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HomeCameraThe Cary SLP05 Tubed Pre-Amp Evaluate 2022. |

The Cary SLP05 Tubed Pre-Amp Evaluate 2022. |

The Cary SLP05 Pre-Amp Final Improve Evaluate 2022.

By Steve Huff. April 2022.

My Video with ideas and opinions on the SLP-05 


Coming off of my latest evaluate of the Cary Audio DMS650 Streamer I’m right here once more right this moment with a Cary flagship product. A product that has been round for over 15 years but continues to be the highest tier pre-amp from this American HiFi firm.

Cary has been round because the 1980’s and have provided a plethora of gorgeous tube and strong state merchandise over time. Just a few of which a couple of have grow to be legendary. Take for instance their SLP98P pre-amp.

Absolutely the Traditional Trying Cary SLP-98 P Pre Amp. This was the primary piece by Cary Audio that I owned again within the 90’s. I cherished this piece for years. 

This “Sweet Little Preamp” has been owned by many an audiophile over time, together with the individual penning this, ME!

I owned the SLP98P twice in life as I cherished it a lot I regretted promoting it the primary time and re-purchased it a 12 months later! I had the usual SLP98P within the pretty purple end after which later the SLp98 F1 version in silver and black.

The little SLP98 preamp has one thing about it that speaks to the center and soul. That means, music that flows by it has a method of reaching our ears, our mind and it connects on an emotional stage. It’s all in regards to the artist and the vocals together with a pleasant full and enormous current midrange. It’s actually a traditional in type and offers off far more of the “tube glow” in sound than most modern-day tube preamps do. In reality, it doesn’t get extra traditional or easy than a Cary SLP-98P PreAmp.

If you would like lush, huge, heat, spacious and eery vocals with out the etched element some fashionable preamps deliver, the little SLP-98P might be had new right this moment for underneath $4500 direct from Cary. Below $3800 if you do not need an included phono stage. It’s heat and presents up the actual sound of tubes, prefer it or not.

The little 98P takes me again to my early days of HiFi when it was all about heat, making a human reference to the music and having fun with mentioned music. It wasn’t about excessive particulars, hidden inside particulars or listening with a magnifying glass. It was purely in regards to the music and emotion slightly than making music one thing it isn’t.

The SLP-05 Arrives in 2006 (and now in 2022)

I bear in mind when the SLP05 got here out round 2006 or so. Once I noticed the primary photos of it I fell in love with it virtually immediately simply as a result of design. The type of this preamp harkens again to the glory days of HiFi, particularly in Silver. It’s a legit murals and even right this moment in 2022 it appears to be like simply as sharp because it did again in 2006. It has a timeless design and it’s a lot bigger than the little SLP-98.

I imagine (from reminiscence) that when the SLP05 first launched again in 2006 that it was $6500 (although I may very well be improper). I bear in mind considering there was no method I might afford it again then however it all the time remained on my radar, behind my thoughts.

There was simply one thing about this piece of HiFi that pulled me to it. Possibly it was the universe telling me again then that this may very well be “the one” for me, lol. Who is aware of, however it could take a very long time earlier than I might discover out simply what it was.

That picture of a Silver SLP05 remained in my thoughts for years and years however I used to be by no means in a position to safe one for myself for numerous causes.

As time moved on and the years glided by I ended up getting in a unique path from tubes, and separates.

Sixteen Years

Quick ahead to the current day. Right here in April of 2022 I’m reviewing extra audio gear than ever and I made a decision to achieve out to Cary to see if I might evaluate the SLP-05, lastly getting an opportunity to listen to the pre-amp that has haunted my thoughts for sixteen years.

Additionally, the SLP-05 is now provided with an enormous improve merely referred to as “The Final Improve”. This brings the now 16+ 12 months previous pre-amp into the fashionable day with enhancements to the sound in all areas.

Here’s what Cary says about this Improve to the SLP-05. It’s provided to present SLP-05 house owners for $1,795. 

“The facility provide portion of the improve consists of “maxing out” the filtering capabilities alongside your entire energy provide chain, all the way in which into and together with the preamplifier. Purifying DC voltages is extraordinarily essential to offering a clear, clear, easy sound high quality that’s free from grain, noise and strident artifacts. This additionally improves imaging qualities because it supplies a a lot blacker background. The sort and amount of capacitance are essential as we aren’t simply including an additional 1200uf of UCC electrolytic capacitance into the primary B+ (excessive voltage) provide but in addition an extra complete of 125uf of Polypropylene capacitors all through the B+ line. This consists of an enormous 100uf Polypropylene capacitor proper on the line stage PC board. The remainder of the extra capacitors are used as bypass capacitors throughout every UCC electrolytic filter capacitor. This supplies a dramatically easy, candy sound high quality.

