Stereophile's Products of 2009 2009 Amplification Component of the Year
Ayre KX-R preamplifier ($18,500; reviewed by Wes Phillips, Vol.31 No.11, November 2008 Review)
Runners-Up (in alphabetical order)
Benchmark DAC1 USB Pre D/A preamplifier ($1595; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.32 No.3, March 2009 Review)
Boulder 865 integrated amplifier ($12,000; reviewed by Wes Phillips, Vol.32 Nos.4 & 8, April & August 2009 Review)
Conrad-Johnson Classic SE preamplifier ($1750; reviewed by Sam Tellig, Vol.32 Nos.2 & 7, February & July 2009)
Nagra BPS phono preamplifier ($2399; reviewed by Michael Fremer & Fred Kaplan, Vol.32 Nos.6, 8, & 10, June, August, & October 2009 Review)
Parasound Halo JC 1 monoblock power amplifier ($8000/pair; reviewed by Wes Phillips, Vol.32 No.9, September 2009 ">Review)
Pass Labs XA30.5 power amplifier ($5500; reviewed by Brian Damkroger & Erick Lichte, Vol.32 Nos.5 & 8, May & August 2009 Review)
Peachtree Nova D/A integrated amplifier ($1199; reviewed by John Marks, Vol.32 No.8, August 2009 Review)
Simaudio Moon I-1 integrated amplifier ($1700; reviewed by Robert J. Reina, Vol.31 No.12, December 2008 Review)
Simaudio Moon Evolution P-8 preamplifier ($15,000; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.32 No.9, September 2009 Review)
VTL MB450 Signature monoblock power amplifier ($15,000/pair; reviewed by Wes Phillips, Vol.32 No.3, March 2009 Review)
Wow. The jewel-like Ayre Acoustics KX-R preamplifier won significantly more first-place votes and more overall votes than any other product in our competition. In fact, with its total of 26 nods, the KX-R doubled the tally of our first runner-up, the magnificent Parasound Halo JC 1 monoblock. Put another way, only five of our 16 reviewers chose not to vote for the KX-R, and the majority of those who did ranked it as their top choice. While mention must also be made of the Peachtree Audio Nova D/A integrated amplifier, which won three first-place votes, the Ayre KX-R is certainly respected, admired, and often loved, by all who hear it.
Designed to match Ayre's MX-R monoblockwhich in 2007 topped this very category in similarly indisputable fashionthe KX-R is a zero-feedback, fully balanced design milled from a 75-lb billet of aluminum and forming one cool hunk of audio presence. It uses Ayre's Variable Gain Transconductance topology to maintain a constant signal/noise ratio independent of volume setting, for improved resolution of low-level detail. Wes Phillips was convinced. He praised the KX-R for its astonishing transparency, and enjoyed how deephow very deepit took him into the soundstage. "If it's not the eighth wonder of the modern world, I say demand a recount."
No recount needed in this poll, Wes. The Ayre is the clear winner.