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 2 responses by dbphd

Haven't listened to both, but do have the Ayre X5/20. V5/20, and Q5/20, a perfectly matched trio, all balanced connections of course, with AyreLink turning all on with the click of a mouse.  Roon in via Ethernet, beautiful music out via balanced analog.  What more could you want?  Well, I add a matching DX-5 DSD.  I listen mostly to jazz, baroque and classical.  The sound is refined and not at all fatiguing, yet with great detail and soundstage.  Speakers are KEF Reference 1s supplemented below 80 Hz with a pair of room corrected Velodyne HGS-15s.
One of my setups uses QX-5 as the Roon endpoint with balanced analog to a KX-5 preamp, the other uses ultraRendu and QB-9 DSD DAC with balanced analog to an Ayre A7e integrated. Of course, the QX-5 is the neater setup. I use both Qobuz and Tidal. With either, the sound quality ranges from superb to good, depending on the file selected. I’m not a slave to 192/24 files, because much of the music I most enjoy is only 44/24. Full MQA unfold is not a consideration for me.

The setups differ in other ways as well: DX-5 DSD to the KX-5, C-5xeMP to the A7e; VX-5 to KEF Reference 1s, A7e to LS50s. Comparisons are not of interest to me. I enjoy both setups.