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Audio Note AZ-2

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Just thought I'd write a little review of AZ-2s, after my first encounter with them today, which has proved to be a surprising and extremely enjoyable one (so much so that it's 2 in the morning and I'm sat here still listening to them and feeling compelled to share my thoughts!!).

I was very kindly given them to take home and demo/use while the HF drivers from my Adagios are being serviced in the states, after some concern about one of the diaphragms.

Looking at the speakers in the demo room I was, to be perfectly honest, very sceptical about the results I was going to get from them. They're not visually impressive speakers at all (to my eyes anyway!), with cabinets made from chipboard and the driver compliment looks very dated indeed. However, when I got them home and wired up very briefly before work today, the sound that they produced brought an instant smile to my face, and that was before I'd had a chance to even think about fiddling around with placement etc.

This evening has been spent listening to a few albums that I know very well, getting the speakers into what appears to be their optimum position in my room and sitting back doing a lot of toe tapping with a very big smile on my face!

The sound they produce really is very engaging and has a "fun factor" which I now realise has been missing in the speakers which I have owned over the last 15 years or so (Proac EBS Towers, ATC SCM20SLs, LS3/5As and more recently the Adagios). The bottom end is surprisingly even, well defined and tuneful, the top end natural and well extended, without any harshness or sibilance and a mid range that sings. Overall, and this was one of my primary concerns, it's more than adequately resolved, but without picking apart recordings that aren't quite so well produced (an issue that I've battled with in the past).

My only real issue is that I can see myself getting very attached to them... Bass wise they work much better in my room than the Adagios (who's transmission line excites a room node in it's pass-band, giving them a +3db or more hump at around 40hz, which is quite distracting at times), and though the levels of resolution are much lower, soundstaging limited in comparison and many other points that you could pick fault with if you stood the two side by side, I think I actually enjoy listening to the way the AZ-2s present music more... No concrete decision on selling the Adagios just yet, as I have a much bigger room to try them in and they are truly stunning speakers, but I'm already thinking on those terms..

Out of interest, has anyone out there tried the slightly larger AZ-3s? I'd be interested to hear them after the 2s, with their more extended bandwidth and higher quality tweeter.

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interesting...i am starting to believe that just being technically better and sometimes obviously more adept at the hifi things does not automatically mean more enjoyment - to drop on a sound that you `like' rather than a more acurate sound is to my mind, more satisfying. a Sugden a21a and Royd Minstrel is a combo that is very very entertaining and engaging, altho it's shortfalls are obvious, they seem to disappear and the postivies overshadow them. ie that old cliche...the system gets out of the way of the music. could be an expectation thing that allows you to relax and enjoy it more rather than noticing what the system does wrong.

either way...sounds like you may have dropped on :^

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Bloody typical of ANs. You want to get the setup sorted so you're getting the best out of them, and they distract you by playing music all the time :P

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Guest BD Audio

What's this 'musical' thing you speak of? I like an analytical sound from something that measures well. :geek:

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What's this 'musical' thing you speak of? I like an analytical sound from something that measures well. :geek:

Stangely enough, this is actually quite close to the reality of my obviously misconceived ideas about hifi! You live and you learn...

I'm still quite a spring chicken (despite the user name!) and admittedly short on experience in the greater scape of hifi things. Little revelations like the one I've just had do crop up from time to time though, and serve to help me keep an open mind to new directions.. I'll be at Scalford next w/e, which'll be my first "proper" hifi show, so looking forward to having the blinkers opened up even further :)

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Just a quick follow up to my initial thoughts and enthusiasm about the AZ-2s...

After a day spent infront of them yesterday, I've reached some more calculated conclusions about them, which, I'm almost relieved to say, aren't exactly positive.

What drew me to the sound of the speakers at first was their very lively presentation. The liveliness unfortunately turned into a quality that I found very fatiguing after a relatively short time, setting some pieces of music on edge and making what have been sumptuous and rich sounding pieces a little bit thin and fragile. There's a slightly "hollow" and "boxy" colouration to the upper bass/lower mids as well, which drew attention to itself on much of the music I've been playing..

My guess is that my system is not completely suited to the AZ-2s, and that with the lower powered and richer sounding valve amps that they were, I assume, voiced to be used with, they would sound very good and address the main issues that I have found with them.

So, the Adagios will be staying for now... Or I might try and borrow some valve kit to go with the ANs before they go back!! :)

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Paper drivers give lively sound generally with more presence. It's why valve amps are suited to these designs I think.

Doped drivers have a generally smoother sound. Less tiring over time on bright and edgy recordings.

These are two of the sounds around imo. Smooth uncoloured med/low efficiency with a big amp up them. Or low power plus paper driver and exciting.

All of course subject to crossover design as well. You pays your money.

I think you may also have got used to the sound of the other speakers?

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You may like the Proac studio 100. It uses a paper cone with foam surround and sounds quite lively, but also detailed and smooth. They are often used in recording studios - i'd imagine the flat'ish frequency response and high power handling has something to do with that. I've heard some people say they sound excellent with valve amps too.

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I owned a pair of these five years ago. Wonderful speakers with a low powered integrated EL-34 tube integrated. No harshness or fatigue whatsoever. Amazing imaging and a totally engrossing listening experience. In fact, I regret getting greedy for even better sound and selling them! I'm actively searching for another pair and they're hard to find here in the States. Where might I get a pair these days?

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I owned a pair of these five years ago. Wonderful speakers with a low powered integrated EL-34 tube integrated. No harshness or fatigue whatsoever. Amazing imaging and a totally engrossing listening experience. In fact, I regret getting greedy for even better sound and selling them! I'm actively searching for another pair and they're hard to find here in the States. Where might I get a pair these days?

Just what the man ^^^ said, everything about them has been said above already, i absolutely love mines and they respond very well to boutique parts seemingly, i've kept mines unmolested, here's my AZ3 Larry.

http://thecrossovernetwork.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?4997-Turntable/page3

Sorry tried to link photo's without success so will have to do with link to another forum.

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Guest pobox-123

Nice system you have there Andy. And that Valve amp looks VERY nice, especially those transformers!!

Regards,

Shane.

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Out of interest, has anyone out there tried the slightly larger AZ-3s? I'd be interested to hear them after the 2s, with their more extended bandwidth and higher quality tweeter.

I listened to a pair of AZ3s with Avid deck + Pure Sound amplification at a show last year and found them lacking in clarity and with a boomy one-note bass...

Cheers,

Ric

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the AZ2's look to have the same bass driver as the AN-J or Es? but in a floor stander and a lower grade tweeter.Seems good value for under a grand new. how much do these fetch 2nd hand? and can you get them with grilles?

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Hey Larry - thanks the pm 'bout the cables, glad they arrived safely. Get some of the bigger ANs in for a listen if you can - you'll love the Es if you liked the azs :^

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