Audio Note AX-Two - Welcome Home

StevenZ

Active Member
Congrats on your Audio Note speakers @StevenZ ! I was watching your quest for the past couple of years and you can’t go too far wrong with Audio Note. I listened to the AN-E several times at shows and always left not being able to forget them. Love @Richard Austen ’s comment about the grail. Plain looking, phenomenal performance.
Congrats again and enjoy!
Thank you! Yes it’s been quite a ride these past few years. Glad I am where I am.
 

Richard Austen

Junior Member
I have spent most of the day making notes for a review of the AN K/SPe along with Wyred4Sound mAmps. Choosing some various tracks (digital only today). I also hooked up my AX Two speakers.

System is
Audio Note M1 phono preamp (I traded in my M3 for an M6 but it is still being built).
Audio Note Lexus IC to power amps
Empress Silver (2a3) monoblocks 8 wpc parallel single-ended & Wyred4Sound mAmps (Class D - 250wpc @8 ohm/430wpc @ 4ohm)
Audio Note DAC 0.1x with AN V silver interconnect.
AN SPE silver speaker cables.

I forgot how truly excellent the AX Two really is. I think the AN K is better in terms of bass depth, dynamics, and richness, and color but the difference - really is about diminishing returns. The AN K is worth it if you have the disposable money to get them but at near 3 times the price for the K/D - it's not an easy decision - at least on digital so far.

It depends on what you listen to and how loud - the K/SPe can play louder and remain more in control of larger-scale music - the AX Two has surprising bass for a small speaker -- the AN K has surprising bass for its size too - it reaches into the 30-40hz territory so on other music this will be quite noticeable. Still, the AX Two can play loud enough for me and surprisingly handled the likes of the Foo Fighters with aplomb.

I found out the Austrian dealer has two pairs left - in black and Cherry. As nutty as it sounds - I am tempted to buy another pair! I won't because it's kind of nuts but there is little that sounds as engaging for the money. And this is digital sources - with AN's cheapest DAC. After Boxing Day I will have more time to engage the turntable which is a dramatically better source.

My music comparison list for this day's test was (listening to each track 4 times. (1 x Marantz AVR, 1x M1/mAmps, 1x M1/Empress Silver, 1x M1/Empress Silver with AX Two) Ran out of time for more.

Chet Baker "Sweet Lorraine"
The Lumineers "Cleopatra"
Aurora "Forgotten Love"
Foo Fighters "Everlong"
Halsey "You Should Be Sad"
The Beatles 2011 Remaster "Come Together"
Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty "Draggin My Heart Around"
Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood "Lady Bird"
Nancy Sinatra "Hotel California"
 

StevenZ

Active Member
I have spent most of the day making notes for a review of the AN K/SPe along with Wyred4Sound mAmps. Choosing some various tracks (digital only today). I also hooked up my AX Two speakers.

System is
Audio Note M1 phono preamp (I traded in my M3 for an M6 but it is still being built).
Audio Note Lexus IC to power amps
Empress Silver (2a3) monoblocks 8 wpc parallel single-ended & Wyred4Sound mAmps (Class D - 250wpc @8 ohm/430wpc @ 4ohm)
Audio Note DAC 0.1x with AN V silver interconnect.
AN SPE silver speaker cables.

I forgot how truly excellent the AX Two really is. I think the AN K is better in terms of bass depth, dynamics, and richness, and color but the difference - really is about diminishing returns. The AN K is worth it if you have the disposable money to get them but at near 3 times the price for the K/D - it's not an easy decision - at least on digital so far.

It depends on what you listen to and how loud - the K/SPe can play louder and remain more in control of larger-scale music - the AX Two has surprising bass for a small speaker -- the AN K has surprising bass for its size too - it reaches into the 30-40hz territory so on other music this will be quite noticeable. Still, the AX Two can play loud enough for me and surprisingly handled the likes of the Foo Fighters with aplomb.

I found out the Austrian dealer has two pairs left - in black and Cherry. As nutty as it sounds - I am tempted to buy another pair! I won't because it's kind of nuts but there is little that sounds as engaging for the money. And this is digital sources - with AN's cheapest DAC. After Boxing Day I will have more time to engage the turntable which is a dramatically better source.

My music comparison list for this day's test was (listening to each track 4 times. (1 x Marantz AVR, 1x M1/mAmps, 1x M1/Empress Silver, 1x M1/Empress Silver with AX Two) Ran out of time for more.

Chet Baker "Sweet Lorraine"
The Lumineers "Cleopatra"
Aurora "Forgotten Love"
Foo Fighters "Everlong"
Halsey "You Should Be Sad"
The Beatles 2011 Remaster "Come Together"
Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty "Draggin My Heart Around"
Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood "Lady Bird"
Nancy Sinatra "Hotel California"
Thanks for taking the time to do this comparison.
 

JimPA

Junior Member
For what it’s worth the guy doing the series crossovers says he prefers them over his more expensive K/spe Audio Notes.

