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The SLI-80 should be very good. I ran a Cary V12R through my SLP98P (the amp ran hot enough to cook burgers on) but sounded great, now I have the CAD 120's. Cary gear is very impressive. I just sold a pair of Linn Majik 140's (fantastic sound) and replaced them with Lipinski 707's that take things to a very high level. Wish I could afford the SLI-80 just to have one. Best of luck.
And now a word from our “Better Late Than Never” department:
I came across this post while searching for something else. But the title grabbed my eye, since I currently own BOTH a Cary CAD-808R Rocket 88 amp, and a Cary SLI-80 integrated. Both have the F1 mods, and then some.
Given the choice between the two, I would take the SLI-80 hands down 100%.
While both have similar power ratings (Rocket 88 = 30/60 watts Triode/Ultralinear, SLI-80 = 40/80 watts Triode/Ultralinear), the SLI-80 produces FAR more effective power and gets MUCH louder before clipping than the Rocket 88. In fact, 40 Triode watts from the SLI-80 sounds better, and gets MUCH louder, than 60 Ultralinear watts from the Rocket 88 (at least in my system, anyway). I really don’t understand how / what that is, but believe me, it’s true.
Once possible caveat: My speakers are 4 ohms nominal, and drop to 2 ohms at certain frequencies. So, it is possible that what I’m finding is the Rocket hates low impedance loads, and/or the SLI-80 doesn’t mind them.
As always, your mileage may Cary – oops, I man vary. ;-)
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Speaking of this preamp and Cary amps.. I sold my heavily upgraded SLI-80 Signature and bought the new SLP-98L tube preamplifier and Cary SA-200.2 (yes, solid state amp) that's "voiced" a bit like a tube amp. All I can say is WOW, if you want more power, low end, and dynamics, it's another combo worth considering and highly recommended by Cary. I see why now. This combo is sensitive to interconnect cable changes when running revealing speakers, so if you want it brighter/softer go with interconnect cables for you taste and tune from there. While I liked the SLI-80, it truly benefited from running the right coupling caps, tubes, hexfred upgrades. However, with lower efficiency speakers, the higher power SA-200.2 or V12R paired with the SLP-98 tube preamp produces ann even more full sound and larger sound stage IMO. Run more efficient speakers, 92db or above with the SLI-80 if you can or it may lack some of the low-end grunt you might be looking for. Yep, setups and different rooms produce different results. I though it was my room, then I plugged in the SA-200.2, wow, not the room, all the fullness and low-end I was looking for was back.