Amplifiers

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Audio Note™ Amplifiers – First Principles.

The musical information captured on a CD or a record needs to be amplified before we can fill a room with music.

Audio Note™ does not make amplifiers that use transistors as amplifying devices anywhere. We believe – and much of the audio industry conclusively proves this with its products – that transistor amplifiers are sonically inferior, fundamentally flawed when compared to well-executed valve amplification.

Live music is a linear sonic event, yet transistors are semiconductors - or partial-conductors - and they are neither linear nor natural voltage amplifiers. To achieve a bandwidth wide enough for music they require correction - feedback - and this process further damages what little remains of once linear recorded events. This is why all transistor amplifiers sound poor to a lesser or greater degree.

Pentode or tetrode valves also require corrective feedback to suppress load sensitivity and improve bandwidth, but being high impedance devices that require teaming with an output transformer they are less un-linear than transistors. They will therefore sound better than transistors when well implemented in an audio amplifier, in push pull, but especially when used single-ended and/or in pseudo triode mode with their grids connected together. They also have the advantage of being comparatively low cost and efficient in terms of power output, so are valid as amplifying devices in amplification where cost is a consideration.

Audio Note™ continues to believe that directly heated triodes remain the pre-eminent output tubes for musical amplification. They are less efficient and more expensive that pentodes or tetrodes, but they are highly linear voltage amplifying devices and respond in truly remarkable ways to the application of highly informed circuit design, and to the use of better components and materials.

And so, in the first two Audio Note™ Performance levels Zero and One we use pentode or tetrode valves in push pull configuration as this is the economically most effective cost - quality option, single-ended configurations start in Level Two with the OTO/P1 SE amplifiers, while directly heated triodes first appear in Performance Level Three, this is the level where component parts quality starts playing a serious role. At each level from Level One through to Level Six we develop the very best possible circuit and power supply configurations, then apply steadily more refined components and materials to achieve a predictable ladder of higher quality sonic performance. Click here to read more about the Audio Note™ Performance Level system.

Together with Audio Note™ analogue and digital sources, speakers and interconnects, Audio Note™ amplifiers build into systems whose musicality will touch you like no other. At the same time, each element also stands in its own right as the pinnacle, we believe, of what is sonically possible to achieve at each given price point.



Audio Note™ Power Amplifiers

 

Level Zero to Level Three Power Amplifiers

 

The Audio Note™ line of power amplifiers is without any doubt the most comprehensive available from a single manufacturer, we cover practically every available power valve available from the small EL84, to the mighty 211 triode, with prices ranging from the fairly modest to the positively immodest, and if combined with a suitable pre-amplifier with provide the highest attainable sound within its price class.

Model

Description

P1 PP

Level One, 12 watt push-pull Class A stereo amplifier 4 x EL84, 4 x ECC83, standard parts, Beyschlag metal film resistors, ERO polyester signal capacitors, standard electrolytic capacitors, Audio Note™ 100K input volume control allows use as a standalone one input control centre

P2 PP

Level One, 20 watt push-pull Class A stereo amplifier 4 x 6L6G, 2 x 6SN7, 2 x ECC83, standard parts, Beyschlag metal film resistors, ERO polyester signal capacitors, standard electrolytic capacitors, Audio Note™ 100K input volume control allows use as a standalone one input control centre

P1SE

Level Two, 10 watt parallel single-ended Class A stereo amplifier, 4 x EL84, 4 x ECC83, Beyschlag metal film resistors, Audio Note™ tin foil/mylar in oil signal capacitors, standard electrolytic capacitors, Audio Note™ 100K input volume control allows use as a standalone one input control centre

P2SE

Level Two, 18 watt parallel single-ended Class A stereo amplifier, 4 x 5881, 2 x 6SL7, Beyschlag metal film resistors, Audio Note™ tin foil/mylar in oil signal capacitors, standard electrolytic capacitors, Audio Note™ 100K input volume control allows use as a standalone one input control centre

