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Ayre QB-9 Twenty upgrade


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Sweet. Okay. Synergistic Research  Orange fuse and more hours added to the list.   Thanks guys :)

 

Oh, liked my Chord Signature Tuned Aray USB cable much more over the Audioquest Diamond with the Ayre. 

Sonus Faber Olympica I w Tellurium Q Ultra & Ultra II Jumpers, Dual REL S2 w Transparent The Link < Naim Supernait 2
DIGITAL: AudioQuest Colorado < Chord Qutest DAC w UpTone LPS-v1 < Chord Signature Tuned Aray USB < Sonore ultraRendu w Uptone LPS-v1.2, Shunyata Venom 3 < AQVOX Switch < Small Green Computer Sonictransporter I7 w HDPlex, Synology NAS
VINYL: Audioquest Colorado < Ayre P-5XE (soon to be Rogue Ares Magnum) < Dynavector SUP-200 Step-Up < Origin Live Encounter Mk. 3c w Dynavector XV1s < Kuzma Stabi w Dual Platter, Kuzma Linear PSU
POWER 1: Audioquest Hurricane < Niagara 1200 < Supernait 2, Ayre P-5XE w Triode Wire Labs 7+
POWER 2: Cablepro NANA < ultraRendu w LPS-v1.2, Chord Qutest w  Uptone LPS-1, Dual REL S2 Subs w Audioquest NRG4, Akai R2R
POWER 3: Shunyata Python Helix Alpha < Niagara 1000 < Sonictransporter I7 w HDPLEX w Triode Wire Labs Digital American HP, AQVOX Switch, Synology NAS w Shunyata Venom 3

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You will have lots of enjoyment Chris, but you will also need patience...

 

When I had my QB-9 Twenty started (that was November), I immediately heard a different QB-9 compared to my QB-9 DSD. I heard a lot more detail in the music right from the start and a background that was way deeper/darker. During the first days I missed the low frequencies in my setup but that may be subjective because the rest changed so much. In the meantime the bass has returned quite a bit and I keep replaying certain albums every day to hear the evolution (which is more subtle now but hasn't finished yet) and I can agree with the others here that the sound gets better even after many hours of playback.

 

I also have to agree with the other people here that Ayre did a very impressive job with the QB-9 Twenty, and I am personally extremely pleased with the trust they had in me for performing the necessary firmware upgrade to solve my initial boot-loop problem which was acknowledged and solved promptly. Exemplary long-term service, no question about that!

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Hmm, I guess I should play my reference tracks again to see if the sound has continued to change 😊

I stopped keeping track but I must be at least 750 hours by now.

 

I have noticed recently how freaking good my system sounds if I sit relative nearfield (~7' instead of ~9') but that probably says more about my speakers and room than the QB-9. But I have sat in that position before and, while it always sounded best "nearfield", I don't remember it sounding *this* scintillating.

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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On 1/23/2020 at 8:56 AM, bsinc said:

Have played my QB 9 Twenty all day, everyday now for almost 90 days. I don’t think 2-300 hrs gets  it to where it is illustrative of the full capability of the unit.  The owners manual for the original specified up to 500 hours.  After two months I felt it was pretty much where it was going to be.... but I was wrong. After another month it continued to show subtle, incremental improvement. Not huge performance leaps but more refinement on the manifested qualities and a continuation of refinement in depth and high frequencies. As we get near the end of the fourth month it hasn’t changed much at all so I’ll call it “done”. It doesn’t surprise me with some new attribute anymore, but it delights me everyday with some sessions lasting 8 hrs. It takes longer than you might think to run it in.


I was a bit skeptical when I read your account. But I played my reference tracks this evening as I have the house to myself. I have to say I don’t recall *this* level of pristine clarity and liquidity. Some say that auditory memory is not reliable. I don’t have a strong opinion either way but I will say this: my system sounds better than I remember  😊

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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14 hours ago, beetlemania said:


I was a bit skeptical when I read your account. But I played my reference tracks this evening as I have the house to myself. I have to say I don’t recall *this* level of pristine clarity and liquidity. Some say that auditory memory is not reliable. I don’t have a strong opinion either way but I will say this: my system sounds better than I remember  😊

 

Very interesting observation.  (Unlike some forum members, and you all know who you are 😏, I'll not question your experiences.)

