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M3 Pre-Amplifier

M3 pic In traditional Audio Note style the M3 represents a radical departure from the currently accepted pre-amp design philosophies. Using a unique and innovative circuit topology to solve the problems of pre-amplifier design we have once again set the trend for other manufacturers to follow in our footsteps.

The M3 is a level 3 product, meaning that it conforms to strict technical and component quality criteria. All areas of design requirements have been thoroughly reinvestigated with new solutions being sought, therefore creating a pre-amp that performs way above any other at the price point.

The M3 pre-amp is the first in its price category to use a complementary dual mono power supply, incorporating valve rectification and double choke smoothing. High quality Cerafine capacitors are used and the unit is completely hard wired throughout. The audio circuit is also hand made and hard wired using Audio Note's own tantalum film resistors, pure copper foil signal capacitors and Black Gate de-coupling capacitors throughout.

The most unusual feature in the M3 is the line output stage, which is configured as a small power amplifier stage with a 5687WB double triode per channel. An output transformer is then coupled to the output signal which serves as an interface to the power amp being used. This allows the M3 to utilize not only two sets of single ended RCA outputs but also a 600 Ohm fully balanced output using a Lemo type connector. This unique way of transformer coupling the output stage means that the M3 can be used with any power amplifier whether valve or transistor.M3 pic

The phono section of the M3 uses three 6072A double triodes in a cascode input configuration with passive RIAA equalization, Audio Note copper foil paper in oil capacitors and a single 6072A as an anode follower which in turn feeds the line stage via high quality Elma switches.

The M3 Phono has provision for the use of MM cartridge, CD, Tuner and Aux inputs along with a full tape loop facility.

M3 pic     The M3 represents a significant leap forward in sonic quality over any other design currently available, thus making ownership a very secure long term investment in your musical enjoyment.

There's a lot of good stuff inside. - The power supply is on the right and is completely separated from the audio circuit by a substantial screen. The amplifier shown here is the phono model, it is also available in line and RIAA versions.



weight 16Kg
dimensions 410mm x 445mm x 141
power consumption 81W (74W line)(62W RIAA)
fuse rating anti-surge (1A 110V - 120V)(800mA RIAA)
anti-surge (500mA 220V - 240V)(500mA RIAA)
I/P Z 47K phono (100K line)(47K RIAA)
gain 1900 phono (65dB)@1KHz (8.2 (18dB) line)
O/P Z less than 10 Ohms
tube compliment 6x5 (two) (6x5 Philips-line (two))
5687 (two) (5687 Philips-line (two))
6072 (three) General Electric



AN-CD2 remote The CD2 integrated CD player is a culmination of Audio Note's unparalleled expertise and success in the design and implementation of Digital to Analogue Converters and pure Class A triode output stages. In keeping with Audio Note tradition, the CD2 was designed to produce a level of performance unequaled at it's price point, thereby establishing a new benchmark for digital reproduction.


What Hi-Fi? review (December 1997)

Audio Note AN-CD2 999

Best known for valve amps, Audio Note has been making stand alone digital to analogue converters for some time. This, its first integrated player, is designed in Britain and built in Korea. Inside is a Sony transport and 18-bit conversion sourced from the USA, but beyond that is where the Audio Note expertise kicks in. The filtering is passive, and then there's the output amplification: valve-powered, it's right ahead of the analogue outputs. Now valves are no guarantee of a particular sound, but the AN-CD2 is more than capable of a big, majestic and yet well-detailed sound perfectly in line with its manufacturer's other equipment.

AN-CD2 insideHowever, the CD2 has an appeal that extends beyond the scope of an all-Audio Note system. Slip a highly atmospheric disc like Celtic choir Anuna's Omnis into the player, and its ability with vocal and instrumental timbres is beyond doubt. The close-knit harmonies of the choir are easily analyzed, every voice being clear and distinct, while the ambient information delivered enhances the music rather than distracting the listener. It's just as competent with orchestral and chamber music, again focusing the attention on the character of the instruments involved while still conveying the musical whole. It also rocks in surprising fashion: whether with the quirky lounge-pop of Pizzicato Five or the blatant Motown rip-off that is Black-Eyed Boy by Texas, the Audio Note has driving bass and soundstage focus, while with gorgeously recorded stuff like Toni Braxton's Secrets disc the delivery is lush, soulful and hard to better. Yes, there is a warmth to the sound some will find a little too rich, preferring the brighter presentation of some others here, but the Audio Note player is an auspicious debut, and one you ignore at your peril. Conclusion Rarely does a group contain so many fine players that to choose between them seems pedantic. The leading lights here, however, are the Audio Note and Cyrus: the CD2 is a deceptively impressive machine that turns on the thrills without sounding mechanical...

What Hi-Fi verdict

This is Audio Note's first CD player. The company isn't new to digital technology, but so far has only made add-on DACs which often left AN fans not knowing which drive unit to partner them with. The first of three players replacing the DACs - the others are 600 and 1700 - the CD2 contains valve technology in the form of a single ECC82 triode in the output stages.

The player is designed by the British arm of Audio Note, but made in Korea, which partly explains the 'Japanese major' look - you could easily mistake it for a Denon. Closer inspection reveals a superior type of paint job on the metal bonnet while the brushed aluminium facia also sets it apart from the run of the mill. Of course this isn't a machine that you buy for the looks, but you should seriously consider it for its sound. The CD2 is certainly among the best player at its price and even beyond. Based around a Sony laser mechanism, with digital circuitry from Ultra Analog Devices from the US, while filtering is all done in the analogue domain. It's so fast electronically that you can't upset it even with the most breakneck acid rock, and it strips away layers from your discs to reveal whole new areas of musical information.

Even those aufait with the dynamic detail, bandwidth and coherence that you can expect from a well-engineered high-end system will find this player shockingly open. It brings the peacocks and parakeet at the opening of Kula Shaker's Gouinda right into the room, and acoustically you can tell the size of their enclosure. For a component using valves, we were also surprised by the player's drive, which suits a big orchestra on the rampage as much as it does a live set like Eric Claptons 24 Nights. Indeed, it's well suited to big musical landscapes producing bass that can be measured in acreage across the floor, allied to a strong midrange and a gorgeously liquid treble that you feel you can reach out and touch. And it can also deliver all the pathos of Andrew Keeping's guitar playing on his British Guitar disc with superb finesse. While the tremendous clarity here showed up some of our recordings - you can hear just how good (or bad) the engineering is - it handles a wide range of music superbly. The Audio Note sees your music collection in a crystal clear light. In fact, we can't remember hearing a player the right side of 1000 which sounded this good.

This page was updated on: 06 Aug 1998
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