Ayre introduces the AX-8 integrated amp

Ayre Acoustics introduces the brand new 8 Series Components. The 8 series will fit into their product range below the new 5 series, taking the place of the discontinued 9 and 7 series and the older 5 series products. The price range of the 8 series is planned to be between $2,500 - $8,000 US Retail.

The first two products which are showing in Munich are the AX-8 integrated amplifier (with digital inputs including streaming) and the QX-8 digital hub (also with streaming) and like all Ayre components, they will be hand-built in Boulder, CO.



Interested in what the price point of the AX-8 is going to be.

Not sure how I feel about the new casework.....  
Maybe I'll grow into it but I agree the case work on the AX-8 looks pretty weak.  I love the way my AX5/20 looks.
I'm interested in the price as well,Ayre makes some very good sounding gear but the case on this looks kinda plain to say the least.

I would hope no higher then 5k.Time will tale.

I found this post on the Internet but its accuracy is unknown:

"The nearly identical-looking Ayre AX-8 integrated amplifier ($7,500) takes the QX-8 feature set and adds an all-in-one digital and amplification solution". 

I need better pictures of the Ayre AX-8 in order to comment on the case work.  It is possible we are seeing a very early case prototype.

I am hoping to get more information at the Los Angeles Audio Show. 

I believe there's also the QX-8 DAC, I have the literature from Ayre's Facebook page.  It has the double -diamond output stage, Ayrelock power supply, Equilock gain stage, and DSD upto 128.  So it's pretty fancy. I'd hate to think they'd price it around 8K though, hoping fror far less than that, but its looks to be a nice unit.
It's my understanding that the QX-8 is not using the same quality level components as the QX-5/20.  I suspect it will get priced somewhere between the Codex and QX-5/20.  I'm hoping $4-5k at the most.   
I love my Ayre gear. I would like to see higher power ratings on the integrated amplifiers. 
I am anxiously waiting for Ayre's official announcement for the Ayre AX-8 integrated amp/DAC.   I have some friends attending the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver and am hoping they can audition the Ayre AX-8 at the RMAF and report back to me.  Of course, I am hoping the Ayre AX-8 will be on display.    
Please see below the === for the response I received from Ayre Acoustics on the Ayre EX-8 Integrated amplifier:

"We're planning on being able to start shipping the Ayre EX-8 soon, hopefully by end of year depending on when we get some components, such as the chassis, in. We're very excited for it!

As far as features, it will have both USB and Ethernet streaming options as well as S/PDIF and optical inputs. Output is 100 Watts per channel into 8 ohms".

Disappointing to see that so much of the engineering of the integrated is actually the "digital hub" unit.  In other words it's the QX-8 with a fairly low powered integrated thrown in to provide an all-in-one lifestyle solution.  And *not* the baby brother of the AX-5twenty.

More promising to see that Simaudio has come out with a 600i v.2 or MkII.

@twoleftears, I agree the Sumaudio 600i amplifier looks very interesting.  The Moon by Simaudio Neo ACE Integrated Amplifier-DAC-Streamer also looks interesting.  The ACE includes a high resolution DAC with DSD decoding up to DSD256 and 32-bit/384kHz PCM.  This units sells for $3,500 vs. $7,500 (??) for the Ayre EX-8 Integrated amp.   Any comments on the Moon by Simaudio Neo ACE?

I am considering replacing my Ayre AX-7e integrated and Ayre Codex DAC with a single amplifier and DAC combination unit.   These Ayre units are used in a 2 channel home theater system and the EX-8 unit price is very expensive for my application.  

I am assuming the release date for the Ayre EX-8 integrated amp has been delayed and I am guessing it maybe released sometime in the 2nd quarter.  I have no official information and am just guessing.  

Disappointing to see that so much of the engineering of the integrated is actually the "digital hub" unit. In other words it's the QX-8 with a fairly low powered integrated thrown in to provide an all-in-one lifestyle solution. And *not* the baby brother of the AX-5twenty.
What information are you looking at?

The AX-5 Twenty is, IMO, the baby brother of a KXR/MXR. I doubt they can sell that technology for much cheaper unless they use a completely different volume control . . . but then it's no longer a similar product.

