Amp upgrade from Ayre V-5xe

I am loving the Ayre sound (V-5xe Amp, QX-5 Twenty DAC / streamer). My speakers are the new Revel F228be

While I think V-5xe is great, I am thinking of upgrading to the newer VX-5 Twenty. Just because.... I hear my sirens calling :-)

For you Ayre owners, is this a worthy upgrade?

Or should I consider another solid state Amp? Pass Labs come to mind

If it were me, I'd borrow one to take home and listen to the 2 of them.   I have Ayre.....great company....very supportive.
I was looking for a boutique integrated along the likes of Vitus, Gryphon, AudioNet , T&A, etc. but then I read a review of the Luxman M900u and I'm trying to figure a way how I can afford it (and retire at the same time!). 
I'm surprised that stringreen didn't ask if you are using the V-5xe in balanced mode.  I have matched the V-5xe with a K-5xemp pre but like you I'm also looking to upgrade.  I feel this combo is a little on the lean side of things. 
Definitely using all my gear in Balanced mode. 

The QX-5 Twenty DAC is a great DAC. Definitely not looking to upgrade that. Endgame for me.

I also use an Ayre preamp, K-1xe. It's an older model, but it is great. That will not be sold either.

thyname, and others in copy,

For your guidance, I have copied and pasted information from Ayre's webpage regarding fully-balanced and single ended signals. 

Kindest regards,


Fully-balanced Circuitry

Balanced circuitry is a special dual configuration that rejects noise and interference—not only from external cables, but also from the AC power line itself. In an Ayre component even the signals from conventional sources are converted to the balanced format, resulting in vivid, lifelike performances, presented against an uncannily quiet background.

Sell the V5Xe and K1xe, and get an AX5 Twenty or Luxman L509X, or Gryphon Diablo.

Those integrated are a step up from your present combo. Preamplifier section in sota integrated have evolved. Unless you fall in love with a separated amplifier sound, or your speakers are really really power hungry like hell, you can trust the new sota integrateds to give you world class sound.

Interesting idea. And brave.

What do I do with my Ayre QX-5? I think I am too deep in this rabbit hole to do what you suggest 
Post removed 
 Congrats on your QX5 great system
Are you using the Ayre Wood Myrtle blocks under DAC, Pre, and Amp?
I would very much keep the QX5 twenty Dac. I would only sell the pre and amplifier , to replace with a sota integrated.

Ask to borrow one to compare with your K1xe / V5xe duo.
I disagree keeper
the K 1 is still a state of the art
pre amp And with that QX 5 DAc is a killer combination could it be techno jwants u to downsize and go backwards cause he had to
sota = state of the art :)

K1xe is still a very good pre, I agree. But ultimately if you wanna change the soul of your sound, it would be best to change both pre and amp. 

Hard to beat an Ayre stack
....vxr is under radar underrated amp
especially if you can find a twenty series....
i spent 3 x to better it....,,

work your cables, isolation, myrtle blocks, power cords before you change..,,,,

I'm using a QX-5 Twenty, KX-5 Twenty, and VX-5 Twenty combination, all balanced of course, based on my long-term love affair with a C-5xeMP.  There is something about the music just flowing with the Ayre gear, but that ended when I inserted a Bryston 10B crossover between the preamp and amp, contravening Charles Hansen's admonition not to do it.  The result was HiFi sound.  Removing the 10B restored the sense of music flowing without electronic intervention.

I don't know, but I'd guess the upgrade from V-5ex to VX-5 Twenty is a worthy upgrade, at least Charles Hansen thought so, and his thoughts seem worthy of attention.

To be clear : I don’t want to change the sound of my system. I want to improve it
(((I don’t want to change the sound of my system. I want to improve it)))

  The Revel speakers are certainly well put together, committee design, checks all the boxes, using fine materials with a nice balance and impressive at their price point.
In order to improve on this, it really depends on what you are looking for.
If that, in particular, is hearing more of what the microphone really picked up
with the fundamental, overtones and harmonics all intact
I would suggest you take a listen to a set of Vandersteen Fives or Five As.
These along with the zero feedback Ayre gear you already own IME would
 complete and make a truly special system.
Many good comments already. I’ll add that last year I replaced the well regarded V-5xe with a Pass XA-25. The comparison showed that the V-5xe is decent with the right speaker but not great. IMO moving up the line is a worthy consideration.
Getting a Luxman L509X will improve you sound a lot.

