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By Gerhard Hirt/Ayon Audio

“Simplicity is the best way to get out the maximum sound performance, but also the most difficult way”.


URL: Ayon

Text: Gerhard Hirt
Photographs: Ayon Audio | Wojciech Pacuła | Piksel Studio

I n 1994 we began to make our first tube amplifier in Italy under the brand name “ Vaic”, it called Vaic 52B monoblock and was a single-ended triode power amp and with this amplifier our career starts up internationally. 1996, we got for this amp a 5-star review from Harry Pearson “Absolute Sound”.
Power tubes were made by Alesa Vaic in Prague at that time and he was only responsible for tubes and was not engaged with our amplifiers although we used his name. “Vaic” is still our brand name but we don’t use up this name any more.
1998 Alesa Vaic stopped tube production. 1999 we merged “Vaic” to Ayon Audio and in the same year we took over a part of the old Alesa Vaic tube factory and renew many things there and involved add the former Tesla chief tube engineer. Since 2000 we are producing our own Ayon single-ended triode power tubes in Prague. We can say that the Ayon tube quality nowadays is perhaps one of the best in the world, over more then10 years we optimized everything and made it perfect, for an example we are using “laboratory” glass the highest glass standard, gold wire for filament, special zirconium coating for anode plate and special welding progress to keep highest precision which is extremely important for high power SE-triode tubes.
During we merged the brand name to Ayon we also moved from Italy back to Austria, because our Italian manufacturer was on the limit with their skill and expertise and we felt we have to go a new way with much more power and engineering in the background.
We had to turn around totally to make the next big step ahead to bring Ayon quickly forward and increased our engineer team rapidly. With this important step ahead, I had a vision in my mind to bring Ayon close to the top of the top tube manufacturer companies.
We start up to design a new generation of amplifiers with Aluminium chassis which produce a much better sound performance as stainless steel chassis and combined with new circuit and output transformer design.
2001 we exhibited at the CES with the Ayon Reference 52B monoblock and Lumen White Loudspeaker; we got best sound of the Show by the most important top High-End magazines around the world.
2002 we build our first SE integrated amp the Ayon 300B.
2003 we introduced the first Ayon loudspeaker, the Dragon.
2005 comes the next important milestone for ayon, we introduced the “state of the Art” Spheris preamplifier with a complete new preamp design and tube power supply technologies.
2006 we introduced a new intergraded amplifier line based with KT88 ( Spirit ) and 6C33 ( Spark) to expand the amplifier line and open new price classes.
In the same year 2006 we introduced also our first digital product, the CD-Player CD-1.
Our first digital project became a big success therefore we decided to pay more attention about it and we were ready for the next CD-Player design.
2008 we introduced the Polaris preamp with outstanding design and ReGenerator power supply.
2009 we developed the second CD-Player generation ( CD-2, CD-1s ) with new digital technologies in cooperation with “Stream unlimited” based in Vienna, (they are the former original Philips engineers which were responsible for the CD standard and format/design) this was the ideal “digital” partner for the new Ayon Players. Besides them we designed a new 6H30 outputstage without any feedback and with the shortest 6H30 circuit design without any compromise in sound performance, features, handling and built quality in their classes.
2010: We introduced the CD-5 reference CD-Player and the Reference DAC – Skylla.
Also the new 4 chassis Spheris II – Linestage and Sperhis II – Phonostage combination, non cost object.
End of the year 2010 we introduced the next milestone, the new “AUTO-FIXED-BAIS” system for amplifier combined together with a tubes testing program. This system has absolutely no loss in sound or power or other negative concomitants.
2011: we will complete our line with the new Orbis and Eris Linestage preamps, the Orbis-Phonostage will follow up, and in the autumn season we will introduce the S-3 DAC/Preamp/Network-Player with tube outputstage and tube regulated power supply.

Here are also some technical highlights – short description.

