If by chance you live in the UK i recommend you send your M3 to Musical Fidelity for their fine tuning program. It makes what starts as a great amp an awesome amp.
12 responses Add your response
Its a very hard question to answer. I've had both brands and can say that they sound very different from each other. Personally, I think Ayre is much better. Thats what I currently use. If I were you, I would try to listen to some Ayre gear first. Just because I like it doesn't mean that you will. What speakers are you using? That may be the deciding factor. Also, Ayre does sound better balanced, but that wouldn't be the sole factor in making a decision. Ayre products still sound good when they are mixed with SE components.
I am talking about talents/properties of amps. Every brand and even single unit has it's own properties/talents. Wenn you compared amps, sources, spakers and cables etc for 15 years in hundreds of tests you understand the differences between them. I have own Nu-vista, sold a lot of MF and even done audio shows for MF. I can compare many brands and know exactly the difference between them.
I get the fact that you can hear the difference between components. That said, your post is a little vague. You're not comparing the 2 brands to some type of reference. You say they are good, but not exceptional. What's exceptional? Not only that, Ayre an MF sound completely different from each other. Unless you make comparisons that people can use somehow, you'll have a hard time convincing anyone to see it your way.
Aside from that, don't limit yourself. 15 years is a good start. But looking back on my first 15 years in this business, I can definitely say that one can go 30 years and still be learning. Its a never ending process.
That is true, I am addicted to music and sound since I was 6. But I make a living of it since 15 years. MF is more musical and Ayre has more air in the high freq. A brand like Pass Labs has a much bigger stage. Pass Labs gives you more focus on the instruments. I give you an example; recording of 2 acoustic guitars. a Pass Labs can let you hear eassily the difference in sound. I played for a long time with a modified MF Nu-Vista 300 poweramp. After this I bought a Pass Labs XA100.5 set. This makes you aware of the difference in Stage and in sound. A few months I had Ayre amps to test. Even a presentation of the MX-R with Wilson Audio Alexandria 2 did not convince me. I listend for over 2 hours with my own music. I missed the sound realism. The acoustic guitars sounded almost the same. These days I am a lot further in sound. Because the quality of cables is improving a lot. This gives you new levels in black and in 3-dimensional image.
I had an M3 and found it to be a little dry into Spendor S8e speakers, and didn't provide nearly the bass it should have given its power. I also didn't think it had especially good resolution, although I understand it improves with a dedicated 20amp line. Of course it just might not have been a good match with my speakers. The guy I sold it to was running it into B&W 802s and he loved it.
For jazz and classical I definitely prefer tubes, but if you're looking for a solid state amp with some tubey qualities look up Wells Audio. The Akasha is a great sounding amp for a pretty reasonable price. I had one in my system for a few weeks as a review sample for StereoTimes and was very impressed.
I'm not really doubting anyones comments, but they're just all over the place. So many things contribute to the sound of an audio system it can be very difficult to sort out. Not only that, when you take something like imaging, every piece in the system plays a part. Everything depends on system matching and understanding how all the components fit and work together. If you want to be successful and have a great sounding system, you absolutely must do so using a systems approach. Its not good enough to just pick a good amp and a good pair of speakers. To do it right, you need to have a picture of what the entire system will be upon completion. That doesn't mean you have to buy everything all at once, but just be confident as to where the system is going to end up.
Just to clarify I'll give an example. If you read these threads, most of the people looking for advice will say something like "I have Speaker A, can someone recommend an amp that will go well with them?" Theres nothing wrong with that, but I don't feel thats the best way to go about it. If you are serious about putting together a great system it would be far better to listen as many systems as you can and then pick something you like the sound of as a whole. Once you do that, its easy. Then you can just stay focused on the most important thing; the end result. Doesn't mean you have to copy the system exactly (although you can if you want to), but component selection becomes much easier when you know the type of sound you strive for.
Sound will Always be a personal taste. But the last time I try to learn people the difference between 2 and 3 dimensional. People understand it very well. And also what it makes listening to music more thrilling and emotional. For classical music the mid freq. are very important. I played and loved classical music a lot with my modified Nu-vista 300 and B&W 800S in the past. With Ayre I did not like the sound for classical music at all.
Thank everyone's kind suggestions and sorry for my late response as I was travelling in Europe.
Just a quick update I did get the AX-7e together with the QB-9. I have to say I am so impressed. The biggest improvement is background is darker and noise level is lower. and I am enjoying the sound very much. But to be fair with the M3, I believe it has some issues with the capacitors in the signal path or the pre-amp tube and should sound better after proper serviced or even fine tuned. Unfortunately, I am in California and MF has suspended the fine tuning service out side UK. I was thinking to send the amp to Rick Walker in NC for a similar fine tuning service. But now since I have the Ayre set up and I might give it a second thought and might put it on sale soon.