My first vacuum tube amplifier

April 1, 2008

Cary SLI-80 vacuum tube amplifierFor a long time now I have been interested in vacuum tubes. I love their simplicity, sound, and the fact that the design hasnt changed since the early 1900′s. They also were used as transistors in early computers before the solid state transistor was invented. 50 years ago it would take an entire room of these to power a computer with less memory than a Casio wristwatch.

Anyway, this is a beautifully hand made oil-filled-cap integrated amplifier than runs in 80-watt Class A/B ultra-linear mode and 40-watt triode mode. I have it fitted with a set of Russian Electro-Harmonix tubes, the power coming from two sets of KT88′s. The sound is quite crisp with little to no hum or background noise which is surprising considering tubes are known for these issues. This paired with a set of Kef iQ5 floor standing speakers are wonderfully crisp and clean, especially with vocals. Now, to fix the weak link, the 5 dollar garage-sale bought record player. More to come on the DIY record player later.

Categories: Audiophile, Electronics


  1. doug says:

    I’ve had that model of amp in my system for seven years, and I’m truly happy with it. Once you get the vinyl going…

  2. doug says:

    One other comment: if you decide you want a more mellow sound, try the SED “Winged C” KT88s.

  3. John says:

    Doug, thanks for the tip. If you have any more info I would love to read it.

  4. Hpatr says:

    What make and brand is this amp!?

  5. Ajay says:

    Hey just wondering how much this cost? Also, I can’t seem to find it on the Cary website, is this discontinued?

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