Cary SLP98 + Rocket 88R F1 vs SLI80

OK, I'm looking for feedback from those who have owned these products. I have a Cary Rocket 88R F1 that I got from Kevin Deal and up until this summer was using it with a McIntosh C220. I love the amp but sold the Mac with the intention of getting an SLP98. But now we are downsizing and moving, so the SLI80 integrated seems like an attractive alternative. If it would be close in sound, I might even try to stretch for a SLI80 F1. I'm very impressed with Cary gear, especially at their price point. I listen to jazz, classical and occasional 70's rock and expect to be in a relatively small space. What do ya think?
Can't speak to the Rocket 88 but I switched from a cj prmier 16II and premier 350 combo to the SLI-80F1 and have never looked back. I love the amp very musical. The cj was great also but just needed to downsize.

Thanks Chuck. I appreciate your response and info!
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.

Don’t get me wrong, the Rocket is a great amp, and I am a big fan of Cary’s gear. Huge bang for the buck, even at retail costs. But the SLI-80 is waaaay better, everything else being equal.


As always, your mileage may Cary – oops, I man vary. ;-)



Enter your text ...
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.