Within the line stage circuit, we alter the resistors to prime quality 1% Vishay steel movie plate load and cathode resistors. This components change improves the midrange and bass considerably for a fuller, extra textured midrange. You’ll discover extra physique and texture to vocals and acoustic devices, and so on. Bass is extra authoritative and tight. Highs are smoother but detailed.

And eventually, for the pièce de résistance. We’re eradicating all the coupling capacitors and putting in (10) Mundorf MCap coupling capacitors all through your entire line part. That is the ultimate addition that fully permits the sound qualities of the SLP-05 to shine by, leading to a candy, fluid, full bodied but delicate supply of each single instrument and pure vocal element. It’s finished with out including brightness, and but delivers an incredible quantity of air and element revealing the acoustics of the room and devices with breathtaking pure realism. There’s physique, texture and fullness to devices that break by with such ease and delicacy irrespective of the complexity of the music.

The “Final Improve” is not only an improve. It elevates the SLP-05 to a complete different stage of sound high quality. It retains the attributes of the SLP-05 that you already know and love however offers you extra of all the pieces.”

Cary received again to me and mentioned they might ship me a silver SLP-05 with the Final Improve for a evaluate. I used to be informed by Billy Wright, head honcho at Cary, that it’s his perception that this SLP-05 with the improve can compete towards any pre-amp made right this moment and equal it or greatest it. Sturdy daring phrases certainly!

I used to be excited and I spent the following two days prepping my reference system for the Cary. This was sixteen years within the making! 

The Cary had some huge sneakers to fill as I spent the prior few weeks listening to a virtually $20,000 Nagra Traditional Pre-Amp in an all Nagra Traditional ($50k+ retail) setup. The Nagra set impressed me significantly and as a package deal that Traditional system was in all probability one of the best I’ve ever heard in my residence or effectively, anyplace. It was unimaginable however man, these costs made my eyes water.

I wasn’t certain how the Cary would carry out however that is the Cary flagship, so I knew it could be, or needed to be… excellent.

The SLP-05 is an all tube pre-amp and it homes eight 6sn7 tubes, my all time favourite pre-amp tube. In reality I personal a couple of very uncommon POPE 6sn7 tubes they usually have been absolute MAGIC once I final used them again in 2002 in an AES/CARY DJH Preamp.

The previous Cary/AES AE-3 DJH Model Pre-amp, This little man punched WAY above its weight and I used to have this hooked as much as a set of Cary/AES Six Pac tube amps. I additionally rolled in some Pope tubes which made this little man sound like a really critical and magical preamp. You might be able to discover one among these easy little pre-amps used for underneath $800. 

When inserting the inventory tubes into the 05 I remembered my time with these NOS Pope tubes. They have been MAGIC. I began to dream of loading in a full set of NOS tubes however first I needed to hearken to this piece STOCK so I might perceive the place it was coming from. After I get an concept of the inventory sound, I’ll pop in these Pope tubes to see if they’re nearly as good as I remembered.

The Cary ships with decrease price inventory EH 6sn7 tubes as Cary is aware of most will tube roll or add in some nicer tubes afterward. That’s a part of the enjoyable with tube pre-amps. We are able to “roll” in new tubes and truly change the sound up a bit. Some tubes will deliver extra highs, some extra lows. Others could deliver extra air, house and magic. Whereas NOS (New Previous Inventory) tubes are essentially the most wanted, there are new manufacturing tubes one can place in that don’t break the bank.

Even with the tube scarcity in 2022, there are many 6sn7 tubes to be discovered.

The SLP-05 additionally is available in two items. One for the ability provide which homes a 5AR4 rectifier tube and two snazzy very deep blue shows that glow with an ethereal and darkish blue glow. The opposite field is the pre-amp itself and I’ve to say that this piece, each items, are artworks.

That is essentially the most stunning HiFi I’ve ever owned or examined with out query, interval. I’ve by no means seen a extra stunning HiFi pre-amp within the flesh. 

The design of the SLP-05 is tactile. It’s old-fashioned with bodily steel switches and knobs. It has the look of a traditional tube piece and it doesn’t get any higher than this in terms of type and performance.

