Ayre owners and preamp options: seeking advice

I bought a new Ayre VX-5 twenty a while back and have it paired with the Ayre K-5xeMP pre.  Was contemplating updating my pre which is currently fed by a phono pre (Ayre) and a DAC, both balanced inputs.  Has anyone modded a k-5xemp with a few select parts and improved it?  Alternatively, has anyone added a tube pre to their Ayre amp?  Which ones mate well?  Lastly, upgrading to their new KX-5 twenty would be an obvious choice but I'm not yet ready to make that investment.  Thoughts?
I've never been a fan of modded electronics.  You will lose your a$$ on resale and more than likely be stuck with something that doesn't sound any better than what you started with.

Spend the money or stay with what you have until you can afford a proper upgrade.

With that said, I have heard Ayre amps with a VTL front end and it was fantastic.  What do you want to improve? 
Good advice,hk_fan.  Thanks for the suggestion of VTL.  Looking for a little more everything but resolution, separation, and pristine extended upper frequencies to flesh out lightly brushed cymbals etc. to name a few.  I do not want a wholesale change in sound.

When the engineers at Ayre mod the device and come out with a new model... then buy it.

Otherwise, you can always try a new setup.  The amplification chain is not going to improve at the same rate as a DAC.

if you just have a burning desire to tweek, then moving speakers around and room tmts can keep you busy for a looooong time.
I agree with Randy-11 et al.   All my elecronics are Ayre...they all work well together, are ultra reliable, backed by Ayre's great service department and sound great......what more could you want...
...what more could you want...

More Ayre, of course!
 Done with room and system tweaks. The suggestion to look at new DACs is reasonable too. But I'd want something with an upgrade path. 
I agree with Randy and Stringreen. Ayre will do it right, should you want to upgrade. 
Regarding upgrading your DAC, why not get a Codex? It must be the best buy of the decade.
The only other comparably priced DAC is the Schiit Gungnir of Yggy, both are upgradable.
Ayre announced a new DAC at Munich - it has a 100W amp built in

may not be an upgrade for you

and here is something on a dealer's page:

I haven't seen anything on the 5 series
Now that new 8 series looks interesting.  I will also look at the codex specs again.  It has received a lot of positive reviews.  My current dac receives a USB input from my Mac Pro as well as an optical input from an older meridian CD player which I use as a transport.  I should try a newer dac  and see where that brings me.  If not a big change then I will very likely just get a new Ayre pre.  I really do love the Ayre stuff.  It's built well,  reliable and musical.  I'll probably die before it does.  thank you all for the helpful suggestions!

I am using a VAC Renaissance Mk3 pre with phono in front of my Ayre VX-5 Twenty with excellent results.
if your DAC is several years old, I'd definitely try another one - that technology is rapidly evolving

the Ayre integrated is 80 W/ch into 8 ohms

Ayrelock analog linear power supply

Double-Diamond amp circuit

"unexpected price" is TBD
Randy-11:  Agreed.  First thing on my list.

 Drrsutliff: if you are using a mc cartridge with yours, what is its output?  Can you hear tube rush at medium loud listening levels?
jc4659, I use an Ayre C-5xeMP - K-5exMP - VX-5 Twenty balanced link in one of my setups.  When asked about inserting a balanced Bryston high-pass crossover between the preamp and amp, Charles Hansen responded in strong terms not to do it.  I can only imagine what his response might be to the notion of modding the preamp.  OTOH, he did approve of taking the single-ended outputs from the preamp to a low-pass crossover that drives the subs.

I too want to update the K-5xeMP to a KX-5 Twenty, for the additional balanced inputs in my case.

That there is nothing out there regarding Ayre mods speaks volumes about the quality of Hansen's designs and overall satisfaction of owners of Ayre equipment.  Guess I answered one of my own questions.
"drrsutliff: if you are using a mc cartridge with yours, what is its output? Can you hear tube rush at medium loud listening levels?"

Cadenza Black - 0.3mv output with no tube rush issues.

This is a followup to an ancient thread, but FWIW, having owned a lot of Ayre gear, including using an Ayre K-3x preamp with first a VX5E and then a VX-5 (over a period of about a decade), I've now had an Aesthetix Janus Signature (linestage/phono stage) fronting my VX-5 for some years now, and I find that the Aesthetix/Ayre combo has been even more satisfying to me. But there are two caveats here - A) the comparison between the K-3x and Janus Signature is not a fully symmetrical one; perhaps the stock Janus would be a better comparison there; and B) the Janus has had issues with tube noise that I've satisfactorily resolved over time with careful tube selection, but it will never be as hassle-free (or have as low a noise floor) as an Ayre preamp. While the Aesthetix gear has a bit less high-end detail in comparison with the Ayre, I find it a bit tonally richer. But the Ayre gear is very fine gear indeed. And Charles Hansen and Jim White, the founder/owner of Aesthetix, did a bit of work together and were friends, and shared similar design philosophies- the gear has mated very well for me, and I see the house sounds falling just modestly on either side of a very neutral line, and of course also be dependent upon the balance of the rest of one's system.

One last point- the Aesthetix gear (and certain other tube gear) really goes even farther with good NOS tubes to suit one's personal tastes than when used with stock tubes, though it's not night and day to my ears, and of course it entails potentially substantial additional costs.



What other gear is in your System? Do you still own Thiel Audio CS 2.3 speaker?


Happy Listening!

Hi @aubullience , I'm the OP on this thread. Ayre electronics are a great choice because they sound great, are reliable, and backed by a solid company that offers great customer service. I made a few changes to my system since my original post. First, I felt my speakers needed more grunt so I sold the VX-5 twenty and replaced it with a Pass X350.5 amp. I also sold my K-5xeMP preamp and replaced it with the fantastic Ayre K-1xe. It gave me slightly greater extension, improved transparency but most noticeable was a more 3 dimensional image and soundstage. I have enjoyed this preamp immensely for a few years now though it is getting a bit long in the tooth. I still use my Ayre phono pre.  I started looking at other preamp options including Pass, Zesto, and Backert to name a few.  The problem is I know I can't keep the big Pass amp forever, it is just a beast and I am too old to lift it. So whatever preamp I get needs to be broadly compatible and will likely be end-game for me.  I will say that the K-1xe is a fantastic pre and deserving of the praise it received when it first came out. Thanks for reawakening this thread.