Over the last several weeks, I have had the pleasure of auditioning three different sets of interconnects: two lower-in-the-line Audio Note silver interconnects, AN-S and AN-V, and an Audio Note copper interconnect, the Lexus. I did not really intend to engage in comparison-shopping or dealer competition, but I suppose that in appearance that is how it has turned out. This situation came about because of several factors contributing to exaggerated tardiness in one realm, and a very speedy and helpful dealer from another area. The end result of a lot of emails is that, perchance by accident, I have three interconnects from one manufacturer but two different dealers, in my listening room at the same time.
I do not intend this to be a long and lengthy review, where I tell you about how one interconnect rendered the flutes or cellos on this particular esoteric, arcane recording with better air or tonality. So let me cut to the chase, that is the climax of the movie right before the hero gets the girl (obviously, I have figured out what this phrase means thank you very much). What I have discovered is that I do not like the two silver Audio Note interconnects, and that they do not compare very well to the copper Lexus.
No, the silver AN interconnects do not sound bright, strident, or lean—as is the reputation for silver interconnects. But they do not sound especially good in my system either. The primary factor here contributing to this negative interaction is, I believe, my full-range Martin Logan CLS I electrostatic speakers which tend to emphasize a lean, transparent, detailed quality of sound. (Please see my system profile for the full details.) The Lexus does a great many things very well in the context of my system, whereas the AN-V and the AN-S do not–in my system. Exactly as the speedy and efficient dealer stated, the Lexus are more full, and rich, and substantial, whereas the AN-V and the AN-S are more lightweight, anemic, and “delicate.” The Lexus reveal a good (and proper) weight and fullness to mid-range and bass instruments and notes. Simply put, the two silver interconnects do not lend the sonic spectrum the same balance throughout. Through the two silver interconnects, midrange and bass instruments always seem lacking—lacking robustness, lacking weight, lacking mass and substance, lacking fullness. I should point out that the AN-V and AN-S do not sound lean or bright or cold—just too lightweight. (And of course being silver, they are more expensive than the copper Lexus.)
Two other interconnects that I have “in the mix” (because I have owned them for a few years) are Nirvana S-L and Analysis Plus Copper Oval-In. I like both of these cables very much. The Nirvana S-L interconnects were the closest thing I had found (before discovering the Lexus) to truly neutral cables in my system. (Almost everything else sounded too bright, lean, etched, cold, treble emphatic, etc.) The AP Copper-Ovals are very close to the Nirvana S-L interconnects, but a hair warmer. Right now, I honestly believe that the Audio Note Lexus are perfectly and properly neutral (in the best sense of that word), and that Nirvana S-L are very, very close but a smidge warmer, and AP Copper Oval-Ins are a tad warmer still.
As you might have noted if you came to the July meeting at my house, I have an unusual series of interconnect needs: one meter ICs from several source components (DAC, SACD player, turntable, and FM tuner) to the Jeff Rowland Consonance preamp, a long 3.5 meter run from preamp to Martin Logan Depth subwoofer, and then another one meter run from subwoofer to my Cary V12 power amp. One thing that I have known for some time, but is still rather surprising, is that using one single brand of interconnect for all these runs DOES NOT yield the best sound.
Right now, I would tell anyone that I believe that Audio Note Lexus is the most neutral interconnect I have ever heard in my life. And I strongly believe that it is probably the best interconnect VALUE on the market right now (of all the interconnects I have tried and respect). Is it the best in existence? I have no idea, having tried only 25 or so interconnects. I would offer that it is the best value in the entire audio industry of which I know! Does it sound as good as the Nirvana S-L? Maybe, but that depends on where I plan to use it in my system. Let me say this, I like it just as much as the Nirvana S-L and the Nirvanas cost $750 per meter (more than four times as much as the Lexus, which retails for $175 per meter). In my system the Lexus sounds just a hair more revealing and more neutral than the Nirvana. But where I plan to use it–between preamp and subwoofer–it is EXACTLY right. Hands down, no question, no discussion, period!
Finally, I have “put my money where my mouth is.” I have purchased a pair of 3.5 meter Lexus interconnects for use from preamp to subwoofer. I do not get any more truthful, frank, and emphatic in my praise than that. Period.
P. S. I feel obligated to state my utter admiration and gratitude to the aforementioned speedy and efficient dealer. This individual is Bob Neill of Amherst Audio in Amherst, Massachusetts. In my opinion, he is the model of what an audio retailer should be: honest, responsible, efficient, patient, extremely helpful, and sensitive to a potential customer’s needs. After a fair amount of trial and error, I found his opinions to exactly match what I eventually came to discover and learn after much careful auditioning. Ultimately, I have come to have a deep trust in his judgment. In case you’re interested, his website address is www.amherstaudio.com