Opinions on the Cary 211 tube amp


I've always been intrigued by this amp but never actually heard one. What I'd like to know most is, how does it compare sonically to amps using 6550/KT88/KT90s? Is it powerful to handle inefficients speakers, 83db in my case? Lastly, is it reliable?

I currently own a pair of the CAD-211M Anniversary Edition monoblocks. I think they are the best amps Cary has ever built. I have previously owned the CAD-572 Mk.II, the CAD-805C, and currently own the Rocket 88 and the CAD-300B-SE. The Rocket 88 uses the 6550/KT-88 you asked about so I feel qualified to answer your question. I have never heard a Cary amp that sounded better than the 211. The shear power and depth it has are hard to beat. If I had to compare the two amps (and I will) I would say that the Rocket 88 is like a lake and the 211s are like the ocean. You can swim in both but the ocean is much more powerful and deep. There have been some relability issues but they seem to have been fixed in the latest incarnation. If you buy a used set of the Anniversary Editions make sure to send them back to Cary to have the power switch modification done. BTW, I use the SuperTNT 845M metal plate and Sofia 300B tubes with these amps.
I also owned the 211 anniversary Carys .Dennis is a magician and has created something that will be legendary as years pass. They were very powerful and sweet. The top end was liquid and anything but harsh as i auditioned a dozen sets of speakers during the time i had them . They effortlessly drove every pair including 84 db efficiency Avalons . I would not call the ammp a "headbanger " amp however and would not suggest it to such a listener. This amp is refined and muscular and will play beautifully , loud , as long as you are not Beavis on a Metallica binge . The midrange was golden with rich layered harmonics that was at once seductive and alluring , drawing you deeper into the music. The soundstage depth was one of its magic tricks and till this day tops any tube amp i have had in my system. This is an seasoned audiophiles dream tube amp and is for someone who loves music and is not obsessed with gear. I sold mine because I have found the sound of the latest CJ gear more to what I was searching for at the moment . I will miss the 211 however and may one day re purchase it . My unit was very reliable and i would not hesitate to buy another .
That's very promising. Is there a big difference between the Anniversary model and the earlier versions? As I recall, the earlier versions were rated at 200 watts or more. Is there a reason why the newer model has a reduction in power?