Thx for the feedback so far. The Cary SLP 2002 does seem to be a more rare piece.
Good luck with the MC. Auditioning is where it's at. I lugged the Cary over to a few friend's systems with good results there as well as in my system. I have found imaging to be good in the systems I've heard with the 2002. Comparable with other good systems and good pre's I've heard. But my experience is limited. You are right that it is all about system synergy too. It all comes down to personal preferences
Reb1208, I've read your previous posts before on the 2002, and I am definitely interested in your experience and help. By all means any help is worth it and appreciated, and it sounds complicated so if possible pics will never hurt. Do you still own it?
I've recently compared the Cary SLP 2002 to an upgraded (caps) SLP98 and an older Conrad Johnson PV10a or PV10B. The 2002 definitely had the most extension into the high frequencies and had the most lively presentation (PRAT). The SLP 98 had more bass and tighter bass and sounded more balanced overall in presentation, but it did not extend in to the highs like the 2002 and did not have the openness and airiness. The CJ sounded very musical, but lacked the details of the other two preamps, and like the SLP 98 it did not have the extension, openness, airiness of the 2002. The SLP98 was close in sound to the CJ, but with more detail. The 2002 presentation is more forward than other preamps I've listened to. It sounds like one is sitting in the 9th row instead of the 19th row. I really like that.
As for tube rolling, I find the driver tubes impart most of the sonic attributes, at least thus far.
EH (Electro Harmonix) tubes (6922 & 12AU7) give the Cary SLP 2002 some extension in the highs over the stock tubes. It is a great sound with a slight forwardness in the mid to high frequencies. It give me more of the illusion of live music, and I like that.
Ei Elite tubes (6DJ8 / 6922) that I paired with Jan Philips military 6189W / 12AU7 take it a step further, with even more high frequency extension and a little more so pronounced presentation of the midrange and high frequencies. The Ei elites are a little softer on the bass than the EH's but they really get my groove going with the glowing mids and highs. I find them the most enjoyable at this time. It sounds like I'm right there. And the Ei's give the biggest soundstage. It is huge, and enveloping.
RCA 6CG7/6FQ7 Clear Top side getter (rectangular) and RCA/Amperex Clear Top 12AU7A side getter (rectangular) tubes in the SLP 2002 sounded very similar to the EH tubes. I think the bass was a little more defined with these. I need to listen to them more.