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An Audio Odyssey Begins - The Audio Note (U.K.) M10 S.E. Preamp

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  • An Audio Odyssey Begins - The Audio Note (U.K.) M10 S.E. Preamp

    Isn't it strange that no matter how hard you try, receiving new gear is always a crapshoot (here I am thinking primarily of interfacing with the shipping company). In any event I received a call early last week that the Audio Note M10 SE had after a gestation period of nine months had been completed by the factory and had been left with DHL to be airfreighted from London to Houston. On Thursday, I received a call from Peter Qvortrup's U.S. representative that the packages were on a plane and would arrive at my home sometime the next day. It seemed unlikely that the delivery would actually occur by the next day given that the preamp was coming through customs in Newark. In any event, I would have been unable to schedule a full day off work so requested that the delivery be delayed until the following Tuesday so that I could be home to receive the packages. You probably already know where this is going (and you would be right). Monday afternoon, I received a frantic call from the Audio Note rep that the preamp was sitting on my front porch and "could I immediately drop everything and go home". I did go home only to find five boxes on my doorstep, two the size of a large amplifier, one the size of a preamp and the others much smaller. The rep is flying in this weekend to set everything up and I will update this post as my listening begins. Note that I already own a pair of Audio Note Balanced Kegon amps which should be an excellent match.
    Last edited by MylesBAstor; 12-07-2016, 05:48 PM. Reason: Audionote
    Rockport Sirius/Ortofon A-90, Ypsilon Phono stage, Einstein preamp, EMM Labs TX2/DA2 digital, Audio Note Balanced Kegon amps, EMM Labs MTRX amps, Acapella Triolons, Jorma Prime and Odin 2 cables, Stage 3 Kraken power cords, HB Marble Powerslave, Finite Elemente Pagode stands, Halcyonics active isolation bases, Loricraft Audiodesk vinyl cleaners.

  • #2
    Good news is that you everything in your possession. Let us know how it sounds!
    SP-10 MKII table with custom power supply designed and built by Peter Noerbaek, SME 312S arm, Dyna XV-1S cartridge, Zesto Andros 1.2 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, and NOLA KO speakers with a pair of Def Tech Ref subs.

    Comment


    • #3
      Sounds like a fun Holiday to me. Congrats!

      Comment


      • #4
        Private courier. Handcuffed to custom Halliburton cases. Exploding charges if anyone attempts to mess with the courier. The courier's hand and arm are reinforced with depleted uranium to prevent any attempt at hand removal as a work-around. This is the kind of shipping that one expects. With goods of this sort.

        Comment


        • fcrowder
          fcrowder commented
          Editing a comment
          I had not considered this but I think that you have a point! Over the years I have had some fairly bizarre experiences with freight carriers, including receiving a crate that had been impaled on a fork lift blade. The problem for me is that you really have no choice in the matter. You can only hope that the manufacturer carefully designed the shipping container. One of the best which I have seen was the custom Halliburton crates used by Ed Meitner for the MTRX amps.

        • Bill Hart
          Bill Hart commented
          Editing a comment
          Fred- i actually wrote that somewhat in jest, being in the middle of reading Snow Crash (which features weaponized pizza delivery and couriers), but the real life experience of another member here, just posted, bears this out: https://www.audionirvana.org/forum/t...ere-do-i-start

        • Rob
          Rob commented
          Editing a comment
          I shipped an Audiogon transaction to Forest Hills, NY. The buyer was home tracking the shipment that required a signature when he got an email it was delivered. He thought it was weird he didn't hear the door bell. A stranger came around the side of the house and signed for it, before the FedEx truck was a block away the buyer, to his horror, found the box I sent strewn across his front lawn and the contents gone. He filed a claim with paypal, his credit card, roped me into it and my funds were frozen for a month until Paypal sided with me.

