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Ayre QB-9 Twenty upgrade


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15 hours ago, Ryan Berry said:

 

There really shouldn't be a noticeable difference between the two as the DSD portion of the data's the same.  Of course, without the DoP information, the maximum speed can be doubled, but "native" (I prefer to think of it more as "raw") DSD 64 vs. DSD via DoP 64 should really about be the same.  I think your ears are spot-on.

 

Cheers,

Ryan

Great point of clarification Ryan. What I’m most curious about pertains to the doubling of max speed aspect you noted. In my case, being able to go from DSD128 via DoP as the max, to “Native” DSD256. 

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  • 2 months later...

Hi, the QB-9 is not a digital hub, so there is no USB transport with an app on a tablet etc. Transports are costly, Lumin and Auralic ask 2000 euro, and they are not completely USB focused. I paid 1790 euro for the twenty upgrade, it will be the upgrade from the original 24/96. It is being built this week and it will be nice surely and I will be happy. There is the USB bridge a DIY computer, but I do not build computers, I don't. Pro-ject pimped this DIY computer into the Pro-ject Stream Box S2 Ultra. I listen to Qobuz studio 24/192 records too so I will need the Ayre USB driver. This transport will be a budget solution like the QB-9 24/96 was. The twenty upgrade is also in a way somewhat affordable. Lumin will be better than Pro-ject, but I spent enough. Can I use the Pro-ject with the Ayre USB driver for 24/192 Qobuz? Thank you, best wishes Yoram

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just got my DAC upgraded to Twenty version. A bit late to the game and the unit only has around 50Hrs on it. Currently using it with my small headphone setup.

 

Comparing with the old DSD version, at this mark I can observe improvement in details and instrument separation, but high is still a bit harsh to my ears. For those who upgraded their units before me (e.g. CG or beetlemania), how long does it take till you feel the unit stabilized, and do you see any improvement in high frequency (less harsh and more define)?

 

Now I'm feeding it mainly with Purist Audio Burn In Disc and plan to do so for the next 200-300Hrs.

 

Can't believe I posted about this dac (DSD) in 2013 when Charley was still around.

And now I'm still using this same DAC (with upgrade). Thanks Ayre for providing this solution to us!

 

DSC07348.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...
3 hours ago, FelipeRolim said:

I haven't bought my QB-9 "Twenty" yet because the situation in Brazil is not very good. Is there still time to buy? Are there any plans for upgrade sales to be stopped?

From what I know, now QB9 line is discontinued so you cannot by any QB9 unit "brand new", but you can always bring in your current unit (already owned or bought 2nd hand) for the upgrade. As confirmed by Ryan in this thread, this upgrade plan will be available for the time being, and in foreseeable future.

 

Now my unit has around 240 Hrs on it, and to be frank, I still like my previous, well broken in "DSD" version better. Will still keep feeding music to it and hope that it will transform in 300-400 or 500 hour mark... into something I like more.

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On 12/5/2020 at 9:17 PM, PrTv said:

For those who upgraded their units before me (e.g. CG or beetlemania), how long does it take till you feel the unit stabilized, and do you see any improvement in high frequency (less harsh and more define)?

Cold out of the box, I heard a vague sense of something not right even though I could also immediately discern the improvements in resolution and clarity. But, otherwise I never heard anything like what you are reporting. IIRC, that character cleared substantially within a couple of days. I thought the sound was mostly stable around the 250 hour mark but later seemed to hear subtle improvements well past the 500 hour mark. I suppose I would characterize that as a more coherent, relaxed, and open sound. So, maybe that is what you're hoping for?

 

First day or two aside, I never felt that the DSD version was better in any way. As I approach retirement years, I’m confident the Twenty version is my final DAC.

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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20 hours ago, beetlemania said:

Cold out of the box, I heard a vague sense of something not right even though I could also immediately discern the improvements in resolution and clarity. But, otherwise I never heard anything like what you are reporting. IIRC, that character cleared substantially within a couple of days. I thought the sound was mostly stable around the 250 hour mark but later seemed to hear subtle improvements well past the 500 hour mark. I suppose I would characterize that as a more coherent, relaxed, and open sound. So, maybe that is what you're hoping for?

 

First day or two aside, I never felt that the DSD version was better in any way. As I approach retirement years, I’m confident the Twenty version is my final DAC.

