Review: Cary Audio Design SLI-80 Tube amp

Category: Amplifiers

For review is the signature version of the SLI 80. With a much quieter noise floor and deeper bass than many tube components in its price range, including separates, the SLI 80 sig is close to the 805c in sound but with much more power. The integrated is very well built, and the fit and finish are excellent. The SLI runs very hot when biased properly and there is a very slight hum in the transformers that can only be heard when your ear is near them. The amp is very quiet otherwise, with little tube noise coming from the speakers. The amp can run in both triode and pentode, and can be switched between the two on the fly. In my listening room the lower powered triode operation provides enough juice. What I like about the SLI 80 sig is the solidness of the bass and the crispness of the highs compared to other tubed components to which I’ve listened. I also enjoy the relatively low noise floor. The accuracy of the musical timbers is pleasant and the sound stage is relatively wide and deep. It may not be the best tube integrated around, but the SLI 80 sig should have received more press for putting together a good, well-built package that performs well.

Associated gear
B&W 805m, Audioquest cable, VPI 19 MK III

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