      • #5
        I had the same thing happen recently with the delivery of the Magico S5 Mk. 2 speakers. I arranged for the speakers to be dropped off at 2 PM as I had the afternoon off that day. Coincidentally Heidi was off from work that day and I received 13 frantic calls from Heidi (I usually can't answer the phone with clients and my phone was off) that the shipper was there at 11 AM and what she do? Neither knew how to disconnect the old speakers (that was figured out) but in the process of moving the old speakers out and the putting the new ones in, the shipping guy managing to damage the finish on the old speakers. (and luckily didn't tear the tiptoes out of the bottom of the speaker; how I don't know.)
        Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
        Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
        ________________________________________

        Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers, cj ART monoblock Amplifiers; cj GAT preamplifier Series 2; Doshi V3.0 phonostage; VPI Vanquish turntable/12-inch 3D tonearm/Lyra Atlas SL, Ortofon A95, Charisma Reference 2 cartridges; Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads/Doshi V3.0 tape stage run balanced; Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords. Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC. Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks; Audiodharma Cable Cooker; Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

        Comment


        • Rhapsody
          Rhapsody commented
          Editing a comment
          Myles, are you saying that the "shipping guy" uncrated your S5II's and installed them and removed your original S5's??????????????

          I must be reading this wrong or ??????

        • MylesBAstor
          MylesBAstor commented
          Editing a comment
          The intention was for me to be there and the delivery guy would help me move the old speakers into their temporary digs in the bedroom. Then he would move the S5 Mk. 2s out of the crate to where the old speaker were placed. Does that clear up the confusion?

      • #6
        It does, but it amazes me. Do you remember the delivery service that was used? Was it Pilot freight? I just have NEVER heard of any delivery service that would uncrate speakers and install them.....that's awesome, I just want their contact information
        Bob Visintainer - Rhapsody Music and Cinema - Two Manhattan Locations

        Rhapsody.Audio http://rhapsody.audio

        Iliadny.com (Goldmund only) http://Iliadny.com

        Devialet, Goldmund, Magico, Raidho, Vitus,TaraLabs, Audio Note Japan/Kondo, Kaiser, Aurender, Scansonics, Ansuz Acoustics, Aavik Acoustics, Ubiq, REL Acoustics, Ortofon cartridges, King/Cello tape preamps, Stillpoints, Entreq, FVPowerBank, Enklein, Kubala Sosna, IPC, Acoustic System International, Novum, Echole, Bybee Technologies

        Comment


        • MylesBAstor
          MylesBAstor commented
          Editing a comment
          Check with Alon.

      • #7
        It was a tumultuous weekend that for all practical purposes began with the arrival of the Audio Note set-up person (Neli Cornelius of Audio Federation) at Houston Hobby Airport about 10:45 PM Friday evening. After picking her up, we drove to my home where she spent the remainder of the weekend. Neli wanted to hear the existing preamp in the system to get an idea about the room and the existing state of the sound (Einstein preamp + EMM Labs MTRX amps). As it turned out we listened and talked until 3:00 AM Saturday morning. After sleeping in the following morning, we began the set-up process after an early lunch at a local Lebanese restaurant with friends and family.

        You might wonder how much set-up a preamp requires? Isn't it plug and play? In the case of the Audio Note M10SE, the answer would be a resounding "NO". The preamp consists of two massive 60# power supplies, each the size of a large tube amplifier, the preamp control section and the myriad of power cords and umbilical's necessary to connect everything. There is also, given the size and complexity, the question of where to site everything. In any event three hours later it was finally time to turn everything back on and determine whether it worked. I am unsure how much "warm-up" the preamp had at the factory, but I would guess that the answer is not much. The remainder of the system was also cold. While this did not prevent our listening, it did mean that no real conclusions were possible at that point except that everything appeared to be working properly, no ground loops, no strange noises. Within about an hour, things began getting better, certainly not where I would hope we will be after several hundred hours of break-in but nonetheless, very pleasant. The only nit was that the stepped attenuator on the preamp coupled with the high gain of the EMM Labs MTRX amps basically meant that the range of volume adjustment was somewhat narrower than I might have liked.

