A veteran of AVRev.com, Jim Swantko also wrote home theater and audiophile component reviews for HomeTheaterReview.com in the early days of the publication. His focus was on mid- to high-end audio brands like Mark Levinson, Classé, Noble Fidelity, Cary Audio, MartinLogan, and Paradigm.
Ayre Acoustics are out with new reference monoblock amplifiers that are simply drop-dead gorgeous, competing in the upper echelon of audiophile amplifiers. The $16,500 per pair MX-Rs do not look like your typical audiophile amplifiers. First of all, they are much smaller than you might expect 300-watt badass amplifiers to be. Secondly, upon close inspection of the gorgeous casework, you will notice that there are no seams to be found. The entire chassis is beautifully machined from one piece of billet aluminum. How's that for rigidity? The front panel has a single multi-function LED, which glows beautifully blue when operating and various other colors to indicate faults. The rear of the unit is equally simple. Beyond the AyreLink communication ports, all you will find are a power cord receptacle, an XLR input and the best binding post anywhere, made by Cardas.
Internally, you will find the same attention to detail, once again taking advantage of the billet chassis to isolate the audio circuits from anything that may inject noise, most notably the transformers. Yes, plural. Each amplifier utilizes dual transformers in the linear power supply. The audio circuit is fully balanced and uses zero feedback. Leaving nothing to chance, Charles included their patented Ayre Conditioner AC power filtration circuitry to clean anything that may come from our wall sockets. Rarely does the inside of a piece of electronics elicit words like "beautiful," but this one truly deserves it.
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As any Ayre customer can tell you, the company isn't in the business of making audio jewelry. Their products are designed to perform first and look sexy second. Sonically, the first word which comes to mind with the sound of these new mono blocks from Ayre is "effortless." Whether recreating intimate acoustic recordings or hammering away to thrash metal, they never seem break a sweat. They have an uncanny ability to present the music in an open, revealing manner, never coming across as harsh or forced. I found that my musical experience was much more dependent on how I listened, rather than how the MX-Rs presented. Typically, an amplifier is described as being either musical or detailed. The designer is often forced to choose one path at the expense of the other, depending on how he looks at amp design. The Ayre MX-R doesn't get stuck in these pigeonholes. If I wanted a large, enveloping musical experience, I just needed to relax and take it all in. If I wanted more details, it was up to me to listen for them and, like magic, there they were. The MX-R provides the best of both worlds, which, at its lofty prices, you have every right to expect.
Read the High Points, The Low Points and the Conclusion on Page 2