How make my Ayre system "warmer"?

Hello and happy christmas!

Please help to make How make my Ayre system "warmer".

My System:
Ayre K-5xe
Ayre V-5xe
Ayon Eagle (speaker with Accuton ceramic chassis)
Linn UniDisk 1.1
Cardas Golden Reference XLR
Shunyata Phoenix speaker cables

It´s a great system. It´s makes so many things very very good but it´s a little bid on the "lean" or "clean" side.

How can I change this to be "warmer" without loosing transparency and tonality and musical enjoyment? Other cables? Would be an K-1x as preamp a real step forward? Or an C-7xe as red book player. I love the Linn because he´s DVD playing is great (picture and sound).


Hi you have good electronics, sorry, I just have never heard your speakers, maybe others can comment.

Assuming you have the speakers positioned correctly, maybe consider some room treatments, depends if you have a lively room or not.

Honestly, might be time for a vinyl set up. Not sure what you are willing to spend or if you'll even consider this route...
at the risk of offending owners of solid state equipment, it has been my experience that solid state amps and preamps do not exemplify the attributes of warmth.

i have auditioned several solid state preamps and amps over the years and have owned several as well.

in addition, i have been exposed to many stereo systems, at audio meetings, shows and friends' stereo systems.

i expect to get criticized . i'm prepared.

admittedly, i have not heard all ss amps and all ss preamps. however, i would consider tubed components more likely to produce the warmth you are looking for.
i haven't heard the equipments myself, but when I was reading the forums, I learned that the K3x was warmer than the K5x.

And the K1x is supposed to be a major step up to the K3x.
Have you had other systems or components in the current listening room that didn't sound lean? Mr. Tennis' observations can be true, but it depends on the listener's preferences. His preferences, based on many prior posts, are definitely in the "warm & comfy" camp. Your speakers look very nice, from what I see on Ayon's website, very beautiful. If they are like other speakers of similar construction I'm familiar with, they are going to tend to be "revealing" and might be better paired with with warmer sounding gear. At 92db. sensitivity, tube equipment seems a good avenue to investigate.
I would suggest adding a Virtual Dynamics nite ( used or new Nite 2 or newer ) Power cord to your amp and/or Cd player..These cords are sweet and have tremendous dynamics without giving up the magic midrange...There are always good deals on the Nite cords if you shop around.........
Change to warmer speakers, or change your electronics. Ayre is designed to be uncolored. If you want color (warmer), then you are better off buying electronics or speakers that get you to your goal.

Changing wire or applying other tweaks will not address the fundamental issue you are having.
I'd upgrade your source first. Ayre's high end stuff is very, very good, but expensive. If you want to take one step at a time, then buy the best CD/SACD player that you can afford. Move up in preamp first.

SS is great and Ayre is one of the best. However, if you budget is limited, then tubes do tend to be more musical at the price range that your at. Still, I wouldn't replace any amplification equipment until you've really upgraded your source. Lots of nasty things happen in less expensive CDPs. Tubes can cover that up and smooth it, but not fix it. To fix it you need a better source, sorry to say.

The room is a huge variable which needs to be addressed. Before committing any dollars into equipment changes, address the room's acoustical properties first, only then will you know the true equipment capabilities. Acoustic room treatment was the single greatest improvement/upgrade and the biggest return on $ invested that I've ever done.
That's some really fine equipment you have there, Tje. But perhaps most or all of it is too consistently in the direction of being analytical, revealing, and neutral. Overall, perhaps too much of a good thing.

Along the lines of what some of the others have suggested, I think that addressing cables, power cords, etc., would not provide the significant change that you are seeking. I would look into supplementing your Linn player with a quality tube cd player -- use the Linn for dvd's, etc., and a tube cd-only or sacd + cd player for audio-only material. That should be a way of really making a difference, for modest cost.

