Next upgrade, DartZeel or Ayre

Due to heat and space, I am considering DartZeel or Ayre as both are solid state and take up less space than my current system. I understand DartZeel pre and power work best together, similarly for Ayre KX-R and MX-R, so I will get the combo to achieve the best synergy. DartZeel has built-in phono, Ayre does not, so I will have to keep my Einstein phono stage if I go with Ayre.

Has anyone compared the combo? My current speakers are SF Amati Homage & Guarneri Memento with JL F113, either combo can drive my speakers well since I don't listen loud. I do like the extra power from Ayre which gives me more options for speaker upgrade later. But if DartZeel is superior, I am willing to live with the lower power rating and shop my next speaker within DartZeel's capability.

Any input is appreciated.
'heard DartZeel with VonSchweikert VR9s at the NY show a few years back. Very silky but full bodied, nicely dense mids and highs and angelic vocals, as I recall. If money was no object,
they would be my choice. They are expensive boxes, though.
at some risk of ruffling feathers here, plus i haven't heard either combination, but dartzeel makes one amp and one preamp and that is all. assuming they have made a few sales by now, you would think the company would comtemplate building some monoblocks. plus they could offer a line-stage-only preamp without the phono stage and the battery- those items could be offered as an option- that would be both simple and elegant (instead of the lewis-carrol mushroom-inspired design they are so in love with now). and finally, the assertion, no matter how sincere and enthusiastic, that dartzeel gear sounds so incredible as to negate all of the research the other guys in the biz have done- really rubs MY feathers the wrong way. for example, i recently acquired a levinson 326S preamp that, imho, is much sweeter and smoother than the excellent EMM-Lab DCC2SE it replaced- for some time i had felt the emotion of the music was missing in action, although my system sounded so clean and pure. but after the switch, this became immediately apparent, and my ears are not the best at discerning minute differences- all this acheived without adding a battery, tubes, or 3 extra chassis. so my advice- for what it's worth- is i'll just bet that the ayre or possibly something else will sound phenomenal, even magical. 'cause all of those other equipment designers go to concerts, too, and they want to capture "the sound" just as badly as everyone else.
Dartzeel will be introducing an integrated amp this fall.
One "important" thing to consider is service availability,and communications with mfgr,should you ever have a problem.As well as ease of "updates".A local mfgr,assuming products are in same class,is a good way to go!

I've not heard the Ayre,but did hear the "Dart",and felt though quite good,it was not in a class of it's own,as some may believe.Still,a very good amp though.

Good luck
Hi Sirspeedy, may I ask you: which power amplifier is in your opinion "in a class of it's own"? Goldmund? Audio Research? Lamm?

Try Tenor
Dazz....c'mon!....No power amp is in a class of it's "own"!!There's lots of good stuff around.

I can't comment on the DartZeel as I've only heard them at shows. I can, however, comment at length about the Ayre MXR - KXR combination, as I've had the monoblocks for almost 2 years, and the new preamp for the past several months.

The monoblocks are, IMHO, very deserving of the accolades they have garnered. They truly combine the best performance features available from world-class tube and solid state amplifiers. I am aware of quite a few industry stalwarts who have made the MXRs their reference amplifiers (several of whom had been die-hard tube loyalists). An important benefit of the MXRs vis-a-vis the DartZeel amp, is the fact that being monoblocks, they can be located immediately adjacent to their respective speakers, to keep to an absolute minimum the speaker cable length (which has a very significant positive impact, all other factors kept constant).

While the MXR was a breakthrough product for Ayre, the KXR takes it to another league. I really believe the KXR is the most significant product Charlie Hansen & Co. have yet designed - a defining product. On the one hand, it is the most expensive audio product I've ever bought, on the other hand, it very well may represent the highest value per dollar spent. To put it another way, these components will certainly be my reference preamp and amp for the next decade (or two).

Effortless and musical are the best way to describe them. The dynamic range available regardless of volume is a true revelation. While I believe there is a synergy between them, I don't believe they need to be used together to show what each can do -- any system could benefit from either component separately, or both together.

Feel free to e-mail me if you would like to know more. - Pete -
thanks for the inputs.

in my 15+ years of audiophile life, I did have to send some pre & power amps to be serviced and one as far as Canada. the experience is painful and expensive, I would rather not have to deal with it again. but life is full of changes and I am sure I will move again, so owning a gear made in the local neighborhood is not the gating factor though a bonus.

