Ayre, wow

On the hunt for a new amp + pre-amp for my Mani-2's. This weekend I listened to a pair of Dynaudio Confidence C1's hooked up with some locally manufactured speaker cable to a Ayre K5/V5 combo. CDP was also an up to date Ayre model.

The sounds was very delicate, natural. On a Mozart piano piece, I could hear the pianist touch the keys. Norah Jones invited me for lunch -- had she been there physically as well. Every syllable of her songs was audible. Take Five in the middle has the piano vs. drum piece. It was like watching a tennis game -- left, right, left right -- the separation was sublime. And shivers when the sax kicked back in after that piece.

Then I listed to a McIntosh MA6600, an integrated. In comparison to the Ayre, it was like somebody had switched from ultralinear on a tube amp to triode mode. The McIntosh sounds great but the music is more around, less from the speakers -- it sings around. Almost like hitting the "surround" button on a walkman of old. Quality still very good, but this "surround" thing overrides, to my taste, the music. The Ayre is so much more subtle, delicate.

Next try will be at my place with the Mani-2's. Cannot wait...with what I heard and knowing that Totum considers the Ayre one of the "really good ones" for the Mani-2....magic may be just around the corner!

Anybody has suggestions for other combos I should try? Please send over thanks!

I have heard neither of the amps you mentioned. But I prefer the speakers to disappear, rather than the sounds coming from them. For me, that is the magic of "stereo".
But, to each his own.
I can't offer advice on Ayre versus McIntosh but the Dynaudio C1 is my favorite small speaker of all time.

C1 are absolutely amazing on large amps, sometimes outshining much larger speakers. Expensive for their size but worth it to my ear.
Hi Ari-
I had a long, mostly enjoyable search for the right amp/pre-amp combo for my Mani-2's. I finally settled in, very enjoyably, with a Cary CAD-120S Mkii and a Rogue 99 pre. As you probably are aware, the Mani's are quite power hungry. I auditioned several less powerful tube amps all of which had positive attributes, but ultimately left voids I found unacceptable. Once I kicked up to the Cary, I knew I was on the right road. Two pre-amps later and I'm now sitting right where my ears want to be. I did try two non-tube amps, a Parasound A-21 which had wonderful bass control but was too bright for my tastes, and a W4S STI500 which has incredible detail. I still own it and fire it up occasionally. I found the Mani's were not the easiest speakers to pair with tubes if the budget isn't there, but I was patient, bought used and am now very happy (but I'd love to hear some Rogue M-180's).
No surprise a variety of quality sounds with those Dynaudios! I would expect them to sound much as you describe on various amps.

I've heard the Mani's (off large SS Mc amps) and liked them a lot but never extended listens or comparison with the Dyns. I am interested to hear your findings.
I agree with you Albert. The C1's are really great!
I have the new Rogue Medusa hybrid amp with the Ayre K-5XE mp preamp. The Rogue really makes my SF Liutos sing! The sound is natural and more musical than the Ayre amp/pre combo I had before. Check out the reviews for the new Rogue - and you can tube roll, too! I found a pair of Phillips E80CC tubes on ebay and the amp just got better.
Hi Jerroot --

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and findings! I did consider the Rogue M-180s as well, Totum thinks they would be a match in heaven with the Mani-2's -- but won't have much of an opportunity to listen to them here in Holland. May be I'll stop over in an audioshop on Broadway in NY when in town to hear them out...also interested in the new hybrid model.

Currently running the Mani-2's -- they have about 10 hours on them now, occassionally reveal their beauty.... -- hooked up to my old NAD C370, 120w into 4 ohms. Clearly insufficient power, the bass is just boom, boom, boom -- that probably gets a bit better as the speakers get run in, over another couple of 100 hours I guess, but it demonstrates the need for real power.

I'll check out the Cary's -- and keep dreaming about the Rogers 200 I heard in NY....thanks!

I have Mani-2 signatures. My power amp is Belles 350A and preamp is Herron VTSP-1A. Thus far this has been my best combination yet. The Herron and Belles are both really good at getting out of the way of the music. The Belles also has enough current to make the bass work. I also have found that the heavy 4 pillar Sound Anchor stands I have are a must to get good bass out of the Mani-2s. Jerroot --- I have been very curious as to how this combo would sound with a Wyred4Sound power amp. You are using the integrated - have you tried the Wyred running as a power amp and using the Rogue 99 as a preamp? Curious how that might work. When you use the Wyred, I bet you love the detail, but miss a bit of the musicality versus your Cary/Rogue - is that about right? Gotta love the Mani-2 when it is fed well upstream.
I think natural describes the Ayre components I've owned and heard too. I don't think you'll find better.
My suggestion is that you stop searching as you seem to have found what you are looking for.