What sounds more musical than audionote equipment

My entire system is now from audionote. For the first time I do not need to worry about the technical aspects of hifi listening. But what other equipment out there can beat or match this musicality. An often misused term, by musicality I basically mean the ability to understand how the musicians interact with one another to create a whole piece. Intimately related with this and all go hand in hand is the rhythm, timing and pace must beon par in order to recreate the piece the musicians wanted. It is only then that you can get the full emotional impact of a piece of music,that feeling that makes your feet tap and your mind entranced. JUST AS THE MUSICICANS INTENDED. The musicians did not set out to provide a hifi spectacular they are driven by emotion and no matter what piece you listen to you should be able to pick this up to a greater or lesser extent.
audio note makes some fine gear...i own some too....any brand that can get an audophile off the 'equipment' merry-go-round is a good thing. i will add, however, that most of what they do is derivitve of brands that came before, and that musicians (for the most part) are driven by money (and there nothing wrong with that).
Don't know how it compares to your Audio note system, but Jadis and Lamm equipment have the musicality you describe.
Live Music! I'm a fan of Audio Note and Kondo gear.
Thanks Jaybo, yes you are to a certain extent right about the musicians, but when a quality group of players get together the quality of the musicianship is even more apparent on the right system.

As for Jadis, yes they do the musicality thing as good as audio note, totally agreed. I have owned jadis monoblock amplifiers. My only gripe is a little bit of top end truncation, midbass bloom and a slight bloatedness to the midbass compared to the audio note amplifiers. This does not take away from the musicality but does just take away a little of the exciting presence that the audio notes seem to manage.
I don't know about more musical than AN but conrad-johnson has it too!*>)

AN is exactly as you describe, musical to the max. However, unless you're listening to chamber music or lighter fare, it does not have the dynamic weight and slam of live music. More watts are required for that. Be my guest...flame away.
spectral, mac, cj, arc, naim, levinson, audio note......all are different, but all have the synergy or musicality thing. All have a history of extreme loyalty.
Naim can give that emotion as well.
Naim can give that emotion as well.
Comparing the two is apples & oranges. I like Naim gear a lot, but IMO it does not come close to conveying the realism and emotion that AN does.
To each his own. Everyone hears differently and enjoys music in their own way.
The question was not can you compare AN to another brand, but what other brand "can beat or match this musicality".

Hi evita. Please remember that high sensitivity speakers do not need more than a handful of valve watts to get very loud indeed. Also we are not trying to recreate the actual db of a live performance but a representation of its liveness within the confines of our relatively very small living rooms.
Some of the best sound I have heard was a complete AN system except the speakers which were Zingali. Very impressive for me as I have never cared for horn speakers until I heard the Zingali speakers. Paired with the AN front end it was very musical and detailed and could slam if you wanted it to.
We happen to have 104dB speakers, Audiojoy4. They get incredibly loud with 2 or 3 watts. But it takes FAR more power to carry the dynamic heft and slam of live music. I'm not saying you can't ENJOY the music with 3 watts. Even the 1W Berning MicroZOTL drove our speakers beautifully. But the lifelike impact--as in manipulation of air, not simply the conveyance of tone--of a six-piece jazz band, or an orchestra, simply doesn't play out fully until you gain greater control over the drivers. If you're hearing a knock on Audio Note, it ain't comin' from me. Everything is a compromise, that's all I'm saying.
Overall, I definitely prefer great tubes to great transistors. I am familiar with many different brands, but not familiar with AN. I am currently running the Dartzeel amp and pre-amp combo. I have owned some state of the art stuff like Tenor, but the Dart is downright Scary because its sounds soooooooo real. I have heard nothing like this combo in the way it brings music to life right before your very eyes. To top it off, these are transistor units which really combines the best of both worlds and then some.
after reading the posts on this question, it just confirms to me that some just do not get it- musicality that is. I do not believe we hear different. I just believe we process the information different. for example, Mac gear is push/pull and there is no chance it is as musical as an. The same goes for levinson/naim even ayre. these brands are great value and sound great. they just are no way even close to the top musically. yes, they are musical to a point. I cannot state this more stongly because I know for a fact the an/lamm ect. lovers know exactly what I am saying and the others will say I'm an idiot. I believe that products either reach the highest musical levels or they do not. once there though, there are still differences between components that one will prefer over the others. Just because krell is way better for rap,rock,or dance, doesn't make it a musical amp now does is. Your answer to this question will put you on one side of this fence or the other.
I will choose to be on the side of the fence with anyone who is not dogmatic on the topic of a hobby, regardless of the topic.
Hi evita thanks for your reply. No i did appreciate that you liked AN gear.
It's good to hear that you are enjoying your Audionote system. I, too, like their house sound. It does make some sense sticking to one brand, at least for the electronics, because the components are voiced together and are electrically compatible. I have personally found that interactions between components of different brands are completely unpredictable, so very careful trial and error is necessary. It is easier, if not always better in result, to stick with one brand.

