Hot: It may be a single-trick pony, given the Ayre’s QB-9’s single (USB) input, but what a trick! Two filter options are the only sonically configurable setting, geared respectively towards accuracy in the time and frequency domains. It accepts native 24/96 signals from your PC source, and setting up with your computer is a breeze. Lends, er, air to recordings, and addresses fears of computer-phobes succinctly (at a price, though). Poised and communicative with little additive properties, and overall very natural sounding. Great dimensions in recordings – in width and depth – can be experienced, and overall, the sound is balanced and high-brow.
Cold: Price. Occasional hardening at extremes. Slight tendency to sound clinical via one filter. These are nitpicking, though …
Encore: Some may baulk at the price for a DAC that does only USB, but those seeking to get the highest possible sonic quality from their computer audio files will see the point. If you’re a critic the whole “computer audio system” thing, a set-up running the QB-9 could well change your mind for good! There are playthings and serious toys … guess where the Ayre fits?
Specs: Output – 4V balanced, 2V single-ended / Input – 1 USB ( 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, 176.4 kHz, 192 kHz, (up to 24 bits) / 2 pairs of analogue outputs, XLR/RCA / Asynchronous transfer mode for USB input / Minimum phase digital filter / Single-pass 16x oversampling / Fully-balanced discrete circuitry / Ayre Conditioer power-line RFI filter / AyreLink communication system