May 21, 2010

Power and Refinement - Ayre MX-R monoblocks

“The Ayre MX-R have the sound characteristics of a 300B amp, just that it is much more powerful.” A friend commented after listening to the monoblocks. I trust this guys's ears, so I believe his remark was not far off the mark, if not hitting smack at the bull’s eye.

The Ayre MX-R is a pair of high power amplifiers, putting out 300w per side into 8 ohms and 600w into 4.

The MX-R is petite compared to the majority of the muscle amps. Each unit’s chassis is hewn from a solid piece of aluminium. Instead of a solid bottom, the demo units were fitted with a transparent perspex sheet so that one could ogle at the well laid out interior when one turned it over, this meant that, interestingly, the circuit boards were mounted upside down inside the chassis. I was made to understand that the perspex will be replaced with a metal bottom if you buy the amp.

Though small, the amp is heavy. Each piece weighs in at 23kg (52lbs). It can just barely be moved around by one person. One also has to be careful when lifting it because it is front heavy due to the 2 transformers located up front.

The MX-R has only 1 input at the back, a balanced (XLR) type, this implies that the Ayre MX-R can be driven only with a pre-amp with balanced out. Ayre also says the MX-R is fully balanced and implemented without feedback.

I love the loudspeaker output, it is the Cardas binding post type, easy to use and easy to tighten, though it also means that the amp only take spades.

The amp goes into standby when it is hooked up to power (there isn’t an on-off main switch, by the way). A light press on the indicator light in front puts the amp in operating mode, the indicator light also turned from green to blue. The amp never misbehaved one bit when it was in my system. There was no funny clicks or pops. This is the least you would expect from a pair of amplifiers that is listed at around RM80,000.

The MX-R made me feel like I was cruising in a big Mercedes. It was comfortable, it was smooth, it was quiet (in that it does not emit any extraneous noise other than the sound on the recording). Additionally, it had power lurking underneath all that polish. When a change in speed or a burst of dynamics was called for, the MX-R just sprung into action, responding to the demand instantly and almost nonchalantly, and definitely without breaking any sweat. And just like a big V6, it kept its composure and smoothness all the time.

The MX-R was not about shouting at you for attention, it was not the type that grabbed you by your collar and shook you crazy. Again, my friend put it succinctly, “if you like those old Krells, you’d not like the MX-R. And vice versa.” (I have not heard the newer Krells in my system, so I can’t comment). The MX-R’s temperament was about subtlety and civility, but please don’t take this to mean ‘too polite’. The MX-R could play hard, just that it never ever would sound aggressive. The MX-R let the musical event unfold in front of you, instead of throwing things at you. After some time, you’d be drawn in by the music itself rather than the sonic characteristics. In fact, the MX-R handled all genres of music that I tried on it very well and very confidently – which included vocal, jazz, classical & rock.

The MX-R’s bass was strong and well controlled. It was a little more prominent in the sonic mix, sort of propelling the proceedings along, and it had a nice rounded quality. The mids were quite beautiful - liquid, rich and slightly creamy. The highs were clean and just very slightly darker than what I was used to, it was also very smooth, as such there was never any perception of brightness or listening fatigue. Details were top notch, I kept hearing things in the music that I have never heard before. Soundstaging was great too, it fully bloomed at the front of my listening room, filling up all the space. Soundstaging is a weakness of my listening room but with the MX-R I could discern a better formed 3-dimensional landscape.

It was quite an experience living with a high-end piece like the MX-R. It could teach one a lesson or two in high quality music enjoyment.

And it is befitting that a journey like this will not end soon. Big E has turned up an Ayre pre-amp, the K-5xeMP, not quite the MX-R natural partner, the KX-R pre-amp, but I was told that the K-5xeMP punches above its class. My next stop will be a full Ayre music production chain, with my own Ayre c-5xeMP universal player in front.

Now, I wonder where Ayre will bring me to next.

For more photos of the Ayre MX-R monoblocks, click here -

Ayre is available from Hi-Way Laser. Contact Kenny 03-7873.8325; 019-281.3399 .


Hi-Way Laser Electronics said...

Thanks for the review, Please change the banner link to
my website has redesigned, a total new look, thank you !! :)

Big E said...

Hi-Way Laser,

Your suggestion is noted and the banner link will be updated a.s.a.p.

Thanks for the feedback.

OdioSleuth said...