CAT vs VTL Sound

Can someone characterize how these differ sonically, regarding the cAT JL2/JL3 vs VTL450sig/750sig and how they might mate with Wilson speakers like Wilson Watt Puppy 7 or Maxx2?

A JL2 as total overkill? Not if you want some of, if not, the best dynamics in the business with a tube amp. As for the VTL and CAT products sounding the same, from my experience, they are not even close. Making a decision or comment based soley on power rating can get someone in trouble quickly.

The VTL has somewhat of a rich and full typical tube amplifier presentation. The CAT amplifiers are not like this at all. And the CATs have dynamic contrasts and resolution far beyond the VTLs. I would think that with the more analytical sound of Wilson speakers, the VTL would be the "better" match but you have to decide this for yourself. The dynamics of the CAT might win you over like it did me. These are both mighty fine sounding products.


i read this in another thread here on Audiogon or on AA - people seem to be under the impression that power amp wattage should be matched to the speaker for volume of (heard) sound at the listening chair!
Man, are such people ill informed or what (& as a result seem to be providing incorrect advice to others)? And, if you are not, you are certainly not giving us any indication that you know any better. if you do, please give us some hint. thanks!
Like Jafox wrote, how about figuring in wattage for dynamics?
dynamic and sizzle are wilson's forte. the vtl and the cat don't add or take anything away from it. even a nad will do the trick.
Then I guess a $300 amp ought to be fine.
>>dynamic and sizzle are wilson's forte. the vtl and the cat don't add or take anything away from it. even a nad will do the trick.<<

Without seeing your facial expression, IMO you're either the funniest guy on Audiogon or the dumbest. Please clarify; inquiring minds want to know.
the dumbest, evem though i've been in the music and movie industry since 1980.a jbl 4312mk1V (the latest incarnation of the classic studio favorite-now available to asia only) is similar(with the exception of price).
Thanks for the answers. Whilst I would not say I have no familiarity with the VTL, there is some concern that the CAT amps might possibly be a little too "neutral" in the mids, and that while I don't want an overly warm fat and tubey sound that I don't want a tube amp that leans towards a solid state or bright sound in the treble ala Audio Research. Can anyone elaborate on how the high ends might compare?

Jack, I think your analysis nails it quite well here on all counts. I was an ARC amp owner for several years so I can relate well to the forward and fatiguing sound of these....but the VT130/VT150 models were not guilty of this. The Classic series was another story!

The VTL does not have the resolution and extension on the top like the CAT. But I think the issue of the trebles is a moot point based on the "too neutral" issue of the mids with the Wilson speakers. It sounds like the VTL 225 or even the 180 might just be what you're looking for. The Manley 250 is another model to consider here.

Of course it's not only an issue of tonality or dynamics but what about how the amp will allow the speaker to present a believable 3-dimensional soundstage? Pay close attention to these characteristics as well.


Can you elaborate on your comments re 3dimensional soundstage? Are you implying the CAT will do this as well or better than the others? How do you think the Manley 250 bass will be on Maxx2's?

Jack, I was simply bringing up the point that you should pay as much attention to the soundstage as the other attributes. Neither of these amps sound remotely the same tonally but there are other significant differences for you to focus on as well.
The reason I ask is that soundstaging and that 3 dimensional soundstage is the ultimate checklist item for me and one which I think the Maxx2 is eminently capable of and unlike any other loudspeaker I've heard and owned. I feel the layering, depth, and dimensionality of the Maxx2 has perhaps infinite potential commensurate with proper room setup,treatment, positioning etc. I have just never heard layering and imaging like this EVER - it's like surround sound but where you are inside of the soundfield- and I've heard just about everything out there (but not all). If I could find amps that synergize with this attribute and strength of the Maxx2 I would be in audio Nirvana. How would the amps you mention handle this? TIA
I cannot comment on any comparison sonically between
these products.However,in regards to how well VTL products
mate with Wilson...I can give some incite.VTL uses the Maxx
2 currently to voice their products,and David Wilson
(according to Bea @ VTL)uses the Siegfried amps with the Alexandria @Wilson.Aside from the possibility of the two
companies swapping products for mere testing purposes,or because it was economically feasible(prices seem to be comparable for a convenient swap),
methinks there must be a special synergy between the two
companies' products.I know this because I am currently
using the 7.5 pre and anticipate the purchase of Siegfrieds
and Maxx 2' I have been doing a little preliminary research myself.
Obviously,Ken Steven's products are also among the best out
there...I have heard them many times.
But,based on VTL and Wilson working together in developing
and displaying their products...I have leaned this way.
BTW,I am obviously a consumer,and have no affiliation
whatsoever with either company.
'Hope this helps!
I have the Wilson 7s w. the VTL 750s. What I have going on is nothing short of incredible. Fly down to Aruba & have a listen. To describe it "the sound is just sick it is so good". I am very happy & can forgoe purchasing the Maxx IIs for a while. I did some tube swapping in my 7.5 which made the images bigger. Not as tall but close in size to the Maxx IIs. No this system plays real music & sounds good. Not just the Audiophile music. To say it such say it all. It is all system synergy & I have it. I really don't know about the CATs. From what I hear the Lamms match great w. the Maxx IIs. But you know what I can jam it out, no loss of power & I like tetrode w. more power over triode. Most audiophiles who hear this system go home trying to find a way to tweak their systems. I waited many years for this. You can't go wrong in truth either way but the 750s are great amps. They do get hot though.
Dgad = you have a most impressive setup and I have heard how extraordinary the 750s are with WP7's-truly a special combo in audio. My more specific question is now that I have them, how would it work on the Maxx2? Someone at the manufacturer of the amps indicated that the 750 might not control the woofers of the Maxx2 as well as they do the WP7's and alluded to the fact that they may be bloated in the bottom end. I don't know if this is because the new amps are 2x the cost of the now discontinued 750's and they're looking to sell new gear, only, or if the newer Siegfried indeed is the only thing they make that can control the bass of the big Wilsons. Anyone have any thoughts there?

