Again, this is a 2-way speaker with rear-firing bass-reflex port. The 8" hemp-fibre mid/woofers sport copper voice coils and matching Lexus-LX copper hookup wiring. Audio Note are very keen on top-quality internal wiring and produce their own. The 1"/2.5cm tweeter is a silk dome and the frequency divider network exploits mostly in-house developed parts. "We never publish filter frequencies" explained Martin Grennall when asked. "It's a typical inquiry we always answer with ‘just listen'."

In the world according to Audio Note which isn't always intuitive, our loaner pair represents a Level-2 speaker with nominal 6Ω impedance. To explain the rating without getting lost in its depths, it determines the league in which a component or speaker performs. 0 is the entry level, 6 the outer limit of what's possible so priced like an inner-city flat. Level 2 lives in the lower third so represents somewhat of the lower middle class. At time of publication based on the day's $/€ exchange rate, our 2nd-level AN-J/LX Hemp demanded €6'744.22/pr.

It's not just the level system where Audio Note diverge. As the manual lays out, their speaker philosophy "demands an enclosure which complements our chosen drivers not fights them. Rather than attempt to kill off resonances, we tune them to improve the driver response." And, "in our recommended placement [room corners – Ed.] this exceeds all speakers of similar size regardless of provenance. It's partly from our shallow cabinet geometry with broad baffle which creates the very best operating conditions for our drivers. They behave as though loaded by a virtual wall [the infinitive baffle idea explored in the 1970s by Peter Snell in similar fashion – Ed.]."

Reiterated by both manual and distributor, a recommendation for close-wall proximity particularly in room corners remains otherwise rare. It struck me doubly odd since for warm-up duties, I'd instinctively set up in free space to feel instantly massaged by relatively potent bass. Germany's Stefan Wörmer added that "corner placement adds a deliberate 3dB of bass which represents the ideal target balance. We play fundamentally with and not against the room so never suffer typical setup issues. Important though is a stiff stand without any play but as much mass as feasible. That's an essential ingredient to our concept." Naturally their optional stands make for perfect visual and functional mates. As for typical bandwidth specs, Audio Note publish a -6dB reach of 25Hz down low and 23kHz for their tweeter.