Ayre V-6 multichannel power amplifier Page 3
Movies, the subject of our mutual admiration, were crystalline and deep. Dialogue intelligibility was superb, articulate, and pointed, but never harsh or ringing. Even though the subwoofer took up much of the slack in the bass, the Ayre had no problem effecting emotion in the power range. During the darker moments of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (DVD, Warner Bros. 22467), such as the late-night walk through the Dark Forest, where Harry stumbles on Voldemort, the low strings and woodwinds build a credible foundation for the encounter. Elsewhere, the music's sense of foreboding was well conveyed, with a deep, wide soundstage that was detailed but never etched.
Another recent favorite, Life as a House (DVD, New Line N5471), features a very likable combination of popular songs by bands like Guster (also the name of Kevin Kline's dog in the movie) and a heart-wrenching bout of ambient orchestration by Mark Isham, presented here in a rich DTS mix as well as in Dolby Digital. The Ayre easily highlighted Isham's budgetary concession of using synths in lieu of a brotherhood of violinists, albeit the sweetest synths a little money can buy. The job of the recording engineer is to mix the re-recorded sounds of wind, water, birds, and human voices in a way that makes you believe you are there. In a scene where Kevin Kline brings his son dinner at a cliff overlooking the sea, I'm buying all of Mother Nature's bits, but the Ayre clearly exposes the unnatural timbre of human voices recorded far from their seaside retreat.
I dug out Michael Kroll's Ether Country to see if "Tear" could get my gooses a-bumpin'. Kroll's warm voice was now as it should be: a rich, velvety drape of masculinity. When Nina Nastasia's voice entered, it was just a hair inside of where it had been with the BAT and a bit more forward, but no less enthralling. It existed as a separate entity in the mix. As "Tear" progresses, the mix gets thicker and thicker, but the Ayre kept all the divergent threads beautifully separated. I wanted to jump up and down and tell the world I'd found a perfect match. Instead, I wrote this review.
Ayre to the Throne
The Ayre V-6 offers enough power for any home theater that doesn't charge admission. Then again, for what the Ayre costs—$8950 for the 6-channel version, $7950 for the 5-channel version most people will prefer at these prices—you may very well have to charge admission, at least until you recoup some of the cost. But for the money, you get an amplifier that is very detailed and capable of superb resolution. That part is an absolute.
When it first arrived, however, I was unsatisfied. In the office next door to their manufacturing facilities, Ayre has a listening room with Avalon speakers. They sounded good there, different from what I was getting with the MartinLogan setup. The Ayre V-6 was voiced with dynamic speakers, not electrostatics. Switching from the MLs to the dynamic drivers of a full Thiel-Velodyne system was the difference between "good but overpriced" and "Where do I sign?"
I'm really happy I've come to love the Ayre V-6. It is excellent in many ways. But, like an expensive Italian sports car, it has certain needs. Ignore those needs and your results will be mixed. Follow the unwritten rules of the road, and the Ayre becomes a wonderful surprise to the home-theater aficionado for whom music is also a central priority. Needless to say, you should audition the amplifier with your speakers. I know I always say that, but this time I really mean it. Ayre ya go!