Cary Audio CAD-280SA V12R

Anyone heard one of these? from R to I series upgrade? I'm looking for an amp
that sounds great, but able to use 6L6s - KT90s.  Single Ended or Push-Pull.
This seems to be pretty easy to swap drivers for signature change, currently
has EL34 valves, Red Rubies? stockers. 
FR from 20hz - 23KHZ, really great specs, fully balanced.
Anyone know about these V12s
PreviewAg insider logo xs@2xoldhvymec
I had one for a few years and like a moron I sold it . What's really neat is you don't have to run 6 tubes in each side . You can run 6 , 4 or 2 in each side , but it has to be an even number . 6 gives you 100wpc in UL and 50wpc in triode mode , 4 gives you about 68 / 34 and 2 gets you about 34 / 17 . I ran 2 tubes per side with my Tektons and the results were fantastic . If your speakers only need 100wpc or less , go for it . You have bias the tubes differently if you change the number in each channel , Cary was great help in directing me . Good luck . 
Very interesting, I suppose they hold up well? I've seen no complaints about, quality. The 100 WPC is more than enough.
I've haven't been a big fan of valves doing bass duty in a long time. Mids and highs, perfect..

I use planar based speakers, pretty easy to drive..

Thanks for the input. VTLs or This Guy, Kind of a toss up for me..
Have you heard VTLs, with KT90s, and EL34? Just wondering if you heard both, Cary and VTL?  I've never heard a Cary. I want the tube sound but the HF of SS. These are at 23k that's really good.. I love RCA (V) 6L6 tubes, just one of my favorite valves of all time..These V12s can run them, along with KT66, KT77, KT88, 90s, El34 even 6V6, that is a mid gain tube, sure sound good, though..

I had a VTL - 85 that was a very nice amp  . The Cary , however , was much better . This was driving Maggie 1.6 , Thiel 1.6 and 2.7 and the Tekton Lores . The Vtl was more tubey and the Cary was tighter . I also had a Belles Hotrod SS amp which sounded closer to the Cary than the VTL . I don't remember what tubes were in the VTL . The Cary had 6ca7's .
Yes. It’s actually "I" to "R" upgrade. I owned a stock V12R for a while and sold it a year ago to try other-brand Monoblocks to test different amps with my custom designed speakers. The lucky new owner loves it and has compared it to other high $ amps. With further upgrades to the V12R, it truly holds its own.

The V12"I" to V12"R" conversion involved upgrading the main output transformer to the "Big Blue Wire" transformer, among other things - and was a notable difference for those who went from I too R.

The stock Ruby EL34 tubes are actually Shuguang EL34-BSTR tubes and they sound fantastic after removing the stock Audio1 caps and replacing with much better coupling capacitors and added Hexfred diodes. Yes, the stock V12R can be upgraded again to bring it to any entirely different level compared to the stock version of itself.

I rarely ran my V12R in 100wpc Ultralinear mode. It always sounded more engaging in the 50wpc strapped Triode mode, particularly after the 2nd round of extended upgrades were completed. It was a fun and unique path in the tube amp journey.

I rarely ran mine in 100wpc ultralinear mode also . The nice part is you could switch between UL mode and triode mode on the fly , even with music playing . Running only two tubes per channel ( about 17 wpc ) was very sweet if your speakers were efficient enough for the low power . Mine was a stock V12R in that beautiful red paint . I made a meter to plug into the back to adjust the bias but found out the red indicator lights next to each tube was accurate enough . I really miss that amp but now have Bottle Head 300b monoblocks , First Watt F6 , Conrad Johnson Classic 60 and a pair of Nelson Pass 6 wpc monoblocks that I built myself . I only need about 8 wpc to drive my Tekton Enzo 2.7's . Let us know what you do but that Cary kicks butt .   
BTW.... mine sounded better in single ended . My Cary SLP-05 pre amp / Ayon 2s player combo sounds better single ended also , go figure .  
Had the I version and now have the R version. Really nice amp, and as the other  posters noted, quite a few upgrades.

should be also noted that the first input tube has regulation on plate voltages, so you can pop out 12AZ7 and replace with 12AT7 or similar without rebiasing the socket. I have found that driver tube EL84 type and brand makes a huge difference on the tonal quality of the amp.

and the amp will run 6L6GCs up to KT88s. my favorite tube for this amp is the shuguang Western electric Plus 6CA7 fat bottles. A magical sounding tube.

there was also a monoblock version of the V-12 for over 200 watts per side, but they do not come up for sale very often.

