Has anyone compared Rogue RP-7 to Cary SLP05 and / or Audio Research Ref 5se?

Currently using Rogue RP-7 and considering moving to either Cary SLP05 or Ref 5se.  Looking for a little mid range bloom.  

Thanks in advance for recommendations, comments, etc.


Rogue RP-7, AGD Audions, Bricasti M3, Joseph Audio Perspectives, Cardas Clear



The sweetest preamp is the SLP-98. A top performer but has buckets of sweet tube sound without a hint of being over the top.

Audio Research is an iconic brand and has a legion of fans that has been earned over the course of time. You certainly could not go wrong with the REF 5SE. I will note that many consider the Cary SLP-05 to be a true classic tube line stage for all of the right reasons. I suspect given what you are seeking you’d be exceptionally happy with it. In your stated scenario if would be my choice.


Hi testrun,

I owned the RP-7 and currently own the SLP-05.  

I usually love rogue audio products having owned the cronus magnum ii, RH-5 linestage / headphone amp and stereo 100 power amp.  

unfortunately the RP-7 was a disappointment from the start.  i was good but not great and I actually liked the sound of the RH-5 linestage better, momre neutral and dynamic.  

the RP-7 sounded less dynamic and more rolled off and no matter what I did I could not get the sound to open up to where it was worth the investment icluding trying all sorts of the best NOS tube swaps that i had on hand. 

the SLP-05 was instantly a big, bold dynamic sounding unit and improved even more with a NOS rectifier and some NOS sylvania 6SN7 tubes. Smooth ad transparent the SLP-05 is a big winner and I love the sound.  

Never heard the audio research.  

I had an RP-9 and it has no bloom - more SS like in its presentation. ARC Ref 6 has just a *little* bloom, is technically amazing; nicely positioned between tubes and SS, sonically. VAC preamps have bloom, a romantic sound, and gorgeous mids with increasing levels of articulation and soundstage as you move up (just watch gear pairings so the bass doesn't get a bit tubby). I’d expect any good preamp designed around 6SN7 to have great tone and good airiness. 6H30, 6922, and 6SN7 are all great preamp tubes. 12AU7 not so much.

Everyone thanks for all the great information.  I guess what really interests me is the "6" series tubes.  Sounds like a number of great options.  Now to find something I can try out.  Additional opinions, suggests, recommendations aways welcome. 

Thanks again. 


As I stated I'd lean more toward the Cary SLP-05. Since you are entertaining other options I suggest to also consider the Atma-Sphere preamplifiers (Do you have a particular budget range?).The MP-1 is superb in my opinion. this or the SLP-05 over the ARC.


Post removed 

Thanks for all the great input.


Atma-Sphere makes great equipment but out of my reach cost wise but thanks.  

Sounds like the Cary might be my best bet.  Now to find one on the used market! 


That is why I had asked about a budget range. I thought possibly a used Atma-Sphere MP-1. I genuinely feel that you’d be very happy with the Cary SLP-05. 6SN7 circuit along with a tube rectified high quality separate power supply. You’ll be fine,


I agree with russ69 that the Cary SLP-98 is a great preamp.  I used one for a little over 15 years.  I recently replaced it with a Cary SLP-05.  As much as I love that SLP-98p, the SLP-05 is in another league.  I don't really know that I need anything more.

@testrun I don’t have any Rogue experience to compare to, but the SLP 05 had been on my last-request list for quite a while. About a year ago I did pull the trigger and make the upgrade from my beloved & modded SLP 90.

The SLP 05 was quite a bit over the price range I wanted to get into, but I saw one on Cary Direct’s preowned page that I felt was doable, and I used "free shipping" to justify adding The Ultimate Upgrade.

