Rythmik Audio's PEQ plate amps provide both line-level inputs on RCA jacks, and high-level inputs (from a power amp) on speaker cable binding posts. REL's and Vandersteen's also have provisions for high-level inputs.
53 responses Add your response
Its real simple
We did this experiment with Epos and 17 other cute boxes
Borrow a pair of Vandersteen 1Cis their Boxless and Phase and time correct design and matching w Ayre will take full advantage of the Ayre's Balanced bridged zero feedback design.
It should instantly be obvious making bass and all else is amazingly better.
Johnny Cash's voice, as well as many other things, will be predictably more genuine, as well while speakers soundstage will seem to disappear and have a completeness that you will never get with a Box and sub.
With Ayre you are 50 percent there Vandy should make it 100%
In addition to the fact that the AX-7e doesn’t provide volume-controlled outputs from its preamp section, there are significant potential issues if its speaker-level outputs are connected to a sub. Note the following statement in its manual:
The Ayre AX-7e drives the loudspeakers with balanced outputs. Since none of the output terminals are grounded, connecting any of them to ground may result in damage to the amplifier. Do not connect the loudspeaker outputs to any speaker switch-box, accessory, or test equipment that has a common ground connection.The negative speaker-level input terminal of many and probably most powered subs which provide speaker-level inputs is connected to AC safety ground through a low impedance, or in some cases perhaps even directly. In those cases connecting the negative speaker-level input terminal of the sub to the negative output terminal of the amp risks damage to both the amp and the sub, depending on how circuit ground and AC safety ground are interconnected within both the sub and the amp.
And what would probably be a much worse possibility is that if you were to use just one sub, and if that sub provides inputs for two channels, if you were to connect the sub’s two negative input terminals to the two negative output terminals of the amp the result would most likely be a direct short between the amp’s two negative output terminals.
An approach that would probably work ok, which REL recommends for use in such cases, would be to connect the sub’s negative input terminal(s) to a chassis screw on the amp. Although it is possible that hum could result with that approach, depending on the specific designs that are involved. An even better approach, IMO, would be to solder the wire from the sub’s negative input terminal(s) to the ground shell of an RCA plug, leaving the center pin unconnected, and inserting that plug into an unused RCA connector on the amp.
So in other words, the Ayre is relatively un-user-friendly for adding subs into my system. At this point, per JohnnyR’s recommendation, should I look at a full-range speaker option and lose the monitors + sub idea? First time i’ve actually had a twinge of regret owning the Ayre. Love the sound, but what's up with that?
((((First time I’ve actually had a twinge of regret owning the Ayre. Love the sound, but what's up with that)))
The Ayre is Awesome you are only able to move a little bass in a small design speaker.
Lifestyle speaker systems Sat/Woof have their place are popular, but not rarely special.
Vandy and Ayre are very sophisticated and specifically designed to be a Form following function designed system firstly.
This means performance is the main design agenda first. Specialty audio has its meaning is that few people care.
Of course, you can follow whats popularly or if you want something special stay open-minded and realize the Advantage why Ayre does its Balance differential zero feedback design and borrow a pair of Vandy 1Cis and engage your own opinion of what Bill Evens or Ray Brown should sound like.
I predict at that moment you will then see how special the Ayre truly is.
Vandersteen/ Ayre dealer
Though I am biased toward Vandersteen, I have to second Johnny's recommendation.
Your speakers are probably the weakest part of your system, and the M5 are the lower end of the Epos offerings.
That being said, the Ayre integrated that you have is a very good unit and if paired with Vandersteen 1's would probably knock you out of your seat.
And, the price for a used pair is very reasonable.
I also am using the AX-7e in my office with a pair of Zu Omen Bookshelf speakers and HSU VTF-1 subs.
The Ayre handles them at line level with no problem.
When funds come available, I am going to get a pair of Vandersteen VLR's to replace the Zu's.
I also am using the AX-7e in my office with a pair of Zu Omen Bookshelf speakers and HSU VTF-1 subs.Hi Bob,
Doesn’t that mean you have to adjust the volume control on the sub whenever you change the volume of the signals provided to the main speakers, to keep them at the proper level relative to each other?