I have one and am extremely happy with it. It's got Ruby EL34's and Generex Gold Lions for the front end.  That's the place where tube rolling gets interesting.
I'm an older guitar player and changing input tubes was the way to find how to get an amp to talk.
On the other hand, I just want to hear everything as I imagine the recording attempted to be.
I like the amp enough, I've looked at buying a spare. 
I used to own both amps. I owned the V12i for a short while - one of my first purchases on Audiogon - and traded it in for a new V12R. What I remember most is the beautiful tone and the surprising low end grunt that both amps helped to deliver . I used them with Quad ESL 57, 63, and 988 speakers. I also had Apogee Stages and Magnepan III’s. My favorite pairing was with the ESL-63’s and Stages.

Since you are interested in using the amp with planars, you might be interested to know that for me, the V12R ran out of juice with the Magnepans when played above 80-85db. The amp worked well with the other speakers I had, though.

I ended up selling the V12R because the combination of the V12R and Cary SLP-98 preamp that i had resulted in too much gain. The protection circuit in my ESL-988’s kept kicking in. There was loud tube hiss through the speakers, perhaps because of the stock tubes that I was using, but also because there was too much gain . The combo had limited usable volume range. I sold the V12R, but in hindsight I probably should have tried different tubes and kept the amp. I should have sold the preamp instead.

Another thing, I’m not sure if the V12i and V12R really have balanced circuitry, or if the xlr inputs are just for convenience. I would double check. Oh, and the V12i and V12R get very hot, almost as hot as an OTL amp.

The above qualms aside, if you have the right speakers and preamp with the V12R, I am sure you will be very happy, just as the other posters in this thread have been.
I just got it about an hour ago.  I need the bios meter. That is a mono 1/4 jack? I guess.. I haven't hooked it up yet. Guy was a real nice, hand delivered it and gave me a two week "take it back no questions asked" deal. Brand new set of 12 matched Rubies, and one used set. A few signals to pick from..

IT IS BEAUTIFUL!!! Man oh man, on tiny little ding, I had to really look to see it. and a factory, boo boo behind the Power transformer, little squigle in the paint. Looks like a factory touch up. Good fix who ever did it..

I sold him a Russco broadcast TT, I have 6 or 8 Russco, Two QRKs. He's a Garrard guy, so he jumped on the ol Russco. Side buy side Russco, and a Garrard. Garrard looks little, compared to the Russco
Same design. Guy was looking for one for a while, I had 8. Go figure
I'm a collector of stuff, what can I say.. Garrard Killer, Russco
I love those things washing machine motors fractional HP. Oilers, adj end play on the motor and TT 3/4" spindle, 8-10 lb platter.. 24/7 for 30 years, oil it service it, every 30 days..

Now to bios this puppy, and dig out two quad sets of the Mullards, they were a good EL34 valve.. Came out of my Marantz # 9 or 7s can't remember.. 25 years ago. NOS though.. 

So you pull the tubes leave 2, 4, or 6 per side. then rebios and run on 4, 8 or 12 valves, total. Does something else have to happen, other than that?
I really want to tinker, I really do!!!

I've got a set of cables cooking as I type.


You have bias the tubes differently if you change the number in each channel , Cary was great help in directing me . Good luck .

Do you remember HOW? Cary isn't answering the phone today, go figure.

LOL shoulda' known..

Since you are interested in using the amp with planar, you might be interested to know that for me, the V 12 R ran out of juice with the Magnepan when played above 80-85 db. The amp worked well with the other speakers I had, though.

You know, neo 8s Monsoons work very well with, Macs, and VTLs. I run, 3, 4, and 6. RM30, RMx and my DIY use 4. MC240 with good parts, makes them sing. That's about 55 watt per rail.  Stock 43 or 5 watts per. They seem to like AB better than single ended. The 300b was an eye opener though..

A friend brought over a 300b 17.5 wpc. I was stunned at how well they sounded, and no settle time. I listened to that combo for two weeks. Just killer. 17.5 watts, 6 planar...and one true ribbon tweeter per side. Island music, salsa, slow jazz, everything but Yoko Ono sounded great. No Yoko Ono. LOL

Now back to the V12 Jaguar Red beast. 

