Audiotechnique Cover Feature – The Birth of a Legend
Audio Note The Legend Single-Channel Amplifier

“If the Gaku-On was the pinnacle of tube amplifier design of its day, I completely agree that it was worth every penny to own it. Frankly speaking, I’m still very happy twelve years after with the Gaku-On’s performance at the Grass Hut. At the very least, I haven’t heard any power amps that made me want to love another.”

“In Munich, 2017, Peter presented us with a bold idea: he wanted to design and produce without any restrictions a super power amp that the Audio Note had never seen before… Creating a beautiful sound will be the primary prerequisite, and the production will be extraordinarily luxurious, with a spectacular sound and appearance so exquisite that audiophiles around the world will be amazed! I egged him on from the side line and told him that I would consider becoming one of the first users of the new power amp. … By the time I returned to Hong Kong, I forgot about this in the blink of an eye. Never had I thought Peter would put his words into action, and start work immediately upon returning to England with Andy Grove, the lead designer of Audio Note, on the development of the new power amp.”

“Eighteen months later in November 2018, Mr. Yu [of Elephant] received an e-mail from Andy with a computer rendering image, saying that this is the conceptual design of the super power amp that Peter talked about a year and a half ago, and that the model will be named, ‘Legend’… The exterior design seems to have evolved from the Gaku-On, but the beautiful and sumptuous appearance has been elevated dramatically. It seems that Peter and Andy have really put a tremendous effort into research and development, and a sense of longing started to arise in my heart.”

“In early April this year, I received a few photos of the actual amp from Peter’s email, stating that the Legend specially created for me has been completed. At last came the time to pay up for my promise lightly made in jest after a few drinks, but this is also good. It brings me great joy in life to be the first person to own the Legend power-amp customized for me by Audio Note. As a loyal fan of Peter Qvortrup’s, the prospect is even more irresistible, so I quietly awaited for the grand arrival of the ‘Legend’.”

“The ‘Legend’ was conceived as a new semi-bespoke series, the shape and circuit design of which are inspired by the Ongaku and Gaku-On, both highly respected by audiophiles. However, the sound effect has been vastly improved upon, and the production of the chassis is the epitome of luxury. Users can choose to use 845, DA100, 212D or even 300B for their power tubes… As each pair of Legend will have their own unique design concept, there will not be traditional serial numbers; each pair are instead named after famous pianists. My ‘Legend’ is named after the American pianist Julius Katchen (hereinafter referred to as JK).”

“The sturdy and shiny super chassis is a signature of the renowned British industrial designer Simon Langham, and the chassis was produced by Audio Note in collaboration with the British brand Lamberts London, a specialist manufacturer for the world’s most premium metal parts. You can find metal parts made by Lamberts London’s in First-Class cabins of international airliners, supercars, superyachts, and even inside ultra-luxe homes. … This setup is unconventionally magnificent, with off-the-charts appeal! If I hadn’t been told in advance, I would never believe this is an Audio Note product!”

“The circuit design mostly references the Gaku-On. A simple and direct balanced signal is first input through the input transformer, then through the VT25 direct heating triode valve for primary amplification, and then through a 1:1 intermediate stage transformer, coupling to the output stage, directly driving a pair of parallel amplified 211 direct heating triode power tubes, and then transmitted to a super large output transformer. The only passive components on the entire signal path are two non-magnetic tantalum film silver wire resistors. There are no signal capacitors, so the circuit is simple and clear! The input transformer accurately and smoothly passes the music signal transmitted from the pre-stage, so it can eliminate any possible signal interference. The input transformer core is made of Mumetal and wound with silver wire. The precise winding technique makes the positive and negative nodes of the balanced transmission signal completely symmetrical, which can completely eliminate any hum or noise. The JK uses a special coil winding technique, where the primary and secondary coils are almost perfectly coupled, so the secondary coil does not require any resistive damping, and the grids of the VT25 and 211 valves can be simply cross-connected by the magnetic field generated by the silver coil. Similarly, the JK’s intermediate stage transformer uses more silver wire that that wound on the Gaku-On’s larger C Cores… Andy especially emphasizes that the power of this 5% upgrade should not be underestimated, because it fundamentally changes the crystal structure of the alloy, which in turn makes the production much more difficult. They worked closely with the transformer factory on the production, and adjusted the alloy heat treatment procedure both through data analysis and listening experience. All adjustments were based on the replay of music. … The resultant music signal has excellent extension on high and low frequencies, and the balance of the full frequency is also excellent.”

“The JK uses three power transformers designed by Andy [Grove] himself… The power supply transformers and choke coils are made of custom-made high-quality copper wire. All internal wiring is done with Audio Note’s silver wire (parts are even with the flagship-level AN-Sootto). The power supply and decoupling capacitors are top-quality: Black Gate VK, Black Gate NH non-polar and Black Gate N… It is evident that each and every design detail of JK is well thought out, and the production process is bound to be meticulous.”

“Although I was mentally prepared after having seen photos early on, now that I am looking at JK up-close in person, the awe I have for its super luxe appearance is truly indescribable. Its flawless “Jet Chrome” mirror chrome finish on the two transformer hoods with the side panels on both sides is smooth yet not slippery, which complements the unique mocha-gold fascia. The impeccable craftsmanship completely lives up to the world-renowned luxury metal parts manufacturer Lamberts London’s sterling reputation!”

“The clarity and detail in the effect of the music replay have been significantly improved. When there is no music, the background noise is a pitch-dark silence. The sound is denser, and the extension of the high and low frequencies are much further. The improvement in these sound effects is at least two-folds compared to Gaku-On.”

“Although my new favorite the ‘Legend’ Julius Katchen may seem exorbitant, when you carefully study and appreciate the super luxe craftsmanship of its chassis, then listen attentively to its infinitely superior replay sound effects, you will no doubt be pleased, and be completely convinced that it is worth every penny.”

– Big Grass
Audiotechnique Cover Feature