Ayre preamp v5x gain

I believe the gain is 10db unbalanced. Is this lower than other preamps? Does it affect volume compared to others with more gain?
It's actually 4db unbalanced and 10db balanced. It's certainly not as much gain as some preamps but it's adequate for most amps. It is best run balanced. Ultimate volume will not be affected provided the amp has reasonable sensitivity. I found no issues with the K5xe at all.
The gain on the K5 is 10 db in balanced mode and 4 db in unbalanced mode. The Ayre products are intended to be used in a full balanced system to obtain the best performance and the 4 db on the unbalanced are on the very low side of gain.
10 db are enough with most of the power amp and, of course, more than enough when you use an Ayre power amp. And yes, if you compare the K5 with a preamp with more gain the volume level have to be higher.
By the way, the preamp is called the "K-5xe", while the power amp is the "V-5xe". I know, it's confusing...

As far as the gain goes, the normal gain structure is just right for most systems. The nominal output of a CD player is 2 volts, but most players will put out more than this.

Most power amps will clip with less than 2 volts input. (The standard gain for a power amp is 26 dB = 20x, so 2 volts would clip a 200 watt power amp with standard gain.) So you really don't need *any* gain for most situations.

But it is nice to have some gain in reserve to account for oddball situations. So 4 dB single-ended and 10 dB balanced has turned out to be a great all-around compromise. I don't think we've had a single complaint.

But if for some reason it doesn't work with your particular system, there is a single resistor per channel that sets the gain of the K-5xe. It can be changed with a screwdriver (no soldering), so this is something you can do yourself. I doubt you will need to. If you need to change the gain, just call the factory (Michael at x223) and we will send different resistors at no charge.