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

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  • #31
    Originally posted by fcrowder View Post
    I returned from paradise only to deal with a system that had been un-played for over two weeks and decided to throw a temper tantrum. Initially, things were not pretty but after a weekend of playing music through the system, things are beginning to sound reasonably good. One other result of my two week absence was some time to think about the sound of the Audio Note pieces. I continue to enjoy and learn from the M10 Signature. The combination of the M10 and the Balanced Kegons (particularly using Western Electric 300B tubes) is synergistic to say the least and has allowed me to get so much closer to the music than I ever thought possible and when all is said and done, isn't that what we are all looking for?
    Absence makes the heart grow fonder-both for love and audio!
    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, vdh Colibri Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Fuuga 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, MPod Magico feet, 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.

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    • #32
      So has the M10 got back to its old self or even better. Now that you have been away from the sound has any of your opinions changed? I would guess after airline ear buds and screaming kids on your flight to Hawaii, the system sounds a little more peaceful.

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      • #33
        The system is back to its old self; but it did require quite a bit of music playing to get there. While I remain extremely positive with respect to the Audio Note M10 (Signature), I did realize that I probably needed to put the Einstein preamp back in my system and determine whether some tube rolling would narrow the differences between it and the M10.

        On a related note, Ed Meitner spent the weekend in Houston initially to install a new set of updated input boards in my EMM MTRX amps. In the year since the MTRX amps first arrived for review, they have seen three distinct changes to the input boards, two of which were relatively minor involving changing values of a resistor here and there, the third involving a new layout and more resistor changes. Ed found that increasing the bandwidth and decreasing the settling time had real advantages with respect to bass, dynamics, palpability and three dimensionality. In any event, I removed the Balanced Kegons from the system and restored the MTRX amps. This in itself has really caused me to do some thinking. Two years ago, I would have said that the possibility of any solid state amp equaling a properly designed DHT tube amp was pretty low; however, the MTRX amps, particularly in their latest iteration have caused me to seriously reconsider that belief. Ed has now offered to send me a prototype of a new preamp based on some of the same technology, so we will see how that affects my opinion.
        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.

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        • #34
          I sometimes find myself thinking that I have written everything that I wanted to say (and much more than anyone really wanted to hear) about a topic only to later be surprised. Over the weekend my friend Paul Jackson brought three pairs of Stage 3 power cords to try on the Audio Note M10 (Vortex Prime, Minotaur and Kraken). After hearing the earlier differences between the two power cords which Peter had provided with the preamp (Sogon and Isis), I was not surprised that the Stage 3 cords made the M10 sound different. The surprise was the degree of difference and which cord worked the best. The Vortex Prime which is least expensive of the three actually bettered the more expensive Minotaur which was a bit bass heavy. However, the big winner was the Kraken which was the most expensive. With the Kraken, the noise floor was lower, dimensionality was better as was leading edge and bass slam. I have at this point sent the review to my publisher at dagogo.com and it should be in print in about a month with some nice pictures.
          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.

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          • MylesBAstor
            MylesBAstor commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes the Kraken has received lots of praise.

        • #35
          The final version of my review of the Audio Note M10 (Signature) preamp has been published at www.dagogo.com. While it is to a certain extent similar to my postings here, it is more polished, includes my final thoughts and conclusions and contains some very nice photos of the insides of the M10 and Galahad power supplies as well as one really nice picture of my system. As always, comments are appreciated. For what it is worth, I am currently in discussions with the manufacturer about purchasing the review unit.
          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


          • tima
            tima commented
            Editing a comment
            WoW. Nice job Fred!

          • Hawk
            Hawk commented
            Editing a comment
            I admire your commitment to music & awesome reproduction. Congrats! Your system is something to aspire to. Very nice review in dagogo!

        • #36
          Nice review and amazing equipment but, does this make any sense?

