CAT JL-1's played very well with Jadis preamp.
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Your reaction to replacing the cat ultimate is not surprising. I currently own a Cat JL2 and perfer my Jadis JPS 2 preamp as a match with my cat amplifier. I tried the Ultimate Mk II preamp with my cat amp and thought the combo lacked body and soul (to steril sounding). I did very much like the low end bass on the cat preamp but from the midrange up I felt it was not a good match with my excellent JL2. My jadis preamp is a much better match with my JL2 in my opinion and I sold my ultimate preamp.
Mt resposne to to the Lamm in the system was similar to 42659, the sound was some how juicier and individual instruments were less spotlighted, that is, they were still distinct, but as if all playing toghether in the same room - I always felt the CAT pre had great detail, but I also felt like I was disecting the sounds rather than listening to the music as whole. Thanks for the tip on the Jadis, I will investigate.
i have a jadis m80 which is 20.000.00 dollar pre and the cat is way better i dont understand some of the answers you are getting .one guy said the cat was thin in the mid range. that is where it excells. usually if someone has thin mid it is because there speakers have a suckout at that frequency. the best match for a cat amp is a cat pre since they were made together
"the best match for a cat amp is a cat pre since they were made together"
I respectfully disagree. The "best match" for one person or one system of components may be very different for another. As an owner of the JL-3 Signature amps, I put a lot of effort to listen to the CAT Ultimate II vs. the Aesthetix Io/Callisto in my own system for several weeks. And this was with a lot of trials with the stock Sovtek tubes as well as various Mullard and Telefunken 12ax7 and 6DJ8/6922 combinations. The pros/cons of each preamp with the JL-3 amps would be up to each person to decide which way to go. The word "best" simply does not apply here. It comes down to finding a balance of tonality, dimensionality, resolution and dynamics with the assembled system of components that closely matches our own set of sonic priorities.
On the issue of the CAT excelling in the mids, this is neither the case for the CAT Ultimate II nor the JL-3 Signature amps. Both of these products excel in dynamic contrasts, the ultimate in resolution across the frequency band and coverage at the frequency extremes like few if any other tube based amps or preamps. However, when it comes to portraying the ultimate in midrange layers and textures, the Aesthetix Callisto/Io combination and Atmasphere amps are a step ahead here.
I would not label the CAT midrange sound as thin but it does lack some of the fullness (not fat tubey sound) and harmonically rich presentation that many other tube products convey so well. And this is very evident through my SoundLab A1 speakers.
It would seem to some extent that perosnal preference would dictate what is best - an elusive notion. I bought the CAT-pre to go with the CAT-amp because the pre has been highly regarded, well reviewed, and an evolved product. And whether it is "your cup of tea" or not, nobody is going to argue it is not a fine preamplifier. I imagine that most users buying one of the CAT amps will almost autmatically assume the CAT pre is a mighty match - and don't get me wrong - the system sounded very good indeed before a clumsily damaged the pre. I was just suprised how much I enjoyed the sound with the LAMM LL2. I think JAFOX took the right approach by listening to alternative preamplifier and not accepting any assumptions about what would be best for his amps. My little accident has now gotten me to wondering what the sound would be like using my JL2s with a Herron, First Sound, Hovland, deHavilland, Joule et.al. I guess one of my reasons with going with the CAT pre in first place was to avoid wondering about all these combinations and the time and effort it would take to really evalaute them. I'm happy with the LAMM now, but...