I am using the balanced ins & outs (Marantz SA10 & CAD V12) and a couple of months ago, with the help of a good friend who had several pairs of vintage 6sn7s he no longer needed, I discovered that by rolling just the two 6sn7s in the balanced input buffer sockets, I could make significant sonic changes. I wound up falling in love with a pair of black glass RCA VT231s for the detail & imaging that I heard, and that was even with using the four stock EHs in the phase gain buffer sockets. Due to that experience, I bought more of the black glass ’231s and I pretty much thought that I might never change another tube in that preamp until one of the RCAs was on its last gasps, but then an extrtemely generous benefactor turned me on to a pair of vintage Ken Rads and I have been going back & forth in the balanced input sockets and loving making the comparisons. I seem to feel that whichever pair of tubes (between those two) that I am running at the time are my favorites.

I have found this preamp to have a lush (which, unfortunately, is a subjective term and may be in the ear of the beholder) tone, without being overly warm, and being quite detailed with its presentation. I actually felt that these characteristics were present before rolling tubes, and with vintage tubes I have found it to be more of the above.

There is a lot of gain, and I once posted a question/thread inquiring about that subject, but as I reflect upon that issue, I am now thinking that I actually recognized this increase when I switched digital front ends and I just seemed more cognizant of it when I upgraded preamps. I would also say that Cary could have made access to the rectifier tube easier by providing an access panel in the side of the power supply, as opposed to having to remove the bottom of the power supply to gain access. Lastly I will say that: Cary no longer provides the customer service that made me a true & loyal believer in them back in the mid-’90s, but I will say no more on that factor as it was not enough to discourage me from making the SLP05 purchase a year ago.

As far as finding a used one,maybe keep an eye on Cary’s preowned page, like I did, and make the move when one comes up. Over all, I have been quite pleased with mine, although to your OP, I cannot make the comparison you were looking for.



As much as I love that SLP-98p, the SLP-05 is in another league.  

Pretty much the opinion of those who are familiar with both of these Cary preamps.


I looked hard at "changing" my preamp to either a Rogue or Ref 5 this spring. But the more I squeezed out of my Sachs D2 in sound with tubes, fuses, cables, etc., I changed my mind and am very happy with it. I like Rogues attitude and respect AR's reputation.  

Had the 98 then moved to the 05.  No contest.

98 is vague sounding relative to the bigger brother.

Then moved onto ARC.  No looking back.

This thread has piqued my curiosity.

So for those "in the know", how does the SLP05 measure up with, say, an ARC Reference line stage, say the Ref 3 or Ref 5 SE, or even the older Ref 2 mk II?

Lots of ARC Reference preamps available on the used market, they come up for sale all the time, presumably to their popularity, and to the ever constant stream of new ARC models.  Used they are more reasonable cost wise, of course.

The Cary not so much availability.

My feeling… just on Audio Research is that the Reference 1 and 2 had some growing pains that finally got purged with the REF 3… since then each model like 3 then 3se… stepped forward with great certainty and has continued to push the envelope ever since. I have owned at least one ARC preamp and/or Phonostage for nearly 40 years… and most recently moved to all ARC REF components… why did I wait? Oh, yes… I couldn’t afford them. Used… highly recommended.

The Cary SLP05 is an extremely good preamp.My brother owned one.The mid model and above Suprateks [say Sauvignion 6SN7] are better however and about half the price.The Suprateks sound a bit similar but just a bit better in every area but especially more 3D.Which is not to say the Cary is not good in that area and is certainly a lot better than the vast majority of preamps.The Suprateks just have more of the more special!

Congratulations! Cary makes amazing products.

However. Stop. Get your unit… broken in…. a couple hundred hours. Then get to know it. Then read tube reviews and see if the description… is that the direction you want to take the sound?

Agree with ghdprentice.  Don't change the tubes yet.  Those stock EH 6SN7s are excellent tubes with the SLP-05.  Once you've determined what you think can be improved then you can make tube changes.

I had my SLP05 about almost a year before I started re-tubing.  I actually wish I would have started a lot sooner. 

