@jc51373, I reviewed amp options with my retailer, and he immediately demoed the Ayre AX-5 Twenty integrated amp. He also carries the Boulder 866 amp but strongly recommended the Ayre amp for its excellent build and sound quality. I eventually sold my SimAudio 700i V2 integrated amp and purchased the Ayre AX-5 Twenty integrated amp.
Integrated Amplifier decisions are complicated and absolutely required an audition at the store and your home audio system, if possible. And, yes, it seems everyone on Audiogon has a different opinion. My comments are based on my experience with several amps.
I like my new Ayre AX-5 Twenty amp very much. The sound is different in that the sound is more natural and less 'exaggerated' than my previous amps. This is very hard to put into words. The sound is there with no artificial extra stuff around it.
It seems my previous SimAudio 700i V2 integrated amp exaggerated the music, and this Ayre amp does not. The music sounds like music with no extra stuff in the way if that makes sense. I like this description since it describes what I am hearing.
The music is normal meaning it makes music, never adding color or stripping the musical recordings of their textures, feelings, and dynamics. The music from the AX-5 Twenty amp is relaxed and smooth without sounding dark or laid-back.
My Ayre amp sounds better than my previous Luxman 590ax II amp, my Hypex NCore NC400 Dual Mono Class D Power Amplifiers, my Mola Mola Kaluga Class D Mono Power Amplifiers (very disappointing) and my SimAudio 700i V2 amp. The music sounds natural, relaxed, and just right. I am listening to a classical piano album and love it. The music is sounding right. The sound is different than my SimAudio. It is more natural and less exaggerated.
Based on my experience with the above-mentioned amps, every amp has a different sound depending on it, the associated equipment, and your listening room. The only way to know what sounds great, is to listen using your components in your home. Obviously, I made some expensive mistakes but, more important, I learned what sound I like and did not like.
My friend said “my progression of gear were not expensive mistakes but rather a wonderful learning experience. It was an experience that only I could have in my home”. Does this make sense? I hope this help. Thanks....