Cary Audio Design CAD 300SE Monoblock Amplifiers

4.73/5 (11 Reviews) MSRP : $3795.00


Product Description

12 watts (pair)


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Reviews 1 - 5 (11 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by vinluvr a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: August 3, 2002

Bottom Line:   
This pair of 300s is actually a pair of 572s that I had Cary convert. I liked the 572s, but they generated a tremendous amount of heat, and I was going through the power tubes about every 3 months or so. I spoke with Kirk at Cary about the problem, and he offered to convert the amps to 300SEs. The cost was $1200 (I bought the 572s for $1300 used), and that included a new pair of Western Electric 300Bs! I couldn't resist, and am glad I didn't. The sound is even better, and the amps throw a lot less heat. Detail is first rate on acoustic, jazz and anything with strings. Bass is there pretty far down, tighter than the 572s. Are they as powerful as high end solid state? No, but they are also not in the least fatiguing. Definition on complex, highly dynamic rock music is not what you'd get with a pair of Krells, but it's also not as bad as the previous reviewer might have you believe. The palpability of female vocals is something you have to experience to understand. This is not an ultimate setup for house, techno or thrash, but if you enjoy a wide spectrum of music, then you will find yourself seeing if each favorite sounds as much better as the last did.

I believe the reason for the positive impressions is that most performance amplifiers (vocal, guitar, etc.) are tube-based, and tube amps best recapture the tonal characteristics of the live performance.

Associated equipment:

Cary 94P preamp
Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 CD player
Soliloquy 5.3 speakers
TMC yellow and white interconnects and speaker cabling

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2001

Price Paid:    $2500.00

Purchased At:   Cary



Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:2
Submitted by Ben Bernstein a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: January 27, 2002

Bottom Line:   
I have always had mixed emotions about SE type amp's. I like the midrange smoothness but not the loss of detail in the higher freq's. I just purchased the 300SE (1996) from a dealer who has had them new ,boxed and unsold for almost 5 years. What I got was the very typical SE sound smooth, smooth, smooth. Smooth to the point of boring. On some jazz and chamber music the results are very nice but just listen to some modern rock with some edge and the mystique dissapates into wow - where's the music? The details get lossed in the liquidity.

I wil say that compared to the Golde Tube Se-40 these are light years better in bass and have more realistic sound reproduction. At the end of the day I guess I'm not really an SE guy. Old Krell KSA-150 (or 250) running pure class A with the bottom and top to boot.

The Cary is nice for background mustic or low volume listening but tonally to inaccurate to be defined as hi-fi.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1996

Price Paid:    $2500.00

Purchased At:   On-line



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:3
Submitted by Sasha Matson a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: January 10, 2002

Bottom Line:   
Well friends, (and also reviews below, which were very helpful during the consideration phase), not all amps are created equal. Some things are just plain better, and those fellows in North Carolina at Cary are onto something. First, if you are concerned about low watts on paper, forget it! As one of the guys I bought it from said: "Every watt is a good watt!" At low volume levels these Cary's maintain their musicality and substance, as if there was a loudness control, only better. And loud? You bet. I simply have lost any respect for watt ratings at all, they tell you exactly zip. Liquid, transparent, coherent, blossoming detailed mid-range, solid command down low, non-fatiguing and luxurious up high? All of the above. It is a priveledge to listen to music reproduction at this level of quality! Now, having said all this, one must be aware of the sytem synchronicity. In my case, I heard these little jewel-box-like amps with a pair of Sonus Faber Concerto speakers, and also without. Had made one plan, and promptly discarded it! What these do with the Sonus Fabers is simply unbeleivably gorgeous. Try some Audioquest releases on vinyl, for example (Am using a Rega Planar 25 with a Grado cartridge). To quote Sam from Stereophile, about Might Sam McClain: "Killer!" In fact, you can try mine - as my music has been released by Audioquest, and my collaboration with my audio guru and advisor Joe Harley continues to this day. He is well aware of these Cary's!I simply cannot beleive that more of the world doesn't know about this single-ended universe, or views it as eccentric. Well, every visitor to my living room whom I have sat down and made listen has become an instant convert - as they say, "I love when that happens!" Downside - (for me anyway) pricey - even used! But that is because they are actually still worth something used, you know, like a Bentley. If you want that buttoned down mid-west sound, then go get those ARC amps (which I also auditioned at home to compare, and in fact am using a tubed ARC pre-amp), but if you respond to those artistic boys from North Carolina and that southern luxurious magic that defies description (though I'm trying), then you MUST HEAR these Cary 300SE's. You will thank me.

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Used product for:   3 months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1996

Price Paid:    $2500.00

Purchased At:   AudioClassics Ltd.



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Sam a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: January 5, 2001

Bottom Line:   
I have had these monoblocks for about a year. I have been playing around with 300B single ended amps for a while, started out with kits(SF Assemblage and AES, and finally to these Cary monoblocks.
I just cannot describe the midrange with any words I can think of. These 12wpc monoblocks have been playing very well with Kef 104/2 reference series speakers. These amps had speaker load switch which made it easy to compare speakers with different load(8ohm nominal and 4ohm nominal). I liked the sound of Soliloquy 6.3, Silverline Audio Sonatina, and ProAc(forget the model number, small monitor) but I just couldn't believe the sound when I tried KEF 104/2's. KEF can be found used for less than $1K in good condition. 104/2's have 93dB sensitivity and pretty much flat 4 ohm load which made it easy to drive even with 8wpc SE amps like Assemblage, Goldentube, and Audio Electronics. Actually, volume level for some reason is little lower with Cary's even though these are rated at 12wpc(I still wonder why).
I highly recommend AVVT 300B-SL in C37 glasses with these amps. These are wonderful tubes. IMHO, AVVT(Vaic) sounds much better than WE300B's.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1997



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by John Richardson a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: December 18, 1999

Bottom Line:   
I enjoyed reading Kelly Holsten's review since it brought back some memories of my own. Like Kelly, Tom at Advanced Audio in Cary, NC really taught me a thing or two about high-end audio (and he sold me a system or two at the same time). One instance in particular really stands out. Tom is a pro at getting excellent sound out of his listening room, often better than I could get at home. One night a buddy and I went in and walked by the listening room. Some guy (a preacher I think) was in there with the lights dimmed listening to a string quartet (Frank Bridge, maybe?) using a pair of the Cary 300B amps driving Shahinian Obelisk speakers. Not a typical mating. I remember those speakers sitting up on squat stands singing like there was no tomorrow. For the first time, I had the illusion that there was really a string quartet in that room. I had to literally stop and collect myself. I don't think I have ever really experienced that illusion to that degree since. I don't remember, but I think the amps must have been the 300B push-pull version (about 20-30 watts per channel, if I remember correctly). One thing was certain though. I was sold on (1) Tom Hoffman, (2) Cary Audio, and (3) Shahinian Acoustics. By the way, all of this happened about 1990 or 1991. I probably ran into Kelly in that shop at some point. Wow! What an education.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1995




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