Paladin

Level Three, 2 watt single-ended Class A no feedback stereo power amplifier, valve rectified choke power supply, Audio Note™ copper foil signal capacitors,  Beyschlag metal film resistors, in house made copper wired I-E core output transformer, standard electrolytic capacitors, audio circuit hardwired with Audio Note™ silver wire,

1 x 6SL7GT input stage, 45 output stage with 5R4GY rectifier, but no 45s supplied at stated retail

1 Pair NOS 45 output triodes when supplied with Paladin amplifier at additional cost

Vindicator

Level Three, 3.5 watt single-ended Class A no feedback stereo power amplifier, valve rectified choke power supply, Audio Note™ copper foil signal capacitors,  Beyschlag metal film resistors, in house made copper wired I-E core output transformer, audio circuit hardwired with silver wire, 1 x 6SL7GT input stage, single Sovtek 2A3 output stage with 5R4GY rectifier

Conqueror

Level Three, 8 watt single-ended Class A no feedback triode stereo amplifier, valve rectifier choke power supply, Audio Note™ copper foil signal capacitors, Beyschlag metal film resistors, standard electrolytic capacitors, in house made I-E core output transformer, valve compliment 2 x 300B, 2 x 6SN7, 1 x 5U4G

Conqueror

Low Gain

Level Three, 8 watt single-ended Class A no feedback triode stereo amplifier, valve rectifier choke power supply, Audio Note™ copper foil signal capacitors, Beyschlag metal film resistors, standard electrolytic capacitors, in house made I-E core output transformer, 2 x 300B, 2 x 6J5 metal, 1 x 5U4G, low gain version available

Quest

 

 

Level Three, 9 watt single-ended Class A no feedback triode mono amplifiers, valve rectified choke power supply, Audio Note™ copper foil signal capacitors, Beyschlag metal film resistors, standard electrolytic capacitors, in house made I-E core output transformer, 2 x 300B, 2 x 6SN7, 2 x 5U4G,

Quest

Low Gain

Level Three, 9 watt single-ended Class A no feedback triode mono amplifiers, valve rectified choke power supply, Audio Note™ copper foil signal capacitors, Beyschlag metal film resistors, standard electrolytic capacitors, in house made I-E core output transformer, 2 x 300B, 2 x 6J5 metal, 2 x 5U4G,

Quest Silver

 

 

Level Three, 9 watt single-ended Class A no feedback triode mono amplifiers, valve rectified choke power supply, Audio Note™ copper foil signal capacitors, Beyschlag metal film resistors, standard electrolytic capacitors, in house made IHiB double C-core output transformer, 2 x 300B, 2 x 6SN7, 2 x 5U4G,

Quest Silver Low Gain

Level Three, 9 watt single-ended Class A no feedback triode mono amplifiers, valve rectified choke power supply, Audio Note™ copper foil signal capacitors, Beyschlag metal film resistors, standard electrolytic capacitors, in house made IHiB double C-core output transformer, 2 x 300B, 2 x 6J5 metal, 2 x 5U4G,

Quest Silver Signature

 

Level Three, 9 watt single-ended Class A no feedback triode mono amplifiers, valve rectified choke power supply, Audio Note™ copper foil signal capacitors, Audio Note™ Tantalum resistors, Cerafine & standard electrolytic capacitors, in house made SHiB double C-core output transformer, 2 x 300B, 2 x 6SN7, 2 x 5U4G,

Quest Silver Signature

Low Gain

Level Three, 9 watt single-ended Class A no feedback triode mono amplifiers, valve rectified choke power supply, Audio Note™ copper foil signal capacitors, Audio Note™ Tantalum resistors, Cerafine & standard electrolytic capacitors, in house made SHiB double C-core output transformer, 2 x 300B, 2 x 6J5 glass, 2 x 5U4G,

