Cary CAD-1610-SE monoblock power amplifier Manufacturer's Comment
Editor: Sounds like Jonathan Scull and his bride, Kathleen, had a big time with the Cary CAD-1610-SE amplifiers in the December issue. I bet the cha-cha-cha was not the only dance this musically inclined couple enjoyed while listening to the '1610s. I can just imagine Kathleen following J-10's galactic moves. Fortunately, this couple was not demoralized by John Atkinson's spectrum analyzer. Now that would have been silly!
In case you are wondering what the silly stuff is, go no further than the final parting shots by John Atkinson on his view of one of my designs. Yes, Stereophile readers, Cary Audio does in fact take some hits from time to time. Fortunately, John Atkinson concedes the fact of how glorious the CAD-1610s sound. It's a shame that his pals, Mr. Hewlett and companion Mr. Packard, who reside in his lab, can't hear.
I certainly need to count my blessings. The last uppercut punch JA gave me was his parting comment that the CAD-300-SEI single-ended integrated amplifier was nothing more than a tone control! The blessing, you ask? The CAD-300-SEI has become a classic high-end product with worldwide sales beyond my fondest dreams. You learn in Jonathan's writing that he listens to that very same CAD-300-SEI when writing audio reviews. Thanks again, JA. [You're welcome Dennis.—Ed.]
The CAD-1610s are designed for other than dot-com, IPO-wealthy audiophiles. Is the price out of reach for "the working people" or "folks of retirement age"? You know the senior citizens who have more money than the dot-commoners. If I hear another politician spout off about working-class people or senior citizens, I think I'll puke. Maybe in JA's lab. I calculate that I have earned about 25 cents an hour on this design. The CAD-1610-SE project started in 1994: six years in prototype form. At that rate, the 25 cents/hour equivalent must put me in the "silly" buying class of consumers.
The CAD-1610-SE amplifiers spent close to three years on the road before actual production. The first showing was in Los Angeles at the Stereophile show. Next, two separate trips to CE shows in January of each year. When the 1610s were close to production, I started an audition tour with dealers. I will never forget the disappointment I felt when Andy Singer, of Sound by Singer, played the prototype units in his store on the JMlab Utopias. Andy likes his music loud. The prototype CAD-1610s did not respond the way Andy or I felt they should. Mr. Singer arranged for a pair of the JMlab speakers to be delivered to Cary Audio. Back to the drawing board—I redesigned the power drive and pre-gain drive circuitry.
I then was off to Audio Connection to audition the CAD-1610s with the gentleman from Verona, Mr. John Rutan. "They better drive Vandersteens and Magnepans," were John's opening comments. Now the CAD-1610s were being married to some well-seasoned, real-world speakers. Home run! Back to Sound by Singer. Home run! Finally, after six years, the CAD-1610s were to be a reality. I knew a pair was destined for Jonathan Scull's listening loft in short order. I also was very much aware that JA would have the opportunity to run the technical test. I also knew he would discover less than stellar test results. My passion for the musical presentation of these two-story, 138-lb amplifiers outweighed the thought of criticism.
I need to remove my tongue from my cheek and seriously respond to JA's findings. The units under test were not malfunctioning—JA's test reflects the same basic measurements as in my lab. I was tempted to add feedback control on the CAD-1610s so that the test measurements would be better. But...the sonic presentation is so degraded with feedback that I chose to leave it behind. With feedback applied, the 1610s measure in at about 3% THD at 55W RMS, with the second harmonic prevalent. The musical presentation with feedback reveals itself with small instrument size, and the soundstage shrinks to an unrealistic presentation.
To JA, I say, please endure my jabs. [No problem, Dennis. Consider them endured.—Ed.] I speak with humor and a profound respect for your talents and gatekeeper abilities. The strength and growth of Stereophile magazine is much accredited to your efforts. I also speak with passion about one of my designs.
Jonathan and Kathleen, thank you for spending the time to critique my form of hi-fi.—Dennis J. Had, President, Cary Audio Design