Thanks for all of the feedback and suggestions. It’s a fair point that the M5s are the weak link. They’ve served me just fine in the mid/upper freqs for the last 12 years and so I’ve really wanted to fill out the low end in a way that wasn’t going to amount to new speakers. But the Vandersteens sound like a serious top-to-bottom upgrade so perhaps I need to approach it more holistically. I just don’t want another set of speakers, however amazing, that still leave me wanting substantially more bass. I don’t have new mains AND a sub in the bank account right now.
I have an AX-7e with a REL T-9 and it sounds great, but has some serious caveats that have been pointed out here.
1. The speaker inputs of the REL are isolated and do indeed work with the Ayre's balanced outputs, as well as other tricky ones like Class D amps. However you need to connect the ground wire of the REL to the chassis on the Ayre, NOT a negative speaker terminal. I wound up drilling a hole in my Ayre chassis to install a binding post. This was a serious PITA because the Ayre bottom chassis is stainless steel which unlike aluminum is very hard. It's doable with the right drill bit (cobalt) and some drilling fluid, but not a lot of fun. Plus you are mangling the chassis, but whatever, it's just a small hole that is easily patched with a screw. (I can show you a picture.)
1b. After I drilled the hole, I realized a much easier solution was to use one of the screws that secure the XLR jacks. These are grounded, and actually this cheap Radio Shack binding post I had lying around was the exact same screw size/thread, and I could have just screwed it in there. Oh well... it kind of blocks one of the XLR inputs that way anyway.
2. This wiring setup works, HOWEVER, if you turn off the Ayre, you will get a fairly loud hum from the REL. This is because the Ayre outputs are floating and not referenced to ground at all. I haven't figured out a way to get around this short of modifying the Ayre with a dedicated output for the sub with a muting relay. Referencing the speaker outputs to ground with a high-value resistor would probably muck up the sound to some degree. Anyway, my solution is to leave the Ayre powered up at all times, which sounds better anyway...
Other than these major inconveniences, I highly recommend REL with the AX-7e - the T-9 blends seamlessly with even difficult speakers (I heard you can even use it with Maggies!), and it should go well with your Epos. I've used them with Merlin TSM's as well as multiple Role Audio and Silverline speakers with satisfying results. Placement is easy (just follow REL's recommendation of tucking it in the corner) and as long as you follow their conservative "augmentation" approach of keeping the x-over point and level low, it will not only not interfere with the mids and highs, but actually make them sound better by balancing out the spectrum.
I am not sure I agree with the recommendations to upgrade to a specific speaker based solely on the match with your Ayre. It sounds like Ayre + Vandersteen is a nice combo but there are a lot of considerations and personal tastes involved. If you really want to turn this into a speaker hunt, this is a totally different discussion that I'd be happy to chime in on too! But on your original topic, hopefully the above info helps. :)
p.p.s. I’m enjoying the $1k REL with a $7500 monitor speaker right now. I’m not saying it’s perfect but subwoofer vs better speaker is certainly not an either-or proposition. In fact the point of a good subwoofer is to augment the bottom 2 octaves where it’s very difficult to get proper room loading from 2 speakers positioned for best imaging and tonal balance. If you do get a good sub it should survive an upgrade to the Epos, and even help a speaker that has good bass. And in a room as small as yours, I think a full range speaker could be a bad idea - monitor + sub will likely be a lot easier to tune well.
((And in a room as small as yours, I think a full range speaker could be a bad idea - monitor + sub will likely be a lot easier to tune well.))
Well, easy isn't always best.
The reason I disagree a single sub by the time he hears the bass for what op has paid for can easily overload that room spoiling or confusing what he already has right in the midrange balance, to begin with, it's still a can of worms.
2 properly adjusted small subs work better than one but forward firing drivers tend to draw more attention away chuffing and mooing with artifacts. The Vandy ICIs/Ayre pairing 90 DB effeicient lets bass into the room at 4 points 2 front and 2 back low to the floor transmission line allowing a smoother even in-room response
with its boxless midrange performance.
Vandersteen/ Ayre dealer
Taww 4-2-2018A solution might be the suggestion I made earlier:
... An even better approach, IMO, would be to solder the wire from the sub’s negative input terminal(s) to the ground shell of an RCA plug, leaving the center pin unconnected, and inserting that plug into an unused RCA connector on the amp.That would result in a direct (essentially zero ohm) connection between the circuit grounds of the sub and the amp. While I would expect in the case of an Ayre or other well designed amp connecting to chassis would interpose a significant impedance between the two circuit grounds, resulting in the possibility of hum as I had mentioned. Although whether or not my suggestion would be helpful when the amp is turned off is probably not predictable, since as you alluded to the outputs of the amp are not in a controlled state in that situation.
