Coherent Systems - Reviews

Ayre C-5xe MP Upgraded by Coherent Systems

Just having a chat with Tony Sallis of Coherent Systems is inspiring and, at the times he has visited my system, he has proven to have great hearing and insight into system performance and the reasons behind the way a system sounds.

We discussed my Ayre C-5xe MP SACD/DVD-A/CD player and Tony reckoned he could improve on its already superb sound quality. I trusted him and delivered the machine round shortly afterwards.

Just over a week later and Tony declared the player ready. He had worked the power supplies and applied selective decoupling where it matters most, especially around the all-important clock circuits. Some of the components, like Dubilier pancake caps and three-pin soft recovery rectifiers, had come from the USA so his suppliers obviously work double-quick time for him. I collected the player and a bag of some 55 removed components, including surface mount.

Tony's work focussed around the power supplies in order to remove noise and let the clocks work more accurately with less jitter. I was warned to give the machine at least 72 hours of soak playing, so I left various discs playing on loop.

My immediate impression upon playing some favourite CDs was that it felt like a big sub had been added. My system is not lacking in extended bass but the very lowest octave was now noticeable in the sound of air moving around the auditorium, like the thrum of an underground train approaching a station, really widening and deepening the soundstage and making it more of an immersive experience. Music with actual deep bass content was tighter and more potent. The soundstage on good SACD recordings was simply immense, a completely analogue-like portrayal of a big acoustic space. Despite being more extended, bass was actually tighter with great texture and impact in the upper bass.

Further playing has revealed that there is a reduction in noise floor, voices starting and stopping with an immediacy that can be shocking. Dynamic transients like most hand-held percussion instruments have more shape to them, the cues that tell you how they are being played, and their reverberation around the performance space is more perceptible.

The high frequency shimmer of cymbals, even on CD replay, has harmonics and decay that are more fully formed, defying red-book's limited encoding format. Cymbals on SACD are amazingly realistic.

The Ayre has interestingly differentiated the sound of SACD versus DVD-A in that they more obviously play to their strengths: SACD with that simply huge soundstage and the feeling of being there; DVD-A with incredible detail, slam, micro-dynamics and effortless high frequencies.

Overall this is a set of modifications that have strengthened the Ayre's already superb performance without in any way damaging its fundamental characteristics. Thank you Tony, your work has certainly improved my enjoyment of my collection.

Thank you Tony

Mr M Taylor, Basingstoke August 2015

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