Why do the Audio Note preamps sound so much better

I took Joe over at JC Audio up on the offer of a shoot out. Actually it was the second time. About nine months ago I went over and had a shoot out between my EVS Nude Attenuators and the Kora triode preamp. I have to give Joe credit he agreed if you could live with the inconvenience and lack of flexibility that the EVS attenuators sounded as good.

But I made a bad mistake today. I went over and did the same shoot out with the Audio Note M5. I should have never done this. The M5 made the attenuators sound dry and lifeless. The M5 sounded prettier with much more top in extension without ever sounding bright. It was more transparent and fuller bodied at the same time. And the layering and the soundstageing was just beautiful. This is disturbing to me for I have been a big proponent of passive, especially the attenuators since you even eliminate a set of interconnects and a power cord. Why does this line stage sound so much better.
Dear Bilbondo,


Quite simple, in the M5 (and all our other transformer coupled pre-amplifiers, the M3, M6 and M8), there are no impedance mismatches, there is more than sufficient gain to maintain the dynamic envelope of the signal intact combined with a natural (meaning not created artificially by feedback or other trickery!) drive impedance so low as to render the load (the power amplifier input) irrelevant.

The disadvantage is cost, you heard for yourself the sonic advantage.

Peter Qvortrup
Some will call it tube colorations; it's the classic music vs. accuracy debate. FWIW, I have always preferred components which deliver a realistic reproduction of what I think the recorded performance/musical event sounded like rather than what the master tape sounds like; after all, if you listen to performances from Row J in the orchestra section of a concert hall it'll sound quite different than what you'd hear if you sat where most microphones are placed. I think my Jadis preamp falls in that category, and perhaps the Audio Note does as well.
Rcprince hit the nail on the head. As usual.

I am a huge fan of Audio Note. No, it is not cheap. But, like Jadis, I believe it offers REAL value. That is because it is one of the few marques that can be considered a last purchase. The purchase is made, the component is inserted, and it is simply enjoyed. Hour upon hour, year after year. They are not for audiophiles so much as music lovers. They are not meant to impress in terms of calling attention to themselves. They are components who want music to sound like music; real, natural, organic.

To my love for the components of Audio Note and Jadis, I have also found the same thing true of my Blue Circle preamp. Just as Peter described of the AN, I have found in the BC preamp. I doubt I will ever sell my Jadis or Blue Circle components, they are lifetime companions. And, one day, I will also own an Audio Note pre or power amp.
I would like to thank those members who took the time to take me up on a shootout between passive devices and transformer coupled pre-amps. Thanks again
I will concede from the outset that I have a bias, forgive the play on words, for I am an AN owner. The point I wish to make is regarding my experience with two passive preamps: the EVS attenuators and the Placette passive preamp. IMHO, I found them both to be anemic, profoundly anemic, as compared to my Audio Note M-5. The differences were not subtle! Good Listening, Jim.