Audio Note AN-J Loudspeaker

Audio Note AN Speaker Range 

 

The superb Audio Note AN speaker range, is based on the classic Snell design and improved upon by Audio Note designers. The fundamentals remain consistent throughout the various models; a two way, rear ported, stand mount design using an 8 inch bass/mid driver and 1 inch soft dome tweeter. The speaker proportions may seem quite different from modern fashion, being wider rather than deeper, but this allows the speaker to breath naturally as a musical instrument would. When you listen to Audio Note loudspeakers you do not get the sense that the music is restricted by the cabinet dimensions, rather instruments sound natural, full and effortless.

About Audio Note AN-J Loudspeaker

 

The Audio Note AN-J is the middle model in Audio Notes classic range of speakers. The ported J’s are unquestionably “fuller” sounding than their little brothers (the K’s), in the sense that they go lower with more authority, go higher with more ease – they are smoother and more open sounding; and they create a larger image.

The J’s bass comes remarkably close to that of their big brother E’s. In small and large rooms alike, with their 93 dB sensitivity, they are quite happy on the OTO. Actually, the OTO/J-SPe combination is one of my most popular.

There are thirteen different versions of the Audio Note AN-J, and all are available in 19 different real wood finishes, with a choice of veneers in standard or high gloss. The AN-E are available with either paper cone or Hemp cone drivers for the mid/ bass unit. The Hemp has an effortless sound, with lower colouration and greater midband resolution.

Audio Note AN-J Reviews

 

“I could save the answer to create added suspense to that question, but rest assured the Audio Note AN-J is one of those loudspeakers that will do justice to any Beethoven Symphony, or your latest Trance/Hip Hop/Rock album. Your pulse will flow at low volumes or when you want those 90dB-100dB sessions. The Audio Note AN-J and E may be stand mount speakers, but they need to be viewed and compared to floor standers when it comes to volume and bass prowess. Granted there is a limit here. The AN J is capable of solid bass between 25Hz and 40Hz depending on positioning, which is remarkable for a speaker this size while also being very easy to drive.

“The speakers’ balanced presentation from top to bottom displays no hick-ups passing information from woofer to tweeter.”

The Audio Note AN-J is one of those chameleon loudspeakers which are equally at home with 1960’s Ray Charles LPs, while bringing about the soaring beauty in young classical artists like Hayley Westenra. The speakers’ balanced presentation from top to bottom displays no hick-ups passing information from woofer to tweeter. The speakers are as seamless in this regard as I have ever heard. This is absolutely critical and a failing of so many loudspeakers because without this seamlessness, the belief that the artists are in the room immediately crumbles and turns into a session of dissecting tweeters and woofers.

Beginning with human voice is usually a good starting point because our ear is finely tuned and wealthily experienced in listening to this important instrument. Using a wide array of CD and LP from several artists across genres from Leonard Cohen, Jackson Browne, Alison Krauss, Loreena McKennit, Sarah McLachlan, Diana Krall, Katrina Gauvin, Kathleen Battle, Lucinda Williams, Andrea Bocelli, Madonna, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, Ella Fitgerald, Frank Sinatra etc, (WHEW. –Ed.) without fail the AN J’s impressed at stepping out of the way and allowing me to be involved and touched by these artists. Moreover they allow me to listen for very long sessions and not become wary of annoying traits that often occur over longer listening sessions with a great many loudspeakers. Indeed, there is a lot here to convince me that Peter Qvortrup’s stance is closer to the truth than a lot of people would like to admit!

Okay so they’re great on vocals, but surely 8-inch woofers with one-inch tweeters are going to struggle with dance related music, synthesizers, and hard rock. Usually these genres are less well-recorded and with higher degrees of compression and the Audio Note AN-J will show up these warts. However, the AN’s won’t show them up by putting a spotlight on them and scream “This recording stinks – let’s only pay attention to the bad bits.” No, the AN J’s will let you know the recording is poor but they won’t highlight and bash you over the head.

For example, Motley’ Crue’s Dr. Feelgood can play loud but seemed quite thinned dimensionally. The Audio Note AN-J still rendered the LP enjoyable but you could certainly hear the limitations of this recording. Sifting through Mathew Good, Aerosmith, The Outfield, Goo Goo Dolls, Neil Young, White Stripes, Santana, I settled in for AC/DC’s Back in Black which is considered to be one of the better Rock albums in terms of dynamic range (LP). (Also try The Game by The Queen. –Ed.) And AC/DC is just plain fun. When you listen to this you want to turn it up and you want to feel it in your gut – you don’t want to be reminded that the speaker is compressing and bottoming out and generally huffing and puffing just to get a drum to sound remotely like a drum, which is often the case for stand mount speakers and smaller floor standers.