I used a meter and biased them to 35ma per tube . I believe you can use the little red lights and do about the same thing . Turn the adjuster till the light comes on and then just back it off until the lights next to the tubes goes off ( or vice versa I don't remember ) . You can only bias a bank of tubes so just get it close , it will be close enough . Also , don't try to tighten the little lock nut on the bias screw . It will just throw it off , just barely tighten the lock nut before you bias , set the bias and it wont move . If you use two or 4 tubes per side either use the front 2 or 4 sockets or the rear two or 4 sockets . I had the replace the fuses in the back as they came a little too small rating from Cary , sorry again cant remember the details .  I used electro harmonix and some Russian tubes recommended by jim McShane ( cant recommend these as they had no highs ). I will see if I can remember . 
If I may suggest to those with V12Rs,

Output Tubes:
Don’t be so quick to yank/replace/chuck those Ruby’s for others, some were the actual Shuguang EL34-BSTR tube version which sounded really good in that amp 1) if it’s biased right and 2) if you have really good vintage EL84s and 6922 or 12BZ7 tubes up front 3) have the right preamp/tubes in front of the V12R.

My local tech was a retired 40-year McIntosh tech, helped me to upgrade my V12R. He noted it’s not necessary to crank up bias to the recommended 285ma in the original owners manual (old / false / was never updated online). We called the prior designer at Cary together and noted having to drop it down to quite a bit or risk blowing the 4amp fuse periodically. Ended up with 5amp fuses, later. BUT, no longer an issue or need when we dropped it down under 220ma. Yes, as I recall, 35ma (per tube) and 210ma (per side/channel) was about right, sounded good too. Helps the output tubes to last longer too, don’t forget that part! No need to light those LEDs up, use a good meter, and those LEDs are not all that accurate or in sync with each other.

Input/Driver tubes:
The "R" version allowed for 12BZ7 (TV tubes), and IF you get a good vintage matched pair RCA or Sylvania, it does add interesting tone, rasp, and texture to the music - something Dennis Had came up with in the R. In a brief conversation via email, Dennis mentioned he still owns one, or diid a few years ago.

UL/Triode switch:
While the Triode/Ultralinear switch was cool in the V12R, i never felt UL was at the same level of sound as a regular non-switchable Pentode Push Pull sound like my Quicksilver 120 Monoblocks paired now paired with my Cary SLP-98 preamp.

Preamp Matters! 
A really good preamp and the 6SN7s in my Cary SLP-98 along with the choice of interconnects used between the preamp-to-amp and source to preamp really helped dictate the final result for the V12R as well.

Once you put really good coupling caps and Hexfred Diodes in that amp, it jumps to a whole new level once again. Enjoy the V12R, it’s a fun piece. Sure liked mine. New owner loves it.
 As I recall. 35ma and 210ma per channel was about right, sounded good too.

So is there a place to check for the 35ma (per valve?) or at the pin # whatever. I can see how to get the 210 per rail, but kinda lost me with the 35ma, Just a reference to check but not adjust? Wish they had a good manual. 

Output Tubes:
Don’t be so quick to yank/replace/chuck those Ruby’s for others, some were the actual Shuguang EL34-BSTR tube version which sounded really good in that amp.

I'm to much of a miser (sp) to yank and dump..When it comes to valve, I've found some real gems, others just would not try. I will.. Gotta listen.

I read the same thing. With a coupling cap upgrade, the stock tubes sound really good.  I'll give them a LONG listen before I do anything.
I need to let everything settled in first, little at a time..Set the bios get the amp on a dampened, surface, cable or two..PC. Guy brought me a PC with Mcintosh written on it. # 8 or 10 wire. Never seen a Mac cord like that..Big and Green. The Hulk.. Yea those Mullard are probably worth more than the amp. EL34 guys are EL34 guys no doubt, I never have been. If it sounds better then things may change.. Even old guys like change every now and then...LOL

Hay if you could explain the 35ma per tube? How to get it. Fronts or rear I got. 4 8 or 12 valves, I got, from 285-300 down to 210-240ma, I got, but the 35ma per tube, I DON'T GOT.. LOL

Thanks for you patience...

It's just 210 div by 6, per "rail" as you noted.  If you are handy, pull lower cover, look and see if it has those four of the thin silver'ish Audio 1 coupling caps. 
It's just 210 div by 6, per "rail" as you noted.  If you are handy, pull lower cover, look and see if it has those four of the thin silver'ish Audio 1 coupling caps.

I  guess I'm thick, so if I have two valves per rail then bios at 70ma 
and 4 at 140? Am I following you? 
I'll pull the cover. Handy? LOL You mean an I Arnold with 20" arm? hee hee that is a heavy amp, mercy.

Nope, just 210ma per side, total.  If you get the fancy Cary meter to plug in, you'll likely check bias more, or a simple headphone 1/4" TRS type jack plug with wires and voltmeter.  Let amp warm up good, keep volume down or preamp off, set bias screw at 210-220ma per side (total), you can watch the LEDs (and start backing off) of course to get it close but watch the meter. One 1/4" old style headphone jack per side.  Nothing else to share or over-think there.  Or, just do as manual says, light up LEDS and back off, and then use the meter to fine tune side/channel down at tad till you get to 210-220ma per side.  Message me if you get stuck, will explain over the phone.  

