Shaft angular misalignment (SAM) is a common and crucial problem in rotating machinery. Misalignment can produce several shortcomings such as premature bearing failure, increase in energy consumption, excessive seal lubricant leakage and coupling failure. Vibration analysis has been traditionally used to detect SAM; however, it presents some drawbacks i.e. high influence of machine operational conditions and strong impact of the coupling type and stiffness on vibration spectra. This paper presents an extensive experimental investigation in order to evaluate the possibility of detecting SAM, using acoustic emission (AE) technique. The test rig was operated at under different operational conditions of load and speed in order to evaluate the impact on the AE and vibration signature under normal operating conditions. To the best of the author's knowledge, this is the first attempt to use AE for the detection of SAM under varying operational conditions. A comparative study of vibration and AE was carried out to demonstrate the potentially better performance of AE. The experimental results show that AE technique can be used as a reliable technique for SAM detection, providing enhancements over vibration analysis.