I've auditioned the Ayre and its little brother the cx-7e. Both are wonderful. I have to admit I've become addicted to Ayre's house sound. (I own the K1xe preamp) My current CD player, the Sony XA777ES, is good but the Ayres are way more musical. (I hate it when audiophiles use the word musical. It reminds me of euphonic ie pleasing to the ear but not really accurate. The Ayres are dead on accurate but they are very musical in that there dynamics (macro and micro and inner detail bring out the true nature of music more then any other electronics I've ever heard.) I've auditioned the big Boulder and the big BAT and Krell CD players and none of them come close to the Ayre. The Boulder is analytical, the BAT gives a bigger, but less accurate sound with less extention on both ends, and the Krell is a bit bright. I am also going to purchase the Ayre C5xe is the next few months unless this threat points me to something I'm not now considering. If you are into accoustic instruments (classical, jazz) you will find the Ayre does wonders with the harmonic structure of guitar and piano stings.
I do have one odd concern about the C5xe (other then the price) and that's the dynamics. I'm faced with a delema that should please many audiophiles. The dynamics of the C5xe are much closer to live music then anything I've every heard. But I'm finding I don't necessarily want the full dynamics of live music for a lot of my listening. Even though I've invested thousands in audio to get to this happy dilema (Revel Ultra Studios, Krell FPB300cx amp) I'm having to consider the consequences. So for background music its actually not recommended.
Orjazzm, I'm breaking one of my cardinal rules by answering your question, because I've never heard the Ayre C5xe.
You don't mention what your goal is with your system...what kind of sound you like. You also don't mention the rest of your system.
I own the APL Denon 3910, and in my opinion it will surpass any 98% of stock players at any price level, and it will give the remaining 2% a run for their money, and perhaps be considered better by some listeners. The preference at the top 2% becomes very, very subjective and heavily influenced by personal taste.
In my system, the APL is extremely extended from top to bottom. You can hear the ambience of the recording venue, the wire brushes on a drum head, the plastic guitar pick on wound wire guitar strings. The player is accurate and neutral accross the frequency range, and does not emphasize one area to the detriment to another. The sound stage is expansive and deep. The music is live in your listening room if you have the accompanying system to resolve it...including interconnects, speaker cabling and power cords. The APL Denon 3910 delivers what's on the recording. If the music and warm and lush, then that's what the APL will present. If the music/recording is sterile and cold, then that's what the APL will reproduce.
I've heard both side by side, but it was very briefly so I am not comfortable being conclusive in my remarks here. I will say that the Ayre sounded very, very good, but not necessarily better (or even as good) as the APL. Since that audition, the APL has undergone a change to a new brand of DAC (moving from Crystal to AKM), which owners say transports it [good pun, eh?] to another level. (But people always say stuff like that.) The APL Denon has a tube in it, by the way, while the Ayre is solid state all the way.
The Ayre definitely wins on looks and ergonomics. He's dropped those silly, cryptic icons that are on the CX7 and gone to a more conventional presentation. I probably would buy an Ayre if it offered a digital input so I could use my computer as a source. APL offers a digital input option for the 3910.
Where do you live? You might post on the APL forum and see if there is an APL 3910 owner in your area. I too have not heard the Ayre, so I cannot comment thayre. But after 6 months of owning the APL 3910, I cannot hear a flaw in the reproduction.
Do let us know where you live.
Thanks for the response guys. Seems like 2 out of 3 audiogoners prefer the APL. Tvad, my systems consists of:
Gershman Acoustics Avantgardes
Denon DCM 260
Jolida JD100a with level 1 Parts Connexion mods.
JPS cables all around
System goal is to increase detail and resolution without becoming harsh and bringing out the natural sweetness of music. One thing I noticed about the APL is that it has volume control which is very appealing to me since I've sold my pre and have been using my old Denon multichanger that has a some attenuation. I've tried calling APL but no one answers, not even an answering machine, are they still in business?
Hi Howard, I'm located in NY, around the Long Island area.
APL is still in business and going strong.
I recently bought the Ayre player. It's the best digital I've heard at any price range.