Fancy one from Cary for $100:

Page, accessories

or, 1/4" headphone jack with loose wires to voltmeter.  

Its 35 ma per tube . 2 tubes per side = 70 ma. 4 tubes per side =140ma . 6 tubes per side = 210 ma . The manual is wrong , if you go to 275 ma with 6 tubes per side you will pop the fuse . I got a cheap analog milli amp meter on ebay and added the plug , it was like $30 . Only use 2 , 4 or 6 tubes in each channel . I tried a bunch of tubes but the electo harmonix sounded better than the rest ( disclaimer my system ) . If you used matched tubes the leds will be a little closer when they light up and shut off but its not worth the cost for matched sets . Just buy regular sets and put them in = close enough . Its a mf badass amp .

154 posts
03-31-2020 6:56pm
Its 35 ma per tube . 2 tubes per side = 70 ma. 4 tubes per side =140ma . 6 tubes per side = 210 ma . The manual is wrong , if you go to 275 ma with 6 tubes per side you will pop the fuse.

No fuse pops so far...But it sure sound good at 240ma total on the bias, I mean, there is quit a difference in SQ. I went as high as 260 from 240 with no SQ change, then backed off until it sounded REALLY good, not pretty good..REALLY GOOD. I'll rebias in a few days to 35 per an see if the SQ is as good...Could be a settling thing, my ears, or remember to take the cotton out of my ears this time...DUNO.. ;-)

I thought I was having a stroke... kept reading the same thing.. 210 210 210 total LOL.

So it's 35ma x every valve in pairs, per side. Wow hee hee. People say I ask too many questions.. Maybe.. but that's the old mechanic in me..I try to stay out of trouble, not GET OUT OF TROUBLE.


1.  turn the unit OFF
2. turn both bias adj screws counterclockwise.

3. install or remove tubes in pairs per side, starting front to rear or rear to front. Not every other one, BUT in pairs per side in matched positions on the other side.

4. Hook up the bias meter, analog or digital..Digital is better (self diag and calibration)

5. With speakers hooked up (or dummy load), POWER UP turn the volume down on the preamp, and let the amp(s) warm up.

6. Adj the bias per rail @ 35ma for every valve in pairs. 70 (2),140 (4), 210 (6) are the prefered bias numbers, by turning the adj screw clockwise SLOWLY. recheck, recheck, recheck then recheck.
do the same on the OTHER rail. New valves, recheck in 6-10 hours rebias, as needed.


7. Don't worry be HAPPY. (You know like the song.. LOL) and turn the music...UP....:-}  <  happy Galic face, start doing the Irish Jig...

I'm so happy....

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you very much...

NOW, next problem... can you help me turn lead into GOLD...???

Just askin'..LOL

One thing I forgot to mention... This amp and neo 8 planars, no running out of gas, I've yet to crank it, BUT, at 49% volume, on the led, the Rabbit, the dog, and the hummingbirds start looking for shelter. No power issues, no distortion issues (the rabbit can't take it...)  :-)


226 posts
03-31-2020 12:30am
It's just 210 div by 6, per "rail" as you noted.  If you are handy, pull lower cover, look and see if it has those four of the thin silver'ish Audio 1 coupling caps.

Yes it does, took pictures. Few other spendey little caps too. I saw the sokeys (sp) fast recover. Clean as could be..looks easy to work on.
Has a logic board in the back, front? Everything is point to point.
Wire to the speaker terminals was the only thing I didn't like.
I don't think it was #20, very small. that's gotta go. I have some really good pure silver # 12, 16, 18 wire. 16 will work, twice as big as what's in there..There was a bit of resin, around, alcohol will take care of it..

Please do yourself a favor , don't start screwing around inside the amp . Play with the 4 or 8 ohm taps for the speakers , play with the bias , roll the tubes , use 2 , 4 or 6 per channel and try different power cords . But please don't put silver wire in there , if you must mess around use copper and make sure the wire you put in is both facing the same way . Wire in different directions sound different . Don't make me come over there with a baseball bat … . 
If you are looking to keep a softer more veiled over sound the Audio1 caps are okay, not bad caps, just not great ones. If you want a little more texture, clarity, and musicality, many other caps sound better.  Did not realize the true benefit of front' end EL84 or 12BZ7/6922 vintage tube changes until after swapping out the little silverfish Audio1s.  Heard that amp with four different sets of caps between myself and three friends who owned V12i and V12Rs, all much prefer higher quality coupling caps in that amp. Be safe, it can hurt if you touch the wrong stuff in there!  

