Ayre's Laid-Back Sound

To Doug Schneider,

I have no place to listen and was reading your review of the Ayre [Acoustics] VX-5. My question is about how you describe the amp as laid-back [sounding]. Is that referring to the soundstage where I may feel further back in the venue or to the transients and immediacy of the amp?

I listen to a wide variety of music, including rock, so transients are important as well as transparency. Sounds like the musicality is covered. If you wouldn’t mind commenting in these areas of the amp.

Bryan Hudson
United States

In my room, the VX-5 presented a very wide and deep soundstage with my reference recordings, but the front of the stage was consistently set back a little more than I heard with amps from Hegel Music Systems, Bryston, or Blue Circle. Likewise, I found that the VX-5 is not as immediate or visceral sounding as those brands’ amps, either. Instead, the VX-5’s sonic strengths are smoothness and liquidity, qualities that make it easy to listen to for hours on end without risking listening fatigue. Because of those attributes, some have likened the sound of Ayre’s amps, which are solid-state designs, to being a bit like tubed amps, particularly in the seductive way they present the midrange and highs. As a result, if you’re looking for an amplifier that sounds fast, immediate, and a little bit in-your-face, which is what usually best suits rock, the VX-5 might not be the best choice -- though you’d really have to listen for yourself to know for sure. . . . Doug Schneider