I seriously doubt that you would find the Simaudio preamplifiers to have better sound quality or presentation. Probably the single best "sound quality" deal going right now are used K1xe's here on audiogon as some move up to the new KXR (at nearly $20K). Even a new K1xe (around $10K now), there are very few alternatives which can touch it (and it continues to represent a great value for its level of performance). It is truly a purist design, with very high quality parts, zero feedback circuits. If its ergonomics work for you, you're long term satisfaction will (IMO) be much greater than with the alternatives you name. Don't forget its internal phono-stage option, as it remains a truly "best buy" if you spin vinyl (plus you get to avoid another chassis and set of interconnects).
Don't discount the Sim evolution products lightly. I have the W8 Amp and would not trade it for anything under 20K. The integrates are obviously of the same technology. Best to find a dealer and listen to it instead of listening to opinions here. Sims have a very good pedigree and zero feedback design aswell. The people making these products are fanatic about audio...beleive me, I have met and spoken to a few of them at the Montreal show.
cheers and good listening
I second Arkio
I am very familiar with Sim and find the sound truly first rate.In fact one of the latest reviews of the w-7 suggest that it maybe one of the best amps out there.The Lynx circuitry in the Evolution series is one of the most refined in existence ( more refined than the advanced Renaissance that was in the Moon series).I am sure that the Ayre is very good and it probably comes down to taste and preference, so listening is of paramount importance.Enjoy the hunt Dennis
I've owned the Ayre K1X but not the e version. I found in a direct comparison even the older P-5 was hands down more natural, focused and musical than the Ayre.
I have heard both and think Ayre and Sim sound more similar than different to my ears. Both brands are incredibly transparent and detailed. If that is the sound you are going after, then you cant go wrong with either Ayre or Sim. My personal opinion is that Ayre is the better deal, used or new. I would be careful what downstream components you mate with these preamps though.
>I would be careful what downstream components you mate with these preamps though.
Why do you say that?
drubin, what I mean is that I find both Ayre and Sim to be so transparent and airy that they can also sound thin, lacking weight if they are paired up with like sounding components. I have heard all Ayre and Sim systems with revealing speakers and to my ear, it was too much of a good thing. Again, just my opinion.
Would like to add, I have been living with the sim p-5 and w-5 for some time now and have been very happy. Never a problem, in fact I survived some serious brown outs, foolishly I kept playing the system and no problems. Of course now I'm using battery back-up.
Good input guys. Looks roughly like four in favor of Sim with Proth going for the Ayre and Tboooe more or less neutral. So if the K1xe is a bargain at $4500, then possibly the P5 or P5LE might be even more so at $2500 to $3000, older Renaissance circuitry notwithstanding. (Technically, this amounts to a departure from the thread topic, but I personally find it most helpful.)
Anyhow, good thoughts. It seems that no matter what question one has, a few people on A'gone have had direct experience with what you're talking about. ...and as importantly are willing to share. Great forum, site, and a pretty great group, we are. Thanks for the ideas, guys.
Not sure of how you are counting the votes. I think all but one of the posters favoring Sim had not even heard the Ayre. I did not get to audition the Sim when I recently purchased my new amp and preamp. I wanted to and contacted Sim and they told me their nearest dealer was about 300 miles from me and I would have to go through him to hear the Sim. So I crossed Sim off the list. I did listen to numerous amps and preamps (including among others CJ, Boulder, AirTight, MacIntosh, BAT) and, to my ears at least, The Ayre 1 series was hands down the best. Others may differ in their evaluations and preferences, but to me the Ayre sound is the most musical. I was just telling my wife this morning that even after 6 weeks or so with the Ayre--I absolutely love the sound and have zero complaints.
Which McIntosh did you audition and what was the amp used with it?
I do not remmeber the exact McIntosh models. One was the newer integrated that I think cost around $7,000 if I remember correctly. The other was a McIntosh amp and preamp. The amp was a remake of an old McIntosh and the new version had garnered praise in a couple of audio mags. The preamp was a McIntosh but for the life of me I cannot recall the model number.
Bluesnzzz: The thread helped me discern my bias for Simaudio, a type of bias often merely "reinforced" by firsthand audition.
Admittedly, I'm quite sure that I'd be very happy with a K1, and I'm glad that you are with yours.
(But can we really conclude that none of these other fellows has heard the K1? ;)
Has anyone compared a Simaudio P7 with a McIntosh C50 or C500? I know that the feature sets are different, but what about sound quality.
I have to run balanced and the Ayre is on my short list. Basically, the only other pre along with the Ayre I'm considering is a newer VAC renaiissance.
I listened to the Mac C50 pre-amp and the MC452 amp (all solid state Mac gear) and compared it to a bunch of different pre/power amp combinations, including the Simaudio P-7/W-8 combo (which I ended up buying), on Revel Ultima Studio 2 speakers. I found that the Mac gear had a different sound than the Mac gear.
I perceived greater "soundstage depth" and "space" with the Simaudio gear whereas the Mac gear sounded more "direct" with more "body" or "presence" to the music but less depth. Tough to describe in words but you'll hear a significant difference if you do the comparison and you'll probably identify your preference pretty quickly.
Funny, my Simaudio dealer sells both Mac and Simaudio and he said "If you like Simaudio, chances are you won't like Mac." - it comes down to what you prefer but the two brands are quite different in how they present the music.