Ayre C-5xe-mp v Sony XA5400ES


Both of these players have received A+ ratings from Stereophile. I have the Sony and wonder if the sound of SACDs played on the Ayre would be a worthwhile upgrade. Anyone have the chance to compare the sounds of the two?

db
dbphd
There's no comparison. The Sony is a good player but the Ayre is so much better that you don't even have to hear it in the same system to make a comparison. I wouldn't trust Stereophile to buy equipment. Listen to both players. That way you'll know for sure.
I also agree with Zd452, another option would be to mod your sony. Best of Luck
Zd542,

I'd really like to hear both, but we live in Montecito, a small town adjacent to Santa Barbara, so sampling is limited unless I venture into the dreaded LA area, and even then, the Ayre has been discontinued. I suspect you guys are right though. In a reply to my post at Audio Asylum about whether seeking an Ayre still made sense with Hi-Res computer downloads, he suggested an SACD on an Ayre could better a download.

db
Interesting, I Thought The Sound Of The Sony Was More Musical.No Experience With SACD Between The Two.
I realize I left out a referent to he. It's John Atkinson. I'm likely to buy a used Ayre if I can find one under $3K.

db
Look inside the Ayre box, and you'll find an Oppo. The Sony has had better reviews for SACD sound than the Oppo. If you like listening to a pretty and expensive box, buy the Oppo.
Ayre is not an Oppo. Ayre is a much better sounding player than the Sony as I have heard both in the same system. Sony is more electronic or artificial sounding.
I have an Oppo 105 in addition to the Sony XA5400ES, Tarp38. Both are connected via analog to a Parasound JC-2 that feeds Proceed HPA amps that drive a pair of KEF Reference 107/2s. The surround channels of the Oppo go directly to the amps.

db
"06-03-14: Rondel
Interesting, I Thought The Sound Of The Sony Was More Musical.No Experience With SACD Between The Two."

Nothing wrong with that. If we all liked the same thing, we would all have the same equipment.

"06-03-14: Tarp38
Look inside the Ayre box, and you'll find an Oppo."

No idea how you would come up with that one unless someone miss-boxed an Oppo.

One of the things that makes the Ayre such a good choice, at least for me, is the analog section. Assuming for a moment that the digital side of the player is same as the Sony or Oppo (which its not), there are very few designers as gifted as Charles Hanson. He's considered to be one of the elite in the industry. That doesn't mean you have to like his products, as we all have different tastes, but I don't see that level of design in the other players mentioned. Also, just to be clear, I'm not putting either the Sony or Oppo down in any way. Both are two of the best players in their price range. I just think that Ayre is a higher level.
IIRC, I read that the mechanicals are Pioneer, and that Ayre has stocked backup units for meeting future service needs.

db
Not unusual for a company with high end pretensions to rebadge a more plebeian component. Either Stereophile or TAS ran a column about a Lexicon SACD player about which Lexicon claimed that its innards consisted of a highly modified and inproved sounding Oppo. Upon removal of the top, the author discoved a totally unmodified, stock Oppo. The Lexicon was listed at about 2 1/2 times the price of the Oppo. But, of course, pretty boxes always sound better. May be why some high end audio companies put 40% or so of the cost of manufacturing into the faceplate.
"06-04-14: Dbphd
IIRC, I read that the mechanicals are Pioneer, and that Ayre has stocked backup units for meeting future service needs."

That's true. They do that with all their players. Also, just to note, there are no transports that are made outside of Asia. Every CD/DVD play, regardless of brand or country of origin, has a transport made in Asia. There was only 1 exception that I know of. Linn used to make a Redbook only transport that went in their high end units. I don't know if its still in production.
"May be why some high end audio companies put 40% or so of the cost of manufacturing into the faceplate."

Who does that?
I owned both the Ayre C-5xeMP and Muse Erato II, but have not
heard the Sony XA5400E. The Ayre was very nice sounding and I
would fully recommend it as a top notch disc player. I
thought the Muse was even better sounding on red book and
since it also played my DVD-A discs, I sold the Ayre and kept
the Muse.

