ayre k-3xe vs. k-5xe preamp

i have auditioned the k-5xemp , but its currently 3750.00 in black, thats a little out of my budget, but a great sounding preamp. i have seen a few k-x3's come up at reasonable used prices, wondering if its worth considering or should i keep saving ? thanks
To the best of my knowledge, there is no K-3xe, (only a K-3x version), as Ayre discontinued the K-3 line prior to the "e" (evolution) upgrade becoming available. The reason the K-3 line was phased out was that it was pretty expensive to produce, given its similarity in construction to the K-1 line.

From what I can read and interpret from Charles Hansen's posts on Audio Asylum, the K-5xe is very close to the K-3x. (Maybe even slightly better, but very close sonically.) FYI, there is a new version of the K-5 called the K-5xe mp, which supposedly is even better, and probably clearly better, sonically speaking, than the K-3x. (Note however that the K-5 line of preamps is a line stage only, whereas the K-3 does have a (supposedly) very good, albeit optional, phono stage.)

Used, the K-5 preamps typically run around $2K or so. If you are willing to stretch your budget up to around $4K, you can get a used K-1xe (line stage only) for that money. (A K-1xe with the phono stage will run a bit more, to perhaps $4,500 or so.) FYI, there is no mp upgrade for the K-1xe, due to its entirely different design from the K-5 line.

FYI, I own the K-1xe, with the phono stage, and it is a reference preamp with a near reference phono stage. I have been very happy with it for about five years now.
If you can get a used K-3x, with the phono stage, for around $2.5K or so, I think you should take it. (However, if you only run digital, and don't need the phono stage, you're probably better off with a used K-5xe.)

My two cents worth anyway.

By the way, here is a link to some of Charles Hansen's thoughts on the matter:
Charles Hansen's post on Audio Asylum
To further Kurt_tank's entry, also note that a used K5xe is upgradable to "MP" status, at a relatively low cost, which would allow you to maximize performance within your budget. I had a K5xe for four years before moving up to the KXR and thought it was great (even before the MP upgrade). In any event, you can't go wrong with Ayre. - Pete -