Integrateds: Luxman vs. Ayre?

This shootout is between the Luxman 507x and Ayre EX-8 2.0

Currently I own a Luxman 507x.  Rather happy with it... but...

I use a separate streamer (Pi/Roon) and DAC (Mytek Brooklyn) for music and an external Anthem processor to feed it HT 2 channel.

My thinking is, the EX-8 would let me eliminate the DAC/streamer AND it has a separate sub out. 

The issue is I've not heard the Ayre integrated, only the separates and I really like them, though they do seem to have a distinct sound to them. 





Haven't heard the Ayre integrated, but was a big fan of Charlie Hanson.  I'd be shocked if it wasn't really good.  

The Ayre "house-sound" is neutral to the point that some people think it's "dry/analytic."


I don’t find Ayre necessarily neutral. It has it’s own ... almost noise cancelling ... signature. It’s hard to explain it. Maybe the imaging is superior and lets you hear more into the recording as if it ignores the room?

I can’t really describe it... but I find it’s audibly different. 

Maybe it's excessively quiet?  I'm afraid words really kind of fail me to encapsulate what I've heard in the past. 

I have listened to quite a few Luxman integrated and amps. I have owned a couple of Ayre DACs that I believe reflect the house sound… I would say the Ayre sound is smoother and more well balance than Luxman. I do not find the Ayre dry, but the Luxman has more sparkle (that is not a complement in my eyes… or ears).


Interesting. I like the 'sparkle' that Luxman has. Although I rarely listen to 'heavy' rock and roll, when I do, I have found some amps to be dull sounding. The Luxman sounds wonderful with every type of music, is what I am trying to say.

As for the OP - I don't think the Ayre DAC is going to be better then the Mytek. I have yet to hear a 'built-in" DAC that sounds as good as a stand alone one.


Would the old word for sparkle  be bright? There has  been a trend in hifi the last number of years in my opinion  towards brightness in the equipment.  

In my listening to Ayre vs. Lux, McIntosh, Naim, and Bryston, Ayre comes out on top for transparency, clarity, imaging, and control.  Naim feels more dynamic or punchy, but Ayre out points in all other areas.  This is based on their lower tier separates using their CD player.

For me, Unless you are fine with ugrading, I’d avoid buying a pre/integrated with a DAC Built in. Sure you can always bypass, however, in years time you will hear about the latest and greatest DAC and then you’ll be back to two units again. I'd keep the LUXMan or go with another dedicated PRE without digital, then upgrade your dac as you see fit. 

Ayre DACs can certainly be endgame. I wouldn't be worried about that.


The nice thing about the EX-8 is that it has a pass-through mode which sets the amp to unity gain. A good feature to have since you're integrating it with the MRX540.


Note that the Luxman also has pre-outs which are functionally equivalent to the pre / sub outs on the Ayre.


I used to own several pieces of Ayre gear - AX-5 Twenty, C-5xeMP and QB-9 DSD. All were exceptional. I did find that I gravitated more towards certain types of music genres like classical and jazz when they were in my systems.

It sounds like you will like the Ayre in terms of amplification, and the real question is whether the built-in streamer/DAC will be an acceptable replacement for the Pi/Mytek. Are you using a streamer HAT on the Pi or just native USB? If the latter, you might be okay if the DAC is to your liking. It sounds like Ayre has a good reputation with their DACs as well, so not too much risk there. I have a Pi/Allo/Roon streamer that will require a worthy piece of gear to replace it. 



Yes, many people like the sparkle. That, and all the dials make it look very very high tech… they are very cool looking. Like McIntosh, but in a completely different way.


@retiredfarmer Yes. I was trying to avoid a term that had outright negative connotations. Lots of folks like that sound.

I audition systems and components and constantly go over my experiences with my own systems and what others value. My values have changed enormously over the last fifty years as I have learned and then moved my system to sound like real music and away from a “high end” sounding system. I feel I am slowly getting to be able to identify a few “sound types” that appeal to groups folks that pursue high end. But it is still a work in progress.

