Cary SLI 80 or Conrad Johnson CAV 50?

I am debating on a Cary SLI 80 or Conrad Johnson CAV 50. Please give me your ups and downs on each one. Or just your experience would help. I have Legacy Protege speakers. Thanks. -Durr
A number of really sophisticated listeners among the audio dealers used to recommend the Aronov Audio LS-960I which converted to selling factory direct.
A very natural and musically satisfying sound which makes it hard to imagine anything missing from a performance. Best bass which is much more important to great listening pleasure once you hear the difference.
A fine value either used or new. Although can't seem to access their website in recent weeks which may mean those on the used market due to become collectible.
I haven't heard the Conrad Johnson but I can vouch for the Cary SLI 80. I love the one in my system. It works well with my Gallo Ref 3's and Gallo SA amp. I have a small room so I run it in triode mode all the time. Recently I had my music club over and we moved the stereo into my larger living room. I was surprised that it could boogie that well in Triode mode. From small jazz ensembles to full out orchestral pieces, it was never lacking.

Difficult to answer as component matching is key. I can vouch for the Conrad Johnson CAV 50 as a beautiful sounding amp. Mine is matched with Totem Model 1 speakers. Wonderful combination (fast, punchy, lush, musical, wide soundstage). My only experience with a Cary integrated was with some Dynaudio 52: I wasn't as enthralled as with the Totem/Conrad combination, bass reponse had some noticeable lag in that set up.

1. Can you let me know whether your CJ CAV 50 has a remote option ? Is there any sub-woofer out from your CJ ?

2. Also, how does your system perform in bass ? I dont see any additional Sub-woofer in your music system...Is CJ able to drive your Totem Model 1 speakers to fill the room even without a sub ?

3. What isyour musical preference ? I like Instruments, vocals, jazz and occasional pop.

I have the same dilemma..I am building a system for myself with Sonus Faber Cremona Auditors. I dont know whether CJ CAV 50 (or) Cary SLI 80 that has system synergy with Auditors and which one can drive auditors to fill my room (20 x 20 x 18 ).

Having owned both Cary and C-J gear (in fact, after tomorrow I'll be running with a Cary pre and C-J amp), my assessment is that the sounds are cut from swatches of the same sonic cloth. It may come down to characteristics of your speakers (SLI delivers 80 wpc vs 40 for the C-J) and user oriented features. For example the Cary comes with a remote, the C-J does not. Nonetheless, from a value perspective, the CAV-50 was probably one of the best in terms of high end tube electronics. I never understood why C-J discontinued it.

to my knowledge the CAV 50 espouses a minimalist approach, hence a remote is, unfortunately, not an option. I understand that a CJ pre-amp and amplifier combo would not be constrained by this limitation.

I cannot find a subwoofer out on my Conrad Johnson, but perhaps better people than I can identify how does one go about connecting a subwoofer.

The Conrad Johnson CAV 50 drive my Totems in a 13 foot high ceiling and some 1200 sq.ft. of surface area beautifully (i.e. tremendous synergy). Bass, for a monitor, is, in my opinion, very satisfactory.

Part of the appeal of the Totem Model 1s is their coherence: no register dominates the other. Adding a subwoofer will no doubt help you to experience the lower octave and a half, but, I believe, at the expense of a well-balanced sound.

I listen to vocals, instrumental, classical, baroque, jazz some pop and rock. The medium register magic delivered by the CJ & Totem combo serves female vocals and acoustical instruments extremely well.

In any event, an audition is a must before you make a call either way.

Marc Audio,

Your room is pretty big...1200 x 13 = 15,600 cubic feet. I am surprised that CJ CAV 50 with 50 tube watts could fill that room with good sound. In addition to that you are not even using a sub woofer. Looks like a good option to check out. May be I should try CJ CAV 50 and cary SLI 80 and decide... starting with CJ.


I am lying a bit, the entire aprtment is 1200 sq.ft. the open area where the Totems are measures some 700 sq.ft. That being said, you do hear them in the other rooms and in the main room the sound really goes wall to wall to wall. Listening to Brahms Concerto no.1, the orchestra tuttis do come across very vividly and the piano is, there, between the 2 speakers. Having heard the same piece in a concert on Monday from the 15th row on the parterre, I'd say the illusion is very very good.
The Cary SLI 80 has a headphone output and can be had with the remote control as well as a sub out. In the real world of living with gear, and other folks,those two additional things may be a real factor. Having said that, I would love to have either, perhaps the Cary more for the above reasons.
Good luck.
I also have Legacy Protege speakers (10+ years). Recently I bi-amped with solid-state to woofers and Tubes for tweeters. Currently I'm balancing with a passive pre-amp in between pre and power(tweeters). The Legacys need Hi-Current which the ss delivers. Go with the amp with highest current delivery. Bi-amp if possable (a decent used ss w/Hi-Current and good tubes [10 watts will be plenty] will beat just real good tubes alone, IE 2 lesser amps will beat 1 greater). My tubes are Harmon Kardon Citation II (known for Hi-current), totaly rebuilt (McShane), with KT-90's running in triode. SS was rotel bx-870 now Van Alston MOS-220. Soon a Marchand Electronic Crossover will separate frequencys and balance the amps.