Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by jsr, Jan 29, 2019.
You guys did an amazing job with the cabinets!
Wow, that's pretty slick. Thanks for the picture!
My 300B C-Core SET ANK mono blocks are mostly point to point with one PCB:
However, my Level 5 "Mentor" Pre amp is mostly PCB:
I am awaiting the arrival of a PS audio Perfectwave Memory transport. I like the idea that the music is playing out of memory rather than direct from the disc. I am researching building a truly audiophile quality server, but that is going to take some time
Thanks! It was NOT an easy project as a one off for my woodworker. We even hand-routered the speaker openings. Despite looking like a square box, there are a lot of dados and 45 degree angle cuts and you have to glue it all at once. As others have noted, AN cabinet tolerances are very tight, so I was super anal on the measurements, which caused quite a bit of consternation with my expert. But it all came together although it was a very stressful, but rewarding job. We tried to get the front panels CNC'd, but couldn't get anyone in LA to do a one off. C'est la vie. I've got mine in the corners now and what they do to well-recorded bass is otherworldly!
I’ve been lusting after a pair of AN speakers for a while, but am curious how they will compare in the bass department to traditional large floor standers?
Apologies is this comes off as a threadcrap but, has anyone heard AN speakers on the end of a Naim amp ...?
Keen to know too...that would be my combo.
I would suspect that it would be too bright for the AN-Es, but it might be a great setup if time is taken to match the right Naim amp to the speakers.
I purchased an ANK 3.1 DAC and very happy with it. it is verrrry good as stock but since then I upgraded it and the performance is just stellar...
I would buy more ANK stuff but I am located in Europe and therefore customs and VAT would come on the top of the ANK price...
I think you would be very pleased if you could arrange an audition. It's a combination mr.q has heard before and was not too unhappy with. You should try to make it happen as the "speed" of the naim electronics and the dynamic envelope they present have the potential to work with the speakers well.
The AN speakers are very sensitive to placement, especially in regard to bass response. If you place them in corners relatively close to back and side walls the bass is excellent. If you can only place them near back walls without being near a side wall it is still pretty good but not great.
Not that combination, but for some years I had my J’s (the regular model, not SPe) hooked up to two Pathos Classic One MkIII in bridged mode, ie working as mono amps. That was quite a good combo, very musical, and definitely not too bright. In fact, I had to roll the preamp tubes in the Pathos amps to bring out more detail. I wouldn’t pair the Pathos’es with Alnico versions of AN speakers, but good SS amps shouldn’t be ruled out a priori.
I compared the ANK L4 with Reimyo CAT 777, Shindo Aurieges, Mcintosh C2300 and Audio Research SP11, in my opinion, the ANK L4 was the fastest (best dynamic) which featured the most controlled bass and had the best sound stage, I liked it so much that I ordered with Brian, an ANK Mentor 5 and an ANK Phono L5 signature!
That's sure a nice looking preamp.
I have good and bad experiences with AN kits and Brian.
First thing to know; Only the early AN kits have some of their designs by AN UK's Andy Grove. After AN UK and AN Kits parted ways (around 2012?), AN Kits changed (had to) it's name to ANK and is using designs by ANK's Brian or somebody else, not the AN UK Andy Grove ones. And also have mostly moved to non-AN UK parts, ie. to Mundorf caps etc. So AN UK and ANK have and haven't had for a long time anything to do with each other.
You'll get this same response if you ask AN UK about ANK and Brian.
AN UK sells him AN UK components (the same available from ie. hificollective.co.uk or partsconnexion) like to any other buyer, but that's it.
I've bough and built AN Kits dac 2.1 sig (with all AN Cu caps and Shinkoh 2W resisors etc.) around 2012 and while it sounded good, I preferred AN UK factory Dac 0.1x/II to it. The kit dac even in those days had completely different digital pcb to AN UK designs (while using the same AD1865) also the output board was different from the AN UK factory built one. Only the M2 power supply was pretty same as the AN UK level 2 product M2 power supply, but Brian had changed it already on 2012. And having owned both the AN kits dac 2.1, AN UK factory Dac 2.1x/II Signature and AN UK Dac 3.1x/II, there is quite a difference in the sound to the kit version although, they are from the 'same tree' so to say.
So while ANK products surely are good on their own terms, they no longer are the 'cheap way to get AN UK sound'.
On Brian and customer service:
While I was building my AN Kit dac 2.1 sig, Brian was very helpful and I did find the manual quite easy to follow.
BUT, while ago as I got the new Audio Note TT Three, which drained my hi-fi budget (but was totally worth it and is amazing!), I bought used old AN Kits L3 RIAA as an interim solution to serve as RIAA while saving up to AN UK M3 RIAA.
