Ayre K-5xe / tube preamp s comparisons?

I'm strongly considering switching to a tube preamp for my system, to get a bit of that 'tube magic.' I currently have a Linn LP12, Ayre CX-7e cd player, an Ayre K-3x preamp, Ayre V-5xe amp, and Thiel 2.3 speakers. The i-c's are Cardas Golden Cross, and the spkr cable is Cardas Cross.

I've heard great things about the Aesthetix Calypso, CAT SL-1, and VTL 5.5 (my price range doesn't go above these)- and of course, the K-5xe, which given Ayre's designs, has sonic attributes comparable to certain aspects of tubes. (The phono stage is another matter altogether, and I should add that I don't yet know if I should go with something like a Janus, or a P-5xe plus Calypso, or one of the others).

I've found it hard to make definitive judgments about components based upon brief store auditions alone, especially outside my current chain of components and room environment. Also, I don't know of any dealers in this area who carry both Ayre and tube gear, or all three of the tube preamps mentioned. I'd therefore GREATLY appreciate feedback from people who have compared two or more of these units re. their acoustic similarities or differences; how great the differences are (or not); (other) deal-maker or -breaker factors if sound is comparable, including comparisons to the K-5xe; and the like.
In my opinion the Calypso is better than the K-5Xe (which I own). If you go up to the K-1Xe I think it's a different story however. In the past I had a K-3X with a V-3 amp and Cardas Golden Cross interconnects with Cardas Cross speaker cable on some Vandersteen 2Ce Sig speakers. My honest suggestion...change out the interconnects and speaker cables. The Cardas in that setup was very limiting to me. Taking them out, in my opinion, will make it sound like a blanket was taken off the speakers. Also think about upgrading your power cords if you haven't already.
Thanks for your feedback, though I'm curious as to what you specifically preferred in hearing the Calypso. I did buy Ayre interconnects, but given that I have Thiel 2.3's in a room that currently is very acoustically live, I have put using them on hold. Ditto w/ the Cross spkr cable- I was advised by a couple of those familiar with these products that these Cardas selections could help me 'tune' my overall sound. Were I to buy Vandersteen Quatros- which I'm considering- the less forward sound and slight improvement in tonal balance would definitely lead me to use more neutral, less 'laid-back' cable. As for power cords, I'm quite interested in your suggestions (Ayre will soon be coming out w/ their own, but could be expensive). What worked for you when you had your Ayre gear?
One limiting factor with Calypso may be form factor. It is quite large front to back especially.
Rsirloff: The Calypso / V-5xe seems to be a popular choice however you need to read some of the threads concerning hum issues with this particular set-up. As you're probably aware, the V-5xe is very senstive to hum (mine makes me want to pull my haiir out at times). The calypso, from what I can glean, compounds this problem.

Have you considered the Hovland or a CJ 17 LS mark 2?
The people at Ayre really seem to push Cardas. It's just not my cup of tea. I've had it in my system and feel that it greatly colors the sound and limits the soundstage. To each his/her own.

Although I haven't heard a ton of power cables, I really like what the Synergistic stuff has done in my system and I know a few friends of mine who have replaced cables costing 2-3 times as much with them. For the money, I think the Synergistic Master Coupler Active is tough to beat.

As for how that stuff sounds with the Quatros, ask me in about a week or two. I recently dropped the 2Ce Sigs and upgraded to the Quatros. They are on their way from CA.

Don't pull your hair out. We have a fix for the sensitivity to hum on the V-5(xe). Please refer to:


Charles Hansen
Hi. I´ve had on trial the Calypso + V-5xe combo. No hum problems at all. Nevertheless I moved for the matching K-5xe (reasons why are explained by me on audioasylum).
Tip: a few hundred $$in mods make the K-5xe a giant killer - much better than Calypso. Nevertheless I´ve had a great week with the Calypso.
has anyone on this thread heard the Ayre P-5xe?
Yes, I own one. I bought one untried as I really like the Ayre sound and thought it would match well with my K-5Xe, V-5Xe system. I haven't been disappointed. Sweet, good transparency and very low noise with the Denon Dl-103R catridge. I only wish my turntable was balanced which I suspect would improve the performance further.
I own one an Ayre P-5xe that was part of Ayre's first runs. I sent it to Ayre to have it upgraded to XE status. The P-5xe phono stage sounds full range with exceptional micro and macro dynamics. When I bought a ZYX Artisan to achieve optimal synergy with my Universe cartridge, I loved my Ayre so much I put it in my secondary system. I do not know how the Ayre sounds with balanced inputs from the tonearm, but it definitely performs much bettter when you run it balanced to your preamp.