has anyone gone and replaced a CAT with something else
I have. With a FM Acoustics 155. It is better in all respects.
This said, my CAT was a top-notch preamp. Far removed from the plethora of mediocre machines out there. BTW, I used a 3, then an Ultimate.
"has anyone gone and replaced a CAT with something else"
I have. Joule-Electra LA-300ME. While, sonically "300" is much better (which is question of the personal taste) there are other factors tilting toward Joule-Electra.
a) I always could hear tube hiss using CAT and I spent crazy money to find ultra low noise tubes, It drove me crazy and I compalined to Ken Stevens many times...
b) The cost of re-tubing. With CAT, I had to retube bi-annually and with "300" once per 5-10 years and if your amp has input impedence > 10 kOhms then this time will double. The best NOS tubes for "300" cost $70-$100 from Joule-Electra, CAT NOS tubes cost was at least $400 - $500 (Ken always provided the best contemporary at reasonable price)
c) I always "hated" CAT's outboard power supply firm connection to the main chassis. "300" - is one box solution, has tube in power suupply (i.e.more liquid sound) and has better bass...
d) I have to wait at least one hour for CAT to warm up whereas "300" has stand-by feature. You want to listen, just flip switch and 60 seconds later - everything is at its best.
I must say that CAT was and still is mightly preamp, one of the best in the world and anybody who uses it must be in audio heaven. Simply its not the best in the world for me, personally.
That's very interesting Spectron. I personally have not had to re-tube that often, in fact I have had my current tube set about two years and all still seems fine. I do agree that at certain gain levels the CAT is not dead quiet, some slight tube hiss is audible when nothing is playing. OTOH, I was amazed at the improvement that was had when I changed from the 'stock' tubes to the current NOS GE Smooth plates.
What other components are you using with the Joule and are they the same as when you had the CAT?
"What other components are you using with the Joule and are they the same as when you had the CAT? "
With CAT I used Equilibre, tube amp from Audio Matiere (now, I believe its Audio Aero) and I also used the Spectron Musician III (standard) stereo amplifier. I owned different CATs for about 15 years, indeed mighty cat and difficult to think that can be any better....
With Joule-Electra I use only Spectron amplifiers - monoblocks with all upgardes.
My ex-wife had a cat,I replaced both of them with a dog.
Tpreaves, was that an upgrade? Sounds like a lateral move to me..:0)
Daveyf, You obviously haven't been there before!
That's for sure !!!!!!!!!
All jokes aside, I still would like to get some opinions from other 'Gon'ers
who have moved away from the CAT and also from those who have heard the Renaissance.
I moved from the CAT Ultimate to VTL 7.5 and now I'm using the Audio Research Ref 2 Mark 2. To me the CAT was foward and bright or you could say thin.
Not to hi jack the thread,a VTL 7.5 to a REF 2 MK 2,isn't that 2 steps ahead and 3 back?
Are you kidding. In my system the AR Ref 2 mark 2 killed the CAT and the VTL 7.5. How is that 3 step backwards.
My question was of an honest nature and should not be misconstrued as anything but that.Lets try again.I am of the understanding that the VTL 7.5 is on par with the REF 3,and that some actually prefer the former over the latter.As you have a REF 2,I was trying to comprehend how a REF 2 could out perform the VTL.
I too made the move from the CAT to the Joule preamp which works very well with my Music Reference RM9 SE Amp and Merlin speakers (I also use an Atma-sphere pre with my Atma-sphere amp - they world especially well together). When I had the CAT pre, I had the CAT JL2 amps. Every preamp mentioned in this thread is a wonderful preamp, and don't think anyone can tell you what you will like best, truly personal taste at this level. That being said, the CAT's "ergonomic" issues mentioned by Spectron are real, but no reason to change from a CAT to something else if you are happy with the CAT. If anyone tells you that they can make a definitive choice for you between them based on their experience, I think they would be overstating their case - you could, and should, be happy listening to music with any of these (CAT, Joule, VTL 7.5, ARC REF series).
For the fact that the Audio Research is more alive sounding with much better depth and detail. The VTL had less depth, less detail and less transparency.
Jwm, what amps and speakers were you using with the CAT, VTL, and finally the ARC? I don't know if you were going forward or backwards, but you seem to have found the sound you like. What was the system context?
I was and still am using the ESP Harp's which are very similar to the ESP Concert Grands. At the time I was using VTL 450 monoblocks. Now I am using the VAC 300i Phi Monoblocks. I still like the sound of the AR better than the CAT with these amps.
Well, it seems to me that any of those pieces would sound pretty darn good, you are in good company with any of them IMHO and good to know you found the right combination for your taste. I do think that anyone interested in gear of this caliber must listen to both the ARC Ref and CAT pres (and the Joule LA300 and otheres) to decide, which is "better" might very well be in the ear of the listener, and not everyone will decide the same way; if it were only that easy. Has anyone heard the CAT Legend versus the older CAT and other top contenders?
Audio is an art. Sometimes its luck and other times very hard work. You are right just because the CAT was not the best in my system does not mean it will not shine in another system.