The paint is definitely an automotive end. Excessive gloss Jaguar Anthracite black on the physique of the preamp. It’s beautiful and completely gorgeous. The silver faceplate with the blue lights completely match the Cross Labs XA60.8’s I’ve as effectively. General, with out query, this can be a effectively made, effectively constructed and effectively designed piece. Made right here within the USA in addition.

When the SLP-05 arrived I unboxed it and seen the packing was unimaginable. Cary is among the greatest within the enterprise for packing their gear for cargo and all of it arrived protected and sound with out problem. After putting in the tubes (which have been all numbered for his or her respective slots) I related it to the Cross Labs amps and my Fleetwood Deville Audio system, which at the moment are the “SQ” selection.

Utilizing a Weiss 501 DAC for my digital streaming I used to be prepared to listen to some tube magic.

Upon powering all of it up I immediately realized that this pre-amp has a number of acquire. The place the Nagra and even the Cross Labs XP12 had decrease acquire (the Nagra had a change for low or excessive acquire use, which was superior) this SLP-05 had some critical acquire.

For instance, with the Cross Labs XP12 I must flip the quantity dial all the way in which to 72 (out of 100) for the sound to REALLY fill my house with magic. The Cross is a low acquire design. With the Cary I can flip the dial to round 9AM and it get very loud filling my house with ease. Fortunately I can modify the Weiss DAC 501 to a decrease output. I set it to -20db and it was an ideal match to the SLP-05.


Normally these sort of excessive acquire preamps can usher in noise to your system, however not the SLP-05. For being a tube unit (with excessive acquire) it’s quiet in my system and there may be zero hiss or noise coming from my audio system, that are 91DB environment friendly. Spectacular to say the least. I lately inserted an all tube built-in amp into my system for testing and it buzzed and hummed like mad. A lot so I needed to take away it and ship it again. The Cary is impressively quiet for being an all tube preamp.

Being a better acquire pre it additionally appears to feed my audio system with extra energy. It isn’t, however it’s simply delivering the ability faster to the audio system which ends up in them sounding even higher than earlier than. I really like the acquire on the SLP-05 because it appears to essentially get up my total system. It has drive, kick and balls with the SLP-05 in place.

I believe it could be cool if Cary upgraded the SLP-05 and added a acquire change for Low or Excessive Acquire. The Nagra Traditional has this change and it makes it tremendous simple to match up with any amps or sources. This could cowl any and all conditions for any person. As is although, I’ve had not one problem with the excessive acquire of this preamp, in reality, I like that it’s a better acquire design.

Let’s face it, once you flip the quantity up it offers a way of getting a extra highly effective system when it fills the room with out having to show the quantity dial a lot. It brings serous oomph issue to the system. With the low acquire pre-amp, going all the way in which up the quantity dial for room filling sound makes it look like I’ve weak amps. This isn’t the case, it’s simply an phantasm of kinds however I desire having that additional little bit of acquire on faucet to awaken my system.

The Cary, being greater acquire and low noise is one of the best of each worlds for my tastes. Oh, and once you flip this 05 up, it simply brings extra of the great. It doesn’t get congested, vivid, harsh or exhausting or grungy. It stays buttery easy and composed irrespective of how loud you go. This can be a true signal of a effectively made, effectively designed excessive finish piece.

The construct is prime notch with the Cary. The tube sockets are sturdy and agency, by no means wobbly and the tubes match good and comfortable. The match and end is nearly as good as I’ve ever seen in a HiFi product, whatever the price. The dials really feel strong, easy and excessive finish. The 2 half design actually helps with sound high quality as effectively. Retaining the ability provide separate is normally an indication {that a} product goes to sound very refined and delightful.

The blue lights actually add to the aesthetic right here, as in a dim room or late night time listening the duo is completely knock out beautiful. I cannot speak about this sufficient, as once you see this piece within the flesh you’ll be floored. It makes the Cross Labs XP12 look plain and boring, and I really like that preamp. It makes the Nagra look small and overpriced and it appears to be simply as effectively made because the Nagra, artwork least on the outside.

For design and construct equality this will get a ten/10 all day lengthy.

The Sound. Does it ship the place it issues?

SPOILER: That is with out query the best pre-amp I’ve ever examined or owned. After some new tubes I really desire it to the $18,500 retail Nagra Traditional Pre. The rationale? It has a humanity about it. It has that one thing very particular that touches my coronary heart and soul, and it has a sweetness about it that’s pure Cary. It makes music slightly than particular results and boy, what candy music it makes.

