I have heard the KX-R in pre and twenty configuration, lovely sweet extended airy with detail and no tubes to muck about with
Charlie is true genius and music lover, RIP
my guess is when he walked in the gate past St. Peter, negative feedback went down 3db in the holy city...
i should add the twenty would beon any shortlist to replace my Ref5se, if ever....
nice outfit. I've found the quickest way to acquire a sound that involves and captivates often comes along with the influence of tubes.
what I felt was an inspiring rig was upstaged when a tube pre line stage was injected into the mix.
later a sleeker more costly tube line stage replaced that one and again, the tangibility and nuance were elevated substantially.
these instances were with SS amps. later a dual mono SS amp akin to your amps.
I got rid of that system then to go fully tube dependent. no regrets there but I could have waited a much longer time to kick the SS amps to the curb. for sure.
there just seems to be something, especially when you slide up the food chain into tube line stage preamps in the class you have named for SS possibilities.
good luck with what ever...
PS of those on your list, Ayre would not be on mine were I to remain in the SS only category, Ayre has never thrilled me despite hearing it/them in numerous setups with substantial accompaniment.
@tomic601 Concur; it's going to be very difficult to upstage the Ayre KX-R Twenty based on what the OP is looking for. ML isn't in the ballpark and even the D'Agostino Momentum pre was clearly outclassed in comparison.
@blindjim Have you heard the Ayre KX-R Twenty in a top shelf system? The KX-R Twenty is well beyond anything else that Ayre has ever produced - it is Charlie's masterpiece
Another +vote for Ayre. Keep us posted on the brand(s) auditioned.
I will differ. I think the ML 523 is outstanding in all respects. Blasphemy but I preferred it strongly to the latest 40k Dartzeel and it was playing in same league as the Luxman c900u in my system. I seriously doubt that Ayre is in another league. Then there's always the ML 52 if you want more of everything. However all you'll get here are fans of they're own equipment. Have to hear it with your own gear which can be difficult. I've had the good fortune to have owned all of the above except for the 52 and kept the Luxman but 523 was really really good.
Sure full disclosure, At one time I owned an Ayre VX-R. I do currently own an Ayre A to D converter, which I think hardly makes me an automatic KX-R recommendation zealot.
on the other hand, I have actually heard it in both versions over long periods of time in what I believe to be good systems.
now having said that, in this class of gear, why not consider DAG and ML ?
i know of an excellent dealer in Atlanta that carries: DAG, ARC, Ayre and Aesthetix..... wow, that should consume a full day of listening....
OP - I hope you enjoy the journey and the music !!!
best to all on this thread
EMM Labs Pre 2 and the latest iteration PRE, in my experience, are the best of the best. The best cost benefit ratio would belong to a used PRE 2 (available on the Internet).
I'm currently running an Ayre AX-5 Twenty (integrated amp.) After auditioning Ayre pre/amp separates. I would absolutely consider Ayre as a first choice if/when I upgrade to separates.
Customer support has been outstanding (no issues with the unit, just lots of curiosity and Ayre is willing to indulge me.) Great insight and guidance.)
I find myself listening for 4+ hours with no fatigue on a regular basis.
(I auditioned Ayre separates and Audio Research separates. And then later Ayre and Audio Research integrated amps. Bought the Ayre integrated.)
I find that a McIntosh tube pre amp integrates well into my system. They are worth a look. Besides, they hokd value like no other if you seek to change. Let your ears decide and listen to your preferred choices if at all possible. Enjoy the journey
Welcome! I, too, am strongly considering the Ayre AX-5 Twenty. Per your experience, I did not detect any fatigue after hours of musical enjoyment.
Another Ayre supporter......build, sound, support..all great
Ayre has always had a slight dryness to me. I owned the K1-xe, and auditioned the KXR. I owned an all Ayre system at the time. I ended up going tubes with a BAT REX preamp.
Fast forward....around 3 years ago listened to an Audionet PRE G2, bought it and entire Audionet system. The best preamp I've owned or heard. Check the reviews.
I concur, go with an excellent tube preamp. I have tried several of the preamps you mention but no SS preamp can equal
say, an Allnic or ARC preamp. The BAT is also a good choice.
Be careful, the types of tubes used have a HUGE impact on sound quality.
You have owned some incredible gear! Which factor(s) switched your B.A.T. REX to the Audionet PRE G2 ? Happy Listening!
Mark Levinson is very fine gear indeed. However, D'Agostino, is the next league of evolution. Happy Listening!
not so sure about the dag comment. i used the 523 with a dag s250 and never thought there might be an inequity. ended up w a luxman duo and haven’t looked back but i think the ml is built to an extraordinary level. i had my doubts when i purchased it(523) but they quickly evaporated.
from a purely aesthetic standpoint the ml and luxman are equal to the dag in build quality. just put your hands on them. one quick note. i also have an ARC ref amp and the sheet metal case should be embarrassing to ARC not to mention the cost of the guts. However it sounds good.
Too long winded. my apologies.
Looking for that neutral, transparent, accurate tonal harmonic musical reproduction that isn't analytical, dry, lean, or fatiguing.
You've got some great Class-A amps. Was thinking maybe a preamp from another manufacturer who also makes Class-A amps, like Vitus? You know he's not gonna create a pre that makes his nice amps sound anything like analytical, dry, lean, or fatiguing in the least, right? Here's one available here now if you wanna take a look...https://www.audiogon.com/listings/lis9cc4h-vitus-audio-sl-102-mkii-solid-state
Vitus is top notch, no doubt and bullet proof
maybe I am old fashioned but I have about 6 K hours on my Ref5se..and as yet no real itch to put her out to pasture, after some tube rolling, etc...
Rather than burn a bunch of coin on a different flavor, I am inclined to put a serious HRS base under it...
so as a consequence, I tend to discount the inputs of the hyper-frequent gear changers......
I'm very very happy with my Luxman, but thinking about it, Ayre and Pass ....
To my ears different beasts.
You should listen for yourself because I can't see myself liking both Ayre AND Pass products at the same time.
Another vote for the Ayre KX-R/twenty. To my ears there is really something special about that pre.
I have a Clayton S2000, the single chassis version of the M300s. I’ve tried many preamps and the VAC Renaissance 5 is the winner by far...great match indeed. Best of luck!
I have the Clayton M 300's with a Boulder 1110 preamp. Love it, but can only compare it to the Naim 272 it replaced. The Boulder may not be quite as quick but is much more detailed and more than quick enough. The Boulder also broadened and deepened the soundstage significantly. Very clean sound but doesn't sound like solid state.
Can you give us an update? Any auditions lately? Happy Listening!
I ultimately decided to go down the SS path away from tubes. I did find the Ayre to have a leaner/dry sound for my preference. The KX-R was less so than the Twenty, while the Twenty clearly had more detail and control. I tried to find a SMC VRE-1C, but ultimately settled on a emm Labs Pre2. Its detailed and musical, plus a great value in SS relative to performance.
Nice score. What other gear including cabling rounds out your system?