I have had no exposure to it, but the Doge 6 looks very intriguing to me, for modest cost:

-- Al
On a budget, Jolida JD100, try some tube rolling to tweak the sound to your ears desire.
Yes, I agree the room can be the single most dominant factor in terms of system-sound, particularly tone. What are your dimensions? Are there a lot of continuous flat, reflective surfaces? If so, you might consider treating them.

After that, I'd look at a speaker change. Ayre SS equipment is well-known for quality and neutrality, but combined with ceramic drivers, the system doesn't seem optimized for warmth. Have you considered Sonus Faber? The new Cremona M or the original, Serblin-designed Cremona? Or Verity speakers? Rienzi, Fidelio, or Parsifal? These are on the warm side.

A controversial measure might be to consider replacing your Shunyata speaker cables with Cardas Golden Cross (after audition, that is). That should warm the system, but many would argue this would also be using cables as "tone controls" and not favor the approach for that reason. An inexpensive way to try a set of warmer cables out, short of auditioning Cardas GC, is to get a pair of Audioquest Midnight 2 or 3 speaker cables. These are good, on the warm side, and cheap.

But, I'd start by looking at your room first.

Good luck.
I would go with what Mrtennis said. If you want more warmth, go with valve amplification.

I do not deny that the above posters who are urging you to fix your room have a point, but fixing the room will not change the harmonic structure of your amp-speaker combo. Fixing the room (in my experience) does not give a sterile sounding system warmth. Rather, fixing the room improves imaging, gives you a more consistent frequency response (provided you did it right!), and gets rid of ringing. If you want warmth, which I take to mean a predominance of even order harmonics, you either get an amp or speaker that does this.
Well, tell us about your room and speaker placement. Do female vocalists often seem "shouty" leading you to turn the volume down. If so, that's a symtem of poor speaker placement, with lots of intermodulation distortion in the room. Search for Sumiko Master Set for some ideas about properly setting your speakers. This is a highly likely problem.

Also, do you hear a lot of glare and edge? That would likely be coming from you CDP. Unfortunately fixing that costs dollars. Tubes won't clear this up. Great tubes and great SS sound pretty much alike. Unfortunately the bad SS, which you don't have, sounds harsh and bad tubes can sound euphonically warm. The best of both are very, very close to each other, and expensive.

So, tell us about your room and start looking around for a superior CDP.

Have you listened to Vandersteens with your current set up?
I am running the K5xe, v5xe, and Cx7e ....I've run this set up with 2ce, 3A sigs (current), and Quatro Vandersteens. All have been very "un SS like" I used to have the K1X, but with the current E upgrade on the pre amp, cd, and amp....I'm really not missing it that much...
system is run fully balanced with Audioquest Colorado ic's and alpha Core Goertz MI II speaker cables (flat copper super low impedence)
It's anything but lean!
For as cheaply as you can pick up a pair of used, current 2ce's it might be worth a listen. I thnk you'd be really surprised.
Vandersteen with Ayre ia a classic combination. It may or may not be what
you seek, Tje, but this is where I'd recommend beginning your search.

Find speakers with a warm sound you enjoy. Then, build your system around
the speakers. Anything else is backassward.
I'd say no to the C-7xe, as you'll just be getting more of what you want to get away from, as I've had (heard) it in 3 different systems. Also owned the V-5x, V-1xe & the V-3. I would say move to a tube pre-amp or tube CDP, such as BAT or something like the Cayin CDT-17A CDP.

Changing your outlets to gold plated units will help, along w/similar PC's.

V-5xe is a great amp & I would definitely hold onto it. Don't know anything about your spkrs, so no comment there.
Agree with all the above comments. I also heard a noticeable improvement when I connected my digital sources to a balanced power conditioner with a high quality copper power cord. It cleaned up the digititus big time.
As an owner of the K1x and former owner of the V5Xe, I would say that combination can be to much of a good thing even with warm speakers such as Maggies. I personally found the K1x to be the best darn piece of gear I've ever bought. I never thought that much of the V5Xe. I got the sound you are describing with it. I ultimately chose to use the Parasound JC-1 mono amps with the K1x. This combo is detailed and lively but not to much so.

