Integrated Amps - Ayre vs Pass Labs


Hey all,

In the very preliminary stages of starting a two-channel system from the ground up. I’d like to go with an integrated to save on space.  No phono stage necessary at this point. I’m open to an incorporated DAC but it’s not a must have. Speakers, sources, etc. TBD.

Has anyone had experience hearing Pass’ INT-250 against Ayre’s AX-5 Twenty?

Thanks for reading,

CJ
blokemate700
I had a Pass INT-60 which in my opinion a sweet spot in the Pass Line up. You get 30watts of class A then A/B kicks in to 60 conservative watts.  The Pass int-250 leaves class A at 15watts but does have a higher headroom.
Comparing to Ayre the Pass amps have higher resale values and are from a more stable  established company. They sound different and are a matter of personal taste and price points. 
 
I am a very happy owner of the Ayre. It replaced significantly more expensive separates (Modwwright KWA-150SE w/Cary SLP-05 w/ult. upgrade) and yet I greatly prefer its sq. Dead quiet with full rich sound. I am sure the Pass is great as well, although I have always found Pass to be slightly noisey and too hot. I would not buy w/o listening to both.
Both are excellent.  What speakers are you driving?  The Pass is a beast if you have a difficult load to drive.
Bobheinatz...Speaker selection far from set in stone.  I've been a MartinLogan fan for years but will certainly consider a dynamic loudspeaker as well.
You should also consider the Gryphon Diablo 300 if you have the budget.Optional DAC available.
@blokemate700 - imho - you need to lock down on your speaker selection first - then look for the right amp. Many parameters like sensitivity, listening level, impedance to frequency response will play a critical role in amp selection. Some speakers have bright top end which may need a tubey or drak amp to tame it. again - this is my 2c - ymmv. btw - i have the pass x250.5 and i believe the power section of the int-250 is almost identical to the x250.5. I love the pass house sound - doesnt sound anything like a solid state. good luck!
I would have to agree with with @pistha.  I would pick out a set of speakers before shopping for an integrated amp.  FYI, I have the Ayre AX5/20 powering a set of Vandersteen Treo CT speakers.  Very satisfied and a great combination.  I have little experience with Pass Labs electronics. I would imagine, both amps would perform extremely well with most modern speakers.  Similar in thought with @shredder, you should definitely listen to as many amps as you can and be happy with your selection before buying.  I probably listened to over two dozen integrated and separates before choosing the Ayre + Vandersteen combo.    
I went from separates and tubes to a SS integrated five years ago with a Hegel H200.  A couple of months ago I bought a dealer demo of the Balanced Audio Technology VK3000SE  Uses two 6H30 tubes in the pre section and then SS power section.  Listening is split equally between LPs and digital rips of LPS and I like the sound, build quality and flexibility of the BAT.  Just another unit to consider.
Ive been looking for aolid integrated for my hard driving Neat Ultimatum MFS. Before i was using separates like bryston bp26/4bsst2, audia flight pre/100 and some others.. but i was blown away with AX-5 twenty- Musicality, grip, bass control. I think to order ax-5 or separates pre and power twentys
Gibalok, make sure you get a demo of the Ayre gear with your Neat speakers, Ayre gear tends to be very low coloration , and your Neat speakers use a Titantium tweeter which can be a bit peaky so you may prefer a warmer more colored type of presentation.

The Ayre gear is often paired with Vandys which tend to be a bit on the more recessed side of neutral which makes that pairing excellent add in AQ cabling which tends to highlight the top end and you can see why that pairing works so well.

Blokemate you should start with the speakers first and then look at electronics. 

The Pass gear tends to be warm the Ayre tends to be more netural you should demo all of the usual contenders.

We have a few clients who purchased T+A over the Pass gear similar tonality but overall even faster and cleaner. 

If I was looking for electronics I would add T+A, Gryphon, Vitus, and now Krell is comming back as well to your list. Also the Anthen STR amp and preamp dac is stupidly good for $10k. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor dealers for T+A, Anthem and incoming Krell
Audiotroy. Thank you. 
I have dcs bridge and debussy, xlo sig 2 cables and hear some times that peaks. But with Siltech ls-110 the sound is more soft. I think i will change xlo to Siltech 188/110 later.

do you think that KX/VX-5 separates are significantly better that ax-5 integrated?

i like the deep bass, grip and details which AX-5 take out from Neat Ultimatum

If you have Ayre questions...just call them.  They are extremely nice and will give you the right answers without trying to sell you something.
I still have ax-5 on test and it is better than i have anything before. But didnt hear Gryphon 300
I have an AX-5 Twenty. Confident it’s my last amp . . .
Beetlemania, whats your setup?
as mentioned above the new krell integrated amp looks like it warrants serious attention and it has a new aesthetic. believe you can buy w built in dac. fwiw their integrateds have always been well regarded
Krell K-300i is the model. Check their website. 
Pass int-250 for me. I keep coming to pass sound (very musical with great texture). I had Gryphon diablo 300, Luxman 509x in my system, auditioned Ayre AX-5 twenty integrated - a little analytical and bass shy for my taste. For me pass is the way to go. Granted when I had Gryphon I liked it also. Its a little faster than pass and has a little more details on top. But (in my system) it did not sound as good at low volumes. I would love to try T+A 3100 integrated but cant arrange for a demo.
I finally ended with kx/vx-5 twenty. Didnt heard pass 250 but im stisfied a lot with ayre. Recently i ordered a paird of Neat MF5 used so liked the idea that i will have opportunity to extend my system for biamp with second vx-5.