Intelligent Ayon auto-fixed-bias (AFB) design

The bias setting has a clear impact on the tone and attack. The bias can be set “colder” for cleans or more “hot” for punch and easier saturation. If the tube is running too hot it will wear out fast. With a correct bias setting you have a good compromise of punch and headroom. With this in mind you can choose the tone and attack you prefer.
For tube amplifiers an “automatic” bias-control of the power tubes would be advantageous to compensate differences, ageing or voltage shifts in an easier and faster way. Furthermore the customer does not need to check the correct adjustment of the bias value. Unfortunately this desirable automatic device has some severe disadvantages such as significant loss in sound quality and power.
For the Ayon team it was a serious development task to create a new automatic „Fixed-Bias“ circuitry that reliably controls the operating conditions of the power tubes WITHOUT deteriorating the sound or the power. This intelligent Auto-Fixed-Bias system must not be mixed up with a semi-automatic or so-called fully automated bias-control that can never achieve a result comparable with the new Ayon Auto-Fixed-Bias system. The Ayon Auto-Fixed-Bias system provides the best possible combination of sound properties, measured power and usability, because it does not take action during the music listening operation. This system has absolutely no loss in sound or power or other negative concomitants.
An added benefit to this approach is that, should a tube fail prematurely, the single tube can be replaced without having to purchase a matched set.

Simpler, purer circuits
At Ayon Audio, we feel that tubes are the sonically superior technology for audio, as their generally simpler circuits and smaller number of components provide for a purer signal path and consequently more truthful signal handling. This is because fewer components provide for fewer elements in a circuit to degrade the signal, distort and muddle the sound. Simple circuits also provide for inherently higher reliability, since there are fewer parts which can fail. Tubes are also more tolerant of circuit drifts and deviations in component specifications, and thus can be used in simpler, purer circuits.

V a c u u m   T u b e s
The choice of signal and power tubes have a significant influence on the sound and hence on the inspiration and joy of listening. This is not only the decision between good and bad tubes but finally the interaction of the different types of tubes and their combination that are used in the various Ayon amplifiers. Today only few manufacturers still produce tubes for pure audio amplification; one of them is Ayon Audio with its outstanding single-ended triode power tubes (AA32B-S, AA52B-S and AA62B) based on the WE 300B.

D u a l     G r o u n d i n g   S y s t e m
The modification of the grounding topology leads to increased rejection of noise from the power supply and other areas. The dual grounding topology used in all of our amplifiers is quite unique to the whole hi-end tube amplification industry. Such extensive topology provides for quieter backdrop for which the music can unfold in its entirety. It further establishes the quick and controlled bass response and the full bodied expression of the high frequency. The ground leg of the signal has not been neglected and given meticulous attention in its implementation. The importance of proper grounding cannot be over emphasized.

M e c h a n i c a l    C o n s t r u c t i o n
The high grade aluminum chassis impart a richer, more lustrous tonality with a cleaner background and less hash and grain. All brushed anodized anti-vibration-resonance and non-magnetic chassis’s are fully hand assembled to insure the highest level of craftsmanship.

Ayon tube testing process
Every power and signal tube is visually examined and tested by our own special custom made tube testing machine with burn in feature and add on the industry's most advanced computerized electron tube testing system – Amplitrex AT1000 tube tester, for all 5 specs: Plate current, trans-conductance, heater-to-cathode leakage, internal gas and microphonics. Actually tube manufacturer only tests mostly one spec – the plate current in their factory QC process; we test all 5. For tubes with multiple sections such as “dual triode” types, we test all sections of the tube and match the sections as close as possible.


Wojciech Pacuła: What kind of music do you listen?
Gerhard Hirt: I am listen a lot of mystical music too, like (“dead can dance” or “Mercedes Sosa – Misa Criolla” or RY Cooder – Paris-Texas ), or Jazz (like Gianlugi Trovesi Nonet – Round about a midsummer’s dream or Chuck Mangione – Children of Sanchez, Don Cherry - Codona) and classical ( Like Mozart, Strauss, Haydn) and sophisticated pop like ( Riky Lee Jones, Kari Bremnes)

WP: How it connects with the sound of your gear?
GH: Especially “mystical” music, classical and Jazz can superior perform with 3 dimensional soundstage when the recording is well done, and it has a big side effect to the Ayon sound, the ayon sounds with a big 3-D holographic soundstage and natural combined with an open and fast performance.

