Would like to hear from Ayre owners especially those who dared to venture.

We Ayre electronics owners tend to be a loyal bunch.  We are happy withe the sound, function, reliability, and cosmetics of our amps and preamps.  Ayre also provides a nice upgrade path and does not come out with a new model every year.  I want to hear from those who have found great combinations of Ayre electronics with non-Ayre pieces.  Why did you venture away from all Ayre?  What were you looking for and are you pleased.  I have the k5xeMP pre combined with the new VX-5 twenty amp.  I'm looking to upgrade the preamp and the KX-5 twenty would be the logical next step.  What other preamps, solid state or tube, combine well with the Ayre amp?  If tube, I prefer balanced configurations.  Besides Ayre, I am looking at PS audio, atma-sphere, allnic, LTA, decware, rogue.  Budget is ~5k so probably looking at used. Thanks for your suggestions.

I’m afraid I am a little above your targeted budget, but for discussion I am feeding my Ayre VX-5/20 with a VAC Renaissance V.  I previously used the Renaissance III with very nice results, but this is a new level.  I run everything balanced (including my Codex) and this system plays beautiful music that draws me in for hours.  
I am running the Ayre MXR monoblocks with the Atma-Sphere MP-3 preamp ( and an Ayre Codex streaming to Bluesound Node).
It sounds 'almost' as good as the MA-1's. Speakers are Vandy Treo's and 2wq subs. You can probably find a used MP-3 for under $5K. Call Ralph and see if he has a demo for sale. That's how I got mine.
Thank you both for your replies.  I should have included VAC too.  I am also running a Codex.  This may be my last pre (really!) so reliability is a big factor.
I should add that I am using an Ayre P-5x phono pre at the highest gain setting to accommodate my low output m/c cartridge @ 0.2 mV.  While my DAC is totally silent, I can hear some hiss from the phono when my ear is less than a foot away from the speaker.  I find audible hiss to be intolerable from my listening position.
I have a k5xemp mated with a V-5Xe.   I'm looking to replace the combo with a SS integrated of the likes of Vitus, Gryphon Diablo, T&A, or AudioNet.  The AX-5 twenty has received good reviews as well so I will probably add that to the list.  I want to make sure this is not a lateral move...
Not an amp, but my Ayre C-5xeMP player that I use for SACD and DVD-A sounds great with my Symphonic Line pre-amp and monos.
@russellrcncom Please update us with the comparisons.  Those integrateds would all be on my short list too.

At that price point, you can get a different sound but I’m skeptical you can get better than Ayre.