155 posts
04-01-2020 10:22am
Please do yourself a favor , don't start screwing around inside the amp . Play with the 4 or 8 ohm taps for the speakers , play with the bias , roll the tubes , use 2 , 4 or 6 per channel and try different power cords . But please don't put silver wire in there , if you must mess around use copper and make sure the wire you put in is both facing the same way . Wire in different directions sound different . Don't make me come over there with a baseball bat … .

Hee Hee, I won't tear it up..I'm just havin' a ball though. I got it sounding pretty darn good. Yea the Ruby out. I had 4 Volvo valves from Marantz # 9 I had way back, NOS never used.. I couldn't believe the change there.
BIG difference. I went to Teleies 12ax7, from all the 12BZ7s, man that is a raw tube for sure, lot of gain but tough on the ears.. If the guy was happy with that sound, he's like most folks I run into, too much bass in there life...protect those ears.... really.. Nice guy though..
I have a great set of 6550 too. Tung Sols, have to find um..great mids those valves, rock and roll delight..

Facing the same way, you crack me up.. If I do anything I'll probably do my treatment to the wire and give it a direction same as it comes off the spool...3 days in the freezer and 4-5 days on a cooker..This is pretty easy to work on.. No kidding not my first amp tinker fest..I've done up a few through the years..

Copper, why copper? I've used pure silver not clad, had some very good results from stock copper, to larger wire, from the speaker terminals back to the first solder joint. Just did up a pair of NC500.. Quit a sonic nugget..I did use clad there, add a little sparkle..

I'm telling you, the wire is maybe a # 20.. look, it's
spooky. Looks like the inside of a new Mcintosh.

Thanks though.. got any pointer I'm ALL ears Caps YOU prefer?

 Did not realize the true benefit of front' end EL84 or 12BZ7/6922 vintage tube changes until after swapping out the little silverfish Audio1s.

So what's the cat's meow? I'd love give it a go. I'll be listening for 2-3 weeks then look into it.  Give the cable a chance to settle and everything..

So what's the name brand you used?

Honestly though.. It does sound pretty good.. The planars are just loving them, tons of power. Even on 4 valve. pretty hefty..No bass duty, just monitor section...

I want to thank everyone, for helping, lot of fun...listen to music in the middle of the day...retirement is just wonderful..


Why not silver wire ?   If do a bit of research it will tell you that high frequencies travel at a slightly different speed through silver wire than copper . That is why silver wire is commonly thought to have more highs . There is not more highs , it is just slightly smeared and that makes it sound different.  
Thanks, yea I knew there is a timing issue. Ones faster so to speak.
I've used, copper, copper/silver clad, silver, and alu/copper clad.  I've brightened a few and toned down a few too. I've used wire and speaker terminals (copper, copper/nickel, silver) to tune a few.

Analog Question?

Why is silver over copper, as apposed to pure silver or copper or anything else I can find, BRIGHT.. Someone said it was the dielectric cover.. Yet, I've ran bare wire no insulation, and the rule still applies.
alu is the dullest. (mechanic terms) then copper, then silver then copper/silver clad. I made up a silver/copper weave, sounds better than the Mcintosh he brought. The hulk cable..

I can take a #16 of copper a #16 of silver, mechanically join the two and no BRIGHTness. But a fullness, everything is fattin' up, thicker more of it... Clad, NO.. Just bright..  Just wondering.. Just noticed...

I did have Mundorf .22uf 1000v Supreme Silver gold oils. for the audio 1 cap swap, I also had .22uf 1400v Supreme aluminum caps.

I really like what I'm hearing.. Really. I found a stash of 12ax7s Volvo, Telefunken, RCA, and Tung Sol. EVERY pair was better than the stock
12BZ7s, man that is a real raw tube..

Hee hee need super duper caps to make the crap tubes to sound OK.
BUY good Valves..I have some Russian and Chinese tubes 12AX7 all better than that 12BZ7.. Just not the gain.. 12az7 will do it has the gain and a lot better valve, Not a TV tube.. LOL

What brand of caps.. Cardas Silvers, TRT teflons. I have K75, K45, K42 and K40 xxxx russian PIO / hybrid..and the Mundorfs.

thanks everyone, just havin' a good ol time..