The EX-8 is supposed to be 100 W into 8 ohms, almost certainly doubles that into 4 ohms per Ayre standards. I think the way to look at it is as an updated (or, at least, replacement) AX-7 with an onboard "digital hub". That's not a product that interests me (I already have an AX-5) but I imagine there is a demand for such a thing. I'm more interested to see what they rollout to replace the QB-9.
@beetlemania,  Ayre currently sells the Ayre QX-5 Twenty DAC featuring the new ESS ES9038PRO DAC chip.  The  New Ayre 8 series DAC/streamer/headphone-amp will be part of the 8 series, as a successor of the Ayre QB-9DSD.  I am guessing the Ayre QX-8 DAC will be announced when the EX-8 amplifier is announced.  This is just a guess since I have no official information.

BTW, I own the Ayre Codex DAC and like it very much.  Please see:

@hgeifman Yes, I know they announced the QX-8 months ago. It's been long enough ago that I wonder if they've changed any features or scrapped it altogether. I would love a QX-5 but already crunched my budget with the AX-5 last year. I might at least contemplate a QX-8 if it comes in around $4K and promises a notable improvement over the QB-9.

What I would really love is a QB-9 with QX-5 chip, clock, and circuitry. USB only works just fine for me. I have no need for volume control or headphone amp or 10 digital inputs. I guess many potential customers turned away from the QB-9 because it only did one thing but it sure does that one thing very well!

how do you like the AX-5 ? Can this model upgrade to AX-5 twenty?
I have not had an opportunity to demo Ayre gear.

Happy Listening!
As above-
Simaudio has been making Integrated amps for quite a while now.
Those models seem to have high power ratings as well.

Happy Listening!
how do you like the AX-5 ? Can this model upgrade to AX-5 twenty?
Holy cow, I freaking love it!

The two best amps I've ever heard are the Ayre MX-R and ARC Reference 250. Well, it's more accurate to say that those were the amps in the two best *systems* I've heard. Anyhow, when I heard an AX-5, I thought it captured most of the magic of the MX-R/KX-R combo. Again, not a proper trial wherein all other factors were equal but that AX-5 driven system was singing superbly well.

I actually have the Twenty version, just too lazy to always type it out. But, yes, original AX-5s can be upgraded to current production (for the price difference between the two versions). I really appreciate that Ayre let's you upgrade at a modest cost rather than have to buy a whole new unit each time the performance is increased.

I'm quite certain it's my last amp.
The AX5 can be upgrade to AX5/20 for about $3K.  I have an AX5/20 driving a set of Vandersteen Treo CTs and this combination sounds awesome, phenominal soundstage, very natural and musical.  The details and instrument separation is exceptional.  Honestly, I haven't hear a ton of amps, but the AX5/20 is one of the best amps either integrated or separates that I've heard.  There are plenty of great sounding amps out there.  You know you got something special when the itch to upgrade goes away. :)    For now, I'm very happy and content. 
@nycjlee I would love to hear your system. I imagine it's awesome! I just went from from 2Ce Sig IIs to Thiel CS2.4SE. I am super happy. There is no audible output below about 30 cycles but the sonics are nearly flawless otherwise. Probably image density is not on par with the super-speakers out there (eg, Vandersteen 7), but the resolution, transparency, and neutrality are near SOTA. I'm guessing the Treo CT is close to this level, too.
OK, I see what informed your opinion, thanks.

But, so what? It’s the same chassis because it’s their entry-level line. They have to save money to make it as affordable as possible while maxing performance at the price point (kinda like the plain wrapper lower end of the Vandersteen lineup). I fail to see how you can make any judgement about SQ from those pics. I’ll reserve judgement until I hear one. BTW, a December post over on Audioasylum from Ryan Berry indicates that the final spec will be 100 W into 8 ohms (also, it will be called "EX-8").

There’s no room in that chassis, with all the digital stuff, for an AX-5 type volume control. And if there was, it would add $$$. So now they’d probably have a $10K "baby brother" AX-5. Does that make sense for their product line? I doubt it. Charles Hansen used to post: "Price, performance, features. Pick any two."

