Review: Ayre Acoustics V-3 Amplifier

Category: Amplifiers

I thought I'd found the perfect amp when pairing a Pass Aleph 5 with my Aleph P. It was truly a wonderful combination. After having the 5 for a few months I noticed I was listening to more female vocals & jazz than rock & I have more rock than anything. It occurred to me that rock didn't sound quite right with the 5. Selling it was one of the harder audio decisions I've made but I wanted something that would work with all formats.

When I bought the 5 the V-3 was on my short list, so when I sold the 5 I wanted to give it a try. The V-3 I have is ~ 7 years old but the upgrades were done by the factory ~ 6 months before I bought it (I've had it 9 mo). Here's the interesting part. I bought a new set of VR4 Gen III's 4 months ago. It's recommended to break them in at high volume for 100 hrs, so I did just that. The first two playing sessions I smelled an electronic smell coming from the V-3. In talking to my dealer, he surmised that the Ayre had never been driven very hard & was finishing breaking in. Wow, I bought an almost 7 year old amp that had been babied & pampered.

I called Ayre out in CO to order a new top plate, as there were some superficial marks on it. Since the unit looks almost new I wanted to keep it that way. In relating my story to the fine folks at Ayre I was told that the unit I had probably had never been run hard & was now very well seasoned. They also said with the upgrades it was probably one of the better sounding V-3's they had ever made. It's nice to know Ayre thinks highly of its products instead of telling you to trade it in on a newer one.

So how does this thing sound? It can rock the house or can play at the lowest possible setting, both with musical results. That's the best thing I can say about this piece. Musical. I don't sit there straining for details, or listen for imaging, or wonder if the tonal representations of the instruments or vocals are correct-because it just sounds musical. That, plus all those things I just mentioned do occur & effortlessly come to your ears. Listening to this piece is a non-fatiguing, enjoyable experience.

I've heard 3 shows in the last 6 or so months that I have on CD. Two were acoustic with the exception of the vocals & one was in such a small place they didn't even use a PA. Anyway, when I play those CD's, it transports me back to the shows. The bass is deep yet tight, mids are smooth & realistic & the high freqs are crisp without brightness.

In closing, let me say every review you'll ever read is subjective & the best thing you can do is trust your own ears.

Associated gear
Pass Labs Aleph P pre, Meridian 508.20 CDP, VR4 Gen III speakers, Luminous Audio Synchestra Signature IC's, Luminous Audio Renaissance speaker cable in a true bi-wire set-up, Virtual Dynamics Cryo Power 3 PC's w/upgraded Wattgate IEC

Similar products
Bryston 4B ST, Pass Labs Aleph 5, Threshold S300A/AB, YBA (?), Adcom 565
I called Ayre recently about the Ayre V-3. The fellow I talked to said the V-5 is the preferable amp, but the V-3 has "a following". Anybody who is running a V-3 wish to comment on why you are keeping it in your system?
I just now saw you made a comment & will follow-up saying that I did move up the line & purchased a V-5x and followed that w/a V-1xe.

I decided to downsize my system & the first thing I sold was the V-1xe. Since I remembered how good this V-3 sounded, I went ahead & got another. When I played it there was just no comparison to the bigger units. I unhooked it & sold it right away.

My Ayre journey lasted about 2 1/2 yrs. & was quite enjoyable. I wouldn't hesitate to own another Ayre product.