Earlier this year, Colorado-based Ayre Acoustics previewed its new ‘8 series’ of hi-fi components at the Munich High-End Show and the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. Now, the first product in the series, the EX-8 integrated ‘hub’ amplifier, arrives on the market and comes to the UK via a new distribution agreement with Decent Audio.
The new entry-level 8 series joins Ayre’s existing ‘R’ and ‘5’ series, the aim of the trio being to collectively deliver state-of-the-art technical innovation over a wider price range. In other words, customers can expect a significant amount of technology and craftsmanship to trickle down from the uncompromised musicality of the upper end of the range into the impressively affordable 8 series.
First to launch, the EX-8 is a 100-watt per channel (into 8 ohms) integrated amplifier with a veritable raft of inputs and options. Whether you’re a discerning music lover or an audiophile on a budget, the EX-8 offers the perfect high performance centrepiece around which to build a scalable, flexible system as space and money allow, incorporating both analogue and digital sources and compromising on the quality of neither. Hence Ayre’s use of the term ‘integrated hub’.
Like all Ayre components, the EX-8 features fully balanced circuits with all discrete components and zero negative feedback. Unique technologies developed by Ayre that have filtered down from the award-winning (and higher priced) ‘R’ and ‘5’ series include an Equilock gain stage, Variable Gain (VGT) volume circuit and Ayre’s patent-pending Asynchronous S/PDIF interface.
The EX-8’s modularity makes it incredibly versatile. It sports three analogue inputs (one balanced) and up to six digital inputs (Ethernet, USB, AES/EBU, S/PDIF and two Toslink). With the Ethernet module installed, it is Roon-ready and pre-configured to stream Spotify, Qobuz, and Tidal. What’s more, it’s designed to be upgradeable for inevitable future technologies.
Ayre’s Double-Diamond output stage and pure linear analogue power supplies produce 100 watts of power, allowing the EX-8 to partner effortlessly with your favourite loudspeakers. There’s also a dedicated built-in headphone amplifier, designed to drive even the most exacting headphones.
So if you thought that Ayre’s exceedingly refined-sounding electronics were beyond your reach in terms of either space or budget, then it’s time to think again. The new EX-8 integrated ‘hub’ amplifier could be the perfect solution.