Cary SLI-80 Thoughts?

I am currently strongly considering the Cary SLI-80 integrated tube amp because I love the sound of tubes and have heard so many great things about CARY amps. This one also fits my budget on the second hand market (around $2000-2500). My question is, are there better options for this size amp in my price range that I should consider? I could stretch my budget a bit if there were considerably better options. I am driving a pair of Harbeth Monitor 30s and listen mostly to an analog source, but also have tons of CDs so I still listen to those as well. I currently have a cheap Chinese tube amp that sounds great but lacks some features I want. I would also like to have a higher grade amp to enjoy a higher level of sound quality, of course. I should not fail to mention the look of this amp is dead sexy. Have also considered Primaluna but since the Cary amps are U.S. made I feel a bit more confident in getting support, which I know I will need with owning tubes. Thanks for your opinions.
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All I can say is that I did the same thing you are doing. I spent a lot of time researching and went with the Cary. In that price range (sig. version) you will be very happy. Also I am running EL34's in triode (about only 25 watts) and it still sounds great.
It's a good integrated. And Cary provides good customer support.
I can't advise about that particular amp but I can highly recommend Cary's customer service.
I have Cary and Primaluna amps among others. To my ears Cary is the winner but the Primaluna integrated is a well-built, good sounding integrated with many pluses including the auto bias feature that makes tube-rolling a snap, easy to tailor your sound.
The Cary is the best integrated I've used, by a good margin. I've owned the Cayin, Pathos Classic, Rogue, and many others. All good, but the Cary is the keeper for me.
go w/the Cary like dan says...i've owned or tried in my system the arc vsi55, rogue cronus magnum, mac 6900 & a couple others that escape my memory at the moment & the sli80 is vastly superior. enjoy!
Hi Snackeyp -
One item to keep in mind is that the SLI-80, at least in my system (Arcam CD36 and Spendor S6e) was not the last word in dynamics or bass department.
I auditioned tt and really liked it -much better than the Cayin A88T IMHO.Top end to midrange it was spot on but I ended up keeping my SS Classe CA-101 because it was able to give me the extra slam /dynamics and bass that the Cary could not.
I did miss it, but everytime I started up some Radiohead, Incubus or Zepp... it just did not win me over. I blame much of it on my speakers...but such is life. Not sure about your Harbeths.
My main system is all Atma-Sphere but I wanted a Cary integrated for a second system and I wanted the F-1 direct coupled, all-triode version; preferably with the cool blue chassis and silver face plate.

Well, it took a while but the one I wanted finally came along and I couldn't be happier! It throws a big, open, airy soundstage with great imaging and layering front to back. It also has a wonderful tonal balance that sounds very natural and believable.

The all-triode version only puts out 40 wpc but sounds like a lot more and will easily drive reasonably efficient speakers quite well. Frankly, I've heard several amps that were switchable between triode and ultra-linear and I've always preferred triode by a wide margin.

To my ears, the bass is more than adequate but I'm running KT-88's. I know some people like the EL-34, which is what my Cary came with(two different sets) but both sounded too sweet and syrupy.

I broke down and bought a quad of the Shuguang Treasure tubes and glad I did. Still sweet and organic like the EL-34 but way more open, transparent, and extended at the frequency extremes. Also, noticeably more weight and power to the music.

I also replaced the factory buffer, driver and rectifier tubes with NOS which also took things up a couple notches.

For the money, an SLI-80 will be hard to beat. I've had mine for seven months and it's a keeper!

Well, it sounds like my instincts on this were correct. The Cary sounds like a winner. I appreciate all of the input I received. Thank you!
I also have and love this amp (with treasure tubes). Highly recommended.

Not meaning to high jack this thread, can any recommend what an upgrade from this amp would be in terms of a new unit or separates? I am starting to day dream a bit about the "next level" .....
I have not heard the Cary, but the first version of the Manley Stingray is VERY good in that price range. Should be less than the Cary actually.
The Stingray probably is a nice little integrated but it only puts out 25watts triode/50 ultra-linear vs the Cary's 40/80 and... the Stingray is butt ugly! I couldn't get past it's looks.
The SLI-80 is a totally different amp with the Treasure tubes! I really cannot even listen to mine when switching back to the stock EH's. It's a very nice amp with amazing midrange, but as one poster said, it's not the last word in the bass dept.
I struggled to like this amp until I upgraded the caps from the stock Audio-1. The V-Caps TFTF made a huge difference, even though it may have been overkill, and Cary did the upgrades. So I concur with the raves above, but a cap upgrade and tube replacements would be highly recommended if you're looking at a basic unit.
I ordered the F1 Signature edition from Upscale. It has lots of upgrades over stock, but I believe the tubes are not upgraded. Which tubes are the treasure tubes and where can I buy them for a reasonable price? Thanks
If it's me, I am going to keep the stock tubes and let the unit burn in before any tube rolling begins.

Get a feel for the amp first.
But that's just me :o)
Yes Lougiants is right, let the stock tubes burn-in, get a feel for them, do some research, then let the rolling begin.

By-the-way Lou, you a football Giants fan? Perhaps baseball? Or none? I ask since I've been a Giants fan forever.
Hi Mikirob-

Yup, NY football Giant fan since I was a kid :o)
Hoping this ride will last a few more weeks.
I have the SLI-80F1 from Upscale and love the amp. One thing I did based on Cary's suggestion was to replace the 5U4's with 5AR4's in the rectifier position and it made a huge improvement in the transparency and bass of the unit. I bought a pair of Svetlana's from Upscale for $15.00 a piece acording to Cary no need to spend big dollars on the Mullards (Bang for the Buck). I drive a pair of Focal 1007 Be monitors in triode mode and it sounds great with plenty of power. Listen mostly to Classical both Chamber and Symphonic works along with some Female Jazz Vocals. Use primarily an analogue front end VPI Classic 1 with a Herron VTPH-2 Phono Stage. My cd player is a heavily modded Sony SCD-1.

Thanks Chuck
Shuguang Treasure CV181-Z
Amperex JAN 7308 Orange gold pins
Shuguang Treasure 6CA7-Z

You will love it. Major upgrade over the stock tubes.
This is where I am currently with tubes.......

1) Sovteck 5AR4's in the rectifier position
2) Bugel Boy (Holland) 6DJ8's in the signal position. The Bugel Boys are a little more forward in the mids than the Amperex 7308's but both are great and it is a matter of taste.
3) Brimar cv1988's in the driver position
4) Genelex KT88 Gold Lion Reissues in the power position.

Sounds Great and fun to play with .......

Have Fun and Enjoy the Amp.