I have no experience with the Nagra. You mention that you like it as it is dynamic and clean. These are exactly the strengths of the CAT. The CAT preamps and amps are outstanding in dynamic contrasts, excellent coverage at the frequency extremes and incredible tonal coherency all around. What they do not excel at is "tonal colors". These are not your typical "tubey" products. But they respond significantly to tube rolling. If you seek something with more "tonal color", Aesthetix, CJ and older ARC products would be my choices.
I think Jafox got it precisely. For tonal colors, I would look at the Joule preamps. I love both the CAT and the Joule, but between the two the Joule gives you more of what you are looking for, but both are world-class preamps that anyone could be happy with.
The best tonal colours (what an expression) i heard was from zanden , but a zandenpre /phono system is a bit to expensive and hard to find second hand .
There are no joule electra imports here , i never heard it .
Thanks for the input !
So the cat is also very neutral a good thing off course .
The nagra is a bit on the polite side .
I knew a guy that switched from nagra to cat and another from cat to viva audio.
And listened both systems and agree with their choices.
IMHO viva audio preamps are offering the best balance of dynamic and clean sound with right body and natural timbre.
Joule preamps are also very well if you like more tone color as said above.
OP, dynamic and clean -- yes that too describes the CAT. Can't imagine not being happy with any of the choices mentioned:) Local product support, might drive your decision. Good luck.
It looks like its a deal , ill be having a 2008 CAT ultimate mk 2 this week probably, ill post pics and comments
It has arrived , its not a legend , although it has the legend frontpanel ,ser no. 10307.
I added pics , i ll review it later
Very interested in your review. I used to have Nagra PL-P in my system, and now in a position to look for a new preamp.
Well here is a quick first impression .
Tonal balance is very much the same as it should be with neutral products , the nagra is kind of thin on the bottom compared to the cat .
The cat is much heavier/mightier on the lower freq .
Down side of the cat is that it produces record rumble during playback .
The woofer makes uncontrolled movements when the needle is on the record , although i dont hair them ,i dont like the sight of it, for the rest the phonostage is very good .
Both are very good preamps where the nagra is a bit lean glassy sounding the cat is more solid/ rounded/slightly tubey sounding .
The cat is more relaxing sounding is my impression , the cat is very quit on the line stage , with a bit noise on the phonostage , maybe a little bit more as the plp
Did you try changing tubes on the phono stage?
No i just have it playing , and the imbuscrews are english so i have to take the right tools to open it from work.
You think its a broken tube ?
What is the phono section of the cat? inside left rightside ?
Not sure about tube location as I only owned the linestage version. Not sure you actually have a problem with tube, but they can get noisy over time and it always seems to be good practice to put in a new set of tubes when you buy used gear, you never really know how much mileage is on the tubes. It certainly seemed to be a very quiet linestage, but phono stages can be problematic unless you have very low noise tubes.
i ll have them checked later on .
the one thing i can say after listening to my favourite lp collection and the thing being under current for half a day now .
The cat is very good , it doesnt have the glassy/edginess of the nagra instead its al about natural , musical flow , you can definetively hear deeper into the mix and the bandwith is greater /more bas extension .
I think it was a good exchangetrade
There are many happy catophiles:)
just FYI: the phone stage tubes are V1-V5 & they are on the left side/left half of the preamp (left as you look @ the face-plate). The CAT factory does a very stringent job in selecting tubes for the phono stage - only those ultra-quiet ones that meet all the tube specs make the grade. The line stage tubes also go thru rigorous selection but not as rigorous as the phono stage tubes.
So, like Pubul57 wrote-if you keep the Ultimate Mk2, get a new set of 10 tubes from the CAT factory. It will not be cheap but will worth your trouble.
Good to read that you really liked the Ultimate Mk2 - fine preamp! ;-)
You may also want to try Roger Modjeski at tubeaudiostore.com - the best tube tester in the business IMHO. Not sure how his prices compare with trying to buy direct from Ken Stevens (CAT), my understanding is the Roger now does the testing for CAT tubes that come with the equipment, so......
Thanks bombaywalla, pubul57 for the info .
I might indeed have them tested cq buy new.
Another impression .
After a couple of dvds with which i am familiar.
The cat is a much better line stage , i have the impression its much quiter with blacker backgrounds .
It has that triode? magic , the sound is floating in a crystal clear soundbubble bigger than the nagra , i would not call it a deeper soundstage projection but simple a bigger soundfield .
Images and sounds have real magic to them although very precise and controlled , makes me want to try their poweramps someday.
A real highend product capable of giving something extra
Hi I've been curious watching your thread evolve. I've had a hard time besting my Nagra (PLL and VPS). Most things are 2 or 3 steps better somewhere then 1 or 2 back somewhere else. I'll be curious over time if the new fun wears off and if you miss your Nagra PLP a little...
Good luck to you ! Very nice system btw
I must mention that my plp was a secondhand one and had been serviced in the meantime with new tubes and adjusted , although at a respectably high end repair company .
You are right sometimes the factor "change does matter" kicks in.
First off all things are always system dependable off course , i reckon the cat will smooth out ceramic materials i dont know why.
fact is and i will probably stand by that , the cat "does" something with the sound , i think its definetively worth a try , and not that expensive.
Game changing pre amp .
I started listening to cds s as well and find them quite involving , unbelievebale i never thought it could happen .
It changed my opinion about ceramic materials as well , ceramic drivers dont have a hint of hardness anymore not even the tweeters .
It not only controls and reproduces sound it makes it come alive again, the sound is full of control and nuances and more detail .
I think i m gonna buy a legend and a jl2 or 3 and call it a day , although i like to have big transistors hanging around , the legend pre will be in the system anyway , at some time .
A 6550 tube amp with power and triode sound , i cant wait .
My second system will be ML 32 /33
CAT JL2 is one of the best amps in the world IMHO, would have kept it if my speakers were not such an easy load, making OTL a viable alternative. One can look forever, but is you can't settle down with the SL1/JL2, it would be for reason other than sound quality, they make a SOTA pairing - but those amps do run HOT!