Nakamichi CA-1 Preamplifiers

CA-1

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User Reviews (17)

Showing 1-10 of 17  
lenhoffcpa@yahoo.com   AudioPhile [May 01, 2006]
Strength:

Clear, transparent -great reproduction . Complicated - you could also say very versitile. You set timing on this depending on spacial distance. Serious circuitry.

Weakness:

Out of production.

I was looking for a preamp that would handle all of my A/V toys but would also allow me to listen to music and enjoy it without compromise. I ended up getting this baby with the expectation that I could enjoy it given the reviews. I was rather hestitant to spend the money but I didn't want to have two systems in my place and no room for a bed.

I was never disappointed. I listened to preamp processors at friends homes before and since. Regardsless of their credentials, they always chewed up detail in the music- sucked the life out of great songs or recordings.

This is the only one (in my limited price range) that created a soundstage not just music reproduction. It also reproduced bass better than all the ones I heard and kept the treble clear and transparent.

They don't make these anymore but if they kept it up who knows where they could be by now.

Similar Products Used: Nakamichi PA-7, Carver 490t. B & W 804, 802 , cc
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Steve Kownslar   AudioPhile [Jul 21, 2002]
Strength:

The sound, that id what I bought it for. No DSP, did not like them on the Sony. Detailed, never harsh, ability to render the true tonal frequences.

Weakness:

Mine does not have DTS but how many movies really only have that paticular encoding.

First I would like to qualify myself as somewhat of finatical listener. I have many buds in Dallas that own high-end stereo shops and have heard quite a lot of good sound. To name a few, Meridian, Sonic Frontiers,Anthem, OCM, and much other audiophile grade components. I consider B&K,Parasound,Rotel and others to be in a sub-audiophile class than the aformentioned products. I've spoiled my ears and to be honest I did not hear a rig for home theatre that sounds better than my anologue rig for cds that cost less than 20k including cables and wire. However, when my CA-1 and PA-1 arrived from ubid, brand new in box. I was anxious to set it up and get rid of the consumer Sony STRS or somthing like that the Nak not harsh,nuances in classical could be destinguished like my super rig and this was all played on a Toshiba DVD player. I did finally swap the CA-1 with my Forte' and listened to it comming out of the Thiels and my killer EVS DAC and was more detailed than my Forte'. I also switch out my Musical Design Amp with the PA-1 and liked the punch of the Musical Design primarily due to the bigger caps in the Amp itself.

Similar Products Used: You name it I've probably heare it.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
LonghornsRule   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 13, 2002]
Strength:

best music all in one ever heard, great db tie to volume only combined there either. Amp and Cantons are perfect audio sound for under 20k

Weakness:

Older tech with perfect but 20 bit chips, but in defense the new Nak dragon limited CD this year is using 20''s and cost 15k, so again 20 bit, but "goooood" in a Silence of the Lambs kinda way.

I don''t own the CA-1 but was a shopper when it his the planet. Mike in the 1st article, seems to be selling something else. This unit came out in 94, added DTS in 96 and is one of the best musical pre amps/all in one, if not the combo on the planet, for it''s year. It was out of production, 2 years before the 5800 came out, thus Mike is making this all up. He couldn''t consider and say something like that when that is 1k and 7 year old technology for 1` grand ,and compare it too just under 2 years invented, 2800 more, and talk about them reletively. I hate get on and trash. If I didn''t have a Lexicon MC-1, I was going to buy that unit. I say that moving from a Denon 5600 which is great, but the Nak is true on music like a bat from Hell, and I have a SACD so old DAC''s can kiss my butt at 24 bit/192 khz. I am sorry to tell the truth about MIke but dealers do this allot and is gives me a southern hive, or a vertical itch if you know what I mean. The best feature about this unit is the absolute tie to Db most say it, but Nak is the only that does it, that I have seen, my lexicon, denon, Onkyo,Sony didn''t. It is also fast with pin point stop on changing the volume, all analogue, ala Levinson. If you get one of these, I am considering for my bedroom, find the matching 100 watt amp, trust me. 100 X 5, harmonic time alignment is not Stasis,but it matches this Pre perfect, last clue, match that with Canton speakers, and you own perfect audio Symbiosis. Now I am competing with the smart one''s, but the best 3 way match I have ever heard, 2 places, 2 different systems and Reels, 6 different artists each time, my standard, and the same effect, 2nd is either the B&W 801 Naut with the McIntosh 600 X 2 /4 ohms or the Krell dual class A with the Thiel, get it guys. The former is allot cheaper.

Similar Products Used: Denon 5600, judging only pre amp, Onkyo 939, Sony ES fogot number but think 777, and Lexicon MC 1 current.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Alan Biedron   Audiophile [Mar 16, 2000]
Strength:

Stereo sound, features, simplicity, build quality, A/V S-Video switching, DD/DTS

Weakness:

No digital output, could use additional digital inputs.

