ProAc Response 2: CJ CAV45, Cary SEI 300B, or Cary Rocket 88?

Looking at the amps listed in the title to pair with my newly acquired ProAc Response 2: CJ CAV45, Cary SEI 300B, or Cary Rocket 88

Looking for the best tone and most in-the-room presence possible. Also want tuneful/rhythmic bass vs depth/authority.

Any feedback from those who have heard any of these, especially with ProAc would be appreciated.



@leahy ... I’m sure the RM9 II with AI3 would be a great system...


Story: It is a fantastic combo. A really good friend who passed on a few years back had this setup as his very last system. He enjoyed it thoroughly. Same Roger RM MKII and Audible Ilusions Modulus 3 combo you noted, with specific MIT cables and upgraded CD player. Wow it sounded so much higher-end than its total cost.

Paired only with smaller Totem Model One Signature 87db sensitivity speakers on stands, No furniture in the room, just a small chair. Clock and refrigerator unplugged during early a.m listening sessions. Moved it to five diffeent rooms in the house too. He was over the top obsessed, and memorable listening it was. Sound was huge, deep, layered, textured and quite interesting. That little system bested many systems we heard in our area of colleagues and audio stores. We ran around comparing his setup to others for fun.

The Audio Engineering Society (AES) made their rounds back then and awarded him a 4th place award for his system with a nice writeup. There was a comment how it held its own to some systems at 4x the total cost. He managed to nail it with an amazing combo and was very proud of it. 



No doubt that the Audible Illusions played a role in what you originally  heard. Curious as to how you find it compared to the Freya. The sonic difference between the the two preamplifiers could be greater than the Cary 300b mono block versus 300b integrated amplifier differences. 


Hi Charles - I don't have the AI yet, but I just accepted a counteroffer to purchase an M3B. My plan is to find a pair of 300B Cary monos with the AI and compare with the CJ45. I'd really prefer a one-box setup, if the sound is close enough. I also think the extra power may be handy when I turn the dial up a bit.

@leahy a friend bought one of my former fully upgraded Cary strapped triode/ultralinear amps (el34s), and right afterwards he sent his other CJ  tube mono amps (6550s) and CJ mosfet ss amp out for full upgrades; selected a real expert master level tech.  Upgraded all caps, resistors, diodes, and more - same as the Cary units had. He just had to know if upgrades really made a difference in the units. Both the Cary units and CJ units were brought to an entirely different level.       

In all cases the fully upgraded preamps and amps won over one brand vs. the other. Another consideration path for your CJ45 if its not already upgraded. I'm a Cary owner myself, if you go 300B Cary's plan on higher sensitivy higher impedence speakers too in order to get the most out of the amps and pricey 300b tubes, fwiw.  Other fleawatt owners may chime in for other references if you go this route.       

@leahy ,

This is going to be an interesting direct comparison you  plan to do. 

1 Active tube preamplifier paired  with a 300b SET circuit  (Class A) DHT output tubes  vs

2 Integrated amplifier with a passive preamplifier section,  push-pull (Class A/B) circuit using pentode el34 output tubes. I have no doubt that you will hear distinct differences between these two. This will be fun and informative.