In any event, thanks for your informative and well written posts.
My office rig is in a relatively small room (10'x10'), so I don't play music loudly and usually within a small range of volume. In any case, after setting things up the way I liked, I don't find the need to adjust the subs' volume. In fact, I hardly have them outputting, as the Zu's have pretty good bass output by themselves.
... An even better approach, IMO, would be to solder the wire from the sub’s negative input terminal(s) to the ground shell of an RCA plug, leaving the center pin unconnected, and inserting that plug into an unused RCA connector on the amp.That would result in a direct (essentially zero ohm) connection between the circuit grounds of the sub and the amp.
Hi @almarg - I don't believe that would work because the RCA grounds are not referenced to circuit ground. In fact they are totally isolated from one another, I verified this with a multimeter. The Ayre circuit is fully differential from input to output so I believe they treat the RCA ground the same as an inverting signal, which I'm guessing is why Ayre gear doesn't sound great with single-ended sources (a phase splitter or transformer coupling would better drive the balanced circuit, though at the cost of another passive/active stage).
The impedance from chassis to circuit ground is negligible - there's a single star grounding point in the middle of the PCB where the ground plane is exposed to the screw, which goes through a brass standoff to the chassis. I also had this impedance concern but I measured and it was in the 10's of milliohms, and there is no hum whatsoever. However if I were taking my mod further, yes, I would put a ring connector under that grounding screw, making direct contact with the ground plane, and wire that to a proper connector for the subwoofer output. My more elaborate plan was to do this, add a muting relay and hooking it up to a 1/4" TRS connector with 10 ohm series resistors isolate/protect against shorts. I decided it wasn't worth the trouble though. :)
The reason I disagree a single sub by the time he hears the bass for what op has paid for can easily overload that room spoiling or confusing what he already has right in the midrange balance, to begin with, it's still a can of worms.
Hi Johnny - definitely a potential issue, but I have not had any of these problems at all with the REL in a few different setups. They do work better with a speaker that has reasonable extension (say, -6dB @ 60Hz) and a smooth rolloff, so you can keep the crossover point low. I am not sure if the OP's Epos fits the bill. Also remember that REL does not have any sort of high-pass for the mains, so they are expected to run full range. It is truly "bass augmentation" only.
as an Ayre VX-R, then Twenty owner for many years..i always found the factory very responsive both via email and phone....i would touch base with them....
as one who has been acused of being a Vandersteen fan boy.. ( I own just 3 pair ), the model one transmission line will shock you with how low it goes and the definition is excellent
my buck fifty
@tomic601 transmission lines are the bomb. I haven't heard the Vandersteen but have heard a couple of Bud Fried's old designs, as well as the Role Audio models. They have a tuneful bass quality that's unique to the alignment.
Agree it's always a good call to contact the manufacturer. Fairly certain the answer will be the same as what has been discussed here though. I scoured the internet and experimented a ton looking for alternative solutions, only to find Charlie Hansen in another forum outlining basically what I said above. Not much you can do to get around the circuit topology. *shrug*
ya man, for sure...for a brief period a store i worked at in late 70’s carried Frieds
.....so right..they were good....we had them, Thiel and Shahinian....
well the circuit topology is a big part of the Ayre magic, along with lack of feedback...Charloe was not shy on posting, so my guess is you got tge approach right...RIP Mr. Hansen
good luck on your quest
Cool, I’ll look into the 1Ci ... price is right for what it purports.
@taww: Thinking about your remarks re: limitations of the Ayre single-ended. I’ve wondered what I’m losing running my RP8-->Lehmann Decade single-ended-->Ayre. My Schiit DAC running balanced into the Ayre brings me to tears. But I feel like I’m never really going to hear vinyl totally right unless I figure out a balanced path. So, what, I save next for the P-5xe, too? Grr.
@taww, thanks for the good info. Between the commonality of circuit ground and chassis ground and your finding that the RCA inputs are apparently treated as if they were balanced the design is certainly different than what I was envisioning. So, yes, my suggestion of connecting a sub’s negative speaker-level input terminal to the ground shell of an RCA input connector would not be suitable, for either you or the OP.
