Cary Audio Design SLP 98L Preamplifiers

4.89/5 (9 Reviews) MSRP : $2595.00


Product Description

The SLP 98L is all point-to point wired... no circuit boards. The power supply is external to keep hum away from the linestage. It has a very low, 500 Ohm output impedence, making it compatible with even the pickiest solid state amplifiers. This low output impedance is also helpful with long interconnects. We run it in our demo room with 25 foot interconnects with no problems.


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Reviews 1 - 5 (9 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by kek a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: February 4, 2004

Bottom Line:   
The Cary came with the optional oil cap upgrade. These caps were the Audio 1's, and I dont have a clue as to who manufactures these, But they sound bad........thick, slow, lathargic, lack of highend extension. I replaced them with Hovland Musicaps and this preamp has never sounded better. Slp98 is truely a superior peice of audiophile equipment.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2003

Price Paid:    $1900.00

Purchased At:   Audiogon



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Teddy Lee a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: December 17, 2001

Bottom Line:   
Mine is SLP98P that has MM phono input.
Only a thing I want to upgrade for this little gorgeous is balanced inputs and outputs. But for home stereo RCA is enough to cover almost all the needs.
Tubes are easy to buy and not expensive. Nice design.
Sometimes you can find some noise from phonostage. Choice of tubes is important. For 12AX7, I recommend Green labelled US Jan Philips. For 12AU7, Elektro Harmonix.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1999

Price Paid:    $3000.00

Purchased At:   LA



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Craig a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: October 4, 2001

Bottom Line:   
This preamp is an unsung hero in the audio world. Very few reviews seem to exist outside of this site. Hopefully, this is not a sign that there are few owners of the SLP-98L out there, because this is one beautiful piece of equipment.

My version is the line only, with oil-filled capacitors and remote. As others suggest the remote, while an expensive option, is a worthy addition. It works well and is beautifully machined (although the adjustments are somewhat course and you need to point the remote quite directly at the preamp). I've broken in the 98L over the last two months; during the first month the sound improved dramatically (by losing the sibilent edge noticeable at first).

This preamp throws a very convincing soundstage. The music seems 'right', the way the very best equipment leaves a lasting impression even though you can't always put your finger on exactly what quality sets it above the rest. Frequency extension is outstanding, without the lack of bass noticeable on some other tube pre-amps (e.g., SF). Mids and highs are liquid without being syrupy smooth. Fans of brass instruments look no further; tone and timbre are spot on, and there is no artificial edge to the notes.

The facilities of this relatively small unit are excellent. The left and right user-selectible input sensitivity allows meaningful action on the volume control as well as a balance feature to correct for room abnormalities (essential in my L-shape living room). Plenty of inputs are offered, as are muting, a tape loop and a stand-by feature that virtually eliminates warm-up time.

I'm using the SLP-98L with a SimAudio Moon W-3 solid state amp, Arcam Alpha 5+ cd player, Rega planar 3 turntable with Rotel phono stage (dammit - wish I'd got the SLP-98P!). Speakers are the Reference 3a La Veritas, which are excellent high sensitivity speakers.

As happy as I am with the current set-up, I'm sorely tempted to pick up either the Cary 303 or 306 CD players (both of which trounce my existing digital source). While the Cary + Moon combo sounds great, I must admit to musing about how good things could sound with either the Cary 208 (V12) amp or the 805 monoblocks.....

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $3000.00

Purchased At:   Sounds of Music



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by D J a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: August 28, 2001

Bottom Line:   
What a wonderful preamp. In my tube-based system it is great on both vinyl and cd. Warms up a solid statwe system too.

Good imaging, nice bass response if your amp can handle it. I have not tried the phono stage, have only driven it direct from cd or thru Trichord Research/Michell Delphini phono stage.

Get the remote control. It is convenient, does not affect the sound at all, and is a wonder to (be)hold. Solid metal machining and only 4 buttons. Lovely minimalist design.

I was having a few problems switching from Standy to Operate some times. A call to my dealer did not result in an answer, but did result in a call from Denis Had, the owner and president of Cary Audio the next day!!!

The preamp is designed for 117 Volts, and in power-stricken Silicon Valley, we sometimes have troubles with our power grid. Most of the time the on switch works fine, especially at night time. During the day, I sometimes have to switch it on/off a few times before it engages. I think if I run it off conditioned power (eg PS Audio300 or similar) then I will be 100% fine. Or if you live somewhere more civilized for power delivery than the infamouse Silly Cone Valley in 2001 then you will be 100% satisfied. Right now I am at 98%.

Make no mistake, this is a great product, and the customer service is terrific. I also recommend my dealer, Dave at Future Sound in San Mateo. You might also want to check out UpscaleAudio.com if you are not in the SF Bay Area.

By the way, check out my review of the Cary V12 amplifier. That is a truly awesome piece of equipment for the $.


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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $2600.00

Purchased At:   Future Sound, Burlingame CA



Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Michael Mount a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: June 2, 2001

Bottom Line:   
The unit purchased was a store demo with the phono stage. It was not shipped with the owners manual and all the tubes were neatly placed in their original boxes so right off I had to call Cary to find out where the 12AU7's went and where the 12AX7's went. Seems like it wouldn't have cost them too much to label at least one of the two identically sized sockets (if you're in the same boat 12AX7's go under the metal cans).

The Cary has an excellent engaging and non-fatiguing sound. It does live, as others have said, a bit on the warm side but that was exactly what I was looking for. Comparatively the CJ was more detailed but colder sounding. The Joule was midway between the CJ and Cary in accuracy and had the most controlled bass of the three. I feel the Tara Labs had the best depth but was also the least accurate and had the sloppiest bass (of course it originally was 1/3 to 1/4 the price of the other three). I think, at least in my system, that the Cary offered the best balance of tonal warmth, soundstage, and accuracy. A very impressive piece that I would highly recommend to anyone looking for laid-back classic tube sound.

Plus the chrome chassis looks great with my Quicksilver Silver Mono's (also chrome) ...

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $1500.00

Purchased At:   www.jeffssoundvalues.com




Reviews 1 - 5 (9 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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