What a crock, 80 Watts for $7500?  My Krell Vanguard Digital is exceptional and can be had for less...oh, it also has 200 w/ch!
@dave_b , I’m with you!  Perhaps this is why some here are jumping on the Belles bandwagon!?
Any which way, I'd prefer a "straight" integrated without any of the DAC stuff on board.   With the AX5 twenty now costing 13K, surely there's room for a scaled down 7.5K model.
I think I read somewhere that there will be more than the two products in the 8-series. I was surprised when I first read about the EX-8 as Charles Hansen had previously shared his reasons for not wanting a DAC in the same box with an integrated (audioasylum?). I suspect there will be some option without the onboard DAC.
Please see copy of email from Ayre:

The Ayre 8 series

I know that the next question on everyone's mind is; "What is up with the 8 series!"

We are working hard to finalize the EX-8 (Digital integrated amp) and plan to begin shipping it the first week of February. Like the QX-5 it will have optional modules which can be added to expand the types of digital inputs available.

The QX-8 will be next, shipping in May, followed by the KX-8 and VX-8 which we will have as prototypes at the Munich show in May.

By the time we are finished with the 8 series in the fall, there will be 6 - 7 products in the line.

QX-5 Twenty Options

You can now customize your QX-5 Twenty!

S/PDIF (only) $6,950
USB               $7,650
Net                 $8,250
Full                 $8,950

+ Black Chassis $ 250

(Pricing is US Retail)

Additional email from Ayre:

“Ayre Moving Forward, Hello Everyone,

As you can probably imagine the last couple of months at Ayre have been emotional and somewhat disorganized. We all feel the loss of Charley and we will miss him greatly.

Fortunately, two years ago we began the process of re-organizing Ayre—at Charley's insistence—to be able to exist without him. It was a long process and there were a lot of difficult conversations. We thankfully had the help of our friend and consultant, Ian Kendrick, to assist us with this process.

All of this work has resulted in a very resilient company which will be able to carry on Charley's work for decades to come. We have both an advisory board and executive board in place to steer the company and two years worth of product designs that we are excited to bring to market.

While we can never replace Charley, we will be bringing in additional people and resources to our R&D department. These resources will help support Ariel Brown (VP and CTO), who worked side-by-side with Charley for the last 21 years, and Brendan Boyle (Software Engineer). This way we can continue to deliver the innovative products you expect from us.

Thank you for your continued support and help in keeping Charley's spirit alive!

The Ayre Team”
@hgeifman Thanks for posting that. Is that what you get if you sign up for updates? I guess I should do that!

The situation at Ayre sounds even better than I was guessing. So, EX-8, QX-8; KX-8 and VX-8 must be standalone preamp and amp with another 2-3 other products. Probably an integrated w/o the onboard DAC (AX-8?).  I wonder if a disc spinner will be one of the others. I wish them well and can't wait to hear the QX-8.
@beetlemania, Yes, I signed up for updates on the Ayre Acoustics web site.   Unfortunately, I looked on their web site and cannot find the section to sign up.  I suggest you either call them or send them an email.
@hgeifman I found a hotlink "Newsletter" on their homepage. I all signed up now.
Does anyone have pricing information on the new Ayre EX-8 integrated amplifier / DAC?   The unit is scheduled to be shipped during the first week in February.  

Will the Ayre EX-8 amplifier have analog inputs? I am currently using my Ayre AX-7e amplifier in my 2 channel home theater system and run RCA connections from my TiVo cable box to the Ayre amplifier and also run balanced XLR connections from my Ayre Codex DAC to my Ayre AX-7e amplifier.
The original announcement claimed 3 analog inputs (one balanced)
I'd forgotten that they said VGT technology in the volume control. I wonder what that will look like at this price point. I can't imagine it will resemble what's in the KX-R or KX-5.
This is the replacement for the 7 series so it's going to be a decent step down from the 5 series and nowhere near the ballpark of the - R series.  It should be good value for money but I wouldn't expect anyone is going to be blown away by performance. 
The AX-7 was excellent in its price category. I don't know what can better it for less than $5K. The AX-5 is better in every way - more resolution, better bass, more headroom (with the extra power) - but not by as much as the price jump suggests. Likewise, the SQ jump from AX-5 to R-series is notable but nothing close the difference in price. IME, the AX-5 gets close to the horizontal asymptote on the performance/price curve.

I suspect the EX-8 will better the AX-7 by a worthwhile margin. Ayre has learned quite a lot since the AX-7 was introduced. I'm very curious to see how they incorporate the VGT volume control at this price point. I'm expecting a great sounding product.