I never heard the DartZeel, but I did hear Ayre combo in dealer with not too optimized setup. Ayre combo sounded good, but given I was not familiar with rest of components and room acoustic, I wasn't ready to give up my BAT 150SE & SF Line 3SE+ for the Ayre combo + lots and lots of cash yet. I know many many solid state amps claim "tube like" midrange and transparency, but I haven't heard one in my life. I don't need absolute neutrality when listen at home, I am not looking for that. instead, I am looking for music that can lift my soul and carry me away after a long day at work. somehow I had the impression DartZeel would be the better of the two to do that, maybe it's the gold face that's glowing softly under dim light that creates the warm feeling.

still searching.
Mono blocks from Dartzeel are on the way too!
Should be ready for production run by spring 2009 if all holds more option!

like you, I had never heard a SS component that sounded like tubes do...till I heard the Ayre AX-7E, which I bought. I was so impressed with the integrated, that I went ahead and bought the KX-R. Needless to say, I am very happy with the preamp, even though I was a diehard tube loyalist.

You really need to audition the MX-R. If it is anything like the KX-R, you will not be disappointed.
Pinkus, what tube gears and speakers were you using before you made the switch? I am surprised to hear even that tiny AX-7 can change your mind from tube bliss to solid state coldness.

I am willing to give up some tube magic for solid state convenience, but how much I am willing to give up is another question.

as for DartZeel integrated and mono block, both are out of the question now. integrated most likely will not be powerful enough. mono block will be too expensive even used.
I don't know about that, the AX-7e, while a good unit (particularly if used as an amp only) is limited, as the price point would indicate. If you go with the KX-R you'll be giving up nothing.
There are a record numbers of super high end pre amps out there. Ayre KX-R, BAT REX, Conrad Johnson ACT 3, VTL 7.5 II, etc. among all, Ayre probably has the most plain look and smallest physical size.

Since I already own BAT 150SE (& 75SE, still debating which one to keep due to heat), will I be better off getting a BAT pre amp? I can't afford REX, but I can get a 52SE now. However, BAT pre seems to generate polarized opinions and many prefer ARC Ref 3 over 52SE.
I own the Darts and they are the best I've heard yet. The only drawback is precisely what you originally pointed out...power rating. So really inefficient speakers that need a lot of juice are out. This is not to say they are weaklings,,,any speaker with average sensitivity is fine but some like the YG Acoustics etc,, will need more. Strengths: bass slam far better than one thinks, great detail and transparency yet there is a certain sweetness to it kinda like tubes but different. Ayres i have auditioned, though in a system I am not completely familiar with though had heard them with speakers I've had some idea before). again great transparency but lacks the sweetness of the darts, the beauty of tonal color thing...however perhaps do provide more of the air thing. Both are really excellent.
I have heard the new Ayre monoblocks and they sounded awesome. Some of the best solid state I have heard. The dynamics were excellent, transparance & soundstage were wonderful, and it was the cheaper Ayre preamp being used. Take a look at the design. Just beautiful. For solid state, they may be the way to go.
I heard Ayre MX-R driven directly by Nagra cdplayer on Guarneri Memento and that system was really bad. I couldn't even hear tape hiss on Living stereo SACD-s, syrupy midrange and hard upper mid...
Henryhk, I know DartZeel is very very good and super musical for a solid state. but I am a tube addict and I don't think DartZeel can match an all tube system, or am I wrong? I know someone sold off his BAT 75SE to get DartZeel to drive his Evolution Acoustic; I don't know his reason for doing so, maybe for sound, for convenience, or Jonathan talked him into using DartZeel to drive EA since he imports both? what ever the reason, I am just not 100% convinced DartZeel combo can sound as musical as an all tube system and I need someone who moved to DartZeel after owning tubes to hit me on the head and tell me to forget about tubes.

Teddy bear, I know Ayre can sound sterile and cold at times if not fully warm up. I heard the combo in dealer as I mentioned. though very clean and transparent, it sure does not have the last bit of air, organic midrange, and delicacy of tube setup.

seems like I am convincing myself to stay with tubes. yes and no. I know something take tubes to create but solid state has closed the gap in recent years. just wondering if the gap is small enough and time is now to pull the trigger.
Why don't you just do a home demo of the Ayre combo?
I have had the Ayre MX-R monoblocks for almost 2 years...and love them. Having only listened to the DarZeel set up in a pass by listen...they were nice but didn't attract me enough to pay serious attention...but I am sure they are excellent. My thoughts are monoblocks next to speakers is an excellent way to to pre amps I have wandered through a few....VTL is excellent but suspect that the KX-R is coming home...
Bar81, the reason I haven't borrowed the Ayre home is I am on oversea assignment and I did not bring my main system with me. Therefore even if my local dealer loan me the power amp, I won't be able to appreciate all of its strength in my current system.

