Ayre V-3 – The Surprise Disappointment

If you’ve read my other reviews on this site, you know that I’m often excited about my vintage audio finds.  So imagine my excitement when I found an Ayre V-3 for sale by its original owner in mint condition for what I considered the bargain price of $800.  While that is more than I’ve previously spent on a single  vintage component, I felt confident that, if necessary, I could resell it for at least that much given the strength of the Ayre brand.  Indeed, the audio press has been gushing for years about Ayre, routinely ranking their amplifiers as among the best in the industry.  I’d never owned one before (as most Ayre models are far out of my price range) and decided that I couldn’t pass up the chance.

I auditioned the Ayre for 3 weeks, primarily with my KEF LS50s.  During that time, I was never moved by its sonic signature.  Compared to my Harman Kardon A500, my recently acquired Yamaha P-2201, and even my Sony TA-F808ES, the Ayre failed to generate any emotion or excitement.  No matter the genre of music I played, the music seemed unnaturally dry and laid back, with little in the way of dynamic range or slam.  At 100 watts per channel, the Ayre should have had more than enough power for the LS50s, but it seemed to lack any sort of drive or control.  I detected no audible distortion, and instruments and vocals seemed decidely clear, but there was no musicality or flow to the music.  Female vocals in particular seemed unnatural and lacking realism.  Albums that I normally love seemd flat and boring.

Given my disappointment with the Ayre’s performance, I wondered whether it was properly biased or there was some other problem given its 20 year age.  Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a service manual available online, and a quick search on AudioKarma didn’t turn anything up.  I did a visual inspection and there were no obvious signs of damage or leaky capacitors, but who knows, something could have been out of whack.  I certainly was not going to pay a few hundred bucks to have a tech service it.

So after about a month I decided to sell the Ayre V-3.  I figured the money would be better spent elsewhere (perhaps on new floorstanders!).  Unsurprisingly, finding a buyer only took about 2 days, and I ended up selling it for a few hundred more than I paid for it.  Overall, this was not my best vintage audio experience, but at least I can say I’m a former Ayre owner.  From what I hear, their new stuff rocks.



2 thoughts on “Ayre V-3 – The Surprise Disappointment

Add yours

  1. well this amp runs hot and all caps would need to get replaced and bias and offset would have to be adjusted,
    i did it to mine and it sounds great after that, this is heavily biased amp towards class a and atter 20 years of running caps are probably gone


    1. I did adjust the bias and offset on my V-3, but I did not recap it. That could certainly have contributed to the sound, but I would expect an amp in that price range to last 20 years, particularly given how good some class A amps from the 80s still sound even before being recapped.


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