Convergent Audio Technology SL1 Renaissance Black Path Edition

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

  1. Warren Jarrett

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

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    No, I am surprised that you misunderstood what I wrote. You should know me better than this by now. I DO NOT have so much pride in what I sell, that I would dis worthy competitors, even models that I have not had the opportunity to hear. As an AN dealer, I like CAT amps and preamps VERY much. Shindo, too, by the way.

    Wasn't I clear that as much as I loved my Reference and Signature, my AN preamps (both newer and more expensive) now sound better, so I have veered-off upgrading within CAT's offerings, to the Ultimate or Renaissance? This is complementing Ken's work, not minimizing it. I meant it that I know CATs just keep getting better and better, and Ken doesn't upgrade for no reason. So newer models definitely sound even better than his older models, and I am excited to read that you finally upgraded your preamp. I would STILL love to hear your audio system someday.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  2. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston MA
    Warren, I know you are one of the good guys on this forum. You are one of the few people on this forum I hold in high regard and I have learned much from you.

    With all due respect, this looks like a thread crap to me...I do believe it be honest and not intended to be a crap, but to me it is. If you started a thread on an Audio Note preamp and someone chimed in with I have no use for Audio Note and product X kills it, you would not like it either.
     
  3. Warren Jarrett

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

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    Well, I dont really understand what a "thread crap" means. Someone please explain to me. Whatever it is, I hope I don't do them. But, to the point, if I started a thread about how great my new AN preamp sounds, and somewho has heard other AN products acknowledged how good they typically are, I wouldn't mind at all if he stated that he likes his favorite brand more. I would intepret that as respectful to me and the AN brand. There is no reason at all why CAT and AN, and quite a few other companies, cannot be respected even if most of us cannot afford to buy more than one. And no reason why these good brands names cannot be mentioned respectfully within the same thread. My post WAS completely respectful to CAT and your purchase. It was not at all intended to imply that AN is any "better". Quite the opposite, it was intended to acknowledge that I could be (and have been) very happy with either one (and a 3rd brand I mentioned), and I just cannot get out of my mind how GOOD your systems (past and present) must sound. Thus I have been hoping for a long time to visit you whenever I finally get to Boston again.

    By the way, I absolutely love the CAT amplifiers. If I needed higher power, and therefore wanted a push-pull tube amp, CAT would be at the top of my list.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
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  4. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston MA
    You would be most welcomed here in Boston. If I go to LA I would love to visit your place and listen to your systems.
     
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  5. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston MA
    I found this definition of thread crapping in a google search. Not exactly pertaining to you but close. Yes, I know this was not your intention.
    Top definition. thread crapping. v. Thread crapping occurs when a person comes into a thread and posts something contrary to the spirit/intent of the thread, often derailing the discussion or turning it into an argument. Coming into a thread titled "I love my new Apple Macintosh!", and posting "PCs are better and cheaper" is thread crapping.
     
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  6. Warren Jarrett

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

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    Got it. It is indeed pretty close to what I posted, in a way. Sorry about that. Please pass the toilet paper.

    Hey, does your CAT have the phono section or is it line stage only? And if phono section, how about the moving coil transformers? Are they Jensen and are they bypassable for a MM cart?

    Last time I spoke with Ken Stevens on the telephone, he had some unusual ideas about step-up ratio and step-up transformer matching to the cartridge output and impedance. I am so aware of how great sounding his results are, I was inclined to totally believe him. But I cannot remember now what it was that he explained.
     
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  7. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston MA
    My Renaissance does have the top of the line CAT phono preamp. The preamp is dead quiet I can barely hear a sound with my ear pressed against the speaker with my volume control at 11 o'clock. Of course, I did my due diligence with isolation, damping, proper grounding, and line noise reduction. There are two switches inside the preamp that can be moved from MM to MC. See picture below top left corner. I also have to use separate RCA plugs on the back of the unit. One set of inputs for MM and one set of inputs for MC. I am using a Soundsmith Hyperion Cartridge with the unique cactus needle cantilever. The output of the Hyperion is 0.40Mv See write up below the picture from CAT.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]Click For Full-Size Image.

    Convergent Audio Technology catamps@aol.com

    85 High Tech Drive Suite D

    Rush, NY 14543

    Tel: (585) 359-2700

    MCX1 - MC Transformer

    The CAT MCX1 is the BEST MC transformer ever made in all ways which count.

