According to Steve at Ayre the first manufactured lot went primarily to Asia. I've been notified that I will be able to audition the C5xe sometime at the end of next week.
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But will it top the Sony SCD1, still rated as one of the best ever, In fact Absolute sound called it one of the few digital players that they call a "classic" design. And they never been to happy with any digital format!
I think in some ways digital in the 2 channel format has finally reached it peak, now improves will be much slower, until a new format comes out and we have to start all over again...smile!
The C5x-e is Ayre's first SACD/DVD-A player which is somewhat of a suprise given some comments made by Charles Hansen in the past (although notice it is 2ch only). But the addition of SACD and DVD-A didn't come at much extra cost. The comparison above is Redbook only and is quite a statement for someone to make given the performance of the CX-7 and D1-x at their price points. I haven't heard it yet but I plan to in the next month or two when I do my audio upgrade. I mainly care about Redbook performance.
It is surprising that another SACD/DVD-A player is offered with the way these formats seem to be going. Ayre says it does sound better than the CX-7 but how, who knows at this point. $6000 is right pricey and approaches a lot of fast company. However, I do like Ayre's philosophy's on negative feedback, etc.
I guess we'll know something in the next month or so. I was going to buy a CX-7 w/ the Evolution upgrade but I think I'll hold for a bit. I was just at the point of going back to strictly CD playback.
I had the C5xe in my system Sunday and what has been reported is true, redbook playback is vastly superior to the CX-7 and better than CD playback on a D1-X. SACD playback is very good, and these comments are about a player that did not even have 100 hours on it yet. I am leaning very heavily in the direction of this one-box. Charlie Hansen and his team should be proud of their new baby. Frankly, $6K is a very reasonable price for the C5xe.
I auditioned this player in my system over the weekend too. It is stunning. I also had on hand an ARC CD3II and a Theta Miles. The Ayre was clearly superior to both on redbook and simply wiped the floor when an SACD was played. Ayre wasn't really on my radar before this, but I plan to find out more now......... definitely a killer player.
How much does this player cost? Is it 2-channel or multichannel? When you play DVD-A's can you select 2-channel playback without a screen? Balanced/RCA outputs?
Now that I have spent some significant time with an Exemplar 2900, I ask myself, is SACD really necessary? This player forced me to stop and think.
Prior to owning the Exemplar 2900 I owned the Sony XA777ES. SACD's on the Sony sounded very, very good to me. Way better than my redbook versions of the same discs. But after spending several months with the Exemplar I began to notice no significant difference, on many quality recordings, between the SACD and the redbook. For example, I owned two versions of Bill Evans 'Waltz for Debby': one was the SACD and one was the Super-K2 20 bit remaster. Well, on the Exemplar Denon, in my system, I could not tell a significant difference between the two, and, on a few tracks, I actually preferred the 20 bit remaster. This exeperience repeated itself a few times.
This has given me pause. It makes me wonder whether I should just go for a really high quality redbook only player and forget the whole Hi-Rez thing altogether (especially because I am two-channel and don't need DVD). While I have invested a lot of money in SACD only about %10 of them were music I re-bought and the vast majority were hybrids -- so it would not be hard to divest myself of the single-sided SACD's and keep the hybrids (which is mostly new music for me) if I wanted.
I have learned a lot and one of the things that keeps coming back to me is that maybe I just had never owned a really exceptional redbook player before the Exemplar. I have not come to any conclusions...I will definitely audition the new Ayre player if I can -- its redbook performance will have to be awesome though. Thanks for reading,
SRP is $6K and I expect there won't be much room for negotiation if this platform is popular. I can't tell you how good the redbook playback will become, having auditioned a new player in my system. But I can tell you that, with less than a 100 hours, it was very revealing and was better than my 588 at defining the soundstage. It was a bit forward, as you might expect of a new player, but the C5xe is a superb, dedicated two-channel CD/SACD platform. Fit and finish are also outstanding, though I'm not in love with the noisy drawer.