Question: “What is the best amplifier in the world?” Answer: “This Ayre pre/power pairing is in with a strong shout,” said What Hi-Fi in its ‘best of the best’ feature in issue 436 of the magazine. Find out more in issue 437, where the team expands with a comprehensive – and rather exceptional – review.
The review gets off to a strong start. “These Ayre products make a great first impression. Taking the KX-R Twenty preamplifier out of its packaging, we’re surprised with just how small and dense it feels. It’s packed into a relatively compact case that’s smaller than most budget integrateds, yet, at 18kg, is around double the weight.”
The casework in question is machined from a solid billet of aluminium, which “gives this range-topping preamp a deeply impressive and reassuring feeling of structural solidity.”
“Both of the control dials work with pleasing precision and have a robust feel…. The VX-R Twenty power amp echoes the preamp’s luxury aura. Add it all together and it’s not unreasonable to expect these products to be working for decades to come.”
While the exterior of these products is impressive “it’s on the inside where Ayre’s attention to detail and open-minded electronic design really comes to the fore.” If you’re the type to take things apart and peer under the hood, “it’s a joy to behold both the quality of the components used and the obsessive care taken in designing the circuits.”
“While it doesn’t take long to recognize that this is a reference-quality amplifier, it takes a lot longer to pin down its sonic character. This Ayre pairing is the closest we’ve heard to that mythical ‘straight wire with gain’ ideal that hi-fi purists bang on about.”
The expectation at this price point (£29,000 preamp / £25,000 power amp) is that “nothing less than exceptional is acceptable.” The verdict? “That this Ayre combo matches – and then exceeds – those expectations is a testament to the scale of its sonic talent.”
Read the full review in the issue 437 of What Hi-Fi or online at www.whathifi.com/us/reviews/ayre-acoustics-kx-r-twenty-vx-r-twenty