Ayre's QB-9 USB DAC Revealed

Saturday morning Ayre held a press conference at the top of the Venetian to reveal their latest products, which include a new USB DAC, the QB-9.

Another tweaky USB DAC you say? Yes, but this one takes serious technical aim at the jitter problem inherent in most of these products. Ayre is licensing Wavelength Audio's new asynchronous USB approach called "Streamlength" which essentially clocks the stream from the DAC instead of waiting for the computer to parse out the data. The result is a tighter jitter spec and all the sonic benefits that implies. The QB-9 also includes an implementation of the company's new MP filter that minimizes ringing.

Though CES rooms are not a great way to judge these kinds of things, the demo ran iTunes via a Mac Mini through the QB-9 directly into the KX-R preamp and held its own against the other disc transports in the rack. Retail will be less than $2,500 and the product should hit the streets by March.

John Atkinson's picture

Fixed the typo. Thanks for the heads-up, Charlie.

BROWN's picture

The source components for the "R" series, have some ideas, but no definite plans yet. Perhaps a phono stage, and perhaps some sort of digital source.Article

LP's picture

Keep up the good work Ayre.I hope Charlie is doing well and staying off his bike!!

Charles Hansen's picture

We've had a couple of inquiries about the Streamlength software from Wavelength Audio. This *is* the "asyncrhonous" mode (sometimes called "ASYNC". The "isochronous" mode mentioned in the Stereophile write up is one of four transfer modes in the USB spec and is *always* used for audio.All other USB D/A converters use the "adaptive" mode, whereby the clock in the DAC has to "adapt" to the rate at which the computer sends audio data. "Adaptive" mode will always have higher jitter than (properly implemnted) "asynchronous" mode.And unfortunately, I have to stay off my bike. My only means of transportation is a wheelchair.

LP's picture

Charles - I'm truly sorry to hear about the wheelchair, no disrespect intended.Any plans in the works(any that you'd mind sharing) for a new source component for the KX-R/MX-R line??

Amit Likhyani's picture

Charles,Does the QB-9 also support toslink and RCA inputs? If so, is there a remote control?

priceless46's picture

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If your partner really was from another planet, you'd be watching his body language and listening for unspoken energy as well. Do that here. What does he really want? What is he not saying?

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Charles Hansen's picture

LP - Don't worry, I'm not easily offended. But if you have any extra money at the end of the year, you can make a tax deductible contribution to a researcher who, no kidding, can cure spinal cord injuries. Right now it's just in rats and he needs to get FDA approval for the drugs before he can start human trials. Cost to get the approval will be about $5 million. Go to www.cuneurosurgery.com and click on "Donations" on the left side. Then click on the top radio button that says "Neuro Repair - Spine Gift Fund". 100% of all donations go directly to his lab. You can do it online with a credit card and the University will even pay the surcharge.As far as source components for the "R" series, we have some ideas, but no definite plans yet. Perhaps a phono stage, and perhaps some sort of digital source.

Rick Dinsmen's picture

I don't personally know Charles; but have a lot of respect for the man for his contribution. I wish you all the very best for your recovery.

Rick Dinsmen's picture

Is it possible to have a basic software included in the DAC itself such that it reads data directly from an external drive (USB and/or FireWire) thereby eliminating the need for a computer during playback?Also, does QB-9 read DSD format?

Bob's picture

Charlie,Does the QB-9 have balanced output? Your gear typically does, but at that price point, I thought I'd ask.Good luck with your revovery...Bob

David Picarsic's picture

Is this dac on the market and if so, where can i purchase one of these dac's?

Mark son's picture

Sounds good about this DAC, When we see it in the market.ThanksMark @ slow computer

Seo Company's picture

Very Nice post Jon Iverson!

acne's picture

Very good job Ayre.Keep going on!.See what market react about the USB DAC,QB-9.And also the QB-9 also includes an implementation of the company's new MP filter that minimizes ringing.Is it affordable and where can I purchase this?Acne

Resveratrol Supplements's picture

Thanks for giving us information about new QB-9 USB DAC. Please tell us more about this.

ColonCleanse's picture

Ayre has done a great job.QB9 is such a wonderful USB device . Thanks for posting such a nice article.

Kindle DX's picture

I've been very impressed with some of the things that Ayre have done recently and the USB DAC is no different.

ESD's picture

The MP filter and this DAC are great developments. Silver disks are easy, but the future is media servers. If a media PC can do the surround decoding, then this would be the audio purist's translation to analog. I'd also like to see a volume control and multichannel channel versions at 2 price points: QB-9 level and more affordable. Will Arye ever license MP filtering to HT receiver manufacturers?

I totally agree with this comment!

Kindle 2's picture

Keep up the great work Ayre. Great products as always.

Cricut Expression's picture

I'm assuming this product will be high quality as usual. Ayre always puts out top of the line quality.

Nursing School's picture

The source components for the "R" series, have some ideas, but no definite plans yet. Perhaps a phono stage, and perhaps some sort of digital source.

Homeowner Rights on a Foreclosure's picture

the Ayre website and read the white paper that defends his position, which is that external DACs are inherently flawed and, until now, a single-box player was superior.

André Biedermann's picture

For a gadget that does only one task(DAC)for 2500$, i expected the capability to do the job up to 192kHz to be ready for the future. But i would like to test it nevertheless. :-)