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John B. SLI-100 Review

Cary Audio customer, John B., wrote an amazing product review on our SLI-100 Integrated Amplifier.

Cary Audio SLI-100 upgrade from Cary Audio Signature SLI-80

“After 15 wonderful years of enjoying my Cary Audio SLI-80, I finally gave in to my neighbor’s constant persistence to sell him my amplifier (now connect to his Wilson speakers and still sounding awesome…but I digress) and upgraded my system with Cary Audio’s new SLI-100 amplifier.

I picked up the SLI-100 amp a month ago, immediately astounded as to how it was an instant improvement, but wanted to give it a full 100 hours of burn-in time. Well, the amp has been turned ON non-stop for the past two weeks and I am challenged to pull my ears away to write this review.

This amplifier, in a single word: AWESOME. Two instant noticeable enhancements: Female vocals and instrument timbre. Women’s voices smoothly melt out of this amplifier. The warm presence and lucidity of Norah Jones, Stevie Nicks, Hope Sandoval and Carol King’s vocal chords pulsating center-stage in my living room is amazing. Hearing the singer’s air inhalations in-between verses caused me to triple-check to make sure the tubes were not silently buzzing…nope, this amp replicates voices and breathing diaphragms with extreme clarity. Instrumentation timbre? I had the pleasure of sitting in the third row of Alice Tully Hall and watched Yo-Yo Ma perform Bach…and now I have the distinct leisure of listening to his cello vibrate ten feet in front of me in the comfort of my own home. Yes…vibrate! Stringed instruments come alive through the SLI-100. Horns are magical. The quick “tap” of drum-sticks hitting the drum skins adds to the realistic “live” sound of the music. Symphony instruments become individualized yet combine beautifully into a world-class auditorium soundstage. And ohhhh…the soundstage! The SLI-100 creates a full depth and wide-spread stable musical stage…every instrument and vocal is placed exactly where it was positioned in the recording mix, and STAYS there…no floating or drifting…the soundstage remains unchanged during the entire performance. From Lincoln Center recordings of Beethoven’s symphonies to The Who Live At Leeds…the players are exactly placed right where expected.

I have thrown almost every type of music at this amplifier…classical, rock-n-roll, folk, reggae, hip-hop, punk, jazz, heavy metal, blues, funk, soul, ABBA to Zappa…from studio recordings to live performances, horribly-thin-recordings to original master recordings…and I have yet to be disappointed. The SLI-100 produces musical and enjoyable tones, consistently pleasing to the ear, non-fatiguing, while honoring the precision of the music source. 

In fairness, the amp does show every flaw in a poor recording, but it does so honesty and without coloration…it’s not the amp, it’s the original recording source. Conversely, the SLI-100 turns a great audio recording into a musical awe “how did they catch that?” Elton John’s depressing the piano foot pedals at the opening of “Levon” creates a minor distraction from the notes being played.

While I have enjoyed many great years with my SLI-80, the SLI-100 is a wonderful upgrade and I look forward to thousand more hours of musical pleasure with my new amplifier.

A special thanks to Billy and the Cary Audio staff for letting me pick up the SLI-100 at the factory and for a stellar tour of the facility… a first class operation with highly skilled employees.”

System: Cary Audio SLI-100, Rega Apollo CD player, Bowers & Wilkens 803-D3 speakers, Furman PL-Plus DMC Power Conditioner.

– John B., Customer

If you are located in the United States and Canada, you can purchase the SLI-100 direct from our factory on CaryDirect.

If you are located outside the United States and Canada, please contact your local Dealer/Distributor to purchase.


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