Just as a matter of curiosity, though, I wonder if the tape out RCA connectors are being provided with a balanced pair of signals, or if (as I would expect to be more likely) the ground shells of those particular connectors are connected to circuit ground. Although even if those ground shells are connected to circuit ground it would seem unlikely that connecting the negative sub wire to one of them would provide any benefit compared to a chassis connection, given that you’ve found chassis and circuit ground to be common.
great thread guys. It's funny, because it made me think of what system I'd put together for a second room in the house. I'd probably get the Vandersteen 1's and then a Belles Aries integrated or another used Ayre AX7e with Audioquest Rocket speaker cables and then a good source.
The cool thing about the 1's is that they scale up really well. I have a friend who has them and has put them in his main system on occasion (all top Audio Research ref gear) and marveled at how good they sounded. To me that's a wonderful test to see how good a speaker really is. I loved those old Bud Fried designs. Thanks for bringing up that name.
@jazztherapist the AX7e definitely sounds best with a balanced source, but I’ve found it quite acceptable with single-ended, e.g. my Monarchy NM24 tube DAC still sounds quite good, as does the single-ended output of the PS Audio DirectStream DAC vs. its balanced output. Ayre apparently made some adjustments in the Evolution revision that improved performance with single-ended. YMMV though depending on the setup.
@almarg that’s an interesting question. I went and checked though and it appears the tape outs are also floating. I don’t have a schematic but it seems like Ayre is pretty consistent and obsessive about keeping everything truly differential and isolated.
@ctsooner if you go the AX7e route, definitely try it with upgraded input and supply caps. Little discussed fact, the AX7e is capacitor coupled at the input due to the bipolar input stage (AD844 opamp to be precise), and this has a large influence on the sound. The stock metallized polypropylene caps are quite transparent, but a bit lean/bright as Ayre was wont to voice their stuff back then. (I’ve heard they mellowed out a bit with the Twenty series, but haven’t heard them - dying to try the AX5 Twenty.) I’m using Jantzen Alumen Z-caps with terrific results, uber smooth and just a tiny hint of romanticism but still detailed and transparent. Also upgraded the supply caps to larger Mundorfs which improved dynamics, filled out the bottom end and made the mids and highs cleaner and more complete. The combination of those upgrades has made my system tremendously resolving yet natural and fatigue-free - vs. the stock unit, it’s more filled out and organic, and much less grainy - less "solid state" if you will. With the DirectStream Junior DAC, Silverline SR 17 Supreme speakers and Audience cables, I’ve reached a new level of "closeness to the source" that reminds me of listening to live mic feeds back in my conservatory days. The only thing I’m craving now is more power and low-end grunt, so looking at some more $$$ options like the AX5, Pass, Herron, Constellation, etc...
Also don’t forget to tape the heatsinks as Charlie suggested, takes some of the upper midrange glare off. :)
taww, I was just saying it would make a great little system. My main system is a pair of Vandersteen Quatro CT's in Audi Havana Black, Ayre AX5/20, Ayre QX5 DAC/HP AMP/streamer, Mac mini rebuilt by Steven Nugent with Paul Hynes LPS and Steve's silver umbilical cord. I use an Audio Quest TOTL WEL balanced interconnect, AQ Diamond USB cable and AQ Castlerock speaker cables. I use an AQ Niagara with Basis cable for power distribution.
Upgrades on the way or about to happen include a new The Memory Player https://www.thememoryplayer.net with the built in DAC and Sam is installing a headphone amp/jack for my Empire Ears custom Phantom's. That will replace the Ayre QX5 adn the Mac mini. I will then be thinking about the new Vandersteen's mono blocks either run directly from TMP or with a top preamp. I also love the new to US Gryphon integrated amps, so who knows.
Constellation makes some great gear too. My buddy loves his.
@ctsooner yup understood, was mostly sharing those tips more broadly. I remember your rig from another thread, sounds VERY NIICE as Borat would say. :)
Not to hijack the thread, but AX5, Pass, Constellation, Gryphon, and Chord are some of the SS amps/integrateds I’m exploring right now. I might get a Bryston in and was thinking of hearing the Simaudio 600v2, but I have a feeling the other options are more what I’m looking for.