The Kit RIAA I bought is from the good old days with Andry Grove designs; the original M2 power supply still in use to this day in AN UK level 2 products and the phonoboard 1:1 same as pre-2013 M3 RIAA and M3 phono (after 2013 AN UK changed M3's to use 5607 tubes, while the phonoboard layout is still exactly the same)
Ofcourse the AN Kits L3 RIAA isn't exactly the same as AN UK M3 range as it does not have the transformer output nor the Galahad power supply, but a cap output and the formentioned M2 power supply. So basically it'd be AN UK M2,5 RIAA
The earlier owner of my AN kits L3 RIAA had used some supbar resistors and caps on the phono board (and had modified heavily the M2 powersupply of it) and I wasn't completely happy with the sound, so I contacted Brian if he still would have the old phono boards (no longer used in ANK products) laying somewhere to sell me so I could build a new phono board from scratch with 'correct' AN UK components.
He replied "yes and sure he would send me one the next day" It's been six months and he hasn't come through. I have reminded him once every passing month and he always promised to send it "the next day" then I asked if he could meanwhile send me the manual via email (as an .pdf file he has) "right away" ...and nothing. For the last two messages he failed to respond at all. And I've been keeping my cool and never complained or anything, just kind reminders, but have finally given up...
He knows I once bought an the dac kit from him years ago, but it seems that as I'm not anymore 'a (big) paying customer' and not likely buy his kits (as everything else I have is AN UK factory built) his interest in to any kind of customer service seems to be gone.
AN UK understands the value of customer service and that is part of the high resale value of AN UK products, you know you are not left hanging out to dry even if you've bought an old and/or used product. ANK's Brian doesn't seem to get it. So take that in consideraton if you decide to do business with him.
btw: Only point-to-point wired board AN Kits ever _had_ was the RIAA board they got from AN UK for the AN Kits L3 RIAA (The image earlier in this thread is that). No currenct ANK products have point-to-point wired board AFAIK. (if you don't count the kit speakers x-over as one)
Oh, stupid me, ofcourse Kit1 and some 300B monoblocks do have some p2p-wiring.
Another (unfortunate) note on Brian; While I did not hear back from him, I reached out to Paul of the http://www.mostlyaudio.com and asked if he'd have the build instructions of L3 RIAA (he did not) and when I told my situation with Brian, his reply was that he gave up on Brian many years ago...
Kudos to Paul regardless having the mostlyaudio-site still up, it was good source of info at the time I was building my AN Kits dac and still is to anyone doing repairs or mods to older AN kits gear.
Just a quick follow-up on my post about Brian and the L3 phono board: He finally came through after bit over six months and sent me one.
I am curious what components you will use on the L3 phono board. Years ago I bought all the parts I needed to make the L3 phono but never got around to it. I had all Audio Note Tantalum resistors but this was before AN came out with its line of non-magnetic tantalums. Today I would use AN 2w Silver Tantalums for critical spots. Although expensive they have excellent sound quality.
I decided to go almost all-in:
Rebuilt the power supply;
- Replaced the power transformer with AN UK iHib C-core transfomer (choke was already AN UK one, not the no-name ANK usually has)
- Updgraded the wiring from transformer to M2 power supply board and from M2 power supply board to phono board with 1,5mm solid core silver.
- Changed power supply electrolytics to Audio Note Kaisei.
- And the power supply film caps to Audio Note copper caps.
- Resistors remained as they were (Beyshlags) except one next to 6X5 was upgraded to 2W Audio Note Tantalum as I kinda hazily remembered that's something to upgrade from the days I built ANK kits Dac 2.1.
Rebuilt the phono board to pretty much to M6 level:
- All hardwiring done with Audio Note 1mm silver.
- Audio Note silver plated tube sockets.
- All film caps (10pcs) Audio Note Copper.
- Electrolytics were Black Gates so those stayed in.
- All resistors Audio Note 1W non-mag tantalums + two of them as 2W as no correct value was available in 1W.
(I thought about going with 2W non-mags, but the holes on the board for resistors are 2cm apart, which makes 2W non-mags really hard to fit in. Plus the cost... all 2W Silver tants would've been super expensive and Audio Note doesn't use all silver resistors even in flagship M9 RIAA, so I guess the non-silver non-mags are there to add to the overall sound signature as well or then Audio Note is going to roll M10 RIAA with all silver resistors in the future?)
- But I did upgrade the 47K load resistors to Audio Note 2W Silver non-mag tantalums.
