Since nobody else responded, I'll give you my "opinion." Over a period of maybe 15 years, I owned the Cat Sig. Mk.1, Mk.2, Mk.3, Ultimate 1, and finally Ultimate 2. I guess I'm qualified to comment on the CAT!
For the money, a CAT is hard to beat. Even the phono stage is decent for the extra few bucks. It's big, open, transparent, extended, dynamic, detailed, and lots of air. I used them with Symphonic Line RG-1, RG-7, RG-4's(all SS) then CJ Premier 12's, VTL 250's, and finally Atma-Sphere MA-1's. All the CAT's worked flawlessly with every amp I mated them with. I never, ever had any problems, but did have many pleasant conversations with Ken Stevens who was always accessible and very friendly.
I still have the Atma-Sphere MA-1's which are now mated to their MP-1 w/phono. At almost 3 times the price of my last CAT, it's in a different league, but I still have fond memories of all those CAT's and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone.
As for Modwright, I know Dan casually from spending lots of time in his rooms at CES and RMAF. I've owned his Modwright/Sony 5400 for a couple years now and can finally listen to digital without getting bored, or worse yet, a headache. My buddy owns his Modwright/Oppo 95 and loves it.
I can't say for certain but if there's anything to the notion of a "house sound", I'll speculate that the Modwright LS 36.5 will be a bit warmer and fuller than the CAT, which to my ears and depending on source, could sometimes sound a bit leaner and cleaner than reality.
A couple final points, unless you're running really long interconnects(which the CAT can certainly handle), I wouldn't worry about XLR's vs RCA's. Also, if you go with a CAT, I wouldn't waste any time replacing the factory tubes with NOS; the Sovtek 6922 absolutely sucks.
Don't agree with Rfogel18 at all. The CAT is in another league to most all preamps out there. To bring it up several notches, tube rolling is what I found to really make it sing. IMHO, the Modwright isn't in the same league at all vs. the CAT. Add some NOS Mullards to the CAT and again IMHO, neither is the MP-1.
As they say, the CAT rules.
Daveyf, it sounds like you have not heard the MP-1, because if you did you may need to clean out your ears a little. The CAT preamp was a great preamp at the original asking price. The prices are now to high for that preamp. There are much better preamps and the MP-1 is one of the best and way better than the CAT. I don't have an ax to grind as I don't own the MP-1, but I heard it in direct comparison with the cat and the MP-1 is more refined, extended, and yes more organic. The CAT is very dynamic but has a much more forward sound stage. Yes the Cat sounds better with tube rolling, but so does any other preamp. I would also say that the MP-1 is quieter and also is balanced which is a plus.
i think the MP-1 is more expensive than the CAT right? My budget is about $5000. So at that price range is Modwright 36.5 a good choice or there are other options. The most i can stretch is about the price of the CAT SL1... Please advice. Thanks
Jwm, I have heard the MP-1 on several occasions. IF you like a more diffuse and colored presentation, then yes, I would agree with you. OTOH,IF you prefer accuracy to source and a more dynamic presentation, then the CAT is IMO better. BTW, my ears are just fine, how are yours?
Clarrie, IMHO, the CAT would give you a great deal of pleasure and you won't go wrong with it.
Well, since comparisons have been made, I`ll give my impression. The CAT is good and depending on system make up and matching can sound very good. The Atmasphere MP-1 is superior sounding and IMO is just in a higher tier altogether.It is across the board better without even one advantage toward the CAT if compared directly.
I could see the CAT and Modwright being very competitive yet rather different in character.The CAT consistently has demostrated a tendency in the direction of lean tonality,forwardness and more aggressive presentation. With certain component mixtures this could be desirable and in other cases a fault.Taste are going to vary as always.A used MP-1 would be within reach,something to think about.
Charles1dad, you say that the CAT is "good and depending on system
make up and matching can sound very good". What systems and match-
ups have you heard it in? Sounds like not even close to what it can actually do.
Plus you say the CAT has a lean tonality, can be forward and more
aggressive..You sure you've listened to a CAT??
Not any CAT that I have ever heard!
Daveyf, I wasn't knocking the CAT and if you reread my post, you'll see I owned several of them over many years and enjoyed every one.
I notice you own two older CATs and apparently you feel your ox has been gored because I said the MP-1 is better. IT IS!!!
After living with all those CATs, including a couple versions more current than either one of yours, I know how they sound as well as anyone. As for tube rolling, I always ran NOS, mostly Tele's, but the forward, aggressive character remained. I always thought it was my digital until the MP-1 came along.