The Ayre C-5xeMPis is not related to the Oppo. Ayre's short-
lived DX-5 A/V Engine used the Oppo as a platform. Not sure
why the DX-5 was discontinued but, in my case, I get the best
sound from my music server playing files through Pure Music.
Maybe Ayre is focusing on their digital offerings that do not
play discs. The only disc player still sold by Ayre is their
CX-7eMP, which I also owned and found to be good but not as
good as the C-5xeMP or the Muse Erato II.
Who does that? Read Art Dudley's column in the latest Stereophile. He berates those audio companies that put $1,000.00 worth of audio components in a #2,000.00 box. Art appears to one of the clearest thinking, most honorable audio reviewers. I say that even though I am poles apart from Dudley's socialist belliefs. But, of course, your expertise far surpasses that of those who rewiew for Stereophile.
Tarp38,

The mechanicals may be Pioneer, but the electronics that get superb analog out the door are from Charles Hanson et al., and I suspect the cost is in that design genius and the selection of components. Yesterday, someone whose audio judgment I trust, wrote to tell me he had heard the Ayre C-5XEmp in John Atkinson's house, and that the sound was "very, very good." That's good enough for me. I'm on the look out for an Ayre C-5XEmp for no more than $3K.

db
"But, of course, your expertise far surpasses that of those who rewiew for Stereophile."

Exactly why I don't read Stereophile. Getting back to my question, I really don't care where you get your information from, I just wanted to know who does that? Why take offence? People make statements like that all the time, but they never list any specifics. The tone of your answer tells me that Stereophile probably didn't list any actual companies, which means you can't either.
Correct Zd542, he doesn't a single manufacturer, but he does name (indict) several retailers selling mass produced gear from overseas that was designed to be replaced "only a few years down the road."

Magazines have to fill pages and Dudley filled four of them comparing the demise of the Victorian age and the inception of the Arts and Crafts movement with the modern state of hi fi, and implying the consumers have finally become smarter and fed up with marketable, mass produced, but poorly made gear so they are about to revolt against buying such gaudy but cheaply made products, causing the offending companies to fall like dead leaves from a tree and to be replaced by artisan craftsman hand building heirlooms. He does name gear from several companies deemed to be worthy.

I find the rant interesting coming from a magazine who for years has shunned many of the very artisan manufacturers Dudley is promoting, by refusing to review their gear - because they don't have a "dealer network." The other thing I find interesting is that I have no trouble finding hi fi gear crafted by exceptional artisans. As for the offending, mass-produced gear, as long as people buy stuff, people will sell stuff. I think it is more a matter of "different strokes for different folks" - thankfully we have a variety of manufacturers and gear to choose from.
In looking at photos taken at the Newport Beach show on the Asylum web, especially those of turntable and speakers, I wondered if there is a market for that stuff or are they vanity products much like books written to satisfy the authors' ego. Artisan or vanity, I wonder.

My original post was about the Ayre C-5xeMP, a product that seems to have been produced in sufficient quantities to have a track record on the used market, and that the editor of Stereophile still uses in his system. Is John Atkinson duped by a fancy case, Tarp38, or does the Ayre really sound as good as the reviews suggest?
Is John Atkinson duped by a fancy case, ... or does the Ayre really sound as good as the reviews suggest?
Yes, it is a very good sounding disc player and no, the case is actually not that fancy.
the case is actually not that fancy

The case appears less fancy that that of my Sony XA5400ES, so I hope the sound is sufficiently superior to compensate for such a plain-jane appearance. I expect to experience that sound myself if I find one for not over $3K -- I'll divert my eyes when playing it.

db
Mitch2,

Thanks for the excellent response above to the Stereophile issue.

"06-11-14: Dbphd

the case is actually not that fancy

The case appears less fancy that that of my Sony XA5400ES, so I hope the sound is sufficiently superior to compensate for such a plain-jane appearance. I expect to experience that sound myself if I find one for not over $3K -- I'll divert my eyes when playing it."

Really? To me, the XA5400ES looks a lot like my old 9000ES. Very nice, but I wouldn't say as nice as the Ayre. The one thing I can tell you for certain is the actual build quality on the Ayre is as good as anything I've seen. I have a pair of V-5 amps (part of the same line as the C-5) and when I put them next to my Rowland amp and look at the quality differences, inside and out, the Ayre is better.

"Both of these players have received A+ ratings from Stereophile. I have the Sony and wonder if the sound of SACDs played on the Ayre would be a worthwhile upgrade. Anyone have the chance to compare the sounds of the two?"

Also, after reading your original post again, I think you'll notice just as big a difference from Redbook CD's as you will from SACD. Maybe even bigger.
It's been years since I've seen the Ayre, so I rely on photos. I think both the Ayre and Sony are handsome in a functional minimalist way, neither manufacturer seems to have squandered money on bling.

I just received a Linn SACD sampler that reinforces my impression that the Sony is no sonic slouch, and I'm sure to play that disc on the Ayre when I get one. I also played surround from the Linn disc on my Oppo BDP-105. In my setup, the Oppo is limited to PCM because it does speaker management. The Sony does DSD but not analog surround. All my audio connections are analog. The Oppo is no sonic slouch either, but I prefer stereo DSD from the Sony to surround PCM from the Oppo for this Linn disc.

db