After hearing the Ayre I pretty much feel the same way, but I'm still curious about the APL considering everything that's been said about it
I recently post a thread for cd upgrade advice as well and seems the APL 3910 is more favorable to many. But I will have to hear it before making the move. I currently have Krell KPS-28c($8500)cd player and don't want to take a chance. Look for my thread under my username.
Yes it would seem wise to at least hear it first before making a long term commitment, but all the positive raves and that I've never seen one for sale hear is definitely something to consider.
After hearing the Ayre I pretty much feel the same way, but I'm still curious about the APL considering everything that's been said about it
In the time I've been reading Audiogon threads, nothing is clearer to me than when someone posts "I am thinking about buying an XYZ component, but I'd like to know what other possibilities exist", that person has invariably made up his/her mind to buy XYZ and wants just one other person to validate the choice.
So, that said, enjoy the Ayre C5xe, Orjazzm. From all descriptions, it sounds like a fine player.
I have heared the Ayre on a couple of occasions at a dealer. While I have a Ayre K1x pre-amp that I love, I have not been overly enthused about the Ayre player. At the dealer where I listened to the Ayre, my clear preferance was the Shanling T-300. It was to me the best sound there by a good margin.
I have bought a APL Denon 3910 used (here), that was sold by an individual who I believe did not like the sound. I have loved 90% of what this player is doing, but have been working on cables to better portray the players ability (I had silver cables in my system trying to improve the speed and upper detail of an older Rega Planet). I now have my cables sorted out, and can say that the player has extreme accuracy, tonal balance, and inner detail. I believe the APL equals or exceeds the performance of the T-300.
I have sent the player off to Alex at APL for the latest chip to be installed. I think I will be very happy with the outcome, although I am missing my music while the player is gone.
The most impresive player that I have heard, for my tastes, is the Linn CD12. I do not have the luxury to afford one. However, the APL is very close, and I can not say how close without hearing the two side by side.
Good luck on your journey,
Ayre is not listed on either the exhibitor nor the product list for RMAF. Too bad, and it's right in their own backyard.
Thanks DuffyDawg, what was it about the Ayre that didn't excite you?
I auditioned the Ayre in my system and thought it was the best thing I had heard. I have not heard ANY modded players though. Other players I Have auditioned are ARC CD3II, Cary (I forget the model (it's the one before the very newest out now)), Linn, Sony SACD 1, etc. I own a Theta Miles (bal.) and nothing I had heard made me want to drop the big $$$$........... the Ayre on the other hand...... Well, if I could afford it right now I might make the plunge.
Maybe if we do a group buy Charles Hansen might offer it for a discounted price :)
I have a Ayre and long time Linn dealer here in Ft Collins. My impression is the Linn CD12 is a very good player but compared to the Ayre C5xe there is no comparision. The Ayre has far more extension (high end) impact (dynamics and low end extention) and pure musicality (inner detail tember and harmonic structure.) The dealer, a real Linn guy, also agrees. I think when people talk about Ayre they need to be specific about whether its the evolution (e) version....It makes a big difference in both players and the pre amp (I own the K1xe also and its great in the same way)
Opposite of Tvad, I have the Ayre but have not heard the APL. My c5xe is just breaking in and I bought it without hearing a demo. It has the best redbook playback I've come across and the SACD/DVD-A is mesmerizing. I have to say though that I've never owned anything in this class to compare to. The Ayre to me is 'elegant' in everything about it. Mids, Highs and bass all sound tonally correct. Stringed instruments sound like stringed instruments. Keis I'm interested in your comment about dynamics. I've found the Ayre to be the most listenable/non-fatiguing player I've heard. Mine sounds great as background music-but I find I usually only want to sit in front of it. To orjazzm, I think you would be happy with either-if you check the archives you'll find many happy owners of the APL. Lastly, I want to hear other players to compare SACD to the Ayre. I say that as the Ayre sounds so good with SACD that I can not fathom how SACD is losing popularity.
With all due respect the only issue is how well you trust aftermarket mods. Do you still paint the edges of your CDs green? Do you still support your electronics with various cone-shaped items of dubiously exotic proprietary materials? Do you lift your speaker cables above the floor with anything more expensive than a styrofoam cup? Do you think an Escalade looks better with 20" spinners? Then by all means go for the APL. With no offense meant to Alex there is no better capitalist than the recent convert. The C5xe is as to the APL as is the MB SL500 to the Escalade. Except 22" spinners are now available for the Escalade. Aftermarket, of course.