        At this juncture, we both needed a break. The Houston Audio Society had scheduled a Christmas party for that evening and I wanted to introduce Neli to some of my audio friends. We drove to the home of Charles Griffin who has a system based around Avalon Isis speakers and Spectral electronics. It was a potluck affair with each of us bringing a dish and the host providing the meat course. We finally returned home about 9:00 PM with several friends in tow. The system had at this point been playing for about six hours and the sound was much improved. In particular, intelligibility of voices was superb, depth and three dimensionality were improved over the Einstein and according to Neli would get significantly better with further break-in. I attend two, sometimes three, live concerts a month and recreation of depth and three dimensionality have always been key to my enjoyment of reproduced sound. Tonality was also excellent. We had another late evening.

        We had not really planned on making any further changes to the system configuration; however, Neli really wanted to hear the M10SE in conjunction with my Audio Note Balanced Kegon amplifiers. Initially, I was somewhat reluctant as moving the 230# EMM MTRX amps in and out of the system is not a task undertaken lightly. Fortunately, we had some help in the person of my friend Paul Jackson. We spent the next hour moving amps and changing power cords to accommodate the change, then turned things on and grabbed some lunch to allow the Balanced Kegons to warm up (given that they had not been played for several months). Not surprisingly, the combination of the two Audio Note Level Five components was a very synergistic match and continued to sound better and better the longer that we listened.

        At some point, we inserted Finite Elemente Cerabases under the preamp and its two power supply boxes and that insertion rather significantly improved the sound in all the ways that one might expect that properly designed isolation would. Neli boarded a plane home about 5:00 PM and I spent the rest of the day listening.

        Further comments to follow as the M10SE breaks in and as I am able to do further listening; however, even at this early point, it is clear that there is something very special about the sound of the Audio Note M10SE, particularly when it is used in conjunction with the companion Balanced Kegon amplifiers.

        AN was kind enough to provide me with both their latest copper power cords and their more expensive Sogon silver cords. At present I am using the copper power cords, but at some point will try both the Sogons and the Stage 3 power cords.


        Last edited by fcrowder; 12-12-2016, 04:41 PM.
        Rockport Sirius/Ortofon A-90, Ypsilon Phono stage, Einstein preamp, EMM Labs TX2/DA2 digital, Audio Note Balanced Kegon amps, EMM Labs MTRX amps, Acapella Triolons, Jorma Prime and Odin 2 cables, Stage 3 Kraken power cords, HB Marble Powerslave, Finite Elemente Pagode stands, Halcyonics active isolation bases, Loricraft Audiodesk vinyl cleaners.

        Comment


        • MylesBAstor
          MylesBAstor commented
          Editing a comment
          Can't wait to read your followups! That preamp is monstrous! Great system!

          It is kinda funny to think what someone from the outside would think of our obsessiveness!

      • #8
        Hi Folks, Neli Davis here, from Audio Federation. My husband Mike and I are old friends of Fred's and long time dealers for Audio Note UK. Here are some of the pictures I took over the weekend, thought you guys might want to see them ...
        Neli Davis, Partner, Audio Federation Inc.
        Pursuing the Ultimate Music Experience
        http://www.audiofederation.com

        Comment


        • #9
          I have now listened to the M10 Signature long enough to have some first impressions. Powerful transients on the ORG reissue of Jeff Buckley's first album, his voice is nicely centered, drums are very clearly placed, loud and tight..almost too much, but some of that is the recording. The mastering also seems a bit bright (ORG SACD, Grundman mastering) but this has sounded bright elsewhere. Guitars are captured about as cleanly as I have ever heard with excellent layering. This album is very busy. To its credit, the M10 seems to be able to separate out the complex, overlapping threads of bass drum, bass guitar hits along with strong guitar chords staked on top of the bass drum. All remained intelligible and distinguishable from each other.

