Conrad-johnson TC5 or Cary SLP 05 ?


Little down to choose between these two. Which one would sound better? The rest of the gears are Sony SCD 1, VTL monoblocks, and Paradigm floor standing. Also the consider durability. No chance for home audition.


Two great yet different sounding preamps, the CT 5 offers more detail the SLP 05 is a bit more liquid so it depends on what you are trying to bring out of your system.

The other things to consider is that the CT 5 uses only two tubes so is going to be quieter and very easy to maintain.

Also CT 5 offers totally modern feature set, remote imput switching, theater bypass while the Cary only offers remote volume.
I was looking at the CT5 myself recently; I would go with that but the Cary is good also. Can't really tell which you would like.
A couple of thoughts...don't the SCD-1 and VTL monos both allow balanced cabling? The SLP-05 is balanced while CJ gear, including the CT5, is single-ended only.

The SLP-05 uses 6SN7 tubes, which have their own distinctive sound when used in a preamp. You might want to read up on general differences in sound between 6SN7 and 6N30P tubes...not saying one is better, but I have had both and IMO they do offer different sounds.

The SLP-05 is tube rectified, which the CJ is not - and many prefer the sound of tube rectification.

The SLP-05 uses an ALPS motorized remote potentiometer for volume control. The CT5 uses a more sophisticated volume control, described as
All control functions of the CT5 operate through microprocessor-controlled relays. For the level control, the relays select combinations from a network of precision, low-noise metal foil resistors to effect loudness and balance changes in 100 steps of approximately .7dB per step. All switching and adjustment can be controlled by the unit’s remote control.
Personally, I will never again own a preamp using an ALPS (or ALPS style) potentiometer as a volume control. IMO, they are noisy compared to discrete volume control solutions and it is well known they commonly do not track as evenly between channels. It is not unusual for this channel to channel imbalance to be significant over the lower range of control.

Although many report liking the sound of the SLP-05, I would personally choose the CJ, given the choices. However, the only way to know for sure is to listen to both. Good luck.
Also CT 5 offers totally modern feature set, remote imput switching, theater bypass while the Cary only offers remote volume

To be clear the SLP-05 offers home threater bypass via switch on the front panel.

Personally i didn't like the CT-5. Being a single gain stage the CT-5 inverts signal polarity and its high output impedance means care is needed with power amplifier selection. The SLP-05 is also a proper two box design and IMHO overall does music better.
I agree with kiwi, though I am a CJ fan the high output impedance limits versatility with amp choices.
Now, I'm becoming confuse. What's the name of the great Chinese philosopher? Just joking.

Must read again all the replies on the thread "Phase inverting problem". Seems like I'll meet the same problems.

Thanks everybody for their clever opinions.
Kiwi...I dind't know that preamps need to be in two boxes to be 'proper' designs. Seems to be that's simply wrong. There are hundreds of FINE preamps built in one box out there. Also, the CT-5's output impedance of 800 Ohms isn't 'high', its more like 'medium'. There are lots of preamps out there with OIs of more than 2000 Ohms. THOSE preamps demand attention to the cable and poweramps they're driving.

And this 'issue' about signal polarity is just silly. Just once, when you install the preamp in your system, need you pay any attention to this. Once the speakers are reconnected, you jsut forget about it.

Mesael, pick the preamp you want, but the 'issues' above ought not to be considerations for you. C-j makes EXCELLENT-sounding preamps and has for decades. Here's mine.

Jeffrey...You need to relook at the CT-5 measurements. The output impedance rises to over 1800 ohms at 20Hz and yes I have a personal preference to keep the power supply in a separate box to the sensitive audio circuitry. Ultimately though the SLP-05 sounded far more musical to my ears than the CT-5 so i bought the former not the later. The OP has asked for an opinion and he has mine.
Let's be fair on the output impedances. Here's a quote from Stereophiles measurements (available online) of the Cary SLP-05:

"The SLP 05's output impedance is specified as a usefully low 400 ohms. However, I got significantly higher values for the unbalanced output of 1500–1600 ohms in the midrange and treble, rising to 3400 ohms at 20Hz, with similar if slightly lower figures for the balanced output. The Cary preamp needs to be used with power amplifiers having input impedances of 10k ohms or greater if the bass is not to sound a little lean."

Mesael: "With no chance for home audition", I don't think you could go wrong with either. Don't let "inverts phase" affect it, it's really a non-issue. The word is about half of the recordings are reversed anyway. FWIW, I chose CJ preamps for my system.
My CJ amp inverts phase, just switch the speaker wires on one end, ie black to red and everything is fine.
I too will chime in on ignoring the phase inversion aspects. Though I do have a question or request for clarification on Stanwal's comment: "just switch the speaker wires on one end, ie black to red and everything is fine."

Is that on both speakers or just one speaker?
both, but either just at the speaker end, or just at the amp end, not both speaker and amp ends.
Hello the newer ET-5 is the best of both worlds and is the baby Gat preamp which is Very close in sound quality to the flagship- GAT that is over $18k for under $9k this is the ticket look at Tone magazine issue 39.