Ayre DX-5 Test

Yes, it’s true, the Ayre DX-5 is a universal player with genes of the oppo BDP-83. But except for the drive and the legendary speed of the oppo, not much is left in the Ayre. And that’s a good thing.

If there is such a thing as a legends-legendary, legendary phantom consumer electronics, which is the Universal Player Oppo BDP-83. Phantom because he is officially not in Germany, just above dark (Internet -) channels and beyond German warranty would find its way into local living room. Say subject because he (so much the British offshoot of the Amazon requires at the moment) should play so equivalent of 770 euros without shipping and tax, so pretty much every disc for around 630 pounds, which takes place in his drive. This includes incorporating Blu-ray discs, CDs, and DVDs also the SACD , and even the living fossil of DVD-Audio. Of course, also HiFi Tester licking after such a miracle machine the finger; but many publishing flinch before online shopping without the right of return. This does however not detract from the popularity of the oppo.

Just this mix of impressive versatility and difficult availability makes the oppo not only for end customers. Not a few HiFi manufacturers, including Cambridge, let by the U.S.-based company on behalf of OEM to customize Their own universal player . Why not – the constellation looks after a perfect symbiosis: oppo provides the raw material, adapting to the pesky European CE standards as well as sales and support take the client.

Ayre DX-5: Building

It is therefore anything but scandalous, if also an American high-end forge has chosen the oppo as a breeding ground for the breeding of the universal player. The procedure is highly uncommon however. Rather than to order the right parts of itself from oppo, Ayre is simply buying the complete player, takes him apart and leaves except no screw how and where was the drive and the video and Control Board. Charles Hansen himself–the mastermind of a Ayre – candidly admits in American Internet forums that the concept of the PDB-83 have convinced him and he does not believe that there could be a better universal player platform. But when oppo would be to order player, how he actually would have liked him, so still to a lot more expensive advised as the manual disassembling and to own again putting together wishes.

For what is there not even described with the terms “Tuning” or “Modification” in the Holy places in Boulder, Colorado, happened with the filthy oppo player. Rather, the oppo experienced a kind of Buddhist reincarnation as higher beings of HiFi. Strictly under the Hansenschen Commandments: you shall use no feedback, you should not regulate and avoid high-frequency interference fields of any type. So, the oppo was gutted on drive and video board, instead of the sinful, scattering switching two clean transformers and an impressive battery of capacitors incorporated him to replace even the exiled DC-DC converter on the video board over analog voltage regulator. The Analog audio Board resembles a meticulously landscaped Zen Garden. And there is space in the new fully aluminum enclosure for two additional boards: a further HDMI output and a USB interface..

Ayre-DX-5: USB interface

The latter in contrast is used to the already in the oppo existing two USB inputs only as acoustic umbilical cord to PC or Mac – of course not randomly with the same care equipped like those in the purebred USB DAC QB-9. There Ayre implemented a software solution that can provide the own clock as the clock via the Asynchronous USB transfer mode rather than, as one of the first Hi-Fi companies with rising jitter danger, to prevent the inaccurate computer clock.

Only restriction: the QB-9 processes only audio data to maximum 96 kilohertz. A negligible handicap: First recordings slumber anyway rarely enough with up to 192-kilohertz sampling rate on the hard disk. Secondly few or no operating systems support playback of such high data rates on USB – date natively because quite simply neither software nor hardware for the necessary “high speed mode” is implemented. Since Apple but announced that enough to make really fast, its newest operating system, Mac OS 10.6.2 are Ayre engineers on alert.

So the newly hatched DX-5 offers for promptly a small toggle switch on the back, the USB class 1 “full speed fashion” on the faster class 2 “high speed mode” switches and theoretically now 192 kHz files processed. In theory, because the Ayre player ahead still have the software and hardware version of the most current calculators (including the AUDIO test-PC) is hopeless. Many USB ports, which are so numerous romp on laptops and desktop computers, do not support the fast data rates. Who comes out but also with maximum 96 kHz sampling frequency , can feed the DX-5 out of every forest and meadows PC music food (it is advisable for PCs a so-called “ASIO driver” to install to bypass the penetrating mixing with “K-Mixer” of Windows). Because there is no mode for the operation of the DAC in the oppo operating system, right of way get the incoming USB data without further ADO: with Audio-USB mode activated the Ayre firmware takes control, breaks the rule about player and display itself and paralysing all other functions. Cancels the USB stream or if the cable is removed, the DX-5 falls unceremoniously into a sleeping beauty sleep, to awaken in the normal operating mode again.

Phonetically it experienced a similar phenomenon via USB, as it could conjure up already the QB-9: almost eerie transparent and clean, at the same time weightless and powerful. Actually, the DX-5 managed to work without sacrificing structural pressure full, slightly creamier compared to its smaller brother of the DAC. A suitable sparring partner for the first time brought in distress – as a network player quite even the Linn Akurate DS this fascinating corporeal figure. This countered but with the so fascinating how inexplicable quirk, music to play, so of course that can – formerly important published questions simply move highlights or bass fundament in the background and the headphones do just one listen.

