See Ayre QB-9 Twenty Upgrade Announcement

“Ayre QB-9 Twenty Upgrade” copied from an Ayre email announcement.

“The QB-9 was one of the most successful Ayre products ever. There are thousands of them out in the world, and to many owners, the QB-9 is still their favorite piece of audio gear. As part of our commitment to providing a lifetime of enjoyment from Ayre products, we are releasing an update for the QB-9 with the newest technology from the 8 series. The "Twenty" update for the QB-9 brings it back to the cutting edge of technology, giving QB-9 owners the excitement of discovering their music library all over again!

New QB-9 Twenty Features:  We have made a number of innovations since the release of the QB-9. Here is what has been improved with the Twenty update:

  • Diamond output circuit improves musicality and bass response.
  • A new JFET differential stage lowers the noise floor.
  • AyreLock power supply regulation for better rendering of fine musical detail.
  • New AC noise filtering for improved resolution.
  • Custom Ayre Asynchronous USB technology further reducing electrical noise in the system.
  • New ESS DAC chip for improved signal to noise ratio and spacial detail.
  • Six layer board design for optimal circuit isolation.
  • Proprietary reclocking to eliminate USB domain jitter.
  • PCM play back up to 384 kHz
  • Native DSD capability up to DSD256 (4x)
  • HDCD decoding

Retail Available QB-9 Twenty Upgrade. $1,500 August”.

This new Ayre QB-9 Twenty Upgrade looks very interesting. I wonder how it sounds.

Interesting - will have to see what the consensus is on this. I have a qb9-DSD unit but I would be able to sell it for $1500 on the used market so I'm hesitant to sink a lot into it. However, I've compared my unit to some of the giant killers around $6000 and it did not embarrass itself.
Oh, this *is* interesting. I would love a QX-5 but that is out of my budget. I might swing a QX-8 but upgrading my QB-9 might deliver similar SQ for less money?

@beetlemania, I agree the Ayre QB-9 DAC upgrade makes it very interesting.  The new ESS DAC chip plus all the other improvements mentioned above should, substantially, improve the sound quality of this already excellent DAC. 

I believe this DAC was discontinued and now this excellent upgrade brings it back to life.  I am anxious to hear comments from people that upgrade their Ayre QB-9 DAC. 

I'm very happy with my QB-9 but I also think upgrading that piece could be the "last" thing I do to my system. I'm super happy with my amp (AX-5 Twenty) and speakers (modded Thiel 2.4). The QX-8 is appealing because I could simultaneously connect my Roon-dedicated NUC and a PC for watching concert videos. With the QB-9 I need to manually change which input device is connected.

I previously upgraded my AX-7 to AX-7e and QB-9 to QB-9 DSD. In both cases, the SQ was noticeably improved and at a fair price. I need to learn more but I might just stick with the more cost-effective solution of upgrading the QB-9 despite its single input (this was never an issue until I switched to the Roon NUC which cannot do videos).
I decided to sign up for this upgrade after speaking with Gary at Ayre. My confidence is high after successful upgrades to DSD status a few years back. Also, I had my AX-7 upgraded to "e" status and that also was a really nice increase in SQ.

If all goes well, my unit should be "Twenty"ed by late fall or early winter.
Wow, fantastic news.  I love my DSD but certainly would consider a Twenty upgrade.  Can't wait to hear some reviews!!

Thanks Ayre for keeping the QB-9 alive!
Anyone heard this yet?
Apparently there *are* units that have been upgraded, so someone has heard it by now. My unit is in the queue for next month, hope to have it back no later than December.
Hi, I have some negative experience with the QB-9-dsd. Here is my story.
I recently bought (on the second hand market) a QB-9 DAC (upgraded by the seller to DSD status), 1 200$ CDN (~900$US), a good deal, I believe. It plays perfect, I praise its performance, native DSD and Hi Res flacs sound beyond reproach.

    B U T  

An annoying physical hum emanates from the box -- nothing in the speakers. I am fortunate to enjoy a very quiet listening room, I sometimes hear the hum (not always) from my seating position. I communicated with Ayre, they acknowledge the issue and this was their answer:

Yes, a QB-9 with your serial number has an internal transformer for Buss Power. And they do tend to hum a little. There’s not much you can do about it unfortunately.

But… we just came out with a new Twenty upgrade for the QB-9... [skipped description] ... US retail is $1,500.

So, Ayre's  proposal is to pay almost twice as much as I already paid for my unit to "upgrade" in order to settle a hum issue... At this price point, the competition is ferocious! ... and what if ... the hum remains?

