Maybe a Rowland Concentra 2. Sounds similar to the Ayre.
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I didn't have those but had the V-1xe which I sold almost 4 yrs. ago. I've been on quite the merry-go-round since then trying to find something that I could be happy with.
I sold off that entire system to downsize but there really is no replacement for big power.
I currently have a Primare integrated after going through no less than 7 amps, 6 preamps, 4 sources & 3 sets of spkrs.
BTW, I've heard at least 10 sets of Ushers (both at shows & in homes, including my home audition) and have never been able to enjoy them.
One last thing. After I sold the V-1xe, which was the first piece I sold from my previous system, I bought another V-3, since I'd had one many yrs. before & it sounded good. Well, I hooked it to my VR's & just started laughing! It didn't even come close to the big amp. I simply unplugged it & sold it.
What speakers are you driving, and what is it about the sound of the Ayre are you most looking to retain? Have you ruled out tubes (for example ARC) or class D, or class A for that matter? My personal suspicion is that you're not going to duplicate the sound of the big Ayres especially in a different brand, but you might find happiness in a completely different direction.
I agree with Auxetophone, more information would be very helpful. What speakers do you plan to use? There is a used Ayre stereo amp in the shop here and we listened to it some with several tube preamps and one solid state. My recollection was that the amp had some warmth to it. We thought it sounded nice (the shop here is very predominantly a tube and vinyl clan).
I suspect that your best chance of achieving the sound you want (I'm recalling the warmth of that Ayre stereop amp)with an integrated in the price range in which you are looking is going to be with tubes. As mentioned in an earlier post, the ARC should be on your list, but I would add a Rogue Tempest III (they're about $3000 new). Last year I moved from solid state to tubes (Rogue M-180 monoblocks) and they met my criteria for low end control, but with the mids and highs of tubes that I have come to prefer. I also did some tube rolling to dial in the sound to my satisfaction.
To help narrow this down, though, are you considering tubes are looking to stay solid state? And what speakers are you going to drive?
I've seen a Clayton M200, a 200 watt/channel Class A solid state amp on audiogon at $4,700. This is a great deal for a hellaciously great amp. It is easily the best amp at that price and the sound is grit and grain free.
My second choice would be a McCormack DNA-500, which is a very liquid sounding solid state amp. It is also very powerful, but it is very nimble even at low volume.
In third place would be a Modwright KWA150. It is also an excellent powerful amp.
Thank you for the great responses everyone. I apologize for not being more specific. Unfortunately my previous rig was completely sold off (look up Beauty and the Beast)when we did a major home remodel last year. I am now ready to jump back into this whacky hobby but with the intent of putting together a much smaller, simpler (i.e. cheaper) system. I plan to run some Sonus Faber Cremona Auditors for now and probably upgrade to the Mementos shortly. I listen to a lot of female vocals and small ensemble chamber music so I love the warmth and beauty of the SF speakers. That being said, what I liked most about the Ayre MX-Rs was their clarity and speed. It just felt like the Ayre was so transparent and effortlessly handled anything I gave it. If it helps describe the kind of sound I prefer, I also owned the Esoteric transport and dac.
I open to any kind of amp though I do want to stay away from tubes. I am just too lazy to deal with it.
Thanks again for the input!
For the money, in my opinion nothing beats a Denon PMA 2000 Mark IV. Used, I think $600-700 is a good price, although they may be going for less. They were around around $1100 before being pulled from the market. Denon has introduced an anniversary integrated amp that looks like the PMA with only very, very minor cosmetic changes. The specs on the anniversary amp read just like the PMA 2000 IV. The new amp is going for about $2500. The 2000 IV weighed 54lbs, the new one is 57lbs. Both are 80wpc into 8ohms, 160wpc into 4ohms. I think it clips at around 120wpc into 8ohms. It's very conservatively rated. They produce a prodigious amount of current - 20 amps continuous, 120 amps peak - that's not posted on the Denon website but I read it on the net somewhere. It sure sounds like it does! I used to own one before moving to tubes.
The shop here is a tube and vinyl clan mostly. Several of the guys who wanted to assemble a solid state system as well have been very happy with the PMA. As the Absolute Sound website used to say, at its price, nothing else even comes close.
A buddy of mine has a PMA and bought my Silverline SR-17.5 speakers. I upgraded the speaker crossover to Duelund components. He is using a Rega Saturn CD player. We tried several cable combinations:
- My Kimber KS3035 and Kimber Select interconnects (demo only, they weren't for sale, I just wanted him to hear them!)