Congrsts!  You are going to love it.  

definitely a made by mullsrd off label gz34 rectifier f32.  the stock sovtek sounds dull by comparison and blew out in mine after 3 months taking fuses with it.  

i have tried lots of 6SN7 and the EH are easily improved.  The 50s Slyvania GTA sound excellent, are reasonably priced and NOS are in good supply.

I have an UK Amperex (so I understand that it is a Mullard that was manufactured for Amperex) 5AR4 as a rectifier tube right now (but I don't know if it would be a F31 or f32), but I still have a couple more to try out. This isn’t a bitch, but Cary could have put an access panel in the side of the power supply to make things easier.

I have been going back & forth with some RCA black glass VT 231s and a pair of vintage Ken Rad 6Sn7s that a very generous person bestowed up on me in the balanced input sockets and both pairs sound fantastic in those positions. I’ve got 4 more of the RCAs in the other sockets (no headphones yet) . . .

and . . .

you are absolutely right--it sounds so much better now than with the stock EHs!


The stock EH tubes are too bright in my setup, but it has a lot of details and nice punchy bass that I really like.   I guess it really depends on your system.   

I recently got some NOS RCA black plates recommended by Brent Jesse at audiotubes.com, and I really like them.  It sounds much warmer than the EH without the bright top end.  But it doesn't have the punchy low end like the EH.

I also just got the Genalax Gold Lion rectifier recommended to me by a couple of members here.  I haven't installed it yet.  I'm hoping it might improve the bass.

Anyway congrats @testrun, and good luck with your new Cary.   Let us know how it goes!

Thanks @immatthewj,  It's been a few weeks already since I got it back.   Not sure if you've seen the update I posted on my Cary thread.   What an ordeal!   

Anyway, so far so good with the unit.   I hope I don't have to send it back again 😀

I am reading a book about a guy that really got into audio… he fell in love with tube amps and splurged and bought a good one… Atmosphere. He got some highly touted NOS tubes for it. The amplifier arrived… he did not even try the stock tubes.

He turned it on and a few seconds after turning on and starting the music there was a flash and smoke rises… one channel was dead. He turned it off. Obviously he called the manufacturer, they were nice… recommended he take it to a shop… fortunately it was fixed in a couple weeks… there is a resistor put in to prevent the whole unit from melting down. But no. He researched and found out why those tubes and that amp were a no-no.


I don’t hear any brightness in my system with the EH 6sn7 tubes but I know others might have a different experience.  I do have a pair of Sylvania grey glass VT-231s I used in my SLP98p.  I’ve also got some RCA and GE 6sn7s I may try eventually.  But for now there’s no need other than to scratch that audiophile itch.

I hear everyone. I don't plan to change tubes until I feel every thing is broken in.  I know from experience what a regulator tube can do.  As far as the "front end" tubes are concerned I agree I have to hear what I'm working with.  I all cases, I'm excited about rolling the SLP-05 into my system.  


The Electro Harmonix 6SN7, like many EH tubes, have a brash & rockin sound. A bit of extra zing on top, with great bass impact and decent mids. They’re really not a bad tube at all, any way you slice it. And they typically measure at a good deal more transconductance than vintage / NOS 6SN7, so for some slots they’re just perfect. Usually they make excellent driver or follower tubes because of this. In V1 / gain slots you can usually find improvement with the sweet tone, extra airy top end, and more holographic image of vintage greats. But also, good luck finding quiet-enough vintage tubes for those kinds of slots! And the EH 6SN7 won’t get embarrassed anyways UNLESS the gear has been voiced for warm vintage 6SN7GT tubes. Then yeah - the EH tubes are gonna sound too bright in that gear!

For now I've settled on a mix of Russian Tung-Sol 6SN7GTB (very similar to the EH tubes) in V2 and Tung-Sol round plate 6SN7GT in V1 in my VAC 200iQ amps. That's one common pattern of tube rolling 6SN7's - a lot of us end up favoring mixed makes, rather than all of one kind. That way you sort of sum up the different kinds of "magic" each make offers. 

