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To Pete Roth,

First of all, thank you for your reviews! I want to ask you a question about the Ayre KX-R preamp. I know you love it. I'm buying a pair of Boulder 1050 mono amplifiers and I want to know if you think the KX-R will match well with them. Also, I have the chance to buy an Audio Research Reference 5 and a BAT REX, both tube units. Maybe they will be a sweet combination? My speakers are big ProAc Response D100s and all my cables are AudioQuest. My source is a MacBook paired with the MSB Technology DAC IV Diamond. Thank you in advance for your time!

Andreu Estany

Thanks so much for the kind words. I absolutely believe that the Ayre KX-R will be a great match to those Boulder amplifiers. In my opinion, not only is the KX-R one of the finest solid-state preamps available, but it is also a relative bargain compared with other overachieving solid-state alternatives from Vitus, Gryphon, Constellation, and even Boulder. But you don't need to take my word for it, as my editor Jeff Fritz wrote about in his September 1 editorial, "The Super Products I'd Buy Today." He, too, bought a KX-R for his Music Vault listening room.

If you wanted to trade out the Ayre's unparalleled volume controller and utter silence for the huge soundstage and holographic imaging of the Audio Research Reference 5 SE, I couldn't blame you, as it really depends on the priorities you have for that system. Tubes do require a slightly greater commitment, but offer their own rewards, and the Reference 5 SE is a world-class bargain. I am lucky to have separate systems based around the KX-R and the Reference 5 SE. Each system has its own compelling strengths, but each is wonderfully musical and rewarding. The Ayre vs. ARC comparisons I make using their amplifiers in my ARC Reference 250 review have applicability to their top-line preamps.

Either way, you can't go wrong with the KX-R or the REF 5 SE. Let me know which you choose. Thanks. . . . Peter Roth