Cary Audio, ProAc and Wireworld – RMAF 2018

by Eric Shook

It was a full weekend for Cary Audio as they were showing two systems; one introducing the new SLI-100 integrated amplifier, along with introducing the new Cary DM550 digital music streamer, which was used to participate in Saturday morning’s MQA Live Event. The second system: consisted of a Cary AiOS all-in-one system, with ProAc Tablets, and a static display of the new Cary DM600 digital music streamer.

The main system was of most interest to me as I am a former owner of a Cary SLI-80 integrated, and it is often remembered as the one that got away. I wisely purchased my SLI-80 early on in my journey into proper hi-fi, but somewhere along the way, I unwisely sold it, and moved into solid state.

The new Cary Audio SLI-100 carries on the legacy of my beloved SLI-80 well, but adds updates to what I consider a modern classic of high-end amplification. The SLI-100 is a true “high-end” amplifier. Thoughtfully designed, the SLI-100 integrated stereo amplifier operates in a Class AB1 mode utilizing a negative fixed bias supply. Its KT150 output tubes are configured in push-pull and yield 100 wpc. Cary Audio designed the output transformers used in the new SLI-100 to be model specific. The preamplifier section of the SLI-100 is a Series Regulated Push-Pull (SRPP) Class A triode voltage amplification stage direct coupled to the phase inverter. All updated, but with the classic “SLI” spirit still intact.

What I wasn’t expecting was how much fun the Cary AiOS systems would be to listen to and look at. A unique product, but with practical features and design cues that make me question what everyone else is doing, and think — why aren’t we all doing this?

The ProAc sound is one I am familiar with, and honestly I never get tired of it. Throughout many years, I’ve encountered ProAc loudspeakers at dealer events and national audio shows. What strikes my fancy this go-round, is that the ProAc / Cary synergy (be it tube or solid state) produces great sound. Listening to the new SLI-100, I would even dare to say the ProAc D20’s were performing as well as I’ve ever heard them; anywhere and anytime.