Ayre DX-5: HDMI output

But he that believeth that USB technology is complicated, look forward to the HDMI modifications in the DX-5. Only the HDMI interface of the oppo is responsible for the image data. Incidentally, whose quality is easily described with one word: sensational. The more stable power supply not; harms the anchor Bay traded anyway as currently best video processor ABT 2010 visibly Video images, including those of the DVD, full of plasticity.

Theoretically, such HDMI output passes also audio signals when this function is disabled not – as in the factory settings of the Ayre -. This task falls to better the second HDMI port according to the Ayre-maker, who sits on an own, galvanically decoupled circuit board and with the normal HDMI outputs no longer together has a lot. A Bitstream audio signals take only cast their journey through the separate interface as PCM. On the other hand, they are accompanied by a black video image resolution 720 x 1080 pixels.

The reason for this mysterious procedure can be found in the fateful section “Audio” the HDMI specification: Because assumption out there that Yes only in conjunction makes sense there will be audio with a video screen via HDMI, a special channel for the selection bar was not even given the sensitive audio signals. Instead, those obtained in a mathematical equation in relation to the video reference clock on the receiver side. What does the reverse: ever constant the ratio of audio – and video clock, the synchronous. To counter the dreaded jitter, they decided with Ayre as possible to do as little unknown in the equation. The video image with 720 p resolution serves as a transport container for the audio content, even the PCM signals are transmitted in defined time units: Stereo sound may translate as a two-channel signal, Multi channel tracks are always bundled to 7.1; even if only six existing channels, two courts remain free.

Ayre DX-5: hearing test

Actually you had the impression, the modified variant immediately curious comparison with the natural HDMI output more Acutance and structure would be. The cross check with Cambridge Azur 650 BD, built on the basis of an oppo and equipped with identical digital Board, gave a similar impression, especially if was offered via its HDMI output PCM instead of the undekodierten bitstream. About the Ayre were the percussion arts by drummer Stewart Copeland in “wrapped around your finger” on the live-Blu-ray “Certifiable” – the first and probably only by the police – so clearly impressive, Sting’s bass chords so much more precise plucked, as a star hairdresser had clipped along the frayed strands of old hippies.

But: Who’s listening in practice already PCM over HDMI, if so many AV amplifiers offer the appropriate decoder for high bit formats? Actually it was Dolby TrueHD stream via the Cambridge Act only to make up the difference in quality to PCM sound of the Ayre. And as the universal player joined the Denon DVD-A1UD to the final duel, favored its opposite binding acting fairly, rousing performance PCM arts of the DX-5. Especially since even the clever Ayre engineers probably not could turn off a disadvantage of the oppo-based: the signal processor is used could convert 192 kHz bitstreams in Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master only in 96 kHz PCM – exactly so, by the way also with the oppo chip tipped Cambridge Azur 650 vol. At the Two-channel sound again, it worked easily with the higher sampling frequency.

Test: Naim Uniti 2 The Multichannel fan remains at the Ayre, however, only the digital audio path, because analog focused the DX-5 his abilities only on two-channel playback: balanced via XLR or unbalanced via RCA. This also applies to the SACD; who like to enjoy the multi-channel variant, switches on DSD playback via HDMI. Who manages the DX-5 is downright terrific: anyone who still thinks that digital sound about right, should lead to just the duel between Ayre and Cambridge to heart. Because the instruments in space to an exact and beautiful at the same time full of lust play ensemble pieced together is former, during branch which grind reins rather figure and accuracy allowed. Denons universal player remained in this round for the first time outside; He can continue to reach DSD signals only via the proprietary Denon link.

In the Analog implementation of two-channel SACD but the A1UD was allowed to play again. To the great surprise of the tester, a more present and immediate representation succeeded, he put the listener directly into the action. What but not of the Ayre generally is expected to questionable analog capabilities: one was the DX-5 instead of his despicable Audio CD (or it switches to the outstanding USB DAC function), the tide turned immediately. As so, as then played the Ayre, a three-dimensional depth gave the CD almost eerily, space and sound body so perfectly combined, the SACD Stereo power was quickly forgotten. Especially, if you the DX-5 as playmates who alike consistently balanced, feedback-free built amplifier chain from K5-XE pre-amp and V5 XE to the page was.


The Ayre is fast, universal and so unquestionably better than the original oppo, that one must lose no words about it. And he is not cheap with Nearly 11,000 euros . But who flirts with this player, should it must sacrifice not his socking away as befitting prepend it to a suitably high quality development. There he is – unfold properly its superiority compared to old and upcoming oppo Tunisten.