Moreover, from CANADA, custom and transport issues are getting more frequent and complicated nowadays.

I rather consider to sell my unit (should get 900$US) and shop for something else supporting DSD... At 900$US + 1500$US = 2400$US, I have many many options. I currently fancy about a second hand Meitner DA-1 for this amount.

Did anyone have issues about physical hum? 

That sucks.

It is worth trying however on a completely different phase/circuit.

Sometimes physical hum is caused by DC on the line. However, it is also true that some cheaper transformers hum. If you had been the original owner, this would be a horrible story.

I agree with the @erik_squires post above.

I also suggest you plug the Ayre QB-9 DSD DAC into a different electrical circuit. This might solve the problem.

And, I would also use a cheater plug to plug the Ayre DAC into the wall. This might lower the hum level. 

If the hum continues, I would email Ayre, again, and ask if they might have a less expensive repair option to eliminate the hum. You should say in your listening environment, the hum interferes with your listening. I agree, in this case, spending another $1,500 is expensive but the newer model is expected to substantially improve its sound quality.

Please keep us posted.

I have since sold my Ayre QB-9 DSD DAC but it “stop working” and had to be retuned to the factory for a transformer repair. As you noted, I wonder if your humming issue is due to a transformer issue and you might need a new transformer.

I was told the Ayre Codex DAC employs a very high quality linear power supply. This is why it sounds so good in balanced mode. This also means that the voltage is fixed

Based on my experience, please ask Ayre if they will repair the transformer only under their warranty program.
Thank you for your answers.

I did try to plug it in a few outlets but the hum persisted. I bought an Emotiva CMX-2 to eliminate DC offset, and the hum persists.

The answer I had from Ayre does not encourage me to insist for a repair:
Yes, a QB-9 with your serial number has an internal transformer for Buss Power. And they do tend to hum a little. There’s not much you can do about it unfortunately.

All they suggest is the Twenty upgrade which, with the improved audio board does not have buss power.

For the moment, I installed the unit in behind a door in a closed furniture. It dampens the noise. I now want to try to cover it with a pillow... Most of the time, however, I don't hear it from my listening position... but when I do, it's annoying... and it is frustrating to hear it everytime I approach my installation, for example when putting vinyls for audition. This particular model does not have on/off switch, and unplugging it proves fastidious in a closed furniture.

I hope the hum is not precursor of a failure soon!
Thanks again.
@vepitesk, I understand that spending $1,500 for the Ayre upgrade is expensive based on your purchase price. 

Please call Ayre, again, and ask them is them if they just repair the humming transformer. Of course, they want to sell you the upgrade but you only need them to repair your humming Ayre QB-9 DSD DAC. They should be able to make this repair. Please keep us posted.
I have an a QB-9 that was the "second generation" (first generation only went to 24/96 files, mine could handle 24/192) and had it upgraded to "DSD". I don't hear any hum regardless of how close I get to the unit. I'm also running a stock NUC as a server. When I bought it, I intended to get a fanless case. But I can only hear the fan when I get close, not from the listening position even without any music playing. Could well be that I'm not as sensitive to extraneous noises compared to you?

I am in the queue for the Twenty upgrade. I've been really happy with the SQ improvements when Ayre releases upgrades.

Thanks all for your comments. I am now quite sure that my humming transfo is defective. My issue is related to guy from which I bought my unit had it upgraded to DSD capabilities, as in the above link.

Ayre themselves deny the issue ("...a QB-9 with your serial number has an internal transformer for Buss Power. And they do tend to hum a little...")
I will contact my local Authorized Dealer to have a check. My belief is that the hum is not "normal little hum" but rather a buzz as described in the above forum link.
In any case, thank you all for your comments that encourage me to have my unit serviced.
@vepitesk, as you posted above, did you take your local Ayre QB-9 DSD DAC to your Ayre retailer to discuss the hum issue? They should be able to get this resolved. 

Please let us know what happened. Thanks.
@hgeifman  My dealer does not offer to address my issue, but told me to contact Ayre directly.

In the mean time, I use a pillow cleverly positioned within my closed furniture shelf with total success to muffle the annoying hum. As everyone knows, a temporary workaround may well become a permanent solution especially so when really satisfactory!

@vepitesk, I am very disappointed to hear that your local Ayre retailer was unwilling to help solve the Ayre QB-9 DSD DAC hum issue.  This is poor customer service. 