Remember the fact that this pre-amp sells for underneath $7500 at Cary Direct. Add the Final Improve and that price goes to simply over $9k. Sure, that is costly once we evaluate it to pre amps within the $2k vary however in comparison with one thing just like the Schiit Audio Freya + (which I additionally reviewed)  the Cary is in one other league, simply accurately. Whereas the Freya+ sounds nice for the associated fee (underneath $1k), it isn’t almost as refined, huge, easy, or holographic because the Cary.

The Freya + shouldn’t be as quiet, not as refined nor does it have the “magic” of the Cary. It doesn’t have the construct, or type of the Cary although the Freya + is 100% cool for the associated fee and appears very good certainly, I loved my time with the Freya + however the SLP-05 is in a unique league actually.

In comparison with the $18,500 Nagra Traditional, the Cary is hotter, fuller and  larger sounding. The Nagra is extra about pace, element and impressing us with transparency, of which is has gobs of. Whereas the Cary can be fairly clear, the Nagra bests it on this dept. With that mentioned, the Cary is far more musical and actual sounding to me. It attracts me in to the music much more so than the Nagra. Arduous to think about, however it’s what it’s and it’s synergy at work right here.

With the Cary SLP-05 the highs are ethereal but a bit rounded off to keep away from glare, harshness or complications. The bass is deep, highly effective and bombastic at instances. Simply the largest bass and most oomph I’ve had in my system so far. The midrange is the place the magic lives and this can be a midrange-centric amp. It delivers physique, heat and but with the air and spaciousness of a few of the greatest designs. It’s candy, easy and large. Drums are big and have slam and energy behind them. Weight…it’s right here. Nothing lean or skinny in regards to the Cary.

This pre-amp sounds wonderful with all music genres and it drops the mic with rock, steel and something that has boogie, rhythm, power or influence. It additionally transforms right into a magical piece for small scale Jazz or vocals. Ive by no means heard vocals so huge or actual popping out of my Deville’s. The Cary shouldn’t be the final phrase in separating each instrument from each other in surgical element however it’s extra about portray a complete musical image. One which sounds extra proper and pure.

However this SLP-05 doesn’t sound just like the much more traditional CarySLP-98P. It one way or the other manages to maintain one of the best character from the 98P however it does so with much more transparency, extra dynamics, extra smoothness, extra element, extra air and much more refined musicality. The 98P is CLASSIC. The 05 appears to be like traditional however mixes a few of that traditional sound with fashionable sound.

It has the power to do all of this whereas by no means getting congested, grainy or overly heat/boring sounding. The bass from the SLP-05 is thunderous however tight. Critically, the Bass efficiency right here is otherworldly and makes the Cross XP12 sound somewhat anemic in a facet by facet. It makes the Nagra sound lean and ahead compared. Issues I didn’t discover till a facet by facet was finished.

That is the primary time I heard a Cary piece that had that human contact, sweetness, that wonderful midrange and an expansive ethereal treble as effectively. This preamp can picture and it does it extraordinarily effectively. It might probably do soundstage, and it does it with one of the best of them. Whereas the treble is good and prolonged it’s additionally not in your face. So it’s easy with zero harshness or grit.

For individuals who like huge presence treble and sharp brighter type cymbal hits, the 05 doesn’t do that to the extent of a Nagra, Audio Analysis or Mark Levinson. For individuals who like an prolonged however smoother treble, the 05 will probably be proper up your alley.

I really feel my Weiss 501 DAC contributes to this as effectively and along with the Cross Amps, the Deville’s and SLP-05 the sound has influence, physique, soul and that ever essential wow issue with out being excessive about it.

The magic right here additionally lies within the gorgeous midrange efficiency. In reality, the midrange is so reasonable it’s a kind of merchandise that ship scary actual vocals that make it appear as in case your favourite artist is there with you.

When all the celebs align and you’ve got your system setup accurately, this preamp will ship pure magic within the vocal area. It’s so stunning to expertise. Consider although, you will have a superb DAC, Audio system and Cables to get essentially the most from the SLP-05. Whenever you step into the realm of excessive finish audio, all the pieces makes a distinction.

There isn’t any one piece that can make your system carry out magic, it will likely be a combo of all your items that do that inside your house, and your house, your room, is most essential! So feed this Cary effectively (good supply and cables) and it’ll reward you with stunning music.