I'm no expert but it seems like all your electronics and speakers are all thought to be not thought of as warm sounding. So maybe you should try something else that is thought to be more of what you are looking for.

If you are thinking of an upgrade to the K1x I'd say go for it, it's a great piece of gear and even if it doesn't get you the warmer sound you are looking for I think you'd love it. It will be a solid building block for whatever your system evolves to in the future. I'd never get rid of mine unless I was getting the KXR.
so far, a definition of warmth has not been offered. the concept of warmth has been discussed in other threads, but since it is relevant to this thread, i will provide my definition. essentially, warmth is the result of a dip in the upper mid/lower treble region, accompanied by a slight peak in the upper bass/lower mid range region.

as has been indicated, warmth is an inaccurate frequency response which emphasiszes the lower frequencies.

i doubt many solid state amps and preamps will exhibit the aforementioned frequency response. there is a better chance of attaining such a frequency response using tube components. however, it will not be easy to find using tube gear in current production, with the exception of some set amps. warmth is often associated with tube amps and preamps in rpoduction prior to 1990, or perhaps prior to 1980.
MrT, I agree with your definition of warmth, it's an inaccurate frequency response, as you describe. I find that many people say they want "warmth" but really mean that they want freedom from "edge" and "glare" and "shout." Generally you work those things out with a combination of speaker placement and quality source components. When you elect accuracy, then you must seek sources that don't added inaccurate high frequency components, like edge and glare.

I am pretty much in agreement with the preceding comments about warmth. But I would add that lack of "warmth" (or what the original poster describes as sound that is a bit too "lean" or "clean), could also be thought of as lacking in what I would call "richness."

Which in turn suggests addressing the harmonic structure of the system's response, not just the frequency response. Meaning, very conceivably, increasing the amount of even-order harmonic distortion. Just what adding a tube-based cd player or other tube component would do, as several of us have suggested.

-- Al
thank you all for your comments and suggestions.

My room is 4,2m x 9m. Speakers standing more than 1 meter from the rear wall and 90 cm from both sides. Moving the speakers was the first thing I have tried. Of course the imaging and holography changed but it wasn´t "warmer" or "richer". I had done some acoustic room treatments. The sound of my system is not hard or lean or "analytical" but a LITTLE BID RICHER would be great.

My speakers goes in the direction of the Lumen White or Avalon Opus Ceramic. I think the Lumen or the Avalon are better known in the US. I would change a lot in the system but the speakers would be the last thing. IMO they are really great, same developer and same chassis than Lumen White. If I sell them (new round about 30.000 USD) I will loose too much.

I have tried a tube preamp with the V-5xe but I think the system lost some "magic" or synergy of the k-5xe and V-5xe. Warmer would be good but not for the price of loosing dynamics, resolution and tonality. I always miss bass qualities with tubes. Yes, a lot recordings sound "sweeter" and "richer" but not as wright and natural as with the Ayres.

I have also tried tube integreated like Ayon Crossfire, a Pathos Inpol, a Einstein The Tune but I liked the Ayres more. On the side of SS I tried Pass, Musical Fidelity, Symphonic Line and others. Some do some thinks better then the Ayres but in total the Ayres are the most musical with great dynamics, resolution and tonality. A lot of stuff sounds like "Hifi" with big soundstages and deep bass but the Ayres bring me more in the music than the other amps I´ve tried. Really great was the stuff from Nagra but they are outside of my budget.

The Shunyata speaker cables was a big step forward from the Magan Signature. A bigger step than I believed before.

Well, as you have found out, you have gotten many different pieces of advice on how to accomplish your goal of introducing some warmth to you system.

The easiest way to do this, (and probably the best), is that you could add tubes to either your preamp, power amp or source, or any combination of those three pieces of equipment. (The easiest being to add tubes to the preamp, as preamp tubes tend to be cheaper and last much longer than power amp tubes.)

