Cayin A 88-T integrated:The new King of the Hill?


This fine integrated is finally getting some long overdue credit. The recent April review on 6 moons will confirm this. Although this integrated (and Cayin products in general) have been considered very-much ''high-end'' in Europe for the past 10 years or so, it has not gathered much attention - up to now at least.

I currently own this integrated, and, so far so good, way above my expectations in fact. But, like all tube amps, these always sound better after a warm-in period, something I rarely have time to wait for.

My question is this: Given the A 88-T's amazing price versus performance ratio, is there a solid state integrated amplifier out there that could equal or better the Cayin in a significant manner for around the same money?

For convenience reasons, (and ONLY convenience reasons) I need to go to a solid state amplifier, as I only listen to my system once or twice a week and I wish to have an already-warmed-up amplifier for my 1 to 3 tracks short listening sessions.

I have listened to most popular SS integrateds in this price range - including Moon I-5, Naim Nait, Unico and even the mighty DK Design, but apart from a tighter bottom end, they all sound one-dimensional to me, and downright dry in the case of at least one of them.

I guess what I am after is a warm-sounding or ''tube-like'' integrated, one that will provide a good ,'front-to-back' or depth perspective. The only one that comes to mind is the Electrocompaniet EC-4, that has this type of sound, but I would welcome other suggestions.

I would appreciate not getting remarks like '' You cannot duplicate a tube amp's sound with a solid state amp'' I am very much aware of this and I do have some experience with this hobby,( more than I care to admit!) and have been spoiled with many mega-dollar speakers and electronics in the past, and can recognize good sound when I hear it, subjectively of course.

If you have any suggestions of comments, please be my guest, it would be much appreciated.

I will probably end up keeping the Cayin, unless I find some undiscovered solid state gem out there, that has as much value and sound in a solid state design than the Cayin A 88-T offers in a tubed design. Thanks all.
sonicbeauty
Tube lovers are saying very good things about the Blue Circle NSCS solid state integrated.
I'm big on Cayin,. but look at the Jungson D88 offered here.
I would love to have your amp for my sound system. But since my sound system doubles for Home theater and Vinyl using tubes for the amps would be a very bad thing. I guess I will follow the advice given here and check out these SS amps.
I read a rumor somewhere, maybe over on AA, that Pass was coming out with an integrated this year. If so, thats one that will be worth the wait while you, um suffer, with your Cayin.

By the way, there is nothing wrong with switching the system on for 10-15 minutes prior to listening to let things warm up. Been there done that.
Dlwask, I understand that if you have ''Been there done that'' and so have I, by the way. You probably already know then, know that most tube amps that sound better after a 10-15 min warm-up, sound better still after around an hour or so...and this has nothing to do with the Cayin or course. I always like to get the most from my equipment, but in the case of any tube amp, there is a bit of time involved...
Second on Blue Circle.
You might try the Audio Analogue Puccini.

Jeff
The Audio Aero Prima Hybrid is outstanding. Texture, musicality, and dimensionality that will have you shaking your head in disbelief. I was turned off hybrids until I heard it. Now they have a 100W version. There should be a dealer near you in Montreal. Perhaps you can get a home trial.
Bao2, jsut curious, what does the new Audio Aero Prima Hybrid retail at? Thanks
what does the new Audio Aero Prima Hybrid retail at?
I believe it is $2750US.
Try Chapter Audio Precis.The US importer also carries the Electrocompaniet and can compare for you.
But have you listened to a Rogue Audio Cronus or a conrad johnson CAV50.