All in all there may be nothing exaggerated right here in terms of sound. Nothing is lacking or missing. The total sound spectrum from prime to backside is extraordinary and I’ve to emphasize once more, there may be nothing in regards to the SLP-05 one might ever describe as skinny or ahead. It’s received some main physique and kick which is lacking from many modern-day pre-amps. Some could really feel it’s a bit relaxed on prime and sure, this has a pleasant mellow relaxed but prolonged prime finish however it’s a pleasant to by no means ever hear any digital glare throughout the music.

The tubes make the distinction right here. In reality if you wish to hear a Tube piece that can present you ways tubes sound, take a look at Cary Audio.

Many manufactures right this moment make tube merchandise that sound like Strong Sate. Octave Audio, Lab 12, Nagra, Audio Analysis, Vinnie Rossi, Pathos, and so on. Most modern-day tube items don’t sound like what you assume tubes ought to sound like. Cary does, and I really like that. 

As I sat and listened on daily basis for the primary week I felt hypnotized at time. From the great thing about this piece in addition to the sound it was delivering to my house. In reality, whereas I hearken to a ton of music with all gear, with the Cary in place I listened much more. It by no means did not deliver me into the music.

It was grand, it was huge, it scaled to heights I by no means skilled in my house. That means, the music turned bigger and as huge as life, virtually as if it was a life power all its personal (and it was). My total room felt pressurized from the immense energy this pre-amp was delivering from the all class A Cross Labs XA60.8 amps.

Swapping again to the Nagra Traditional Pre with the Cross amps, the sound turned much less involving and smaller than with the Cary, as if a few of the human contact went lacking. The Nagra was leaner and had extra particulars being thrown at me. It was wonderful don’t get me improper! Simply completely different. It took my ears a couple of songs to regulate to the variations when going backwards and forwards.

The Nagra impressed out of the gate with a wow issue however with some music it turned virtually an excessive amount of of a superb factor.

The Cary offered the music with a extra pure movement and far more slam and oomph. Extra heat. A extra ethereal sort of sound. One thing that jogs my memory extra of the Line Magnetic 219ia all tube SET amp. Totally different displays certainly.

I used to be blown away by this Cary. A lot so I needed to deliver Debby in for a hear.

I performed Enigmas “Confessions of the Thoughts” and he or she sat, wanting hypnotized herself. When it was over she mentioned “it was like I used to be taken to a different world, I turned so centered on the music I forgot I used to be sitting right here listening to music”.

With the Cary SLP-05 in in place it was like my system was now a residing, respiration factor. That emotion was there, oozing from the audio system. The realism, musicality, and enormous as life copy was permitting me to simply sit again and benefit from the music.

Not as soon as throughout my listening periods did I consider “how might I make this even higher?” as I used to be simply so happy with the sound because it was. As I listened extra I noticed that the Cary SLP-05 is 100% an finish recreation pre-amp. I don’t care for those who spend double, you’ll not get “higher” than this (simply completely different). The truth that it’s a design from 2006 blows my thoughts, and it proves “NEWER” shouldn’t be all the time “BETTER”.

Normally “NEWER” is a money seize and merchandise that stand the take a look at of time are those we must be taking a better take a look at. Many instances I’ve had “new” merchandise come to me that have been changing older merchandise and I most popular the older product. It has occurred inside audio and cameras each. In reality, with cameras there should not any new fashions as of April 2022 that I actually get pleasure from or advocate. Oh, apart from my iPhone 13 Professional Max ; )

So simply because the SLP-05 is from 2006, it doesn’t imply its previous. It simply means it’s actually THAT good, So good that it doesn’t need to be redone or changed. The last word improve took care of that, and the way cool is that of Cary to supply a $1795 improve as a substitute of bringing out an all new $15k pre-amp with these upgrades. It’s uncommon to see an organization do that and it means house owners of the unique SLP-05 can get flip their preamp into an all new preamp for underneath $1800.

In reality, it’s a part of the explanation I’ve Cross Amps right here. They don’t play that fixed improve recreation both. It’s why I really like the Fleetwood Deville’s. They may nonetheless be nearly as good, as magic and as related in 15 years with out having to purchase a “Mark II” or newfangled model made to promote product. I really like firms within the HiFi realm who share this philosophy.

FACT: Actually nice audio merchandise final and stand the take a look at of time. 


As I talked about earlier, this pre-amp makes use of EIGHT 6SN7 tubes. IMO, one of the best pre-amp tube on this planet. It’s additionally obtainable in many types and flavors. The facility provide has one tube, which is a 5ar4 rectifier. It ships with an affordable one and I had a NOS Mullard available, which many say is the top recreation in tube rectifiers! Normally rectifiers don’t make a lot of a sound distinction (although they generally do) however I needed a superb one within the energy provide for stability.

