike then the small precise pinpoint imaging that I use to love so much before I was set free to let the music with all it’s emotions come into my home almost like it does in person.
Unision Researh S-8 Intergrated SET
Kern Modified Sony 777es SACD player
named in review