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Ayre A new dimension of musical enjoyment

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Old 01-14-2017, 01:04 PM
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GregGale GregGale is offline
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Default Upgraded from Ayre K5xemp to Ayre KX-5 Twenty short review

I originally started with the Ayre K5xe and had the factory upgrade this unit to the mp status which made a significant improvement in the sound. I have lived with this preamplifier for over 10 years which has given me much satisfaction.

I just recently borrowed from my dealer the KX-5 Twenty to see what type of a difference this made in my system.

The difference was staggering. I always knew that a preamp can make a big difference in your system sound quality wise, but I was unprepared for the difference the new KX-5 Twenty made to my system.

Every single aspect of the sound improved from the lowest bass to the highest treble notes. Everything sounded much more alive and real, where I could hear more texture in the bass notes, vocals sounding more lifelike and treble with cymbals sounding clear and distinct.

I also noticed this could be enjoyed at lower sound levels as well versus I always felt the need to crank up the volume to be totally satisfied.

After I returned the unit and inserted my old K5xemp back into the system I did not feel that motivated to listen to my system. I ordered the new KX-5 Twenty and the wait was long (over 3 months) to receive it and when I inserted this into my system I was not that happy with the sound which was a bit brash and on the bright side sounding nothing like the dealers loaner unit that had many hours on it. I felt maybe I made a mistake by trading in my old unit and my dealer assured me it needs 200 to 300 hours break in on each input and then make a judgment and guaranteed me it would sound as good as his demo unit.

After playing for several weeks I started to hear improvement in the sound but still felt it was not up to the level it should be and now after several months of playing it has smoothed out even more. I was skeptical about improvements in sound with running in a unit, but I am now a believer.

The bottom line is I am very pleased with this new preamp which has made one of the biggest impacts in the improvement of sound quality in my system than any other single component I have purchased. I truly believe as JA stated from Stereophile that indeed the preamp is the "heart of the system". Highly recommended.
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Old 01-14-2017, 02:05 PM
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Congrats! Glad you had the patience and allowed proper break in to see the improvements. What kind of speakers do you have?
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Old 01-14-2017, 03:26 PM
d_elm d_elm is online now
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Over Christmas 2016 I borrowed a KX-5 Twenty from my dealer, replaced the K-5xemp, and listened for 3 days. No going back, as Greg describes, so I have one on order. The K-5 sold immediately and while I wait I am using the Codex in preamp mode to drive the VX-5 Twenty. A year earlier I tried the same comparison of the KX-5 Twenty and K-5xemp and could not determine a difference. I think this is because the digital input is much better now ( microRendu/Codex with FMC and two LPS-1 ) and I did not spend much time comparing the analog input.
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Old 01-14-2017, 05:14 PM
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You guys are not helping me reign my spending in, not one bit!!!
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Old 01-14-2017, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gaboudreaux View Post
Congrats! Glad you had the patience and allowed proper break in to see the improvements. What kind of speakers do you have?
B&W802Diamond

Last edited by GregGale; 01-26-2017 at 10:32 PM.
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Old 01-14-2017, 11:26 PM
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RLF RLF is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GregGale View Post
I originally started with the Ayre K5xe and had the factory upgrade this unit to the mp status which made a significant improvement in the sound. I have lived with this preamplifier for over 10 years which has given me much satisfaction.

I just recently borrowed from my dealer the KX-5 Twenty to see what type of a difference this made in my system.

The difference was staggering. I always knew that a preamp can make a big difference in your system sound quality wise, but I was unprepared for the difference the new KX-5 Twenty made to my system.

Every single aspect of the sound improved from the lowest bass to the highest treble notes. Everything sounded much more alive and real, where I could hear more texture in the bass notes, vocals sounding more lifelike and treble with cymbals sounding clear and distinct.

I also noticed this could be enjoyed at lower sound levels as well versus I always felt the need to crank up the volume to be totally satisfied.

After I returned the unit and inserted my old K5xemp back into the system I did not feel that motivated to listen to my system. I ordered the new KX-5 Twenty and the wait was long (over 3 months) to receive it and when I inserted this into my system I was not that happy with the sound which was a bit brash and on the bright side sounding nothing like the dealers loaner unit that had many hours on it. I felt maybe I made a mistake by trading in my old unit and my dealer assured me it needs 200 to 300 hours break in on each input and then make a judgment and guaranteed me it would sound as good as his demo unit.