As I stated before, have you tried a cheater plug to plug the Ayre QB-9 DAC into the wall.  This might lower the hum level (maybe). 

AND, one more time.  If the hum continues, I would CALL Ayre, again, and ask if they have a less expensive repair option to eliminate the hum. You should say in your listening environment, the hum interferes with your listening.  I agree, in your case, spending another $1,500 is expensive but the newer updated model is expected to substantially improve its sound quality.

You are requesting Ayre to repair your Ayre QB-9 DSD DAC to eliminate the hum.   They should be able make the repair unless the needed parts are not available or if the upgrade is the only way to eliminate the hum.   Or, maybe the available internal transformer   always hums and the upgrade is needed to eliminate the hum.

Please keep us posted.

I agree with @hgeifman ,
Ayre has great customer service, and I am surprised your dealer is no help either.
Call Ayre directly and mention that thread on buzzing. If anything, I would send the unit in to be tested.
Presumably He bought a used DAC out of warranty and not from his local dealer who should do what ? At a minimum ship it yourself to Ayre on your $can and see if it’s broken or normal transformer hum , 
and why hijack a perfectly good thread on the twenty upgrade...

now if I were the dealer and you brought it in, plugged it into my pole pig and it hummed more than normal ( and yes I have an Ayre DAC and an A2D ) , then the next time I called Ayre, I would advocate for a transformer replacement...

Got my Twenty upgrade back yesterday. I intend to let it burn in for a week or more before doing any critical listening but my initial impression is a cleaner, more open and unbounded sound.
Approaching the 400 hour mark. I think the upgrade is settled in but someone on another forum posted that it needs 500+ hours to fully reveal its character.

My initial impression is unchanged although the Twenty does sound better now than cold out out the box. To my ears, in my system and room, the main improvements are 1) improved clarity and resolution and 2) an expanded, almost unbounded, soundstage. The overall effect brings a refined sound that makes it even easier to relax into the music. I always considered the DSD version be be excellent but the Twenty is a notable step up. 

The increased clarity makes it easier to hear individual voices and instruments during complex passages. The added resolution adds a bit more texture all around; performers and instruments are more “fleshy”. This is most obvious in the midrange but I also hear improvement in the bass and, to a lesser extent, the treble. Perhaps this is the result of even quieter backgrounds? Well recorded music is revealed on a more dimensional and defined soundstage. And there seems to be no aspect of performance that is a step backwards from the DSD version. Nice!

This could be my final equipment upgrade; retirement is on the horizon and it would take a LOT of money to significantly improve the sound my system is now giving me. Kudos to Ayre for upgrading a discontinued (?) product.
Frankly, Beetlemania, I don’t hear a wow factor in your appraisal of the upgrade. I’m not intending to sound overly negative but for $1,500 I’d have thought there would be a more noticeable improvement. 
@beetlemania Thanks! I did find your post on Audiophilestyle as well as the back and forth with Ryan. I've been pretty happy with my DSD as it was very close to the sound of my VdH Frog. However, a new tweak to the table and the Frog has gotten through the 100-hour break-in and I was starting to notice the QB-9 not being as engaging as before, though it is still extremely good. I'm putting the Twenty on my list. (And no, I don't ever expect digital to sound as good as vinyl, especially in my system.)

Thank You for the update. I will concur in that the Twenty Series is incredible to report the very least. Any difference or sonic improvement is not subtle.

Merry Christmas!
Post removed 


How long have you had your QB-9? I don’t see your posts talking about it. The Twenty is a new circuit and with different parts so I’m glad you can hear a difference.

I put the Twenty upgrade at “nice” rather than “wow”. I’m really happy with my system and the Twenty upgrade made a nice difference, snapping the sonic picture ever more into focus to use an analogy. It’s kinda the icing on the cake, bringing a refined sound all around. It was worth the coin to me even if my system is still short of the very best $ystem I’ve heard. At this point, my modified Thiels are my weak link. You can’t have everything at their price point and bass definition (passive radiator rather than sealed) and extension (8” woofer) can’t match $$$peakers even if otherwise very good (and my modded Thiels *do* pretty much match the best I’ve heard in terms of resolution and transparency).


In my system, I thought the original QB-9 was close to vinyl if playing 24 bit files, in some ways better (bass and silent backgrounds), in some ways worse (relative loss of textures and midrange warmth). The DSD version playing 24 bit files pretty well matched the sonic strengths of vinyl while adding the tomb silent background of digital. I may or may not compare the Twenty version to my vinyl rig - I rarely play vinyl after I got the DSD version.