It sounds like the Ayre would be a fine machine , based on reviews and the comments on the internet.
I admit, I have not heard the Ayre.
But...Have you heard the APL ?
APL does not consider it a mod. Most of the Denon components, boards etc are removed. Basically, what is left is the case and the transport.
Then APL installs their designed circuitry.
It is a design that it is not made to a pre determined selling price point. It is without those limitations and without all the middlemen $$$ mark ups .
Running the APL direct to my AMP without a Preamp was a huge musical impact. I was also able to sell my Preamp and all the associated cabling.
APL is always coming out with upgrades that can be reinstalled on the same machine for small $$$ Always searching for the best sound.
I have had mine upgraded 3 times to APL latest design which includes the use of 8 AKM DACs
Your comparison with a Auto should have been a comparison to a hand made expert building it piece by piece for optimun performance.
Try to give it a listen.
Ozzy, I have not heard the APL and of course I would like to. Maybe we're splitting semantics here but if APL does not consider its product a mod then why do they call it the "Denon DVD 3910 based APL Hi-Fi Universal Digital Player" on their own website? That sounds like a mod to me and my extensive experience with aftermarket mods has not been favorable over the long run. That you've already "upgraded" your APL 3 times makes my point. Ayre uses a Pioneer transport but nothing else from that company but they don't seem to need to call their product a "Pioneer transport based AYRE Universal Digital Disc Player". Maybe it's because they because they machine their own case and APL does not. Maybe it's because they haven't simply modified the Pioneeer player. Maybe they've actually designed it from scratch. Who knows?
With regard to the automobile analogy I would consider AMG, Braebus and RUF to be expert handcrafters and their products are superb until you have to get them serviced. But they still call their machines Mercedes or Porches respectively because they are MODS!
I mentioned the 3 upgrades only to show the advantage of buying a APL unit.
I remember buying Sonic Frontiers Equipment only for them to come out with a Mark 2 version soon after. Then it was a Dac 2 Mark 2 and so on.
I am sure eventually the Ayre will have a newer version such as a A or a Mark 2. Most of these types of improvements would involve purchasing the newer improved version and selling your older Equipment version.
I can understand your concern on Mods. Replacing parts here and there is iffy and risky voiding warranties and results may be worse.
But, call it a Mod or a redesign , the APL is in a different league .
Ozzy, I'm sorry that you remember buying Sonic Frontiers equipment. Where is that stuff now? Maybe Anthem or some other reputably established company will rescue you from APL as well once Denon pulls the plug. Or maybe you can just "upgrade" to the forthcoming APL Teac/Esoteric mod in advance. Those slackers at Denon and Teac must gape in awe as their ineptitude is exposed by APL. Yes APL is clearly in a different league. Surely APL will "improve" the Ayre as well. Unless the dacha in Varna is paid for.
I heard the Ayre unit a few weeks ago at a local dealer and was greatly impressed with the unit. The true test for me was when the sales rep. played a Reference Recording of Water Music (Ravel?) which didn't make me cringe. Digital playback of piano 95% of the time sounds too harsh, to my ears.
In fact, the sound of the hammers striking the strings was quite palpable. I began to think of ways to afford the unit, but @ $6K, its out of my range, not to mention that I don't need or desire a universal player. Still it was quite an audition.
Ozzy your comments about an upgrade requiring a purchase of new equipment is generally true, but not true with Ayre. They have a factory upgrade "path". All the newer Ayre products have the "e" for evolution in their name and you can send your old non-e version back to the factory for upgrade (not free). I upgraded my Sonic Frontiers Line 3 to Signature at one time also.
Again I auditioned the c5xe and it sounded stunning. Better then my Sony XA777es, BAT, Boulder, and to my ear Cary. Ayre's zero feedback designs would be impossible to provide in any realistic mod after market
Russellrcncom you should look into the Ayre C7e. Not as good as the 5 but 98% for half the price. I'm pondering that cost vs deminishing returns delema right now.
Ozzy, I'm a bit confused, you say the APL is in another league, but you also said you never heard the Ayre? No offense, just asking.
