DAC Accustics Art - Ayon CD5S - AMR DAP 777

I am upgrading my digital front end and need some feedback from you guys. I am considering Accustics Art, Ayon CD5S or Skylla, AMR DAP 777, Bel Canto 3.5

I know AMR and Bel Canto are not the same price range, but they are good. I don't like more analytical character DAC, I am using Conrad LS26, Cary 805.
Any feedback is appreciated.
Hi Gunsur,

Take a look at my review on the AA Tube Hybrid reference DAC for details regarding its sonic performance. I have heard both other DACS that you are interested in, and like the Accuustic Arts better. If it's in your budget, and you really mainly care about redbook CD, consider the Concert Fidelity reference DAC that finally replaced the Accoustic Arts DAC in my system.I also wrote a review on it here on the GON, so for details regrading its performance, take a look.
Hi Teajay,

Thanks for the feedback, I read your review on AA and it is very good insight.I listen to all of the DACS but they are in different system, so it is hard to judge. I have a chance to compare AMR to Vinyl system and they carry some similarities. Which DACS from above did you compare to AA ?

The only DAC on your list that I have not heard is the Bel Canto 3.5. AS I mentioned I like the AA DAC much better then the others on your list.
Sorry to sidetrack, Teajay is there a way to contact you?
Hi Rx8man,

Yes, just give me a call anytime at 219-365-4316. If you get the voice mail just leave your name and number and I'll get back to you.
I have the Ayon CD5S, the Bel Canto DAC3.5VB MkII and the EMM Labs XDS1.

In terms of resolution and dynamics, I rank the XDS1 > Bel Canto > Ayon

In terms of ease of playing all my CDs including the not so well mastered ones, I rank Ayon > Bel Canto > XDS1.

But once I switched to an Audio Research Reference 5SE to give the SS DACs a bit of tube lushness, it's back to XDS1 > Bel Canto > Ayon. IMHO, the Ayon didn't work well being put through a tube preamp at all.

The Ayon however is a bargain considering it provides a fantastic tube preamp, a world class DAC and a great transport. I am using it to front a new system I am building for when I move to a smaller apartment near work.
I have heard the AMR and Ayon players. I have owned Reimyo for quite some time. One day I heard a Naim and everything fell into place. It has the best of the resolution, dynamics, tone and PRAT. It sounds high definition but in a very natural way, just making music. It sounds great with all kinds of CDs and music. It is one heck of a musical device. Try it.
Hi Teajay,

I like to have the functinality for USB inputs, Concert Fidelity is not an option at this point. What do you like the most about AA ? Do you have a chance comparing it to vinyl system ? What don't you like about AMR ? I try to assess the overall character and performance.
I am using YBA cd right now, it is not the most transparent, detail, and highest resolution but very captivating. I didnot have the immediate impression while listening to AA. I felt the bass is not as tight as solid state DAC. Thanks for your time.
I own the AMR DP777 and I have been burning in an Ayon CD5s since last Friday eve (6/1/12). My initial thoughts concerning the Ayon is that it is a very musically satisfying device. I really like it quite a lot. The preamplifier section is quite special and I think one would need to spend in excess of $10K to really begin to compete with it. The build quality is exquisite as well. Now if you spin discs, have a music server and need an excellent preamp this is the unit for you. This is not the type of sound you would get from gear such as the Weiss Minerva, the Ayon sounds fluid and dynamic at the same time. It does NOT dance on the razors edge of detail.., but it will cause one to forget the equipment and simply enjoy the ride. Is it worth $11.5k? IMHO..., YES!!! you gain real-estate by not having so many boxes and you save money on power cords and interconnect (not to mention how terribly difficult it is to find a good preamp). As one who has had the Allnic 3000L (that is the renamed Allnic with the MKII transformers if memory serves) I can say WITHOUT RESERVATION that the pre section in the Ayon handily dispatches that USD $11K standalone preamplifier. The USB input is also very very very good, I would not buy an outboard usb adapter. I have owned the M2Tech hiface/EVO, KingRex UC192w/outboard PS and the King of them ALL the Sonic Weld Diverter HR, so I know of what I am writing. The Sonic Weld was better than all of them with the KingRex coming in second place. I would rank the built in usb on the Ayon at the level of the KingRex with the ver 6 firmware and the optional outboard linear power supply.

Strictly as a CD player I found the Ayon again to be supremely musical..., again not the last word in detail but extremely effective at conveying the musical gestalt. It is a superior piece of audio gear. I my former Dynavox Dynastaion 2 was more musical; but even then the two are like kissing cousins so-to-speak or rather so-to-write :)

As you may have gleaned by now I really like the unit and consider it one of the best digital pieces I have been privy to spend time with.

