Aesthetix Calypso vs. Ayre K-5xe

Knowing that both products represent a great value in their class I´m highly interested in their particular differences as I´m not able to audition them together.
Thanks for your input.
Having used both, I can say without any reservation that the Calypso is way ahead of the Ayre in any meaningful area you wish to compare. The Ayre is a more introductory piece where the Calypso is "High end" as high end gets. Read the reviews, they are right on the money with this piece. The Calypso is impossible to beat at its price level in my opinion. It's that good.
A more meaningful comparison would be between the Ayre K1xe and the Calypso.
You may have a problem mating the Calypso with your Ayre amp. I have heard there are serious and unsurmountable problems between Aethetix and Ayre gear.
Ejlif is correct concerning the issue with Calypso and Ayre amps. However, Charles Hansen recently posted a reply (Do a discussion search on Aesthetix) addressing this issue and which models are impacted. He also discusses how to repair if your amp is an older model.
It would definitely have to be a newer Ayre as Charles Hansen stated in your previous thread. Otherwise there is a problem as I noted in that same previous thread. It will hum with the V5xe unless it has been upgraded to work in which case it does make a beautiful pair sonically. Been there and heard it!
Ejlif/ Bigtee: I posted the question on audio asylum you´re referring to. Charles said, that with a reconfiguration of the grounding scheme the hum problem will be solved - don´t know if this will affect the sonics of the V-5xe - which I like a lot.
I feel the Calypso to be a very appealing product as is the CAT SL-1 and the BAT VK-31 SE too.
Bigtee: where did you noticed the most obvious shortcomings of the K-5xe compared to the Calypso?
The K5xe is a good size step down in transparency, detail and overall resolution. The Calypso also sounds a little fuller and warmer in the best sense of the word.
I guess the bottom line is, it just isn't as musical.
When you take the Calypso out of the system, you miss it. Remove the Ayre and you say it was pretty good but it can be replaced. I think I can do better.
For solid state, the K5xe isn't bad at all. However, as I previously said, to compare the Calypso, you would have to move up to the K1xe which is much better than the K5xe.
It's really not fair to compare the K5.
Bigtee. Thanks. My local dealer said, the Calypso would perform even better when they would exchange the cheap Crystal attentuator with a realy good one. I thinks realy complex attentuators are used in Cello, Ayre, Ayon and Convergent gear - thats why the sound so good.
Frankpiet, I think your dealer is a little off base! The volume control in the Calypso is descreet resistors of very high quality. It is dual mono throughout. It must work because it sure sounds a hell of a lot better than the Ayre K5xe and personally, I think it sounds better than the K1xe. Can't beat tubes.
The Calypso is only outperformed by a handful of preamps available. I have made direct comparisons to many of them.
It is made of premium parts throughout(actually unbelievable quality considering the asking price and I really don't know how you would improve on it.) It makes the Ayre look cheap! Buy what you want is all I can say. It's certainly your money.
If you think the ones you have mentioned above outperform it---go for it!
Bigtee, you´re absolutely right - dealer comments sometime realy confuse. Unfortunately there are just a handful of dealers in Germany who carry Aesthetix gear - none in my area.
If voltage conversion wouldn´t be a big issue with the Calypso I´d buy a 110 volt unit in the US but then using a step up device could harm the sound - I was told. Any experience with step up devices and their impact on sonics ?
Call Jim White at Aesthetix. You can find his number listed under manufacturers on this sight. You will have to leave a message more than likely and he will call. Sometimes, it's as simple as changing taps on the transformer in the unit. I know he does have an export model.
You might could buy one from the US and have Aesthetix convert it for you or just have a dealer here order a 230v unit to sell to you.
I don't think you will need to use a converter if you work this right.
Bigtee: as I´m living in Germany calling the US is quite an expensive adventure. Do you probably know his eMail adress?
I'll see if I can find it for you. In the meantime, give Aesthetix a call. You'll have to leave your return number and he'll get back to you. That way, the bill we be on them.
Hi. Just have both units at hand. I must admit - both are very good whereas I slightly prefer the K-5xe at least in my system. BUT compared to a borrowed Nagra PL-P both units havn´t got a chance. That´s my listening expression on day one. Probably the Aesthetix will catch up on the Ayre tomorrow..
Just bought the K-5xe invested a few hundred bucks in mods and can now say: no Aesthetix or any other product in the US $ 5.000,00 - 6.000,00 range comes close to this unit. VERY close to the K-1xe.
Nevertheless thanks a lot for your very kind support during my evaluation process.
what mods? and did you compare to the aesthetix?
I´ve had the Calypso on loan for a week. The Calypso came a) with stock tubes and b) with some very high quality Telefunken and Roederstein tubes with Herbie tube dampers. All contacts have been treated with Walker E-SST.
The mods in the K-5xe were: new high-quality Cryo treated silver-gold power inlet; damping of the casework with Sorbothane; K37 laquer treatment; exchange of the low quality fuse with a Hifi-Tuning ceramique-gold-silver device; exchange of the medium level balanced in´s and out´s sockets with state-of-the-art devices; exchange of some medium quality internal parts with highest quality parts and Walker E-SST treatment. All units were used with/ without Stillpoints Universal Resonance Dampers and Shakti Stones as well as pyramidal shaped Rose Quarz. Including labour this was round about € 900,- per unit which is a bit more than US $ 1.050,00. I can tell you: the mods were worth every penny!
If you are familiar with the dramatic improvement the RAM basic mods (US $ 1.190,00) do to the standard Esoteric DV-50 S performance (outperforms the costlier UX-3 / UX-1 in CD/SACD mode) you can imagine how far these mods push the envelope with the K-5xe and V-5xe. Even my local dealer was totally astounded how good my rig performed against his private K-1xe / V-1xe / D-1xe set-up - it was nearly on par for 50% less in costs.
Sources in this listening test were:
Esoteric DV-50 S (RAM modded); Audio Aero Capitole Reference; Ayre D-1xe; Simon Yorke S 7 + Simon Yorke tonearm and Jan Allearts moving-coil cartridge. Phono amplification was Ayre P-5xe and Clearaudio Basic Symmetry Ltd. Speakers were Ayon Seagull Ceramique; Avalon Ascendant and Verity Audio Parsifal Encore. Cables were a mixture of Shunyatas, Acoustic Zen, Electraglide, Fadel Art, Audioquest and some custom made stuff. The K-5xe was in all set-ups superior to the Calypso (lower noise floor, much better detail retrieval, speed, clarity, neutrality and soundstaging were at least one level above the Calypso with the Telefunken+Roederstein tubes). The standard K-5xe was in some areas better than the standard Calypso in some areas weaker. Def. better in quality of casework, ergonomics and look.
Rgds. and happy listening!!
Where were these mods done? Please let me know.
Partially by myself and partially by a local dealer.
i misspoke. meant to ask, what mods? AC? parts?
Can´t realy tell you. The overall effect is just amazing.
05-22-06: Frankpiet
Await a few new components: Nagra PL-L in balanced version to replace
my Ayre K-5xe. Ordered Esoteric UX-1 Ltd. and ML No. 51 for a
shootout to replace my modded DV-50 S.
that modded Ayre K-5xe wasn't as good as you thought after all...?

yes its still excellent (and burning in) but I was able to get a very nice price on a balanced version of the PL-L which I think betters K-1xe as well though my modded K-5xe is very close to the standard K-1xe. Just backed off from getting a No.51 US $ 18.000,00 is just ridiculous.. UX-1 Ltd. to arrive on friday for a shootout with my modded DV-50 S.