JWM and Charles are exactly right, as much as I liked all my CATs, every one of them came across sounding a bit lean and cool. When pushed, the sound became hard and aggressive. JWM owned a couple versions, newer than either one of yours, and he had the same complaint. He now runs a very nice VAC preamp which also outclasses the CAT, hands down!
You mention you've heard the MP-1. I suppose if it were an older unit, you might judge the CAT to be better; a matter of opinion I won't take issue with. All I know is, brand new, fresh outta the box, the MP-1 Mk 3 wiped the floor with my well used CAT Ultimate Mk 2. The MP-1 is way more refined, more open, transparent, detailed and dynamic. It soundstages as well as anything I've ever heard and as JWM said, it sounds very organic, with fleshed out images that sound totally believable. No way the MP-1 is "diffuse and colored". What nonsense!
Clarrie, don't take my criticism of the CAT too hard. At it's price, it is a very good preamp. No way JWM and I would have lived with them as long as we did if they weren't very good. But... none of them can be compared to a good VAC or a fairly recent MP-1.
Charles owns a really nice Coincident preamp which I'd also consider. I haven't heard it in my system but I have heard his setup and he always has wonderful sound.
OK Daveyf, I'm ready; give me both barrels.
Here`s the deal, you`re happy with the CAT and at the end of the day that`s all that should matter to you. If others don`t share your opinion, so what,you`re content with your choices(or should be). As already stated,Rfogel8 and Jwm have owned numerous CATs over the years. They have both moved on to what they found to be better preamps after extensive experience with the CAT.This is`nt a put down of CAT, the truth is(for some of us) you can find better and we simply feel we have by a noticable margin.
You`ll likely continue to enjoy your CAT for many years to come(why change if you love it?). Others will and have moved on.
Rfogel8 and Charles1dad, when it comes to the CAT preamp, all I can say is clearly YMMV. I stand by what I said about the MP-1 ( which was a fairly recent version)...BTW, are you guys using anything BUT digital as the front end, because IF you are not, that would explain a lot!
Hi Charles, you own a Coincident preamp? How does it compare between Modwright 36.5 and CAT SL1? DO share your views...
I`m not familiar with the Modwright 36.5 but I`ve always read and heard nothing but good comments regarding it.
I`ve heard various CAT preamps in systems of people I know well and gave my viewpoint above. The Coincident linestage(CSL) to be blunt, in a different realm entirely from the CAT. It`s far more natural and emotionally engaging,has a much lower noise floor with superior resolution,inner detail and nuance retrival. Tone,timbre and harmonic preservation are more organic and thus realism is improved.It just sounds more convincing and like real music is being played in your room. The flesh and blood and breath of life factor is much more apparent.
Clarrie, the CSL, VAC Sugnature MK II and the Atmasphere MP-1 are all superb(despite their different design approaches).These three simply perform and reproduce music on a higher plane than the CAT.Subjective? of course, but I can only tell you what I hear. Ideally if would be good if you could hear these preamps yourself. Based on how you hear and what you want to achieve your impression may be very different and you may agree with daveyf, who knows. I can only give you my honest opinion based on my personal exposure.
Best of Luck,
Both Rfogel8 and Jwm have first rate analog systems and large record collections.I was a long time TT guy but my Yamamoto DAC and PWT combo have retired my Linn LP-12(I enjoyed my former Well Tempered TT more than the Linn).
In terms of musical communication and involvement my current DAC will complete with most. any digital or analog system I`ve heard and won`t be embarrassed.Either format can satisfy and certainly lay bare the differences among preamps put into one`s system.
Just for another perspective besides this thread, Enjoy the Music.com did a review of the CSL and made direct comparisons to the reviewer`s reference CAT preamp.Very enlightening and informative since you expressed an interest in both these units.
Do you happen to have the link for the reviews you mentioned. Thanks
Just google Coincident Statement Linestage review, and that one and all other reviews will be found.
Daveyf, Vinyl is my source of choice and always has been. I've gone for years at a time without digital because it always left me bored and wanting. Yes I have a fairly decent vinyl rig; Galibier Gavia table w/Stelvio armboard, latest Tri-Planar VII arm and Dynavector XV-1s cartridge. It feeds my MP-1's phono, which to my ears, is right up there with some of the best. My last couple CAT's were mated with a Klyne 7PX3.5 phono; an exceptionally good unit which I really hated to sell.
If I had the room for three more large boxes, I might be tempted to go with JWM's Aesthtix Io Sig. with dual power supplies. Through it, vinyl sounds sublime! Problem is, I don't have the room nor do I want to deal with all those extra tubes.