Before buying my new CD player, I auditioned the Ayre C7xe, C5xe, Esoteric UX-1, and APL 3910 in 4 different rooms with 4 different systems. So, take my observations with a grain of salt. Within a 24 hour period, I spent at least 2 hours with each of the above 4 players, listening to my own CDs of my favorite music (mainly classical, with some folk and jazz). My objective was to find a player that is detailed, emotionally involving, and is capable of reproducing tonal, dynamic and transient nuances as well as the sweet delicacy of music without digital glare and harshness.
Although the system in which I auditioned the APL 3910 was the most modest of the 4 systems (the other 3 systems were 2 to 7 times more expensive), the APL 3910 was by far the superior player for my objectives and my ears/brain/heart. The C5xe is an excellent player. It came in a distant second. I bought the APL 3910 with the Crystal DACs for my primary system and the Ayre C7xe for my secondary system. (The C5xe was too expensive for my secondary system's budget.) I compared the APL and the C7xe in my own excellent familiar system. No contest! The twice more expensive APL is in a much higher league.
I have now upgraded the APL 3910 with the high-end AKM DACs. The AKM DAC version is clearly superior to the Crystal DAC one. The level of detail in harmonic texture, dynamic shadings, and micro-transients is exceptional. It's musical realism is the closest to live music I have ever heard. (I have attended about 200 live concerts.) It is difficult to convey the richness of its harmonic texture in words. To say that its harmonic texture is rich doesn't do justice to its sonic landscape, just as saying a sunset is golden doesn't do justice to its visual beauty.
I suggest that you post a request on the APLHiFi forum to see if any APL owner of the 3910 model in your area would be willing to let you audition the 3910 in his/her system. Or attend a show (CES, Rocky Mountain, etc.) where APL will be exhibiting its 3910.
According to reports, the EMM DAC plus transport is excellent ($19,000-20,000 for the combo), but I have not heard it.
Enjoy the road to Musical Nirvana!
I have not heard the Ayre. My comment about the APL being in another league was in reference to modded or redesigned players.The APL is in another league compared to that type equipment.
Thanks for the clarification Ozzy, hope no offense was taken. Nice mini review Puremusic, What is the total cost of your APL with all said mods?
I have all the latest mods including 8 AKM DACs (4 per side), hybrid attenuator, new transformer, etc. The cost was in the $6,000 to $6,500 range.
Khrys, on a recent shootout at Positive Feedback Reviewer's house, we had the opportunity to hear the latest 6K+ (a) Ayre Universal machine compared to RAM modded Marantz SA-11 and my completely re-designed Denon 3910. The shootout was originally between the RAM Marantz and my Denon. You can read all about it on my forum. The Denon was elected better 3 to 1 votes on a blind test. After the shootout a local Ayre dealer insisted of plugging in that latest machine 5e, 6e, not sure but it was $6,000 or more. It was not even close to the RAM Marantz as heard by at least 7 local audiophiles and the reviewer. Sure, Ayre is really good, but still.
FYI, I am not from Varna, I am from Ruse. Dacha is in Russian, it is kashta in Bulgarian.
I'd say that you are somewhat harsh about my products given you have not heard them. I strongly encourage you to do so, it might save you enough money to buy kashta in Varna and enjoy the amazing tourist attractions near the Black Sea.
Hi Alex, nice too see you post on this thread. Any chance of hearing your Denon in the NY area?
Puremusic, thanks for the info. So far it seems those who've heard both APL and Ayre units prefer the APL by a wide margin.
So, Alex - let me see if I get this right. You are claiming your modded Denon is better than the Ayre player because:
1. Some people compared a modified Marantz against your modified Denon and liked your player better.
2. At a later date some other person compared a modified Marantz against an Ayre player and liked the Marantz player better.
3. This somehow demonstrates that your player is better than the Ayre, despite the fact that there was no head-to-head comparison of any kind.
Have I got this right?
Rex, please don't get me wrong, I am not claiming anything. I am just reporting the observation of 8 people who heard the RAM Marantz, the Ayre and my Denon (with the older Crystal DACs).
