Audio Note

Audio Note

We are an Audio Note UK Authorized Dealer. Audio Note does not allow pricing to be posted on websites. The product line is vast. Please visit the Audio Note website for details, specifications, photos and reviews. The AN UK website link is below as well as a lengthy article explaining the product levels in detail by the founder of AN.

Please contact us with the product of interest. We will be happy assist with any questions, additional information and pricing. 

Demonstrations available by appointment as well.

Thank you.


Audio Note Performance Level System


Audio Note’s product range is built around a series of ideological and technological performance platforms from which we have developed a wide and comprehensive product range catering for as many price points and as wide a performance spectrum as possible. With the end goal intended to allow our customers and dealers to select and build systems of superior sound quality and longer lasting value.

The level platforms are created to demonstrate that increases in price are consummate with suitable improvements in sound quality. What the improvements also show is that there exists a clear and demonstrable technological league table. Whilst it may not at the present time be possible within existing measurement technology to conclusively prove that these have obvious and repeatable sonic advantages over any of the currently favoured and comparable technologies, most of which were chosen for cost or convenience advantage rather than sound quality.

Such are the commercial pressures favouring cost that many technical tests and measurements are now specifically designed to provide “proof” that reductions in cost does not affect “quality”, an interesting two-dimensional concept. This type of front loaded marketing started interfering with sound audio engineering principles as early as 1965, but also a sad fact of life in a world where cost rules supremely in favour of quality.

All Audio NoteTM products are graded according into a system of seven levels, each of which primarily places a product according to its sonic performance, this is meant to serve as a guideline for our customers (and competitors?!) in three respects:

1.) To help in choosing the right Audio NoteTM components to build and/or upgrade an Audio Note system.

2.) To act as a technological league table and guide to the best sounding technical and acoustic principles.

3.) To act as a guide to better sounding components and materials.

Rather than try design out the deficiencies in the software, we try to retain as much of the information as possible, good or bad, it is not for the equipment manufacturer to change the sound of the software, if the software sounds bad, write an insulting letter to the recording and balancing engineers, not to us!!

More than anything each Audio NoteTM Product Level is primarily an indicator of the quality of sound our customers can expect from the Audio NoteTM equipment they are looking at. The aim is to aid you in your search for the highest level of sound quality for your money, the first rule of which is not to buy something that you later regret, sell and lose money on, the most depressing and discouraging aspectof investing in your music’s reproduction.

Formulating the Levels

The assessment of quality is based on listening criteria applied to each component according to the “comparison by contrast” method, a philosophical, but also very practical methodology wholly developed and refined by myself, as described in the “Are Your on the Road to Audio Hell?” essay. Developed over the 20 years or so, since I first noticed that the better my equipment got (I was an audio retailer then) the more “different” each of my records sounded. Over the years my record collection has grown rapidly together with the understanding of how this evaluation system can be applied to grading the sound quality of different audio equipment. As my understanding of how the many and varied techniques, technologies, parts and materials affect sound quality has improved, it has allowed me to

create a “league table” of sophistication and refinement which relates to the way a well executed version of a given technology sounds.

Take amplifiers for example, here the table is easy:
Level Minus Two: Class B push-pull transistor amplifiers, no Audio Note amplifiers in this Level

Level Minus One: Class A push-pull transistor amplifiers, currently no Audio Note amplifiers in the Level

Level Zero: Class AB push-pull pentode or tetrode amplifiers Level One: Class A push-pull pentode or tetrode amplifiers

Level Two: Class A single-ended pentode or tetrode amplifiers & Class A push-pull directly heated no- feedback triode amplifiers

Level Three: Class A single-ended directly heated no feedback triode amplifiers

Level Four: Class A single-ended directly heated no feedback triode amplifiers, with high quality parts and materials such as hard wired circuits using silver wire, copper or silver foil signal capacitors, choke coupled power supplies with valve rectifiers for the HT, with a mixture (relative to overall cost) of Cerafine or Black Gate electrolytic capacitors, non-magnetic resistors made from tantalum film and output transformers with C-cores (instead of IE cores traditionally used due to cost) with very high nickel content.

Level Five: Class A single-ended directly heated no feedback triode amplifiers, with only the very best parts and materials available, fully silver wired high content nickel iron C-core output transformers, Black Gate capacitors throughout where available, silver foil signal capacitors, and both circuit and power supply hard wired with silver wire.

Level Six: As Level Five, single-ended directly heated no feedback triode amplifiers, but all-out versions with no expense spared on parts, silver wire even in the mains lead, mains transformer, chokes, likewise highest grade C-cores in mains transformers, valve rectification and regulation, no signal coupling capacitors but silver wired C-core inter-stage transformers between each gain stage, super thin lamination Super Radiometal 48 C-cored driver and output transformers.

Level Six amplification is used to drive the Audio NoteTM silver wired record cutting system helping produce the finest analogue software ever produced and thus helping to move LP quality firmly back in the driving seat of sonic quality for years to come.