However, if I were in your shoes, and since you have the Ayre pieces for both your preamp and power amp, and since they do have a synergy together, I think I'd opt for putting tubes in your source unit. The Audio Aero Capitole II SE cdp is in somewhat the same price category as your Linn Unidisk 1.1. (The prices for them used are about the same, so you should be able to sell one and buy the other for the same price.) The Capitole II SE has a nice touch of warmth to the sound, at the expensive of giving up a very small touch of resolution, IMHO anyway. (I like the Capitole II myself, and would probably go for it over my Resolution Audio Opus 21, but I'll be honest and state that it was only slightly better than the Opus 21, and I did not like the top loading aspect of the Capitole II, nor did I like having to use the puck. But, I am an analog fan first and foremost, and so I only use my cdp occasionally, so it does not matter all that much to me which unit I have, and since the Opus 21 is cheaper than the Capitole II, it made sense for me to not upgrade. However, from an absolute sonic standpoint, it is difficult to fault the Capitole II SE.)

So, I would recommend that you buy one, and compare it to your Linn to see which you prefer. (And if it were me, I would listen to the Capitole II for at least a solid week or more, and then swap back to the Linn. At that point, you will then have a good idea of the sound of each unit over the long term. A/B swapping can sometimes lead you to the wrong conclusion, as you'll sometimes pick one over the other just because it is new and different, rather than actually better.)

One more word of advice: Don't try to swap out cables to make the sound warmer. That is a band-aid approach that leads down the wrong road, IMHO.
Al suggested:
"Which in turn suggests addressing the harmonic structure of the system's response, not just the frequency response. Meaning, very conceivably, increasing the amount of even-order harmonic distortion. Just what adding a tube-based cd player or other tube component would do, as several of us have suggested"

Many people take Al's route, but adding even-order harmonics smear and obscure any true richness in the recording itself. Some of us strive to clear up the midrange with careful selection of components that don't add glare and edge. Vibration control, IC selection, PC selection and speaker cable are all integral to achieve a stress free, open system that passes along all the openness of the best recordings.

This is true of the very best tube and SS system. Some lesser systems take the "cover up" route. The clarity route IS expensive and harder to achieve than the "cover up" route, unfortunately.

No one has mentioned this, but I found it to make a huge difference when I placed my power amp on it. I had a rack with glass shelves and when I replaced them with 2" hard rock maple platforms, it sounded like I had replaced the preamp and the amp. System became more relaxed, mids opened up and overall a more organic and analog sound to the system. The most bang for the buck I have ever experienced.
os ot time to mention the "e" word, as an "equalizer" ?

i'll duck now.

my friend uses a deqx with some positive benefits.
Tubes don't add distortion until they are driven to distortion. Then they produce even-order harmonics rather than the odd-order harmonics that SS devices produce when over-driven. I personally own a tubed CDP, tubed power amps, and still enjoy very transparent(coloration and distortion-free) music. Some tubes, most generally from Britain (ie:NOS Mullard/Brimar), will provide a much "warmer" or more "sugary"(think, "glazed") coloration. Many obviously like that sound, as these tubes are very popular. Should you decide to add a tubed component to your system: Try some of those, and you'll probably be well pleased.
Mullard and Brimar tubes sound different enough to me that I
would not put them together under the same "sugary and glazed" umbrella.

I have rolled Mullard Blackburn production tubes with Amperex 6922 white
label tubes and Siemens CCa, ECC88, E88CC and E188CC. To my ears, these
tubes sound more alike than not. The Siemens have the least coloration, and
the Mullard have the most coloration, but the differences between them are
not nearly as pronounced as between even the Mullard and Brimar (which to
my ears sound quite colored and rolled-off).

I like Mullards. They round off the sharp edges with a very slight burnish
while still maintaining the air and detail of Siemens and Amperex.

IMO...but this is a bit off topic.

