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Cary Audio - Any good?


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Hi folks!


I am considering buying a Cary Audio SLI-80HS integrated amplifier.  Carydirect.com is selling product at 30% off for a short time to commemorate Cary Audio's 30th anniversary.  The pricing seems like a good deal, but I don't know much of anything about their products.  I would like to get your thoughts on this specific model or at least your thoughts on Cary Audio's products overall.  Any feedback is appreciated!  I do not have a dealer in my hometown and I have not heard Cary's products before.  I have read some favorable stuff in the Hi-Fi press, but I am never sure what is a "real" opinion and what is "paid for" opinion.  


I would be pairing this integrated tube amp with my Cornwall iii speakers.


Thanks for your time!





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Windashine, Schu, Bosco-d-Gama, Kevinmi & A9050LX,


Thanks for your comments.  It turns out that Cary is discounting almost everything, except the model I was looking at.  I was never good at reading the fine print...so my bad. Nevertheless, after corresponding by email and then spending about 30 minutes on the phone with their president Billy Wright, I decided to give their stuff a try.  A 30 day test drive isn't a bad deal, plus the stuff is handwired, point to point with the exception of two small boards used for rectification.  I had Billy send me a couple of pics just as proof of how it is wired.  I am a sucker for hand assembly.   I shall see how it turns out and let you know. Merry Christmas to you all!





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I have owned two Cary products. Years ago I had a hot rodded version of the SLP-98 in Jaguar red. It was a beautiful preamp. It was very romantic sounding and not very transparent, a little soft too. I didn't keep it long.


After reading all the glowing reviews of the SLI-80, I bought one of those last year. I didn't care for it at all. Poor dynamics, slow and plodding. It didn't do anything to offend, but was very bland. I moved it on out the door in about a week.


So I guess you could say my track record with Cary products is not very good. That said, I did hear a pair of the AES Sixpack monoblocks in my system and thought they were excellent.





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I have a SLI 80 Signature F1 with KT-120s running my La Scalas right now & love it.  Dead quiet, reserve power for dynamics.I can also swap it to my very inefficient Spendors and power them similarly.  Never had a problem with it, bass delivery or its tubes. It is not forgiving of poor content, however. 

I also also have a 300-SEI; its perfect with Heresys & La Scalas. Not quite as quiet as the SLI, but it nails vocals with incredible detail. Not as happy running the Spendors.

I am happy with both amps, but re-tubing can get to be a drain.



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  • 3 weeks later...
On 11/24/2019 at 11:17 AM, kevinmi said:

I like some of Cary Audio's stuff, mainly their preamplifiers. The founder of Cary Audio, Dennis Had, sold the company and makes amps on his own now under the Inspire name. Might be something you would be interested in.


Below is an Inspire parallel single ended pentode amp built by Dennis Had retired founder of Cary Audio. I'm running Pope 6V6GT's with a Sophia Blue 6SL7 and a 5Y3 rectifier driving Heresy III's with a HSU subwoofer. It can run many different tubes by changing the rectifier. I attached a sheet of combinations provided by Dennis. With 6V6's , 6L6GA's etc. and a 5Y3 rectifier it runs very cool and sounds excellent. I bought this one second hand. The seller had Dennis build a parallel single ended 45 amplifier, 5 watts, for him. He will be driving Forte III's with it. Pic attached.


These are fine amps and incorporate 60 years of audio design experience. They play well with Klipsch.  There is a 5,000 post thread on https://www.audioaficionado.org/showthread.php?t=24170&highlight=PSE+amplifier Enjoy. :)





45 PSE.jpg

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