Best SS Amp - Pass Labs X350.8 vs. Luxman M900u vs. Ayre VX-R Twenty

I’m in the market for a used SS Stereo amplifier for about $8k-10k range, in the used market.

Source: Oppo BDP-105
Speakers: Tyler Acoustics Linbrook System II with 89db & 8 ohm.

The next step would be to add a Tube Preamp to connect my Nakamichi RX-505 tape deck.

Out of the following, which one do you recommend & why? I would prefer feedback from anyone who has compared any of these combination of Amps.
  • Pass Labs X350.8
  • Luxman M900u
  • Ayre VX-R Twenty
  • Jeff Rowland 625 s2
Later on the plan is to build a HT system & will add Amp for surround & center.


You think AYRE is easy to resell?? As somebody who owned multiple Ayre amps I can tell you that you are sadly mistaken if this is your belief. Any AYRE dealer will tell you the same thing. If ease of resale is high on your priority list I would advise to stay clear of any Ayre Products.

i would never discount others’ experiences, but in my own, i would say ayre gear is no easier or harder to sell than any other reasonably expensive, well reputed, well serviced brand of electronics (audio research, cj, and so on) - always depends on condition and asking price and the quality of the ad placed so interested buyers bite

this based on my own experience selling the following ayre pieces in the past -- codex, px5se, k5 mp, ax7e, v5

granted the 20 series has gotten much more expensive than prior gear, but i think the ’difficulty’ of moving gear approaching 5 figures is more a function of the narrowed market at this price level, rather than anything about ayre

my 2 cents


Since Charles Died their sales numbers have dropped significantly and again...according to the numerous Dealers I have a relationship witth they are all saying the same thing. Nobody is placing orders.

I’ve owned all these amps except the Ayre, which I had the non-20 version on demo years ago. They are all quite different sonically. I like the Luxman quite a bit as its musical, transparent, with great texture- but its a top down amp so if bass is your thing, then I’d look at other options. It also is limited power wise and might require monos on inefficient speakers.

The Rowland has better bass, and very rich almost creamy midrange. If female vocals are your thing, this is the solution. It works better on speakers that are more neutral/cool. I liked it quite a bit.

The Ayre is very even sounding top to bottom, with super natural sounding treble extension. But its flatter dimensionally than the rest. Its as if 3d images are on a 2d plane. I’ve heard the 20 series is more dimensional.

Finally, the Pass is probably my least favorite. It’s warm, but not very musical in that it has way too much leading edge, thin timbre, and is flattish. I also found it not as powerful sounding as the specs claim and soundstage was more in between the speakers. The bass is a good point but its a bit round which some may not like (I do).

If you want an inexpensive set of monos that delivers, try out a used pair of Ampzillas. They are competitive with all of these. I also love the DarTZeel 108 which used is excellent value on relatively efficient speakers.

I owned for quite a while the Pass Labs X350.5 amp. I had the opportunity to upgrade to the then newer model X350.8. I thought the .8 version was less lively and duller in dynamics so I kept my X350.5.

I eventually went on to tubes amps and couldn’t be happier.

I also owned for a time a Ayre five-Twenty preamp and I thought it was a very nice sounding preamp. Very little electronices inside of it though.



        Could you tell us which tube model you choose?and what pre to match?