Keeping the K1xe and getting a better amp to go with it will improve your sound LESS. Add to that the search to match both components, and the additionnal signal and power cable needed...

Hope I am clear enough.

Clarity is not the issue, asserting opinion as fact is and that seems to be your way. Hopefully, readers here are astute enough to temper those types of statements with proper caution, ie #ignore.

I appreciate everyone chiming in.

Two things:

1 - I am not changing my speakers. I love my Revel F228Be! I had them on preorder since April, and just got them a few weeks ago. I used to have the Revel F208 for a while. 

2 - I am just looking for a two channel amp. I am not going to switch to any Integrated 

I use only balanced operation from CD, and phono....and out to the Vandersteen high pass filters then to the amp. I then run the speakers bi-wire.   I would ruminate on John Rutan's advice.....he is a whiz at this stuff.
If you insist on changing the amp only, to get a worthy noticeable improvement you will need to step up to a Ayre VX-R ( even better a VXR twenty), or a Luxman M-700u / 900u.

And still if it was my move I would change your preamp also, because each night you will go to bed or listen to your system you will ask yourself ( little inside voice) how better would your new amp sound with the latest and better  preamp like a KX-R or a Luxman C900u, ARC Ref6. ( this is why I was giving you the advice of getting an integrated like the Luxman L509x wich has one recent hugely good preamp section built in).
I get it Techno Dude... In the perfect world I would scoop the Ayre monoblocks. But I do have to stay in my budget. Money is an issue for me.

Besides, does it make sense to spend double and triple the price of my speakers for an Amp to drive them? It defies the “laws” of Audio.

Thanks for the nod on Luxman. Reading some reviews on them today, outstanding! Pricey though
there are a few people, me included that think the vx-r is better than .the mx-r
ya might have a listen.....
What is Ayres sound signature ? A audio store here in MPLS  ,MN has carried the brand for twenty years . I have not heard the gear hooked up anytime I have been in that store though . What sensitivity speakers does it work best with ? Thanks,mike.

I would not worry too much about defying the law of audiophiles on spending more on amp than speakers.
I recently acquired a pair of Triangle Altea esw speakers that were only $2000 new.
My integrated cost more than double that.

But these are the best sounding speakers I have had in my system so far and I have had some that cost considerably more.
Maybe I have just not tried the "right" expensive speakers yet!
But I tend not to worry too much about WTH anybody else thinks or says.
Its your money, your ears.
I have been using the Ayre VX 5/20 for the last year.  Moved from a VAC tube amp to the Ayre and love it.  Originally used on Thiel CS2.4 and recently on more efficient Spendor D9s. The clarity and musicality of this amp makes me smile daily.  Using a VAC tube preamp. 
My shortlist when I bought the Ayre VX-R

Aesthetix Stereo ( now in Sig level )

Thyname there are a lot of good recommendations here.   I learned something with this thread.  I'm going to add the VX-R to my short list.  Soundstage gave it a great review but the reviewer noted that he's heard more impactful bass before.  Also, there doesn't seem to be much feedback on this piece either on 'gon forums or reviews.  It would be great if someone did some comparisons with this unit against similairly priced units, (Hegel H30, Luxman M900u, Pass X-350.8, etc....)

I am very close to pulling the trigger on a Pass Labs X150.8

Same power as my Ayre V-5xe.

Is this really going to be an improvement, or just a lateral move?

Should I just go with Ayre VX-5 Twenty instead?

@thyname Only way to know is to bring the Pass 150.8 into your system. You already know how your Ayre sounds (and the Ayre ’Sound’). This will allow you to compare the two. It’s how I’d approach it.
Can you borrow the amp from the store to try it first in your room?

