You can't go wrong with the ARC. I have the Ayre V-5xe with the ARC Ref3. No complaints. I'm curious also if the Ayre pre could be a better combo. Hoping not. I have the Vandersteen 3A sigs.
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at this level of performance, you will want to audition the Ayre & ARC pre-amps for sure. Ultimately, if you like the ARC Ref 5, go ahead, and spring for the Ref 5 SE model. Clearly, there is a substantial difference in sound between the Ref 3, Ref 5 and Ref 5 SE.
Most importantly, which brand(s) of cabling do you plan to use in this system? Keep me posted & Happy Listening!
I use Ayre and Vandersteen. Personally, I would prefer an Ayre preamp.
"Most importantly, which brand(s) of cabling do you plan to use in this system? Keep me posted & Happy Listening!"
Why would that be more important than selecting a preamp? Maybe if you messed up and now have to fix a mistake, but in this case, it doesn't appear that the OP is making a poor choice either way. If you match your components properly, cable selection is easy.
Just saw this. Conrad congrats on getting the Vandy's. Which pre did you go with? What is your system now? Personally I use the Ayre AX5/Twenty and have the QX5 on order. Can't wait to hear it next weekend at Audio Connection/Ayre Northeast premier in Verona, NJ. I'm using the AQ cables. Loving the Castle Rock cable with the system.
Would love to hear what you ended up with. Thanks Pete
What a great time at Audio Connection on Sat. Even Michael Lavorgna showed up from Audiostream. This DAC will be special. Needs to break in first, but the bones are there in spades and the headphone amp is one of the best and balanced I've ever heard and it had 0 hours on it. Wait til that thing breaks in. I may have to get a pair of hifiman 1000's or LCD3/4's.
What it means is that it needs 300-500 to sound it's best, so with only 30 hours on it, it's not even close to what it will sound like. I spoke with someone who's listened to a fully broken in one and it's going to be just like my AX-5 Twenty.
As for how it sounded, it was excellent, but didn't blow me away as it wasn't fully extended early in the day, but around 6pm when folks left I went into the room and sat in the middle seat. Without all the folks in the room and warmed up I was blown away. I am not trying to use to many exciting words since it needs to break in, but out of the box it was sounding better than many of the 7k DAC's I've heard in the last year. I'm coming from an Empirical Audio full done ODSE/SE which I actually think is on par with the Berkley Ref DAC mk 2. Some feel that the Berkley is better, but I've heard the Berk recently in my own system and feel my old ODSE/SE was better in a few ways and on par in the rest. This DAC will not sound its' best until it breaks in, but not sure where you got the 'just okay' from. What I heard when I sat in the sweet spot and with it at least warm was outstanding, but the ceiling will be much much higher based on what I was told it sounds like burned in. I also love how versatile it is and I fell in love with Roon too. That's now a much for me.
String, I get it. I totally do. Johnny's not the only one I may do business with, but he's MY guy. I've visited so many of the high end store fronts over the years that I think I may have hit over 50% of them, lol. Nearly all of the major city stores at least. There are only a select few folks I've met that are as passionate and honest as Johnny is. Everyone has their own way about them and you can tell that some manufacturers have similar stores for their gear. There is a common thread that runs with Ayre dealers or Vandy dealers or Focal dealers or Wilson dealers etc... I notice that many of the Vandy dealers also carry Wilson and or B&W Diamond series. Different tastes for different clients. Just an observation and I"m sure by no means 100%, lol.
Where in AZ do you live now? I love the Phoenix area in all seasons not named Summer.