New DAC, Ayre QX-5 vs Moon 680D, suggestions?


I am new to the forum. I’ve been updating my system in the last years, and the weakest link is now my DAC,  Moon 280D, the first DAC that I’ve had, and that opened the door for streaming; it has been an exciting journey.

My current system: AQ Niagara 3000, Bryston BCD-1 CD Player, Ayre V5/K5 amps, B&W 802D3 speakers, AQ cables.

I am thinking of updating my DAC, and the two candidates that I’ve considered are Ayre QX-5 (CDN $13K retail in Canada)  and Moon 680D (CDN 11.5K). I tested the Moon in my system, and I like the improvement to SQ in terms of detail and sound stage. The unit is massive, with big heatsinks that I find hard to justify, if not for marketing reasons.

In a perfect world, I would listen to the Ayre QX-5 to compare.  Unfortunately, I am not able to try the Ayre QX-5, not in my system and not in my city.

I’ve read the reviews of the QX-5 and also comments about the unit in this forum. Informed by these reviews, the fact that I really like my Ayre amps and the excellent customer service and reputation from Ayre, my inclination is to go for this one, although price is even higher.

I contacted a couple of dealers with questions about these two DACs, and their qualities. In a way, I was hoping to hear a confirmation about the QX-5 being superior. What I heard, though, was that both units are very good. I didn’t hear a clear preference for one or the other.

I mostly listen to European jazz and classical music. I am looking for a relaxed, more refined and warm sound that is not fatiguing and brings additional resolution.

My questions: have any of you had a chance to listen to these two DACs? What are the qualities that you can comment from each unit? How would you compare them?



Showing 1 response by beetlemania

Yes, QB-9 has a single USB input. I had mine upgraded to the Twenty version and am super happy, no longer trying to figure out how to afford a QX-5. I use Roon via a NUC to stream Qobuz and play my collection. The only time I wish for a second input is the odd time I want to watch a concert video and send the audio to my stereo (I use JRiver on a different PC for this purpose). I have the QB-9 in a position that makes it awkward to swap out the USB cable. Definitely a first-world problem.

The QX-8 might be an option if budget dictates. It’s supposed to sound almost as good as a QX-5 but costs far less.

When I had Tidal, I used Roon to decode MQA files. I was not impressed. To my ears MQA sounds, not bad but, not as good as PCM versions. I dumped Tidal in favor of Qobuz. If MQA is important to you, Ayre is not your product. OTOH, Ayre is great if SQ is important.