Review: Audio Note AX One/II StandMount LaoudSpeakers

Review: Audio Note AX One/II - On paper, the Audio Note AX One/II is a 6Ω load carefully tuned by ear like all Audio Note speakers. It needs decent amplifier power to get up to speed.

Rediscovering Audio Excellence: Unveiling the Audio Note AX One/II

Exploring the Resonance of the Audio Note AX One/II Compact Speaker

My initial encounter with Audio Note loudspeakers ignited my enthusiasm two years ago, quickly capturing my interest. Naturally, when the opportunity to test another Audio Note creation arose, I gladly accepted. And thus, here we are: in my listening room sits the second iteration of the Audio Note AX One (€2,500), the smallest member of the esteemed British manufacturer’s compact speaker range. Weighing a mere five kilograms, this audio gem appears as a true lightweight contender – let’s delve into its sonic performance.

Charming Design and Evolution: The Audio Note AX One/II

“Lovely,” as Inspector Kojak might exclaim while gazing upon the Audio Note AX One/II, savoring a lollipop. The visually retro aesthetic of the 1970s crime series set in Manhattan somehow aligns with the appeal of the Audio Note AX One/II. Intriguingly, the compact loudspeakers of that era bore a resemblance to the AX One/II’s design. Unboxing it, even my wife finds the Audio Note AX One/II adorable. Not necessarily due to a childlike appearance – the loudspeaker is characterized by angularity and firmness, a standard in loudspeaker design (unless they’re kid-oriented Bluetooth noisemakers). Nevertheless, the Briton’s small dimensions, measuring just 30 x 19.6 x 19 cm (height x width x depth), contribute to its undeniable charm.

Crafted in Austria: The Distinctive Audio Note AX One/II

Interestingly, despite being associated with British craftsmanship, the Audio Note AX One/II is actually produced in Austria, in line with the trend across the brand’s speaker lineup. The shift to Austrian manufacturing, catalyzed by the closure of the previous Danish factory responsible for the older AX models, has resulted in significant quality improvements, according to Audio-Note employee Martin Grennall. The cabinets, fashioned from 18mm thick HDF, boast veneers both inside and outside. This construction technique bolsters rigidity and long-term stability, particularly under conditions of higher humidity. The end result? An impeccable build quality.

Evolution in Every Aspect: Technical Progress of the Audio Note AX One/II

In comparison to its predecessor, the Audio Note AX One/II embarks on a comprehensive transformation. The introduction of custom-made Scan-Speak drivers tailored to Audio Note’s specifications, 5-inch paper cones accompanied by foam surrounds, and 3⁄4-inch tweeters boasting silk and polyamide domes – a departure from ferrofluid usage – underscores the evolution. This thoughtful reconstruction extends to the crossover, yielding a refined sonic experience.

For connoisseurs of aesthetics, two genuine wood versions – walnut and black ash – are available. The European walnut edition is particularly striking. However, precision and individual tuning come at a cost: €2,500 per pair, excluding stands but featuring magnetic covers for added elegance.

Sound Insights: Unveiling the Audio Note AX One/II’s Sonic Performance

Intrigued by the evolution, I delve into the listening test. It’s as if Inspector Kojak himself were beside me on the sofa – lollipop and shades intact. I resist the temptation of subjecting Dieter Bohlen to musical deconstruction, opting for a more harmonious track – Darkfighter by Rival Sons. The Audio Note AX One/II showcases a balanced dynamics performance, straddling the realms of gentle precision and spirited attack. Despite its compact stature, this speaker doesn’t seek volcanic eruptions of sound. Naturally, it doesn’t match the prowess of larger, pricier offerings like the Audio Note AN-J/LX HEMP (around €6,800 without a stand), famed for its attack and dynamics. However, the AX One/II occupies its niche, maintaining a dynamic balance somewhere between a soothing lava lamp and a spirited collar, reminiscent of the seventies.

