Ayre's QA-9 A/D Converter
It looks like the best-selling QB-9 USB D/A converter until you notice the level meters and the level control next to the display. This is Ayre's new QA-9 A/D converter, aimed at audiophiles who want to rip their LPs with the highest possible quality. The analog input is balanced and there are both USB and AES/EBU digital outputs. The ADC chip is fed by an input stage featuring Ayre's zero-feedback, discrete circuitry and it will output 24-bit LPCM at up to a 192kHz sample rate. However, there's no reason why it couldn't also output DSD data. The QA-9 will be in production in the first quarter of 2012 and while price is not yet decided, it will be somewhere between the QB-9's price and $5000, I was told.
I auditioned a 192k needle drop of a Supertramp track made with the QA-9, played back from a Mac mini with Pure Musicthe rest of the system was Ayre KX-R preamp, VX-R stereo power amplifier, and Vienna Acoustics The Kiss speakersand there was something very right about the sound.
Big news from Ayre at RMAF, however, was the announcement that Alan Clark has joined the Bouder, CO company as the Executive Vice President of R&D. Alan was most recently the Chief Technology Officer of B&W Group Limited and Vice President, Research and Development, Classé Audio, where he was responsible for designing the Canadian company's impressive-sounding line of amplifiers and its new digital preamp. Prior to that, he designed many of Linn's superb-sounding digital electronics, like the Sondek CD12. Clark will join forces with Charles Hansen, founder of Ayre Acoustics, and Ariel Brown (Ayre's senior engineer).
“I am tremendously excited about collaborating with Alan and his joining the Ayre team. He is considered a world-class designer and engineer, and I am thrilled about the many future products that we are going to be designing together,” said Charles Hansen.