Once I powered it up with the $300 NOS Mullard I nowhad a bit extra bass efficiency and it was startling because it was a significant soar. A lot so I needed to reposition my audio system a bit. I can’t say I prefer it higher than the inventory because it did get hotter (as a result of added bass), and I miss a few of the ethereal particulars that the inventory tube introduced. I really like the bass of the Mullard however could change again to inventory and see which I desire.

Again to these NOS Pope tubes I spoke of earlier. As luck would have it, I’ve six of them in my tube assortment. So slightly than dream about loading it up with popes I went forward and did it.

Some say this tube is “God Like” which can be why some huge tube sellers promote them for $300-400 a chunk nowadays. They’re uncommon, in brief provide and regarded a tube that’s all about MAGIC.

Once I had these in an older CARY AES DJH Pre, it actually made the then $799 preamp sound like 1,000,000 bucks, they actually blew my thoughts which is why I invested in a couple of over time.

The Holy Grail Pope 6SN7 Tube. 

Whereas the SLP-05 has EIGHT slots for 6SN7 tubes, you don’t want to switch all of them to profit from sound enchancment. The handbook reveals you which ones tubes impact the balanced outputs, the one ended RCA outputs, the buffers, and so on. So you can get away with lower than eight.

The 2 tubes on the correct facet of the SLP-05 are for the Headphone amp, so they’re the 2 I might by no means exchange as I don’t use the headphone amp on the SLP-05.

After I positioned in SIX Pope tubes the sound stepped above and past what I used to be listening to with the inventory tubes. I had an instantaneous enhance in house (3D) and reverb trails that would go away notes hanging within the air. I had extra of that air and a extra current and textured midrange.

It was like I used to be taken to a unique planet the place the music was all that mattered, and musicality reigned supreme. This was musical heaven. Whereas I cannot advocate everybody run out and purchase these costly tubes, it goes to indicate how we are able to enhance upon the SLP-05 and make it ours simply with our tube choices.

Make no mistake…It sounds wonderful with the inventory tubes however the NOS tubes pushed it up a number of layers within the magic dept. Now the soundstage was wider, imaging was extra ethereal and the sound character was nearly as huge, easy and layered because it will get. Element was by no means overdone, and whereas some could ask for extra treble element we should bear in mind that is what the tube sound is all about. It’s not strong state and that is apparent throughout the first second of music emanating from the audio system.

The SLP-05 comes with a pleasant modern-day common distant. 

The SLP-05 does include a snazzy distant nowadays, stuffed with every kind of buttons, lights, and a small display. The issue is the distant is overkill. I would favor a distant like they used to supply with this preamp. I bear in mind the distant from one among their greatest CD gamers again within the day. It was a strong steel slab and even lit up at night time. Very cool and distinctive on the time.

The previous Steel Slab distant that got here with the Cary 306/200 CD participant. 

The distant they embrace with the SLP-05 right this moment may be very superior wanting however solely the quantity management works. You cannot change inputs, nor energy down the unit with the distant. Simply the quantity up and down. The display, whereas good to take a look at is ineffective for this piece.

Oh, the mute operate works as effectively for those who slide the mute change up on the SLP-05 itself. An odd design selection in terms of operate. Why even have the mute change on the machine? Once I mute it on the machine, nothing mutes. As a substitute I’ve to make use of the distant to mute it, however I can solely do that when the mute change is flicked  “on”.

The Authentic SLP-05 Distant matched the operate completely. 

That is pleased with me because the SLP-05 begs to be touched and managed with a human hand. The big dials. The steel switches. It’s a fingers on machine and I’m OK with that as all I want is the quantity management with a distant. When you want extra in a distant, then the SLP-05 will not be for you.

This preamp additionally has a cinema bypass mode, and is totally balanced. Sure, a tube piece that’s totally balanced. One other rarity.

I used my Cardas Clear reflection XLR interconnects all through they usually sounded higher to me over the RCA model of the identical model so I run it balanced, the way it was designed to be run.

I’m sitting in my candy spot now listening to/Streaming  “The Blue Notebooks” by Max Richter.

Lovely, wealthy, expansive, deep, and I’ll say it once more…HUMAN. That means, the music is soul touching. A part of it’s the SLP-05, a part of it’s the Class A amps I’m utilizing and a part of additionally it is the Fleetwood Deville Audio system (of which I now have the SQ variations in my house). All of them work effectively collectively to type a synergy, one of the best so far inside my reference system.