 

The real interesting associated question is: Why is this happening?

 

From looking at photos of past through present QB-9's, I'd have to say that certain elements are more or less the same.  

 

By that, I don't mean component values or how they're used in the circuit.  

 

I don't mean the circuit topology, either.

 

Instead, I mean the basic components.  Those certainly could and do age.

 

Based on careful examination of the various generations and the descriptions published by Ayre, I've identified three possibilities.  Obviously there could be and probably are more, but these three have been pointed out by Ayre.  Other possibilities aren't obvious, at least to me, from visual inspection and from their descriptions.  But, you gotta start somewhere, right?

 

First, examples of what's not different.

 

The DAC chip is different.  But it uses a similar semiconductor process as the ESS DAC found in the QB-9 DSD.  Same for the various processors and other digital components.

 

Same for power supply caps and stuff associated.

 

So, just what is different and could age differently?

 

1.  The clocks appear to be different.  They may not be, but somebody at Ayre would have to say.  Crystals do age.  It's right in the product specification and is a known phenomenon. 

 

2.  The use of Toshiba JFETs in the analog amplifier section.  I've never read of anybody saying that these particular JFETs age one way or the other, but it's possible.

 

3.  Finally, my choice...  The PCB material along with the solder mask.  These do age because of various chemical processing factors during manufacture and these changes do have the potential for subtly changing audio performance.  It might take months for the various processing chemicals to fully outgas.  It also might take months for the various PCB constituent elements to completely stabilize, too.  Plus, adding electronic components to a bare PCB requires a minimum of one additional heating cycle and perhaps an additional cleaning cycle.  That is a big change unto itself.

 

Maybe it's all just an illusion, but at minimum, the color of the PCBs have changed over the generations of the QB-9.  So, something certainly has changed.  And, Ayre definitely has trumpeted that proper PCB material selection is an important design consideration for them, so it's not a secret.  

 

An interesting test would be to compare a QB-9 Twenty that had been sitting unpowered on a shelf for several months to a similar unit fresh out of manufacture.  In other words, the same amount of powered burn-in time, but one would have months of time to outgas and settle while the other not.  A more complete study would include building a unit on a PCB that had been sitting on a shelf for months unstuffed - that could separate soldering effects from PCB chemical effects to a degree.  Perhaps actual burn-in isn't entirely necessary, but aging is.  Dunno.

 

(Side note - A fellow in eastern Europe builds truly state of the art audio oscillators for test applications.  These are amongst the best in the world, at any price.  He has learned that the solder mask - the usually green stuff that you see on the board covering the copper - makes a big difference in the harmonic distortion performance.  The harmonic performance is what he cares about in a test oscillator, but the harmonic performance is just an artifact of the solder mask's overall effects.  Who says that you can't measure this sort of thing?  Who says that you can't hear it?)  

 

 

The really good part is that things appear to keep getting better in QB-9 Twenty's.  At some point, other factors will limit the performance, but that's better than the other direction, which often happens.  Maybe it usually happens, which could explain the zeal people tend to have to upgrade all the time.  We fortunate QB-9 Twenty owners are constantly getting upgrades without even lifting a finger...

 

Personally, I'm fascinated with all these subtle and not so obvious effects.  Almost always there really is something there, even if it's hard to find.  Yeah, Cliff Stoll stuff.

 

 

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@CG what is your subjective experience with your QB-9 as it burns in even more? You earlier reported changes at the 200-300 hour mark but what about now?

 

Regardless, interesting speculation of the reasons burn in could take week and months. 

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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@Mercman Are you still running a QX-5? It would be interesting to get your take on that compared to a QB-9 Twenty. I yearned for a QX-5 but it remained out of my budget. I haven’t heard one for a couple of years but am wondering how close the new QB-9 gets. 
 

Are you still writing for any outlet? Haven’t seen any reviews from you for a while.

