Ayre MR-X monoblocks - how good are they??

I will say off the bite here, tube monoblocks are my prerefence.
However always in the state of mind to go no maintenance no worry SS.

How good is the MRX compared to it's up to 25K competition.

Is it tubelike and nice to poor recordings as Charles Hansen seems to like to advertise. " It took 4 mnths ot voicing to get crap modern cordings to listenable and enjoyable"
If any AMP does this consistently I want it.

do you really nee balancedc connections to make it sound best.

ie is balanbced cardas cross b etter than SE Valhalla??
"On balance, the strengths of the MX-Rs are so glaringly obvious, and their weaknesses relative to any tube amp that I've yet heard have been so minimized, that I simply have no reason to look elsewhere."

Wait until you try the KX-R preamp. You haven't heard anything yet ;)
I have been living with the MX-R mono blocks for almost two years. During that time period I have had some friends drop by to listen to them...bringing along their amps...I remain very happy with them...I am not sure how they make "poor CDs" sound better...not sure that they do...but I would describe one of their strengths as being very musical...and one of the most endearing qualities...is their ability to provide extremely low noise floor...which enhances their ability to handle low level detail...which is one trait that most amps fail at...but is important to me when listening to music...mostly classical and jazz...small groups...I think in setting them it is very beneficial to use short speaker cables...mine are 18" from amp to the Rockport speakers...

I have been making a point for the last 2 years when traveling to different conferences across the country, to find local audio dealers and stop in for a listen to equipment I might be interested in. I tell them up front I am from out of town, but when stopping in during the weekday, most places are empty and they welcome my listening.

I am usually very disappointed in their best systems, not having much of a sound-stage and presence, and realism like I have at home. They often don’t carry bigger top end amps and few have maggies, let alone 20 series, so its difficult to tell.

I finally had a trip where the store, Audio Perfection in Minneaplolis, actually carried the brands & most of the high end demo units and had decent setup - Mangnepan, Wilson, Vandersteen, Martin Logan, Ayre, Audio Research, McIntosh, Bryston, Esoteric. They had biggest Wilsons, Vandy 5, Sonus Farbers.

Anyway, I have 20.1s and have been wanting to hear reference monos with them.

I started with Ayre MX-R monos, new Ayre KX-R Pre, Ayre C5-XE. WOW WOW & WOW !!! We listened to this for 1.5 hrs with a lot of bright aggressive trumpet music (small group and bigband), and for the first time in high end audio listening, I did not notice any fatigue. The soundstage was very deep and wide, realistic and the trumpets had real punch. This was way above the best realistic sound I have heard from 20s.

QUESTION: The Ayres ran the big Maggies effortlessly and I worked them hard. The preamp only would go up to 60, and we often listened at a loud, but not uncomfortable level which was at 56-58 on pre-amp. When listening to SACD, (C5xe -which is known to have a lower signal output in this format), we listened at 60. NEVER any distortion, fatigue. Could this be good for the amp in the long run ??

So in order to see if some monos with more juice would support the 20.1s better, we tried McIntosh 501s with the rest of the setup the same. Albeit they are around $10,000 new, but they could not hold there own. The soundstage depth shriveled, and the music became lifeless in comparison. The trumpets lacked punch and the realism was gone. My partner, a physician-musician, who is not into high end, looked at me after 20 secs and said what I was thinking - these are not even in same league as Ayre’s, not close.

So then we tried Audio Research Reference 210 Monos. While the MX-Rs where very tube like, the 210s clearly had that tube warmth and drove the 20.1s nicely, though we still had the pre-amp running around 54-58.

The Ayre was like being in first 3 rows of a live jazz event, easily picking up the location and power of each instrument, while the ARs where more like being in row 50, everything was a little more blended in comparison. Both were realistic beyond what I have heard before and not fatiguing. The AR actually made me realize the Ayre bass, though pitch and timbre perfect, was slightly light in presence in comparison. This would be the only flaw in MX-Rs.

In my dreams, I have been thinking of my next quest, actively biamped with 2 sets MX-Rs !! Audio Perfection was out of the Bryston crossover they sometimes have in stock. Maybe next time.
Hello downunder:
I owned for many years the Ayre K-1x/V-1x combination and had a lot of fun with it. In this price category I still think there is no competition here. Last year it went to a good friend who is now very happy with it. Togheter with his Marten Bird speakers there is only one thing comes to you mind: Performance!! A rare combination of ultra dynamics and smooth sound.
While searching for other amps , for me, it would be logical to go for the MXR (KXR was not available yet) but was a bit confused about their appearance and relatively small amount of parts inside regarding the price. Call me stubborn but my interest stopped before auditioning.
Then I came in touch with the relaxed and natural sound from Hovland which introduced a new audio era for me. Finally ended up with the HP200/Stratos combination which I love. Its strenghts are smooth power, inner detail and overall musicality with all recordings. Of course this is another price level, but unexpectably I do not miss the Ayre anymore.
A small tip about racks. If you need something which has it all (performance, stability and looks): The new Stillpoints ESS. It's reviewed in the latest Hifi+
I hope you finally will find the right amps and trust only your own ears.
Akozar -- The gain on the KX-R is adjustable simply by changing one resistor per channel. There is no soldering required. Simply call Michael at x223 and he can help. However, in most cases, there is is no need to change the gaing. It may be that one of the cables in the system was single ended. Increasing the gain can make it difficult to select the right volume level at low listening levels. There is no problem running the gaing at "60". It's not like a car where it is being run at 10,000 rpm and you are in danger of blowing the engine.