Does Cary stack up to ARC

I am considering a switch from ARC (VT50/LS15) to a Cary SLI 80 integrated. The integrated would help simplify my system. I would be able to get rid of the 50 foot balanced interconnects, and keep everything in one place. I like the detail and extension of the ARC system, but sometimes long for a bit warmer sound.

What are some of the things that I would loose or gain with the Cary?

Speakers are Shearwater Hotrods, with an ACI sub.
Cary's seem to have a pretty massive amount of "soundstaging", "depth of image" and "air" to me. MUCH more-so than any ARC stuff that i've heard. The Cary stuff is also notably warmer in my experience. If all of those things are what you are looking for, then it sounds like a win / win situation to me. Sean
Kettle, I have used ARC products for the last 15+ years, products include: Amps; D115, D125, Classic 60, V70, VT130, preamps; SP10, SP15, LS5, LS15, some of which I wish I had back (SP10). All of Audio Research products are great, HOWEVER, I just bought a Cary V12 power amp last July and as stated by Sean, the sound stage (both width and depth) and the air between artist amazing, almost like magic. The ARC amps do have better controle of bass and are a little brighter in the top end. The Cary excels in the midrange. Again like Sean says, a very warmer presentation, exactly to my liking. A female vocal truly does sound like she is in the room, don't know how that is acheived but again like magic. I havn't owned any of the other Cary products, but everything I have read seems to come to the same conclusion, good luck.......Bob
I cannot comment on Cary but I owned ARC VT100MKII and LS16 and found them both to be outstanding but not quite the sound that I prefer. I like a warmer sound and for that reason I kept my CJ Premier 11a amp which I'm presently driving with a passive/buffered preamp. I'm really tempted to try out some Cary tube gear.

your setup sounds good

you should have tried some tube rolling with the ls15

I had an ls2 and recently went to an LS5 which has all the revealing arc qualities but is also warm and very involving

I have heard great things about the cary and if it simplifys the setup, great

Tom, I probably should have tried some tube rolling in my ARC LS16 too. I was using it with the stock Sovtek 6922 tubes. It wasn't bad at all and it had all the qualities I like in a tube preamp except it could have been a little more extended covering the frequency extremes and just a tad bit warmer in the mids. But thats just my preference. Others might consider this unnatural or even criminal. ;-)

As it turns out, my used Conrad-Johnson PF-R solid-state preamp arrived today while I was at work (so I had to come home early. Its Friday, after all!) I placed the CJ PF-R in my system only 30-minutes ago and so far I REALLY like what I'm hearing. Sure, its solid-state but it has that "CJ family sound" that matches very well with my CJ Premier 11a. Back to the sofa for some critical listening.
It's possible, even probable that you would prefer the Cary sound, but the question is whether the SLI-80 is high enough on the quality ladder to satisfy you. These seem to show up fairly often and sell fairly quickly, so trying one out used would not be a huge risk.

I've wanted to downgrade to an integrated for some time now, and recently tried a Stereophile "class A" integrated in my home. On it's own terms it was great, but my CJ Premier 12's with Audible Illusions M3a just stomped it. I ultimately decided I'd rather have a few more components lying around and get great sound.

I have tried many sets of tubes in the LS15. Currently I have 4 pre Bugle Boy Amprex in, they make a huge difference. As far as the amp, I think I am going to lock-tite the screws in. It had to go on a trip to ARC after an unfortunate tube rolling experience. By the way, ARC customer support and service is first class.

I tried an ARC integrated before my LS15/VT50 combo. Although it had the same sonic signature, the separates had a greater level of dynamics and resolution.

I guess it comes down to these issues:

- Am I loosing a lot if info with 50 foot XLR interconnects.

- Does the Cary "warm" sound equate to loss of detail?

- Am I taking a step down on the sonic ladder by going to an integrated source.

Based upon what has been covered here so far I think a trip to a Cary dealer is in my future.

Hi Kettle7830, I have owned the Cary V-12. IMO, Sean and Bmotorcycle describe the V-12 (Cary sound) perfectly. My experience with Cary products has been they always work. I can't say the same for ARC. Every ARC product I have owned has been sent back to the factury for repair. Every one of them. I guess I should add that I have not owned an ARC amp or preamp for over 10 years. I am sure their quality control has improved.
kettle's dilema is more with long preamp to amp runs which the cary will simplify. THe LS15 doesn't have the beefed uppower transformer the older ls2 and ls5 had. So for long runs go with an ls5 (although it's all balanced inputs).

abe - did you use sovtek blue dots or red dots??
the blues are a little harder, the reds very warm,
and I hear the bugle boys/mullards have very warm tones

I will be tube rolling my ls5 and was looking to try those combos but 10 tubes at $40-50 a pop can be expensive
cary audio 805C great amps.
Cary's (there are so many of them) are typically on the darker richer sound of neutrality with a lot of extras that are not necessarily in the music but can be appealing non the less. They really do that blooming thing and you can be taken in by it. Kind of remind me of Dolly Parton all made up, voluptous comes to mind.

ARC = speed, more extension at both frequency extremes and a sound closer to neutrality with less of that bloom but still offering the presence that tubes are so noted for.

It is a matter of taste as are all things in this hobby. I certainly agree with Sean's assessment.
I agree with some of the above, the Cary is going to be warmer, maybe loose some detail. All you have to do is roll the pre tubes and its all good. I'm am not familiar with ARC, but I had VTL seperates and swicthed to SLI-80 and I am very pleased. I miss the power of the vtl, but I love the sound of the Cary.
Well, I have had a Cary SLI-80 for about a week now. I have been going back and forth between the Cary and the
ARC, it is like nite and day. Late at night with Chet Baker and the Cary. On Saturday morning with the Sub Dudes and the ARC.

I have to agree with Tubegroover about the differences between the two sounds, and that it is a matter of taste.

I am going to put the ARC gear away for a few days and then come back to it. I may be suprised how the ARC sounds after a steady diet of Cary. I will report back in a few days

By the way Bmrl, what tubes did you roll in the pre section?

Thanks for all of the great comments

I would imagine that the Cary would fare much better at lower listening levels as it would still sound relatively full-bodied and quite lush. As you know, most systems tend to thin out as volume is decreased. On the other hand, the ARC gear will typically sound more articulate, punchier and up-beat, which is great for high level listening.

Are you sure that you want to get rid of one or the other ??? : ) Sean
Kettle have you experimented with upgrade AC cords? If not, then you might realize sonic signature closer to desired by trying out some different cords. No two sound exactly alike & the right cord for your source component isn't necessarily the same cord that you'd prefer on the pre or PA so be sure to try a number of different combo's.
Also try out some different interconnects, speaker cables, cones, shelving, isolation products. Likely that you can tweak what you already have (nice stuff BTW) to the sound that you desire.

Not sure which is the best tube amp; but, I would like to comment on your thoughts about getting away from the long balanced interconnects. All the information that I have read indicates that long preamp interconnect cables are a better option than long speaker cables. This is due to the much lower current levels present in the interconnect cables. Fifty feet shouldn't be too long due to the superior common mode rejection intrinsic with the balanced design. My vote would be to stay with the interconnects and separate mono amps if you can.