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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19 minutes ago, beetlemania said:

@CG what is your subjective experience with your QB-9 as it burns in even more? You earlier reported changes at the 200-300 hour mark but what about now?

 

Ours has continued to improve beyond the 700 hour mark.  I don't know to quantify that, other than to say my wife and I are happy.

 

I was able to add an UpTone ISO REGN into the system and it did improve the sound further.  If the 'Twenty continues to improve, I won't be able to accurately isolate any sound improvement to more burn-in or aging, since other stuff has now changed, too.  Beyond the ISO REGEN, the software in our music server has been updated as well.

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3 hours ago, beetlemania said:

@Mercman Are you still running a QX-5? It would be interesting to get your take on that compared to a QB-9 Twenty. I yearned for a QX-5 but it remained out of my budget. I haven’t heard one for a couple of years but am wondering how close the new QB-9 gets. 
 

Are you still writing for any outlet? Haven’t seen any reviews from you for a while.

Hi beetlemania,

 

No, I'm  presently not writing for anyone.

 

Thanks for asking!

Steve Plaskin

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I’m starting to truly like the QB-9 Twenty.  Guess I’m over 300 hours now. It’s now on a 5i and on Friday, it will be on an SN2. Sunday I’ll compare it to a Chord Dave so fun times ahead.  :)  
 

La Voce S3 has been sold and the girlfriend is pretty sad it. She loved how it was so natural and romantic. I like how alive the Ayre is coming along and think it is actually working out very well with the Naim. It’s still got that PRAT that I’ve missed being away from Naim and maybe it can work instead of a Chord.  Loved the 2Qute in the past with my last SN2. My cousin bought my AX-5 Twenty. 

Sonus Faber Olympica I w Tellurium Q Ultra & Ultra II Jumpers, Dual REL S2 w Transparent The Link < Naim Supernait 2
DIGITAL: AudioQuest Colorado < Chord Qutest DAC w UpTone LPS-v1 < Chord Signature Tuned Aray USB < Sonore ultraRendu w Uptone LPS-v1.2, Shunyata Venom 3 < AQVOX Switch < Small Green Computer Sonictransporter I7 w HDPlex, Synology NAS
VINYL: Audioquest Colorado < Ayre P-5XE (soon to be Rogue Ares Magnum) < Dynavector SUP-200 Step-Up < Origin Live Encounter Mk. 3c w Dynavector XV1s < Kuzma Stabi w Dual Platter, Kuzma Linear PSU
POWER 1: Audioquest Hurricane < Niagara 1200 < Supernait 2, Ayre P-5XE w Triode Wire Labs 7+
POWER 2: Cablepro NANA < ultraRendu w LPS-v1.2, Chord Qutest w  Uptone LPS-1, Dual REL S2 Subs w Audioquest NRG4, Akai R2R
POWER 3: Shunyata Python Helix Alpha < Niagara 1000 < Sonictransporter I7 w HDPLEX w Triode Wire Labs Digital American HP, AQVOX Switch, Synology NAS w Shunyata Venom 3

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On 11/10/2019 at 10:30 AM, Ryan Berry said:

Hey All,

 

My apologies for replying so late.  I was hit by a pretty bad bug recently, which but me out of commission right when the firmware update for the QB-9 was completed.  As mentioned, yes, we have released a firmware update after the first 40ish units of the QB-9 were released.  There's an error cycle that happens on roughly 5% of the units that is causing it to be a little over-sensitive in detecting an error.  Fortunately, it's not indicative of anything like unstable power, etc. coming into the unit and is fixable through a firmware update.  The update itself requires a 5/64" hex driver to open the unit, a USB flash stick, and enough knowledge to unzip a file and not touch the metal bits when you have the unit open and powered on; but I'm happy to work with anyone to help them update their unit themselves or get the unit back to Ayre to be updated for them.

 

If you're wanting to do the update yourself, the quickest way to get ahold of me is probably through here.  Please include your email address and I'll send the file and instructions over to you.  Thanks to everyone for helping us pick up the bug.  We try to put in a number of protections in all of our gear to protect the systems they're installed in, but we were a bit over-cautious on this one.  I'm quite confident that with the update the units will be working as expected for you.