          On Strauss' Four last Songs (RCA, Eschenbach, Houston Symphony), Renee Fleming's creamy rich voice is all there, fraught with nuance. Her voice seems to caress the eardrums. She is louder than the orchestra, not blended. The orchestra is rich but this RCA re-issue is not warm.

          Martinu Symphonies - clear that the M10 is beginning to develop nice depth and dimensionality. In comparison to my Einstein preamp, the M10 exerts better control over the bass and complex lines seem to make sense. said differently, when the music interweaves many different threads, it is easier to pick out a particular thread and follow it. Low bass is phenomenal as is the amount of ambient information that is coming through. The recreation of the reverberation of the bass drum in the hall was excellent as was bass slam and palpability.

          Finally, an old standby the reissue on Nonesuch of Emmy Lou Harris' "Wrecking Ball". One of the listener's last night commented that he never before understood why I liked this recording but on the M10 it finally made sense. Given the close proximity of Harris' mouth to the mike and the excess of sibilance, intelligibility of her words has always been a problem on this album, but not here.

          A final thought, at this point the M10 has had about 72 hours of play. It is in its current state superior to my Einstein and still improving. One thing which is also clear is that the M10 Signature in combination with the Balanced Kegons is a match made in heaven, addressing what I would previously have said were weaknesses of the KB's.
          Rockport Sirius/Ortofon A-90, Ypsilon Phono stage, Einstein preamp, EMM Labs TX2/DA2 digital, Audio Note Balanced Kegon amps, EMM Labs MTRX amps, Acapella Triolons, Jorma Prime and Odin 2 cables, Stage 3 Kraken power cords, HB Marble Powerslave, Finite Elemente Pagode stands, Halcyonics active isolation bases, Loricraft Audiodesk vinyl cleaners.

          Comment


          • #10
            Some more pictures which I took with fcrowder this Tuesday...

            Comment


            • audiofederation
              audiofederation commented
              Editing a comment
              Beautiful. Thank you! Made with a real camera ...

          • #11
            Originally posted by audiofederation View Post
            Hi Folks, Neli Davis here, from Audio Federation. My husband Mike and I are old friends of Fred's and long time dealers for Audio Note UK. Here are some of the pictures I took over the weekend, thought you guys might want to see them ...
            Hi Neli! Welcome to Audionirvana!

            Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
            Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
            ________________________________________

            Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers, cj ART monoblock Amplifiers; cj GAT preamplifier Series 2; Doshi V3.0 phonostage; VPI Vanquish turntable/12-inch 3D tonearm/Lyra Atlas SL, Ortofon A95, Charisma Reference 2 cartridges; Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads/Doshi V3.0 tape stage run balanced; Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords. Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC. Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks; Audiodharma Cable Cooker; Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

            Comment


            • #12
              Originally posted by coffeecupman View Post
              Some more pictures which I took with fcrowder this Tuesday...
              Glad to have you aboard Paul and thanks for the pics. Now have a real idea of Fred's system!!!

              Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
              Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
              ________________________________________

              Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers, cj ART monoblock Amplifiers; cj GAT preamplifier Series 2; Doshi V3.0 phonostage; VPI Vanquish turntable/12-inch 3D tonearm/Lyra Atlas SL, Ortofon A95, Charisma Reference 2 cartridges; Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads/Doshi V3.0 tape stage run balanced; Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords. Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC. Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks; Audiodharma Cable Cooker; Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

              Comment


              • #13
                Hi Fred. I quite enjoy listening to the M10 and M9 at the dealer here in Hong Kong. interestingly they now carry a full Einstein rig as well including speakers. I don't have space or money for all the boxes. They do sell a two box M6 signature in Hong Kong. Lots of models not on their website. I saw a prototype of their new Ultra monoblocks that will use the 212 tube. They will be about 5 times the price of Gaku-One probably and about three feet high. so start saving!!