Ever since I switched from NAD stereo separates to DPL Receivers and separates I have been undecided about the sound of my system. The NAD was clear, punchy and very natural sounding. The DPL/DD/DTS equipment made home theater sound fantastic but I though that I was losing my hearing when I listened to stereo audio. Brushes on a snare always hard to distinguish from distortion. Many times the high end from cymbals, snares tamborines etc just didn't sound very natural. I tried high quality interconnects, line conditioners etc. but never really was satisfied with the stereo sound.

Then came the CA-1. Instantly I realized that it was not my hearing that had been the problem, it was the preamps that I had been using. The Nak CA-1/PA-1 combo equals the others in surround sound formats but in stereo audio it sounds better than my old NAD stereo equipment.

The bass management, A/V switching, on screen display, and other features are as easy to use as the Pioneer Elite receivers. I feel that I have given up very little in flexibility (no component video, no digital outputs), while gaining tremendously in sound quality.

If you want top quality sound but still want excellent home theater in the same system, this is the way to go.

At the below wholesale cost that these units have been selling for during the past six months the value is higher than 5 stars. These can be had for as little as 25% of original msrp as refurbished (Nakamichi refurb is as good as new and looks it also)! New units are selling at $35% of original msrp. When they finally clear these units out of stock I believe that the prices will rise. Next year used pieces will command much higher prices. I love this preamp!

Similar Products Used: Marantz AV-9000/AV-550/AV-600, Sony SDP-EP9ES/TA-E2000ESD, Adcom GTP-600/GTP-750, B&K Reference 20, Pioneer Elite VSX-29TX/VSX07TX and Harman Kardon AV80 MkII
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
BRIAN COX   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 30, 2000]
Strength:

No nonsense features like DSP.

Weakness:

Remotes are very directional, you have to point directly at the receiver to operate properly.

It really doesn't suprise me that all these reviews sound about the same. This is a very musical preamp with most of the features you would expect for this price range.

I got mine from U Bid about six months ago with a PA-1 for $2,200, less than half off retail. Best deal I seen in years.



Similar Products Used: Denon, Sony ES
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
j   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 15, 2001]
Strength:

Two remotes, good controls, came with the dts upgrade, looks good, signal is very clean and true, good for stereo and A/V

I have had this for a little over three months now. This unit is obviously out of date, but it has DTS and is a very good A/V and stereo preamp. I am running this with a Carver sunfire amp. I was worried that the two would not sound good togther, but they do. My speakers leave much to be desired. I have a 1000W infinity sub and ARS8 mains, a BIC center, and Klipsch surrounds. Sounds like ubid? You got it. All speakers for a little over $1500. I have to admit the speakers do not quite sound right together and I hope someday to match with a better brand, but I do have plenty of sub and plenty of clean power and signal to drive everything, so it still sounds pretty good. On top of that this preamp lets one fine tune the gain to each speaker to perfect soundstaging. Like they say, start with the basics and move up.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Steven   Audio Enthusiast [May 05, 2000]
Strength:

Incredibly revealing, great fit & finish, price!

Weakness:

Some cross-talk between inputs, clunky remote

I got my CA-1 about 10 days ago from a high-end shop in Berkeley. $1,200 for a new unit with the DTS upgrade - too good a deal to pass up. I also considered the Acurus ACT3 and Parasound AVC 1800, but my budget wasn't ready for the former, and the latter was not very impressive.

This is my first HT unit, so I can't compare the CA-1 to other processors. I also don't have a center channel or subwoofer yet, so am running only fronts and rears. But DVD movies through the four channels sounds pretty good so far. Set-up was easy with the manual and front-panel controls. I haven't tried the on-screen function yet, but from the manual it appears to be very explicit.

For me, the best result has been the difference in stereo music. The CA-1 is an incredible step up from my Cambridge pre-amp (don't recall the model, but I bought it in '90). I now hear instruments and instrument placement that I didn't know existed before. It's incredibly revealing, and I'm now far more excited to listen to my CDs that ever before. I was concerned about moving into HT without sacrificing musicality - this is simply not an issue with the CA-1.

Some minor quibbles: The remote is a bit outdated - lots of small buttons for other components; isolated, but somewhat awkward volume controls; and no backlight. The learning feature is good, though. If I get sick of it, I'll just spend $100 on the Universal brand "Theater Master" that Acurus and Parasound license.

I have also noticed that there's some cross-talk (for lack of a better term) between the DVD (digital) and CD (analog) inputs. That is, if I'm listening to a CD and then switch the CA-1 input to the DVD, I can still hear the CD music faintly in the background while the DVD is playing. The music is quiet - I have to listen right next to the speaker - but it's kind of annoying. It seems like the inputs are not completely isolated. This could be my cables, or the fact that most of my equipment is plugged into the same surge protector. I need to experiment a bit to correct it.

