Cary CAD-280SA V12 power amplifier Setup Notes

Sidebar 2: Setup Notes

I placed a pair of Signal Guard closed-cell foam stands, one right behind the other, on the floor behind the hulking Forsell Statement amp and dropped the Cary Audio CAD-280SA V12 directly onto them without using any footers. The Signal Guards are very good at taking a "set" from heavy components sitting on them for a few hours, and proved excellent at isolating the Cary, especially given tubes' inherent tendency to microphony. I didn't tweak the amp in any other way.

Nor did I introduce the V12 to the Mark Levinson No.32 Reference preamplifier. Although I'm sure that would have been a great combo, in my view, the typical Levinson owner is a solid-state kinda guy or gal who wouldn't go anywhere near a tube amp like this. The Cary V12 is for those who take joy in occasionally poking a voltmeter into an amp's innards to check the bias and make sure their little honey is happy and operating properly. That's sure to be someone who's tickled pink, as I am, by the tinkly sound of tubes cooling off after a few hours' pleasurable listening.

Between the 12 output tubes and that nice lump o' power transformer, the V12 ran hot, hot, hot—it needs plenty of space around it. Between listening sessions, I left it on in Standby mode (10W power consumption).

The V12 loved the AudioQuest Everest speaker cables, which I ran on the 8 ohm taps, as recommended by Cary's Dennis Had. I tried the 4 ohm tap, but Had was right—8 ohms did the trick. When using the Lamm Industries L2 and the BAT VK-50SE preamplifiers, I used Synergistic Research Designer's Reference balanced interconnects, with and without Active Shielding. When running single-ended with the Conrad-Johnson 16LS preamp, I found the best match to be Synergistic DR with RCAs or Cardas Golden Reference. The Cardas proved a touch darker than the Synergistic, but by only a hair. All front-end components were wired up with Synergistic DR, Actively Shielded and otherwise; digital was run into a PS Audio Power Plant with MultiWave at a setting of SS5.

After switching around a bit, I settled on the PS Audio Lab Cable power cord for the V12, but it was a near thing with the Synergistic Designer's Reference Master Couplers Squared2. I got good results with Coincident CST and Audience PowerChord as well.—Jonathan Scull

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