Exemplary Resolution: The Audio Note AX One/II’s Sonic Clarity

Delving into the resolution and detail rendition, the Audio Note AX One/II excels. Tracks like “Backdraft” by Girls Under Glass from the eponymous album showcase the speaker’s immersive sonic landscape. The flood of information exceeds expectations for a speaker in this class, delivering an exquisite level of detail. In the introspective intro, a cacophony of synth pads and distorted vocals permeates the room, with the AX One/II unravelling every intricacy. Its treble is both intricate and ethereal, void of harshness or aggression.

Stage and Spatial Performance: A Grand Audio Note AX One/II Display

Notably, the Audio Note AX One/II crafts a spacious soundstage that stretches beyond expectations. This stage spills beyond the speakers’ physical confines, vividly demonstrated by “Into The Black Wide Open” by Long Distance Calling. However, the stage’s depth isn’t as pronounced, potentially due to its proximity to the wall. Nevertheless, this speaker’s forte lies in near-field listening and smaller room setups – an inherent limitation. Despite this constraint, the AX One/II’s spatial presence and width stand out remarkably.

A Sonic Odyssey: Exploring the Sound Test of the Audio Note AX One/II

Embarking on an auditory expedition, I subjected the Audio Note AX One/II to an array of diverse musical landscapes to unearth its sonic prowess.

Resonating Dynamics: A Glimpse into Coarse and Fine Dynamics

To gauge the Audio Note AX One/II’s dynamic palette, I turned to tracks that encompassed both raw power and nuanced subtleties. Notably, these compact speakers display a characteristic equilibrium in this realm. While they might not unleash the seismic force of larger speakers, they navigate the dynamic terrain adeptly. Tracks like Rival Sons’ “Guillotine” exhibit a poised dance between calm and crescendo, rendering each sonic layer distinctively. A slight loss of bass impact after Jay Buchanan’s whispered vocals is evident, but this is balanced by a natural fluidity.

A Window to Resolution: Unveiling Sonic Details

Delving into the realm of resolution and intricate detailing, the Audio Note AX One/II reveals its commitment to musical transparency. Exemplified by Girls Under Glass’ “Backdraft,” the speakers paint a vivid picture of sonic intricacies. Synth pads, distorted vocals, and ambient sounds intermingle seamlessly, each facet distinct and vibrant. High-frequency reproduction is a standout feature, with the AX One/II offering an airy, expansive treble. Notably, this comes without the harshness that sometimes plagues speakers with ambitious treble ambitions.

Stagecraft and Spatial Dimensions: Crafting a Three-Dimensional Soundstage

The Audio Note AX One/II unrolls an impressive sonic canvas that extends beyond its compact form. Long Distance Calling’s “Into The Black Wide Open” serves as an acid test for stage depth and width. Although the stage’s forward and rearward extension is somewhat restrained, the lateral width astounds. The AX One/II paints a vivid panoramic scene, mirroring its ability to transport listeners to broader sonic realms. However, its spatial limitations due to proximity to the wall are a consideration.

A Dance with Bass and Midrange: Agility in the Low and Middle Frequencies

Venturing into bass and midrange territory, the AX One/II demonstrates its agility. Tracks like Grave Pleasures’ “Tears On A Camera Lens” unveil the speaker’s prowess in crafting tight, punchy bass. While its compact dimensions inevitably restrict deep bass output, the trade-off is a bass reproduction that’s articulate, swift, and engaging. Similarly, midrange frequencies carry a natural resonance, particularly evident in vocals. This fidelity is not overshadowed by coloration, retaining a balance between musicality and analytical insight.

Tonality and Amp Synergy: A Harmonic Concordance

Tonally, the AX One/II leans subtly towards the brighter end of the spectrum. This tonal inclination invites collaboration with neutral or slightly warm amplifiers, offsetting any potential excess brightness. Yet, the speakers don’t deviate into clinical territory, offering an enjoyable, spirited experience. My McIntosh integrated amplifier showcased its prowess here, establishing a harmonious marriage with the AX One/II’s tonal signature.