I run two JL Audio E112’s in a 12’ x 11’ x 9’ room and they provide smooth musical bass with my 805S mains. Without the subs the bass was boomy and unnatural. Prior to moving this system into this new “small” room I was concerned the subs would be impossible to use in such tight quarters. To the contrary, they pulled the sound together and drastically improved the rooms sonic attributes.
I have a very large room, it's about 9000 cubic feet and I have tried quite a few subs. I brought in four different subs from SVS including the fancy Ultra SB16, a massive Paradigm 2000SW, an older vintage Def Tech 15 inch sub and finally two different offerings from Axiom Audio out of Ontario. The reason I wanted to try the Axiom subs was because they are the manufacturer for the Bryston speakers and I have a pair of Bryston Model T's for my main speakers and they are absolutely outstanding and can take whatever you want to feed them with (I am feeding each speaker with 2000 watts RMS with a pair of M1 mono blocks running off of dedicated 240V 15 amp inputs). The build quality of the Brystons is as good as it gets and they are built with all parts made in Canada at the Axiom facility, no Chinese parts please.
So I first ordered in the EP500 V4 which is a sealed cabinet 12 inch driver and a 500 watts class D amp. What I like about the Axiom amps is that the power supplies are not switching design as SVS, JL Audio, etc... most everyone uses actually; the Axiom uses a Toroid/high capacitance supply as is found in amps like the Bryson monster amps. In fact Axiom builds the sub amps and cross overs for Bryston speakers. Bryston of course builds all of their own power amps and they are beasts. The dynamic head room in the Axiom Subs is amazing, the subs do not run out of gas at all. I was so impressed with the EP500, that I decided to get the EP800, which is a huge towering sub. It has dual 12 inch drivers and an 800 watt rms amp. I will tell you that these subs with power ratings which are half of the others out there which I tried, are just massively more powerful.
Compared to the SVS subs, well there isn't a comparison, the Axiom's are far more musical, more controllable and don't have odd one note bumps in the range. These are flat, and I mean perfect. Plus with the phase control, I can dial the subs in with the main speakers in under 15 seconds for the most perfect syncing. I am extremely impressed and very pleased. Plus Ian built my EP800 with a custom DSP algorithm which is switchable for a 6 db boost in the middle bass for those times I want to really put the sub into high gear. These subs are all hand built to order, you cannot beat it. I highly recommend reviewing their website before you spend a lot of money on any particular brand. And by the way, there are speaker level inputs/outputs on the back in addition to unbalanced or balanced input (I use the balanced inputs, it made a substantial difference over the unbalance).
the thing that folks really need to keep in mind when dealing with subs is how well they mate wiht their speakers. This is a very difficult thing to do since there are just so many variables. What works for some may not work for others. I love how the Vandersteen EQ will smooth the response in any set up, plus his amp will take on the same sound as your main amp, but will they sound coherent with your speakers? They may or they may not.
The same thing goes with anyone else subs. I have found so many folks using subs to just give more bass in a system. All too often the subs can be heard as that's what so many want. My personal feeling is that you will never hear a sub person say. This is why I feel strongly that any sub really needs to be used by overlapping an octave with the main speakers similar to the way a crossover may work.
As someone who loves his AX-7e so much he had Ayre install high-pass crossover caps so he could use it to drive a pair of Quatro CTs, I’d build your system around this component. I used to drive a pair of monitors + subs, but my GMA Callistos could play -3 dB @ 47 Hz (I think), so my subs (plural) would cross-over around 40 Hz. Subs would cross-over much higher to augment the Epos. I’d spend your sub budget on fuller-range speakers. I’m also a big fan of the Ayre / Vandersteen combo.
As someone who has ownand used a pair of Vandersteen 2WQ's for many years I don't think either they or the new Vandersteen subs would ever work with the speakers you have now that have a minimal bass response in the 50's hz range.That is not the type of speaker they were designed to work with. I like other posters would recommend you look into a full range speaker first whether it be the venerable Ici or even a used 2CE Sig. There are also many others so you need to get out and listen for yourself.
@jazztherapist if you do decide to move on from the Epos and continue building your system around the AX7e, one thing that may help narrow the search is focusing on speakers that are reasonably efficient (at least 87db/watt) and a relatively easy load. E.g. stay clear of 4 ohm speakers, 6 ohm and above with relatively stable impedance curves are better. The AX7e uses small output devices and is not a high current design so it doesn't deal well with dips and swings. That may be one of the reasons the Vandersteen 1ci works well, it is specified at 6.8 ohms +/- 2 ohms which is very stable. My current speaker is relatively efficient and forgiving, and does sound good with it, but I do think it could be better with a more powerful amp - the maker told me it loves current (Dynaudio Esotar drivers are known for being that way). I have things at the other end of the spectrum lined up (e.g. Bryston 4B3) to test that theory.
