This US brand has always been one of our favourites! It is now a benchmark in the international audio industry, along with Audio Research, Jeff Rowland, Mark Levinson, Krell, to name only a few. So if the firm from Boulder is turning to RIAA equalisation, then we are naturally tempted to take a closer look at this product.
The Ayre P-5xe comes in an elegant black or natural aluminium housing. The understated front panel only features the brand's logo and a blue LED showing that the unit is on or off. The rear panel features a symmetrical and logical channel setup. In the middle, the IEC connector and ground plug, on either side, XLR and RCA inputs and the outputs on the far end. Loading can be adjusted from a pair of switches on the rear panel (100, 1000, and 47 kOhms) and gain can be adjusted via two jumper blocks on the mother board (50, 60 and 70 dB symmetrical). It goes without saying that you will need to remove the cover to do this. Though the setup is somewhat impractical, Ayre stick to their guns, claiming that simple and short circuity is the best option. The mother board only uses high-end components, low noise transistors, fast recovery diodes, polypropylene capacitors to specifications, special Audio chemical filter capacitors… RIAA correction is perfectly passive. The power supply is meticulously designed and accommodates an RFI filter. And as typically with the manufacturer's products, the circuitry has a zero-feedback configuration.
It is one of the rare phono preamplifiers to offer symmetrical and asymmetrical inputs and outputs. Ayre focuses on symmetrical. Hence, we recommend using symmetrical inputs and outputs (XLR). This setup also presents the advantage of reducing interference with other electronic devices, as well as picking up radio emissions to which low output cartridges are sensitive.
Like all Ayre products, this P-5xe phono preamplifier delivers amazing musicality and rigour. Playback does justice to analogue with great timbre and subtlety with flawless dynamics, openness and transparency.
The overall atmosphere is very neutral and natural, meaning that you can listen to your record collection for hours on end without suffering from auditory fatigue. The bass is precise and well articulated, the treble is clean and velvety and the mids? Amazingly present and authentic!
This Ayre P-5xe ranks among the top phono preamps that we have tried in this range.
Just can't recommend it enough!
SoundStage - Best of High End - 2015 Franck
Hi-Fi Choice Recommended
The Critical Ear
RCA output gain: 44, 54, 64 dB
XLR output gain: 50, 60, and 70 dB
Load impedance: 100, 1000 and 47 000 Ohms
RIAA curve accuracy: +/- 0.05 dB
Consumption: 10 W
Dimensions: 44 x 35 x 6 cm