Audionote Soro SE, or cheaper single-ended?


I'm looking for a budget single-ended intergrated amp. The Soro, at about $1300 used, is as high as I'd want to go. Should I consider the alternatives, like Radii or Dared, or is Audio Note heads and shoulders above those?

For those of you who don't recommend the Fox: Have you actually heard one? Seriously, if you want to help this guy, you can't compare the ASL Waves to the Fox. By the same token, the Hurricanes are, again, tottally another species. They are as different as night and day.

The Fox is a highly unique expression of SET design; there aren't many things like it. If you don't recommend the Fox, you should be able to tell SPECIFICALLY why due to experience. My experience is that there aren't many deficiencies, especially at the price point.

LOOK: I'm not trying to steer anybody away from the SORO; I'd like to try one myself. All I'm trying to suggest is that the ASAL Fox might be a bargain, depending on needs.
I understand your point, and yes I have heard it. I should have been more specific. I didn't compare the Waves or the Hurricanes. I only said "The ONLY ASL..." And I never said it was in any way deficient. But Crazy, you are correct, I was a little vague. I just bought the Waves for shits & grins. Still lookin for more; I want to use them in my HT.

I didn't spend a lot of time listening to the Fox, maybe four hours, in a digital based system. The system pieces are similar to mine, sans vinyl. The fact that I could make a decision in four hours ought to indicate something....

The first thing I didn't like is no auto-biasing. I am lazy, and like to roll tubes. Biasing each time is, to me, a PITA. The second thing is no phono. Since my main focus is vinyl, no phono stage didn't do it for me. The Supratek has made no phono a moot point, now, in my system. That's the nitpikin' out of the way.

Those things made difference to me, but they might not to others. First off, I liked the sound. But it soon became obvious there was something missing. I guess it was just kind of lifeless, or maybe not as quick as the Soro. The bass was about even, but the Soro just does more things right, and carries more "weight".

I would have liked to A/B them, but the real world of no dealers of ANY kind around here precludes that. I still think that in the same system, the Soro would spank the Fox.

I don't normally do "reviews", because I hate trying to describe sound, a very subjective topic. I just know what sounds better to me. And in my case, I think the Soro is a clearly better piece, IMHO.

Now, I'd like to hear the Fox with some different tubes. It could make a world of difference. The 6C33C-B driven by 6sn & 6sl7's leaves some room to play. But so does the Soro, even thought it's more costly just because it has 13 tubes (phono version). And, unless you buy it used, the Soro is not really a "budget" piece at four grand. The $1300 (previous post) refers to the one here for sale, no phono (not mine either).

So, I hope this helps. IMHO, I don't think any of the options Lousyreeds1 listed are even close to the Soro. It is truly a great piece for an AN Level 2 product.
Jphii: Thanks for your clarifications. I should add some of my own. The Fox is pretty good, but it becomes a different beast with the addition some NOS Sylvania 6sn7 wgt ("Chrome Domes"). It's performance is a little flat with the stock tubes (I think that one of the ways ASL keeps costs down is that they have a sweetheart deal with a Chinese tube manufacturer).

Regarding the SORO, I am intrigued, and I will keep my eyes open for one in my area. What is interesting to me, though, is that the ASL seems to be able to retain its value like most other gear (about 1/2 of its retail value), while the SORO's used market value seems to be really low. Maybe it's just psychology: even if the watts are really good, the average audiophile wants to get as much power for the dollar. Or, perhaps, the quoted retail price is, in reality, very inflated; maybe most dealers sell them for considerably less than that.

Either way, thanks for your comments; they are, indeed, helpful.
Soro models have consistently sold in the 1000 to 1400 range depending on line/phono and condition. They are simply overpriced at retail in my opinion and that is why resale is only about 25% of retail.

Reminder to those considering a Soro. The Audio Note P2SE amplifier is the amplifier inside the Soro (and the preamp inside it is the M1 line or phono). If you are looking at a used Audio Note P2SE ensure it is NOT the basic P2 model; they sold both a P2 and a P2SE. The SE denotes single ended and the basic P2 is a push/pull model is my recollection.

Good point, but I disagree. And, I don't think they are overpriced at retail (sorta, read on). Given the state of quality tube integrateds that are out there now, I feel the Soro should be one of the major players. Plus the phono stage is very high quality. Before I bought my Supratek, I was more than happy with it and a K&K stepup. At it's price point, IMO, the Soro is right there.

For some reason, some AN gear does not seem to meet the 50% of retail used pricing. Currently there are 29 listings in the classifieds under Audio Note. First off, most people are asking more than 50% of retail on some items. Some of the items, like the TT2 that sold, were asking 67% of retail, but we don't know what it sold for (it is sold).

I don't know what any of the AN gear actually sells for new. Since I have this major aversion to buying new gear, I don't know the actual sales price of anything out there, much less AN. But, I bought my new "damaged in shipping" AZ3 speakers for about 60% of retail. And, becuase the now US importer and I had some communications problems, he threw in a set of AN speaker cables FOR FREE. Try that with most other companies. I'm glad to see David Cope at Triode & Co. take over US distribution, instead of just being an Audio Note store.

And, I don't think any ASL integrated is as good as the Soro, or probably even the Oto, much less the Meishu. AN gear may be high at retail, but again, in my experience, it is well worth it. After living with my Soro for a year, I'd have to say that if I was in the market for an integrated in that price range, I'd buy one new, even at close to 5 grand now (probably 4 in the real world).

My personal opinion is that the "split" between Peter & Kondo-san has hurt the value of both parties gear. This is a shame, because most of what has been said on the net is bullshit. I'm not going into it, because it has been beaten to death, ad nauseum, here and other places. I DO KNOW that when I emailed Peter, 3 weeks ago, and asked for a set of schematics for the Soro, and told him I was MORE THAN WILLING TO PAY FOR THEM, he emailed me a set out, gratis, that day. I also need some stand-offs for the PCB's, and he put them in the mail, gratis again.

While I know there are other companies out there known for their customer service, I can say with no hesitation that EVERY time I've emailed Peter Q., stupid question or not, he has gotten back to me PERSONALLY, and always in an expedient manner. This is one of the many reasons I like AN gear. A couple of other reason are build quality, aesthetics, and of course, the AN sound.

Remember, this is my opinion, and as much as I may sound like it, I have no affiliation with Audio Note. I wish I did, maybe I could get a better deal....