          2016 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTS - $138,965 or Audio Note M10 - $139,000

          Primary 2 channel stuff: Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk 3.3, Pass Labs X600.5 amps, Eminent Technology LFT VI speakers, Aerial SW 12 subs, True Sound Works Ultimate Apogee Divas, VPI Mag Drive / Rim Drive HRX w Avenger Reference footers, 2 - 12" VPI 3DR tonearms, 1 - 12" VPI Stainless Steel tonearm, Miyajima Kansui, Miyajima ZERO, Fidelity Research MC-201 & 202, VPI ADS, Vendetta Research SCP-1, Truth Mod OPPO 105, Western Electric Speaker wire, DIY & Discovery interconnects, Furutech Power Cords

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          • fcrowder
            fcrowder commented
            Editing a comment
            I am really not going to make any arguments about the price/value ratio. I view it much the same way as I view purchasing Patek Philippe watches. What I can say is that I have over the years had many preamps in my system for review and since I purchased the Einstein preamp over ten years ago, I have never really heard anything (prior to the M10) which convinced me to change. This is not to say that the Einstein was perfect, only that its particular mix of strengths and weaknesses appealed to me. Fast forward, the Audio Note is in every respect (except ergonomics) superior to the Einstein or for that matter anything else which I have heard with the possible exception of a prototype which has not yet reached final production, but shows much promise. In some areas, I cannot imagine that the M10's performance can be improved upon at any price (here I am thinking about three dimensionality, accuracy of tone/timbre, dynamics, coherence and retrieval of detail).

        • #37
          The control section of the M10 Line Signature recently made a trip to the factory for an update to replace the 20 step attenuator ( actually a multiple silver contact switch with discrete resistors at each position) with a new design that allowed 36 steps which they felt was sonically superior. The sonic attributes previously described in this post remaineded true of the modified unit, but some further improvement in the sound was apparent. The new volume controls were everything which I could have asked for and more. The additional range of adjustment was more than adequate for my needs and as a side benefit, I believe that the new attenuators resulted in a further slight reduction in distortion, an even lower noise floor, higher resolution and a more natural presentation of bass. Note that I am not saying more bass or even better controlled bass as those areas have always been strong points of the unit. In this instance, I am thinking more natural and more of one piece with the midrange and highs.

          In the end after quite a bit of soul searching, I decided to purchase the review sample.
          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


          • #38
            Originally posted by fcrowder View Post
            The control section of the M10 Line Signature recently made a trip to the factory for an update to replace the 20 step attenuator ( actually a multiple silver contact switch with discrete resistors at each position) with a new design that allowed 36 steps which they felt was sonically superior. The sonic attributes previously described in this post remaineded true of the modified unit, but some further improvement in the sound was apparent. The new volume controls were everything which I could have asked for and more. The additional range of adjustment was more than adequate for my needs and as a side benefit, I believe that the new attenuators resulted in a further slight reduction in distortion, an even lower noise floor, higher resolution and a more natural presentation of bass. Note that I am not saying more bass or even better controlled bass as those areas have always been strong points of the unit. In this instance, I am thinking more natural and more of one piece with the midrange and highs.

            In the end after quite a bit of soul searching, I decided to purchase the review sample.
            First, congratulations. After using the M10 LS I can only imagine it would prey on your mind if you gave it up and "went back."

            I don't remember what is the gain of the M10, but I learned through experience that finer grained attenuation is a clear benefit on linestages having high/higher gain when used with high gain amplifiers. Some linestages address - make themselves more appealing to a wider range of amps - through hi-lo gain switches (eg Lamm) or channel specific trim adjusters to lower gain (eg Atma-Sphere) while high-gain preamps (eg C-J) with very fine gain steps don't need those. 20 steps seemed a bit too few.

            I don't recall if the M10 LS is true balanced circuitry beyond its ins and outs, but the (correct) design of the volume stepper with discrete resistors on each station tells me it certainly could be.
            Spkr: Wilson Alexias series 2; Amps: Lamm M1.2Ref; Linestage and phono: ARC Ref 10 and ARC Ref 10 Phono; TT: GPA Monaco 1.5 & 2.0; Arms: Kuzma 4Point, Tri-planar Mk. VII U2-SE; Cartridges: Allnic Arrow/Puritas, Benz LP S, Lyra Etna, Transfiguration Phoenix, Denon DL-A100,DL103R; Cables: Shunyata ╬×tron Anaconda PC/SC/IC; Pwr Cond: Shunyata Triton II, Typhons(3); Isolation: SRA Scuttle3 rack, SRA Ohio Class amp stands, ; Acoustics: Stillpoints Apertures; Audio cat: Finzi

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            • fcrowder
              fcrowder commented
              Editing a comment
              The M10 Signature has 16 db. of gain. This worked well with the 23 watt Balanced Kegons but not so well with the 1500 watt E<< Labs MTRX amps. With the MTTRX I only had about three positions that were usable. The new stepped attenuators provide significantly more flexibility with the MTRX amps. A side benefit of the change is that the new attenuators use the new Audio Note "silver" resistors which I understand to mean that the leads are silver rather than copper or another metal. The bad news is that each position is a discrete resistor pair so needs to be broken in separately. The M10 is only balanced at the inputs and outputs where it uses silver wound transformers.

