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Ayre Acoustics D-1
3 Reviews
rating  5 of 5
MSRP  7500.00


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Reviews 1 - 3 (3 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by tok20000 a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: January 4, 2003

Bottom Line:   
This is a review for the Ayre CX-7 CDP. Please fine the total review at: http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?rdgtl&1037849911&openusid&zzTok20000&4&5#Tok20000

My last two digital sources (Cary 306/200 and EMC 1 mk2) had pretty subtle differences between them. The EMC sounded slightly more veiled and electronic than the Cary. The Cary had a beautiful liquid midrange that is almost addictive with better low level detail than the EMC player. Both of these players totally blew away ever other digital source I have ever owned. These two players had very subtle differences between them, and I could easily understand why one person would like either one over the other. The differences between the Cary 306/200 and the Ayre CX-7 were much more dramatic.

The first thing I noticed with the CX-7 is that my treble problem completely cleared itself up with the player in my system. My treble sounded a bit dark and not extended even a bit compressed with the Cary 306/200. Maybe even rolled off a bit. I did not like my systems treble performance before I got the Ayre. The Ayre’s treble is extended and highly detailed and very open.

The other thing that was obvious was that the Ayre’s bass response and control and detail were a lot better than the Cary 306/200. I could hear bass notes on recordings that I never new existed. It was as if the Cary had a serious bass roll off issue below about 40hz or so. Maybe it was just the control of those lower frequencies were not nearly as good with the Cary. The definition of the bass with the Ayre was in another league than the Cary’s.

The Cary’s midrange is one of wonderful liquidity that really can get addictive. However, I believe this liquidity comes from the tonal balance of the Cary being rolled off at the bottom and top ends. The Cary’s Midrange is very focused and can be seductive, but this comes at a price. The Ayre’s midrange is more balanced than the Cary’s. It is not quite as focused in the sense that I think the Cary images vocals a bit better than the Ayre; however, the entire tonal balance of the Ayre far exceeds the Cary. The Ayre’s midrange matches its bass and treble. It has amazing detail and seems to be not emphasized or deemphasized.

In soundstaging, the Ayre and Cary threw just about as deep of a soundstage as each other; however, the Ayre has the ability to put instrumentation in the far back corners of the soundstage and outside the speakers much better than the Cary. The Ayre also has the ability to really subtly pick up and translate phase shifts in recordings.

Low level detail and transparency are really the Ayre’s strengths. I am not going to say that the Cary sounded veiled, but the Cary just does not translate subtle musical detail that the Ayre does. For example the different texture of drums. Drums sound slightly different depending what they are made of. The Ayre could communicate this detail far clearer than the Cary. Another example is low level echo or room sound. With the Ayre, I could get a definite sense of the room that the recording was being done in. I can also get a sense of the sound of the mic that is being used to record a vocal. This may sound very odd, but when I listen to the Ayre, I think I can hear the mic impact on the sonic signature of the voice. I have an idea of what the voice should sound like live, and I can hear the mic impacting the sound of the voice. This will get very metaphysical if I go on… Anyway, this low level transparency combines with the serious bass response enables me to hear the soundstage clearer and gives a better illusion of a live performance with well recorded albums.

Another good test I find to judge low level detail is what I call the Rebecca Pidgeon test. Mrs. Pidgeon (married to David Mamet… what a lucky guy!), has a very strong Scottish accent when she sings (I have been told that she can turn this accent on or off at a drop of a hat though). Her lyrics are recorded very well by Chesky, but she is hard to understand for us stupid Americans due to this thick accent. I find that the better/more transparent the source I use, the easier I can understand her lyrics on her Chesky albums. Let’s just say I can understand Mrs. Pidgeon lyrics much better with the Ayre than I ever could with the Cary or EMC 1 mk2. Her music is also pretty complex and recorded well with a lot of detail, and her recordings can be very good as references.

Both the Cary and the Ayre seemed to have about the same level of dynamics. However, the Ayre seems to have a blacker background than the Cary does. This seems strange because the Ayre has a lower output than the Cary; however, this blacker background could be one of the reasons that the Ayre presents better low level detail than the Cary. When you have a very black background, the greatest subtleties can be heard that might normal be veiled by background noise.