I like the sound of Audionote speakers, though they are not my absolute favorites. But, I am particularly fond of their electronics. I have a pair of Kageki (2a3 in parallel SET configuration) amps that are just plain fantastic. I also really like the sound of the DAC-5 signature digital-to-analogue converter, but it is out of my reach. Hey, a lot of their stuff is out of reach (M-10 linestage, M-8 phono stage. . .).
This is all in the ear of the listener.
Processing the information (or sound) differently IS hearing differently. If you don't get that, then you are the one who does not get it.
Get It?
The showcase line at our local dealer is Audio Note. I've heard it numerous times, both there as well as at the homes of friends. My understanding is that Peter Qvortrup--the president of AN--has the largest private LP collection in the world. Whether that's true or not, his love for music definitely comes through in the sonics of his gear.

Away from the subject of musicality, I like the AN approach to upgrades. Starting just above the basic model of any particular component, their DACs, monoblocks, preamps & speakers can be taken through as many as 7 levels of upgrades using the same chassis. Excellent business model, in my opinion.

My only question is how does a company that sells an IC at $2800/meter not put any credence into the variability of power cords? Oh well, fair enough to let the customer decide.
evita makes a good point. of all the AN amps out there, my favorites were always the oto se and the e40 that they made with rogers uk. for the money spent, with superb phono sections, you can't beat these for world class reproduction of all genres of music with a pretty wide selection of loudspeakers.
i have been in the music industry for 30 years and this hobby for more than that and (i love my audio note components), but components good, bad, or ugly...are just that. like i said in my first post, there are lots of brands which trigger a euphoric, emotional response and longterm loyalty from consumers. unlike flavor-of-the-month brands they tend to favor style over fashion, and most design product that benefits from the synergy of an entire system. to dismiss mac, and other seminal lines as 'not being as musical' just tells me you've got alot the learn about hi fi. 'getting off' on music, live or recorded happens everyday for folks all over the world with or without an AN system or any other hi end product. No one purhases 'the soul' of great music, they only purchase components that give give them a worthwhile way to spend precious free time listening. If you are under 30, get ready to spend lots more over your lifetime. until you figure out that this hobby is equal parts listening to music-pride of ownership-and just plain collecting, you are never going to have any fun. Until you have at least one room in your house where you fall over lps, cd's 45's etc stacked to the ceiling, you are an absolute begineer.

From one 30 year plus hobbyist to another, that was very well said and perhaps sums up best just what draws us all here.

Jaybo, you are right up to a point. I will probably now come across as arrogant with this post but it is the only way to make my point.

There is absolutely no doubt that very few components give the musicality i have described in my opening statement. I have been a hifi buying fan for over 25 years and have purchased very high end products over this period of time. Indeed it has taken this amount of time for me to actually realize that musicality was what I had been looking for all this time and why i was constantly changing my components with dissatisfaction. The idea of musicality was almost like the secret truth that no one talked about. More often than not it was the technical issues of the hifi sound that me and my friends were interested in. we all new that Naim in the uk made a big deal about musicality but still never took this on board. If it has took me this look to finally fully appreciate what it is that allows pure emotioinal pleasure to be conjured up due to the music itself then i would imagine that most of the hifi community who have less years under their belts than me have also not reached that stage of appreciation. Yes there will be those who will stubbonly hold onto the same manufacturer, or those that are just plainly interested in the technical aspects of the sound rather than the music itself, each to his own, but I am certain the majority are probably on the same long road that i took.