Bottom line, none of us are judging the CAT based on just digital source though I'll grant you, it does sound better with vinyl. It's $500 add on phono stage is basically an afterthought for those who may want to listen to records but it won't do justice to LOMC's.
Yes our MMV and as Charles said, it's great that you're completely happy with both of your CATs. I was pretty happy too when I owned mine but the MP-1 ultimately won me over. I've had it for quite a while now and have never been happier with what I'm hearing; vinyl or digital.
Clarrie, just to complete my thoughts on this thread, I would HIGHLY recommend that you listen for yourself to the CAT and any other preamp you are considering. Preferably in your own system. Clearly, my experience and the other posters on this thread differs. I suspect that IF you were to ask ten a'philes what they thought of the differences between the preamps mentioned, you would get eleven different responses. Charles1dad is a Coincident fanboy, good for him, BUT I have heard almost all of their gear, and it does absolutely nothing for me. Use your ears and your own judgement and IMHO, that is the way to audio enlightenment.
Clarrie I think it`s very clear that preferences can vary significantly.I`ll join the chorus and state the obvious, listen for yourself when/if possible and trust your ears and your spontaneous reactions. If you do that you won`t go wrong.There`s no shortage of excellent audio gear available and you`ll find just what you want.
Well one of my reservation for CAT is no XLR. I heard my Pass X250.5 with XLR and is much better than RCA. Just wondering if CAT without XLR how would it sound with my Pass...
well, i've not heard the Atma-sphere MP-1 so I cannot comment on its sonics; someday I will hear that preamp....
As far as the CAT preamp goes, I've owned a SL-1 Sig Mk3 for many years & at present I own a SL-1 Renaissance. Both preamps, IMHO, are stellar as they give you the music straight-up without beating around the bush. I used Tele 12AX7s in the line-stage & Amperex 7308 in the line stage as well. In the phono stage I use the factory supplied tubes as I do not think that I can do better. NOS is not an option - too noisy & stupid-expensive for ultra quiet NOS tubes.
As for tube rolling, I always ran NOS, mostly Tele's, but the forward, aggressive character remained.
this does not sound right. In all the years of listening to the CAT sonics, I cannot call the presentation forward nor aggressive. you *must* have had some other distortion in your system that the MP-1 smoothed out.
JWM and Charles are exactly right, as much as I liked all my CATs, every one of them came across sounding a bit lean and cool. When pushed, the sound became hard and aggressive.
once again, something does not sound right. you must have had some other distortion in your system that you remain unaware of.
No way the MP-1 is "diffuse and colored". What nonsense!
well, you guys are trading punches so do respect the other fellows opinion. It's not diffuse or coloured to you but it is to him; the CAT is aggresive, cool & forward to you. Each of you has an opinion; I'd say it's par for the course....
But... none of them can be compared to a good VAC or a fairly recent MP-1.
I cannot comment on the MP-1 but I've heard some VAC units at a friend's house (I cannot recall the exact model name) & at shows. Plus, I have the opinion of my friend who used to work for VAC some time back designing circuits for amps & preamps - I respect this person's opinion highly. As you know, You cannot make judgements on gear at shows as the environment is so out-of-control but I can easily say (from my in-home listening experience) that VAC sonics do not come close to the CAT sonics. The VAC sonics, in my mind, are definitely more coloured. If that suits your tastes, well & good.
well, I think all of us have laid out our respective opinions (& more!). hopefully this is enough info for the OP to make his short-list. It does not matter to me what he selects finally - CAT or VAC or J-E or something else. In the end, he has to enjoy his own system that he needs to build for his tastes. If we like what he builds that's just a bonus for the OP.....
Bombaywalla, try tube rolling into the phono stage..I know it's pricey, BUT I think you'll really like it, I know I did. BIG gains in overall imaging, better top to bottom coherence, more air on top and a lot more foundation in the bottom end.
Like I said before, i don't know what the other posters were hearing, BUT it sure doesn't sound anything like my CAT. Something definitely WAS NOT RIGHT in their systems.
I certainly appreciate your input.We all can agree that subjectivity rules when discussing audio components and what we hear individually.Your impression of the CAT compared to the VAC is the polar opposite to my experience, but that`s the way it is.As is said often, that`s why there`re so many brands and choices available.Over many years I`ve heard numerous preamps in Jwm`s system as it has evolved. First Sound,VTL,CAT,Audio Research REF.The VAC he currenty has(almost 3 years) is the best by a comfortable margin. I can tell you his system sounds wonderful.Bombaywalla, I don`t doubt for a momment that you`re just as pleased with your system either.