I’ve heard a number of HiFi in my 35 years of assembling methods. This can be a lifetime passion and for these of us who’re in it. I’ve had many disappointments in my audio journey but in addition many rewarding moments. I’ve had items of drugs I swore to maintain for all times and people I couldn’t do away with quick sufficient.


After residing with the SLP-05 for some time I’ve realized it will likely be the following piece in my system that stays for the lengthy haul. It would be part of the “Finish Recreation Membership” I’ve occurring right here that encompass the Fleetwood Deville’s, the Weiss DAC and the Cross Amps.

It’s one of the best preamp I’ve ever heard and I additionally really feel it’s one of the best design/type I’ve ever seen in a preamp. It’s one of the crucial stunning items of audio gear made right this moment, interval. It’s excessive finish, it’s high quality and it comes from Cary Audio who I’ve had purchased from for over 20 years.

Yep, I’ve owned a plethora of Cary product over time. Some I cherished, some I didn’t however on the finish of the day Cary makes some wonderful legendary audio gear. I really feel they don’t get the accolades they deserve these days as one thing like this SLP-05 might be within the prime 3 pre-amps of all time.

Whereas it’s costly with the upgrades, it’s one thing that will probably be/might be with you for all times.

Ive talked about many evaluate objects that I’ve fell for and bought. I’ve talked about many objects that I cherished, adored after which offered afterward. Why would I promote merchandise I’ve raved about? It’s easy…being a reviewer I get to listen to A LOT of drugs. When one thing comes alongside that speaks to me, I make a purchase order if I can. It stays till it’s both bested, breaks down or I’ve a monetary want.

Merchandise just like the $27k Vinnie Rossi built-in I reviewed a couple of years in the past was offered as a result of a transfer and home buy, and I talked about that at size. A home trumps an amp any day ; )  The Nagra gear got here and went fast as I had an excessive amount of cash tied up in them, and the equipment just like the vibration plates have been simply an excessive amount of for me to swallow price smart. They have been one of the best I’ve heard, ever, however I made a decision I couldn’t have that a lot tied up within the system. I offered and received my a refund with out loss as I purchased used myself. I used to be in a position to attempt them, evaluate them, love them and offload them at no loss. I miss them however on the finish of the day, too wealthy for my blood.

Whereas I nonetheless personal three units of Klipsch Heritage audio system (can’t deliver myself to promote them) the Deville’s changed them as a result of they’re a a lot better speaker for me and my most important reference system.

During the last 12 months I’ve found some merchandise that will or might by no means depart me. The Deville’s, Cross Labs Amplification, the Weiss 501 DAC (that beat out the Chord DAVE,  Nagra Traditional and even DCS Bartok). These items are in it for the lengthy haul and now the Cary SLP-05 will probably be part of this membership that make up my reference system. My Klipsch LaScalas are additionally a part of this membership however they reside in a unique house.

I really feel blessed and oh so fortunate to have the ability to do what I do because it permits me to listen to a lot gear and select what I like greatest inside my system. My journey to the SLP-05 was one which took 15+ years of retaining this pre behind my thoughts, hoping at some point to listen to it. In the present day I simply informed Cary I’ll purchase the evaluate unit.


This being a evaluate I’ve to level out the negatives, or what I want to see modified. I did discover a few issues to pay attention to with the SLP-05.

**Want it had a low/excessive acquire change. The acquire could also be too excessive for some amps and audio system. For instance, in case your amp has excessive acquire and your audio system are very delicate you’ll barely want to maneuver the quantity dial on the Cary. It gives the look of getting immense energy and it additionally makes my Fleetwood Deville sound higher. It opens them up simpler. The flip facet is that at low stage listening late at night time is extra of a problem, which means you’ll have a giant full sound at low quantity with only a contact of quantity. I’ll say although, even with the upper acquire there isn’t any noise or hiss coming from the audio system and I’m blissful about that as I cannot stand noise and hiss coming from audio system. A low/excessive acquire change (as a substitute of the mute) may very well be superior, and work for everybody.

**The distant is an excessive amount of of a superb factor. It has numerous buttons, lights and even a small display. Sadly, none of those do something for the preamp. Simply the quantity and mute works. I’d wish to have a less complicated distant with simply the quantity and a mute button. Make it steel like the old-fashioned Cary 306/200 distant which seemed to be hand carved from strong steel. I cherished that distant again within the day, lol. Even when they went again to the fundamental easy distant I wold desire it to the brand new one.