Conquest

Level Three, 18 watt single-ended Class A no feedback triode mono amplifiers, valve rectified choke power supply, Audio Note™ copper foil signal capacitors, Beyschlag metal film resistors, standard electrolytic capacitors, in house made I-E core output transformer, 4 x 300B, 2 x 6SN7, 2 x 5U4G,

Conquest

Low Gain

Level Three, 18 watt single-ended Class A no feedback triode mono amplifiers, valve rectified choke power supply, Audio Note™ copper foil signal capacitors, Beyschlag metal film resistors, standard electrolytic capacitors, in house made I-E core output transformer, 4 x 300B, 2 x 6J5 metal, 2 x 5U4G,

Conquest Silver

Level Three, 18 watt single-ended Class A no feedback triode mono amplifiers, valve rectified choke power supply, Audio Note™ copper foil signal capacitors, Beyschlag metal film resistors, standard electrolytic capacitors, in house made IHiB double C-core output transformer, 4 x 300B, 2 x 6SN7, 2 x 5U4G,

Conquest Silver

Low Gain

Level Three, 18 watt single-ended Class A no feedback triode mono amplifiers, valve rectified choke power supply, Audio Note™ copper foil signal capacitors, Beyschlag metal film resistors, standard electrolytic capacitors, in house made IHiB double C-core output transformer, 4 x 300B, 2 x 6J5 metal, 2 x 5U4G,

Conquest Silver Signature

Level Three, 18 watt single-ended Class A no feedback triode mono amplifiers, valve rectified choke power supply, Audio Note™ copper foil signal capacitors, Audio Note™ tantalum resistors, Cerafine & standard electrolytic capacitors, in house made IHiB double C-core output transformer, 4 x 300B, 2 x 6SN7, 2 x 5U4G,

Conquest Silver Signature

Low Gain

Level Three, 18 watt single-ended Class A no feedback triode mono amplifiers, valve rectified choke power supply, Audio Note™ copper foil signal capacitors, Audio Note™ tantalum resistors, Cerafine & standard electrolytic capacitors, in house made IHiB double C-core output transformer, 4 x 300B, 2 x 6J5 glass, 2 x 5U4G,

ANKORU/II

Level Three, 45 watt Class A parallel single-ended no feedback mono power amplifiers, Audio Note™ tantalum resistors, Cerafine & standard electrolytic capacitors, in house made IHiB double C-core output transformer, fully balanced input 1:3  input transformers 600Ohm balanced only input with XLR socket, fully transformer coupled circuit, with 2 triode coupled 6V6GT driving output stage 2x 211 Chinese, choke coupled 5R4WGB power supply, no low gain

The Conqueror, Quest and the Conquest models are now available with a single stage input using a 6J5, this is to accommodate the need for ultra quiet replay, the standard Quest-Conqueror circuit has very high input sensitivity making it extremely difficult to make the system quiet if very efficient speakers (100dB plus) are used.

It is important to understand that sonically it is desirable to have as much gain available in the circuit as possible, as the wider the dynamic gain window is the better the amplifier/system handles wide dynamic signal levels (contrary to popular belief, dynamics have NOTHING to do with power, it is a function of how much each stage in a circuit’s gain window limits the dynamic peaks), having very high gain and therefore sensitivity in a power amplifier creates problems with background noise levels, in systems where speakers have very high efficiency it is necessary to limit the amount of gain in the amplification, to allow usable attenuation in the volume and to reduce the level of residual circuit noise coming though the speakers.

All Audio Note™ power amplifiers, except the ANKORU/II, have heavily silver plated RCA input and AN-STR speaker terminals with 4 & 8Ohm output impedance. 

Despite the low power output of all out power amplifiers, their ability to drive speakers with even quite low efficiency, there is naturally a limit to how loud it is possible to play, however, even 86dB efficient loudspeakers can be used in smaller rooms.