Cary has been shipping this preamp with EH 6SN7 for ages, so I’d guess it will sound great that way. Haven’t heard one, but admired from afar for quite a while. Beautiful preamp. Enjoy!!

I thought that the reason that Cary sent them out with EHs was because they were readily available & affordable. 

@ghdprentice: Are you referring to the "The Perfect Sound: A Memoir in Stereo" by Garrett Hongo?  It's an excellent book.



I thought that the reason that Cary sent them out with EHs was because they were readily available & affordable. 

They WERE cheap and abundantly available, before the recent events of this year. They were also a fun example of "wow these are cheap as hell but they can actually sound GREAT in the right slot!". I know people will come out with "my 1941 space forces 6SN7GTSF with double helix plates and radioactive green glass BLOW THEM AWAY". I have many vintage greats here too. The Russian EH and Tung-Sol 6SN7 still have their place.


I mean I wasn’t saying that mine sounded horrible with the EH tubes in it, I’ve always thought that it sounded quite good. It was just that when I got a chance to roll pairs of 6SN7s & VT231s in the balanced input sockets I did hear some differences, and depending upon which pair I was rolling, the differences were dramatic. Air and detail (which, if I am not misusing the term, made the imaging better). However, I am cognizant that this may not be what everyone is looking for in a preamp, but in my smallish listening room combined with the stuff I like to listen to, it seems to be my cup of tea. For right now, anyway.

Way back when I got my V12, Cary was sending them out with Ruby tubes.

I just did a quick search & I guess that is a nonfictional work?

Did Hongo get into which tubes it was that he used that screwed his amp up?

he does say what tubes. I am on vacation or I would look it up.


Put this in your browser: the perfect sound garrett hongo


To be honest there are some enjoyable chapters sharing his enthusiasm and nearly out of control obsession for audio (I can relate to this). There are also some boring uninteresting recounts of his life and that of his fathers (yawn). Skipping that stuff it can be fun. 



As I recall Garrett had purchased a pre-owned Airtight ATM-2 amp.  He decided to use a pair of Tung Sol 6550’s in place of the Russian KT 88 pair the seller had included.  The 6550’s died on the first power up.  Apparently the problem was that the tubes couldn’t handle the start up voltage of that amp.  Replacing a fried resistor and the tubes solved the issue.

One of the least discussed underrated preamp is Wavac PR-Z2.

I am yet to hear a preamp as musically true and balanced as this. It has the tube greatness but with pristine clarity, accurate tones and almost perfect staging.

Thanks @garyalex  and @ghdprentice  . That does sound like an interesting read and that's also interesting about the KT88/6550 swap.  A while back ago I retubed my v12 via Jim McShane.  He steered me away from KT77s. 

@testrun I’m considering the Cary SLP 05, moving from an RP-7 like you, and also into a GaN based amp (LSA Voyager 350). So I am very interested in how it is working out for you? And did you get the Ultimate Upgrade?

We have similar systems. I too have the Bricasti M3, and I was going to buy a pair of Joseph Pulsars, but bought Fyne F1-8 instead.

I also had a pair of Audions for a short while but returned them. I am surprised they have enough grunt to power the Perspectives.

The Cary is very nice.  Breaking in some NOS tubes but very happy.  I think it is my “end game” preamp, which was my goal.  It is a great balance between detail, midrange warmth, base and sound stage.  Sound stage is actually very good.    I’ll follow up after a few hundred hours more of listening.  

Terrific to hear it worked out for you so well. I was pretty confident that the Cary SLP-05 would be an excellent choice for your needs. However you just never know for certain until you are able to listen to it yourself in your own audio system.


Just to be fully transparent I lived in Cary, NC for 34 years and know Dennis Had. Even with that connect I believe the SLP-05 is an end game piece! 

i was inquiring with a company about a slp-05, he said dont get that, get atma sphere instead,which he also sold. said was better and cary was having problems with their gear. last how does cary, slp-05 vac, standard le. atma sphere mp1 i think and vtl 5-5 rank with and against each other...