Manufacturer's Comment

Dear Mr. Lavorgna,

Thank you so much for the well-written and comprehensive review of the Ayre QX-5 Twenty. For us the highest reward is that our products deliver what we designed them to do, to let you get lost in the music. We are extremely pleased that the QX-5 Twenty continues our track record and connects you directly to the musician and the performance!

Ayre has been developing award-winning products and technologies since 1993. Ayre’s continuous innovation with technologies like our minimum-phase digital filters and advanced clocking are, we feel, largely responsible for the smile that broke out on your face during your late-night listening sessions.

The QX-5 is really a showcase of a quarter of a century of research and development. Connecting our award winning analog circuitry with any type of relevant digital source, the QX-5 Twenty utilizes innovations to specifically defeat jitter, create a quiet backdrop, pull all of the music from the recordings, and make smiles (even with "bad" recordings).

This newest member of our 5 series is the best digital product we have ever made and, like all of our products, it is designed to be upgraded as new technologies emerge. We look forward to providing you with products to review for years to come, and more smiles.

Sincerely—The Ayre Team

COMMENTS's picture

As an owner of the AX5/Twenty and now an almost broken in QX5/Twenty I have the same conclusions. I am coming from an Empirical Audio DAC fully updated and loaded. The Ayre is something special. Very few products are as musical. I'm hearing bass that I didnt' think my Treo's had! Coherency is another word that keeps popping up. Listening to Dire Straights Private Investigators Album right now. It's amazing, but int the beginning it can sound sharp as heck. This is the very first digital device that can play this without making my ears bleed a bit. It still keeps the pitch and brightness that it's supposed to have. I am noticing the micro and macro details in songs that I've not heard on my digital or others. I find this unit more musical than the dCS Rossini/external clock. I know that's blasphemy, but it's my system and my ears and the dCS sounded leaner in my system and not as much fun to listen to.

As you have said, this is a fun to turn on and listen to component. I'm listening for more hours daily than I ever have. I'm even using the wifi to stream Tidal still as I need to hook up in the room.

I never really care about someone telling me I made a good choice in a component, but it's also nice to know that others hear what you hear. From speaking with many who own the QX5 or who have auditioned it, the Ayre electronics in general just sound great with nearly anyone's high end speakers. That's just so rare in audio.

Thanks as always for the review and the AWESOME musical recommendations you sneak in with your reviews!!! Pete

DH's picture

So,if I understood you correctly, you preferred a direct Ethernet connection from your server to the Ayre, rather than Ethernet to USB with the microRendu in the middle?


Michael Lavorgna's picture
Just to clarify, the Ayre and the server are both connected to the network, not to each other.
rexp's picture

Interesting review, curious that this DAC merited 'Favorite' status but the Musica Pristina didn't, even though you sounded more enthusiastic about that DAC?

scottsol's picture

The Musica was reviewed by Steven, not Michael.

Rafe Arnott's picture

I'm going to have to give this a listen. Great write-up. I LOL a few times.

Cycles2's picture


In your review of the Ayre QX-5 Digital hub, you compared it to your TotalDac by saying 'The totaldac digs in deeper and pulls out more "wow" from every recording'.

I realize that the TotalDac costs substantially more than the QX-5 but many folks have posted elsewhere that the QX-5 sounds better than DACs in the $15k range, which I typically attribute to buyer's placebo effect.

By any chance do you know how it compares to a Lumin S1?

Michael Lavorgna's picture I cannot offer a comparison.
jriggy's picture

Hello Michael, thanks for the great and helpful content on your site.

I am considering the QX-5 Twenty but my system is single ended. I have heard some Ayre product sound substantially better through balanced connection... Is this the case with the QX-5 Twenty as well? And if so, were you able to test the difference in performance between the RCA and XLR outputs...
I see your "and the preferred XLR outputs" comment, so am guessing it is the case wit this unit, too. Hoping you can shed some light on this for me.

Thanks again

Michael Lavorgna's picture
I did not compare the RCA/XLR outputs on the QX-5. In my experience, the differences will not be night and day but more like an incremental change. Certainly what you are connecting the Ayre to will have a greater impact than comparing my Ayre AX-5 Twenty's RCA and XLR inputs.
Villager56's picture

Hi Michael,
Thanks for this helpful review. My dealer allowed me to bring a unit home to listen to it in my system. It sounded great! I really preferred the sound of the network connection. But I'm hung up on buying one because this model does not have an HDMI input.
I've read with interest about the ability to play SACDs in a player such as an Oppo-105 and transfer the DSD signal to a compatible DAC through an HDMI cable. But, I haven't read any critical reviews of how that sounds compared to, say, CD playback or streaming of DSD files via USB or network inputs.
I believe that your TotalDac has an HDMI input, as do some of the other DACs that AudioStream have reviewed, such as the PS Audio. Bryston even see fit to provide several HDMI inputs in their latest model.
What can you tell us about how DSD playback via HDMI sounds compared to streamed DSD playback in the same device? Your insight would be helpful.
Many thanks!

Michael Lavorgna's picture
The HDMI input on the totaldac is optional and I didn't opt for it.

I'm afraid that we don't cover spinning discs on AudioStream. Our focus is file-based playback. So if you ask me, I'd say you'd be much better off skipping the discs and playing your DSD albums from files ;-) (really).

Villager56's picture

Yeah, I get it. Fair enough response, but my problem is my inability to rip my SACD collection to enable file based playback without buying the same music again.

Michael Lavorgna's picture There's another option you may be interested in.
Romulus's picture

Hi Michael,

Thank you for a very interesting review as to Ayre QX-5 Twenty. I just wondered if you have heard Naim Audio gear (eg 500 series), if so what are the differences in presentation of sound between Naim and Ayre components?

USAudio's picture

"I'd like to give pause so we can reflect on multi-country and multi-company sourcing, something that warms my heart. There, that's better."
I'm not sure I am correctly interpreting this sentence. Are you saying it is not preferrable to use US-based supplers and made parts as much as possible? The United States has huge foreign trade deficits which is not good for the U.S. economy or its people and we should be doing everything we can to reduce it, particularly in technology. Is it bad to use non-US sourced parts? No. However we should not be celebrating it either.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
The United States is part of the world. It is not apart from it.

"Are you saying it is not preferrable to use US-based supplers and made parts as much as possible?"

You said that and I have no interest in discussing what you said.