I did not describe each Ayon CD player separately. I’d just say that I have sifted through many of them – CD-2, CD-2s, CD-5s, and others. Mostly all top models. Actually, they all are practically the same in terms of circuitry, thus the sound is pretty much alike. This similarity is for the most part attributed to 6n30p output tubes, which give the sound the well-known "roundness".
Generally speaking, the hardware is very well assembled, especially in view of its reasonable price.
CD-5s has quality Philips CD-PRO2M transport. Digital-to-analog converter microchips - PCM1704UK. Power unit with rectifier tubes. Good interstage capacitors Mundorf MCap Supreme Silver-Gold.Oil. RCORE transformers - 3 pcs.
CD-2 and CD-2s have SONY transport, PCM1704 D-to-A converters, but not selected as those in CD-5s. The power module is simpler. Two R-CORE transformers, rectifiers are not vacuum-tube type, which in my opinion can hardly be called a shortcoming.
What I have done.
1. First of all, I selected 6n30p tubes. At the factory they seem to install whatever they have available without selecting. But I found out that they need to be selected based on measurements immediately inside the given device itself, not in some abstract device. Otherwise the second harmonic might reach 60 dB, and distortions will be heightened. With a bit of luck, a very good result may be achieved – almost as good as that of a transistor device.
2. Replacement of D-to-A converter microchips in CD-2 and CD-2s by grade PCM1704UK as those in CD5s.
3. Replacement of operation amplifiers in I/U and low-pass filters. OPA627 has been installed in CD-5s in all units, which makes the soft sound of PCM1704 even richer. AD747 have been installed in CD-2 and CD-2s. Nice operation amplifiers. On the whole, I replaced both OPA627 and AD747 by others.
4. In CD-2 and CD-2s I replaced blocking capacitors by Mundorf - more neutral, but unfortunately also more expensive ones. Sometimes bridges can be installed instead of capacitors; CD-5s has very good Mundorf MCap Supreme Silver-Gold.Oil, which I did not change.
5. Replacement of partly electrolytic capacitors in the power units of D-to-A converter microchips by Panasonic FC or similar with low ESR.
6. Some of the Ayons have a problem with disc reading and spontaneous play interruption. These trifles are easily remedied.
7. Replacement of RCA connectors at device output. The coating erases very fast.
AN interesting trick may also be done: bypass all tube units and give direct signal from D-to-A board on RCA connectors. This would allow listening to the player both in transistor sound and in tube sound modes, but only from XLR outputs, inputs being switched on the preamplifier. This is kind of 2-in-1.
After a moderate tuning, the sound becomes better balanced in timbre and more precise. At the same time, the Ayon’s authenticity persists. That matters to many audiophiles who specifically buy Ayon for the sake of its peculiar sound. Anyway, as they try listening to other devices they find out that better sound exists.
Author: Timur Sheykhov