Thank you for the compliments. I have learned a lot through experimentation. The VTL 750 does not lack on the WP 7 on the bass at all. As for the match w. the Maxx IIs I myself am left a little confused asking the exact same question as you. I know those who have sold the Siegfried for the ASR gear. He much prefers it. I also know people who prefer the classic VTL sound. Until I can afford the Maxx IIs I am OK. Supposedly the wooofer of the Maxx II is controlled by Lamms w. 18 watts so I don't necessarily agree. But the Siegfried is a fully regulated power supply. I don't like the dynamics for Rock on the 750s in triode only tetrode. I basically use all 800 watts available at times. Then again the Maxx II is more efficient. There is one member who switched out ARC 610s (if I remember correctly) for Lamms. I had my Krell 600 before. Bass was a tiny bit more solid but truly tiny. Body on the VTL is better.

To summarize my feelings in a simple way, we are tunning our system. How you tune it is based on tubes, cartridges, room, equipment. I heard a great tuned setup which I then purchased. I then improved on it at the source. I am still improving w. better tubes. Changing tubes is fun. I can do a lot w. a little money to realy make a big difference in my system.

Would I try CAT on my speakers. No. Simply because my sound is so good & it took me so long to get there. I have what I want based on my priorities. But I would gladly take a solid state amp over a tube amp any day to save the hassle if the sound was the same. It is just very difficult to demo gear to find out. Tubes are work. They produce heat & from time to time a fuse goes. Still the sound is worth it.

Hope I helped, rambling a bit.
Well, I can only comment on the JL2 & the 450, and Maxx combo2. There was a pre involved (CAT) and no pre (my TVC). So, to save server space, let me note that the basic differences I (we all) noticed were as per Jafox above.
Further, and being reductionist in what I say, the VTL gave a more laid-back compared to the CAT. We all had the feeling of more "musical energy" emanating fm the CAT (probably due to hi-frequencies more than anything else). This difference was slightly more evident with the TVC (although the CAT pre is "dynamic"). In short: we could lay back & relax with the VTL but couldn't quite do so with the CAT.

Also, at one point when playing the CAT, we improved the overall sound by moving the Maxxes a bit into the room and closer together -- the latter, strangely, widening the soundstage, virtually, beyond the physical room boundaries i.e. walls (let's get this straight: that's a subjective illusion of course).

Why I for one preferred CAT: I like to feel the immediacy and energy of musicians when I listen to music -- as far as a reproduction system can offer that, which isn't that far.
Although the sound was "sweeter" and more listener friendly with the VTL, I prefer to be woken up, moved, attacked, by the music. I'm a sucker for dynamics. If I want to relax, I'll play the appropriate music; when I listen to live jazz or Mahler, for example, I'll prefer a sound that, as one of us put it, "keeps you at the edge of yr chair like as if you had a gallon of espresso before firing up the stereo".

Last: I think my comments and most others' re, the two brands, are actually quite close. So, it boils down to "how do you like yr sound?" Cheers
The VTL 450 & 750 are very different from each other. The 750 is much more dynamic. Check w. some others who use the 750s. I don't know the CAT amps, but I would not consider the 450. By the way VTL is not using the Alexandria, they have the Maxx2s.
My guess is the Siegfrieds are close to the CAT sound & depart from the typical VTL tube sound. You might want to consider Lamms, but your room size is important on this.
PS my 750s image phenomenally well but that is fully realized when used in balanced w. the 7.5 preamp