I really cant tell you anything about caps and changing the internal components . I can tell you that six nines copper will be musical and engaging if its solid core . If its stranded , for crying out loud , don't get me going . Find your self some really nice Telefunken smooth plates or some Bugle Boys and have some good fun . BTW ….don't forget to screw around with the power cord and don't mess up that amp or I will report you to someone  ( not sure who but don't try me ….lol ) 
Hee Hee. It's running right now, with Telefunken, smooth grays, I pulled a pair of black plates, TOO mellow. I'm real close on the sound.  The Amprex have a bit more detail, I was surprised. The Two combos that are working VERY well is eL KT90s x 4,8,or12 and Sylvania (little bright) 12ax7a or the Amprex (very detailed, very quiet valve) 12ax7.
The second was (finally) with the Rubys or the Volvos, GE Tung Sol (vintage) 12ax7 and GE greens 12az7a. The Rubys and the GE greens, probably the best so far, both single ended or UL, very nice.. With the planars, super fast, super SUPER detailed, MID are as plump as a dumplin'. Detail is not quite as edgy at the KT90s,  Just sounds right...Man oh Man...Stanly Clark, Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock, Jeff Beck, Miles Davis, can't turn the sucker off... Johnny Cash is in the room with that Martin...and Yoko Ono is nowhere to be found.. Thank God...LOL

I made up a killer PC. Copper and Silver weave. 3 # 10 silvers and 1 # 10 copper. I did a 4 strand weave, with pure copper ends.. That was little nugget. Need to cook that cable a bit..I think it will shave a little on the  edgy KT 90s.. little breakin on the PC.  Fixed my Mac 275  GG. (the cable drop blunder). So far..things are lookin up....

Take back the Mac fix. NOISY... uhhhh Thought I had it with just a bad valve... Silly me...Right side works but noisy..Left perfect..Amp graveyard in the sound room.... LOL, maybe..

"I did have Mundorf .22uf 1000v Supreme Silver gold oils. for the audio 1 cap swap, I also had .22uf 1400v Supreme aluminum caps."

Not following ya. Where "did" the Mundorfs go?

The ones to get are the non-oils for fuller sound and detail with Ruby EL34s, specially these  >> Mundorf Capacitor 0.22uF 1000Vdc MCap® Supreme EVO SilverGold Black SESG <<
Where did they go? They haven't gone anywhere yet. That is what I have in hand. The Supreme Silvers oils are a great sounding cap with 6550 KT88 and 90.  I'm not an el34 guy.  Though I'm trying.. LOL Silverfish reminds me of Marantz. 7C 7T 33, 3300. They used those things.

Fuller sound? It's plump as a dumplin' Now.. I have two ways to go, NOW El34s, Ampex 12AX7, RCAs EL84. Wonderful mids, BUT 300-700 hz is where this amp is kinda lacking 700 up is great till about 11-2 khz then kind of loses it's magic again I rolled KT88, GE 12AZ7, and the RCA. HUGE difference in the low mids and the HF is a lot better.

So Sinatra, Denno, and Island music, salsa get the EL34 combo.
Herbie Hancock, Stanley Clark, Tony Williams, (and the grandkids music, RAP) get the KT88 combo..That why there is more than one system here...

I'm thinking I can keep the KT88s and go with the oils, which I know works well.  Still be able to run el34 and get close to what I have now. (maybe a tad better)
I know these oils work real well with 6l6s which a just a game changer for a LOT of the older Country Western, and for sure any of the early rock and roll stuff. The reverb era!!!! AND that gives me a 3rd option.

I would have had to used a MC240 and a MC275 to listen to all the different sound. Now one amp, re voice in less than 10 min, three way to go, no cable swaps.. I'm liking it. I really like his amp...So use to Mcintosh.

Now the real test. My MC240, that is ALL trick out, well see whos the master of the mighty 6L6 valve. This 240 is very special..
Yet to it bested., with 6L6s. Maybe... If this Cary can do it. I'll be looking for a second one..and thin the herd a bit..

I put  Mcap Supreme Silver/Gold (non oil) I had both. I thought it was Supreme Alu.. I had to leave the room for about 45 min.  Making some pretty wonkie noises. settled in a bit, after 6 hours of playing, sound almost SS like. Razor sharp. KT88s. I've never seen an amp that was so easy to work on, cap swap, interior cleaning, tube pin tighten, put back together, wax it, retube and bias in under 2 hours. 

The sonic change is not subtle at all.. It went from tubie to tight. I bet the el34s sound great. If they could just keep the highs like kt88 or 90s and the mids like the el34s and the low mids like kt88 or 6550. Maybe a KT66/6L6 haven't tried it yet...

