Audio Note and ANK Fans

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by jsr, Jan 29, 2019.

  1. jsr

    jsr Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    Curious to know if anyone could tell me if the ANK L5 phono stage kit , 04 speaker kit Alnico and DAC 5 compare favourably with any of the AN UK line up? My main system is all AN UK and I am contemplating a second system that could come close to AN UK set up without the associated $ premium if thats possible.
     
    gov likes this.
  2. Mark Margiotta

    Mark Margiotta Forum Resident

    Location:
    Albuquerque
    As far as I know, the kits are based on designs that are indeed created by Andy Grove. Not everything is exactly the same as the finished products in that the output transformers and IV transformers are lesser quality than the finished products, the speaker drivers from what I have been told are not tested to the same tolerance as the factory ones. Internal crossovers are the same I think and the cabinets are slightly different. Made in Canada and not Austria. I have had a few AN kit products over the years and have always been satisfied with them. They may not produce the same level of refinement as the finished products from the UK but they definitely have the Audio Note "house sound" and they produce beautiful organic and tonally right music. If you like the finished UK products then don't be afraid to pull the trigger on the kit products. For what they cost they are a great value. Brian is great to deal with and stands behind the products.
     
  3. jsr

    jsr Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    Thanks Mark, I have had the pleasure of speaking with Brian and you are correct he is great to deal with.
     
  4. Encore

    Encore Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denmark
    Well, before you pull the trigger, make sure to check some recent threads w experiences from ANK customers and their troubles with incomplete assembly manuals and missing parts. Go for preassembled, I would say.
     
    timind likes this.
  5. jsr

    jsr Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    Interesting, I was actually going to go preassembled as I dont have any skills in that area, but in the end, I purchased some AN UK gear. Thanks for your input.
     
    Don Parkhurst likes this.
  6. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    Location:
    Ohio
    I just came upon this thread today and saw your post. I had no idea that there was a kit to make a AlNiCo set of speakers! So, with me soon to possibly be in the market for a pair of Audio Note UK AN-E SPe HE, I have to ask the AN fanatics out there, just where in the far too huge list of available Audio Note UK speaker line, does the 03 and 04 speaker kits come? I'm personally worthless with a soldering iron, but I have very capable friends who love to tear things apart and put them back together, like my friend recently did to update and give a new life to my Fisher 500c.
     
  7. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    I have only heard one kit version ant to be honest I didn't like the sound of it. It didn't sound like an AN speaker to me - YMMV and maybe it depends on how you build the kit - but the main thing AN UK stresses is their computer matching process to get the speaker to match their master curve and the other drive - with the kits you can't get any of this. Plus the kits use lesser quality drivers - the ones that don't meet their tightest specs. So a slightly worse selection of parts, and no ability to match the speakers.

    I'd buy a second hand AN J over a Kit E personally.

    And the only point to a kit IMO is to learn a little electronics in the building process. if you are just going to have it built then yes you may save $1500 on the purchase but in 10 years you will get $3,000 less when you try to sell it.

    Don't just look at the initial price of the thing - consider what the overall cost will be in year 10. I bought my AN J/Spe in 2003 and sold in 2016 for nearly 20% more than I paid.

    It's like cars - buying the Honda for $1500 more than the GM but in year 5 when you can sell the Honda for $4,000 more than the comparable GM means you paid less money overall and got a vastly better car with fewer break downs over the period as well - been there and done both.
     
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  8. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    Location:
    Ohio
    Richard, my thanks for your advice!
     
  9. finn

    finn Forum Resident

    The factory AN-E SPe HE is considerably better sounding than the Kit 3 and not by an inconsiderable margin. The Kit 4 has the potential to sound very good but requires very careful consideration to the build and an investment in 4 mtrs of SPx cable to wire internally as a minimum to realise some of that potential. The limiting factors still remain in the enclosure and particularly the x- over in the kit which lags some distance behind in comparison to the driver qualities. Personally, I would buy the factory finish and build around , knowing they could be the cornerstone of a seriously good music replay system for many years.
     