 

Thanks for your reply. I also have no idea why I found this "Twenty" version inferior to the DSD version. This is not in line with everything I learned about this upgrade. Is it possible (although very unlikely) that the distributor did a botchy work resulting in subpar performance?

 

In any case, will give it more time before I draw my final conclusion.

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37 minutes ago, PrTv said:

Is it possible (although very unlikely) that the distributor did a botchy work resulting in subpar performance?


I am surprised to hear that a ‘distributor’ did the conversion for you. I’m under the impression that the upgrade was only performed at the Ayre company itself in Colorado. If you did send it directly to Ayre, I’d be more than surprised to hear that they’d done sub-par work. Thats not their M.O.

 

How is your digital filter setting? If it’s in the ‘Measure’ mode, you may want to switch to ‘Listen’ mode to see if that gets you get closer to the sound signature you seek. (Or, if you’re already set to ‘Listen’ then try ‘Measure’ just for the heck of it).

sonicTransporter i5 + Roon Server controlled via iPad Pro 10.5 -> Ghent USB Cable -> Ayre QB-9 Twenty DAC -> Bryston Amplification -> Magnepan LRS speakers + REL T7i

 

jonathan

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24 minutes ago, spin33 said:


I am surprised to hear that a ‘distributor’ did the conversion for you. I’m under the impression that the upgrade was only performed at the Ayre company itself in Colorado. If you did send it directly to Ayre, I’d be more than surprised to hear that they’d done sub-par work. Thats not their M.O.

 

How is your digital filter setting? If it’s in the ‘Measure’ mode, you may want to switch to ‘Listen’ mode to see if that gets you get closer to the sound signature you seek. (Or, if you’re already set to ‘Listen’ then try ‘Measure’ just for the heck of it).

 

Given that Ayre's HQ is located halfway across the globe from Thailand, the turn around time may be months and shipping cost/import duty may be substantial. I think Ayre authorized the distributor to perform this upgrade as it's relatively simple upgrade (replacement of almost everything).

 

The dip switch was the first area i observed and yes "listen" it is... have yet to try "measure" though.

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On 12/5/2020 at 9:17 PM, PrTv said:

Comparing with the old DSD version, at this mark I can observe improvement in details and instrument separation, but high is still a bit harsh to my ears. For those who upgraded their units before me (e.g. CG or beetlemania), how long does it take till you feel the unit stabilized, and do you see any improvement in high frequency (less harsh and more define)?

 

I pretty much agree with everything @beatlemania wrote.  

 

For me, initially right out of the box it didn't sound that great.  But after 48 hours it was clearly better than the DSD version in every way.  Any changes since then have only solidified that view.

 

I too would be surprised if the upgrade could be botched, as it is a complete board replacement.  Not much to go wrong there.

 

The most striking change to me was the transparency, with the much darker backgrounds.  Stepping out on a limb here, but I wonder if there is something about your digital source that the DSD version obscured and the greater transparency of the Twenty version allows you to notice.  Doubtful.  What source are you using to feed the QB-9?

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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7 hours ago, Tone Deaf said:

 

I pretty much agree with everything @beatlemania wrote.  

 

For me, initially right out of the box it didn't sound that great.  But after 48 hours it was clearly better than the DSD version in every way.  Any changes since then have only solidified that view.

 

I too would be surprised if the upgrade could be botched, as it is a complete board replacement.  Not much to go wrong there.

 

The most striking change to me was the transparency, with the much darker backgrounds.  Stepping out on a limb here, but I wonder if there is something about your digital source that the DSD version obscured and the greater transparency of the Twenty version allows you to notice.  Doubtful.  What source are you using to feed the QB-9?


I have a modest setup consisting a MBP > Audirvana > Ayre > V281 > Utopia/LCDX

 

In relation to source no change has been made to my MBP or any programs... even Audirvana version remains the same.

 

Based on you guys’ comments, I should re-evaluate to see where the issue lies. 

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19 hours ago, barrows said:

Going direct from a commercial computer to a USB dAC is generally a compromise.  You might want to try something like a an UpTone Audio IsoRegen between the computer and the DAC to clean up the noise.

FWIW, I'm going straight from my Roon ROCK to the QB-9. From my reading, the QB-9 has more isolation than most DACs. What say you, Tone Deaf? Have you listened with and without the ISO Regen feeding the QB-9?