Considering the Concert Fidelity dac, as much as I love their absolute world class line stage (which is better than the Ayons linestage but is also USD $24K) I was never impressed by the dac. It always came across as thick and opaque sounding to my ears, not harsh or irritating, just not enjoyable. I could see how a person with a leaner sounding system might really enjoy the CF dac..., but I think the Ayon is quite simply 2 classes above that unit.

The AMR is my dac of choice and while I do think the preamplifer section in the Ayon is superior to the buffered attenuator in the AMR, I find that the USB and the dac in the AMR DP777 is superior. The AMR offers a level of intimate detail while staying ever musical that the Ayon can't quite muster up to. Also I found the usb input of the AMR to be actually better than feeding the Sonic Weld Diverter HR and then having that unit send the spdif signal.

Comparing the AMR and Ayon using my Music First Audio Reference TVC as the attenuator I find that the AMR is the superior sounding device.

If you are going to drive your' amps directly and you still spin physical media AND you want a one box solution...the choice is easy.., buy the Ayon CD5s. On the flip side, if you want to beat the internal preamp in the AMR and come out at about USD $10K buy the AMR DP777 and the First Sound Presence Deluxe MKIII and you will have a superior sounding front end BUT no cd transport.

Anyway I hope this helps someone, it is a great sounding CD player and one could not go wrong with the unit. I am currently enjoying the unit sitting atop my Halcyonics Silencer which DOES make it sound all the better.
I didn't ask the question, but it sure helps me
AMR DP 777, my next purchase

Abruce: Enjoy :) and you're welcome...
Audiofun, thank you for the very informative overview. What music server (if you had any experience with them) can you recommend, that utilizing Ayon cdp-5s dac and pre-amp will sound as good as CDs played thru ayon-5s? Thank you.
The mac mini NO DOUBT ABOUT IT! :)... Now here is a tip (a little secret) I found some time ago but did not share it on this site, mainly due to the idiots who want to argue about every little thing. I found a $0.50 usb cable that was EVERY bit as good as my former $3K Locus Design Cynosure (I actually sold the Cynosure) and better than all of the Wireworld usb cable I tested it against (including their $700 usb top of the line cable) head to head and can you believe people actually wanted to argue over $.50 rather than try the thing... Anyways I digress so here goes.., Best Buy sells a powered usb hub under their house brand name Dynex (4 port) that when placed between a music server (tried it with the mac mini and my Lenovo Think Pad running JRiver) and dac has astonishing results. I don't know why, but it worked wonders with my m2Tech Evo my Sonic Weld Diverter HR the Kingrex, the AMR DP777 and the Ayon CD5s. I actually will not listen without it. If you use it make sure you do not power it with the wall wart (i.e. it needs no external power and sounds better without it). Why does it sound so good? I HAVE NO IDEA but it works!It is about $30.00 at best buy or about $3.00 on Amazon.
So we've got 50 cent USB from mini to hub 50 cent USB from hub to dac really do I got it get it?

Not quite, the hub has it own USB. I have hub from mini, then 50 cent USB from to hub to dac. As I stated the ONLY USB that could equal the 50 cent usb was the Cynosure.., in fact it was identical to the point that I actually wondered if the Cynosure was really this cable all gussied up for audiophiles..., mind you I have NO evidence of that nor am i making accusations; im just saying they sounded identical.
I agree with Audiofun's cogent review. I have owned the Ayon CD5s for about a year now and it still provides daily doses of awe and wonder at how well it conveys music. In these comparisons it is important to know what tubes people are running in the Ayon when they like or dislike the Ayon. I found a very significant enhancement by going to the 1980 NOS Reflector tubes versus the stock tubes (which are very good but at a different level). Others have enjoyed substantial improvement also with the 1986 Reflectors. My main comparison for Ayon using stock tubes was with the $20,000 Meridian 808.3. The Ayon was preferred over Meridian, but with the NOS tubes there was a big grin that I finally had arrived and did not need to listen to anything else. Do not underestimate the impact of being able to simply the signal path by using several less sets of power cords and IC's with the Ayon, this provided the money to upgrade the one set of IC and power cord that you need. Hope this helps
Gammajo: I listened with stock tubes, but I have heard that the 1980's tubes are quite special in the Ayon... you mentioned one thing that is very very hard for digital to make me do and that is smile; the CD5s had me grinning from ear to ear all the time. It is a special piece!
Got it Audiofun
The cable part# is 139-080 online at parts express. The price is $0.88, you won't be sorry. This is not a joke, this USB in every way was identical in sound to my former Cynosure and better by a good margin than all the others I tried.
Thanks guys for the feedbacks, I guess I can't go wrong with either Ayon CD5S vs. AMR DAP 777.

I was listening to Ayon CD 5 and CD 5S on separate occasion, they are very impressive. I need to find out the difference between these two.