Nice choice, great ears
  After you get the Neat speakers, hope you enjoy.
 Try and also find a listen with Vandersteen Quatro CTs with your gear pretty amazing pairing.
Full range in any room amazing power response, Built-in amp for bass already has the Bi-amping advantage far easier positioning with room compensation tunable bass = less spotlighting and just supernatural performance.
 Best JohnnyR

Nice plug Audioconnection, sure the Quattros are great, so are about a million other high end loudspeakers.

We really like the Legacy Signatures they are half the price of the Quattros at $7k,go down to 22hz in the bass and are 93db efficient, no they don’t have adjustable sub woofers but they do have tuning switches in the back, tonally Legacy is very similar to Vandersteen. warm rich and laid back in the treble.

We are not Neat dealers but have heard them for years they are very nice loudspeakers with tremendous bass punch in the models with transmission line loading.

Ayre goes well with most loudspeakers that are warmer, the Ayre stuff tends to be very low in coloration, the OP should be happy depending on cabling, and system setup.

Dave and Trou
Audio Doctor NJ
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4425 we got the Krell K300i about two weeks ago, and it is pretty amazing sounding.  

The dac in it is surprising for a $1k dac board with MQA and Roon capability. Obviously the amp sounds even better with a more expensive dac we just got in the brand new Lumin T2 and that combo sounds fantastic. 

The new Krell XD products are much more organic sounding than any past Krell product, they sound almost like a tube amplifier, clarity is great, sound staging is great, slam is very good not as much impact as the old Krell products. 

The funny thing we have a client with an original KAV 300i and it must be close to 20+ years old and it is still working perfectly.

This will be a fascinating comparison vs the Pass stuff, the Krell is providing 150 watt Class A power for $7k with the Pass INT 60 being 60 watts for $9k.  

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ 


I also heard KX-5 + Dagostino Classic before ending up with KX-VX-5 combo. Dag is a beast. Found it very deep strong and authorative but very slow sound with Neat MFS. not my signature. Im for well controlled, fast neutral sound. Also Goldmund Telos 390.2 is a fantastic amp, very natural and fastest amp ive ever heard, but a bit light for my taste.
audiotroy
I am looking forward in reading more about the new Krell K300i as it settles, blooms, into your system(s).  Happy Listening!
Jafant, did our first shoot out vs the Naim Uniti Nova, fascinating demo.

Both were awesome, however the demo wasn't equil, we had the Nova plugged into an Audio Magic Oracle with a Combaix Power Cord with Isoacoustics footers vs the Krell K300i on a Isotek Sigmas, with an Audioquest power cord and no footers, so it wasn't an apple to apples comparison.

However, the Krell has a more depth to the soundstage, seemed a bit clearer, the Naim sounded Naim like puncher and more dramatic in its phrasing with a bit more midrange bloom, overall felt like the Krell was even better.

The tale of the tape, Krell 150 watts  vs Naim 80 watts
                                 Krell Balanced ins  Naim None
                                 Krell MQA               Naim None
                                 Krell display ok       Naim 2.5 inch LCD
                                 Krell none               Naim Headphone amp
                                 Krell Aptx                Naim Aptx
                                 Krell None              Naim airplay
                                 Krell None              Naim Chromecast
                                 Krell app ok            Naim app better
                                 Soundstaging more depth Krell
                                 Bass control   tie
                                 Clarity a little better with the Krell
                                 Krell HDMI in and out  Naim only in
                                 Krell 3 rca in                Naim 2 rca
                                 Krell coax and opt       Naim 3coax 2 opt
                                 
Summation two early to tell, both of these integrated amplifiers are awesome in terms of both features and sound quality.

The MQA decoding, plus the extra power and clarity makes the Krell very compelling, If you use Roon as your control interface then the quality of either the Naim or Mconnect app is moot. If you choose via jus the app the Naim app is much better. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Krell and Naim dealers

I haven’t heard any of these integrated amps , but there has been so much positive written about the Luxmans I wonder why you are not considereing them also?
There is also the kinki Studio EX-M1 discussed here on Agon and having a stellar review by 6 Moons, which I also have no experience with but they gushed over it.
(((Legacy is very similar to Vandersteen. warm rich and laid back in the treble.)))
 I think that's wishful thinking, but are your speakers out of time?
Phase and time correct is not easy to substitute. 
Since you continue to think you know a lot about what you don't know a lot about.
  Here you go.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8A6hN8kgC4
Best JohnnyR
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I understand that Legacy states you can adjust phase using the Wavelet. What I don't understand is how it can be done after the crossover has completely mangled the phase performance of the speaker. The damage is done and you are not individually adjusting each of the drivers, you are adjusting the product of the crossover. It is counter intuitive. My two pairs of speakers are Legacy Calibre HD and Meadowlark Nighthawk (time and phase correct like Vandersteen). Each have their advantages. However, I could not just add the Wavelet to the Calibre and produce coherency like that of the Nighthawk.