          • #39
            I am envious. This must be a superb preamp. Nice that you have the partnering AN amplifiers. Enjoy!

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            • fcrowder
              fcrowder commented
              Editing a comment
              In the end, I was glad that I could keep the M10 Signature in my home system. It is by a considerable margin, the best preamp that I have heard in a controlled environment and yes, it does form a very synergistic combination with the Balanced Kegon amplifiers; however, it also works exceptionally well with the EMM MTRX amps.

          • #40
            So are you keeping the M10?

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            • #41
              We can wait to get confirmation from the OP, but he said he kept the review piece earlier in the thread. It must be a phenomenal preamp.
              Last edited by dan31; 07-25-2017, 04:47 PM.

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              • #42
                One of the aspects that I find intriguing about Fred's journey with the M10 is the following: if I understand his description correctly Fred let the preamp play continuously for many days or maybe even a couple of weeks notwithstanding all the valves that are being employed in the M10. I never dared to do this with my Kondo equipment but I also really hate this period of breaking in components. So my question is: am I too reserved in this regard and can we play tube equipment like Audio Note, Kondo etc. continuously for days/weeks without damaging the equipment?
                Last edited by Audiocrack; 07-27-2017, 12:44 AM.

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                • #43
                  Does Fred leave his new preamp powered up 24/7?

                  Interesting how some handle tubes in 24/7 powered up in thier systems. I think Albert Porter use to leave his dual power supply Aesthetix phono and preamp on all the time. He tested tubes after one year with minimal loss to the tubes. My Io phono has 24 tubes. I can't imagine leaving it on full time like Albert did in his system. I'm guessing having select NOS may play into this potential for long tube life.
                  Last edited by dan31; 07-26-2017, 09:45 AM.

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                  • #44
                    Hi Folks, Neli Davis here. I had the great pleasure of visiting Fred again a few weeks ago. We have been friends for a long time, and it was really nice to be able to support him in the process of his review. I think he's traveling again right now so ..

                    In my experience, Fred does not leave his M10 (or other tube gear) on all the time. He turns things on and gets them playing for an hour or so before a serious listening session.

                    It's my opinion that tube gear does need to be run in from brand new, that the effect of break-in is audible albeit more subtle as more time passes. I encouraged Fred to leave the M10 powered on and playing as much as possible during the first couple months.

                    It's also my experience that much gear, including the tube gear that we love, sounds better - more relaxed, more responsive, more open -- after it's been on for a few *days*. So my suggestion for Audiocrack above is ... yes, I think your Kondo equipment is up to it, just try leaving it all on one weekend when you are home and getting to listen for a few days.
                    Neli Davis, Partner, Audio Federation Inc.
                    Pursuing the Ultimate Music Experience
                    http://www.audiofederation.com

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                    • #45
                      Thanks for your reply, Neli. I have been using various Kondo components for many years now and I totally agree: they really need to be played in, not only because of the tubes but also because the transformers (and other components in the (pre)amp). And yes, even after all components are fully burned in they start to sound better after the first listening hours. But I never dared to leave on my Kondo equipment for say a whole day. Actually I do not play more than approximately 4-5 hours continuously; after that I turn the system off for about one hour and then start playing again if I want to listen to more music. This is what the Kondo factory advises their customers to do but I am not aware whether this advise is motivated only by caution or - more likely - to spare the tubes. Voltage value of for example the Kondo 211 amps - Ongaku, Gakuon and Kagura - is very high (1250 volts). Do not know whether the voltage value of the Audio Note UK poweramps is also quite high.
                      Last edited by Audiocrack; 07-27-2017, 10:09 AM.

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