Musical Culmination: A Sonic Spectrum Balanced for Pleasure and Precision

In summation, the Audio Note AX One/II navigates the gamut of sonic dimensions with finesse. It offers a refined synthesis of musicality and analytical detail, appealing to both pleasure seekers and ardent audiophiles. While it may not satiate the deepest bass enthusiasts or those seeking nightclub-level sound pressure, its strengths shine in precision, resolution, and a coherent soundstage. If Inspector Kojak were here, he might aptly declare, “Lovely, baby!” The AX One/II delivers a mature and comprehensive auditory journey that belies its compact size.

Bass and Midrange: An Engaging Performance from the Audio Note AX One/II

Transitioning to bass and midrange, the Audio Note AX One/II showcases its strengths. While its bass output is modest compared to its size, its quick, agile, and dynamic bass reproduction resonates. This bass quality is particularly evident in tracks like “Tears On A Camera Lens” by Grave Pleasures. It may not cater to deep bass enthusiasts, but for precision and articulate bass enthusiasts, the AX One/II delivers a lively and punchy performance.

A Conclusion of Elegance: The Audio Note AX One/II

In a world brimming with audio offerings, the Audio Note AX One/II distinguishes itself as a refined, detailed, and insightful compact loudspeaker. Not adhering to conventional British sound signatures, it offers a more analytical perspective while retaining musicality. Its craftsmanship, elegance, and evolution make it a noteworthy contender for both analytical analysis and engrossing musical experiences. With a commitment to fine dynamics, precision, and a distinct stage, the Audio Note AX One/II beckons enthusiasts to embark on a sonic journey like no other.

Audio Note AX One/II is surprisingly mature for its size. “Lovely, baby!” However, you don’t have to be a thriller fan or have ever been to Manhattan to find the AX One/II great – at least if the new owner sets it up correctly: close to the wall and slightly angled. Then they even managed to fill up my 26 square meters. In small rooms with speakers that were previously too large and too much bass energy, they can even prove to be real problem solvers.

Then, the AX One conjures up a tight, resilient bass and neutral mids from its small housing and shines with high resolution and airy, detailed highs without a hint of aggressiveness. In terms of coarse dynamics, the Audio Note AX One/II physics imposes limits, but in fine dynamics, the English compact box leaves an excellent impression. This also applies to the flawless workmanship and the amazing stage width; only the stage depth could be slightly more pronounced. Tonally, it plays minimally on the brighter side and is best compatible with neutral or slightly warm amplifiers that are welcome to bring a little more power. Except for deep-bass and disco-level fans, who mainly listen to electro, hip-hop, or techno, pleasure listeners and analysts should feel addressed.

Profile Audio Note AX One/II

  • A tonally balanced sound character with a slight tendency towards the lucid, brighter – without sounding strained
  • Great resolution that goes beyond the price range
  • Pleasantly airy, smooth, very detailed, high tone without aggressiveness
  • Exemplary neutral mids
  • Springy, very agile, “sporty,” not artificially emphasized bass, with limited depth due to the design and associated limited gross dynamic power
  • Excellent fine dynamics
  • Limited-stage depth but involving wide-stage imaging
  • Is fun even at low volume levels and is therefore suitable for night sessions, among other things
  • First-class workmanship
  • Best for small rooms that need proximity to the wall to sound balanced


  • Model: Audio Note AX One/II
  • Concept: 2-way compact box with bass reflex system
  • Price: 2,500 euros
  • Dimensions & Weight: 300 x 196 x 190 mm (H x W x D), 5 kg/each
  • Finishes: walnut, black ash
  • Nominal Impedance: 6 ohms
  • Efficiency: 87dB/W/m
  • Other: Bi-wiring terminal
  • Guarantee: 5 years