That being said, I did visit my local dealer today hoping to hear both KX-R and MX-R. I wasn't that lucky, KX-R was out on loan and won't be back till 4 weeks later. I did hear MX-R in two different systems and one of them was very high resolution which consisted of Ayre CDP, Spectral 30, and Avalon ISIS. All I can say is the system sounded totally hi-fi to my ears. It did have great dynamic, great extension, great transparency, and great details, but it did not capture my soul, far from it.

Not sure if it was the Spectral or Avalon, but I suspected it was the Spectral more as I did hear Avalon ISIS driven by Hovland before with great emotion. I will return in a few weeks to hear the KX-R, but at this point I am not expecting miracle.
Semi, i have only heard the Ayre amps at shows and dealers; never in my system. they are very good. i don't really feel i can comment on exactly how they compare to the dart without some sort of head to head.

i do have lots of experience with the darTZeel in my room on Kharmas, Von Schweikerts, and now the Evolution MM3's. my previous amps were the Tenor OTL and Tenor hybrids. the darTZeel were the first solid state amp i heard that did not sound anything like solid state; and seem to have a sense of that tube-like 'breath of life' that the Tenors had; but with the linearity of solid state. the darts also have a micro-dynamic life which is alive sounding. yes; they also do bass slam and exceptional bass articulation assuming your speakers are reasonable loads. one area where tube lovers are typically very sensitive is how tubes do the high frequencies. the dart is very sweet in the highs and yet has more extension. one thing that stood out to me was the extremely low noise floor of the dart.

if you read the white paper on the dart website you will get a better idea on Herve's approach to using no global negative feedback and the use of very few output devices. also; the dart has an ability to turn off DC offset for even more transparency. it is no accident the dart is such a natural sounding 'sweet' solid state amp.

i have lots of visitors to my room, many of which are tube lovers. most of these people comment on how 'non-solid state' that the darts sound. they don't miss tubes in my system.

there is no one perfect amp for everyone and every system context. i have heard many excellent solid state amps.

OTOH i prefer the darTZeel to any amp i have heard and there are no solid state amps that would be alternatives for me in my system. my next choices would be the new Tenor Hybrids, maybe the Lamm ML2.1's, or maybe the AN Kegon's......anyway, you get the idea.

regarding the dart pre; it's in the very top class of preamps and i love it. the phono stage is as good as i have heard. i love the way it works and it's flexibility. the proprietary 'zeel' internnects between the dart pre and amp are very inexpensive and are equal or better to the very best interconnects. battery power, as done by darTZeel, is ideal for a preamp.

overall; darTZeel fit and finish is as good as it gets.

good luck with your choice.

The Ayre CDP was also likely problematic. ime, the Ayre digital gear renders music without a soul. Also, the KX-R is really the linchpin (as is the preamp in most systems ime); what you want comes only with the KX-R in the system.

Several other points:

(1) You really shouldn't be making a final decision about gear at the dealer. I never buy anything I can't audition at home (except for speakers as that's difficult but I do make sure to hear the speakers using gear I know intimately).

(2) There's no substitute for power in terms of bass control unless the woofers are powered.

(3) ime, there is no better company in terms of support than Ayre. Not to mention the fact that they support their components forever (it's been like 7+ years for the predecessor to the KX-R, the K-1).

(4) imo, it's always nice when components look as beautiful as they sound; the Ayre reference gear can be proudly displayed anywhere.

(5) Note that Mike is using a system almost fully comprised of gear that comes from one dealer that has I'm sure made sure the voicing is ideal. Also, as I understand it, the woofers in his speakers are powered (see (2) above).

btw, I know of very few dealers that deal in Avalon, Spectral and Ayre. Are you in Singapore?
The dartzeel combination is magical. I resisted for many years to purchase the dartzeel preamp to mate with the dartzeel amplifier because of $$$$ but finally relented.

Its so natural, relaxed, yet transparent and detailed. I think it probably gives you almost all the benefits of tubes without the negatives!

I highly recommend the dartzeel especially for those with speakers that have powered woofers.

the other thing about dartzeel that is truly wonderful is you get to deal with a total knowledgable friendly class act like jonathan tinn at chambers audio. Many people claim to want to be your dealer for life but he is the only one who has truly come through in spades. A dealer as a that is a rare concept!!!

I have not heard the ayre combination so cannot say one is better than the other. In any event, each person's subjective taste in what they prefer, what they listen to, the speakers, and the nature of their listening room will likely dictate your ultimate happiness.

good luck

Bar 81,

i took no offense and don't think you intended offense by your comment;

5) Note that Mike is using a system almost fully comprised of gear that comes from one dealer that has I'm sure made sure the voicing is ideal.