We'll see 
The stock Ruby EL34 (Shuguang EL34-BSTR) sounded the smoothest with the Mundorf SESG Evo (non-oil) Supreme caps in my V12R amp, and I was using vintage RCA EL84s and Siemens 12BZ7s or RCA 6922s on the front end (50w Triode) mode.

With that said, my Cary SLP-98 preamp did have Jensen Oiler caps in it with vintage 6SN7s. On that amp I did use all OFC copper neutral interconnects and OFC copper bi-wire speaker cables. No silver. The combo was really nice, smooth, holographic.
With what I'm doing and listening too, the Stock Ruby sound a lot better than before, 12bz7 and EH EL84 with the old Audio 1 didn't work.
With a12ax7 or 12az7, Mullard el84, El34s or KT88 yes. NOW ..after the cap change it's really gone up a notch on SQ, they were very sonicly gifted before, now. Even easier to revoice and no signal tubes, the 12at or az work with all the power valves...Using 6l6s right now, not sure on that one, need 8 more valves, to get a good feel. 6V6s are on the way, surplus sovex, NOS...
I have some RCA BP, but I hate to use top notch, if so so will do. This machine really has the ability to use ok tubes and make them sound really good...Great engineering. Wonder what the mono blocks are like?
These are plenty powerful. BUT I'm use to 300+ with the VTLs.  Never used it but they drove everything I use very well..

I did a PC swap a few days back... 3 copper/silver mill speck teflon poly vinyl cover #10s and 1 # 10 ms copper, did a weave. Worked very well
sounds just as good, as MITs that are broke in just off the bench... Light NOT FLEXIBLE.. I like it...
Really good coupling caps  do influence the outcome. After I did mine on my former V12R and now current Mono Tube amps, I could THEN truly hear the differences with input/output tube changes -and- interconnect changes too.
I had the R and you want the R version in my opinion.  Also, decooney is correct. Good luck!
Is there a version before I and R, and still a V12? I know where there is a  6922 version (thought it was the I), I guess it's an "I".  Is there  something before that? Early or late I.  I read the gain is different. the transformers are better and a sokey (sp) in the "R" and the signal tube upgrade 6922 to 12xxx series.

Just wondering.. There is a pair of monos for 5000.00 in the Ukraine.
Nice but too much.  I'd love another stereo a good price. I'll keep my eye out... Tinkerfest...


Yes. Three versions.   Early V12, then V12i for 'Inspired",  & V12R for "Race".  Most "R" models were Red chassis.  The "R" had the larger "Blue Wire" transformer and the change on input tubes, the 6922 to 12BZ7 in particular. Some people sent in the "I" models to be upgraded and converted to the R version.  Upgrading the R further was even better.   
6L6 cheapo EH valves, broke in a bit  and sound really good now...
4 so so valves, sound great, Last 6L6, unit that sounded this good was a fresh MC240 with really good caps and PS upgrade. Couldn't get cheap valves to sound as good though. The Mac liked quality, well matched valves...

This amp, not nearly as picky. 6V6 next on the agenda.

What's the monoblock version like? Anyone have or had a pair?
Not a lot of those floating around.

 A second I or R would be a nice A/B after component swaps...and 
a great addition to another house system.

Patience..ya never know.. Any V12s collecting dust out there?...


They all pop up for sale periodically, particularly during summer time and function even better over the winter season. 

With twelve power tubes and four input/driver tubes, the collective sixteen tubes in a V12R also functions well as a great room heater. 

The el34 run the coolest, the KT88s run hot for sure.  I'm thinking 4 EL34 during the summer days, (ran cool actually) and I can add a quad or two for the evening hours, if  the occasion should arise... 

Yes wonderful heaters in the winter months, for sure. 

Now for a summer special. Someone's on the fence with an I or R
just waiting to find a new home....Probably in someone's closet as I type...

I'm patient... usually..

re: Heat, my local tech-friend (40yr Mcintosh tech, Repair/Modifier guy) was adamant I did not need to run the bias up to spec, had me running it as low as 200ma per side. Felt it was a waste of energy and extra heat for no reason.  I tried it at lower bias and it actually sounded great, ran cooler for sure. Extends tube life too!  
You know there is a a lot of talk on bias, cool leans out the sound thin, quack quack , to hot shortens tube life and runs hot . I've found that there is a sweet spot for biasing valves. It actually SOUNDS better. Again not just a little.  I use these from 300hz UP, no bass duty at all.

A Mac TEC, usually doesn't bias stuff after it's set up. Set it and forget it, its one of the good things about a Mac,  BUT I have a 240 you can.  AB (push pull amps) not so critical, Class A, it makes a BIG difference, AB too, if you really listen, just not as dramatic.....

