A Return to the Past with Audio Note

At last year's NYAS, the Audio Note room had been a musical joy and learning experience. After a brief hello to music lover, photographer, and Audio Note exhibitor David Cope, we got straight to business with music listening. First on the Audio Note TT Two Deluxe turntable ($3500) was Las Guitarras De Sergio y Eduardo Abreu, where the brothers perform the music of Bach, Scarlatti, Albeniz, and more. Having played this record at least fifteen times in the past four weeks, I noticed immediately that the soundstage was imbalanced. Both guitars were too far to the left, but I refrained from comment.

I quickly changed my music selection to Compact Disc played through the Audio Note CDT Three ($12,000). Aphex Twin’s Come to Daddy was in the Audio Note CD Case: hell yes. “Bucephalus Bouncing Ball” elicited organic textures from James’s assault of clanks and ratchets. The bass was big, round, but controlled in its size through the Audio Note E/SPe HE loudspeakers ($9300/pair; stands $650/pair). The depth of the soundstage highlighted the decaying reverb and delay on the “bouncing ball of death,” and now the soundstage seemed corrected. Hmm.

A wild-eyed furry-faced man with glasses tipped of his nose burst into the room: “HAHAHA! APHEX TWIN!” This guy was cool.

David Cope introduced me, “Ariel, this is Peter Qvortrup. He owns and designs Audio Note gear.” Only a man with so much life inside of him could create gear that elicited so much life from the music.

Qvortrup raged on, “Here! I’ve got something for you!”

He puts on a CD by Dutch group NOISIA called Split the Atom. I did not know what to expect. His hands turned the separate channel volume dials a few ticks upwards. NOISIA was admittedly dubstep, a genre I have avoided, but the sonics on this record were just astounding! Bombastic bass bursts and screeching sirens, synths emitting like lasers from left field, and terrifying drops into silence like the eerie doom at top of the first roller coaster hill. Qvortrup had 500 copies of this album repressed because he liked it so much.

Halfway through the track Qvortrup turned it up even more! The lines where the floor met the walls began to glow with light as our spaceship took off. It was pure musical intoxication.

After all the wall-banging fun, the conversation got serious. Peter began talking about his passion for music and why hi-fi is important: “It reconnects us to the voices of the past.”

In response, I put on Homenaje a Violeta Parra by Mercedes Sosa. The soundstage was imbalanced again, but Qvortrup addressed it by adjusting the right channel volume control one tick to the right on the M3 Phono preamp ($10,750). Suddenly, we were there with Sosa, the Quilapayun choir, and the massive beat of the drum.