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To Peter Roth,

I’ve just read your most recent review of the Audio Research Reference 5 preamplifier. Well, as a Ref 5 owner, I couldn’t agree more -- you took the words out of my mouth as it were.

Please let me ask you about something completely different. In the Associated Equipment section you mention the Ayre DX-5 as your only digital source. I currently own Ayre's C-5xeMP and have been very happy with it. However, because I want to add Blu-ray playback capability to my system and, also, people tell me it is time to at least start thinking about computer audio, I have been seriously considering replacing my C-5xeMP with the DX-5. I have no doubt whatsoever that with Blu-ray Discs and as a USB DAC the DX-5 is stellar and, perhaps, the best buy under $10k.

So I’m not even asking your opinion about that part of it. However, how does DX-5’s CD, DVD-A and SACD playback compare with the C-5xeMP? Does the DX-5 really outperform the C-5xeMP with CD, DVD-A, and SACD? If you ever had a chance to compare the two machines, could you share your impressions, please? If you haven’t and only can speak for the DX-5, that would be interesting, too. Again, I only care about the DX-5’s performance with CD, DVD-A, and SACD out of the analog outputs.

As always, your honest and impartial opinion will be well appreciated.

Thank you so much!

The Ayre C-5xeMP is a fantastic machine and was my disc-spinning reference for almost four years, so I am intimately familiar with it. However, when my QB-9 and Wavelength Crimson came along, I almost completely stopped spinning silver discs. Instead, my listening was either vinyl or computer audio (having ripped my entire CD collection). I do have a handful of SACDs and DVD-As, and those were the only thing I’d listen to through the C-5xeMP. After about a year of keeping the C-5xeMP around to spin only DVD-A/SACDs, and knowing that the DX-5 was coming down the pike, I ended up selling my C-5xeMP. Let me assure you that decision was not folly, as the DX-5 is superior as an audio disc spinner on all three physical formats (and as a USB DAC and Blu-ray player, too). Essentially, it utilizes the exact same engine (same digital filters, same DAC chip, same double-regulated power supply), but because the DX-5 has Ayre’s newest Equilock output stage, the DX-5 paints an even more honest and realistic sonic picture. It also outperforms the QB-9 to a significant degree, due presumably to the double-regulated analog power supply for each circuit (the QB-9’s power supply is not double-regulated) and the use of superior parts (Ayre’s store of NOS Toshiba FETs) in the Equilock output stage.

Finally, the DX-5 trounces my Oppo BD-83SE on the sonic front and exceeds its performance visually as well (in addition, it is a much quieter Blu-ray machine). For me, having the three devices rolled into one (it is an integrated source machine), with only one power cord, one interconnect, and performance in excess of my old C-5xeMP and current QB-9 (which is now in my wife’s system) and the Oppo, its purchase was a no-brainer. Cheers. . . . Pete Roth