So The R has the better transformer and the 12XXX. 

What about the monoblocks? same. Ver 1.2.3 ? Kinda rare for sure.
He was a Mac tech for his daily job, but did mods and built amps all kinds of crazy rebuilds and such on his own.  Retired now.  Built all his own amps, that kinda guy. I helped him on design and build of three pairs of large horn Altec/Onken copy  speakers, so she shared a little over the years. Was fun to listen to little updated 2A3 and 300B amps he modded.  He helped me to make my former V12R sing, was really nice.

Yes, "R" larger trans and "Bz7" TV tube, funny.  

I'm not as up on the V12 mono blocks. Slightly different layouts.

Since KT150s came out I went a completely different direction, never pursued it any further with Cary monos after. 
I don't even run the 12BZ7s, maybe some like um, sure a lot better tube to choose from, I have some chinese 12ax7 that blow the doors off them
less than 5 bucks a valve...same cheap valve Mac uses in their new stuff.

I just received a 12 pack of 6V6s and 2 8 packs of 6L6 under 200 for the whole lot.

Installed the little 6V6s, hour or so of playing... Just wonderful, transformer is running cool a could be. Whole unit dropped 30 degrees.
looks like there is a good summertime combo after all. Although the 4 Volvo el34s were pretty impressive.  A dozen ways to go...Seems like there all pretty good..

I have a V12R I've owned for a number of years and would like to do the Hexfred Rectifier installs.  I already replaced the coupling caps but wasn't sure about where the Hexfreds go so I left it alone. Could someone shed some light on which of the existing parts should be replaced with the Hexfreds and how many? Do you happen to have a pic of the Hexfreds after they were installed? Thanks.
Hexfreds, like a schottky.  I think I know what your talking about, at least what they look like.  Is it for a power supply upgrade? fast acting quick recovery diode. I think this unit has it, but that would be strange that the silver fish audio 1 would still be there.  I took a few pics, the audio 1 are a good cap.  I call it "The Marantz sound", they were famous for those things..
Sound good actually, not sloppy, but VERY tubie..

So which caps did you use in your V12?

Need someone that has had it done AND knows what it looked like before and after, I'll find a pic or two.. Keep lookin' someones bound to chime in..

There is a guy named Mike Samra, one smart cookie, red sock, green sock guy.  Look up the name, big Mac guy..He might know about it and will talk your ear off once you get hold of him..Walk you right through it..

I'll see if I can find him..

A couple of the posters above had mentioned they had the Hexfred upgrade done so I was hoping one of them could shed some light.
I replaced all the electrolytic caps with generics of same values and replaced all the non-electrolytics with Mundorf MCAP ZN 630VDC caps of same values.
I have always biased each side at 210ma. Below 210ma the sound degrades but above I don’t hear any improvement. Above 250ma and you will start blowing fuses.

You MUST get a digital multi-meter that measures milliamps as that analogue looking dial meter Cary sells is not precise. You have to wire one of those larger headphone type jacks to plug into your amp and connect to your multimeter. Cary advises that you disconnect everything from amp before biasing, even the speakers. You will not damage CARY amps running them without a speaker load connected.
Also, the 3A Filament Fuse should be a 4A slow blow. Cary printed the wrong value on the back of the unit. In the schematic for the V12R is confirms it should be a 4A slow blow.

Also, the 3A Filament Fuse should be a 4A slow blow. Cary printed the wrong value on the back of the unit. In the schematic for the V12R is confirms it should be a 4A slow blow.

The fuse is a 4 amp SB, now, had a 5 amp in it, I pulled all the fuses and replaced them.  I've bias with a mono 1/4" male splitter with 2 RCAs hook one lead to the outside RCA and the other to the inside via a probe.  That's when I learned 210ma sounds ok but 230-240 at lower volume is just as sweet as they come.  I'm really liking 6L6 cheapo valves Solvex.  Only valve that going from single to UL sounds better.  I like the sound better for certain music, especially old country western, or big band stuff. Haven't  heard anything that sounds bad other than a bad recording, got a few of those..

At 100.00 + an hour at Cary, I can do a little work myself.. Suppose to be almost bulletproof, amp, I need it..

I'd like to see the upgrades too, there are some clusters of diodes two sets of three that look to be hexfred, at least when I looked them up.

Is it a power supply upgrade? I had Samra do a C20 with Schottkys, PIOs, and a few Teflons.  Quietest point to point, I've ever had.. and the most musical. Just no remote...  I like a remote.