Any Cary SLP 2002 owners here?

I picked up a Cary SLP 2002 here about 3 months ago and am wondering if anyone wants to speak up as an owner as well. And give experiences/feedback.

I have built up a small tube stash and can give my experiences on tube rolling in this preamp.

There isn't much info in this preamp on audiogon or on the internet, but I do find it quite a gem. Very lively, with great detail, highs, and openess/airy qualities while still having a bit of warmth that non 6h30 tube preamps have. The soundstage that this preamp is throwing in my system is huge, and very impressive.

I tried the Cary 2002 recently for a week. Excellent preamp. Compared to the Mcintosh c220 (not yet burned in), I found the Cary much more detailed and stable sounding, but I didn't percieve a good sence of imaging, in my system anyway. I ended up with the C220 hoping I can add a little "Cary detail", if necessary, by swapping out tubes after break in. To be honest I could be happy with either pre, I chose Mc more for the synergy with my Mc amp.
If you are a DIY'r, I'd be willing to teach you how improve this pre-amp from excellent to outstanding. I have taken apart to the bare case work two of these and put them back together MY way.
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.

Yes I own it, spent endless hours of labour working it to perfection- will never sell it. You have identified the weakness of the stock unit. My unit has no weakness. Bass extends further down, soundstage is much deeper/wider and less upfront. Highs are in proportion to the midrange and bass. Refinement and front/back transparency are amazingly life like. Highly sensitive to tube rolling both the 6v and 12v position. FYI, the SLP-2002 can and does utilize the 6H30 tube to great effectiveness. The Sovtek 6H30 is on the "darker" side, while the NOS "DR" is much more open sounding. I prefer 6dj8/5814 combination. Again, if you plan on keeping the pre-amp (its cheap enough) I will instruct you on modding it. Otherwise, just sell it off and move on is my advise. You will never get the bass to where it should be nor will it exhibit a balanced frequency response in stock form.


I am quite happy with the SLP 2002 compared to other's I've listened to so far. Especially in my system. I just want to relate this to others reading the thread because I think the unit is a great piece, and often underrated.

But I'm also very interested with your modding, and would like to try it. As you said, there is always room for tweaking/improvement. Send me an email (by clicking on my name) with the details on how to mod it. I appreciate the time and effort and help.


Hi Reb,

I own one and like the sound, but my interest is piqued by the mods you allude to....what did you do to it?