  10. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    Location:
    Ohio
    Thank you finn!
     
  11. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    Location:
    Ohio
    I should also add that I guess that my momentary idea of trying to self-build a speaker of this worthiness, (at nearly half the price of an official one) versus just spending my bank account for an officially made one, was daydreaming at best!
     
  12. Raylinds

    Raylinds Martinis, music and glowing tubes

    I built the Kit 4 but purchased the pre-built enclosures as these must be built to very tight tolerances. I also spent a considerable sum on SPx cable. They sound very good to me, but are probably not as good as the factory speakers, which I have never had the pleasure of hearing.
     
  13. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    Location:
    Ohio
    Raylinds, I'm sure that you have built yourself a fine, fine set of speakers with your kit, in fact, it was because of another thread that you started a while back, that I just stumbled upon this week, that was one of the reasons that I even considered taking the "kit" route, instead of just buying originals.

    When I wanted to buy into the B&W 800 speakers, I realized that the top of that line was way out of my budget and so I kind of cheated and ended up buying their 805D's and added a $2,000 dollar sub to them, to get to the same (or close) specs of their higher end 800 series speakers. You can't blame a guy for wanting to save some coin, as this hobby is ultra-expensive!
     
  14. Salectric

    Salectric Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
    SPx cable is available in bulk via Hifi Collective in the UK. The folks there are great to deal with and orders arrive in the US quickly.

    I have SPx speaker cables and I also use SPx for the tweeter wiring inside my speakers. SPx is great cable.

    For a lot less money, AN Lexus cable is also really good for internal wiring. I use it on my woofer and midrange.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
  15. oregonalex

    oregonalex Forum Resident

    I think the pre-built enclosures are a critical factor in success with the kits. It would require very high grade carpentry skills and machinery to replicate the quality of cabinets supplied with the ANK kits. I am sure the factory speakers are superior, and I would love to at least hear them somewhere once, but
    I also am happy with even the basic non-HE hemp kit speakers that I have built. They certainly sound much better in my room than factory-built DeVore O93s that I had here. I can easily live with the kit Es, I could not with the Os.
    It would be interesting to compare the entry level factory-built MDF Es with the basic level Baltic birch enclosure kits. Who'd win?
     
    Encore likes this.
  16. Raylinds

    Raylinds Martinis, music and glowing tubes

    One of the things that I have learned in life is to avoid always lusting after the next bigger, better thing and be happy with what you have or can acquire within your means. I, too, can easily live with the speakers I have and I think any of the kit speakers will make anyone happy, especially with the pre-built cabinets. The ANK stuff is a step down from genuine AN UK gear, but it is very good for the money and I like the sense of satisfaction from building them myself.

    It is fun to speculate, though, over how the kit gear compares with the real stuff in a side-by-side comparison. I was considering getting the kit level 4 or 5 DAC, but came upon a great deal on a level 3 signature AN UK DAC with additional factory upgrades, including NOS Telefunken tubes for notably less than even the level 4 kit, and went with that. My CD transport doesn't arrive until tomorrow, but I am anxious to hear the DAC.
     
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  17. Mark Margiotta

    Mark Margiotta Forum Resident

    Location:
    Albuquerque


    I agree 100% with the point that the Kit speakers in the ready made Birch cabinets will sound excellent. The refinement of the UK factory speakers will not be there. I have heard the kit speakers in the cabinets that Brian sells and I have to say they do have the Audio Note "house sound". If you want to buy new and the Audio Note finished speakers are out of your budget, the kit speakers are a nice value. You can get a kit 4 Alnico in the cabinets for under 10K. I think the least expensive factory Alnico speaker is 20K+. Another option is to watch the used market. I've seen a few pairs of E SPe HE with the hemp drivers go for 6K or so. I would not buy the kit 3. I think if you do the AN speakers you go with the hemp driver. I had several versions of the E in the paper driver and now that I am using a hemp version I would not go back. The hemp driver makes a pretty big difference Alnico or not.
     
