In my experience, it causes a hum but it is not a ground loop. It comes from Ayre's way of not grounding the input connections to ground as most manufacturers do. It makes for better music but it does create problems with some matching preamps.
I was using Vandersteen 3a Sigs with a pair of 2Wq's at the time. You have to insert filters between the preamp and amp. This made it even worse. Ayre offered to ground the inputs but also said it would degrade the sound. They are very, very reluctant to admit to the interface problem. But it does exist.
At first, I blamed the Calypso. Jim White didn't think it was his preamps problem, which now, I agree with.
I loved the Ayre as well as the Calypso. I finally made the decision to sell the Ayre. I replaced it with a Theta Dreadnaught I and I have been happy with the pair ever since.
My advice to you, as good as the Calypso is(and it is very, very good-the reviews are right on) not to pair it with the Ayre unless you try it first. It caused me a lot of heartburn.
The Aesthetix is not the only preamp that does this with the Ayre. They're other tube pre's that exibit the same problem.
This hum, BTW, exists at a fairly low level. In a big room, you might not notice it. In my 15 x 23 room, it was very distracting unless music was playing in which case, it masked the hum.
Bigtee: so I´d better concentrate on Ayre K-5xe or K-1x as I´m very happy with the performance of the V-5xe?
Do you probably know if there are similar problems with CAT SL-1, ModWright SWL 9.0 SE or Hovland ?
Thanks so far for your very kind advise..
I'm not sure about the other preamps. Also, try the Calypso if you can get a demo. The problem may not be there for you. This was about 8 months ago. The Calypso is one heck of a preamp IMO.
If I was going with the Ayre SS stuff, I'd surely find a KIxe. The K5xe is good but not at the same level as the K1xe or the Calypso. The other preamps I'd recommend are the ARC RefII MkII or the newer Ref III, the BAT 51se or the VTL 7.5. I haven't heard the new 6.5 so I can't say on it. (The VTL 5.5 is not in the same park as these.)
I know the fellow who bought my Ayre ran into the same problem with his tube pre but I can't remember what it was. He subsequently bought the 51se and is a very happy camper. He answered your last thread with the 51se suggestion. The V5xe deserves the best you can afford. It's that good as you should know by now. Good luck with your search.
I too have the same problem with the HUM issues described above with the Raleigh Audio Line stage preamp. This is a fully balanced output transformer coupled preamp but with my V-5x it gives a very low level hum. At the listing position its not audible but distinct few feet away. Initially I was blaming the preamp and tried all grounding schemes but it was the amp that was causing this HUM.
Other than this issue, the V5x is a great amp, very musical.
The guy I bought an Ayre V5xe and the seller sold it for this same problem. He was just a little more in love with his Aethetix preamp than the Ayre amp, so it had to go. He even went as far as to send both the Aethetix and the Ayre to Ayre and they confirmed the mismatch. Bottom line is don't get an Aethetix preamp if you are using the V5x.
I can vouch for the excellence of the V1x, I have one and it's the best hifi piece I've bought. Also for what it's worth after a long and drawn out comparison between the V5xe and the Parasound JC-1 Halos, I ended up keeping the JC-1s and selling the V5xe.
I had the V5xe Calypso combo. Not sure if you are talking about hum through the speakers or of the amp itself. I had no hum through the speakers, but no matter what I did the transformer itself in the amp was buzzing a bit. Ayre went out of their way to try to fix this...ultimately sending me a different amp which was quieter. Interesting fact was that the amp also hummed at the dealers in a different setup (though also tube preamp), and that his V5x was dead quiet, unlike my evolution. Note that I have the Vandersteen 5a's so a crossover was between the preamp and amp. Ultimately I sold the amp and went to tubes, which I have found to be more musical in my system. I suggest you take the top off the Ayre and see if pressing on the stamped metal transformer cover makes the amp more quiet.
I have the C5xe/K5xe/V5xe stack. Extremely quiet. Before the K5xe pre- I had a BAT VK30SE. I had no hum problems with the VK30SE/V5xe combo. The BAT pre was slightly more noisy than the K5xe - but this was just the usual tube noise.
Thanks for this thread, I've considered trying the Aesthetix due to the great reviews, but I think I'll skip it.....the V5xe is a stunning product (at the price)...I wouldn't want to give it up...I replaced a VK75se and have not looked back....BTW the V5xe is in a another league than the V5x - I've had both.
I´ve never had a chance to listen to BAT stuff - how is it´s sonic signature and how does BAT differ from Ayre sonic wise?
Btw.: thanks for the great answers so far..
I've only heard the BAT tube gear. It is marvelous gear. Very well built. The sound is superb, very quiet for tube gear. I could easily live with it. But, I made the change to Ayre because I listen ALL the time to either the radio or discs and felt bad about running tubes all the time. The Ayre SS gear is easily the best SS gear I've experienced. I think there is something special about the no feedback designs (BAT SS does this as well). Compared to the BAT tube gear the Ayre is faster, more controlled, and more transparent. But, it is leaner in the midrange, more analytical. If all I listened to was jazz vocals and chamber music I might prefer the BAT. But, I like big orchestral stuff and I think the Ayre wins out due to the control and low distortion. Your milage may vary....
BTW - I have Avalon Ascendant speakers and Cardas Golden Reference speaker cables and Ayre Signature (Cardas) balanced interconnects. Cardas Power Cords
I just have an Ayre K-5xe on loan. Sound is dead neutral, very fast and transparent and tons of detail BUT it lacks slam, body and warmth. So nothing for me..
