Better Late Than Never: Ayre’s VX-5 Arrives

When it comes to audio reviewing, sometimes things don't happen as quickly or easily as you'd like. Take the Ayre Acoustics VX-5 stereo amp for example: we covered it at CES 2013 in January, Ayre sent a review sample to Bascom King for measurements in April, Bascom returned it to Ayre later that month so it could be forwarded to me, and then it sat at the company because the folks at Ayre and I were working on other things. After that, time sort of flew by.

It wasn't until the middle of August that Ayre's sales manager, Alex Brinkman, contacted me and said, "Hey, we should get going on this." Obviously, I agreed. A few weeks later Alex flew up from Ayre's headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, USA, to Canada, where he rented a car and drove to my place to drop it off.

TSA tape

But that whole trip didn't go as easily as Alex would've liked. The main problem was that he actually traveled with the amp instead of shipping it ahead of time, so somewhere on his trip (he had to make two stops) the TSA guys in the States ripped the box open to inspect the metal contraption inside and make sure that it wasn't going to take the plane down, and the customs official in Canada asked a million questions to better understand how this 52-pound amplifier worth some $7950 USD was just going to be left at some guy's place so he could "review" it, not buy it. According to Alex, they even looked me up on the Internet to see if I was real.

Alex Brinkman

Luckily, the TSA guys didn't damage the VX-5 and the customs guy figured out that Alex's story about me was on the up and up. So he arrived at my house at about 10:00 a.m. on September 4, tired as hell, but game to lug the amp out of the back of the car and carry it up the stairs to lay it down where the Anthem Statement M1 mono amps used to be.

Ayre VX-5

Right from the get-go, I liked the way the VX-5 looked in my room -- its styling is sharp and its sturdy case is made of thick aluminum plates that join perfectly. I only wish more sub-$10,000 amps could look so good.

Ayre VX-5

Alex didn't have a lot of time to hang around, but while he was here we managed to listen to the VX-5 with the Aurelia Cerica, Magico S5, and Polymer Audio Research MKS speakers, all of which I currently have in for review and blogged about over the last week. The results were interesting, but the only thing I'll say right now is that the VX-5, which is rated at 175Wpc into 8 ohms, had no trouble driving any of them, which is a promising sign, particularly since the S5s and MKSs aren't the easiest speakers in the world to drive. Other than that, I'm staying tight-lipped on the sound until the review comes out later this year, since I have a lot more listening to do. Until then . . .

Doug Schneider
Publisher, The SoundStage! Network