These little critters were super dynamic and I thought the sound was very well-rounded and balanced; I didn’t find myself wishing for a subwoofer to fill things out. When I first entered the room they were definitely a little overdriven, probably in an attempt to demonstrate that they could hold their own in a ballroom — the volume was turned up to eleven, and while they performed valiantly, I much preferred the sound when turned down to simply “loud” rather than “earsplitting.” I have no doubt, however, that they could handle my living room with little difficulty, and in an apartment I could get myself in trouble with my neighbors, no problem.
The Ayre KX-5 preamp was derived from the preamp section of AX-5 integrated amp, which itself was derived from the KX-R. It has the same VGT variable gain stage as Ayre’s top preamp and Ayre’s Diamond output stage. It was shown in pre-production form, so pricing was not set, but it should be around $8000.
This was an all-analog room, with an AMG Viella 12 turntable with 12J2 tonearm ($16,500) and Benz Micro SLR Gullwing cartridge ($3,000) running through an Aesthetix Rhea Signature phono stage ($7,000). Shunyata cables throughout.