The Audio Note AN-J rocks and rocks well. Their lightning fast transients gets the heart pounding and impressive bass lines easily negotiate bass guitar without creating “one note” deadness to the proceedings. Nothing becomes blurred, vocals project strongly into the room and are not glazed over in a sea of distorted noise. The downside to this is that you can now make out the words and thus the lyric writing ability of most of these rock groups. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. (Opera lyrics are generally boring, too. –Ed.)

“You have that mid-bass hump that people discuss with disdain but if it’s on the recording then your stereo and speakers NEED to pelt you with that mid-bass drive.”

Okay how about dance? There’s usually more synthesizer and that dance beat kind of bass. Different music generates different kinds of bass. And it is this aspect that really isn’t discussed enough in this industry. You have that mid-bass hump that people discuss with disdain but if it’s on the recording then your stereo and speakers NEED to pelt you with that mid-bass drive. So put on some Gloria Estefan, Madonna, Tupac, Delerium, and away I ago again.

Madonna albums run from the rather well-recorded Immaculate Collection to the rather poorer recordings in Confessions from a Dance Floor. The J’s will tell you what’s up and they keep the high-octane boogie factor in confectionary music (which is what Madonna is when she’s at her best in my view) in tracks like “Into the Groove,” “Vogue,” “Cherish,” and “Express Yourself.” The driving club-like bass is retained to acceptably high levels. Delerium’s “Silence” with Sarah Mclachlan (LP and CD) is a busy powerful synthesizer driven trance track and the AN J’s really show what they can do when pushed to high levels. The speakers fill the room with terrific treble stability and sound that washes over you. The J’s continually amaze me that sound this big can come from a speaker this small.

Naturally, the big monster club speakers are going to win out here – we’re talking home speakers and there is a limit because clearly the speakers are aimed at more polished classical and jazz aficionados. However, I wanted to make it very clear that despite their modest size and driver compliment, and unlike a vast array of speakers aimed at classical and Jazz listeners, these speakers can rock the house with wall rumbling chest pounding vibes. They won’t crack plaster but no one is stopping you from adding subwoofers.

Yes, but Richard I am one of those polished classical and jazz listeners and mentioning Madonna and Tupac in a review is hi-fi heresy. Okay. Sheesh don’t be such a snob! I’m an equal opportunity listener and pulling out my collection of Wes Montgomery, Dave Brubeck, Lee Morgan, Miles (does anyone mention jazz without Miles?), David Sanborn, YellowJackets, Ella Fitgerald, Chopin, Corelli, Vivaldi (my favorite), Beethoven and even adding other instrumental music such as Acoustic Alchemy, Jesse Cook, Leahy, Spyro Gyra, Mike Oldfield, etc., well we can dispense with the worry that the J is just about rock.

“Piano is perhaps the most difficult instrument for any speaker to negotiate and what the Audio Note AN-J provides is a real visceral sense that you are listening to an actual piano in almost all of its power and glory.”

Indeed, it is with classical and jazz and acoustic instruments where the Audio Note AN-J truly shines. Perhaps this is due to the box design or lack of damping or sprinkled fairy dust in the silver wires, but instruments are allowed to breathe in a way that makes them sound hauntingly real. Piano is perhaps the most difficult instrument for any speaker to negotiate and what the Audio Note AN-J provides is a real visceral sense that you are listening to an actual piano in almost all of its power and glory. Indeed, listening to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” on Audio Note speakers was a revelation to me of what loudspeakers were capable of providing, and I have heard several acclaimed panel loudspeakers where this kind of thing is considered their bread and butter.

Hilary Hahn’s violin playing is majestic and beautiful and the J’s don’t skip on the nuance and beauty contained in her playing. Violin is often mangled in an overly screechy affair or dulled down to being difficult to distinguish from a cello. The AN J is one of the best tonal and timbral reproducers available with a sense of imaging and staging that places instruments in their perspective places. However, to me, getting the sound of the instrument right is more important than where the instrument is located and the cello is such a wonderfully sad-sounding instrument and tough to get right. If there is one instrument that pulls my heart strings, it’s the cello.

To conclude, the Audio Note AN-J, like the bigger AN E, navigates anything you throw at them with aplomb. They are always engaging, enjoyable, and have an overriding sense that what is being sent to the ears is “right.” And where the J goes wrong is more about omission. They won’t dig the deepest pedal organ notes out for example, but they will artfully relay most of the fundamental to trick you into believing there is more there than what is there. There is a great deal of art in the design of loudspeakers, and artfully shifting weaknesses so that they do not impede your enjoyment of music is paramount in retaining your willingness to suspend disbelief.”- DAGOGO. RICHARD EUSTON.

To read the full review of the Audio Note An-J speakers in Dagogo by Richard Euston click here