Well, if you can, you should go to an Ayre dealer, and compare them yourself.
(That is the obvious answer, which probably is not an option available to you, or else you wouldn't have asked the question, right?!)
My advice is to post this query on Audio Asylum, in the Amp/Preamp section, and ask Charles Hansen directly, as he is a frequent contributer there.
(BTW, I love my K-1XE! And no, I have not heard the K-5XE. Sorry, but that would have been too easy!)
The K1xe is a right sizable step up. However, it would depend on the overall resolution of the system which I would choose. The K5xe is a good piece on its own standing. Just not up to the lofty standard of the K1xe.
Only you could decide if it's worth over twice the money.
I do not like the term "Blows away." Many are perfectly satisfied with the K5. The K5xe does not have the sonic resolution and transparency nor the dynamics of the K1xe.
Everybody here seems so happy with the K-1xe, I went ahead and ordered one today as well as the C-5xe Universal Disc Player. I will be using them with 2 Linn Klimax amps, and Sophia II loudspeakers. I hope I will get good synergy with that system.
Thanks for the responses, they were helpful in making my decision.
I think you be very happy with this setup. I also think if you could borrow the V5xe and insert in place of your Linn amps you will be very impressed. The V5x is very transparent and throws a really wide tall and deep soundstage. I'd reccommend hooking everything up balanced and omit any power conditioners, plug everything straight into the wall outlets. BTW, Cardas wires are very Ayre friendly, excellent synergy. I have a K-3x and V5x and I'm very interested in Sophias, so I'd be interested to hear your comments if you ever decide to try this out. I may have to try and get a pair of Sophias demos to test out myself.
I agree with Dmichael about not bothering with power conditioners. (I don't use them, and Ayre discourages using them with their equipment as well.)
However, I would recommend dedicated circuits for you equipment. These made a great improvement on the sound of my system.
Congrats on getting the K-1XE, btw. I am sure you will like it! (If you are into vinyl, the phono boards are very good, and well worth the price!)
I just auditioned the k-5xe and k-1xe with b&w802d + V-1xe amp. The differences between the k5 and k1 is not subtle. The k1 just did a better job of presenting the music in more real manner. Voices were more 3-dimensional and palpable. The k1 had more weight to tbe music while at the same time having a very light air to it. I know that sounds contradictory but to me thats the magic of the k1 vs the k5. Is is worth more than twice the k5??? I am not sure yet. I will be doing an in home audition of both preamps shortly. I am also going to be looking into the Plinius M8, which I hear also has a nice warm, tubelike sound like the ayre products.
One thing I did not like about the k1 (i know this is minor) was the loud noise the volume knob makes when moving. I also did not like the overall look of the k1.
How convenient is it to use the K-1xe preamp with a surround sound processor home theatre setup? Also how long is the umbilical cord between the K-1 main unit and the power supply unit Can you set them on two shelves, one above the other by about 6"? I can't find a picture of the power supply. How does it look?
My preamp and the power supply are well seperated by two or three feet. (The power supply is on the bottom shelf and the actual preamp is on the fourth shelf from the bottom. I "think" that the umbilical cord is about 4 feet long or so. (Maybe longer. It is behind my rack and I can't really see it without tearing it apart.
(The quick answer is to email Ayre and ask, or put a post on Audio Asylum's amp/preamp board, because Charles Hansen checks that board fairly frequently.
As far as the HT setup, I don't think there is a HT pass through on the K-1, but I could be wrong. (I have no desire to integrate my HT with my 2 channel stereo.)
As far as Tboooe's comments:
Yeah, it is a bit noisey changing the volume, but that is because of the complicated, but properly done, volume control. Because of this design, the remote volume control has virtually no sonic affect on the sound. (I would rather it be done right, and be noisy, than have it be done incorrectly, and be quieter.) Besides, when I am changinf the volume, it is usually because I need to make drastic changes to the volume. A single click or so is hardly noticable.
Personally, I like the looks. Of course I have the silver face mounted now. (I actually have both a silver, and a black face, as the previous owner preferred the black face and paid for the second face.) But then again, I like the look of my Lamm M2.1s too. To mea, a simple design is very elegant, rather than something more garish. (Although, I must admit, I did like the Manley Neoclassic 250 amps in the gold finish that my friend had for a bit.)
That should be perfect as far as putting it where I want on my shelves. Thanks for the info, Kurt. I have made a couple of phone calls to Ayre and talked with Steve and Michael. They are both so nice and helpful. I will call or email them about using it with my home theater setup. When I listen to audio I listen to two channel, but I think you can integrate it with HT, even without the processor input. There is a "Unity Gain" position on the volume control per the manual, and I think you would just set the Listen control to "video" and the volume to the unity gain position. At least that is what my dealer thinks, but he does not have the K-1 in stock. If that is not right, someone please enlighten me.