 

Cheers,

 

Ryan Berry 

 

Hi Ryan,

 

Just got back home after 2 months in Tucson - now experiencing connectivity issues, including the usb cycling, that might be related to this.  Received mine back in mid October, so guessing my unit be one of the affected ones.  Weird that it was stable before I left town.  I would be fine performing the update myself.   I'll PM you with contact details.

 

Paul

Main System: Mac mini (Audirvana+, MMK, JS-2) -> ISO Regen (LPS-1) -> Icron 2201 (Rex LPS-1.2) -> ISO Regen (LPS-1.2) -> Ayre QB-9 Twenty -> Headamp GS-X Mk2 -> Classe CT-M600 -> KEF Reference 201/2

 

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13 hours ago, Tone Deaf said:

 

Hi Ryan,

 

Just got back home after 2 months in Tucson - now experiencing connectivity issues, including the usb cycling, that might be related to this.  Received mine back in mid October, so guessing my unit be one of the affected ones.  Weird that it was stable before I left town.  I would be fine performing the update myself.   I'll PM you with contact details.

 

Paul

 

Hey Paul,

 

Sent you a message.


Cheers,

 

Ryan

President

Ayre Acoustics, Inc.

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Hi Ryan,

 

A huge thanks for sending me the updated firmware and instructions.  Updating the QB-9 last night was simple - took only a few minutes end to end.  Everything has been rock solid since the update.

 

Once again, Thank You!

 

Paul

Main System: Mac mini (Audirvana+, MMK, JS-2) -> ISO Regen (LPS-1) -> Icron 2201 (Rex LPS-1.2) -> ISO Regen (LPS-1.2) -> Ayre QB-9 Twenty -> Headamp GS-X Mk2 -> Classe CT-M600 -> KEF Reference 201/2

 

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  • 1 month later...
On 1/21/2020 at 3:35 PM, The Computer Audiophile said:

Let the fun begin. 
 

QB-9 DSD vs. QB-9 DSD Twenty

 

D0F24512-0CFF-460D-8672-6AF4B419120D.jpeg

 

My wife just revived me after holding my breath for so long.  She says I turned a very nice color blue....  😏

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi everyone

I have an AyreQB9 DSD and want to update it to Twenty version. I have read your impressions about the sound and everyone says that it sounds better (more depth, more cleanliness, more definition, more detail) but I have not read much about other parameters such as dynamics, ¿does the sound gain in dynamics too?

I have an Antipodes CX (pass from Mac Air + Uptone Regen Amber + Sbooster) to Antipodes. I keep the Regen, do you think it can improve in the Antipodes). I can't prove it because I left it to a friend

Thank you

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I'm trying to make the new driver version (4.67) work on my QB-9 (model 192/24), but with no success. I tried it on Windows Server 2019 and Windows 10, with JPLAY FEMTO, JRiver and foobar2000. In none of them did I manage to extract sound. I also tried ASIO, Kernel Streaming and WASAPI modes, also without success. I always get an error message and, in the case of JPLAY FEMTO, the computer crashes and stops working. Any tips? Or does the new version only accept the QB-9 Twenty?

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2 minutes ago, FelipeRolim said:

I'm trying to make the new driver version (4.67) work on my QB-9 (model 192/24), but with no success. I tried it on Windows Server 2019 and Windows 10, with JPLAY FEMTO, JRiver and foobar2000. In none of them did I manage to extract sound. I also tried ASIO, Kernel Streaming and WASAPI modes, also without success. I always get an error message and, in the case of JPLAY FEMTO, the computer crashes and stops working. Any tips? Or does the new version only accept the QB-9 Twenty?

I believe the newest driver is for the new USB interface in the Twenty.

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing Polestar | Quick Community Reviews and Ratings

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Hello All, now that Aurender is offering native DSD on the N100 I am looking forward to experiencing more of the capabilities of the Qb-9 Twenty. To that end the newest software is installed on the Aurender. The following appears:

CF7D51EB-A86D-4D25-A3C7-4BBED5407B87.png

5DE0C750-37EB-4F76-840C-2B4D45D77695.png

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