**I don’t perceive the mute operate. I cannot mute the machine from the change on the machine. Sure, there’s a mute change however it does nothing when turned on..UNLESS you additionally flip it on by way of the distant. I really feel there shouldn’t even be a mute change on the machine. Simply depart it off and we are able to use the distant for mute. Simply unsure why this change is there if it doesn’t bodily mute the machine when flicked on.

That’s about it for the negatives, and they aren’t dealbreakers for me.


Not solely is the Cary SLP-05 (with the last word improve) fingers down one of the best pre-amp I’ve ever heard or examined for my tastes, it’s additionally essentially the most stunning piece of HiFi that I’ve ever come throughout. The design, construct and sound is nearly as good because it will get for those who like your music to attach with you on an emotional stage.

The best way the Cary brings the music to your amps after which audio system is hauntingly stunning. It does all the pieces so effectively. Imaging, soundstage, midrange, bass, treble and it even does the large 3D factor fantastically. It has weight, physique and texture but it additionally delivers that ethereal treble supply that brings the magic.

Whereas it does all of this it stays true to the Cary sound. Huge, barely heat, wealthy and human. By no means lean or ahead so if you’d like these lightning quick surgical thinner sounding particulars you could have to look elsewhere (or add a Chord DAVE DAC).

Oh sure the small print are right here as effectively, with micro particulars floating in house at instances however this isn’t Nagra or one thing I might name lighting “quick”. It’s extra about magnificence and musicality than particular results for the 05. This preamp makes critically stunning music, irrespective of the style.

It might probably get surreal with some music. The bass is tremendous sturdy with a presence and heft I’ve not but skilled with my audio system however Cary has been recognized for his or her huge presence and bass. The midrange is massive, eery and has a presence about it that’s magical. One other factor Cary is thought for.

That’s the phrase that greatest describes this legendary pre-amp from Cary Audio, MAGICAL. It’s simply as related right this moment because it was when it was launched. It sounds higher than ever as a result of modern-day upgrades Cary has made and the truth that it has been their Flagship for all of this time speaks volumes about its high quality. I LOVE when firms hold a really nice product within the line up.

As a substitute of constructing you assume you should improve each 2 years with a brand new model, Cary is aware of you don’t want an all new preamp to get pleasure from your music. They made the SLP-05 to final, and stand the take a look at of time. It has finished simply that and I have no idea of many firms right this moment that follows this philosophy. Most firms launch the all new merchandise regularly after which let you know how a lot better it’s than what you could have. With the SLP-05 Cary already delivered the products, and now have upgraded it (as soon as in 15 years) however stored the identical mannequin quantity and design. Tremendous cool.

This implies when you have an older SLP-05 you’ll be able to ship it in for the Final Improve slightly than shopping for an all new PreAmp.

The price of the Final Improve is $1,795 and that may be a deal in todays world.

Wether I performed vocal, jazz, ambient, rock, steel or funk this pre-amp delivered all of it with essentially the most stunning and human sound I’ve heard so far inside my system. In case you are on the lookout for this sort of sound, make sure to try the Cary SLP-05 PreAmp. I cannot think about anybody being disenchanted with it for those who go for the Improve. It’s a lifer, a particular piece.

This one is nearly as good because it will get for those who get pleasure from music and a wholesome dose of magic, heat and wonder with that music. Pair it with the correct amp in your audio system and also you nay by no means need for extra in a preamp. This piece actually excited me and I used to be blissful to put in writing about it as effectively. For me it’s up there with my Fleetwood Deville’s, the Cross Amps, the Weiss DAC 501 and it’s a World Class Pre-Amp once you go for that Final Improve from Cary.

Backside Line: In case you are on the lookout for “THAT” tube sound, look no additional than Cary Audio. Made within the USA, been round because the 80’s they usually make a few of the most pretty tube gear round. Simply check out their 805 RS, the SLP-05 or 98, and even the 300SEI and you will note and listen to what tubes actually sound like. The SLP-05 is among the best pre-amps on this planet, even right this moment in 2022 sixteen years after its launch. That alone ought to let you know that this can be a particular piece, and. sure my associates, it’s.

Finish recreation worthy for those who benefit from the Cary sound as nothing else sounds fairly like Cary.

You possibly can see extra in regards to the SLP-05 at Cary’s web site HERE. 



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