Brrrrrrrr, go and try CAT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The CAT amps are arguably the most powerful tube amps ever made ("powerful" in the sense of their wattage ratings being almost meaningless -- they can drive virtually any speaker to loud levels cleanly). They also do finesse, especially the all point-to-point wired $50K limited edition monoblocks with the outrageous 55 lb. output transformers. The newer models with circuit boards aren't chopped liver either.
The only downside is that they could be less finicky about requiring only the most carefully vetted output tubes, and when tubes blow, they take out resistors, which, given their outrageous weight (192 lbs. each for the limited edition monoblocks), makes owning them an obsessive's pastime (the comparison to Ferrari's best before those cars became reasonably reliable is not off the mark).
In short, while BAT makes a very fine product, the CAT amps are an extreme product that is without peer in my experience.
Sorry guys but I have a different opinion.
Yes the Cat amplifiers are magnificently built, but I have never thought the sound they produced was magically in any capacity.
When I worked at SBS and they had the CAT amps on display, the amplifiers sounded good but not great, and as a sales item there were very few pairs sold, while the preamps sold extremely well.
I heard a full CAT system with Wilson Sophia's recently and again the sound was good not great. In direct comparisons with other really high quality amplifiers the CAT amplifiers were well balanced but didn't stand out in any way.
Today there are amplifiers which are much more magically such as the big VTLs, the VAC amplifiers, and believe it or not the Antique Sound Labs sound terrific and are cheap. I haven't heard in my own systems the ARC amplifiers but I would think those are also a contender.
The BAT amplifiers offer a lot of very clean sound and are very transparent. I would need to know more about your system to say if these amplifiers would be the right choice as well.
Very thoughtful and knowledgable response, as always.
If I'm not mistaken, latest CAT JL2 Sig. use fuses, instead of resistors.
Do you still have your VAC 140/140?
As you probably noticed, I'm using VAC PA 90 C1 in my system, (as a temporary solution, while I'm looking for a more permanent replacement).
I have a feeling, PA 90 doesn't have enough "drive" to play big symphonic pieces with enough dynamics on my speakers (they are 92 dB, 8 ohm).
I was just wondering, if you could share your opinion on VAC PA 90 C1?
First I should point out to you I am a long time big fan of BAT. So please take this in consideration when reading my post. However my loyalty is not blind and is IMO for very good reasons.
Although I never heard the CAT amps I know they are well respected and felt to be by many among the best that you can buy.
But, it's also of my opinion the BAT tube amps can and do compete in the best of the best at any price catogorey. I've heard well respected OTL amps costing roughly twice what my BAT 150se amps cost in 2 different systems, both of which almost identical to my own on several occasions, and while to me they most certainly did some things better, the BAT was IMO clearly superior to them in other areas.
The taste in music, the particular system, and the priorities that are most important to the listener are all IMO very important factors. I know we all use these forums for direction and guidance, to learn from others experience....but....honestly the only way to know for sure what is right for you is to get both amps in your system and for you to compare and let your ears decide.
Also, since money doesn't seem to be an issue, and unless because of constraints due to heat or the room, why not consider the BAT 150se instead of the 75se? Yes, not only will the 150se handle dynamic peaks with greater ease due to the extra power. but they also sound much better at all volume levels.
Good luck in your search, I wish you the best and hope you find what works for you.
Since you have a Modwright modded CDP, perhaps you're open to modifying a BAT75SE. After living six years with a stock 75SE, I was seriously considering changing to a top OTL. Instead I was able to improve & cement the 75SE in my system for the foreseeable future with several upgrades that improved clarity and instrument texture, dynamics, and bass control in this otherwise great amp. Upgrades included V-Cap teflon coupling caps, silver intrachassis interconnect wiring in place of cheap belden interconnect wire used in the stock unit, and Schottky rectifiers. These were all very significant upgrades and are not much trouble for a DIYer or qualified tech to implement.
I second what David has said about modifying the BAT 75SE(150SE). He has listed the mods in order of increasing difficulty - easiest first. He has advised and helped me make the mods to my 150SE amps. If one is not intimadated by a soldering iron, these mods are quite do-able for the average audiophile who wants to get the most out of those amps.
Thank you David and Rgurney,
I read about your mods, and that's something I might do, if I finally decided to go with BAT.
One note on V-caps, though.
Some Supratek preamps owners changed Auricaps to V-caps,
and some of them decided to go back to Auricap, not liking what changes V-cap introduced to the sound of Supratek.
Actually Mick Maloney (Supratek owner) was offering upgrade to V-caps, but after listening to them for a while,decided that he didn't like the sound.
I know, this experience cannot be transplanted to BAT, but still, there is something to consider.
I guess, same goes for silver wires, some people like it, and some don't.
Yes, I still run my VAC Renaissance 140/140 Mark III's, but I am thinking of selling them, as I would like 24/7 access to my system and can't justify firing them up if I want to listen to music for just a few minutes or listen to NPR in the morning before leaving for work -- as much as I love them (my wife does, too, funny enough, as she does not care about audio), I would like the flexibility of a solid-state amp.
Audio Auricle certainly knows what he is talking about and is a good guy with a lot of hi-fi integrity (Hi Dave). That said, my closest hi-fi friend ran the $50K Limited Edition CAT monoblocks for almost three years, and through him and his accumulated knowledge (he corresponded with at least a dozen other CAT amp owners in an attempt to maximize their performance and use, tube choices, A/C line supply questions, mechanical isolation, etc.), I learned quite a bit about them. I must say frankly that they sounded better than my VAC amps (which themselves ain't chopped liver -- all point-to-point wired, eight 300-B's per side, excellent output transformers, and really high parts quality -- they cost $28K). At least the $50k Limited Edition monos do -- more linear and transparent, with iron-fist bass control and dynamics. Persons running later iterations of the amps, many with vast experience running other amps in their systems, likewise said that the CAT amps stand out for dynamics, bass control, transparency and build quality. Again, the only real issue was reliability -- my friend nicknamed his amp "the popcorn popper", and everyone he knew with the amps seemed to be saying the same thing. The owner/builder is also reputed to be a bit of a character, which did not help.