- circa 2005 Audio Magic Sorcerer speaker cables and interconnects
- Kimber 12TC speaker cables
- Kimber Hero interconnects
- Kimber Timbre interconnects
He ended up going with the Audio Magic wire. The sound was clear, rich, fast, and notes eminating from an absolutely black background. Audio Magic is silver conductors, but not bright like most other silver cables. It's good stuff and really worth a listen. And if you can get some of the older Sorcerer wire here on Audiogon, it would be worth it. There's a huge amount of silver in those older cables!!!
I actually thought the Audio Magic Sorcerer cables were a better match than my Kimber Select wire.
Through the end of the year Rega is offering a "cash-for-clunkers" deal, so the Saturn can be had for about $1800 I think. At its price point, the Saturn is hard to beat.
So, that's my recommendation for your system:
Denon PMA 2000 IV (used) or the new anniversary amp.
Rega Saturn CD player.
Audio Magic wire.
And one more thing, I recommend an audio grade outlet - I use a Wattgate - it really does make a difference. The sound is more extended and richer... I compared outlets when I had a PMA. When I went to tube monoblocks (Rogue M-180), I went straight to a dedicated line and the Wattgate outlet without hesitation.
Please email me if you want to discuss any of this in more detail.
A new system is a new system and you will be disappointed if you try to recreate something you had before. You're better off accepting your new system for what it is and try to maximize its strengths. The Sonus Fabers are an excellent choice and I don't think you really have to worry about upgrading them anytime soon. Because they are relatively easy to drive you have many choices. Krell, McIntosh, Plinius, YBA or Rowland would all work well, but I'm going to recommend the Pass and the Sugden integrateds. The Pass gives you the option of choosing between a lower wattage pure class A design or a higher wattage class A/B model. Sugden offers three different pure class A models.
A good friend & audio bud bought a pair of Sonus Faber Electa Amator II's almost 4 yrs. ago & wound up making them part of his main system, replacing Aerial 10T's.
He started out w/a BAT combo which sounded great but moved around the gear from his other system and currently is running a big MAC SS amp & Hovland preamp. Although I haven't heard this latest iteration (he moved out of state), we both have very similar tastes when it comes to the overall sound we're trying to achieve. This combo has proven to be the best so far, beating out Pass 350, Blue Circle Despina, First Sound Presence Deluxe mkll & a BC amp that burned up (reason unknown).
Good Luck with that!
Personally, I think you're going to have to make some major compromises on the sound. You're going from 300 wpc, $19K power amp monoblocks, which were combined with a $9K preamp, (for a combined total of $27K), down to a $5K integrated amp? And given the rarified air, (no pun intended), that the Ayre MX-R amps are at, (the reviews are nothing less than glowing from all reviewers!), I think you're going to need to heed some of the above advice and realize that you are not going to be as happy with anything else. If you can find any way of keeping them, I think your should, (even if that means finding something else to sell, such as a car, or stocks, or a kid or two! I am kidding, (again, no pun intended), on that last one!)
Good Luck and let us know what you decide to do!
Keep the Ayre/MBL and lose the rest. You going to replace over 20K of amplification with a 5K integrated to simply gain a little extra floor space, really? That's a nice digital setup but if I'm not mistaken it's somewhat dated by less expensive 24/196 computer / asynchronous USB DAC's, or the new Ayre player? That would free up some shelf space.
Unlike the majority of responders to this post I think the OP can be perfectly happy with his downsized system. This is particularly true if when he listens to music he actually listens to the musical performance as opposed to the sound of the musical performance. His downsized system will still retail for over $10k. Are people really suggesting that someone cannot put together a great sounding, emotionally stirring system for $10k?
Are people really suggesting that someone cannot put together a great sounding, emotionally stirring system for $10K?
No, actually what we are saying is that having owned such a world class amplifier, (one of the very, very best amps!), the OP WILL notice the difference, and very well may not be satisfied with anything else, especially something that is not in the same class.
Certainly someone who had upgraded to a $10K system from a $3K system, (i.e. triple the price), would quite probably be very happy with it, if not ecstatic. But going from nearly a $30K amplification system to a $10K amplification system, (i.e. one third the price), would certainly be noticeable, and while it might still sound very good, it would not sound the same, and would almost certainly sound less capable.
If you like Usher sound, you can consider Mini Dancer 1 or 2 in your new system. I own SF Memento, I like Dancer 1 nearly as much and cost fraction.
If you still want SF speakers, stay away from older design which are too warm. Newer one are still warm, but not as warm as older design. Then go with more neutral sounding integrated like Sim, BAT (with 6H30), or Krell.
If you go with more neutral speakers like Usher, Pass could be a good match. I thought INT-30A was too warm when mated with Memento, I was much happier with BAT.