As I mentioned, the main shootout was between the RAM and my Denon. After the blind test, more local audiophiles showed up and we all had a good time talking and comparing notes. Two of them (one was Ayre distributor) brought players. We heard highly modded Sony 777ES by Richard Kern and the latest and greatest Ayre Universal machine. We alternated many times between the Sony, Marantz, Ayre and my Denon. It all took place the same day at the same event.
At that time and in that system the Ayre sounded really good. It is a very nice player that I thought did very well for a stock, production machine, but even the RAM Marantz was superior to it.
That is all.
Alex, my apologies for confusing post-Soviet Cyrillic beach-house sensibilities with neo-capitalist aspirations. I have been to Varna and the east bay as well. When Mexico completes its reconversion we'll both be living in "Casas". You are obviously amusingly intelligent and electronically glib. Who can fault that in AmeriKa?
I have a prolem with "Mods". Brilliant as they are they have not sustained themselves. Let's see if you and AYRE are head to head 2 years from now. Or if you are still in existence. Or if your kashta is in Montecito or Escondido.
No offense of course.
Khrys, no offence taken! When you were around Zlatni Piasatsi (golden sands), Nesebar, Slanchev Briag (sunny beach), Albena?...tell me more. I've never had the time to go back and enjoy all that for the last 12 years - been too busy staying in existence. :-) My brother was there few months ago and said it's to die for. He said the East Coast looks like small Las Vegas. Well, may be some day I will be able to visit.
I'd understand your concerns about "modded" units, but you are in the same gamble with "un-modded" products too. For example, I have a friend who bought a Plasma TV from the CES two years ago. The TV is dead and the company is non-existent. He has to trash it because there is not even a Service Manual for it. Big companies like Marantz, Musical Fidelity, Krell, EMM Labs were telling their customers "NO CAN DO" because Philips left them "dead in the watter" with their first generation SACD transport as found in SACD1000. Hey, SALEEN started as a modder before introducing that $220K car with the Brit V8 they have. :-) Want more? :-)
One thing I agree - the 6.7L V12 BRABUS is OUT OF THIS WORLD, but I'd still go for MTM Audi S8. :-) The rumor is that the new S8 will come with twin turbo 6L Lambourgini engine that is almost 700hp. They were trying to put it in the new RS6 but it didn't fit. :-(
I wish you were close by so you can test drive the "Denon". :-)
Alex, I was in Zlatni Piasaci (that's how they spelled it) first in 1986 when they took our passports and would not let westerners wear bathing suits! I went back this summer and though allowed, chose not to wear anything revealing. The people were, as before, beautiful and gracious. One of my favorite CDs is "The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voice" which captures the amazing tonality of your native culture. As for automobiles I lust for the BMW M5. The others seem too tricked out, not for real drivers. But I would love to hear your product based on your obvious good taste and good nature. But your electronics will have to stand on there own. I understand you may be a new father. My congratulations to you whatever.
Interesting thread. Keis I didn´t know, that Boulder builds CDP´s ;)? Compared to the BAT and the Krell (which serious music lover listens with Krell??) the Boulder 1012 pre-amp with dac (you probably mean this unit) is in another stratosphere when connected to an adequate drive like Metronome or Esoteric.
Tvad: I havent compared the 3910 modded Denon to C-5xe but I for sure know at least three one box players that easily outperform the modded Denon: my Audio Aero Capitole MK II with mods, the Wadia 861 SE with GNSC Statement modes (light years away) and the Esoteric UX-1. There might be many others out there (Spectral, dcs, Goldmund, Metronome, Bladelious Gondul, etc, etc.) So its always very dangerous to say how good sth. is when you haven´t listend to the rest... But I agree with you the Denon is very hard to beat for the money although the looks, the build quality and the ergonomics are crap..
But I´ve heard some roomors that JRDG will release a matching multiformat player to their amps..
"I havent compared the 3910 modded Denon to C-5xe but I for sure know at least three one box players that easily outperform the modded Denon: my Audio Aero Capitole MK II with mods, the Wadia 861 SE with GNSC Statement modes (light years away) and the Esoteric UX-1. There might be many others out there (Spectral, dcs, Goldmund, Metronome, Bladelious Gondul, etc, etc.) So its always very dangerous to say how good sth. is when you haven´t listend to the rest."
so you're saying that you haven't compared the player in question, but you will give your opinion, while at the same time you'll caution tvad about doing the same? personally, i've heard the Audio Aero Capitole MK II, Wadia 861 SE and the Esoteric UX-1 in the same system and to my ears none of them came close to what APL 3910 could do. the other players are asthetically pleasing, but i want lifelike music from my system. ymmv.
