The serial no. is 5E0102, the Ayre has a DAC and analog output (RCA/XLR) as well as digital output (XLR). The video outputs are composite, component and S-Video. I am the original owner. The laser unit is new, SUN AUDIO has replaced it in March 2012 and checked through the AYRE.
The Ayre D-1 soars above all other DVD players in class of its own. Its unique combination of innovative new technologies delivers an extraordinary picture, unrivaled for resolution, smoothness, and dimensionality. Ultra-high-speed optocouplers in concert with twin dedicated power supplies provide complete isolation between the video and audio circuits, assuring absolute purity for both picture and sound. For the dedicated audiophile, optional analog audio converters provide the ultimate in musical pleasure. Experience DVDs as you never have before—the Ayre D-1 unleashes the magic of the movies.
Tests: Home Theater 2003:
.........Can it be that much better?
I didn't have to be a video expert to see that all of Hansen's hard work had paid off, but because I am, I had the Avia Guide to Home Theater and Video Essentials test DVDs on hand. With them, I saw convincing evidence that the D-1 was certainly among the best DVD players out there. I had never seen this kind of horizontal resolution from a DVD player. On resolution test patterns, it clearly rendered 500 lines without fuzziness or blurring. I had two other players on hand, the Pioneer DV-05 and the Camelot Technologies Round Table—the latter progressive-scan, the former interlaced. Neither could duplicate this feat.
The D-1's stunningly low level of video noise—or should I say, its high level of video quiet?—was something I've not seen from any other DVD player. Through its S-video (interlaced) or component (progressive-scan) outputs the D-1 put on the screen the best, most stable, most noise-free test frames I've seen. In fact, all of the test frames I viewed yielded exemplary results.
I should point out that, although I have not had dozens of DVD players in-house, I've seen my share, and when I found myself mesmerized by color bars, I knew something was up. I'd say the Ayre D-1's S-video performance was as good as, if not better than, the component-video performance of my Pioneer DV-05—and that player is no slouch.
But most of you don't watch test patterns. The real test is whether you can discern differences between the D-1 and less expensive players when you watch movies. In this case, it was easy to spot differences. As in audio, where low noise floors tend to reveal low-level sonic details that seem to fill in the blanks and make music sound more real, the D-1 resolved low-level video detail to a degree that created convincingly filmlike video images the likes of which I'd never seen. There was less of a barrier between me and the film, and the result was a greater sense of 3-dimensional realism than I had experienced from any other DVD player.
I compared scenes from a variety of DVDs, including the 2-disc DTS version of Dances With Wolves, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and a brand-new special edition of The Bridge on the River Kwai. I used the Pioneer DV-05, another progressive-scan player under review, and the Ayre, through both their component and S-video outputs. The Ayre's superior performance was obvious in terms of picture stability, detail resolution, freedom from noise and glitches, 3-dimensionality, color purity and saturation, and just plain watchability.
The D-1 had some intangible qualities. Watching it, I had a feeling that it was delivering something other players can't. I'm not trying to be mystical here; I'm sure there's an explanation, and that it's probably a combination of the D-1's low noise and high resolution due to, among other things, its 14-bit DACs and meticulous grounding circuitry.
regret is that I was unable to audition the D-1 with a larger screen and a CRT front-projector. But TJN and JJG plan to do so, and will publish the results in a future "Take Two."
One other thing: When Charlie Hansen told me about the transformer on the digital audio output and the sonic importance of keeping ground loops out of the system, he wasn't just blowing smoke. Though I really hadn't expected to hear differences between the players I have in-house—and, more to the point, wasn't even listening for them—I was startled to hear them nonetheless. When I watched and listened to the music over Austin Powers' opening credits, the sonic improvement was undeniable: less grain, greater liquidity and 3-dimensionality, and even tighter, better-developed bass. I played that section a number of times through each of the three players. The differences were anything but subtle.
The D-1 is expensive, comes with a remote, and, as of this review, there's still no instruction manual! But no DVD player I know of is built like it, physically or electronically. Add the D/A converters and analog output circuitry and you'll have one of the finest-sounding CD/CD-R players you can buy. Though it will not at present play back DVD-Audio, a future upgrade for that format is under development, and will be made available if there is sufficient demand.
The bottom line: The well-to-do DVD fanatic looking for the finest video and audio performance need look no further than the Ayre Acoustics D-1. See it on your favorite wide screen and you'll know. That may sound like advertising hype. It's the truth.