After playing for several weeks I started to hear improvement in the sound but still felt it was not up to the level it should be and now after several months of playing it has smoothed out even more. I was skeptical about improvements in sound with running in a unit, but I am now a believer.

The bottom line is I am very pleased with this new preamp which has made one of the biggest impacts in the improvement of sound quality in my system than any other single component I have purchased. I truly believe as JA stated from Stereophile that indeed the preamp is the "heart of the system". Highly recommended.
Congratulations on your new preamp. My dealer encouraged me to home audition a KX-5 when I home auditioned an ARC Ref 6, but I did not for some reason.

Two things come to mind here:

1. As JA has stated, "The preamp is the heart of the system" as I have learned. In fact, I've found that preamps make a much larger impact on the sound in my system than amplifiers that I have auditioned.

2. In general Ayre products do need a good deal of break-in as I learned back when I bought my Ayre C-5xeMP SACD player in 2009 which was the first Ayre product that I've owned. My Ayre dealer warned me that my new C-5 would not sound like the broken-in demo which I home auditioned at the time. In fact, he told me that he had people try to return theirs when their new one didn't sound as good as the demo unit and thought that something was wrong with it.

Right now I am breaking in a new Ayre QX-5 DAC. While it sounded good only after a few hours of play, it certainly didn't sound nearly as good as the broken in demo unit that I home auditioned. I've been running mine in 24/7 with a XLO break-in tract for 8 days now, and it is really blossoming now.

I'm most glad to hear that you are enjoying your new preamp.
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Old 01-18-2017, 06:03 PM
ctsooner ctsooner is offline
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You guys are right. The QX5 doesn't need to each input to be broken in. That's the good part. Yes the Ayre gear takes a longer time than most. Why? Probably the caps they are using. All my gear I've had that use higher end caps need at least 500 hours break in. My DAC was 'broken in at 500', but now that it's over 1000k, it sounds even better and to me by a fair amount. Same with my AX5/20. I had to break it in all over again after the upgraded boy was it worth it.

I always love posters who bad mouth Ayre gear about break in etc... It goes with the territory. I've heard a ton of high end and very expensive amps over the years. I've never heard a pre sound as good as a broken in KXR. That thing is sick. As Glenn says, it's just a special set of products they are making right now. Can't go wrong with any of them. Also, for those who ask, NO the preamps in the Codex or QX5 are not as good as using the KX5 or KXR. That's the reality.
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Old 01-19-2017, 12:38 AM
Blackstone Blackstone is offline
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Default Upgraded from Ayre K5xemp to Ayre KX-5 Twenty short review

Oh yeah break in is for real. I have never seen such a unanimous consensus about break in as with Ayre gear. Everyone seems to have the same experience and it really does require several hundred hours before you can evaluate. Also, never turn it off! Use the Ayre disc. Once I get the stuff to listenable levels it is fun to hear it improve gradually as you listen week after week. It changes in really surprising ways.

My QX/AX combo sounds a little better every time I listen but I am probably still under 500 hours. Lost count. Even just a week of running it all day while I was at the office made a huge difference and moved it more toward the demo units I have heard.

Last edited by Blackstone; 01-19-2017 at 12:43 AM.
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Old 03-21-2017, 05:27 PM
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How critical is balanced to achieving the Ayre magic? I can either go directly from disc player to preamp to amp via balanced, or add an unbalanced Velodyne SMS-1 between the pre and amp to provide high-pass for a pair of KEF LS50s used with a pair of HGS-10. High-passing to the LS50 is said to improve its sound, but that would be at the cost of adding an unbalanced link. Is the trade-off likely to be worth it?
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Old 03-21-2017, 11:37 PM
d_elm d_elm is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbphd View Post
How critical is balanced to achieving the Ayre magic? I can either go directly from disc player to preamp to amp via balanced, or add an unbalanced Velodyne SMS-1 between the pre and amp to provide high-pass for a pair of KEF LS50s used with a pair of HGS-10. High-passing to the LS50 is said to improve its sound, but that would be at the cost of adding an unbalanced link. Is the trade-off likely to be worth it?
The KX-5 has two sets of balanced and one set of unbalanced outputs that can be used concurrently to drive amps or crossovers. The K-5exmp has one set of each. I run balanced to the VX-5 and unbalanced to a crossover for a bass amp.
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