Explaining the Amplifier Levels

The above Level ratings are statements of fact not fiction or conjecture, all transistor amplifiers sound poor for the simple reason that transistors are inferior amplifying devices. The word “semiconductor” really means what it says and it says it all, “half”-conductor, sonically this could be translated to mean half the signal! Which is really what it sounds like. Pure and simple, transistors are highly un-linear and need a lot of correction (feedback of some sort) to have a bandwidth wide enough to be able to reproduce any music signals, they are not natural voltage amplifiers. Likewise both the pentode or tetrode requires corrective feedback to lower the load sensitivity and improve bandwidth, they are less un-linear than transistors being high impedance devices that require matching from an output transformer. Thus they sound better when used well, especially when used single-ended or in pseudo triode mode by connecting the grids together. Pentodes and tetrodes are more efficient (give higher static power) and much cheaper than triodes, this price advantage is paid for in poorer linearity and therefore overall open loop power bandwidth and load stability, nature always gives with one hand and takes with the other!

Directly heated triodes on the other hand are highly linear amplifying devices, the directly heated triode is the original voltage amplifier, the first, only and still the best, it responds well to better circuits, components and materials, but they are less efficient and more expensive than pentodes and tetrodes. Thus they require efficient speakers, with power output being at a premium price.

Despite the use of directly heated triodes in the top three Audio NoteTM Levels of performance, the improvements in purely sonic performance as well as the cost increases between Levels Three, Four and Five are considerable and need to be heard to be fully understood and appreciated. Different, but equally appropriate criteria to the above shown for amplification, can be established for each Level of the other parts of the system, speakers, CD-players, d/a converters, turntables, tone arms, cartridges, MC transformers and cables.

It is, however, vitally important to remember that the main benefit of grading our products this way is that whatever your budget, it will be possible for you to maximise the quality of sound you get for your money. Exactly because each Level offers a guaranteed and maximised price – quality relationship, with a clearly defined upgrade path it ensures that you have an easy and comprehensive guide tobuilding your Audio NoteTM system with built-in upgrade ability, predictability, reliability and longevity. This is why we think that it is important to always do our homework properly, so each model stays in the program for several years, supporting resale value and ultimate enjoyment.

No other audio manufacturer has a technical know how or musical aesthetic that allows them to offer this, in our opinion vital grading system, we respect your music, ears, money and custom enough to see this as an intelligent way of communicating our product’s integrity and musical sincerity to you.

Choosing an Audio NoteTM System

It is not necessarily mandatory to compose your system from one level only. Whilst this always guarantees a very high value to price – performance ratio, you may choose to mix components from different levels. Perhaps in order to provide a better – cheaper upgrade path or because you prefer the balance a mixed Level system provides.

If so then the rule of thumb is that any given system should be based around the Level of the amplifier and should generally not contain products which are more than one Level above and two Levels below the amplifier used. For example, a system may comprise of an OTO Phono SE (Level 2, meaning single- ended pentode, pure Class A), such a system could comprise of:

Level Three turntable
Level Two tone arm
Level Three cartridge
Level One MC-transformer AN-S1L

Level Three interconnects Level Entry CD-player Level One DAC
Level Two amplifier

Level Two speaker cable Level Two speakers


AN-V10 CDT Zero DAC One.1x

OTO Phono SE
AN-Spa silver speaker cable


AN-TT Three ARM Two

As an exception, Audio NoteTM cables are very flexible (both physically and in terms of system tolerance) and will improve even the most modest Audio NoteTM system, regardless of the level designation of the cable.

The above system would represent a very good overall balance, as well as provide a highly suitable springboard from which to upgrade to, for example a Level Three MEISHU Phono or a pair of Level Three AN-E/SPx speakers. Both of which would contribute a substantial improvement in, not only contrast, but also low level dynamics, clarity, realism and overall refinement to the above system.

It is All About Refinement

Refinement is the central theme to every product at every level in the Audio Note product range, we do not believe in applying bigger, louder or more complex solutions to our products, but seek to establish greater value through better sound.

Through countless experiments, we have found that more power. bigger and louder, does not make products sound better or more satisfying. Instead, we look for solutions in technology, technique, parts, materials and amplifying devices that can be shown to provide better low level behaviour, as we believe that this is the most important aspects. It is after all a fact that all signals start from silence and it is at the “entry” point immediately after silence that the sound of a piece of equipment is born, so to speak.

It may therefore seem strange, however, that no audio measurements have been developed that take this into consideration, but it is obviously not high on the list of priorities of other manufacturer’s to understand these issues.

In stark contrast, Audio NoteTM is the only manufacturer unconventional enough to have extensively studied the behaviour of audio equipment at very low levels, and this research has confirmed most of the theories we have formulated over the years. All of which were based on the musical experience rather than blindly looking at the test equipment for the answers, we, at least understand that the test equipment is easily fooled by technical trickery such as feedback or over sampling.

We always recommend that you audition any hi-fi system at low volume at least as much as at high volume to see how well it behaves at both ends of the loudness spectrum. Systems that do not retain good bandwidth and dynamic contrast at low volume will always suffer from poor resolution regardless of volume, how often have you found yourself turning the volume up to be able to get a better sense of dynamics?

Poor resolution cannot be compensated for by higher volume, because regardless of volume setting the low level information is not resolved and is always going to be lost from the signal, this is a serious short coming, not just with classical music but with almost all music regardless of genre.


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