HiFi Review
Test Report – Audio Note M5 Line Vacuum Tube Pre-Amplifier
A British Sound with Strong Fidelity and Emotions

DATE : 19 Oct, 2022
CATEGORY : High-end Audio

Test Report – Audio Note M5 Line Vacuum Tube Pre-Amplifier
A British Sound with Strong Fidelity and Emotions

“Peter Qvortrup, the principal of Audio Note has always maintained two design principles: 1. Choose the best materials; 2. Fine-tune the acoustics. Throughout the years, Peter has always insisted on designing tube amplifiers, because he believes that music is should be about melodic lines, and not about semiconductors.”

“Audio Note’s goal with the M5 Line is to make the sound performance ‘organic’… I think what he means by ‘organic’ is the original expression of the phonological characteristics of musical instruments and the skills and emotions of the musicians in their entirety, without overwhelming rationality with emotion. The intention is not to pursue rationality to the point of neglecting emotions, causing an imbalance, but rather use rational thinking to restore the touch to people’s hearts, generate resonance, and even foster an interaction with emotions!… The pure copper circuit boards and transformers selected for the M5 are some of Audio Note’s most well-designed products, thus adding more power to its sound.”

“M5 Line’s strength comes from being more natural, more humanistic, and its ability to dig deeper into emotions.  … It has a hint of warmth in its British sound, the tone is neither monotonous nor dull, the emotions come across as lively but not too intense, and the instantaneous changes are nimble and flexible. The speed is quick but unhurried, the silhouettes of the instruments are vivid, with a deep and clear sound stage. There is an ethereal aura, an elegance without stuffiness, and there are no overly thick or slow low frequencies, and it can keep up with the pace of the times!”

“In Flora Purim’s 1994 album, Speed Of Light, the deep submersion of the piano has speed and profound energy, … When Flora hums, the subtle changes in her tone are seamless, soft and lonely, lyrical and with a sense of mystery. The M5 allows the complex spirit to be delicately expressed.”

“In [the original soundtrack of director Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s film,] Dust In The Wind, on the track Ship Of Time, the female vocals flow in the air, soft with a hint of melancholy, and there is a pure and clear sense of spirituality that washes away the weariness of the soul, far, far away from the hustle and bustle. The vocals are dense and coherent, reproducing a human voice that comes from flesh and blood. Immersed in the magic of music and images from the movie, it feels as though I am watching a film projector projecting the sensations from the film, which is very touching.”

“In the track Rolling In The Deep on the Blue Coast 3 album, the arrangement of the instruments has a distinct three-dimensionality, where the distance between the front and back, left and right is not at all blurry. The strings are beefy, elastic, concentrated, full-bodied and rich. The detailed changes in the female vocals are coherent: the crescendos and diminuendos interchange gently, together with the sound mixing are presented beautifully and movingly clear.”

“The piano in Alexandre Tharaud’s Barbara seems to be speaking and expressing its emotions. Every note comes with clear detail and momentum, and the sweet, mellow and ethereal sound of the piano has a beautiful poignancy.”

“I find the M5 Line’s range sounds best when it is positioned between 11 and 1 o’clock, and in our large room, its sound at the 12 o’clock position is the most appealing!”

“With Isabelle Faust’s solo violin on J.S. Bach – Sonatas & Partitas, not only do the movement of the bow against the strings sound transparent, smooth and beautifully rich in detail, her calm expression of the spirit in the music, her brilliant technique, speed and three-dimensional melody also make her performance neither cold nor pretentious. It is accurate and peaceful, solemn yet light and refreshing, which teaches me to listen with joy.”

“On the album Venus Jazz Café Brunofaffé & Italian Jazz, the track Tu Si’ Na Cosa Grande is lively and dexterous, the strings are beefy, full and deep, the drums are speedy, fresh and three-dimensional, and the staccato movement is lively and attractive, the sound dense yet crystal clear.”

“On Pink Martini’s La Soledad, the softness of the piano brings a sense of tranquillity. The music has a strong sense of three-dimensionality, where the sand in the maracas can be heard distinctly on every beat, that you can hear clearly when the sand hits both ends of the maracas container. When the double bass makes its appearance, the melody changes keys, and the song turns from a lonely one into a refreshing tune, and the male vocals are filled with deep affection. I listened to it on repeat; it is so beautiful and moving, and the details are so sumptuous that I felt completely satisfied!”

“Finally, listening to the prelude of Tharaud Plays Rachmaninov and a large dynamic arrangement 5 1/2 minutes in, the turbulent motion, dynamic and energy can actually be felt through the soft and responsive dynamics typical of a vacuum tube preamp.”

– Janet

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