Back on topic, perhaps Tje experimented with a tube preamp that did not
have an output impedance that was a good match for the Ayre amplifier. This
would explain the lack of dynamics. Using a properly matched tube preamp
with Mullard tubes could definitely warm things up a little (but not a great
extent). Installing Brimar tubes could warm things up a great deal, but the
sound is going to be very different than the clean and neutral SS Ayre sound.
Tubes don't add distortion until they are driven to distortion. Then they produce even-order harmonics rather than the odd-order harmonics that SS devices produce when over-driven.

Then why, to cite what I admit is probably a somewhat extreme example, would the CJ PV15 line stage preamplifier have a thd spec of 1%? And why would some older ARC power amp designs that I can recall have thd specs of 3% or so? I'm sure a little research would turn up a considerable number of other examples as well, of highly regarded tube designs that have highish thd numbers, when operated within rated limits.

Obviously I was not referring in my previous post to the major distortions that would result from overdriving or clipping. Any non-linearity that occurs within the normal operating range of a tube or other amplifying device will result in small amounts of distortion, that may be sonically significant, especially in low feedback designs. Distortion that I believe would likely be a significant factor in what is perceived to be the particular tube or the particular design's sonic "signature."

-- Al
You might keep in mind that tubes are not the only components in those pieces of equipment, and that designers of SS equipment have historically taken vastly more drastic steps to minimize distortion figures(ie: typically 40db of negative feedback), usually to the detriment of actual sound quality. Tubes are innately very linear(into RF frequencies), but unfortunately, provide relatively little gain/transconductance(low output current) and high plate resistance, hence the need for matching transformers. A great deal of the distortion inherent in tube amp design results from the use of transformer output coupling, not the tube itself.
Hi Tvad- Like most subjective evaluations with regard to this hobby: One person's candy will be another's poison. My first Mullards(CV 4004) were tried in a CAL Alpha DAC, when I had a much less resolving system than now. Their warmth was much more than I could accept even then, and they were quickly replaced with Tele's(ECC83's). No problem with soundstage, imaging, etc., but the coloration was simply not natural. I agree with your ranking, RE coloration levels: Brimar, Mullard and Amperex(the "pinched waist" I could probably live with). To me the Siemens and Telefunkens(whatever family of nine pin miniature) are the most transparent, extended and uncolored(natural) out there. Let me narrow that last statement to the pre-1968 tubes manufactured for the German Telephone Services, and branded as "Specially Selected"). One nice thing about Mullards is that, once tried, if not appreciated: they are easy to sell. I do love their voltage rectifiers though.
To cut long story short, try Kubala-Sosna Emotion powercords, and when your budget allows it add IC's na SC.
You will not lose any resolution and balance will lean more to the bass.
Rodmann99999, it's also the gear into which the tubes are placed. I only ever
directly compared Mullard/Siemens tubes in a Lamm LL2 Deluxe preamp, Wright
Sound WP200C phono preamp, and a Moscode 401HR amplifier.

In these units, the Siemens CCa (early 60s grey riser) were transparent and
created an enormous image...but they were "too much" for my taste over
extended periods, approaching what I consider a clinical sound. I would not call
them natural.

To each his own.
I've got six NOS(pre- 1968) CCa's in my CDP(BAT VK-D5) and enjoy their presentation very much. Like you said, "It's also the gear into which the tubes are placed." My goal has always been to recreate(as much as possible) what I hear and feel in the live venues I visit/work a couple times, every week. It's been my experience that most people blame excellent components for shortcomings elsewhere in their audio chain. Again- Everyone has their own tastes also(I believe I mentioned, "subjective evaluations"). BTW- What was the manufacturing date on those CCa's you had? The ones made after '67 could singe your ear hairs with their stridency.
FWIW, Rodman99999, having owned one of those DK5 since they first came out, I think the Siemans may be particularily synergistic with it, not that they have a universal tone, one size fits all, for all applications. But I could imagine a case could be made for them in the DK5. The bass in the DK5 is a tad less than perfect and can use the tightening up that the Siemans would bring (as did the OEM Sovteks). Put warm tubes in that puppy and the bass gets muddy as all get out. That is my experience anyway. I can as easily accept Tvad's observation that in his applications they sounded clinical.
What was the manufacturing date on those CCa's you
had? The ones made after '67 could singe your ear hairs with their stridency.
Rodman99999 (Threads | Answers)
One pair was
1959. Another pair was 1961.

