Ayre V5xe vs. Modwright KWA 150

I've been researching amps for my Montana XPs' and I currently have a W4S 500 watt ICE amp that's left over from powering Maggie 20.1s'. The Montanas dont require that much power as they have a 92db rating into 4 ohms. So I have narrowed it down to these two. Are they basically equal amps, or does one clearly outshine the other? Please, any comments are appreciated, even if you think of another amp or if I should just keep the ICE amp. Thanks!
I've had both in the same sytem, and was trying various preamps at the same time. My impressions were that the Ayre had a slightly more natural presentation and imaged a bit better, but was just slightly bass shy. I didn't mind this given the other two factors. However, when I used a Modwright 36.5 preamp with the amp, that all changed and the combination gained in all areas, to where I would have likely chosen it. So I guess synergy played a part here. At the time, preamps included an Allnic and... (don't remember).
Peter, so you are saying Modwright pre + power out performed Modwright 36.5 + Ayre V5Xe? Did you try Ayre + Ayre? But then Modwright 36.5 is very highly regarded and some cnsidered it better than ARC Ref 3.

When you said Ayre has a more natural presentation, can you elaborate? My brief audition of Ayre left me cold, like to hear owner's impression
Yes, definitely the Modwright pre + power outperformed the MW pre and Aye amplifier. But if I were going with the Ayre amplifier, I would use a different pre than the MW. Had I not heard the MW+MW combination, I would have gone with the Ayre. As it stands, I've done something totally different. I've gone with Classe Omega amps, and an Ayre K1XE preamp. Someday I may try the MW dual box 36.5 - I'd like to get tubes in my system again.

Not sure if I can elaborate. When using say the Allnic preamp and comparing the Ayre and MW amp, I found the Ayre slighty more musical, more effortless, and better spatial resolution. But again, a bit shy in the bass. And again, putting the two MW together was impressive - I liked that combo a lot and could have been happy with that.
"...and I currently have a W4S 500 watt ICE amp that's left over from powering Maggie 20.1s'. The Montanas dont require that much power "

Firstly I wonder what happenned to Maggie 20.1? The ICE based amplifiers do not perform well when speaker impedance is reactive - as all ribbon Maggies are.

Secondly, you left W4S amp so you like it. While its more powerful then both Ayre or Modwright - power cannot hurt your speakers and if you like it then stick with it.

I can try to give some observations here as I've had both in my system also, and have some connection to what Peter has said, though my experience was not identical to his, and my system and room are of course different. I'd start with my usual disclaimer that Dan Wright is a client of mine so take the following with that in mind - client or not, music is too important to me and I would not use his stuff if I did not like it - I've been a fan long before I started doing work for him. That said, I'd consider those two amps two of my personal favorites in SS amps (where I normally would prefer tubes) and a tough call to name one as "better". They are, however, certainly different and some of what Peter is saying does click with what I observed, but I ONLY used a Modwright 36.5 preamp in judging the two. I had the Ayre in my system for a bit over a week. I was considering purchasing it. I currently bi-amp with KWA 150's and am very familiar with those amps having used KWA's for over a year now. From memory I would differ from Peter in some regard in that I think I liked the Ayre more than he did with the 36.5 pushing it. We have different speakers though - I was using Coincident SEIII's at the time (very efficient) - he's using Avalon Indras (average efficiency). Peter has a superb listening room while mine is more lively than I'd like it to be (work in progress). The Ayre occurred to me to have slightly more rounded edges, if you will, which perhaps is what Peter is describing as "natural presentation". In contrast the KWA 150 is more sharply defined, without being biting at all. I'd say the KWA squeezes out more of the details, and paints a more sharply defined image (I liked the soundstaging better for that reason), whereas the Ayre occurred to me as a bit more relaxed and sweet in its presentation. In contrast to someone elses comment, I never thought the Ayre, or the Modwright for that matter, sounded "cold". Both excel at midrange and both are utterly non-fatiguing and easy to listen to. I'd say the Modwright has a stronger command of the bottom end. The Modwright has more of a forward immediacy that I prefer, while the Ayre felt a bit more laid back (which is not at all unpleasant). Neither one occurred to me as a typical SS amp - and if I didn't know what was driving them I might even think tubes...yet neither really sounds strongly like tubes either, especially at frequency extremes. They're both just excellent amps in their own right and on their own terms. I did hear the Ayre at Peter's place too and thought it sounded great in his system. I have not heard the Modwright in his system though. I chose the Modwright for my preference for a more forward presentation that draws a sharper image and seemingly rendering more inner detail. I enjoyed the time with the Ayre, and can easily see how someone might prefer that presentation as well. Some physical differences in the two amps: The Modwright is around 80lbs and quite a large (tall and deep) chassis, while the smaller Ayre is around 60lbs. Both are A/B designs, but the Modwright seems to have stronger leanings towards class A and gets quite warm, even in idle. The Ayre stays quite cool in comparison, even when pushed hard. The Modwright is bridgeable so you can get a second and biamp (450W into 8 ohms I believe). I don't think you coudl really go wrong with either one, but they are different enough where I might try to audition them if possible.
Jax2 - this is a fair analysis of the Ayre. ..I don't know the KWA. I think its interesting to note that solid state and tube sound are converging so that there really isn't a difference. I have an all Ayre system, and wanted to note, that Ayre equipment sounds best in their balanced mode, and they very much like other Ayre equipment to play with.