Please feel free to openly criticise these statements, I have got msany years of experience and evidence behind me so it will be near impossible to shake this belief off of me.
you are spot on in my opinion with the comments you have made.
At the risk of sounding like Bill Clinton, I think you have to define what 'musicality' means to you- while you may think it is obvious and intuitive, take these examples- my Crosby Quad/ARC tube system with a vinyl source yielded consistently lovely sonics, unstrained and liquid sounding, but not lifelike. My Avantgarde Duo/Audiopax tube stuff is far more 'alive' sounding, but does not always sound
'smooth' or honeyed. Both are, however, musical in their own ways. I recently heard some Viva electronics playing through the JBL K2 and it was, at first blush, quite impressive, though without any real familiarity with the system or its components, I could not say more.
Yes there will be those who will stubbonly hold onto the same manufacturer, or those that are just plainly interested in the technical aspects of the sound rather than the music itself, each to his own, but I am certain the majority are probably on the same long road that i took.
Glad you found what you like, but can't you hear the stubborness in your convictions? You're making everyone who is not on your path WRONG. This simply isn't so.
michaela...you have one(or two or more) serious stereos.....i suspect you have that 'room i was talking about too.
Whart, please read the introductory question where i believe i have tried to clarify what it is i mean by musicality. I guess unless you fully appreciate where i am coming from it may not still make sense to some people.It is not easy, neither is it rocket science yet it took me lomg enough and I am embarrassed to say this.

A lot of the descriptive terms you are using to desribe the sound of the components only help clarify certain aspects of the technical performance of the units, they do not desribe anything about its musicality as defined by myself.

Luke- I appreciate that you defined what you meant, but there are two difficulties, at least: first, trying to describe in words how a particular phenomenon, such as a musical performance affects you, if at all (some of which is pretty subjective, don't you agree?) and second, whether the equipment, in combination, actually brings you more of that experience- and this is where I say there are many ways to convey the emotional impact of music through electronics and associated hardware- the Quads present an image that is not distorted by box-like colorations, but it is in miniature, and not dynamic or full range enough; the Avantgarde system has the dynamics and the range (most of it, anyway) and creates a sense of immediacy but is not as pleasing in some ways. Both systems do, however, convey what you are describing in different ways- these days I'm favoring the characteristics of the horn system over the electrostatic one, but I don't know if that makes one more 'musical' than the other by your terms.
Hi Whart,

This may again sound arrogant, but it is the truth. What i have described is a simple phenomena but one that appears to be hard to acquire. I do believe that you have not grasped the basics of what my definition is describing. Yes emotion is a very subjective phenomena, but the idea of musicality can be appreciated in a more objective manner. it does not necessarily mean you will enjoy or be enraptured by every piece you listen to, it only describes the ability of a hifi system to accurately convey the messages of the musical piece as it was seen by the musicians. VERY VERY FEW pieces of hifi have ever managed this in all my years of experience.

By appreciating the rhythm timing and foot tapping energy exuded by a system this is an easy identification of a musical sounding system. But more often than not it is not as clear cut as this. The musicality aspect (to the untrained ear) can be so subtle as can only be appreciated when two set ups are listened to side by side. For example in the more musical sounding system you might suddenly appreciate why the drums were so crucial to come in at a certain point in a musical passage to help convey a particular mood, which you might never have ever picked up from the other system. In the weaker system, yes you will hear the drums come in at the same time, but its rhytm, beat timing, tonal colourations etc may be such as to not actually be coordinated with a piece as a whole and hence not provide the full impact of the creativity of the musicians.

Are we on the same wavelength?


I am not sure if we
I am with you Luke, but part of what you are describing, at least to me, is a great musical performance in and of itself. In other words, a fabulously 'musical' system in your terms will not convert an otherwise uninspired performance into something that will set your toes to wiggling- on the other hand, the emotional impact of a well turned musical phrase, or spot-on drum beat, can move me even over a sucky system. Yet, I acknowledge that some systems get you closer to this than others. Just not sure it can be used as a bright line test to separate the great from the not so great in hi-fi. For example, my horn system makes even not so great recordings much more involving- yep, I can hear into the performance in a way that puts me in touch with what's happening on the stage. Does that make my horn system, overall, more 'musical' than the Quad-based system? The Quad system is far more 'coherent,' ie of a piece, but it is not lively sounding and mediocre records sound, well, mediocre. Is the Quad system truer to life or less musical for this reason?
I'm not claiming that what you realize doesn't exist, or isn't important- just not sure its a useful way to discriminate among components. (Not that I have a better way). And, the virtue of your approach is that your focus is on the music, rather than on the analytical aspects of its reproduction. Best.
Whart, If I may take the liberty of trying to get Audiojoy4's point across of AN versus the others, at the risk of sounding like Bill Clinton, "Close, but no cigar."
Hi Whart,
the only answer I can give you is that if the audio note equipment sounds very muscial due to accurate technical replication of the music then it must also follow that it must have also got right all the other technical aspects.By this I mean dynamics, sound staging etc etc which provide that exciting grab out and touch feeling.

