Looking for some listener experience with the Cary SLP-30. Just bought one…


Just picked up a Cary SLP-30 preamp, and was wondering what, if any, experience folks might have with it. Not going to be able to listen to it for a few days, and curiosity has the better of me.

Planning on upgrading the caps/tubes along with volume control, so if anyone has any direct experience with doing that, any info would be greatly appreciated.




nice find.

With fine definition, flexibility, and smooth sound, it won't disappoint you right out of the box. Maximize the 03 with the best ancillaries and tube roll the 4 tubes on board with RCA or Mullard NOS brands and you will come much closer to the top audiophile performance which preamps costing much more than the Cary can achieve. Tube rolled or not, the Cary is one of the best values in preamps I've yet encountered. 

keep us posted on the upgrades / sound that you get after it burns in

Congrats on the find. Be sure to let it settle in with your system for a while and just listen to it before pushing to make upgrades too quickly. While it might have older caps and tubes, it can be very enjoyable to get acquainted with it as-is too.  

Whatever caps and tubes you decide to go with also depends on the rest of your system. After listening to it for a while you’ll decide to leave it alone for a while longer or start making incremental changes. It might be okay as-is too, ya never know. Sometimes the caps in side have already been changed too, worth checking.


Thanks! I realize patience is a virtue, but sadly, it’s one that eludes me :) But to your point, I should live w it for a while. It was, from what I gather, a daily user. So will be safe to plug in. It’s all original (based on photos online of other units)



Thanks! I had no intention of buying a tube preamp as I have parts/schematic here for a build I was going  to do. But, price was really good, and it looked to be in good shape, so I figured I could repurpose the parts for a phono stage. I have some tubes here from other gear/inventory I can roll to see how it responds (Mullard, GE, Psvane, RCA) so I have some options:)


Planning on using it with my DIY Hiraga (30 watt class A), but it’s currently disassembled as I had a transistor fail) so for now, I’m going to use it with an Adcom GFA-545. I also have a Pass VFet here and have plans for a Single Ended EL34 build (for later in the winter) so I will have some options for it soon.


I have Cary Audio SLP 03. I got very good results with NOS Mullard CV4003 box plate, Amperex Bugleboy 12AU7 Holland and Amperex 12AU7 Holland (no bugleboy logo, later production). Some of these tubes can be very pricey. In your case you need only a pair while SLP 03 uses  four. Therein also lies the issue of polarity. SLP-30 output is inverted. So you have to reverse your speaker wires (red speaker wire on black terminal and vice a versa) for maximum sound staging and base response. Hope this helps


+1 to what @pwerahera mentioned about inverted polarity on many of the Cary preamps.  Same with my SLP-98 pre, as noted - just reverse the wires on the speaker side. It's not an issue per se', just how the preamp was designed, intentionally.

I’ve had a chance to spend some time with the Cary, and it is pretty much exactly what I expected/hoped for. Has a nice sense of air, transparency with dynamics that do not disappoint. Compared it with my Vintage Marantz 7T (which was fully rebuilt with better quality capacitors throughout), and the differences were as one would expect. Cary more musical, Marantz slightly more analytical. The Marantz is a very competent preamp, and continues to impress. 

Swapped out some different tubes and ended up staying with the GE12AU7’s it came with. Ordered a new rectifier for it and have made a list of capacitors that I will be swapping out. Caps in the unit are all appearing to be working as they should, but they are on the generic side, and feel the performance can be improved upon by upgrading the capacitors.


And remembering that I’m dealing with a non inverting preamp has caught me out a few times :) Keep needing to remind myself to reverse the speaker connection. 

All in all I’m very pleased. Especially for what I paid for the unit, it is well worth it. I’m now highly motivated to repair/reassemble my DIY Hiraga 30 watt class A amp so I can try them together. I built the Hiraga with the intention of having a tube front end, with the two of them feeding my ESL57’s.


I have some work to do :)