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Cary Audio Design - Factory Tour

[Cary Audio plants in Cary, NC, USA]
[Italian version]

Reporter: Arvind Kohli - TNT USA
Reportage: May 2007


On a beautiful Sunday afternoon this past September, Cary Audio Design and Carolina Audio Society organized a factory tour at the Cary Audio factory. Danny Bernstein of C.A.S. was also kind enough to extend the invitation to the members of the fledgling Piedmont Triad Audio Society (that I started earlier this year).

Cary Audio Design was started in 1989 by Dennis Had and his wife, Donna. The facility we toured was their head office and analog products factory, all housed in a 10,000 sq ft building. Digital products are designed in Oriental, NC as well as Hong Kong and built in Hong Kong.

Dennis Had, founder and president of Cary Audio Design welcomes the attendees and gives us a history of the company and their products. [carytour1]
The rest of the attendees. Here we also see Danny Bernstein of the Carolina Audio Society front and center. Is he trying to cozy up to the door prize? A new Audio Electronic AE3/MKII preamplifier $1500 value [carytour2]
Dennis standing guard behind the door prize, a new Audio Electronic AE3/MKII preamplifier ($1500 value). My blasted luck...I did not win. [carytour3]
After a nice lunch, it was on with the tour!

First stop, a peek at Dennis' design center. He still prefers to design with on pencil and paper, though the schematics are then transferred onto Gerber files by the design team in Oriental, NC.

Lettering and such are silk-screened onto the chassis at stations like this. The painted chassis themselves are sourced from a local vendor. [carytour5]
The receiving dock and the transformer potting station. [carytour6]
Components are added at the Assembly stations. Here a visitor is inspecting a partially finished CAD-805AE single-ended 50 watt mono bloc amplifier [carytour7]
Here another visitor inspects a "Cinema 5" multi-channel amp. [carytour8]
Dennis shows off the individual channel modules used in the solid-state amps. [carytour9]
Finished "Cinema 5" amps waiting to be cased and burnt in. [carytour10]
Here Dennis poses next to a new production run of CAD-211M triode mono-blocs (retail value of $15,000/pair). [carytour11]
Here Dennis poses next to a new CAD-120S 120-watt, vacuum tube, stereo amplifiers. [carytour12]
After assembly, Cinema 5 (200 watt X 5 channel) solid state home theater amplifiers products end up on the "rack" for a 48 hour burn-in. [carytour13]
Every Cary Audio product to leave the factory is tested at one of these quality control test benches. Every product manufactured has full test documentation. Cary Audio maintains these files for up to seven years on each unit produced. [carytour14]
And then for dessert...some listening time.

The listening room was setup with a pair of Dynaudio Confidence C4 speakers, and a variety of Cary gear. Each of the amps sounded beguiling...I of course cannot give an indepth evaluation, since I had no point of reference. But I can say that I would happily live with any of the setups I heard, and was unwilling to leave the listening room and go home at the end of the day.

I was, however, quite amazed by a couple of observations. The spectrum and imaging were very impressive in spite of the side walls being fairly close to the speakers and not an iota of room treatment was used. Also, I was surprised at how effortlessly the amps drove the Dynaudio with a rated 4ohm nominal impedance (albeit 90db sensitivity).

On the table we see a newly released SLP-03 vacuum tube balanced preamplifier; displaying herself wantonly with her top off.

On the top shelf of the rack in the back ground we see their top of the line SLP-05 preamp. This is a two-piece design, with the power supply serving double duty as a base.

Below that is the "CD 306 SACD" player which served as the source for all of our listening.

A closer look at the SLP-05 preamp. [carytour17]
Dennis giving the technically inclined an overview of the insides of the SLP-03 fully balanced, dual-mono, vacuum tube preamplifier. [carytour18]
P.T.A.S. member Manbir Nag salivating into the SLP-03 preamplifier...or did he just lose his keys? [carytour19]
And on the floor we have the right channel amp of the CAD 805 Anniversary Edition (top), the CAD 120S which can be switched between triode and ultralinear modes (bottom right)...and finally, we were privy to the soon to be introduced and unnamed as yet amplifier (bottom left). [carytour20]
A close-up of the CAD 805 Anniversary Edition [carytour21]
A rear view of the soon to be released (and yet unnamed) amplifier.

This amp will be available in two version...the basic configuration will be similar to what we see here, and it will deliver 70 WPC in Push-Pull mode. A three-piece upgraded version will also be offered, where the base unit (shown) will drive mono-blocks (not shown) to deliver a whopping 500WPC also in Push-Pull using much larger transmitting tubes (pair of 3-500Z triodes)!

Prices are expected to be $10,000 for the basic version and $15,000 for the upgrade.

Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright...

The tubes of the prototype are 572B 160 watt dissipation transmitting tubes all aglow.

Adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu...

Dennis and Sales Manager Gregg Dunn bid us farewell.


© Copyright 2007 Arvind Kohli - www.tnt-audio.com

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