Hmmmm?
But have you listened to a Rogue Audio Cronus or a conrad johnson CAV50.
Yes.
Not the same price, but if you want a "tube" sound, whatever that is, nothing much approaches the Lavardin IT or IS reference. I use an IT in the Summer and a SET for the winter, to toast marshmallows. Neither were new, but the IT was half the price of the SET new and equals it in quality, though the sound is very different. Unfortunately Lavardin amps don't come up often and get snapped up fast, but that would be my choice. I also like the music fidelity integrated amps, the A£ and Nuvista
Boa2, I am interested in a solid state amplifier, I would in fact think that the CAV 50 is not an upgrade on the Cayin, on the contrary.
Sonicbeauty,
I did not recommend the CAV 50. Stevecham did. I recommended the Audio Aero Prima Hybrid.
SonicBeauty, What is your price range? If you can spend a lot more than the amps so far discussed cost, you may want to give the new Gamut Di-150 a try. It's a nice sounding SS integrated with some of the depth, smoothness, and coherence one often finds in tubed units. Fairly full-featured: Two fully balanced inputs (I believe), two or three RCA ins, pre-amp outs (RCA), tape loop, remote control, and theater by-pass.
I heard the Gamut DI-150 at the LA HES, and I thought the room sounded very good. At $9800, the DI-150 is pretty spendy for an integrated amp, IMO.
Tvad, The Gamut DI-150 is expensive for an integrated amp, no doubt about it. I guess when you figure that the quality is fairly high and does away with the need for one power cord and one pair of interconnects, it can compete with separates in that same price range. Maybe find one used....
Blue Circle NSCS - one is in my system and is going nowhere anytime soon. An absolutely outstanding value.
The Dussun V8i is interesting. 250 wpc. Dual mono. Copper chassis. Preamp and amplifier sections can be used stand-alone. Built by the same folks who build Red Rose/Levinson amps. $1598 with a 30 day trial.
Strange the title of the thrad is the A88 yet every amp is being talked about, except the A88. .Odd.
06-15-06: Bartokfan
Strange the title of the thrad is the A88 yet every amp is being talked about, except the A88. .Odd.
Not so odd when you read question that lies at the core of the author's thread:
My question is this: Given the A 88-T's amazing price versus performance ratio, is there a solid state integrated amplifier out there that could equal or better the Cayin in a significant manner for around the same money?

Sonicbeauty

Reading is Fun-da-mental.
Tvad, when i get the A88 I'm gonna talk my head off about it.

06-16-06: Bartokfan
Tvad, when i get the A88 I'm gonna talk my head off about it.
Look forward to it.
Oh I'll be honest. It'll be the Jadis vs Cayin. And i won't fudge for either. It'll be straight up talk. As you know from all my posts, I don't hold back notin'. :-)
That Dussun looks mighty impressive.

AAA Audio, who distribute Dussun in the US, had one of my favorite rooms at HE2006. They were using other amplification, however.

I have a Cayin A88-T. As you've probably read elsewhere, there's a lot to be gained by substituting another preamp. Why is the preamp section in this integrated not better? Sounds like an opportunity for a modder.

If I'm going to bypass the preamp, does Cayin have a power amp that sounds as good as the one in the A88-T?
You could try Cayin's TRI 88 the big brother to the A**. I think price is another 1K, but not avaliable in the US, like most of Cayin's products are not. Thats yrs down the road. btw I could complain about the Jadis pre section, its not the best, but as in all things audio, the pres of the Cayin and Jadis are better than any other for the price. What cdp and speakers do you have?
I have an APL CDP and Harbeth speakers, and I have a Rowland pre I have used with the Cayin, which clearly shows the limitations of Cayin's preamp section.
"clearly shows the limitations of Cayin's preamp section". Ahhh let me ask you, how much does one pay new/used for a Rowland? Is this a tube pre?
Lets get to the bottom of the story.
I've never heard of either a APL , faintly a Harbeth. But thats beside the point. Its this Rowland vs cayin I'm interested in. I'll google Rowland right now , see what this pre is.
Before I bypass the pre on the A** for another pre, I'll just invest more $'s in a bigger Cayin. All this tweaking stuff sounds awefully "fishy" to me.
IOW I ain't buying.
I;'ll look at Rowland now.....be right back....
Rowland is ss and seems rather expensive. Can you provide a price of this Rowland pre you are using....this I giootta hear....I ain't interested in nothing ss, thank you. When I see photos of the guts on any ss equip I want to throw up, ugly and disgusting.