Level Four & Level Five Power Amplifiers


Building on the same two basic circuit topologies and extending the quality of the componentry used in the Audio Note™ Level Three amplifiers Quest/Conquest and ANKORU/II the Level Four and Five elevate the materials and component quality to levels not often, if at all, seen in commercial amplification regardless of price or reputation, as we move up through the Audio Note™ product range the use of exotic and highly expensive parts and materials proliferate, Audio Note™ thick film tantalum resistors, Cerafine, Silmic and Black Gate™ electrolytic capacitors, silver wire and UHiB and nickel C-cores are not seen in other products, below is a short form breakdown of the components and materials used in each amplifier.

 

Model

Description

NEIRO

Level Four, 8 watt Class A parallel single-ended no feedback mono power amplifiers with choke coupled valve rectified power supply and Cerafine filter caps, UHiB double C-core with copper primary and Audio Note™ silver secondary windings, Audio Note™ copper foil signal caps and 1 watt tantalum resistors, Silmic and Black Gate decoupling caps, fully Audio Note™ silver wired circuit, valve compliment 4 x 2A3, 2 x NOS 6SN7, 2 x NOS 5R4GY

NEIRO

 

Low Gain version

Level Four, 8 watt Class A parallel single-ended no feedback mono power amplifiers with choke coupled valve rectified power supply and Cerafine filter caps, UHiB double C-core with copper primary and Audio Note™ silver secondary windings, Audio Note™ copper foil signal caps and 1 watt tantalum resistors, Silmic and Black Gate™ decoupling caps, fully Audio Note™ silver wired circuit, valve compliment 4 x 2A3, 2 x NOS 6J5 glass, 2 x NOS 5R4GY

SHINRI

Level Four, 10 watt Class A single-ended no feedback mono power amplifiers component quality & transformers as above NEIRO specification, but with valve compliment single 300B per channel, 2 x NOS 6SN7 and 2 x NOS 5R4GY

SHINRI

Low gain version

Level Four, 10 watt Class A single-ended no feedback mono power amplifiers component quality & transformers as above NEIRO specification, but valve compliment with single 300B per channel, 2 x NOS 6J5 glass and 2 x NOS 5R4GY

KASSAI

Level Four, 22 watt Class A parallel single-ended no feedback mono power amplifiers, component quality and output transformers as NEIRO, valve compliment 4 x 300B, 2 x NOS 6SN7, 2 x NOS 5U4GB

KASSAI

Low Gain version

Level Four, 22 watt Class A parallel single-ended no feedback mono power amplifiers, component quality and output transformers as NEIRO, valve compliment 4 x 300B, 2 x NOS 6J5 glass, 2 x NOS 5U4GB

GINREI

Level Four, 45 watt Class A parallel single-ended no feedback mono triode power amplifiers with ultra simple fully transformer coupled circuit topology with in-house designed and wound input, driver and output transformers, with copper wired primaries and Audio Note™ silver wired secondaries and UHiB double C-cores, 1 and 2 watt Audio Note™ tantalum resistors, Audio Note™ filter capacitors in power supply, Silmic & Black Gate™ decoupling capacitors, no signal coupling capacitors whatsoever (!), valve compliment, 4 x 211,

4 x NOS 5R4WGB, 2 x NOS triode coupled 6V6GT

KAGEKI

8 watts Class A parallel single-ended no feedback mono power amplifiers, all Audio Note™ silver wired circuit & power supply, Audio Note™ silver foil signal capacitors & tantalum resistors, Black Gate caps where ever possible, all Audio Note™ silver wired output transformer with AN Perma 50 double C-core, valve compliment

4 x NOS 2A3, 2 x NOS 5692, 2 x NOS 5R4GY

KAGEKI

Low Gain version

8 watts Class A parallel single-ended no feedback mono power amplifiers, all Audio Note™ silver wired circuit & power supply, Audio Note™ silver foil signal capacitors & tantalum resistors, Black Gate™ caps where ever possible, all Audio Note™ silver wired output transformer with AN Perma 50 double C-core, 4 x NOS 2A3,