If I go with AMR, I need to figure out the transport, my YBA CD3 is acting weird once in a while.
Audiofun, thanks for posting a very enjoyable review, and as a CD-5s owner, I also agree with your comments.

Gunsur, here is a list of improvements in the CD-5s over the previous model CD-5 -

- improved Japanese analogue volume control
- new preamp design
- improved tube output stage
- 24/192 asynchronous USB input
- further refined power supplies
- 2 x Mundorf Supreme Silver/Gold/oil caps
- xlr input
- "true analogue in"
- 0/180° phase toggle
- Normal/direct to amp toggle

Melbguy1: Glad you liked it, you have one sweet sounding player. The CD5s is one of the rare digital pieces that has taken residence in my long term memory (there are not many :)
Audiofun, agreed! I wonder how the CD-5s compares to the Reimyo CDP-777? Perhaps Pani can chime in as he's owned a Reimyo..
MG I think the CD5S only does 24/96 asynchronous on USB, up from 24/48 synchronous
DH, Ayon recently upgraded the spec of the USB board to 24/192. All new CD-5s models sold now come out in that spec. I believe Ayon are also working on an upgrade board for earlier spec CD-5/5s owners which they hope to release in the near future.
Is that the only change? If so I might skip it
Hi DH, that's the only *recent change to their reference player, the above mentioned improvements all came in when the CD-5s was released. I'm skipping the update as well as I don't have any desire to connect sources via USB at this point.
Thanks for the heads up :) save myself some moolah then

I was a bit too late snapping up your matched quad NOS tubes the other day :(

What are you moving to?
DH, d'oh re: the tubes. i'm keeping my CD-5s as source/dac for the next 12 months, then plan to upgrade to the (yet to be released) Vitus SCD-025.

Is it a tubed CDP like the Ayon?
Audiofun, agreed! I wonder how the CD-5s compares to the Reimyo CDP-777? Perhaps Pani can chime in as he's owned a Reimyo..

I have not heard the CD-5s, and I owned the DAP777, not the the CDP777. However I have heard the CDP777. Reimyo in general is a lot more dynamic, punchy player but with a velvety finesse. Reimyo CD player should not even be compared to the Ayon, too wide a gap. Ayon is a nice musical player I agree. But its no Reimyo.

The other player that I really liked was a Einstein "The last record player". Now they have a new player called "The source", totally a different class altogether. Unfortunately these boutique brands are hardly discussed in a typical American forum. Please try to listen to an Einstein, I dont think many will even report back their findings, they just get back to enjoying music.
These days I am into Naim.
As a former Reimyo dealer I had the CDP-777 here, and it was wonderful. Reimyo stopped making them because the transports they were using were no longer available. I brought in the AMR CD-77 which was new to the market, which has had some evolutionary upgrades to the .1 version, with significant improvements. Let's just say from the outset I did not miss the Reimyo. I also have the CD-777 and DP-777 on display and hear the family resemblance.

As of last October Einstein is no longer distributed in the US, although they have been at shows.
Thanks for your feedback, I suspected the Reimyo was a killer, as it should be for the coin! It used the best transport ever made. DH, the upcoming Vitus SCD-025 will be all-solid state as with all other Vitus players & will be a highly optimized/refined version of the SCD-010. Although not tubed, Vitus players sound like tubes in the way they sound warm, liquid & very analogue sounding. I would humbly expect it to exceed the mighty CDP-777.
Essential, the CDP-777 was the complete package with a superb transport, extended K2 processing, special Kitamura Kiden power supplies and Harmonix isolation. If I didn't need a preamp when I was buying my cdp, the Reimyo would have been top of my list. The CD-5s with upgraded tubes & op amps is very nice. I feel there are benefits to the Ayon's tube output stage, but the Reimyo definitely has superior processing and a superior transport. I wouldn't touch AMR as I don't trust Chinese-made gear.
AMR is an english company. It is owned and run by an englishman that happens to be of Chinese descent. The company is based out of the UK. Yes the gear is built in China but all the management is all with English values, supervision and quality. It is not your stereotype Chinese labor run outfit. Far from it!
If this was not true, you would know it and AMR would not have the reputation that it does have for quality and reliability.
Taking advantage of the parts availability in its location is the perk for us consumers, yet with the proper quality control one would expect from a hi-end English or European audio company.
Audiofun, I'm eager to try the Dynex/parts express cable duo. There are multiple models of Dynex four-port USB hub, though. If you'd pass on the model number I'd appreciate it!

Aggielaw: The dynex part was beat by the new ifi iUSBPower clean power conditioner for USB. It was no contest. Easily the best $200.00 I have spent on a product for my system.
How did you guy conclude AMR is Chinese made gear? I find no information about it on the back panel.