The Vandy subs use crossovers at the 80 to 90hz frequency, so will more than likely be able to work with just about any speaker.
The OP could use the 2wq's with his integrated if he sent it to Ayre to have it modified to include the crossover caps. But, it would make more sense to move to a pair of Vandersteen, as well.
of course there are other good options. We just happen to be vocal. I have enjoyed many speakers out there in various set ups. I like the Maggies a lot. I like the ET's for the price if I'm the only one listening. In the upper ranges I like the Tidal's, Rockports, Kharma's and a few others. Most to me in the upper ranges are so large that they raise the soundstage and don't sound good to me.
What any in the Vandy crowd will also say is to go listen for yourself to various speakers. Then use YOUR ears and don't listen to what a sales person may or may not be telling you. Make sure to take the remote away from the sales person as they will OFTEN raise and lower the volume DURING the song to show off dynamics etc...
Bring your own music adn don't just listen to what they have hand chosen to show off the best of the speakers. Listen for the worst of them. Can you be happy with the trade offs the maker has had to make. All speakers, regardless of cost, will have a trade off.
Vandy's to me are a great speaker and in the various price ranges are the ones that I have chosen to put my money on. Since it's my money, why would I get something that I didn't feel was the best in my price range? It works great with the zero feedback, high current Ayre AX5/20 I have. I had the 7e, but the 5/20 is a different beast all together.
OP can buy whatever he or she wants and should. That's fine, but when posting on a board, they will get so many options and opinions and it's up to them to figure out what way to go. Subs are such a slippery slope for all the reason's posted already in this thread. For so many who do upgrades or add a sub or change cables or power filters etc.... they need to figure out if it's worth the money and can they get something better that would sound better than the upgrade.
How much will a pair of good subs cost? If OP were to sell their speakers and then add the cost of a good set of subs, then how much would they have. Then they can go figure out what full range speaker they could purchase that would work wiht their current system. Often times this is the best way to go, but not always.
I'm a huge Vandersteen fan since I have spent a fair amount of money with them over the last 5 years. I feel blessed daily for being able to own them. If I were to consider the 5k purchase of a set of new subs, I have to ask myself, is this the best place to put 5k into the system. This is just my thought process and I know most don't do it this way.
So at this point I'm quite happy to check the 1Ci out and see if it does it for me. I'm quite hoping it does and that it has the low end I need to not pine after subs.
That being said, between the Ayre and Vandy lovers here, I haven't heard anyone cop to the fact that the AX-7e requires, relative to other integrateds, some considerable gymnastics to integrate subs. I just find that odd in a modern amp. Don't get me wrong, I love the Ayre. And if the Vandy floor standers solve my issues, then great, but if someone wants significant bass with a bookshelf setup, how does this amp make sense? Really just a curiosity to me at this point. I don't need to be sold on either the Ayre or the Vandy. I'm more interested in how folks engage the design issue.
It’s really not that complicated - I did it for years: Connect the sub speaker level, positive leg only. Connect the negative leg of the sub to the chassis of the amplifier. No need for high-end cable; just use hookup wire. Easy.
You’re missing the fact that the Ayre integrated is fully-balanced. This is why the approach needs a bit more consideration than other amps.
@ctsooner I think you mistake me for the anti-Vandy crowd. :) Not taking issue with your liking and recommending a brand, and certainly not trying to start a flame war or even a debate. But my general sense is there is a tendency here (and on the internet, and in society in general) for people to take a perfectly legitimate personal perspective, e.g. "I've tried Brands A, B and C and I really like A for these reasons, maybe you will like it too," and begin pushing it into the realm of "THIS IS THE ABSOLUTE BEST FOR YOU IT WILL FIX ALL YOUR PROBLEMS."
This is by no means limited any particular "crowd," and my observation is it leads to polarization and ultimately less helpful information for people like the OP. When we start obsessing over brands, we stop talking about the concrete pros and cons of the products (keeping in mind that EVERY product has tradeoffs) and it becomes hard to process anything useful. Of course we assume a "YMMV" caveat on what people say here, but I do feel this tendency is rampant and detracts from the quality of discussion. So I might be (over-)reacting here and trying to adjust for that.