What might have been the JRDG digital player was being designed as a side project by Rich Maez, who recently left JRDG for Boulder. That's my understanding anyway.
Quackfat: yes you´re right, I´ve compared the denon to the modded aa the modded wadia and the ux-1 not to the c-5xe. interestingly to your ears the inferior product (drive, casework, superclock, processor, damping, etc (denon). were superior to the ones I´ve auditionned - interesting ;)
"interestingly to your ears the inferior product (drive, casework, superclock, processor, damping, etc (denon). were superior to the ones I´ve auditionned - interesting ;)"
not true. the apl3910 and 2900 are complete redesigns. the transport and the case are the only thing left from the original denon. taken from the apl site:
1. R-Core (r) power transformer, Custom built to our specs in Japan. Same as found in many Japanese High-End Audio components. It has 10 times smaller magnetic stray field than any other transformer. It provides power source to our tube stage and the DAC board.
2. Various Power supply upgrades, including Shottky and HEXFRED, latest technology rectifiers specially selected for best sound, highest quality Voltage Regulating devices and highest quality Panasonic capacitors as we find them more neutral sounding.
3. Extensive Digital (DSP) board power supply and clock upgrades.
4. Our incredible new DAC board based on the latest Crystal/Cirrus Logic flagship CS4398 DAC chipset featuring non-decimating digital volume control built in with 0.5 db step and remote control. For more information please visit the DAC page here.
5. SE Triode, Pure Class "A" output stage built around the Super Linear 6H30pi Dual Triode. Originally designed for the Russian Space programs, this tube is the latest development in the Vacuum Tube industry. The tube stage is DC coupled to the DACs and transformer coupled at the output.
6. Unique Output transformers, Custom built to our specification in Europe by Lundahl - One of the Best Audio transformer manufacturers available in the World!
7. The new APL Hi-Fi Master Clock Generator.
8. Pure 99.9999% Solid Silver wiring for the signal path. Teflon insulated.
9. Transport upgrades and damping to prevent unwanted vibrations.
a) We are proud to announce that Herbie's Audio Lab HAL-O 9 damping products are now standard with our Tube mods. Please visit Herbie's Audio Lab for more details and information on a variety of damping products that make a big positive difference in every aspect of sound quality.
10. NO capacitors, NO op amps, NO negative feedback on the Analog signal path. Just one active (the tube) and one passive (the output transformer) components.
11. Point - to - point wiring for the Tube Stage and its power supply. No PC Boards! Just like a vintage, or very expensive modern tube amplifier!
and now he's gone to the akm dacs, which take this already amazing sounding player to an even higher level. so perhaps there's more to this than you thought? ;)
Quackfat I´ve already discussed with Alex in seperate mail where he states that my assumtions are correct as the unit I´ve listend to was from End 2004. Meanwhile he did several changes (you´ve mentionned some). Probably the latest model is better than the one I had. But I can´t comment on his actual version. In my draw the GNSC Wadia 861 SE was clearly the best followed by my modded AA Cap. II.
Yo, Orjazzm... after all the differing opinions -- just checking in to see if you'd picked a player and if so, how you like it :)
I sure would like to know about this APL 3910. I am very interested but it's been three or four emails and a few weeks later and Alex still has not responded to me. Is he typically slow to respond to his emails (3 weeks is a long time) or does he just not want anymore business?
His wife just last week had a baby. He's backlogged, but I'm sure he'll get back to you.
The question I have for APL is that given the huge following, why stay as modded specialist? Why not go further now you have that following and start commercial production? The problem I have with modded players is not with their quality but reliability: and not really just the players but the mfr-dealer-after service. Perhaps if I lived in the States would be less of a problem. But there are so many smaller companies that come and go in audio and personally don't like taking that risk: or more accurately want to reduce that risk if possible.
Henryhk: That is why this really isn't a fair thread. I know Orjazzm is strictly interested in a sound comparison but there are inherent problems with modded players that have been covered in this thread as well as others.