WP: What is hierarchy of the sources - I mean CD, HDD, LP?
GH: LP, CD. That’s it.

WP: Why in some products you are using tube power supply and in the other not?
GH: We are using in all our preamps the Re-Generator tube power supply, I think we are the only one who is using this technology for Tube equipment; and then in the CD-5s, Skylla, Mercury II, Crossfire II, Vulcan II tube regulated power supplies. Wirth the tube power supplies, the sound is a bit more “liquid” as with the standard solid-state rectifier concept, but it is always the total design and how we include it and what we want to get out.

WP: And why output impedance is the same for RCA and XLR? I thought XLR should be twice RCA…
GH: Actually in 90% of the cases the XLR mode has double impedance value as RCA, but we are using a different loading/driver system therefore both value are almost equal. Also we are using a RCA/XLR switch, we can’t use both output jack ( XLR and RCA) at the same time and besides them what most of the customer doesn’t know is that when you use both output configurations at the same time the sound quality drops down a lot. We are using an unbalanced/balanced converter for XLR output. For us the most important is the single-ended ( unbalanced ) signal in our CD-players. Balanced has not really advances in a tube circuit design, actually the signal have to pass double length etc., “make it short and simple as much you can” then you are already a big step ahead.

WP: What exactly the audio-bias of Aoyn is about?
GH: It is not an auto bias system, it’s an auto-fixed-bias system, totally different from the conventional auto bias. See also above.

WP: Weren't you tempted to build your own KT88 or small tubes?
GH: Yes, we are building now our own KT88 tubes, the new Ayon Kt88sx Black treasure version – next week we are ready to introduce this tube, it is a joint venture, this tube is now build with our standard, our specification, our quality standard and we brought in all our knowledge from our tube factory in Prague where we make the AA300B, AA32B, AA52B and 62B tubes. This new Kt88sx will set up a new standard for KT88 tubes, it’s a big step ahead and we can control all specifications and reliability.

WP: You have so many new products in very short time - everyone is way better than old one - what happened?
GH: We export in almost 60 countries and the USA, Asian and EU market are a bit different from each other. We have 3 amplifier lines: KT88, 6C33 and 52/62B. We have many countries they want to have also besides the SE design also amps with high power like the KT88 amplifiers. Others like the SE very much but can’t afford always the 52/62B amps and therefore the 6C33 amps are the right one for them. Last year we made a technical and optical “face-lifting” for all amps. It was also clear for us that with this face-lifting we want to put in the maximum on technology to get out the best performance without any comprise in their price ranges. As you know we build the Ayon equipment compromise less with heavy alu-chassis and transformers, real tube hi-end “hardcore” with still fair prices, not over priced.

WP: Where exactly are build PCB's with the items on them?
GH: It depends: for most of the units (mid to high price class) we make the PCB with all components in Austria. For our entry level units (like CD-07s, Orion II & Spirit III) we are making the PCB in Taiwan and assembling the components here in Austria.

WP: What kind of reference system do you use?
WP: Ayon Crane, Ayon Firefox and Lumen White Loudspeaker, Vulcan II Monoblock, Sperhis II and Polaris III preamplifer, CD-5s, Lumen White - Mystere Turntable with Helios Tonearm and Shun Mook MC reference cartridge, Ayon Pearl Interconnect and Ayon Pearl Loudspeaker cables.
WP: What exactly is Lumen White for Ayon?

GH: We separate both brand names strictly and we do not want to mix up both brand names too much. Well, it is already known that both brands are operating under the same “roof”.

WP: How Ayon's loudspeakers differ from LW ones? Besides the shape of course...
GH: We are using a different crossover technology for LW and also different attunment.

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"High Fidelity OnLine" is an internet magazine, published since may 2004, devoted to high quality reproduction of sound and picture. It is a monthly magazine, but the articles are uploaded twice a month - in the beginning of the month and in the middle. The news column is updated on on-going basis, if possible. The main sections are: "Tests", "Events" (interviews, reportages, and similar), "Hyde Park" (user tests, opinions) and "Who asks..." (readers questions and HFOL answers). Articles from earlier issues can be read in the "Archive". Have a nice read!

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