(I'm a reviewer on the side, so I try to hold myself to a pretty high standard in terms of providing a useful, balanced perspective - I blog @ www.taww.co. But ultimately of course this is just a forum, and people are free to say what they like. )
That all said, I do take a bit of issue with this notion that a subwoofer is not worth the trouble. I agree this is the case with the vast majority of traditional subwoofer setups. At the risk of contradicting my anti-fanboy rant, I wouldn't lump REL subs into the same bucket as others. I really have found my REL T-9 very versatile - much more so than an earlier REL model I tried and returned maybe 15 years ago - and with very little downside with a wide variety of speakers. I also use a single sub and it works just fine. Maybe my standards for bass are a little lower, but keep in mind, bass-limited speakers have advantages over full-range ones too. The larger, more resonant cabinets and/or more complex crossovers of floorstanding speakers require a lot of skill (and usually expense) to tame vs. smaller monitors. I find when one goes from the 2-way to 3-way/floorstanding offering in a manufacturer's line, many aspects of sound quality (particularly speed and coherence) actually take a step backwards, and it can take a lot of money to get those back in the larger format. That's why the 2-way monitor format continues to thrive and is often the best compromise in a wide variety of circumstances, the key operating word being "compromise" - everything is a tradeoff. In my own case, I'm only now starting to look at floorstanders more seriously now that I can stretch my budget closer to the $10k range (e.g., I'm interested in hearing the Vandy Treos/Quattros). But given OP's ~$1200 budget (I think?), finding a floorstander with the focus and crispness of a good monitor may be tough, even on the used market. In that context, I wouldn't rule out a sub, it could potentially add a lot of enjoyment to his system.
@nrenter I agree, dealing with the Ayre is not that bad, and just one of the things you have to live with given the balanced architecture. I don't think the OP is necessarily "missing" that, just hoping for a better solution. I do think Ayre could have made life easier by providing a ground post (I'm guessing they did not do this because people don't understand what a ground post is for and would just hook up the wrong things to it and muck up the sound). Also the hum when putting the amp in standby is annoying, it means I have to burn ~60w continuously leaving the amp powered, or go turn of the sub every time. I use the sub for the TV as well so that's not an option.
@jazztherapist another speaker option is something like the Silverline Prelude, a little above budget ($1500) but you may be able to find one used. I reviewed the original model maybe 10 years ago and thought it was very good, making good on its promise of sounding like a focused mini-monitor with bass punch and dynamics. It’s been revised and improved since I reviewed it, and I know other Silverline models work well with the Ayre. It’s an easy load and pretty efficient. It won’t do sub-40Hz bass but will give your music a solid foundation. If you go used, find out when it was manufactured - the newer models have a different tweeter (silk vs. titanium) and some improvements. If you’re serious about it, I can ask Silverline’s Alan Yun to lend me a pair to try with my AX7e.
If you really like the bookshelf format and can figure out how to stretch your budget later, I recently reviewed the Minuet Grand ($2k). Even if you can’t afford that, it might give you a sense of the Silverline "house" sound, and what you can expect if you step up from the Epos.
Going even further up, if oomph is what you crave, I have a feeling you’ll really like the Dynaudio Special 40, but that’s way out of range ($3k) and I think the speaker deserves more current than the AX7e can deliver. I will think about some more options closer to $1k. I’m almost afraid to mention Elac as it triggers some strong responses here. :) But I will say I was pretty impressed with the UniFi UB5 in a modest setup. It’s full and punchy, but quite inefficient and the impedance dips low - Elacs tend to have complicated crossovers, I have a feeling they’re a no-go for the AX7e.
(@ctsooner you are more than justified to call me out for being a Silverline fanboy now. :-D )
Ttw the reviewer I know you mean well here yet
it seems like when the folks speak on the best selling specialty market speakers of all times , expressing genuine helpful ideas ,and some at this over 27 years plus share confident opinions you want to dismiss them with a politically correct mainstream latest trend box from you the
recommender . if you should ever be able to listen to these baby's w Ayre then you might get how unique a pairing it is and then get why these folks
can speak with real opinions.
Vandy Ayre dealer
A man who stands for nothing
may fall for anything