Convergent Audio Technology SL1 Renaissance Black Path Edition

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Tullman, Feb 8, 2016.

  1. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston MA
    I have seen Ken working on my old mono blocks. There was no schematic. I asked him about a schematic and he said there wasn't one.
     
  2. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I'm sure that there was one at some point. He just has his designs memorized so well that he doesn't need to refer to it anymore.
     
  3. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston MA
    Probably.
     
  4. DaveyF

    DaveyF Forum Resident

    Location:
    La Jolla, Calif
    Some of the secret sauce that the designers use in their amps and preamps are NOT supposed to be sussed out by the minions.
    Therefore, having a schematic is probably a no no. OTOH, it certainly calls into question the logic and validly behid the circuit design...or maybe not? One thing is for sure, the darn CAT preamp sounds great, so whatever Ken is doing with the secret sauce seems to be working.
    The BLack path caps are what?...Mundorfs, DueLands...who knows...and if I were Ken, I would want to keep it a secret, as the price to replace all the caps in the amp, or the preamp, by a tech is going to be far far less than if the factory does it...naturally the tech cannot do it if he, or the customer, doesn’t have access to the caps. Same goes for the schematic, I would think.
    BTW, to be clear,I am not saying that Ken is doing anything wrong with this scheme, as it makes perfect sense from a manufacturers perspective. We would all be doing exactly the same thing in his shoes.
     
  5. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Yes, I certainly understand why he would keep this info tight to the vest. But I'd be surprised if, after all of these years, no tech, or DIY Audiophile has ever bothered to take photos of the bottom of the board and to trace-out the circuit by now. So I'm guessing that somebody probably already has done so. I know that I would have given this a shot if I ever had my hands on one of these units.

    I know that Melos did the same thing with their preamps. But my understanding is that it is no longer possible to a Melos preamp serviced today unless the circuit is first traced-out by a tech. And that takes a lot of work.
     
  6. DaveyF

    DaveyF Forum Resident

    Location:
    La Jolla, Calif
    All good points. Problem is that like many small manufacturers, they have to rely a lot on their ability to control the after market servicing.
    I have to say that I am very impressed with CAT’s after market service! I had a power supply switch fail on my preamp, Ken spoke to me about the problem and sent me a new switch to correct the problem, all at no cost!
    The preamp was years out of warranty and he easily could have charged me for the part.
    Personally, I think that is excellent customer service. So, the fact that the manufacturer doesn’t have the schematic available at this time doesn’t really concern me...with customer service like that.
     
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  7. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Impressive. :righton: I wish that I could have the opportunity to hear one of these units. Unfortunately I don't think that CAT has ever has ever had a dealer in this town.
     
  8. DaveyF

    DaveyF Forum Resident

    Location:
    La Jolla, Calif
    I highly recommend to anyone who wants to hear what the best tube gear can do to give the CAT gear a listen.
    Even though you may have to take a trip to hear a system with CAT gear, I can assure you that the visit will be very worthwhile.
     
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  9. Magnum

    Magnum New Member

    Location:
    Germany
    now25 said:
    My first impression was how black the background is. I couldn’t hear any hiss with my ears next to the tweeter when the music is not playing! I switched to the new BPX initially to see the difference between the 4 year old SL-1 Renaissance and the new BPX with the Bryston 7B3’s power amps. The improvement was immediately apparent. More transparent, refine and even more air/decay with more body. With the darker background you can hear more micro details and dynamics giving it a more live feel.


    now25/Tullman
    What about the soundstage?
    Does CAT BPX give you better three-dimensional

    and holographie sound compare to your 4 year old SL-1 Renaissance or SL-1 Renaissance BPA?
     
  10. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston MA
    In short. Yes. Every aspect of sound reproduction is improved, IMO.
     
  11. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston MA
    Are using a Renaissance at this time?
     
  12. now25

    now25 Active Member

    Location:
    Brunei
    Like what Tullman said the improvement was across the board. Soundstage is wider and more holographic. There is more body to all the instruments and vocal. The highs are more ethereal and airy. My 4 to 5 year old CAT Renaissance was just pre Black Path model. Combined with the JL-5 Limited Edition the body was even more prominent. This was the first comment that my friends made when they first heard the new CAT amps.
     
  13. Magnum

    Magnum New Member

    Location:
    Germany
    No, I have CAT Signature
     
  14. Magnum

    Magnum New Member

    Location:
    Germany
    Thanks. Good description
     
  15. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston MA
    Now25's Renaissance top and mine on the bottom.


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    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
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  16. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston MA
    I'm using Nordost Vahalla cable between the amp and preamp. See my information for complete system.

    Please fill in your profile so everyone can see how your system is built.
     
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  17. DaveyF

    DaveyF Forum Resident

    Location:
    La Jolla, Calif
    CAT seems to respond very well to Nordost cabling. I use a Tyr ic between my CAT and my Jadis amps. All Nordost upstream as well.
     
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  18. now25

    now25 Active Member

    Location:
    Brunei
    Done. Trying out Cardas Clear Beyond power cables for the BPX and JL-5 currently. I'm waiting for Tellurium Q Black and Silver Diamond power cables to try out as well as Townshend isolation platform for the JL-5.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
    Tullman likes this.
  19. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___

    Dude, that is unbelievably schaaweet! Can you say high grade components? Congrats. I am currently looking for a new preamp and that is mouth watering.
     
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  20. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___

    Nice!!!!!!!!!!
     
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  21. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Telefunken ECC88 bump.
     
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  22. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    I still own two CAT preamps, a "Reference" and a "Signature". Actually the serial number tells all: Reference serial numbers are in the 4000s and Signature serial numbers are in the 5000s. I may have this backward. I just LOVED my #4xxx SO MUCH, that I tube rolled extensively and made it just sound PERFECT too me (at the time) with my MFA amps and Theil CS3.5 speakers. Then, the magazines raved about the changes for CAT serial numbers above 5000. So years later, after the next version ("Ultimate", in the 6000s) was released, I found 5xxx models at much reduced prices, and bought one. I haven't tube rolled it (the previous owner did, and had some nice USA/NOS tubes in it) but I just never liked that preamp better than the older one.

    The newer one was completely lined with blue damping material, had teflon, double thick PC boards, and the entire cabinet was made of thicker, heavier steel. It should have sounded better, right? So, all these years I kept both, not wanting to sell both, but also not wanting to sell the better of the two (which I still am not sure about). FINALLY, after even MORE years, Ken Stevens admitted to me that the later one, the in the 5000s, did have a problem of sounding too "solid-state" in his words. All the specs were better, it sounded better in some ways, but in the qualities he found to be most important, the next version (the "Ultimate") went forwards in some ways and backwards in some of his power supply ideas to actually be the best of both.

    Unfortunately, now I have no use for a CAT, because I am an Audio Note dealer, and my Audio Note preamps "kill" both the Reference and the Signature.

    But I still love CAT preamps, and I am very happy for Tullman having the latest version.
     
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  23. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston MA
    Of course, as an AN dealer your opinion is going to be AN kills everything. There have been several upgrades to the CAT preamps since the models you mention, that were produced years ago. I wouldn't doubt the latest greatest CAT Kills the AN of similar price.
     
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  24. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston MA
  25. Done A Ton

    Done A Ton Birdbrain

    Location:
    Rural Kansas
    Those Telefunkens Steve recommends are a little rich for my blood, and I only need two. I just ordered a pair of the Matsushita PCC88. You might consider a set of these for your CAT. Matsushita / National PCC88 / 7DJ8
     

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