I suggest anyone who is interested in the differences between series vs. parallel crossovers to read he AES Convention Paper 5321.
It was written by Francesco Maffioli and presented May12-15, 2001 and copyright protected for it's use.

A parallel crossover network will have the input of its sections connected in parallel of the amplifier output.
A series crossover network will have the input of its sections connected in series with the amplifier output.
An active crossover also has its sections in series with the amplifier input and output for each driver.

You can understand why Fried used series crossovers in his later designs.
 
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I have spent most of the day making notes for a review of the AN K/SPe along with Wyred4Sound mAmps. Choosing some various tracks (digital only today). I also hooked up my AX Two speakers.

System is
Audio Note M1 phono preamp (I traded in my M3 for an M6 but it is still being built).
Audio Note Lexus IC to power amps
Empress Silver (2a3) monoblocks 8 wpc parallel single-ended & Wyred4Sound mAmps (Class D - 250wpc @8 ohm/430wpc @ 4ohm)
Audio Note DAC 0.1x with AN V silver interconnect.
AN SPE silver speaker cables.

I forgot how truly excellent the AX Two really is. I think the AN K is better in terms of bass depth, dynamics, and richness, and color but the difference - really is about diminishing returns. The AN K is worth it if you have the disposable money to get them but at near 3 times the price for the K/D - it's not an easy decision - at least on digital so far.

It depends on what you listen to and how loud - the K/SPe can play louder and remain more in control of larger-scale music - the AX Two has surprising bass for a small speaker -- the AN K has surprising bass for its size too - it reaches into the 30-40hz territory so on other music this will be quite noticeable. Still, the AX Two can play loud enough for me and surprisingly handled the likes of the Foo Fighters with aplomb.

I found out the Austrian dealer has two pairs left - in black and Cherry. As nutty as it sounds - I am tempted to buy another pair! I won't because it's kind of nuts but there is little that sounds as engaging for the money. And this is digital sources - with AN's cheapest DAC. After Boxing Day I will have more time to engage the turntable which is a dramatically better source.

My music comparison list for this day's test was (listening to each track 4 times. (1 x Marantz AVR, 1x M1/mAmps, 1x M1/Empress Silver, 1x M1/Empress Silver with AX Two) Ran out of time for more.

Chet Baker "Sweet Lorraine"
The Lumineers "Cleopatra"
Aurora "Forgotten Love"
Foo Fighters "Everlong"
Halsey "You Should Be Sad"
The Beatles 2011 Remaster "Come Together"
Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty "Draggin My Heart Around"
Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood "Lady Bird"
Nancy Sinatra "Hotel California"

Thanks for comparison, the pair in Cherry at the Austrian dealer belongs to me Richard. Could you please post pictures of your set-up, room and speaker placement of the EX and the AN K ?
 
Awesome! Congratulations on the purchase. What lead you to buy the AX Twos?

Richard Austen recommended them in SH forums, also I read this thread here, have heard many Audio Note turntables in the past, but never owned one. Audio Note is really fun stuff, but for a normal income here in Austria a little expensive. The AX 2's fit my budget.
 

StevenZ

Active Member
Richard Austen recommended them in SH forums, also I read this thread here, have heard many Audio Note turntables in the past, but never owned one. Audio Note is really fun stuff, but for a normal income here in Austria a little expensive. The AX 2's fit my budget.
Cool. I’m glad you found a pair. Would you mind posting pictures of your setup? Sounds like you’ve got some very nice stuff
 
Cool. I’m glad you found a pair. Would you mind posting pictures of your setup? Sounds like you’ve got some very nice stuff
Will do so if I have found the right set-up for me and if they have 100 hours on them as stated in the owner manual.
 

Richard Austen

Junior Member
HK flats are fairly small - the room is 13 by 18 with 9-foot ceilings. The 13 counts the concrete slab to the window. Behind the couch is dining table and shelf for my records. The stuffed dogs are sitting on my AN E speakers. The AN E and K both fit where the AX Two are sitting - though the E requires a bit of movement of the TV.









Room two (untreated/unfurnished)

 
HK flats are fairly small - the room is 13 by 18 with 9-foot ceilings. The 13 counts the concrete slab to the window. Behind the couch is dining table and shelf for my records. The stuffed dogs are sitting on my AN E speakers. The AN E and K both fit where the AX Two are sitting - though the E requires a bit of movement of the TV.









Room two (untreated/unfurnished)


Great rooms, really great.
 
A little over 2 years ago I was in the market for new speakers. I don't recall the thread here but @Richard Austen suggested that I look into this speaker. I read everything I could about them (which given their long production time, the information and impressions were very scarce). Because I liked what I read I figured I would call up my local AN dealer. No dice. So I called a few out of state. No dice. Not being one to take no for an answer I called every AN dealer in the entire United States and none of them had a pair... however, Audio Federation said that they show TWO pairs available to order from Audio Note. She told me to not hold my breath since sometimes the stock levels shown are off. Bear in mind, at this time I was just checking around, not ready to commit. A few weeks later I get an email from Cornelia (Neli) at Audio Federation and said that a pair showed up in her order. It was the white ash option (the other pair was white ash as well). I passed on them as I wasn't quite ready.