OTOH your comment does infer that somehow the source of my gear means there is a need to combine my specific combination of gear to get my results from the dart amp and pre. i don't think there is any evidence to support that meaning. unless somehow my dealer sells the only gear that is musically accurate and natural sounding.

of course; there are many choices of gear which would compliment the darTZeel products and result in the same type perceptions i have written. any natural sounding speaker with a reasonable efficiency and impedence will sound exceptional with the darTZeel.....or let's say it will sound better on the darTZeel than most if not all other amps i have heard. the same with sources and so on.

The comment was not intended to imply that the dartzeel gear doesn't sound good; rather, just that your setup is an ideal case and that an in-home demo is a must.
Have not heard the DartZeel. My current set up include SF Memento, Ayre MXR and Wadia 581 SE and they sound magical. The Ayre mono amps are very special. I also heard Ayre MX-R and Ayre K1xe driven by Nagra player on Guarneri Memento and they also sound spectacular. In fact, Ayre equipment does match great with SF speakers.
Lucky boy, Guarneri/Ayre sounds closed in, syrupy even.
Teddy_bear, I think the reason you heard Guarneri Memento sounded close in and syrupy was the speakers were not broken in. I bought my GM new and the sound transformed after 10 hours of play and continue to improve.

Bar81, I never implied I made my decision from that short audition in dealer showroom. Yes, I am in Singapore now and I had the benefit to audition many brands within a few steps from each other. I will return to the dealer once the KX-R is back and hopefully it will create enough positive impression on me to the point I want to borrow them home. But if the sound remained hi-fi sounding, I will turn to Dartzeel instead.

I have no doubt Dartzeel is one of the most musical solid state right now, but I am still concern about the power rating. I know 100wpc is not created equally, but 100wpc is simply not enough for big speakers in a big room.

Search continues, hope the KX-R and Dartzeel will return to the dealers soon.
when it comes to high-end audio, "I" now have "The Latest and The Greatest"- LOL, well who can really claim to know what that is...? anyway, i humbly submit the following:
i recently upgraded my wires to transparent MM2, got an EMM-Lab CDSA cd player, and a mark levinson 326S preamp. i already had mark levinson 33h monoblocks and von schweikert vr9 speakers.
i didn't acquire all this stuff at the same time, of course. but i finally got the wire and the source components hooked up together recently. regarding break in- after a few hours, everything sounded ok to me.
well, actually more than ok. silky smooth, relaxed, no "soundstage"
because everything was simply wide open. as some reviewers like to phrase things- there isn't a "system" anymore, just the music and the room.
my preferences usually run to well-recorded redbook cd's by artists i feel capture the spirit of the music. anyway, i am still totally ignorant regarding some of the premium equipment mentioned above, but i can assure you that your own personal journey trying different components which enhance the music you are really crazy about (for me i have to start with the Baroque Era) can lead to unique combinations that hopefully reflects what YOU like, and what you felt was worth the price of admission.
Well, I made up my mind and went to a completely different direction.

I heard the Ayre combo a few times in dealer, I was not impressed. I don't expect to hear all the qualities in a dealer show room, but I also don't expect them to sound flat or even bad. I am sure they will sound better at my house, but everything sounds better at my house and I don't have time to bring home every piece to try.

I am sure Dartzeel is great too, but Dartzeel is slightly out of my reach financially even in used market.

So instead I went with another great pre amp from Germany to match my phono stage. It shares the same shunt volume control design as Ayre, in fact I believe this manufacture invented this design. It's tube base, so it has more bloom and air. Time will tell if the sound really fits my taste, but I know Ayre is not for me at this point.
Just stop. Glad you're happy; move on.
Semi, care to share a bit more about your new preamp...the name, manufacturer, cost ?

Cost about the same as Ayre KX-R, but quite a bit cheaper than Dartzeel. I ordered an Einstein pre which has tremendous dynamic, transparency, and extension, but the most important thing is it sounds like music especially with the right tube. Einstein also employs the volume control outside of audio signal to maintain signal integrity, I believe they invented and implemented the concept first.

To Bar81, this is a forum to exchange idea and share your experience. I believe your last post did nothing positive to the forum. I have no issue when people don't like the gears I own, I know everyone has his/her preferences. Yes, I am glad I found something I liked and glad to know you also found something you like, and yes please move on and stop wasting bandwidth of this thread so people can actually learn something from this thread.
Nobody is learning anything from your posts other than you seem to be hell bent on trashing Ayre when you have zero credibility with the product. Take your own advice.

sounds like you are happy with your choice, and that is all that counts. Enjoy !