Amp recommendation: Cary SS vs. McCormack vs. Ayre

I am building a system with a limited budget. I have some Sehring 703 speakers (86db sensitivity at 8 ohms) and a Manley Shrimp preamp on the way. I have limited space in my A/V cabinet, so do not have room for a tube amp. But I am looking for something that when paired with the Manley Shrimp will have a tube-like sound.

My budget is max $1,600. These are the three amps I am considering.

1. McCormack 125 -- the 500 gets good reviews, so this probably sounds pretty good as well (right?)
2. Ayre V3 -- also gets good reviews. Only concern is that it has been out of production for a long time and if it breaks it won't be serviceable.
3. Cary A-2 -- Cary has a very good reputation for their tube amps, but I can't find much on their "lower-end" solid state 2-channel amps.

Any thoughts/recommendations would be much appreciated.
Even though the Ayre V-3 is out of production, Charles and Co. will still support you if you ever have any issues. Plus, if you have an older version of the V-3, I believe Ayre can upgrade it for you to the latest version of the V-3. Give Michael a call at Ayre on Monday and ask him.

Every now and then I see a minty Ayre K-3 / V-3 combo come up for sale and I think "Damn...I bet that would be nice."
I have been looking for a new amp and those are on my short list. I have also been looking at the Parasound A21, it is hard to find anyone who has found faults with it.

I have the Mccormack DNA-125 driving Dynaudio Contour S1.4s with 86db eff and 4ohm impedence to great effect. The 125 is very nuetral in this system. Detailed, quick and full bodied with Classical Jazz and 70's rock. I am using Emotiva RSP-1 as stereo amp controller. The Mccormack is in excellent shape no issues, pics available if you are interested. Believe the reviews many can be found here and online.
Though I haven't heard the Ayre or the Cary, I've owned the DNA-125 with the Manley Shrimp and can attest that they are an excellent match. Given your budget, I would recommend checking out a used DNA-225, which I've also heard and believe is worth the extra cash over the DNA-125. If you haven't already, you might want to check out the Stereophile review of the 225. Another plus with the McCormack amps is the option to send them to Steve McCormack for upgrades in the future if you want. Best of luck.
Very nice speakers indeed, not many audiophiles have them. But I dare say to drive those properly your budget of $1,600.00 is a bit optomistic. In my opinion to do justice to those speakers I would be looking at a Pass Labs X 250.5 at the very least, or an amp in that range. Just a thought.
Thanks for the feedback/recommendations. I will look into the Parasound amp as well.

It is strange that there are so few reviews and online comments of the "lower-end" Cary solid state amps. Maybe that is all I need to know about them (?).
Many of the Cary lower end amps are Class D amps (digital)I would investigate further.
I had a DNA-125 driving my Harbeth M30s (85 db sensitivity, 8 ohms). It drove them with ease and to great effect. Importantly, the amp ran cool even during summer conditions.

I ended up upgrading to a DNA-1 Revision A, which sounded fuller and slightly warmer. For a little more money, you should audition the DNA-225 or a DNA-1 Rev A.

In all the above cases, the MAP-1 was my pre-amp.

good luck!
I own a CAD-200, basically a stereo version of CAD-500MB which was favorably reviewed by 10 Audio.

there is no "best" amp out there, all are good and Cary is better than McCormack or Ayre in some areas. it's not a class D, it has very nice tone and texture like an old fashion class A/B. for the money, they can't be beat considering they are most likely newer than most Ayre or McCormack you are consider and Cary also has the convenience of both RCA & XLR inputs.
I was in the Cary factory the other day and was told they don't even make class D amps anymore. I was also under the impression they made mostly if not all their SS amps class D. I often thought that class D amp they did make for a while hurt their overall SS amp reputation. Class D is basically a plug and play module.

Another misconception about Cary I've often read on the 'gon was that only their tube amps are made in the US. I was told that some of the preprocessors and DVD players are made overseas (at Cary Hong Kong). All their SS amps and pre-amps and I think their CD players are still made in Cary, NC.
I have a Cary 500mb and man, I love it. The best amp I have ever owned, well for my set up, and I have had a bunch of them!!
I have an upgraded DNA-125 (Gold) that is absolutely stellar for the price of the amp used plus upgrade. I haven't heard anything that beats it at that price. Very musical, detailed, big soundstage, powerful, can listen for hours. I did have trouble mating to a tube preamp, due to high input sensitivity, but it can be done, just choose wisely. For a few more $, the Platinum revision can give you the current required for demanding loads. Dehavilland Ultraverve/Superverve pre and upgraded DNA-125 made a great combo in the $3,500 separates (used) range. The ARC LS26 was also nice, but a little noisier than the Dehavilland.
conrad johnson should be on your short list. They are known for making tube sounding ss and they run cool as a cucumber. They can be had within your budget used here on the gon.
Wireless200, are you sure about Cary not making Class D amps? I thought that the amps in the "Concept Series" were Class D, and the website backs that up.

Is Cary dropping that line?
I'm going back over there tomorrow or the next day. I'll try to remember to ask about the concept series.
I was over there today. We were taking a look at something else and when I asked the service guy, he was pretty clueless about the Concept series. He's just not that familiar with some of the product line. I would have like something more definitive but I guess they depend on the sales outlets for that. I'd like to hear more Cary stuff. I know their CDP sounds great and the 120S tube amp I have sounds quite good. I'm wondering how the SS stuff sounds.
I have a RLD 1 and DNA 125 driving PSB M2 Platinums and it's an awesome combo. The M2s are a 4 Ohm speaker and the DNA 125 doesn't even break a sweat.
Wireless, thanks for getting back. Being clueless about an entire line within your company seems funny to me! Given the market growth of class D amps, I can't imagine Cary dumping that line. We shall see.
Wireless, my CAD 500 MB is the best amp I have owned period. I tried over 15 other amps with Maggies (and some other speakers as well) over the past 4 yrs and only the Innersound's (now Sanders Sound) were even close, and I like these better. Best sounding amps I have had in my system.

I am thinking about bi-amping with the CAD 120 for the highs/mid, but can't decide on which active crossover.

Good luck.
Outstanding Service from Ayre on discontinued product...

I have an Ayre V3 that was damaged by lighting last year. After calling the factory, they asked me to return it to them. They repaired the V3 AT NO COST and shipped it back to me AT NO COST! I would not hesitate to buy a used Ayre piece.