Preamps: Ayre K-5xeMP vs Pass Labs XP-10 vs Arcam C49


I used to own the Ayre K-5xeMP and it's still the best preamp I've ever owned. I sold it in the interest of trying something different.

With that said, has anyone compared the K-5xeMP with the Pass Labs XP-10 or the Arcam C49? I know the latter isn't perceived to be in the same class as Ayre and Pass Labs, but I'm curious to hear any impressions. It has hardly any press (no reviews that I've seen).
wasquatch
Funny you should list an Arcam, I find the sound quite similar to the Ayres. Pass....I wish I got more excited about them than I do.

Haven't actually heard an Arcam pre-, just an integrated.
@erik_squires Which Arcam integrated did you listen to? Did you find them technically close to Ayre components, or was the general warmish tonality the only similarity?    

Yeah I don't think I've actually meet someone who's heard any Arcam preamp, let alone the C49. 
I find Arcam and Ayre close due to the calm and quiet presentation. Not sure what you mean about "technically."


sorry I don't remember the model. I was auditioning DACs at the time.
@erik_squires  By "technically" I mean in terms of soundstage and detail retrieval. Sorry, I should have explained that better.
Well I thought it was very good. I was auditioning a very warm DAC, the ARC DAC 8 and the airiness and imaging came through in spades, however this was not a side-by-side comparison.
Thanks, really appreciate your feedback!
Wait for the new Pass Labs XP-12!

http://positive-feedback.com/industry-news/pass-labs-xp-12-preamplifier/
@don_c55 Well now that's an interesting development... thanks for sharing!
@OP, I am using the K5xeMP now and I agree, it is a sweet preamp, and also the best preamp I've used up to this point. So why don't you either buy another one, or if upgrading, buy the KX5-20 or the KXR-20, depending on budget.
@nitewulf That's actually what I'm leaning towards now. I wanted to try something different just for kicks, but the Ayre was so good that I can't quite get its sound out of my head. I'm temporarily using a Parasound P5 and it's a radical difference. It's lacking in depth and is much more forward. Treble definition and timbre isn't as good and sounds dry in comparison to the K-5xeMP. It's funny because the Parasound is quite good for its price point, but the Ayre was on a different level.
@wasquatch, I think the most comparable Parasound would be the Halo JC2 linestage. Which was on my shortlist when shopping. But honestly I am so impressed with the Ayre sound that I think I will stick with Ayre amplification gear for the future.
(((I used to own the Ayre K-5xeMP and it's still the best preamp I've ever owned.)))
 That says it right there.
Sometimes you really miss it only when its gone.
 Best JohnnyR

One of my setups uses a JC 2 BP and JC 1 monoblocks to drive KEF Reference 107/2s, another uses an Ayre K-5exMP and VX-5 Twenty KEF to drive KEF LS50s.  Though the speakers are obviously very different, my general observation is that the Ayre based setup sounds a bit warmer, whatever the acoustic correlates of warmer are.  Someday, I expect to try the Ayre stuff with the big KEFs, and hope to have replaced my K-5xeMP with a KX-5 Twenty to match the amp.

The Parasound setup uses an Esoteric SA-60 disc player, the Ayre setup an Ayre C-5xeMP.
Thanks everyone for your feedback. I did indeed just end up nabbing another K-5xeMP off the listings here and have been happily listening to it for the past several days. I decided to not roll the dice with a preamp I had not heard in my system and go with what had made me happy in the past. Funny how the compulsion to upgrade in this hobby sometimes leads you back to where you started.