The Ayre QX-5 Twenty: The Digital Hub

Let's say you want less boxes in your hi-fi but you don't want to give up the stuff you need and the stuff you like. And the stuff you need includes a DAC and the stuff you like (need?) includes Roon and Tidal HiFi. Well, more and more companies are answering your wants and needs by introducing what can best be described as networked DACs: In addition to the usual digital inputs (USB, S/PDIF), companies are adding Ethernet to their D to A converters so that they can stream from network attached storage and the Internet without the need for another box. Case in point, Ayre's new QX-5 Twenty: The Digital Hub.

From the press release:

Boulder, Colorado, USA - 27 April 2016 - Ayre's latest entry in the world of digital audio combines a decades-long record of ground-breaking innovation in both digital and analog audio with revolutionary features to set a new benchmark in the field.

Every conceivable digital input, including Ethernet, Wavelength Audio's StreamlengthTM asynchronous USB, S/PDIF (in three different formats), and even direct connection to thumb drives and NAS storage allows for unlimited flexibility and convenience. Streaming with both Tidal and Deezer are fully supported, and Roon ready control is directly integrated as well. Whether your music library comprises physical media, computer-based files, or streamed from the highest quality lossless services, all are seamlessly accessible with unprecedented ease.

To clarify, if you want the Roon'd package (I do), you do need to have another box running Roon Core but this box can be a relatively inexpensive dedicated machine like an Intel NUC, which can also serve additional RoonReady devices throughout your home.

I look forward to seeing the new Ayre QX-5 Twenty in a few days in Munich.

ktracho's picture

I hope you can keep an eye out on DACs (and software) that can decode (or can be upgraded to decode) MQA, and when they'll be available for purchase.

mtymous1's picture

Am hoping you'll be getting one in and dishing out a full-scale review soon...

P.S. Another vote for the Intel NUC here! (Especially those models that include optical out with up to 24/192.)'s picture

as I have no idea what to get or how to implement it. I see some that have ram and hard drives. Do I get one to be a NAS too? Sorry, just ignorant and want to learn as I've been waiting on this unit since the Codex was released. As for the Ayre and MQA, they are waiting to see if it becomes main stream for the recording studios. IF it does, then they will implement MQA. This isn't an MQA thread, but I think that until the main stream recording studios start releasing modern/pop along with their older stuff in MQA, that it will stay on par with SACD/DSD etc... Not enough content available PLUS isn't NOT a high res format. I'm pulling for it too, but I think it will be a long time before we see it become accepted which is too bad. I heard it last year and was blown away, however I play mostly high res recordings on a very nice and resolving rig. My DAC doesn't have that ringing that so many do and I'm not sure that MQA is THAT much better than what I hear now. Time will tell of course.

This new DAC/streamer/(server?) is a great start and one that seems to be worth waiting for. We don't see more than one per dealer until the summer though. They haven't made a lot of them and the wait will be a little bit, just like it was to upgrade to the Twenty series upgrades when they were released over a year ago. Review samples and one or two per dealer is what it seems to be until the end of June into July. Makes me want to hear it even more, lol. I think it may be time to sell my Empirical Audio OSDE/SE and server. Hope to see a review of the new QNAP NAS's that are basically for audio. That or a new Melco NAS/server to go with this would be perfect for the whole house system. Can't wait to hear what others are coming out with this week.

mtymous1's picture


For the NUC, check out:

(I have one and have also assembled another for a friend.)

Out of curiosity, what are you trying to accomplish (with the NUC or otherwise) that your current system configuration does not deliver?

mtymous1's picture


If your NUC inquiry is related to Lavorgna's comment on using a NUC for the Roon core, check out "How Roon Works":

Simply put: you stand up a NUC, install the Roon Core on it, and then access your Roon-managed content from it.

(Okay, oversimplified.)'s picture

yes, I would probably want to try and run Roon Core. I'm still learning about Roon etc...I really want to simplify my whole system without losing (trying to get better sound) SQ. My Mac Mini is the best sounding one I've ever heard. It was built by Steve Nuggent who actually use to be a top engineer at Intel and designs and builds my DAC. It was the server he used to use at shows. It has the Hynes power supply and is rebuilt, but I know that the N10 Aurender sounds a bit better. If the Ayre sounds better than my Empirical DAC, I'll see it and get the Ayre to match my AX=5 Twenty. I want to cut out boxes and make it easy to use one remote etc... I wish that Ayre also offered a 2gb SSD option so I didn't have to get a separate NAS, but since I run LINN Kiko, I can easily use the NAS and learn how to set it up etc.. I do wish they just had all the Roon stuff built in, but maybe I don't need Roon Core (not sure about all three Roons and what they do).