My understanding is that CCa made in 1967 or later would have shiny risers.
not grey risers.
Jeez Tom.

I posted a detailed reply at the other forum where you first posed your question. Why not check back there before starting a new round of contradictory answers?
Mr T: You're right about the getter supports on the later CCa's being shiny metal. Also- They had the date code on a plate inside the tube. Mr N: The VK-D5 is also somewhat sensitive to the impedance it sees at it's output. It's bass will roll off slightly more(about -2.5db at 20Hz) at 1kOhm as compared to 100kOhms(-.2db), which will seem somewhat thinner, but- better defined with some speakers. Increase the impedance to, say 200kOhms, and things can get a bit warmer/bloomier. In my system, and with the CCa's, I've been enjoying a great deal of accuracy/realism from the 'ol BAT.
Jeez Charles.

I started both threads at the same time. Thanks for your recommendations in the other forum. I answered you there.

Best regards
Funny, I stumbled onto this post given I'm having the same problems. I'm in the same exact boat now as Tje. I just picked up a pair of Shunyata Andromeda speaker cables last week to try. I'm running all solid state (Benchmark Dac1 and a MF A5 integrated with Cardas Golden Reference 1/2 meter ICs. The Cardas were perfect with my prior speaker cables (Audioquest Bedrock), but now they're far too bright. I know my system is on the warm side with the MF amp, but the Shunyata speaker cables are incredibly neutral and revealing and when paired with the DAC1 it only bolsters those qualities. Going to try some other ICs, since when I throw on a pair of monster RCAs or some Tributaries RCAs I have sitting around, the problem is diminished at the expense of resolution.

Long story short, I'm going to take a guess and say the Cardas ARE NOT a good match with Shunyata speaker cables.
A tube based DAC. For little money, hassle or equipment swap-out, you get some tube warmth, at least for cd. Switching cords, cables, speakers, whew!. Short of a tube pre-amp, a tube DAC is the cost/benefit answer.
1. first I follow the recommendation of Charles and I disconnect the DVI-cable between the Linn Unidisk and the TV. But we (my wife, a friend and I) don´t hear any difference. Maybe Linn made a good job, maybe my separation from the circuit breaker in the basement in two power circuits is the reason, maybe our ears… One power circuit is only for my hifi system, the other is for the rest of ground floor (lamps, TV etc.)

2. Than I borrow from a friend a tube preamp, three powercords and two pairs of balanced cables. And I bought the Ayre wood blocks (nine pieces) and use them under the equipment.

First surprise for me: The K-5xe was “warmer” than the tube preamp (an Einstein The Tube)

Second surprise: the borrowed powercords brought a BIG positive change in the system. I never believed before that powercords and other balanced cables can make a so BIG difference. BTW: why manufactures don´t put better powercords to there stuff?

Also I´m now not sure if the Cardas Golden Reference are a real good choice in my system. I like the balanced cables from my friend much more. It was like taking a curtain away.

Conclusion: I never believed before that powercords and balanced cables can make a so BIG difference.

And: I listen three days with the preamp Einstein The Tube. It´s in the 10.000 EUR range. But I prefer the synergy between the K-5xe and V-5xe more than the The Tube with the V-5xe or with the Einstein amp “Light in the dark”. The Einsteins make a deeper bass and the highs are higher but the Ayres bring me closer to the music. Listening with the Einsteins is more listening in the way of measuring. But with the Ayres I can do both: one day just listen for pleasure and one other day I can listen like a sound editor. GREAT JOB CHARLES!