Preamplfiers
The precision of reality

The M3 Pre-Amplifier Family

1996 - 2003

 

 

Since we introduced the M3 pre-amplifier in 1996, based on circuitry developed 1994/95. The M3 has proved quite a success, it was voted “Pre-Amplifier of the Year” by Hi-Fi Review in HK earlier this year. It is technically the most advanced (and strangely enough, at the same time quite backward looking) pre-amplifier available. With its dual mono double choke valve rectified power supplies, optimised output transformers and powerful high gain line stage, it will remain the standard in pre-amplifier topology for years to come and as a result is already widely copied.

Building on this circuit’s fundamental qualities we have applied the standard Audio Note™ procedure of upgrading the parts quality in order to improve and refine the sound. The first step in this direction is presented in the M5, followed by the M6 and finally the M8 pre-amplifier, making up what we call the M3-pre-amplifier family.

A couple of super quality pre-amplifiers called the M10 and the SOGON™ M12 are also in development, in these pre-amplifiers we will take the power supply design, valve choice, materials, circuits and component quality to new heights with a price to match, just wait and see!

The improvement in specification, components and materials within the M3 family is shown on the below.

 

                  Model

M3Phono/M3Line

M5Phono/M3Line

M6Phono/M6Line

M8Phono/M8Line

Feature

 

 

 

 

Output transformer

Copper wired, M4 IE-core

Copper wired, HiB double C-core

Copper wired primary/ Audio Note™ silver wired secondary, R36 Nickel double C-core

Audio Note™ silver wired, R36 Nickel double C-core

Signal capacitors

Audio Note™ Cu-foil

Audio Note™ Cu-foil

Audio Note™ Cu-foil in phono & line stage

Audio Note™ AG-foil in all parts of the signal path

Resistors

Audio Note™ 1 watt Tantalum film

Audio Note™ 1 watt Tantalum film

Audio Note™ 1 watt Tantalum film

Audio Note™ 1 watt Tantalum film

Power supply junction electrolytics

Cerafine & standard Black Gates

Cerafine & standard Black Gates

FK & Standard Black Gate™ capacitors

Standard, FK & N-type Black Gate™

Main power supply electrolytics

Cerafine & standard electrolytics

Cerafine

WKz Black Gate™ capacitors

WKz Black Gate™ capacitors

Circuit wiring phono stage

Copper wire

 

Copper wire

Audio Note™ 99.99% pure silver wire

Audio Note™ 99.99% pure silver wire

Phono stage output capacitors

Audio Note™ Cu-foil

Audio Note™ Cu-foil

Audio Note™ Cu-foil

Audio Note™ AG-foil

Circuit wiring line stage

Copper wire

Copper wire

Audio Note™ 99.99% pure silver wire

Audio Note™ 99.99% pure silver wire

Mains inlet wiring

Copper wire

Copper wire

Copper wire

Audio Note AN-SPe silver cable

Mains cable

Standard copper cable

Standard copper cable

Standard copper cable

Standard copper cable

Phono stage valves

GE 6072a/12AY7 x 3

GE 6072A/12AY7 x 3

Brimar CV4068 x 3

Brimar CV4068 x 3

Line stage valves

Philips 5687WB x 2

Philips 5687WB x 2

Philips 5687WB x 2

Philips 5687WB x 2

Output Impedance

600 Ohm balanced and single-ended

600 Ohm balanced and single-ended

600 Ohm balanced and single-ended

600 Ohm balanced and single-ended

Output connectors

1 x XLR, 1 x LEMO,

2 x RCA silver plated

1 x XLR, 1 x LEMO,

2 x RCA silver plated

1 x XLR, 1 x LEMO,

2 x RCA silver plated

1 x XLR, 1 x LEMO,

2 x RCA silver plated

Input connectors

RCA silver plated

RCA silver plated

RCA silver plated

RCA silver plated

Volume/balance pots

Noble

Noble

Noble

Noble

Switches

ELMA

ELMA

ELMA

ELMA

 

The above is a demonstration of how our philosophy of developing the best possible circuit and power supply provides a great platform for creating substantial and in this case almost shocking improvements in sound quality by raising the component and material quality to ever higher levels.

Consider how many other audio manufacturers master the understanding of component and material quality to this degree. This comparison is easily done and is also an instant measure of the seriousness of any audio manufacturer. Just check if his specification includes anything like the above array of specialised audio parts and materials displayed above and then ask your self. Why are there no low noise non-magnetic precision carbon film or tantalum resistors, Black Gate™ or Cerafine capacitors, our own hand-made copper or silver foil signal capacitors, silver wire or thin laminate nickel C-core transformers in the vast majority of our competitors products? I credit most of you with the intelligence to answer that question, so answers on a postcard please! The best answers will be credited with a meter of silver interconnect provided I can use it for my own devious ends!

Please consider the degree to which our very large and in depth stock of exotic parts, represents an investment that requires not just money, but also a combination of faith in the pursuit of absolute sonic quality combined with considerable and highly developed technological know how and a very sophisticated aesthetic. But more than anything it requires courage and commitment to excellence, disregarding, despite their importance, commercial considerations as the only guide to success, they really do come second. Which is where they belong if we are to succeed in the pursuit to get better sound and greater beauty in reproduction of our favourite music and not just remain a pipe dream.

Elsewhere in the specialist audio industry, as in most other branches of consumer products, the relentless pursuit of ever-cheaper products to provide higher profits through lower and lower production costs continues unabated. This has lead to a technological development where measurement technologies have been “redesigned”, distorted and figures misrepresented in order to create the necessary “proof” that the reduction in cost did not result in a corresponding loss in “quality”. “We can make the same cheaper” is the unspoken slogan, which has resulted in products that superficially maintain the same standards of their predecessors but which in reality is substantially and demonstrably inferior, this is what callously passes as progress in most companies’ minds, but progress to where?

Add to this the fact that a pound spent on marketing and promotion seems to have proven to be much more effective at selling a product than a pound invested in better quality parts or better design. Seems is really the wrong word here, it is far more effective in persuading you to buy someone’s products.

Remember in this context that the money can only be spent once.

So if the money are invested in promotion and gimmicks and not put into the product in the form of quality parts, research & development or skilled labour the money have already gone by the time the box has been opened. Bear that in mind next time you pick up a glossy brochure, respond to a designer advert or admire a stunning finish or visual design. At the end of the day, if the product’s function and performance is not enhanced by the investment in finish or literature then it will be worth less with time, because time is not only a strict but a heartless master and judge. Time favours performance rather than fashion, which is devalued quickly after the first admiring glance.

Gloss fades, performance shines, all given time, and sooner than you may this, just try to sell last years “hot” digital product for half or more than you paid for it, a bad decision that only become obvious when you come to sell it off course. But one which should be learnt from perhaps?

Over the past 30 years this process has been repeated so many times that it takes real ingenuity, effort, resolve and considerable historical knowledge and overview to reverse. Which is something that most members of our convenience oriented culture are not prepared to invest any time in, so it is left to someone as fanatical about the beauty of really well performed and reproduced music like myself to pursue this with uncompromising vigour!

Peter Qvortrup

June, 2001

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