    oregonalex likes this.
  18. Sugar Man

    Sugar Man Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hermosa Beach
    Like @Raylinds, I did build the Speaker Kit-04 after getting 50% off retail on the AlNiCo drivers and crossovers. When I called Brian for the cabinets, he said his builder was moving and it would be a few months. So I went to a local woodworking shop and with the help of one of the owners, built my own pair of Baltic Birch Cabinets. Because I was having knee replacement surgery, I put them together before finishing the cabinets with veneer or stain. I have heard some high end Audio Note E's at @Warren Jarrett Audio Home and I don't feel like I'm missing anything. They sound AMAZING and because of my discount, I am in about $6500 with AN stands for a full set of the AlNiCo's. One of these days I'll stain them or veneer them, but it's kinda of like having gray-primered Ferrari. Perhaps if you hooked them up to the high level AN gear, you might start missing something, but I have zero regrets with my "garage" AN-E's. :righton:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  19. tubesandvinyl

    tubesandvinyl Forum Resident

    Just curious. What is the AN house sound? On a continuum ranging from clinically accurate to smoothly euphonic, where is AN positioned?

    I've never heard them, but there are always used pairs around here for sale.
     
    Hifi Kenny likes this.
  20. oregonalex

    oregonalex Forum Resident

    I believe Kit 3 is hemp. Brian has outdated paper driver pictures on the site. Even Kit 2 was hemp, but it does not seem to be offered any more.
     
  21. Mark Margiotta

    Mark Margiotta Forum Resident

    Location:
    Albuquerque
    Than I recommend the kit 3 without hesitation.
     
  22. Mark Margiotta

    Mark Margiotta Forum Resident

    Location:
    Albuquerque
    Very organic sounding and tonally accurate. Instruments sound like they are being produced in real space. Midrange energy is so high you can feel your seat vibrate from voices and guitars. Not Euphonic and not so highly resolved that you can hear what brand of bow rosin is being used. It's hard to explain. Most other "high end" systems I have heard sound resolved but the tonality is all wrong. They sound like "HiFi". Clinical and musically uninvolving. Whereas all AN systems I have heard possess an ability to get the tone right and produce enough mid frequency energy that voices and instruments sound very authentic. The music is super involving and tonally is as close to real sounding as you can get in the realm of reproduction as long as your source is very good. There are other companies that build products that can do the same thing. Shindo, Wavac, AN Japan, Auditorium 23 etc. All of these companies have one thing in common. Intelligent circuit design using hand built output transformers with exotic core materials and wound with top quality copper or silver. House built capacitors with copper or silver foil. Tantalum resistors. All point to point wiring with silver solder. No transistors. DHT. Mostly SE and rarely PP. Speaker components with silver wound voice coils, exotic magnet materials and hyper tight driver matching to crossover components. Better parts when used intelligently = better sound. The better the parts the better the sound usually. Off the shelf parts don't typically perform the same way. That is the best I can explain it. Hearing is the best explanation.
     
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  23. oregonalex

    oregonalex Forum Resident

    How high up the AN ladder do you need to go to get P2P wiring? I've seen a bunch of the lower level components inside pictures and they all seem to be PCB. AFAIK most if not all ANK kits are also PCB built.
     
  24. Don Parkhurst

    Don Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    That’s a great point Ray. Enjoy what you have rather than constantly wishing for better. Not the typical audiophile way though ; )

    What transport are you going to use with your new DAC?
     
    Raylinds likes this.
  25. Mark Margiotta

    Mark Margiotta Forum Resident

    Location:
    Albuquerque
    That looks like PCB but its not the whole story. Most of the boards they use have one trace for the grounding points. If you look under the board there is hard wiring under there and once the tube sockets are put it's all P2P.

    [​IMG]
     

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