Ayre (website) was one of the earliest to market with a good USB DAC. That’s how I remember seeing and interacting with them. The QB-9 did one thing (USB) and did that one thing well, and all the mags raved about it. But what I always wanted? Well, aside from anything in the the milled-block-of-aluminum R-Series, was the C5 CD player. Man, I wanted that thing in a bad way — “no point in USB, when CD is that good!” is what I remember thinking.
My, have things changed.
What’s new these days is that the product line at Ayre has simplified. Gone is the 7-Series. Poof! In it’s place, say hello to the new 8-Series. Already available are the QX-8 DAC ($5,500) and the EX-8 100wpc integrated amplifier ($6-8k, depending) with an optional D/A converter (with or without the asynchronous USB interface and with or without the Ethernet interface, which is “Roon-ready and pre-configured to stream Spotify, Qobuz, and Tidal“.
But what you may not know is that the separates are also on their way. The new KX-8 preamplifier should be available in October (-ish) for about $5,500 and will be matched by the upcoming VX-8 stereo amplifier, also available at that time.
And yes, wonder of wonders, this will be joined by a CX-8. A CD-only transport (with sled sourced from TEAC) + DAC (featuring the ES9028Q2M chip). As with the integrated, this CD player/DAC can also be configured with the same USB interface and/or an Ethernet interface.
Next RMAF, we’re heading into the hills (Boulder, that is) to go visit these folks.
Shown here in Munich with speakers from Vivid.