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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3 hours ago, beetlemania said:

FWIW, I'm going straight from my Roon ROCK to the QB-9. From my reading, the QB-9 has more isolation than most DACs. What say you, Tone Deaf? Have you listened with and without the ISO Regen feeding the QB-9?

@beetlemania, agree with you regarding isolation.  Ayre designed the QB-9 with galvanic isolation on the USB input, starting with the first generation QB-9, which may have been the first time this was done with any DAC.  Ayre redesigned it again on the DSD version, and again on the Twenty version.  But even with galvanic isolation, I have never found any version of the QB-9 to be immune to changes to the source.

 

I performed most of my structured testing / listening with the DSD version.  To my ears, even the original Regen made subtle improvements to the sound of the QB-9.  The ISO Regen improved things further, and improving the power feeding the ISO Regen improved things further yet.  Modifying the Mac mini to use dc power resulted in comparable improvements.

 

I haven't performed any structured testing with the Twenty version - I just put the Twenty version back into my system without changing anything.  But  few months after getting the Twenty back into my system, I had an ISO Regen / LPS-1.2 die due to a faulty power brick (all replaced under warranty by Uptone).  Lets just say, going back to a standard Regen / LPS-1 was a bit of a let down, and I was quite happy to get the ISO Regen / LPS-1.2 back into the system.  

 

So in my experience, the Twenty version is sensitive to upstream source changes.  I believe@barrows suggestion is a valid one if someone wants to get a bit more performance out of the QB-9, and they are not using a specialized renderer, and possibly even if they are.  Adding one also just might take the "edge" off something about the sound such as @PrTv is experiencing - my guess is he is hearing some type of noise making it thru to the DAC, and an ISO Regen might clean much of that up.  I've also used MBP's with the QB-9 - they were not immune to USB improvements either.

 

 

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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6 hours ago, Tone Deaf said:

@beetlemania, agree with you regarding isolation.  Ayre designed the QB-9 with galvanic isolation on the USB input, starting with the first generation QB-9, which may have been the first time this was done with any DAC.  Ayre redesigned it again on the DSD version, and again on the Twenty version.  But even with galvanic isolation, I have never found any version of the QB-9 to be immune to changes to the source.

 

I performed most of my structured testing / listening with the DSD version.  To my ears, even the original Regen made subtle improvements to the sound of the QB-9.  The ISO Regen improved things further, and improving the power feeding the ISO Regen improved things further yet.  Modifying the Mac mini to use dc power resulted in comparable improvements.

 

I haven't performed any structured testing with the Twenty version - I just put the Twenty version back into my system without changing anything.  But  few months after getting the Twenty back into my system, I had an ISO Regen / LPS-1.2 die due to a faulty power brick (all replaced under warranty by Uptone).  Lets just say, going back to a standard Regen / LPS-1 was a bit of a let down, and I was quite happy to get the ISO Regen / LPS-1.2 back into the system.  

 

So in my experience, the Twenty version is sensitive to upstream source changes.  I believe@barrows suggestion is a valid one if someone wants to get a bit more performance out of the QB-9, and they are not using a specialized renderer, and possibly even if they are.  Adding one also just might take the "edge" off something about the sound such as @PrTv is experiencing - my guess is he is hearing some type of noise making it thru to the DAC, and an ISO Regen might clean much of that up.  I've also used MBP's with the QB-9 - they were not immune to USB improvements either.

 

 

Thanks for this informative post. Also thanks beetlemania for raising this.

 

I’ve always want to try this stuff. It seems ifi Micro/Nano iUSB3 is hard to find here, but I can find a good deal for ifi Purifier3 (cheapest model). Will try it and if the result is good, I may go big and buy isoRegen + Power Supply!

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8 minutes ago, Yoram Diamand said:

The purifier is no good, you cannot compare it to the iUSB3.0 but I saw it is not for sale new at the moment, so perhaps second hand at hifishark?

Yes I know but I cant find Micro/Nano iUSB3 anywhere in Thailand.

 

If I can see improvement with Purifier, I plan to go with this, which seems to be a real deal (have to wait till end of Jan though for the power supply to be available).