I´d like to have a pre that combines all ;) So, which is the one to go for.. ARC LS 25 MK II , BAT VK 31 SE, Aesthetix Calypso ?
Personally, I think the ARC would sound the most like the Ayre. I really like my Calypso, but be aware that it sounds poor IMHO with the stock tubes, and while you will get the body and warmth you desire I am not sure it is the ultimate in "slam". You should try it if you can, though. I think the BAT may be the best overall choice, but again it would be good if you can try it. These are excellent units so it comes down to system synergy.
Just to clarify, in the past there was a possibility of hum when using the Ayre V-5xe with the Aesthetix Saturn series (Calyspso and Janus) preamps and also certain other single-ended preamps. It took us a while to track this down as it depended on a number of factors lining up just right (wrong).
Last fall we reconfigured the ground scheme on the V-5xe (and V-6xe multi-channel amp) to ensure hum-free performance in all situations. Units with this update can be identified by the letter "M" in the serial number, either as the second character or the last character.
If you are having trouble with hum, please call Michael at 303-442-7300 x223 to schedule an update. There is no charge for this update. If your amp is not the "e" (evolution) version, you can have this update performed at the same time for a nominal fee.
The Ayre is sensitive to power cables and break-in....don't make too harsh a judgement till 250 hrs. It gains warmth and presence with age. I had the VK30SE (not 31SE!) and the K5xe at the same time. The slam was better with the Ayre. The BAT did hightlight the midrange ever so slightly. The 31SE might be a lot better. I have not heard the ARC or Aesthetix.
I just discussed with the german distributor of Aesthetix and they state that Jim White of Aesthetix in his private studio alsways listens with Ayre gear - so he shouldn´t have hum problems at all? Would be interesting to know if this story is true and how Jim solves the "hum problem".
Will insert a Hovland HP-100 P over the weekend - hopefully this is a better match than K-5xe. Nagra PL-L (last weekend) was to cold..
How close do you have your amp to the Janus. I had an EMI problem when I had my transport directly beneath my Aesthetix Rhea. One day I was shifting around some cables and I realised the hum had become less audible. I dropped the transport down a shelf and the hum vanished. Just a thought.
Charles, thanks for your quick reply. As my V-5xe doesn´t include the "M" in the serial no. I´ll send it over sometime to let it be adjusted as soon as I have decided on Aesthetix or something different. It´s realy a pitty that the matching K-5x lacks (to my ears) a bit soundstage depth and warmth (body). Will the "evolution" upgrade solve this "problem" or will you be releasing a K-3xe with these attributes to fill the big price gap between K-5xe and K-1xe?
The "e" upgrade improves the sound quality of the K-5x noticeably. Whether or not this will result in sound that you like is only something you can say. As always, the best way to know is to try it for yourself in your own system.
In another post you noted that the Nagra preamp also lacked "warmth" and "body" in your system. I don't have direct experience with the Nagra, but the fact that it is a tube-type preamp would suggest that there is something else in your system that is causing the lack of "warmth" and "body".
In these situations, I normally look first to the tweaks and fine-tuning rather than the components themselves. It is important to make sure that the AC polarity of each of your components is correct. I believe that you are in Germany (Schuko plugs), so this is much easier than in the US.
Floating the units (disconnecting the AC mains ground) also can result in significant improvements in sound quality. (Ayre equipment made in the last several years does not require floating, as there is no connection to the AC mains ground.) However, please note that floating the ground connection can increase the risk of an electrical hazard in certain very rare situations. Do this step at your own risk.
Use of wood blocks as supports under all of your components (except loudspeakers) is highly recommended. Also use wood blocks under all cables, interconnects, and power cords that may be resting on the floor. This is especially important if your floor is carpeted.
Soundstage depth is usually improved via speaker placement. Check the Cardas web site for instructions on how to use the Golden Ratio to place your speakers.
Finally, many cables can cause the symptoms you have described. It may be worthwhile to try different interconnects, speaker cables, and power cords in your system.
Charles, thanks a lot for your input, which I highly appreciate! I´ve checked polarity - o.k. All power cords (Electraglide Epiphany) are of the ground. My equippment is resting on Stillpoints and has got rose quarz and Shakti stones on it. The V-5xe is directly connected to a HMS wall socket.
I´ll try to audition a new K-5xe as I want to build a musical pleasing system around the V-5xe and my Ayon Seagull Ceramique speakers.
Does it degrade the sound quality if I would pair eg. the V-5xe with an unbalanced tube pre amp eg. CAT SL-1, ModWright SWL 9.0 SE or First Sound Presence DeLuxe? If so, in which degree?
Whith which tube amps have you/your customers achieved great results?
Just bought a new K-5xe and preferred it in some areas to the Aesthetix Calypso - which is of course a mighty fine product as well. By the way: NO hum problems with Ayre + Aesthetix.
I have a buddy I met here on A-gon who likes his Aesthetix Calypso so I thought I'd take a chance on one. If any of you who own the Ayre V-5xe and have had reservations (as I did) about hum issues with a Calypso, this problem has been solved. Thanks to Charles post above, I sent mine back for the 'M' upgrade. End result: no hum, no noise, no problems. The Calypso is just breaking in, but it seems to be a great match with the Ayre V-5xe and Ayre C-5xe. I'm happy as can be.