Cary SLI-80HS modifications

I’m strongly considering purchase of a new integrated amp. The Cary SLI-80HS is at the top of my list and I can’t find much information from people who opted for some of the available modifications — hexfeds, better caps, silver wiring, Greyhill volume control, improved binding posts.   I’m leaning toward getting all of them.  Opinions? 

Also, I’ve read that SS rectifiers can remove some of the tube “magic”.  What about in this specific model.  I’ve owned a 2009 era SLI-80 for almost 10 years so I am very familiar with the sound and improvements due to rolling tubes. I previously used a Plinius 9200 SS amp but got hooked on the sound of tubes.

BTW, I’m also considering a LTA ZOTL 40+ integrated but am a little concerned about its synergy with my beloved first-order crossover speakers, Meadowlark Osprey Gen 2.  

My most used equipment includes Aurender N150 streamer, Chord Qutest DAC with a Hugo M-Scaler, Cardas Golden Reference interconnects, Shunyata power cables and conditioner. Sadly, due to the living room location I must use a very long run of Nordost Super Flatline II cable (27 feet).

I’m looking for improved leading edge on plucked string instruments, especially basses, excellent timbre on everything.  90% of my listening is instrumental jazz, the rest is classic rock.  


A short time ago I spoke with someone on the Cary sales team and they remarked the solid state rectification HS model still has the tube holography and bloom the Signature has.  (It would be interesting to find out).  They added going with solid state rectification took care of most of the reliability issues they had with the SLI-80.  I have fond memories of my F-1 in triode mode on my Coincident Partial Eclipse 2's.  Years ago Cary built a special F-1 that was triode only and direct coupled as I rmember.  

@somebike Thanks for your input about the upgrades! That’s very reassuring. The SLI-100 sounds better is interesting.  Could it be your room acoustics or the speakers match it better?  Hmm…  I’ve only considered the SLI-80HS because I can only raise my current SLI-80 volume to about 10 0’clock position or it’s just too loud. Perhaps the KT150s sound better than the KT88s.  I really like the Gold Lion KT88 in my SLI-80. 

@pehare The SS rectifier sound comment is also very reassuring because that was my biggest concern in this purchase.  Thanks!  

Also, I have a theory regarding the rectifier tube reliability problem.  I think it’s due to changing listening mode (UL - Triode) while at power.  I always thought that had to be hard on the rectifier tubes so I never did it.  After 8 problem-free years I started changing the mode while at power for convenience. It only took about 3 or 4 mode changes at power until I blew a rectifier tube and a fuse.  This happened twice. I stopped doing the mode changes at power and the problem stopped.  The tube blows didn’t happen at the exact same time I made the mode change. The tubes blew within a week or so afterwards.  Maybe just a two-time coincidence but I stopped doing it and the amp has been problem-free for almost 2 years.

@txp1 I do have a big listening room that is kind to extra watts when desired.  I should point out that the SLI-100 also has the upgrades and the difference is subtle.  I could drive speakers of varying efficiency with plenty of volume.  I do not think you will be disappointed by the SLI-80.  I also recommend triode mode in pure class A.  In my opinion, that's shine best.

@somebike   I’ve owned a SLI-80 for almost 10 years so I do appreciate the sound of triode mode.  For many years I almost exclusively listened using triode mode.  But in the last year I’ve really learned to appreciate UL mode.  UL is more extended on both highs and lows. Bass is tighter. The soundstage is wider on UL but triode mode has a much deeper soundstage.  Triode mode is usually meatier between the speakers.  Also, I’ve read that people appreciate triode mode when listening to female vocalists. I’m no expert there but it makes sense. 

@txp1 I really like the Gold Lion KT88 in my SLI-80.

Tip: Trust your ears and what you like. A former contact and colleague designed the SLI-100 for Cary. He departed shortly after it was ready to go into production. While the circuit determines the sound with any tube, the KT88s sound very nice in the Cary amps. Sometimes, in some cases, newer is "not always better", fwiw.

This note is coming to you from someone who owns monbock amps that run KT150s or KT120s today. I spent way too much time on my current amps, input tubes, and caps along with different sources trying to get them to provide a sound, tone, texture, and result that sounded closer to my former Cary amps with KT88s, fwiw. While I’ve not heard heard the new SLI-100 in my system and setup, imo, if you love your KT88s now, my bet is the newer unit will sound different, a more modern and more linear sound. KT88s can sound really nice. The old days we use to bring the amps home and try them, not so easy any more with fewer dealers due to manufacturers now offering buy-direct.