Better than a CAT?

I own a CAT JL2. It is the best amp I have ever heard. I would like to know if someone who has owned a CAT, or is very familiar with their sound, has found an amp that they have found to be better in their opinion. I would like to hear from those that have auditioned other highly touted ampfliers and decided to stay with their CAT - the CAT withstood the challenge. I'm really only interested in comparisons to the CAT, not genralized comments like ,"amp xyz is the best amp I ever heard", "you should try amp xyz". I'm interested in comparative comments from those familiar with the CAT through ownership or frequent exposure to it. I personally find the amp tough to beat with its Krell-like bass and SET-like immediacy. Thank you.
I just read a message somewhere from a guy who got rid of his CAT Ultimate and JL2 in favor of Ming Da pre and amp. Not something I think I'd ever do -- but I suppose anything's possible ;-)
I've actually heard very strong review from a fellow-audiogoner that is using the Ming Da with his CAT JL2 and loves it. Price does not appear to be an issue. So there may be someting to the Ming Da product, but of course you never know. He lives near me, I'm tempted to audition. If the person you mentioned left CAT for Ming Da, and money was not an issue, and he has "good" ears, then your know the Ming Da must be something special.
Pubul57, for all our sakes, will you please go for an audition and report back? I thought CAT was one of the top 3 or 4 tube equipment manufacturers. Not to diss Ming Da -- they get great reviews, but I never imagined they were in CAT's league.
I can't imagine that either, but this fella is a pretty seasoned audiophile. By the way, I had the CAT SL1 MKII Ultimate, and I ended up with the Joule LA 150 MKII. Both great preamps and some will love one, some the other. But I have not ever heard anything to knock the amp off it's pedestal - it is simply incredible - power and control to drive any speaker, and finesse and transparency. But this Ming Da pre does have me interested, it is "dirt" cheap by comparison to other top flight pres. Another fella whose ears I most defintely trust has falling in love with an ASL FLora pre, I think it is $3000. If this holds true, there may be some real gems in the Chinese frontier. Again, I have not heard either.
I replaced my JL2 with Symphonic Line Kraft 250. It is the only solid state I could live with after CAT, and it controls my Eggleston Andra speakers much better.
i have listened to cat alot over the years, and its certainly competitive at its price. i would say that under just about any circumstance, the symphonic line brand is one of the best ever.
Symphonic Line also happens to be the SS amplifier that Ken mentioned as one of his favourites. It might be an interesting amp to consider, but the currency exchange rates are making European equipment less and less interesting; and you don't see SL come up for sale on AG very often - but defintely a company that is on the radar screen. My speakers are Merlin VSM-MXes and they don't need a whole lot of amp to be controlled, very easy to drive
i would keep the should be a great match with the merlins
Hi,why in the world would you want to change the jl2.I looked at your system and there are other things that can be upgraded,why change the cat.It is one of the finest amps on the market.Is it the finest is debateable,slow down.Act is haste repent in lesiure.
I basically agree with you on the CAT. Send me an e-mail on what you would upgrade. The only thing I would not change is the Merlins. Thanks.

Have you tried any other amps with your Isis speakers?

Our systems are somewhat similar, Walker/Jade/RixRac, Kharma 1E's, Aesthetic Callisto/IO, 2pr Lamm ML2's bi-amped, Purist Anniversay Spkr cables and PC.

I have been flirting with replacing the ML2's with 2 JL-2's to get more dynamics, but have not been able to pull the switch. The Lamm's do so many things like no other amp I've heard, but 18 watts is 18 watts.


Did you try Lamm M1.2 or ML1.1? How do they compare to the CAT?

Hi Louis and glai,I have not had the amp in my system but I heard the Lamm and Cat in the same system.The Lamm is much more polite but the cat is more dynamic and with the sig. series has superb micro and macro dynamics and air and very natural timbre.In my opinion there is not much of battle,the cat wins hands down.I am refering to the cat jl3 sigs,but the jl2 sigs are very similar in sound.In my system I tried levinson 33 h,not my taste.Conrad Johnson and Mbl.If I had to pick one it would probably be the MBL.

How much sonic difference is ther between the JL2 and the JL3, other than power and possible seperation due to monoblocks?
Given an easy load with reasonable sensitivity, I think the JL3 would be overkill, it certainly would be with the Merlins. My view is that less power is always better if it is enough power to drive your speakers, almost always. I think it takes a lot of design ingenuity to get more power from the same basic circuit not sound worse, and that task is progressively more complex and more expensive.
Pubul57 has a good point, but in some cases the more powerful amps coast along so effortlessly that they sound more relaxed.

I owned VTL 750's and 450's and clearly the 750's were much better.
Hi, I am one of the guys that Pubul57 maybe refering to regarding the Ming DA 2A3 preamp. It replaced my CAT Ultimate and was better by a wide margin. Like any tubed gear, to get the best performance, tube rolling is necessary. I EXTENSIVELY rolled the CAT Ult and took it as far as I could with rolling and PC's, IC's. The Ming DA is in a different league. is the sole (to my knowledge) US distributor. They offer a thirty day in home audition. You pay for the shipping and a 3% restocking fee. I think it would come to $150 to try.
The stock 2A3 Chinese tubes are not bad but the others should be rolled 6SN7 (3), 6922 (3), EL34 (1). I think the preamp costs $1250. Truly a giant killer. I still use the JL2. I wanted to buy a pair of Ming DA monoblocks but the only ones that I felt would be powerful enough to drive my Avalon Osiris were discontinued.

I owned the CAT JL2 and subsequently,the JL2 reference Signature. I compared it with the Music Reference RM9 Special, which was better in every respect. I sold the JL2 and bought the special, which Roger Mojesky sells directly for $8,000 and of which he only made 20. I consider myself very lucky to have found this gem. I've listened to more music in the last 6 months then in the last 5 years because listening has become a sheer joy, pure pleaseure. Whereas every amp I've ever owned let me listen to the music the RM9 Special let's me feel it. I plan to write a full review of this amp soon. Let me just say, I owned the Tenor before I bought the CAT. The CAT destroyed the Tenor. Similarly,the RM9 killed the CAT.
Interesting. I too recently bought an Music Reference RM9 SE, so I think Roger only has a handful left.
Things sure go in circles! The RM-9 was one of the benchmark amplifiers that we felt it was important to compare to, back a good 18 years ago. I'm guessing that the RM-9s back then were not 'SE'.
The SEs were also built back then, but are all point-to-point wiring (the RM9 MKI and IIs had a board for the input stage) and use six 6bq7s in the driver stage, versus 4 6922s. I'm not sure what other tinkering Roger may have done. If I sell the CAT, the Atma-sphere OTLs are the next I want to try with my Merlins - for obvious reasons.
The Merlins are a very easy load and they show off a tube amplifier very well!