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Ayre qb-9 or ???

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I'm moving from CD's and building a music server.


My two big questions I have to resolve are which DAC and which Cable.


I have ordered a Mac Mini and a full load of ram to instal. Pure Music software looks like it's worth a try. I will get a new iPad when it comes out but in the meantime presume I can run the interface with my Mac Book Pro or maybe through the local HDTV, attached to the mini with an HDMI cable.


As far as DAC's go I have listened to the Peachtree DAC-iT and iDac, the Rega DAC, and the Ayre qb-9 at my local stereo shop. The DAC-iT was a little dull, the Rega kinda cold, the iDac pretty darn good, and the qb-9 was outstanding. But expensive. So..... is there anything between the iDac and qb-9 worth considering.






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Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2 $1500


I have not heard it, but the W4S is a very popular DAC that has a great feature set and has been well reviewed by 6moons, absolute sound, etc. Probably on a similar level to the iDac except that the USB implementation is supposed to be much better. The iDac USB is limited with hi-res material to 96khz and will not play 88.2khz. The W4S USB will go all the way to 192khz and not miss any of the hi-res frequencies.


Up until last week I had a Peachtree Audio iNova that I was using as a DAC (which is exactly the same as in the iDac.) I thought it was let down by the USB input. When fed a really good SPDIF signal though, it was outstanding and I would bet the gap with Ayre (which I haven't heard) would be a bit less. I thought the iNova/iDac had a very nice musical quality to it. Since you are considering the Ayre, I assume you are planing to use exclusively the USB input?


The NAD M51 is a brand new product that I'm interested in. Seems to have all the inputs and has a really novel volume control and is designed to act as an all digital preamp. It's getting expensive though at $2k.


Roon ->UltraRendu + CI Audio 7v LPS-> Kii Control -> Kii Three

Roon->BMC UltraDAC->Mr Speakers Aeon Flow Open

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is very well-reviewed. Art Dudley favorably compared it to the QB-9 and Cosecant and it's only $900. Only goes to 24/96, though. But unless classical (and jazz to a lesser extent) is your favorite genre, there's pretty close to zero interesting titles at 176 and 192.


Roon ROCK (Roon 1.7; NUC7i3) > Ayre QB-9 Twenty > Ayre AX-5 Twenty > Thiel CS2.4SE (crossovers rebuilt with Clarity CSA and Multicap RTX caps, Mills MRA-12 resistors; ERSE and Jantzen coils; Cardas binding posts and hookup wire); Cardas and OEM power cables, interconnects, and speaker cables

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But unless classical (and jazz to a lesser extent) is your favorite genre, there's pretty close to zero interesting titles at 176 and 192.


Unless you like the Rolling Stones, or the Eagles, or Tom Waits, or Fleetwood Mac, or....


All available at 176 or 192 at HDTracks. So you may want to go for a DAC with 176 and 192 sample rate input capability.


The Proton was designed by the same guy who helped design the QB-9, so I would expect extremely good sound quality, but there is the matter of its being limited to 24/96.


Sorry that I don't have any DACs to recommend in the range you're asking about, because I haven't heard a lot of DACs. (I'm happy with my $450 Schiit Bifrost, but I have heard the QB-9 and it is substantially better.)


One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical Ethernet to Fitlet3 -> Fibbr Alpha Optical USB -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Thanks, that was just what I was looking for. And the two responses following as well. Looks like the only way to hear the W4S or the Brick in the Seattle area is to purchase one. The local shops do not currently have the M51 on their order list, so, it would be a leap of faith to make a special order. I think I will check around in Portland to see what's available. The search continues...





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The Stereophile review says $2500. I'm pretty sure that's what a new one was offered to me for when I was shopping around a few months ago.




Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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I would look at your behaviour on other purchases, particularly audio. Are you prone to kick yourself because you bought something too expensive, or more likely (like myself) that if I make a mistake, I try and save a few bucks and get something a little cheaper item and ALWAYs end up buying both. This will always happen to me on audio. I have 5 DACs that I bought on the way to getting my Ayre. Now I am happy, and not inclined to upgrade again until I go for a Crimson. You can save on buying a cheap cable, then save up for a better one. I think, in general, the units in the same price catagory have similar performance, with very notable differences in presentation. Analytical vs, musicality. This is where the Aryes, Scecants, and Weiss differ primarily. The Ayre is very musical and detailed, it's a good DAC. I highly recommend it, but would have gone for a Crimson if I could have afforded it.


I have also found that it takes at least 100 several hundred hours to break in, so you are going to be making a decision primarily from reviews. Read widely and carefully in between the lines, know the rest of your system and your tastes, and you will buy the right thing. JD


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  • 2 weeks later...

I have been out with the flu for awhile and I'm just catching up. My local stereo shop (Definitive Audio) has been very helpful and I ordered a Qb-9 through them. It should be in shortly. I have the Mac Mini up and running, what a nice unit. Currently I'm managing it with screen sharing through my Mac Book Pro but will get an iPod when the new model comes out, hopefully soon.




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