by Rafe Arnott
The Audio Note UK room at the 2015 Vancouver Audio Show was my favorite, hands down, and David Cope, this time teaming up with Warren Jarrett from SMAudio in Fullerton, did not disappoint in Newport Beach.
The sound as always is very organic, tactile, room filling and emotionally engaging in a way, that to my ears so far, only a handful of high-end audio companies can really pull off consistently; especially in a hotel room.
As always, no fancy equipment racks, special room treatments or isolation footers. Just a hotel table with a cloth draped over it and a bunch Audio Note gear and all their glowing tubes doing their thing.
Analog playback was being handled by an Audio Note TT-2 Deluxe ($3,500 US) fitted with an Arm Three V2 ($2,000) sporting a killer IOI moving coil cartridge ($4,150 US) feeding an Audio Note step-up transformer AN S4L ($6,200 US).
The gorgeous M6 Phono in all black ($20,500) got down with a pair of pure Class-A Empress Mono blocks ($7,200 pair).
Digital responsibilities fell to the more than capable CDT One ($4,100 US transport only) and the DAC 2.1x Signature ($5,500 US).
The AN-E/Lexus HE speakers ($6,800 US) got their lift from some rather cool white Audio Note stands ($640 US pair), which I had never seen before, nor knew were available in anything other than black. Interior decorator-types take note.
While I was there photographing, mastering legend Steve Hoffman stopped by to shoot the breeze and listen to some LPs being spun by David and Warren, one of which is a brilliant album I had not heard previously – Vanessa Fernandez, Use Me – that I highly recommend grabbing if soul and R&B classics are your jam.
What I heard of this all-acoustic set was spellbinding through the Audio Note kit with Fernandez’s raw, breathy and achingly beautiful voice right in the room, every guitar string pluck, and strum zigging down my spine.
If I had a cap to doff, doff it I would to David and Warren.