Passlabs XA .5 vs Ayre MXR

Has anybody compared the Passlabs XA .5 to Ayre MXR. I suspect the XA160.5 would be about the same price league as the MXR. I am looking for vividness and clarity, but a good base is important too. Thanks.
I had mentioned a while back on an old thread that had auditioned the Ayre MXR's and thought they were ok, but no were as "musical" and lacked the liquidity of my Pass Labs XA-100's.

Of course personnal taste and system synergy are always going to alter what the listner experiences, but that was my experience at listening to the two sets of amps.
My experience with SS amps is that they are on the dry and cold side from reality. Since the XA100 is designed to be in the middle of SS and tube, do you find it tipping to the other side, being warmer and prettier than reality. Also do you have enough base in the music. I heard that the XA .5 series is a major improvement over the XA as well.
I think the .5 is a "major" improvement if you have speakers with unsmooth impedance curves with dips below 4ohms - the .5 is better able to handle that, with a speaker that is "tube" friendly I can't imagine much if any difference as they don't need huge current to run their best, they are made to sound good with tubes (the XA are more like tubes in that sense than the .5 - the follow a voltage paradigm). Don't know abouth this warm/cold divide, the XA30.5 sounded true in terms of timbre. Ultimatelyu I prefer tubes with my speakers becuase I like the soundstaging effects caused by tube distortion (more 3D and layered to my ears).
I have nothing bad to say at all about Pass, especially as I always really liked the older Alph amps Nelson made. However, having had the MXR's for almost two years (and the KRX since March of this year), I can heartily recommend them. The MXRs have been revelatory with my Vandersteen 5As. Obviously, there will always be a system synergy issue, and everyone has their own tastes, but I don't believe there to be any "solid state" sound or compromise to the MXRs at all. In fact, I know several MXR owners who were, before switching to the MXRs, die-hard tube amplifier owner/proponents, largely because of the generally dry/thin nature of solid state traditionally when compared with the best tube amps. Either way, at the level you are talking about, it is critical to have an in-home test drive of both units to see how they respond to your system and how you respond to them. Good luck and gool listening. - Pete -
Proth..I am running the 5A's with Ayre V1xe and K1xe... Have you heard that combination and compared it to yours?
Speaker match is critical, obviously Richard likes the Ayre for his speakers as he showed with them a few times, including RMAF last month. No doubt these are the two SS designers at the top of my list (and the Symphonic Line guy in Germany, and Richard Brown and BEL).
Which amp is highly dependent on speaker match? Is it the XA160.5 or the MXR?
I suspect that both amps would be electrically compatible with any speakers assuming enough power, by match in this case I mean that Richard likes the way the Ayre makes his speakers sound; you could be pretty sure that the Ayre is a pretty good match with the Vandersteen's sound signature. That being said, I can't imagine the XA160.5 couldn't make most speakers dance as well. These are among the finest SS amps made IMHO and can't see why both would not work well. Since the Vandersteen's bass is self-powered, I can't imagine either amp being a problem. Really I think this is a toss up and is just a matter of taste - they are both great amps - I can see why you ask for help in deciding, but I'm not sure there is any defintive answer hear as neither one s*&^%ks. Not a bas position to be in.

We seem to get a lot of press with our gear partnered with Vandersteen speakers but we have a lot of dealers that are successful with Sonus Faber and Wilson audio.
Recently, Wilson Audio purchased a pair of MX-R amps. At CES this year we plan on showing with Sonus Faber.

In the end it is always best to try the product at home and make sure it is what you want.

Best regards,


Ayre Acoustics
Steve, thank you for commenting on the CES. It would be nice if you could hook the MXR to SF Elipsa. Stereophile gave an average review for Elipsa, but my initial listening to this speaker is so positive that I tend to discount reviews out there.
Stringreen: Prior to moving up to the "R" class, I had the K-5xe/V-5xe combo. I considered moving to the "1" class, but that was before hearing what the MXR could do, it really is much better than the V-1xe. If the jump between V-1 to MXR was big, the difference from the K-1 to the KXR is enormous. Charlie, Steve, Ariel and the rest of the gang are rightly very very proud. This is a home run product that will stand the test of time. I know the "R" class is significantly more expensive, but when you consider how it will be at the cutting edge for a decade or more, and the enjoyment derived, to me it was a total no-brainer. - Pete -