I have to take some exception to describing Luxman as sparkling. 

I find it equally extended at the top and bottom of the range.  It may make a Parasound sound thick and overly warm by comparison, but it it snot harsh or extra colorfuil there IMHO, unlike say a Mc.

By comparison to Ayre and Parasound it may sound cooler, but I don't think of it as a color saturated integrated.

Ayre all day.  I am biased, I use an AX 5 and QX5.  But I landed there after many years of a lot of different gear.  Have used with many different speakers, cables, streamers, etc.  It always sounds very good. Also, good company support, unique tech  and US made. Lots of great gear out there.  I like supporting the small, US companies that are committed to high performance audio  and maintain contact with their customers. There's still a few of them around.

Based on more reading it doesn't seem like the DAC in the Ayre integrated is as robust as the one's in the standalone products or other devices. 

8 series Ayre and dac they use in them is very good, and way better than alternatives in its price class (IMO). But yes, QX 5 twenty is better, but it's closer than I thought it would be.  I consider the QX 5 a reference DAC comparable to anything out there.  One man's experience....

My experience with Luxman was that it is a joy to behold, touch, look at and admire.  The sound was rather wooly and flat to my ear in a few systems I tried.  Ayre to me is neutral, nothing more and nothing less.  Probably going to get a warm and fuzzy sound with Luxman and more right to the point with Ayre.  Oh and Ayre is very nicely made stuff and a joy to use as well.  


Ive heard the 507ux (but not the II version) as well as the Ayre ex-8 2.0. They are both exceptional amplifiers and you can’t go wrong with either one. Below are my opinions, which are completely worthless because it all depends on your speakers and your sonic preferences.


As stand alone integrated amplifiers, the looks of the Luxman win the day however on the sonic side of the equation, I prefer the Ayre by a wide margin. If you had the 595se the nod would go to the Luxman but the UX is not the 595se. Your Luxman is a little more powerful sounding but again, it depends on your speakers and whether they are a tough load. All in all though I found the Ayre to be a better sounding unit. Read up on the Double Diamond circuitry, its the real deal. Additionally, I am a tube guy and found the Ayre nice and this particular Luxman slightly less pleasant. I didnt play with Luxmans tone controls which could have assisted. No offense intended.


On the digital side of the equation of the Ayre, unless someone has heard the Ayre for an extended period, they will not know what they are talking about. The digital section is VERY well done. In my opinion youd have to spend upwards of $3k on a dac to better it and it would simply be different rather than vastly superior. Its legit. Where the Ayre really shines though is the inboard streamer….Roon endpoint, spotify or MConnect. Figure the streamer performs at the $1.5k level. So, the replicate the digital section youd spend $5k plus cables and power cords.

As a package its exceptional. So much so that I bought one and merely rotated it in from time to time. At the time I had a Totaldac d1-tube-mk III which also had an inboard streamer. The Ayre streamer implementation sounded better, the Totadac fed via aes sounded better than the Ayre fed via aes….but its a $15k dac.


Its an amazing integrated, the dac is a high performer and while not a reference level dac, I used the Ayre and its inboard dac more often because it was super simple and convenient. If I had to knock the Ayre, the screen/gui feels very last decade. All in all, its a terrific piece of kit. I ended up letting an audio friend pry it from my grasp as he had a tube setup and wanted something that his 5 year old son could use the main system. He and his father share a love of music…his kid plays with his Legos listening to Chopin so how could I say no…its the audio hobby’s hope for the future huh!


Would I buy the Ayre again? Yes, without hesitation, and this is in the context of my main system is anchored today with a $30kish integrated amp, a $12k server/streamer, a $20kish dac and $30kish speakers. The Ayre is really, really good…its still a Stereophile Class A rated integrated and IIRC isn’t it John Atkinson’s reference? Best wishes.





The best way is to have the chance listening, Both Ayre and McIntosh are special, some people love it and some people don't like it.