I have no affiliation with the audio note dealers or companies I am just trying to divulge my experiences that have so much enhanced my enjoyment and understanding of hifi.

As evidence for the above statement here is a list of my last two systems which I found not on par with my present system both musically as well as with the 'presence startle factor'.

Avantgarde duo, hovland hp100,clearaudio reference,graham arm,sme 20, canary ca339 monoblocks,RM music 200, jadis ja 80, bent audio transformer preamplifier, audio physic avanti,etc etc Might I add that the jadis was the closest musically.
This may again sound arrogant, but it is the truth.

it only describes the ability of a hifi system to accurately convey the messages of the musical piece as it was seen by the musicians. VERY VERY FEW pieces of hifi have ever managed this in all my years of experience.
It is not possible, nor will it ever be, to combine a piece of pressed plastic, the mixing and mastering process, an arbitrary configuration of components & cables, the passage of time, the evolution of your perspective, etc. etc. etc. and replicate the initial recording process. Most recordings are made one track at a time, so at the outset any implication that the audio system in your home is mirroring the source is farcical. Does watching the opening (often-called "realistic") scene from "Saving Private Ryan" in your home make you somehow, magically present to the landing at Normandy? Please!

The source and its amalgamations are not even close to being equivalent entities. And your truths are just that: YOUR truths. Sorry, but as great as Audio Note equipment is--and I happen to be a big fan of AN--all of the other brands are not going to disappear once everyone discovers the delusional paths upon which they've been traveling. Nor do the myriad of other brands exist as false prophets obscuring the ultimate path of truth. That's just plain silly.

When you finally descend from the mountain, enjoy the music.
Luke- I didn't take your observations as ones soley attributable to AN equipment and didn't read your question as an equipment 'challenge' by brand- rather, I thought you were making a more general statement about what separates the 'best' reproduced music from the rest. Nor was I suggesting that any particular brand, or combination of brands, would achieve audio nirvana. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that if you asked alot of musicians what they 'intended' by a performance, they would look at you with a furrowed brow. (I'm not talking the intellectual stuff of music, but instead the soul of it, as you are- ever hang out with musicians? :)) Meantime, Trelja, I'm not sure what I
"missed," unless it was your joke- I wasn't playing one-up-manship on equipment or anything else. Just trying to understand what Luke's litmus 'test' for an absolute really means in practice.
Whart, it WAS a joke. Seems as if the reference went by you.
Trelja- As in sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but...

Very true, Whart!
To resurrect this thread, somebody design me an audio note system for a budget of $18,000 exluding cables and interconnects. I thought audio note had the one of the most, if not the most, musical rooms at CES.
i think that if you are dedicated to this hobby your own system sounds the best overall. Of course there are better, but when you break in that NOS pre-amp tubes, or for the first time put down a heavy carpet in front of your system along with wall treatments, you begin to hear your system for the first time. I just set up my Equarack and everything went dead silent in the backround. I think we know what Audiojoy4 means.

Well i travel to asia sometimes to collect and make contacts to import new hifi bits and pieces. I've heard a good few systems and yes i believe AN is excellent.

I think many of owners of the best systems i've heard have totally left the particular elements of thought about cost/resale value/hide taxable income, brand or looks. By cost i didnt mean they were expensive either!

Audiojoy didnt you have a Space Tech Labs preamp before the AN M7 pre? What about Albert's more sophisticated designs?

What speakers do you currently use? Maybe its more a case of what speakers could make the system more musical?

I currently use Merlin VSM-MM's and hopefully (when it arrives) a Berning ZH-270. Although i've had excellent musicality, clarity etc etc before i can't wait to here the Berning/Merlin match with a top handmade preamp on top...its taken 5 years of faffing to get to this.

I dont think many could answer your question to be honest...maybe its a question of asking the manufacturers themselves.