If you didn't like focus of the Wilsons then you will like the more diffuse soundstage the Vandersteen 5a's throw.(remember you have to add the $1k for the xcrossover otherwise you will fry drivers..), I found the Dynaudio split the difference but with a more closed in from a box which neither the Wilson (with proper placement) or the Vandersteens ever present.
You're Ayre gear will match perfectly with all those speakers.. I know that's no help but it's very neutral with plenty of power.
I don't know that there's a best speaker for that gear but Ayre typically demos with Vandersteen and recently with the new TAD speakers but those were all with the MX-R. I've particularly enjoyed the Focal Alto Utopia Be speakers.
Haven't heard them together myself, but your gear is reputed to be something special with Thiels.
I have owned both Ayres(V1-XE,K1-XE) and loved them with both the Thiel CS2.4 and 3.7. They also shine with the Vandersteen Quatros. (my personal favorite was the 3.7) Not quite enough juice for my 7.2s or I would still own the Ayre combo.
1st off, what an amazing front end! I've found the Ayre & Avalon combo to be pretty astounding. Since Charlie Hanson founded Avalon, it makes sense. I brought in my K-5 & V-3 to listen to the Avalon NPs, and SRV never sounded so alive. People in the store actually would stop by and listen themselves.
I would also second the Quatros as a good choice. Large soundstage. My last suggestion would be the ProAc D38s. Amazing midrange, full deep bass and extended treble. The ProAc-Ayre combo is one of my favorites.
Just heard the latest speaker from Dynaudio, Sapphire, which is their 30th anniversary model and uses drivers from Evidence line. Dealer claims the sound is better than C2/4 which I don't doubt. Driven by top Plinius gears, I walked out feeling a little cold because it did not connect me to the music as much as I thought it should.
On the other hand, I really like Usher BE series. There was a demo in northern California recently and almost everyone left very impressed.
You may want to consider a speaker design that compliments Ayre's design philosophies:
Conventional designs use negative feedback to compare the output signal to the input signal, which introduces time-domain errors and other artifacts. In contrast, Ayres exclusive zero-feedback circuits are designed for intrinsically pure linearity, delivering performance that is coherent and natural.
IMHO, you'd want a time and phase coherent speaker to bring out the most of the Ayre goods - And I'd suggest Green Mountain Audio or Vandersteen.
I've been living very happily with my V-1xe, c5xe,k5, p5, and lc5xe. A full Ayre stack, all wired with Valhalla on my Wilson Sophia 2's. It's pretty liquid if you ask me. No it's not the best I've ever heard, but it's what I own and I definitely enjoy it. I've listed to the c4's extensively on this system, and also in this system with MXRs. The c4's aren't as startling in the attack and decay like the wilsons just due to the cabinet, but they do have a romance about them that the Wilson's don't seem to create as well. Tough choice, because they're both good. Watt Puppy 8's I can imagine would sound spectacular. I've just never heard them hooked up with Ayre gear.
Thanks Matt. That's actually very helpful. I really like the C-2's which I have heard, but the C-4's are not in stock locally. I saw a review where the reviewer had a V-1x and he said it did not have enough power to drive the C-4's. From your comments either he was mistaken, or the "e" fixed the issue. I would love WP 8's and I bet you are right, however at $28k new, and $22k new they are a significantly higher investment than the C-4's or Sophias. My only hesitation with the Sophias is my room is large and has a lot of furniture in it so I thought the height of the C-4's would make them perform better in my environs. Thanks for your input, and I welcome any other comments or suggestions you might have for me.
I use my V-1xe and K-1xe, together with a C-5xe, with Thiel 2 2. Sounds extremely good to me. I would suggest an audition of the Thiel 2.4 (which I have heard with the 1 series and are excellent) and 3.7 (which I have not heard).
I would be shocked if you found that Ayre front end combo insufficient to drive the C4's - that's a stout amp.
You don't highlight your room size or listening habits. I can only comment on the Dyns - I've owned the C2's and C4's, amongst several other models - but have never heard some of the others or only at shows.
If you have a medium sized room (say 15x20 or smaller), the C2's are a wonderful speaker and the Ayre front-end would be a great match.
If you have a large room, the C4's are a much better choice and, again, I think would mate very well with the Ayre gear. When I moved my C2's from a medium room to a very large room, I wasn't nearly as satisfied. The C4's are really in a whole other league when you get into "big" music - rock, large-scale orchestral, etc. - but really need the room to support them.
If you've heard all the speakers on your list, hopefully you've formed an opinion of which you liked best, given the different conditions under which you heard them. I think the Ayre gear will compliment the sound of all of the speakers you mention, not change the character, so if there was a clear favorite from your auditions, I'd think you'd be safe to go with that.
Is there any good speaker that doesn't sound good with Ayre? proabably not. Although I suspect they would be less than optimal with underdamped speakers; aren't all their designs NFB? I know they sound superb with Merlin VSMs, but it seems like you want a larger speaker.
Kthomas- Thanks for your response. My listening room is very large and I listen to Rock and Jazz at fairly high levels. My favorite speaker I've heard is the Avalon Isis. They are really amazing. However at $62k they had better be. The next best in my opinion was Wilson. I really liked the Watt Puppy 8's but they are a bit more than I could (would is a better word) swing. I'm planning to go with the C-4's once I get a few other items straightened out (like my wife's objections). I really appreciate your comments, and they have helped me make my mind up to try the C-4's.
I had great results on Dali MS5 with that Ayre combo.
My current setup is the Ayre models you mention paired with the Dynaudio Sapphires. The Ayre's are completely new in my environment, and it's all set up in a new room / house. Early returns are excellent :-) I really like the C4 at $9000 or so used, which seems to be what they go for, but if money isn't as valuable to you as keeping the wife happy, the Sapphires are considerably more wife-friendly, and they're less than the WP8's.
Another question - is your K1xe equipped with the phono stage and do you play vinyl?
Yes. I'm about to move in to Vinyl as we speak. If you know is a VPI Scoutmaster a good table to try? I thought the Sapphires are more than the C-4's? Keeping the wife happy is not draining the bank account to feed my heroin/stereo equipment addiction.
I think the VPI Scoutmaster is an excellent table to try - it's obviously a very popular line, there is a lot of support for it, and it is widely reviewed positively.
The Sapphires are less, retail, than the C4's, but the C4's are available used for under $10K and the only way to get the Sapphires at this point is to pay their retail price of $16.5K. It's a great litmus test for the significant other, though - they currently cost more to obtain, but they are a far better looking speaker for the domestic environment. I like the looks of the C4, but it is very large.
Thanks Kthomas! Happy listening.
You may also want to consider Sonus Faber speakers. They sound great with Ayre gears. Currently have the MX-R driving SF Memento and they sound excellent. Have also demoed V1xe driving SF speakers, they also match well. Wife acceptance factor is also great as these speakers look very nice.
Hello, I've bought an Ayre V-1x and an Ayre K-3x with phono stage. I use them with my Clements RT7 Reference and I can listen a very naturally sound, great front-stage, and particulary in details. I've also a pair of Avalon Monitor that I usually use in alternative with Clements.
My impression is that it play like a wall speacker, with an impressionant mid-low speaker.