Other notes: my unit has a 1997 production date on it, and the DTS was added afterwards. It has a "D" serial number, so it's not the B-stock others have mentioned. I suppose it could be a refurbished unit, but it looks 100% brand new and was packaged perfectly. Warranty is 3 years.

The other equipment I'm using is:

KEF 104.2 front
Paradigm Mini Monitor rear
2 NAD 2200 amps (100x2 each)
NAD cd player (old...10 years)
Toshiba CN3651
Sony DVD 530
Monster interconnects and speaker runs...until my BetterCables arrive on monday! ;-)

Similar Products Used: Cambridge pre-amp (stereo)
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Bill   Audiophile [Mar 28, 2000]
Strength:

Sound, incredible sound. Has a very tube-like sound not only in stereo but also Dolby Digital.

Weakness:

DTS upgrade is $600 and takes up to two months.

I paid about $1,800 two years ago and consider it a buy at that price.

Unit has all the inputs and features any true audiophile would want (could use a digital out though).

Extemely easy to setup and operate. Comes with two remotes, one for set-up, the other for everyday use.

Great sounding unit, dead quiet, very intelligently engineered. Controls, remotes and operation is very intuitive and logical.

No problems at all, would recommend to anyone who wants top quality sound!

Similar Products Used: Lexicon, Chiro
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Mike   Audiophile [Jun 30, 2001]
Strength:

Clarity, neutrality. 2 channel stereo is good via the analog inputs.

Weakness:

Hiss. Top end harshness. Digital pop on synching; CD Audio loses 1st half second of each track via digital input.

I borrowed the unit for a week. The unit was used (in perfect shape) and had the DTS upgrade. I think the model year is 1996, but it could be 1997.

Overall, the CA-1 ranks near the top of the AV processors I've auditioned, delivering a clean, neutral signature, which, to my ear, sounds accurate. The Anthem AVM-2 has a warm bias, but is very smooth; the Parasound had an annoying digital whine (I thought they solved this?) and sounded thin; the Denon sounds great, but has 7 channels of amplification that I wouldn't use, so it's very expensive (ca. $4500 CAN) to use just as a pre/pro.

[Denon, please make a pre/pro version of the AVR-5800. It would sell nicely for $3000 - $3500 CAN. YES, there is a market!]

Much of my listening is 2-channel stereo, so reproduction of music is an important concern. The CA-1 delivers decent 2-channel sound via the analog CD inputs. There is no unexpected mid-bass bloom/warmth (as from the Anthem AVM-2, for instance). I did find the DACs to be a little weak, however, and noticed the aforementioned loss of the first half second or so of tracks from CDs when using the digital input. This was not observed via the analog inputs.

Bass management is showing its age, with no flexibility in crossover frequency. It is not possible to configure large speakers and use the sub.

For Home Theatre, the sound stage is somewhat front biased, but satisfying nevertheless. Unfortunately, the CA-1 produces an annoying *pop* when scrolling through chapers on a DVD, navigating the menu, etc. I hope I haven't damaged my speakers!

Build quality is very good. The remote is typical old school, with row upon row of identically sized, tiny rectangular buttons. Layout of remote is OK, not fantastic.

I intend to audition an Bryston SP-1 and will likely decide between the Nakamichi, the Bryston and the Anthem AVM-2.

Associated Equipment:
Paradigm Reference Studio/100 v2
Paradigm Reference CC v2
Mission 700
Paraidigm Reference Servo-15
Pioneer Elite PDR-19RW
Yamaha DVD-S795
Bryston 4B-ST
Bryston 9B-ST and Rotel 985
Toshiba TN50X81
Audioquest Ruby Interconnects
Audioquest Slate for Studio/100 v2

Similar Products Used: Denon AVR-5800, Anthem AVM-2, Parasound AVC-1800
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
4
john fairchild   an Audiophile [Jun 03, 1999]

after going through the denon 3200,5600,and yamaha dsp a1 it was becoming abundantly clear i was becoming more nd
more disastified with dsp modes.what ever happened to real
stereo?enter the nakamichi ca-1dts.this is a pre/pro no
nonsense approach to a high end consumer preamp.after
listening to some of my favorite dts cds my jaw was to the
ground in disbelief in what i had been missing in
subtle(and sometimes obvious)sounds.this is a musical piece
of electronics.it reminds me alot of when i use to own
macintosh equipment back in the 70s.there are no bells and
whistles on this unit.what is there ,is all top notch,well
laid out,and works flawlessly.switching is noise free,there
are plenty of analog inputs and outs,with a limited amount
of digital inputs.certainly enough for dbs,dvd,ld,and
cd.this unit is quiet as a mouse and performs like a
lion.if you are looking for a true hifi pre/pro the ca1 is
it.with all the other competiton out there concetrating on
dsps and other toys,it nice to see a company stick with the
basics,and put all the quality and attention to detail into
that area. i highly recomend this unit.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-10 of 17  

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