2 x NOS L63/CV1067, 2 x NOS 5R4GY

KAGEKI Balanced

Level Five, 8 watt Class A parallel single-ended no feedback mono triode power amplifiers with ultra simple fully transformer coupled circuit topology with in-house designed and wound input, driver and output transformers, all Audio Note™ silver wired, AN Perma 50 double C-cored, 2 watt Audio Note™ tantalum resistors, Black Gate™ WKz and NH type capacitors in power supply, Black Gate™ N-type decoupling capacitors, no signal coupling capacitors whatsoever (!), valve compliment, 4 x NOS 2A3, 4 x NOS 5R4WGB,

2 x NOS VT25/10Y

BARANSU

10 watt Class A single-ended no feedback mono power amplifiers, component quality as KAGEKI, valve compliment 2 x WE300B (when available), 2 x NOS 5692, 2 x NOS RCA 5R4GY

BARANSU

Low gain version

10 watt Class A single-ended no feedback mono power amplifiers, component quality as KAGEKI, valve compliment 2 x 300B (when available), 2 x NOS L63/CV1067, 2 x NOS RCA 5R4GY

BARANSU Balanced

Level Five, 10 watt Class A single-ended no feedback mono triode power amplifiers with ultra simple fully transformer coupled circuit topology with in-house designed and wound input, driver and output transformers, all Audio Note™ silver wired, AN Perma 50 double C-cored, 2 watt Audio Note™ tantalum resistors, Black Gate™ WKz and NH type capacitors in power supply, Black Gate™ N-type decoupling capacitors, no signal coupling capacitors whatsoever (!), valve compliment, 4 x 300B, 4 x NOS 5R4WGB, 2 x NOS VT25/10Y

KEGON

Level Five, 22 watt Class A parallel single-ended no feedback mono triode power amplifiers, component quality as KAGEKI, valve compliment, 4 x WE300B (when available), 2 x NOS 5692, 2 x NOS 5U4G

KEGON

Low Gain version

Level Five, 22 watt Class A parallel single-ended no feedback mono triode power amplifiers, component quality as KAGEKI, valve compliment, 4 x WE300B (when available), 2 x NOS L63/CV1067, 2 x NOS 5U4G

KEGON Balanced

Level Five, 22 watt Class A parallel single-ended no feedback mono triode power amplifiers with ultra simple fully transformer coupled circuit topology with in-house designed and wound input, driver and output transformers, all Audio Note™ silver wired, AN Perma 50 double C-cored, 2 watt Audio Note™ tantalum resistors, Black Gate™ WKz and NH type capacitors in power supply, Black Gate™ N-type decoupling capacitors, no signal coupling capacitors whatsoever (!), valve compliment, 4 x 300B, 4 x NOS 5R4WGB, 2 x NOS VT25/10Y

GAKU-ON™

Level Five, 45 watt Class A parallel single-ended no feedback mono triode power amplifiers with ultra simple fully transformer coupled circuit topology with in-house designed and wound input, driver and output transformers, all Audio Note™ silver wired, AN Perma 50 double C-cored, 2 watt Audio Note™ tantalum resistors, Black Gate™ WKz and NH type capacitors in power supply, Black Gate™ N-type decoupling capacitors, no signal coupling capacitors whatsoever (!), valve compliment, 4 x NOS VT4-C/211, 4 x NOS 5R4WGB, 2 x NOS VT25/10Y


NOS means New Old Stock and refer to valves no longer in production. Some are over 50 years old and very hard to source, not to mention expensive, Audio Note™ hold very substantial stocks of all the new old stock valves used in the Level Five amplification, and we expect to be able to offer replacements for the foreseeable future. It is, however, recommended that customers invest in a spare set of valves soon after purchase.

All Level Four and Level Five products are subject to (sometimes considerable) delivery time and minimum deposit with order.

PQ, May, 2009


 

 

 

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