                Comment


                • #14
                  Originally posted by Richard Austen View Post
                  Hi Fred. I quite enjoy listening to the M10 and M9 at the dealer here in Hong Kong. interestingly they now carry a full Einstein rig as well including speakers. I don't have space or money for all the boxes. They do sell a two box M6 signature in Hong Kong. Lots of models not on their website. I saw a prototype of their new Ultra monoblocks that will use the 212 tube. They will be about 5 times the price of Gaku-One probably and about three feet high. so start saving!!
                  Hi Richard! Greeting from across the ocean and welcome to Audionirvana!

                  Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                  Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                  ________________________________________

                  Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers, cj ART monoblock Amplifiers; cj GAT preamplifier Series 2; Doshi V3.0 phonostage; VPI Vanquish turntable/12-inch 3D tonearm/Lyra Atlas SL, Ortofon A95, Charisma Reference 2 cartridges; Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads/Doshi V3.0 tape stage run balanced; Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords. Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC. Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks; Audiodharma Cable Cooker; Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

                  Comment


                  • #15
                    After a week of 24/7 break-in, the M10 Signature continues to improve. According to Neli, the break-in process will probably last a full month. At this point, the level of detail is simply amazing, clearly better than the Einstein, The downside of this level of detail is that you sometimes lose track of the musical whole, particularly with classical music. Loud complex passages can smear and exhibit some edginess. This seems to be improving on a daily basis. For instance on the Munch RCA re-issue of Ibert "Passages", the trumpet can become painfully edgy which is not typical of this recording. On the other hand the low end has blossomed into a really solid foundation that seems at times to plumb subterranean depths. A previous tendency of transients to be hard and edgy has backed off. Pianos can still come across as having a harder attack than in real life. Soundstage has improved dramatically. Stage width and height are as good as anything which I have heard. On quiet passages I am getting depth and specificity of placement. When the music gets really loud, images come forward and the stage flattens. This is classic break-in and will improve with time. The noise level is vanishingly low, as good as the best transistor units which I have heard. Tonality at this point is a touch dry and at times missing some body. Palpability varies but can be exceptional on instruments with a lot of leading edge such as piano, drums and upright bass. The M10 is showing real promise in rendering dynamics, but still missing some delicacy and nuance, such as with a singer where you want to hear breath and ennunciation but this varies from record to record. So where does this leave us, actually quite happy hoping that in the next three weeks everything will fall into line as break-in is finished. The M10 Signature even at this early stage is standard setting in certain key areas. In others it continues to improve. At this point I am on the journey and have not arrived at the destination but the trip is a lot of fun.

                    I am off the remainder of the year so will be listening frequently and writing additional comments.
                    Rockport Sirius/Ortofon A-90, Ypsilon Phono stage, Einstein preamp, EMM Labs TX2/DA2 digital, Audio Note Balanced Kegon amps, EMM Labs MTRX amps, Acapella Triolons, Jorma Prime and Odin 2 cables, Stage 3 Kraken power cords, HB Marble Powerslave, Finite Elemente Pagode stands, Halcyonics active isolation bases, Loricraft Audiodesk vinyl cleaners.

                    Comment


                    • MylesBAstor
                      MylesBAstor commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Tubes. 😎

                    • Richard Austen
                      Richard Austen commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Hey Fred - AN gear usually sounds pretty good out of the box but to get right usually takes ages. I just got myself a Christmas present buying their best "crossover inside the box" AN E model but I bought the store's demo unit so I didn't have to deal with break-in (it is my first over $20k piece of equipment so writing that cheque was making me sweat like a pig). The M10 has all those boxes and it may take one box more time than the other box to break in as well. Merry Christmas my fellow reviewer - I hope the M10 works out for you - if not I'll be happy to it off your hands. Of course finding space in my Hong Kong apartment will require nifty positioning or the removal of a wall. I'm in Melbourne for Christmas so I may not see replies here for awhile. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
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