Ayre V-5Xe or Bryston 4B-ST


I am currently using a Bryston 4BSt driving my sonus faber cremona speakers. Seems like a great match since the bryston is very neutral and the SF well you know their character. I have an opportunity to purchase an Ayre V-5XE and have heard great things about the Ayre. Large sound staging, quiet, and great frequency response. I know that listening is very subjective but was wondering if anyone could make a suggestion if the Ayre would be an improvement over the bryston. I am using a tubed preamp with some really nice NOS tubes.

Thanks in advanced. Doug
Wow...Doug. I think your tube pre/Bryston 4BST and SF Cremona combination is a stunning one. I have heard nearly all the SF speakers and yours go very well with extremely linear, neutral amps like Krell and Bryston...particularly with a tube pre.

Ayre is very very good...in general, i would say the Ayre is an excellent amp that will probably find greater favor in a wider variety of systems because its treble balance is slightly warmer than the Bryston.

But again, in your system, i think you've got the mix perfectly right. That's a personal judgment.

The one area where the Ayre might edge out your particular generation Bryston is in treble refinement...in addition to being slightly warmer, i also believe (have never compared directly) you may find the Ayre to have a slightly more refined treble.

The question is whether you will like the refinement...or perhaps not be as enamored with the [slight] added touch of warmth to change the balance away from where you are now.

This is a personal choice...if it were up to me, i would probably listen to Ayre with the expectation of keeping Bryston...and perhaps saving any money or using it elsewhere in my system...or upgrading your existing Bryston to the latest 4BSST2 which has a far more refined treble while otherwise maintaining the Bryston sound that i find melds so well with SF.

Also, i suspect that the Bryston bass will drive the Cremonas with greater, more tightfisted control which i think benefits the Cremona which already exudes smooth, mellifluous sound.

You may wish to ask Bryston about the cost. Good luck and pls post your findings/decision! You've got a great system already...enjoy!!!
See if you can barrow the Ayre and find out yourself if you prefer the sound.
I have not heard that combo, but all things being equal, my experience has been that most people prefer the sound of a zero-feedback amp like the Ayre. The Bryston is an honest product that features very good build quality for the money, but it sounds closed-in and two-dimensional compared to typical zero feedback designs.

PS - I owned a 4B-ST for five years.
Thanks gentlemen for your responses. I was a little concerned about getting too much warmth which i enjoy but not at the expense of losing detail. I want it all I suppose. The system does sound terrific and Lloyd I am keeping my eyes open for the 4b sst2. I think I really got lucky with the equipment matching and my room acoustics. I would preview the Ayre if I could but it's not located in this area so would have to purchase to preview. . I just thought it doesn't hurt to keep searching. I can change the sonic character with some tube rolling but that amperex bugle boy 12au7 from 1958 blows me away. Time to listen to some music.
Regards. Doug
If the Ayre is to be purchased used, and you do not need to sell your curent amp first to finance the cost of the Ayre then I would purchase the Ayre and put it into your system for as long as you need to evaluate it fully. If you end up not liking it, as long as you got a fair price for it, you should be able to re-sell it fairly quickly at little to no loss. A lot of "ifs" I know, but otherwise hard to go wrong here.

Your point is well taken, and i tried to allude to it in that i do agree in 1000 setups, i think the Ayre would edge out the Bryston statistically.

I [very personally] find the match that Doug has to be very special and work particularly [shockingly] well with the SF Cremonas.

For example, I had never thought i would like the Krell Evo 402 that much...but when i heard them with the Cremonas, i was stunned. I still would not buy the Evo402...but if i were going for the Cremonas as my speaker...different matter. Same probably for Bryston. I prefer the Gryphon SS sound myself...probably more adaptable, but also it happens to work well in my system.
Good observation about zero negative feedback amplifiers/components. Generally they will sound more open,3D and natural(at least in my experience).Some speakers however seem to need NFB amps to drive them.
I have had both Bryston and Ayre amps in my system, albeit with a different pair of speakers (Totem's) and not back-to-back. But both in the same room with the same speakers. I've also heard both amps in other less familiar systems, including Ayre with SF.

In my own system, the Ayre was much, much better than the Bryston ST-series. Of course, Totem speakers have a more aggressive treble than SF speakers do, so my experience is only so relevant in that regard. However...it wasn't just the treble that was more controlled and refined in the Ayre - I preferred it through every part of the range, and did not consider the two to be comparable.

I've heard the V5xe with SF Cremona's, and the sound was really quite excellent - not at all what I'd call warm. The rest of the system was all 5-series Ayre gear, and the sound was wide open, detailed and relaxed. In fact, my only complaint would be that the Ayre can be a bit thin on the bottom.

I don't think that you'll be disappointed in a V5xe - but Rcrerar pointed out, your best bet is to buy one used, compare to the Bryston, and sell the one that loses the shootout.