Audio Note AN-E/Sogon Speaker
In my never-ending quest for audio and video products with the highest possible performance, style, and/or price, I came across the AN-E/Sogon from British maker Audio Note and distributed in the US by Audio Federation. According to The Most-Expensive Journal, it's the most expensive 2-way speaker in the world.
Audio Note's speaker offerings include quite a few separate lines, and within each line is a plethora of models distinguished by different internal components and prices (which are per pair as specified here). All 11 models in the modest-looking AN-E line include a 1-inch soft-dome tweeter and 8-inch woofer in a 31-inch-tall, rear-ported, rectangular cabinet made from Russian birch plywood and covered with your choice of veneers. And in all cases, the cabling and crossover materials are made by Audio Note.
At the least-expensive end is the AN-E/LX ($5500), which uses Lexus LX copper cable internally. The AN-E/SPe ($6100) replaces the copper cable with AN-SPe 17-strand silver cable. In both cases, the speakers' efficiency is rated at 94dB. The next step up uses high-efficiency drivers98dB to be exact. The AN-E/LX HE ($7050) and AN-E/SPe HE ($7600) are otherwise identical to their less-expensive siblings.
The Signature versions remove the crossover from the cabinet and place it in an external, non-magnetic aluminum box, using better components. As before, the AN-E/LX Signature ($15,500) and AN-E/SPe Signature ($17,500) use copper and silver cabling, respectively, for internal connections and direct connection to the external crossover.
Rising even higher, we get to the AN-E/SPx Signature ($24,250), which uses AN-SPx silver cable with copper-wired inductors and copper-foil capacitors in the crossover, while the AN-E/SE Signature ($32,000) uses 99.99% silver-wire voice coils and crossover inductors. The AN-E/SEC Silver ($38,500) drops back to 95dB efficiency and uses Audio Note's Sogon cable, an alnico magnet with the bass driver, and an internal crossover with silver-wire voice coils and crossover inductors. The AN-E/SEC Signature ($51,000) returns the high-efficiency drivers and external crossover.
And finally, the pièce de résistancethe AN-E/Sogon, which uses silver-foil capacitors and silver-wire inductors in the external crossover. In fact, there's a total of about 40 pounds of silver in each of those external boxes.
So how much is the most expensive 2-way speaker in the world? $165,000/pair, more than three times the cost of the next most expensive model, which is due in no small part to all that silver. Can its sound possibly justify such a price tag? I know of no reviews of the AN-E/Sogon, but Art Dudley reviewed the AN-E/LX Signature in Stereophile and concluded, "It's joined the Lowther horns and Quad electrostats as one of the very few speakers I know I could live with and love, indefinitely."