did you get a cary, if so i'd be interested in the peach
the juicy music uses 6922 tubes ,the newer ones also had the 6h30 tube these for sure present a more neutral presentation the slp98 uses the 6sn7 which creates a much wider sound stage as well as air around the instruments ,
if youwould like to call this bloomy but not much ,not like a 300b also if you use a good solid NOS tube they all sound a little different please also remember the 09 uses the great 5ar4 rectifier tube and this controls the balance of the performance the stock one is ok ,get a Vintage Amperex or Mullard they last for years , The Amperex white or orange pq 6922 tube
would give you a nice slightly warm balance .
I have recently been thinking about making this switch again. I like the Peach because it has 2 modes but I still don't think it has the "tubey" midrange that I often hear described with the Cary. On the Peach the Lo-Z mode has excellent dynamics and bass but sounds very much like a solid state preamp. On the Hi-z mode (Blueberry Mode) the bass is less defined and a the overall treble energy seems less (this is a good thing) but I am not sure how much of this is due to the impededance mis match with my amp at 33K. What i want is a liquid midrange yet I do not want to lose the bass control. Would the 6sn7 tube in the Cary provide what i am looking for? My speakers are Klipsch RF-7.
Macallan7, I've been using a Peach for about three years now. I can't tell a difference by switching the Low/High-Z. Maybe my switch does not work. I found that changing tubes amkes the most impact. Telefunken sound different from Mullard and different that Amperex. Keep a pair of Bulge Boys in V1 and V2. You can rolld the main tube which has the most impact...I prefer NOS Mullards. Only until I started rolling really nice tubes did I understand the full potentil of the Peach.
You said "everyone considers the stock Cary to be warm and smooth". I would not characterize the 98 as warm and smooth. I think it is more neutral and non tubey sounding.
I tried a stock unit in my system when it was just introduced about 5yrs ago and thought it sounded too solid state-like for my tastes. The newer models may have different qualities but I haven't heard them or the Peach. I would definitely seek out a home demo, to judge for yourself, if you can. I wound up buying a VTL and substitued NOS Mullards to get the warmer, tubier quality I was looking for. But the VTL needs to be on for the paas-thru to operate.
Hope this was of some help,