Review: Audio Note M5 line Tube preamp

Category: Preamps

I can’t believe what a huge improvement putting the Audio Note M5 preamp into my system made. To be honest I have been a stubborn defendant of the “No preamp is the best preamp” and have tried fine preamps from Kora, Audio Research, Joule-Elecrtra and others and always went back to no preamp. I don’t know if it’s because of the M5 being transformer coupled or what but this has been a glorious revelation. Here’s how it sounds at my house.
First and most noticeable difference is scale. Vocalist and instruments seem to take on a near lifelike size. The M5 gives you instruments in a full range of tonality. Vocal music has a rich tonality and at the same time a almost effortless quickness that just pulls me into the music.
Then there is the detail. I heard things on Ricky Lee Jones, “Pop, Pop” and on Belefonte’s Carnage Hall that I have never heard. And all this detail without a trace of analytical or sterility. This is a preamp that lets all the details of live music and all the bold colors of live music come through at the same time.

And I have never had such dynamics in a home system and that includes micro dynamics. The transients are quick without sounding electronic or digital. This let me here instrument and vocal overtones, ambience, and spatial qualities I have never heard before.

All of this results in a wide and deep stage but more important a layered stage where you feel like you can reach out and touch instruments that are right behind or in front of each other.

The M5 moved my system to being more tonally correct both with simple and complex music, more vivid and much more musically involving.

Product Weakness: none other than cost
Product Strengths: Musicaly involving, scale, and tonality


Associated gear
Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Kora Reference Mono Blocks
Preamplifier: Ultimate Nude attenuators
Sources: Sony SCD 777es
Speakers: Gershman Avant Gard
Cables/Interconnects: Valhalla
Music Used: Jazz,vocals and Classical
Room Size (LxWxH): 19 x 24 x 8.5
Time Period/Length of Audition: 3 days after break in
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): ensemble and shunyata
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner


Similar products
Kora Eclispe, Joule Electra, Audio Research,
Nice review. Nice system. I would have listed the relative prices for the preamps though... The M5 is a bit more than I think the other preamps you compared it to.

repost this again?

The link for the review you did yesterday is:
I reposted it because it did not show up as a review because I didn't know what I was doing I guess. Sorry.