Given a choice, would you get a Cary SLP-98 preamp or the VTL 5.5? What would your choice be based on?
Both are great units, from wonderful companies.
I would have to play with them in my system to reach a conclusion. I can't see any other way to choose.
Thanks Moosie. Do you have experience with either one of them? I heard the VTL 7.5 and I have the Cary SLP-88, but haven't heard the Cary 98 or the VTL 5.5 My buddy is looking for a relatively inexpensive pre (under 2k on the used market) and so these are some of the candidates that we're researching.
I have played with the Cary SLP-98. Very, very nice.
Only for this reason alone I put in a vote for it.
VTL makes great stuff however (I have liked what I have heard) so I don't know what I would do if I had the option to buy either used other than to go with the Cary (see above).
My recollection is that you really like the Cary SLP-88 (it makes a wonderful headphone amp too). If your friend likes your pre I bet he would love the 98.
What a nice happy problem to have.
I do use my 88 as a headphone amp as well as a pre. My friend heard my 88 in his system and he absolutely loved it. I suggested that he get the 98 since it should be better than the 88. He went for it, but he's having difficulties getting his hands on a 98 for under 2k (they get snatched before he gets a chance to do anything). So, then I suggested that he might want to take a look at the VTL 5.5 I heard the 7.5 and I thought it was very good, but I have no direct experience with the 5.5
I really like Cary equipment so I am biased toward trying to find the 98, but getting one for less than $2k would be both a great buy and a challenge.
I have an "extra" Cary V-12 amp sitting around right now that I want to build a system around - as a nice backup. I just need a pre and speakers.
My friend is running Infinity Kappa 8 driven by Adcom 555 and 565 amps. It's a damn good system for the money. DAMN good.
Here's one of those Hot Tickets:
Nodbody talks. Far too good to share. I'm surprised to even see one and I'd be surprised if it lost any of it's value a year from now.
My buddy needs a pre, not an amp.
I'm not here to promote anything. But I'm trying to sneak in a mention that (in some thread..anywhere), in my estimation.. there are likely very few amplifiers on The 'Gon, at all, that can equal this item. I'm doing my darnedest to quietly sneak in a mention for a real contender for 'Best', period. At $1200, that puts it in the outright steal category.
Just like I said. Nobody talks. Far too good to share.
Are you talking about the Van Alstine preamp? I had no idea you were DUP's drone.
This is a classic topic.
I know both, and would rate it like this:
The Cary is more idiosyncratic, so DO NOT buy without an audition.
If it is to your liking, then the other contenders will pale in comparison.
But, I would say it is only 35% likely to be your cup of meat.
(Evaluating the Cary is very similar to evaluating who we date - it's based on personal chemistry.)
The VTL is much more "typical," which I mean in a good way. If you were going to buy one of the two without an audition, I'd say the odds of satisfaction would be higher with the VTL. It's a really nice and (dare I say it about this kind of piece) "clean" sounding. Sweet treble, good bass - it is a diligent performer.
I think I could live with either.
As a side note, I went to see a pair of Caery CAD805's today and they are for sale at a cool used shop here for 4,500 bucks (half retail) with a fully checked out set of tubes (Western Electric 300B's that are perfecto) if that may be to your liking. I'd be happy to help hook you up. The shop I go to is so competent, it's unfair.
They also have a pair of the big Infinity Intermezzo (Stereophile Class A) speakers for 1,500 dineros (7,000 retail.)
For 6 grand, you could drive the upper range units with the Cary, and let the built in amp drive the woofers - I have my eyes on another odd SET tube baby for the future, or I'd go for this my own self!
It's so good, it gave me the itch!
My buddy is in the market for a pre, not a power amp. His budget is under 2k. He liked my Cary SLP-88 when we hooked it up to his rig. He's thinking of going either SLP-88 or SLP-98. I suggested that he look into VTL as well, but whereas I heard the 7.5TL, I never heard 5.5, hence the question.
Great post, Buddha - solid info.
FIY, my friend just sold his Cary SLP 98 because he wasn't quite digging the synergy between the Cary and his Art Audio Jota. Said the music was incredibly smooth but lacked dynamics & ballsy grunt, especially on garage rock, which he listens to a lot. So it really depends on the rest of his system...
My buddy's system consists of the following:
Infinity Kappa 8 speakersAdcom 555 and 565 amps (he's biamping)Adcom preamp (I forget the model number)PC into the Musical Fidelity A324 DAC
He replaced his Adcom preamp with my Cary SLP-88 and he loved it, so I assume that he would like the SLP-98 even more. I was just wondering whether he may be even better served with a VTL 5.5