Measurements of subsonic air jets show that the peak noise usually occurs when observations are made at small angles to the jet axis. In this paper, we develop further understanding of the mathematical properties of this peak noise by analysing the properties of the overall sound pressure level with an acoustic analogy using isotropy as a paradigm for the turbulence. The analogy is based upon the hyperbolic conservation form of the Euler equations derived by Goldstein (Intl J. Aeroacoust., vol. 1, 2002, p. 1). The mean flow and the turbulence properties are defined by a Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes calculation, and we use Green's function based upon a parallel mean flow approximation. Our analysis in this paper shows that the jet noise spectrum can, in fact, be thought of as being composed of two terms, one that is significant at large observation angles and a second term that is especially dominant at small observation angles to the jet axis. This second term can account for the experimentally observed peak jet noise (Lush, J. Fluid Mech., vol. 46, 1971, p. 477) and was first identified by Goldstein (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 70, 1975, p. 595). We discuss the low-frequency asymptotic properties of this second term in order to understand its directional behaviour; we show, for example, that the sound power of this term is proportional to the square of the mean velocity gradient. We also show that this small-angle shear term does not exist if the instantaneous Reynolds stress source strength in the momentum equation itself is assumed to be isotropic for any value of time (as was done previously by Morris & Farrasat, AIAA J., vol. 40, 2002, p. 356). However, it will be significant if the auto-covariance of the Reynolds stress source, when integrated over the vector separation, is taken to be isotropic in all of its tensor suffixes. Although the analysis shows that the sound pressure of this small-angle shear term is sensitive to the statistical properties of the turbulence, this work provides a foundation for a mathematical description of the two-source model of jet noise.