- Input wiring to Audio Note 21 strand litz silver (output wiring still remains the AN-A copper cable, as AN-VX is so expensive and also easy to upgrade without taking everything apart again, but that's the final upgrade to do. Unless I'm going to try to build cathode follower and put output transformers in to mimick even more the M3-M8 RIAAs)
All-in all, it's completely different beast compared to the previous built. Gorgeous sound from the get go and surely going to get better while all the new components bed in. And all the surface noise the previous build brought to the top is gone 90%.
Very nice! I am sure it is a major improvement and will be much closer to the AN-UK sound.
If you don’t mind a couple suggestions, I have a few and some comments. (Please insert In My Opinion for all that follows....)
First, while the 2w Silver Tantalums are really great, they are not the very best for all spots. For example, the very best sounding grid stopper is a Riken 1/2w carbon film (discontinued a long time ago but still available from some vendors). I use 1% nude Vishays in my RIAA network. I prefer their sound in the eq and they are available in custom values. I also prefer some other resistor types as cathode and plate resistors but personal preference is more of a factor here.
The one place where I have found AN 2w Silver Tantalums to be the very best is a signal loading position. So your selection of the Silver 47K as a phono load was a great decision. I would also suggest using a 2w Silver for the grid load on the second stage and as the output load. These might seem like inconsequential roles but I have found them to be very important sonically and the 2w Silvers are the very best there.
I recently tried the new 1/2w AN Silver Tantalums as the I/V resistor in my DAC and I didn’t like the sound. I don’t know if that is true of the 1/2w series generally or is specific to my DAC but I would be cautious about ordering very many of the 1/2w resistors unless you have tried them first.
The 2w Silvers take a long time to break in fully. Fortunately they sound good right from the beginning. They just get more refined as the hours tick by. I haven’t kept track of numbers but I suspect it takes several hundred hours to reach their full potential.
I have tried the other non-magnetic AN resistors (1/2, 1 and 2 watts) and unfortunately I don’t like them at all. I find them bright and glassy and they lack natural warmth. The older magnetic Tantalums are rather colored too but I prefer a 1w or 2w AN magnetic tantalum to any of the new non-magnetics (excepting the silver of course).
Also unfortunately I am not a fan of the Kaisei caps. I haven’t spent as much time with them as the AN resistors but each time I have tried one I have preferred a BlackGate by a substantial margin. I bought a lot of BGs when they were discontinued so I have not had to look for alternates.
Coupling caps are also subject to personal preference. I agree that AN copper foil caps are quite nice and I wouldn’t have any problem using them especially in an AN design. In my equipment I prefer Copper V-Caps but these are not AN designs.
I agree completely with you on your wire choices. All of my cables are Audio Note (both copper and silver) and I use some of their wires for internal wiring.
Lastly I agree completely about your choice of tube sockets. I use AN tube sockets in nearly all of my equipment.
Thanks for you comments and suggestions.
I wanted to make the phono board as close to what (older) Audio Note factory M6 is. Thus I kept into Audio Note parts as I've had some Audio Note equipment modified by earlier owners and I always preferred the sound when original parts were put back in.
I've heard good things about nude Vishays, but stripping down and re-building that phono board once is enough for me for a long, long time
Real Black Gate (not counterfeit) power supply caps are almost impossible to find. And ones on eBay fetch up to USD1500 (while still no guarantee them being legit ones) so Kaisei was obvious choice, till Audio Note gets their real "Black Gate" successors made. Count yourself lucky with your stash of BGs
The sound actually got way warmer (which I prefer as Meishu Silver with Audio Note's new 4300E tubes is not as warm combo as I'd have it) and at the same time more dynamic and has lot better bass output and definition than the previous build, so I'm a happy camper right now. It is really surprising how much can component choices alter the sound in the exact same circuit.
It’s good to hear how well your modifications turned out. You should be pleased!
I really appreciate all the details! I have the ANK L3 V2 and plan to switch to the old style with 6072 tubes. I'm having the same problem, surface noise is brought right to the top. Clean records sound amazing, but the noise gets annoying very quick on many used records. Your results sound amazing! I have a couple questions.
What values of AN Copper film caps did you use for the RIAA circuit? The ANK directions I have call for 0.00242uf and 0.0082uf, but the closest they make to the 0.00242 is the 0.0022uf (or .0028uf). I have a pdf of the old directions from ANK, is that what you followed?
I'm also curious what tubes you are using? I picked up some GE 6072A 5-star in prep for this build, I hope they are a good option. The ANK L3 V2 uses a 12AX7 and 6DJ8, lots of options for rolling, but noise is often an issue.
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