I think that the Ayre represents the next generation of compact disc players. The Cary

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2002

Price Paid:    $2000.00

Purchased At:   Audiogon

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by meri5862 a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: May 24, 2002

Bottom Line:   
Previously, I used the Meridian 586.2 DVD player and thought it was excellent in every area except as a dedicated CD transport, the Jade was much better for that purpose. But I wanted a unit that was both a high-end CD transport and DVD player, which I knew did not come cheap (as optioned, the Ayre D-1x is $8750). After reading many reviews on the Ayre D-1x, I took a chance and purchased it from an authorized dealer.

Well, I am glad I bought it. My skepticisms were immediately proven wrong. The Ayre is immensely better than the Jade as a transport (but for the price, it should be). And a major improvement over the Meridian 586.2 (I have not compared to the current 596 model) as a DVD and CD player.

As a CD transport (mated to a Theta Casablanca II), there was more clarity and transparency throughout the audio range, a darker, noise-free background that produced an wide and deep soundstage.

As a CD player, it is capable of standard CDs and 24/96 material (no SACD nor DVD-A). Simply put, the Ayre's 24-bit, high-resolution DACs (in balanced configuration) are more capable of retrieving more details from the music.

But as a DVD player, the Ayre raised incredibly raised the bar of DVD audio and video even higher. Picture (S-Video) was very stable, noise-free and very 3-D in quality. I am looking forward to using the Ayre's 480P video option which is even better. As for sound, in my opinion, DD and DTS sources from the D-1x sounded more natural and involving by lessening the typical signatures of compressed digital sound.

As with most high-end components, the remote appears to be an afterthought. But that's OK since Ayre put its design efforts where it counts; in the unit itself. One might complain that for the price, the D-1x should come with a more substantial one. But I have yet to complain about its audio and video performance.

In summary, given its rather high-end price tag, dare I say there is some value in the Ayre D-1x. You get an already state-of-the-art, reference-quality CD & DVD player, and it's even upgradeable. On top of that, the folks at Ayre Acoustics are some of the best people in the industry.

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $4950.00

Purchased At:   Nicholson's HiFi

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Ron Yee a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: January 15, 2001

Bottom Line:   
For digital playback, the Ayre D-1 is simply a revelatory product. I am a vinyl lover, and until hearing the Ayre, I simply could not justify spending $3,000 - $4,000 for a CD player, even conceding that digital playback has come very long way and that someone just starting out in the quest for fine audio playback should start with digital and not look back. Having now bought and heard the Ayre, I am even more certain of this advice.

With well executed CDs (of which there are more and more every day), playback on the Ayre is very close to matching vinyl and in fact surpasses most vinyl, except for the really well done examples of that medium (of which there are many, but fewer every day). The Ayre also lets you know why DVD audio can be and is better still than CD and probably can match the best that analogue has to offer (except maybe some of the really fine 45 rpm reissues and the best of a scarce number of direct to disc offerings).

Can the Ayre match the best of SACD? I don't know. I've heard a couple of supposedly good set-ups sourced by SACD and for some reason did not hear what all the fuss is about, even though there's no denying that many "golden ears" think that SACD is the best. I do have some confidence in saying that CD playback through the Ayre D-1 is far, far better than CD playback through any Sony SACD player I have ever heard, which, in my opinion, is mediocre at best.

I'm not telling you what the Ayre sounds like because that would be meaningless. You need to hear it yourself to understand what a great product it is - and if you've listened to just about any digital playback system, YOU WILL HEAR THE DIFFERENCE! - unless, perhaps, you've been listening to the incredibly expensive ($20k and up) units which I have never heard.

The Ayre is $8k - very expensive - but I believe is worth every penny. I'm saying this from the perspective of a once vinyl snob who now rethinks (happily) his software purchases very carefully.

And yes, it does do video playback, too, which is supposed to be extremely good, but which I haven't even bothered to try yet.

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Used product for:   3 months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2000

Reviews 1 - 3 (3 Reviews Total)

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