F8D322FF-4BEA-43D6-89AA-D5A314DA0532.png

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Today I tested the Nano iFi against no decrapifier and the Twenty sounded much better without any decrapifier. Perhaps the best upgrade would be a USB transport like Pro-Ject Stream Box S2 Ultra or Lumin U1 mini. But the Twenty plain with a PC even though there is some noise  or USB crap is much better than with iFi.

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15 hours ago, Tone Deaf said:

So in my experience, the Twenty version is sensitive to upstream source changes.  I believe@barrows suggestion is a valid one if someone wants to get a bit more performance out of the QB-9, and they are not using a specialized renderer, and possibly even if they are.  Adding one also just might take the "edge" off something about the sound such as @PrTv is experiencing - my guess is he is hearing some type of noise making it thru to the DAC, and an ISO Regen might clean much of that up.  I've also used MBP's with the QB-9 - they were not immune to USB improvements either.

 

 

Thanks for the detailed reply.

 

Shortly after I got my QB-9 (originally a 24/192 version, ie, pre-DSD), I compared the sonics using my CAPS-inspired server to a PC laptop and MBP as the source. I also tried at least 6 music players on my server (JRMC, foobar, et al.). I heard tiny differences and none I felt merited further inve$tment. I know I’m in the minority around here.

But your experience has me wondering about the ISO Regen . . .

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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21 minutes ago, beetlemania said:

Shortly after I got my QB-9 (originally a 24/192 version, ie, pre-DSD), I compared the sonics using my CAPS-inspired server to a PC laptop and MBP as the source. I also tried at least 6 music players on my server (JRMC, foobar, et al.). I heard tiny differences and none I felt merited further inve$tment. I know I’m in the minority around here.

 

But your experience has me wondering about the ISO Regen . . .

 

I don't want to completely derail this thread with talk about USB improvements, but at least this is mostly with regard to the QB-9.

 

Some folks find the changes from the ISO Regen to be subtle, and others find them to be quite significant.  I'm probably somewhere in between.  Mostly a blacker background, resulting in a more relaxed sound and the other expected changes due to the darker background.  Some find the change to make the music less exciting - noise can make music artificially "sound" brighter.  I simply found music with the ISO Regen to be noticeably more natural, which is my highest priority when listening.  There is an impressions thread on the UpTone sub-forum if you want to read more.

 

There isn't much risk in giving an ISO Regen a try.  Uptone has a 30 day trial policy, and you would only be out shipping should you decide the differences were not significant enough to justify keeping.  Being from Thailand, @PrTv would have larger shipping hassles and costs should he decide to try one and end up not keeping it.  

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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On 12/17/2020 at 9:54 AM, Tone Deaf said:

@beetlemania, agree with you regarding isolation.  Ayre designed the QB-9 with galvanic isolation on the USB input, starting with the first generation QB-9, which may have been the first time this was done with any DAC.  Ayre redesigned it again on the DSD version, and again on the Twenty version.  But even with galvanic isolation, I have never found any version of the QB-9 to be immune to changes to the source.

 

I performed most of my structured testing / listening with the DSD version.  To my ears, even the original Regen made subtle improvements to the sound of the QB-9.  The ISO Regen improved things further, and improving the power feeding the ISO Regen improved things further yet.  Modifying the Mac mini to use dc power resulted in comparable improvements.

 

I haven't performed any structured testing with the Twenty version - I just put the Twenty version back into my system without changing anything.  But  few months after getting the Twenty back into my system, I had an ISO Regen / LPS-1.2 die due to a faulty power brick (all replaced under warranty by Uptone).  Lets just say, going back to a standard Regen / LPS-1 was a bit of a let down, and I was quite happy to get the ISO Regen / LPS-1.2 back into the system.  

 

So in my experience, the Twenty version is sensitive to upstream source changes.  I believe@barrows suggestion is a valid one if someone wants to get a bit more performance out of the QB-9, and they are not using a specialized renderer, and possibly even if they are.  Adding one also just might take the "edge" off something about the sound such as @PrTv is experiencing - my guess is he is hearing some type of noise making it thru to the DAC, and an ISO Regen might clean much of that up.  I've also used MBP's with the QB-9 - they were not immune to USB improvements either.

 

 

After I tried the Purifier, I cant say that I notice any difference. Frankly, I can easily notice changes (for better or worse) swapping AC cable or fuse but not this USB filter.

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