I am wondering which tube preamps are recommended with Ayre VX-5 amp.?
Speakers are Magnepan 1.7i

Any suggestions would be highy appreciated.

balanced preamps

Einstein The Preamp
VAC model function of budget
Ayre KX-5 is a no-brainer but in tubes I would consider ARC or Aesthetix. Hard to make a bad choice here!
i have an older ayre amp and the dehavilland ultraverve 3 pre goes great with it. you might want to look int the dehavilland mercury 3 pre.
Hi Seigen

thanks for posted. I forgot to quote my amp is a Twenty version.
Makes that any difference?
I have Ayre K-1xe currently, but I think adding the magic of tubes would be great.
What do you think?

mboldda  and beetlemania thanks for the suggestions.
I will check those premps out indeed. I agree it needs to be a full balanced one.
Ayre and ARC often at same dealer

i ran a VX-R Twenty for several years with ARC Ref5se 

my shortlist would include:


Oh, you already have a K-1. That probably sounds pretty good! What do you find lacking?
No I did not.  I actual came to this combination from the other direction.  Previous amp was a VAC kt88 based 100 watt per channel and I decided to move to a SS amp hopefully without losing some of the traits I appreciated.  The VX5/20 has performed that role well.  I’m not saying it sounds like a tube amp, but it checks the boxes I was looking for in my change better that I expected.


That is a good question. What is lacking?

In fact there is lacking nothing, maybe a little bit romance and body, but

in the other hand I am afffraid to lose openness, dynamic and holographic sound I have with K-1xe preamp.

Ayre is especially good with balanced preamps.  The Ayre preamps, Aesthetix, and Rogue RP-7 all click those boxes.
Currently I am using Spendor D9 speakers.  Also I agree with drew_k that you want to stay balanced with Ayre.  I currently use the Ayre Codex DAC but my QX5/20 will arrive tomorrow.  Audience AU24SX XLR cables connect the system.
In order to really get all you can out of the amp you do need a balanced preamp as you've already surmised. But what most people don't realize is that there is a balanced standard; and that this standard is there to prevent ground loops and also prevent your interconnect cables from imposing a sonic fingerprint. If you've ever auditioned cables to see which is better then you know what I mean.

So I would always check with the manufacturer to see if the preamp supports the standard. Most tube and many solid state preamps don't.  This is why there is a controversy about balanced line; there would be none if all the gear supported the standard.

in the other hand I am afffraid to lose openness, dynamic and holographic sound I have with K-1xe preamp.

If would expect this to be improved by a tube preamp.

Good point, Atmosphere.  I assume you mean by “balanced standard” that there are conpanies that incorporate XLR jacks but that they have single ended circuitry, as opposed to fully balanced designs such as those by Ayre and Aestestix?

I had XLRs on my former preamp, a Modwright LS100.  They were there to permit using XLR cables but they were not balanced, and there would be no sonic benefit to using them.
Ayre has very high input impedance (1 megaohm), so tube preamps should generally speaking be a great match.


Looking forward in reading about your impressions on the QX-5 Twenty / Audience AU24 SX XLR combination.  Happy Listening!

This is a slightly different combo, but I heard and deHavilland Ultraverve 3 preamp paired with an Ayre v6xe and I enjoyed that cobo. Personally I preferred going tube all the way through, but the Ayre kept a lot of the tube qualities and added some solid impact. 
 I assume you mean by “balanced standard” that there are conpanies that incorporate XLR jacks but that they have single ended circuitry, as opposed to fully balanced designs such as those by Ayre and Aestestix?
Actually no. A component can support the balanced standard and be internally single-ended. In such a case transformers are used to convert from one to the other.

The balanced standard has to do with how the signal moves from one piece to the other. Here it is in a nutshell:

1) pinouts: pin 1 is ground, pin 2 is non-inverted, pin 3 is inverted (pins 2 and 3 are reversed in Europe)
2) Ground is **ignored**. This means that the pin 2 and 3 signals do not reference ground; instead they reference each other. This is where the vast majority of high end audio products fail to meet the standard. For example ARC has the pin 2 and 3 outputs, but each one references ground to complete the circuit. This is important as this puts signal currents in the shield, which isn't supposed to have any, otherwise ground loops can result and the construction of the cable can also be a lot more audible. Output transformers do this by having no center tap and just a simple secondary (if an output) connected to pins 2 and 3 and nothing else.An input transformer does this by having its primary connected again to just pins 2 and 3 and nothing else. Pin 1 in both cases is simply ground.

3) the system is low impedance- 600 ohms used to be the old standard; these days its considered adequate if the balanced output can drive 2000 ohms or less. For this reason the line stage is essentially a small power amplifier. The resulting low impedances also help prevent noise pickup, longer cable lengths (although the benefit is there even if the cable is only 6 inches) and immunity to the cable itself, allowing the system to be less colored and more musical.
I have been running a K-5xeMP and VX-5 twenty for one year.  Then moved to a Rogue RP-7 for the headphone output.  Both preamps played well with the VX-5.20. The K-5xeMP is my first pick when a "stock" comparison with the RP-7.  the K-5xeMP has a very small advantage to the RP-7 in terms of "just right" sonics and has been considered a the best of tubes and solid state preamp for many years.  The stock RP-7 has more connectivity (headphone, two XLR outs) and potentially could sound better with NOS or upgraded current production 12AU7 tubes.  I loved the K-5xeMP and VX5.20.  The RP-7 is current production and meets more of my daily requirements.  I would live happily with either pairing.