    First, it is BY FAR the flattest most neutral MC trannie ever. The frequenciy response is DEAD flat (+/- 0.02 dB for those of you who need numbers) up to 20K with any cartridge up to 20 ohms internal impedance and only 0.15 dB down with a 50 ohm cartridge like the Clearaudio. This is opposed to the roller coaster type responses you see of other MC trannies, some of which cost over $10K. Don’t kid yourself, MC trannie responses which are +/- 2.0 dB have a serious effect on musicality, even if they might be preferable “overall” to the dry, dull sound of an MC headamp. (See the Stereophile review of the SL1 Legend from 2007. The MC response lays right on top of the MM response up to 10K and is only down 0.1 dB at 20K – this being due to the 30 ohm output impedance of the signal generator used in the test)

    Next, the MCX1 has a very high input impedance. It is 8K ohms in “low gain” mode and 2K in high gain mode. (Early units only had low gain and their input impedance was 4K) This is very important because many people prefer the sound of an MC cartridge “straight in” rather than being loaded down. (please read our article about loading MC cartridges). We find that 2K sounds essentially “straight in” with any MC cartridge. The current draw of 2K is negligibly higher than 47K. We have heard no cartridge which shows dynamic compression at this impedance. (It seems that 1K is about where this compression effect starts with some cartridges.)

    BTW you can still load your cartridge further with CATs loading plugs if you have a hot cartridge which really needs to have a “little off the top”.

    But it goes beyond flat, low THD, high impedance. The REAL question is:


    But how does it sound?

    When we first introduced the SL1 Legend with the MCX1 a couple of our dealers were concerned that it would reduce transparency and detail like other “add-on” transformers. So we arranged an after hours demo for these two dealers. We used a medium output MC so that there was really no noise

    problem straight in to the SL1 MM input. We played the “Good Night Irene” track from the classic recoding “Weavers Live at Carnegie Hall”. First without the transformer and then with. Within seconds of switching in the trannie one dealer said “That’s Carnegie Hall!!!!” and then the other said he was just about to say the same thing. (They both claim to have said this first – we don’t want to take sides.) These dealers are both professional musicians who have played Carnegie Hall many times, so they really know the sound of the low level hall reflections. Additionally as we played deeper into the track, all sorts of low level details emerged which were not audible without the transformer. More individual voices during the sing along. A man and women who now had their distinct space instead of being blurred together, a wealth of vocal and instrumental nuances from the performers which were previously obscured.

    Being Musicians, the dealers immediately accepted what they just heard at face value. There was however a man in the room who was a college professor in Physics, and he was a bit perplexed how this was possible. He told me that he didn’t understand how it was possible to get MORE low level detail when adding an additional component to the chain. We explained to him that he is correct, but the details were already in the recording, they just weren’t as easy to hear with the higher noise floor without the transformer.

    It’s like going to the beach looking for seashells at high tide. You might think that you have gathered all the best shells, but when you come back at low tide you find many more. The new found shells were always there, but the high tide blurred them or even hide them completely. Now with the low tide they are clear. Likewise with the transformer. When the noise goes down, small details are able to stand out from the noise floor clearly and distinctly.
     
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  8. DaveyF

    DaveyF Forum Resident

    Location:
    La Jolla, Calif
    AN vs CAT...is like comparing a little Fiat 124 vs a Ferrari, IMO. CAT KILLS AN. :righton:
    Now if you want a system that does the following...restricted imaging, poor tonality, no bass to speak of, extreme cost---all out of line with the product quality, a design that really hasn't changed in decades, a cult following that is happy to drop big $$ with the latest mod...then yes, AN is your brand.:shtiphat:

    OTOH, if you want a SOTA amp or preamp with a designer that totally has one thing on his mind...to wring the last bit of performance from his gear, then CAT is the way to go. Each brand has their adherents, nothing wrong with that...you pays your money and you takes your choice.:edthumbs:
     
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  9. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston MA
    Wow, way to go Davey! I can't comment in regards to AN because I have never heard one, but my CAT preamp is pretty amazing. When I turn up the volume control, instead of just getting louder, the sound just opens up, and the soundstage becomes more palpable.
     
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  10. drkhwk

    drkhwk Active Member

    Location:
    Missouri
    Recently acquired an Ultimate MKII. I've been extremely pleased with it so far. I've been experimenting with different tubes as budget allows.
     
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  11. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston MA
    Get the $400. 6922’s Steve recommends .
     
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  12. Neil S. Cohen

    Neil S. Cohen You Enjoy Myself

    Location:
    Valley Stream, NY
    Very jealous. The CAT has been my Dream preamp forever. Although I sold my tube preamp when I went to a solid state integrated about 18 months ago, I’ve held on to my vtl monoblocks thinking that “someday before I die, I might want to get that CAT...”, making it a true bucket list item for me.
     
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  13. drkhwk

    drkhwk Active Member

    Location:
    Missouri
    So far Ive tried Tele 12AX7 and the 6H23. The 6H23's were recommended by Upscale. I do want to try the Tele E88CC. Hopefully I can get my hands on some. This is my first quality Tube pre. Luckily It came with the original Sovtek and EI's when I received it.
     
  14. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston MA
    The phono preamps in the CAT preamps are amazing.
     
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