The Ultimate CAT Renaissance

More than once, I've teased Convergent Audio Technology's Ken Stevens about calling his preamp SL-1 Ultimate. I mean, once you've got something that's the Ultimate, where can you go if it's improved—and there is no audio product that can't be improved, even if only to a minor degree. He subsequently introduced a preamp called the SL-1 Legend, but it was about double the price of the SL-1 Ultimate, and Ken said that it was sufficiently different from the SL-1 Ultimate that it could be considered a new preamp, deserving of a new name.

Well, Ken now has an update of the SL-1 Ultimate, using much of the technology borrowed from the Legend: improvements in the power supply, passive A/V pass-through, switch-selectable high/low gain, and—most important for phono fans—built in moving-coil transformers that result in a much-improved S/N ratio in this application. He calls this preamp SL-1 Renaissance. (And, I suspect, he may regret ever having used the word "Ultimate" to refer to his preamp.) Price for the SL-1 Renaissance is $7950 for the line-level version and $9950 for the version that includes the phono section. (The Legend comes in at the industry-standard-high-end-preamp price of $18k.)

steve's picture

No remote,yet.Evidently,consumer's desires are nothing,they are only stupid buyers.The Ultimate was great,but the lack of a remotemade it a lame duck.I suggest to spend some money in ConsumerResearch.Bye

Ken Stevens's picture

In retrospect, the name "Ultimate" was a bad choice, mainly due to Bob Deutsch pointing out (repeatedly) the oxymoronic nature of "Ultimate Mark 2"Regarding the other comment: its a big market out there. We make our products strictly for the performance oriented enthusiast. Other manufacturers cater to other market segments. The fact that a marketing expert would agree with Steve doesn't deter me from my chosen direction. Imagine how much bigger Ferrari would be if they started making minivans and SUVs! I'll bet its been suggested to them many times by marketing experts but they have chosen to keep their focus on sports cars. Personally,I respect their decision more than the marketing driven decision made by Porsche to make an SUV. (And I will lose ALL respect for Porsche if they decide to make a minivan.)

Andrew O's picture

I presently own the CAT Ultimate MkII preamp. Prior to purchasing this preamp I did consider the lack of a remote and I wondered if it would be an issue. "Ultimately" I was more interested in performance and left convenience considerations as a lower priority.Well the preamp delivers in performance, but suprisingly, I do not care about the lack of remote. I thought I might but I don't. Most cd's and especially vinyl I play play around the same level from cd to cd or lp to lp. If I need to reduce the cd volume I just mute it.Anyway, point is that it may not be as big of an issue as you may think it is.