I have the same decision to make and still haven't make the trip to the dealer to listen to the Ayon.
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I have heard them, not side by side, but for prolonged periods. For me, they are both makes that are as good as they come, if you are not going to get into, for me, silly money, Zanden, DCS etc
I would be thrilled with either, obviously both have tubes and to me, have that slight warmth, without loss of detail, which makes digital tolerable.
How to separate them? I am not sure about US prices, but in the UK, I think Ayon is a bit better value. May not be true in the US, with the Euro/$ exchange rate
I have compared both the Ayon new 5s is noticeably better than the AR
Dac8 and with the new preamp section it is incredible ,custom R core transformers made in Japan super expensive also best dacs Ever made
1704k versions 2 per channel 34 lbs 4 tube super heavy duty rectified supply ,nd 2 tubes per channel for the preamp section,also. This is very important it has 3 gain settings 4v,6v,8v which matches your amp output
And is a huge advantage in fidelity, do yourself a favour read all the reviews and look inside it is a masterpiece in build quality and th unit runs not to warm 5-7000 hrs between tube changes .