I have heard the K-5Xe with and without using a Runnings Springs Audio Haley. The dynamics and sound floor were definitely improved. One key characteristics of the Running Springs is that it does not limit current, however.
Go to the Ayre website, (Ayre.com) and you can download the K-1X manual which should answer all of your questions on the unity gain setting for HT pass through. You won't go wrong with any of their products, their customer service sets the standard of how it should be done, and their policy of honoring the warranties for second, third, and fourth generation owners adds additional value to their owners.
I got the Ayre K-1xe and I am so happy with it! Best hifi investment I ever made. And it is very compatable with my Home Theatre gear. It is broken in now and I am using it with the Ayre C-5xe player, two Linn Klimax 500 Solo amps, Wilson Sophia 2s, and an Aerial SW-12 sub. It is my dream system and has taken me a lifetime to acquire it, but in every way I am thrilled and delighted with it.
I am sure you will continue to enjoy the Ayre.
It is truly a top notch preamp, and one of the very best solid state preamps made, IMHO.
Now, all you need to do is buy the phono boards, and get an analog setup and your road to audio nirvana will be complete! (Well okay, my road to audio nirvana ended that way, FWIW!)
Have fun and I am glad you enjoy it!
I continue to struggle with the idea of getting the phono board. Based on what I've read, vinyl looks like it's a pain to take care of. I am also turned off by the selection of music (or lack thereof) in the genres I tend to enjoy. I've also seen some very outrageous prices for some LPs vs CDs. The ability to quickly fast forward to the track I want or rewind to hear it again without getting up appeals to me in a big way. However, I must admit, I have never used anything other than a CD player in my system so perhaps my lack of experience with LPs falls into the, "ignorance is bliss category." Perhaps someone can enlighten and convert me.
I, for one, have never had vinyl out of my system, but I'm an old f@rt and had a rather large collection of LPs to begin with. I'd be the first to admit, though, that it is indeed a pain. Unless you're willing to spend a fair amount of time with setup, maintenance, and cleaning, don't do it - really. And yes, new vinyl can get comparatively expensive.
Do you have a friend who owns a good turntable setup? Seems to me that a great way to compare would be to beg/borrow/purchase both the LPs and CDs of the same material and compare. Sure, you might say "it's not for me" and have a few unneeded LPs on your hands, but compare that with the cost of making the financial commitment of table, arm, and cartridge and it starts to look pretty cheap. You can always sell the things for 80% of what you paid for them. We LP lovers are suckers for "played once" ads :-)
Vinyl IS a pain in the a**, but even so, and w/ potentially limited selection- it can take musical bliss to a whole new level. Even w/ my Linn LP12/Rega RB-600/Benz Micro Ace w/ stock cable set-up ($1500 w/ table being used), I can often enjoy lp's more than the same cd recordings on my Ayre Cx7e, a great cdp at 3K. Keep in mind, though, that if you were to get a Linn, you'd need someone skilled in its set-up. Also, a good isolation rack is necessary for most turntables, and adds to the price. I think there's a turntable including tonearm, the Pro-ject RM-9.1, for $1500 which is supposed to be quite a good new entry; Rega also makes great starting tables. For someone w/ a high-end system wishing to give vinyl a "fair shake," I'd suggest 2K for table, arm, and cart (1500 for tbl/arm- VPI scout is also supposed to be quite good, maybe 5-700 for cartridge, plus a beginning lp cleaning system, plus lp's ordered from Acoustic Sounds or Music Direct (check out their websites- the first company is especially helpful) or from ebay, or even regional stores. I've been able to get at least 2/3rds of my classical, rock, jazz, r & b, world music, and such on lp's. If you're willing to pay5-7K or more for a set-up, you begin to get into sound that in many respects no cd player I know of at any price can beat (on most recordings).
I added the V-1XE to go with my P-5XE and K-1XE a couple weeks ago. This combo of Ayre gear is very, very, good. The best SS I have heard. Rich, smooth, lots of texure in the midrange and great bass. I am going to add the CX-7E for redbook. I also am saving for the MX-R amps right now. Then I am done. If the V-1XE had a little more power for my Thiels I would be done right now. If its possible I would try to audition the V-1XE in your system with the other Ayre gear. It has made the biggest change of all the Ayre gear I've added as far as pulling everything together.