Test Stereophile Febr. 2003:
Ayre D-1x DVD-Video/CD player Page 3
.......The D-1x's strongest tonal suit was its exceptionally detailed and transparent midrange. Sinfonia Antartica features a multitude of woodwinds in the "Penguin" section of the second movement. The D-1x cleanly differentiated all of the instrumental colors, free of smearing or the sort of timbral indecision that some CD players exhibit with woodwinds. Voices had a free and easy sound with a natural and expressive character. On her Live at Blues Alley (Blix Street 10046), Eva Cassidy's voice was full and luscious, beautifully focused and floated. Ol' Blue Eyes sounded wonderful on "The Shadow of Your Smile," from Sinatra at the Sands(Reprise 46947-2).
The acoustic guitars on Tiny Island's "Vaquero" and "Black Sand" (Tiny Island, Opus3 CD 19804) had a naturally resonant warmth, if perhaps just a bit of extra energy present in the pluck of the strings. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how special Charles Lloyd's The Water is Wide (ECM 1734) sounded via the D-1x. Lloyd's incredibly pure sound—so graceful that his alto sax often sounds like a soprano—was bewitching, and Brad Mehldau's incredible palette of piano sounds had as seductive and whole a sound as I have heard.
Up on top, the D-1x was very extended and, apart from that small low-treble "glamour bump," open and nearly grainless. On some recordings there was a faint hint of fine, silvery, powdered-sugar grain in the top octave. Don't interpret this as coded language for the Ayre being "bright" or "aggressive." It was no such thing. The Minnesota Orchestra's string sections on Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances (Reference RR96-CD) and on Appalachian Spring had the special sheen I've heard in live performance. The D-1x's treble balance leaned to the lighter side of perfect neutrality, a presentation that will particularly complement tube electronics, but it sounded anything but thin or bleached.
The Ayre's dynamics were excellent. The Chicago Orchestra's seamless rushes up and down the dynamic scale on Rapsodie espagnol were effortlessly handled. There was no "ratcheting," where dynamics seem coarsely quantized, only a coherent and unforced soaring through Ravel's high-contrast score. The suddenness of the closely recorded brass and woodwind crescendos on Miles Davis and Gil Evans' "Concierto de Aranjuez," from Sketches of Spain (Columbia/Legacy CK 65142), had a particularly accurate scale and forcefulness. Well-recorded percussion, like that on Tiny Island, had just the right speedy initial attack and immediacy. The words for the Ayre's handling of dynamics are "deft" and "agile."
Soundstaging was consistently very good. Particularly when used in its upsampling mode, the $12,000 Classé Omega squeezed even more depth from the best recordings, such as the Minnesota Orchestra CDs, but the Ayre spun a lovely tapestry of Orchestra Hall's deep stage and lively acoustic. When I listened to small groups, such as Eva Cassidy's band, each musician was cleanly and clearly located in a natural-sounding space, with elbow room for all. Nor did big-scaled rock fluster the Ayre—Roger Waters' In the Flesh (Columbia C2K 85235) remained cohesive and focused while providing an impressive sense of scale; and Porcupine Tree's live Coma Divine threw a spacious and expansive stage, with Richard Barbieri's deep-space synthesizer backdrops deep and wide around the bass, guitar, and drums.
I had few 24-bit/96kHz DAD discs on hand, but the results with those I did have was impressive. The high-resolution format brought out the best in the Ayre's sound. The lower-treble elevation vanished, and bass dug in with a rich solidity. Muddy Waters' Folk Singer (Classic Records DAD 1020) had true reference-quality sound. Acoustic guitars had a shivery, lifelike sparkle and resonance, and commanding immediacy. Willie Dixon's booming, ominous bass and Muddy's witchy-sounding slide guitar on "The Same Thing" were nothing short of fantastic. The loooong reverb trails echoed slowly away into the background, and Muddy's voice was uncannily present and palpable.
Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington (Classic DAD 1031) is such a musical delight that sound per se takes a back seat...unless it's as captivating as it was through the D-1x. The Duke's piano was fine and mellow, Buddy Bayard's clarinet on "Mood Indigo" as buttery-smooth as could be. Armstrong's papa-bear growl had a delectable intimacy, and his singular, bright-as-a-new-penny trumpet tone popped authoritatively into the room. It has become apparent that 24/96 and SACD are both capable of delivering performance well beyond the "Red Book" norm. The D-1x made a very impressive case for the former.
The Ayre D-1x was a bit more temperamental about placement and cables than most other CD players I've used, and would not be my first choice for a forward or lightly balanced system. Those minor caveats aside, the Ayre's performance was consistently musical and satisfying; it offers excellent overall performance in an elegant and thoughtfully designed package. And the fact that the buyer can configure a D-1x in so many different ways, before or after purchase, and that it can serve as the primary source for a superb audio-video system, make it a uniquely flexible and attractive component.
Whether DVD-Audio or SACD proves the winner in the current format war remains to be seen, but until the dust settles, there's no question that the Ayre D-1x will provide first-rate CD performance.