Cary vs Raven

It's about time to replace the 20+ year old Prima Luna.  Based on my limited researches and the positive on Audiogon, I'm leaning toward either a Cary SLI-80HS or CAD-300SEI, and the Raven Blackhawk.  I currently have Forest Totem speakers, but am looking to get some Klipsch Heresy or Fortes.  On paper the SLI-80HS and Blackhawk look pretty similar to me, and I've been intrigued with the 300 B tube.  This is the last amp I will buy, so want to make sure it's the best my budget can manage.  I listen to classical in a small size room (15'x15'x9'), so I don't need a lot of power.   

Anyone out there had a chance to compare these amps?  If so, what is the verdict?  And how about the various upgrades available for each?  Thanks in advance for your advice.


FWIW, as I recall Raven uses 6l6GC power tubes in their amps. This should produce a clear and linear sound which can sound excellent when used with neutral to warm toned speakers (I like and use that tube a lot) much as a 6550 or KT88.  No so much the Carys which use tubes which tend to err on the warm side of neutral and might sound good with Klipsch speakers, but not mine. :-)

I agree with Prentice regarding first selecting speakers before you get an amp, BUT I think you would benefit from broader research into matching amps and speakers before you do either. FWIW, I used 6l6gcs in a Primaluna Dialogue One amp. I liked the combo a lot. 

@jrcotner  , I probably do everything backwards myself.  About 30 years ago I had a pair of pretty cheap NHT speakers (that I actually liked) and then I bought my first tube amp to pair them with and I liked them (the speakers) even more.  Then I bought a pair of B&Ws I REALLY liked with that first tube amp.  Down the road I have had a couple of more tube amps, but I still have those B&Ws.

My thought was that it's easier to get an amp and take it to various stereo places to try out speakers than drag speakers around to try out amps.

I think what would be ideal is if you could find a way to audition both the electronics and the speakers in your home.  What I will say about CaryDirect, is that they advertise that they will allow an audition period (without going to their site, I think it is either 30 or 60 days) with no strings (except shipping) attached.  And that is if you do not order any upgrades with the equipment from CaryDirect.

Music Direct also offers an audition period that I think is 60 days.

I actually own a couple of Cary pieces in my system--an amp from the Dennis Had days and a preamp from the "new" Cary.  The customer service/tech support isn't anywhere close to being as good now than it was in the Dennis had days, but I still like the product.



I've owned the Cary Sli-80 and the Raven Blackhawk LE, though at different times and with different speakers. If I were to choose between them, without regard to the speakers, I'd buy the Raven. They were both fine amps but the customer support from Raven was exceptionally good, better than that from Cary.


FWIW, I have a couple of Cary pieces I bought used and have had good customer support convos even though the used equipment isn't covered under any warranty.


FWIW, I have a couple of Cary pieces I bought used and have had good customer support convos even though the used equipment isn't covered under any warranty.

@rjsully0467  , you've had better luck than I have.  Do you remember who you spoke to?

The last time I needed tech support on an amp (this would have been in the summer of '20) and I called them, I was told to email their tech support.  Since they didn't reply to the email I sent them, I emailed them again, and then all they told me was basically what their shop rates for repair work was and to ship them the amp if I wanted them to work on it.