A year later (2019), I send her an email after getting back on the market and she let me know she still had the pair she ordered. I passed again as I thought surely the other speakers on my radar were superior. I think there's even another thread where we discussed these speakers a little more in depth. We talked about the cabinets, the construction, the price, etc. and after this I decided to let them go again.

Well, a couple weeks ago I sent her another email (Sorry Neli) and guess what.... she still had them. She let me know that she had actually forgotten about them for a long time and never advertised them but was actually about to list them for sale publicly. I decided to call her and let me tell ya, if you've never spoken to Neli, you're missing out. She's a wealth of information and very nice. It was clear that these speakers were meant to be with me. So, I paid up and was eager for their arrival.

This time, I was ready. I had my hopes for them after sending back the Elac UniFi 2.0. I wanted something different, I wanted something voiced, and I wanted something that wasn't exactly "HiFi". I was willing to take a chance on the Audio Note AX-Two and I'm glad I did. What I received is a speaker that sound unlike other stand mount speakers I've had. See, if anyone has paid attention to some of my threads they'll know that I've built a few DIY speakers, posted threads here and on other forums and have been for the better part of 10yrs. I'm a fan of single wideband drivers the most but have had a few bookshelf speakers with all sorts of drivers and from different designers. I've had designs that used ScanSpeak BE tweeters, ScanSpeak illuminator woofers, Mundorf resistors and caps, copper foil inductors, blah blah blah. They've all been interesting in one regard for but various reasons I never connected with those speakers. Thousands of dollars in trial and error. And look, I don't regret any of it. In fact, I'm glad I went through all of this because it helped hone exactly what kind of sound I wanted. What kind of presentation. What strengths I really valued. Money well spent, in my opinion.

The AX-Two is something different. It uses older Vifa drivers. 3/4" soft dome tweeter, 6" woofer. Nothing special or crazy, really. Just good drivers. And most importantly designed by Andy Whittle who was able to put relatively ho hum drivers and a bog standard quality crossover into a bog standard quality cabinet and get some of the most interesting results I've heard. Look, this thing looks cheap. From the white ash vinyl veneer, to the slightly gapped 45* angles in every corner that you can pinch back together with your fingers. The terminals on the back are OK, pretty typical (way better than the UniFi 2.0) and overall these LOOK like they're from a white van. However, they're actually solidly built cabinets made of 3/4" MDF. They pass the knock test and I don't see any reason these would be called "resonant cabinets" at all. Sure they could use a brace I'm sure, but perhaps as the literature says it's all by design. Who am I to question the results.

What we have here is a prime example of someone who knows how to design a speaker (Andy Whittle) and using his expertise to put rather ordinary drivers, cabinets and crossovers together and creating something truly exquisite. The resulting sound surpasses what you'd think is possible if you judged this book by it's cover.

Within the first hour of unboxing them I knew that these were special. Their open and natural midrange, their way of presenting the information to you instead of blasting it into your face, their balanced sound, all of it really ticks the boxes most of these other speakers couldn't dream of. The AX-Twos are richly textured, midrange has body to it, bass is tuneful and not flabby one-note, treble is delicate and well integrated into the music instead shouting "Here I am!". This brings me to another thing. The crossover is spot on. Andy did a tremendous job here. The drivers act as one driver in their presentation. In comparing these with my Mark Audios I was blown away by how cohesive the sound is. I'm using them nearfield on my desk which tends to exaggerate most designs where the tweeter and woofer don't quite overlap well enough. Here, you'd never know it was a multi-way design. As time has gone on, these speakers have just gotten better and better. These speakers have allowed me to just sit back and enjoy music again. I'm not picking out sounds, critiquing this or that, wondering what could be better. It's not that these don't show these things, it's that their way of presenting the music just draws you in.

This is a music lover's speaker and it's a real shame it was discontinued in 2018. Word on the street is they're considering rebooting this design with a higher build quality cabinet but that will result in a higher price. Vifa was the manufacturer of the cabints in the past, AN has now purchased a factory to begin their own construction.

In any case, there's my opinion of this speaker. They're staying right where I put them and I for once in quite a few years feel content in saying, this is the speaker I've been looking for. This is the speaker I can settle on. I'm satisfied.


-Steven
Hi Steven, still satisfied with the AX Twos? Any news regarding placement etc.?
 

StevenZ

Active Member
Hi Steven, still satisfied with the AX Twos? Any news regarding placement etc.?
Yes I’m still satisfied with them. Nothing has changed regarding positioning since I’m confined to a small office where I do my listening. However I’ve added some IsoAcoustics Aperta stands underneath them and that seemed to be a pretty decent improvement.
 

Audionut

Next Round Is On Me
Given the quality of what you are hearing, and having the space for it; would you be looking further up the line based on your experience?
 

StevenZ

Active Member
Given the quality of what you are hearing, and having the space for it; would you be looking further up the line based on your experience?
No. Not unless I needed more output. As of right now they're more than capable in the room I've got them.
 
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