The 150.8 should be an improvement over the V5xe. But not as big improvement  as if you would go Luxman or Gryphon.
The only Pass Labs retailer is Reno HiFi in Reno Nevada. They do however in-home Demos, so I might try that. I would be in the hook for round trip shipping though if I don't like it.
I recently covered shipping to audition the Ypsilon Audio Phaethon. Well worth it. 
I am loving the Ayre sound (V-5xe Amp,
You think the amp in your system  sounds great, so in a strange twist of logic you seek to divest yourself of that amp.
Yes @pesky_wabbit... the quest for the holy grail. You are lucky you don’t suffer from this disease 
I love Ayre, far far more than Pass. If you think the two of them are close, by all means get the cheaper one. 


@erik_squires I don’t know whether they are close. I only have the Ayre v-5xe looking to upgrade.

thats why I here, hoping to get some advice from people who have tried both VX-5 and X150.8

I know Ayre sound, and the VX-5 can only be better than my amp. But never owned any Pass. Just reading various reviews and forums posts
@thyname  In case you haven't seen it yet (in print) the Pass XA200.8 review is up on Stereophile now.
Ayre are slightly dark, extremely open. An incredibly black background for instruments to play on. 

Pass are .. their very own sound. Some call it refined. I call it trendy.


Highly consider the Classe Delta CA-2300 stereo power amp this is a class AB design amplifier. Did retail for $7k but this amp has been discontinued last year (2017) and nowadays it can be had at good discount if you can find a used one in after market like here on Audiogon.

The sound is very resolved, detailed, clean, dynamic, transparent, lifelike and very refined with excellent and 3D like stereo imaging. You can easily pinpoint each individual instruments and vocals within the soundstage. Good amounts of air and space between instruments and vocals. You can easily perceive subtle dynamic shifts and timbre. The soundstage has great depths, widths and heights and the presentation is not as forward and it might be a good fit for your Revel speakers, which are known to have somewhat forward sounding. This amp does not draw attention to itself and just let the music flow naturally. It has a right amount of bites without emphasizing on any particular area and frequency spectrum.

Very musical sounding amp. PRAT is excellent. Noise floor is dead quiet. Classe is very good at extracting all musical nuances and information. And the tonal is pretty neutral with a touch of warmth, depending on the cables used. Has a lot of clean power reserve.

The amp runs cool no matter how hard you drive it due to the use of Classe's proprietary cooling tunnel design, which is outside the signal path. The signal path is kept as short as possible. 

It’s worth auditioning with your speakers and see how they pair together.

Any opinions on Plinius SA-103?

It is rated lower at 125 watts at 8 Ohms, but in switchable A / AB operation
The Plinius 103 is at its best in RCA not Balanced
 You have a zero feedback balanced Dac front end and Pre
 To optimize the system as mentioned above the continuation of that design would make sense.
A preowned or new Zero Feedback Balanced Ayre VX5, VXR or MXRs would be a more musically engaging overall improvement.
 Best JohnnyR
Sorry Audioconnection, the Plinus gear is known for being very musical and mimic a tube amplifier’s sound, Ayre gear has never been known for a warm sound, rather than a clean sound without alot of bloom.

Running XLR vs RCA into a Plinus doesn’t make a difference, We have a Plinius Odeon a $18k multi channel version of the SA 201 and it sounds fantastic being run in XLR.

The very fact that you don’t endorse brand mixing is a shame, we have found that many times mixing a tube preamp from company x with amp y makes a better match. A similar approach by mixing this gentleman's system with a differently voiced amplifier may be just what he is needing.

Both the Pass gear and the Plinius gear are warmer than the Ayre sound.

And we don’t sell Plinius nor Pass so we got 0 skin in this game.

Techno dude we agree with you, the top tier brands Gryphon, T+A, Vitus, are in another class then the Pass, Ayre, class of product.

When was the last time that you say a Pass Labs or Ayre integrated at any price, compared to $120k worth of separates, or a $23k integrated compared to a $45k one and the reviewer picking the T+A gear?

OP you should borrow a bunch of different amplifiers and see for yourself what amplifier makes your system sing.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