Ayre MX R vs Pass Labs X350.8


I have shortlisted Ayre MX R's and Pass Labs X350.8 and have found sellers for used ones at similar prices.

Amp for use with Cary SLP 05 pre and Vienna Acoustics Kiss speakers.

I like a sound that is warm with harmonic richness and tonal density but fast and with some bass slam but not too bright on top as my previous Krell amp was with brass instruments.

Any feedback comparing them from experienced users of either or both amps in the context of their own systems or preferably with equipment similar to mine much appreciated.

Hi Mikey. What did you decide on? Did you ever get feedback from others?
Ayre would be my choice.
Hi Hazyj

No feedback from others here. There was some on WBF.

I went with the Pass X350.8. Great amp although I think I would be happy with the Ayre too. The differences, to me in my system are a fuller, more visceral sound. The highs were also more open and extended. The Ayre didn’t have as much bass slam, was leaner sounding and rolled off in the highs which was not a bad thing too. Microdynamics I think are probably better on the Ayre which is more refined sounding. The Pass gives a better "you are there" feeling soundstage wise.

I have a feeling maybe my tastes differ from Stingreen who if I recall correctly doesn’t like Cardas cables while I do.

I am told the Twenty version of the MX R’s give you more bass and a fuller sound although for a lot more coin.

Again, I would have been happy with either.

Good query mikey8811-

I would be interested in reading more about the 2 brands as well.
Especially, the integrated amps from each company.

Curious - what Krell amp did you have before?
What cabling are you using?
Jafant, I am using Cardas Golden Cross interconnects and MIT Matrix HD 60 speaker cables. I preferred the Golden Cross to Golden Reference. I like warm so you can have an indication of my tastes.

Gareneau, I had a Krell FPB 200c. It does many things right but as I said, the highs can be well, a bit too much and I tend to listen to music and not just good recordings. The Pass does everything the Krell does right and more. I preferred some of things the Krell did vs the Ayre. The Ayre does have better microdynamics though.
I happen to have the Krell FPB 250M monoblocs using Transparent and Cardas cabling and have always looked fondly on the Cary SLP-05 preamp, so your whole system progression and the responses to your questions here are of great interest to me.

I love Ayre, but it sounds like you'd be happier with the Pass. :)

I think you need to listen for yourself though, I don't think it's that close a call, you'll find your favorite quickly.



The main drawback of the Ayre for my ears was the absence of bass slam and a less visceral sound moving from a Krell. I understand the current Twenty series is better in that respect but haven’t heard them. I also couldn’t afford them.

Depending on what speakers you are driving, you may have different results.

Of course you aren’t going to get that same Krell bass slam with any other amp. Even current Krell amps do not have that anymore. The same goes for the d’Agostino ones. I think the man himself said in an interview somewhere that the old Krell bass is one note bass as opposed to being more textured if you get my meaning.

I did prefer the older MX R’s to the d’Agostino Master Power Classic Stereo, driving Avalons.

Don’t limit yourself to Pass and Ayre. I liked Nagra Classic Amp and a more expensive Vitus amp but not the prices. Mark Levinson 532 and Karan Acoustics KAS 400 were good too. JRDG 625 didn’t work for me.

Which Cardas and Transparent cables are you using?
With a Cary tube preamp and its high output impedance, the Ayre and its megaohm input impedance might be a more synergistic match. 

You might also seek out a Dartzeel amp or integrated, which I found much more visceral and 3D than the Ayre. I haven't heard the newer Twenty versions however.

I am in the midst of upgrading my ICs to Cardas Hexlink 5-C and Transparent Ultra XL, and hope to change my speaker cables to Transparent Reference XL (not inexpensive) from my existing Audioquest Midnight cables (have had the latter for years). These choices are driven by a gentleman named Christiaan Punter who is the proprietor of the HFA (www.hifi-advice.com) website. Christiaan is a devotee of Apogee Acoustics, as am I, so I read his reviews with particular interest, communicated with him by e-mail, and ultimately took his lead in terms of proper cabling.