AYON Audio is a name that’s only recently been getting some mainstream hi-fi press in the USA. The audio cognoscenti, however, will already have discovered this Austrian brand some years ago which makes tube-fitted CD players, tube amplifiers and speakers. Tubes, in fact, form the core of Ayon’s philosophy and the new CD-3s CD player doesn’t depart from this.
Ayon describes the 3s as a new redesign of its highly-regarded CD-2s, although some may remember there was a two-chassis CD-3 in the line-up previously. According to Ayon, the 6H30 tube output stage, analogue volume control and tube-based power supply are among the new technologies used on the CD-3s.
The literature ambitiously describes the CD-3s as “a miraculous blend of resolution, powerful dynamic contrast, 3D holographic soundstage and smooth natural, homogeneously textures.” Our experience with Ayon CD players (the CD-07 and CD-1s) makes us inclined to believe in most of the rhetoric.
The top-loader (like all previous and current Ayon CD players) features a Class-A triode vacuum-tube output stage and allows single-ended and balanced operation. Signal paths are kept minimal to avoid sonic degradation and the circuit board has been redesigned for the most direct approach possible. A soft-start power up, with warm-up, extends tube life.
The CD-3s uses a Burr Brown DAC which can upsample to 24-bit/192kHz resolution – this is switchable. The output is variable, from 2.5V to 5V, with a separate analogue output stage for the left and right channels. Ayon also stresses that there are no solid-state devices in the signal path of the analogue tube output.
Provided also are digital coaxial, optical, I2S, balanced and USB (asynchronous) inputs, along with a digital coaxial output. A chunky, all-metal remote handset is part of the package.
Ayon has fine-tuned its power supply system here for enhanced AC line noise filtration – separate power transformer windings and filters provide total isolation between input and output stages. There are also 10 separate voltage regulators om board.
Parts used here are typically high-grade, from the anodised aluminum chassis to the internals, and the CD player is mostly hand-assembled.
The CD-3s is placed just below the flagship CD-5s, which means it is targeted at audiophiles not on a restricted budget. Still, you can save on the cost of a preamp and go directly to the power amp.
Check out the Ayon website for more on the CD-3s.