Convergent Audio Technology at Axpona 2023
wonderful sound in a huge room
The Convergent Audio Technology (CAT) room was one of my first stops at Axpona 2022.Upon walking into this gargantuan room with at least 16 foot ceilings, it was hard not to smile as the sound was cranked up, very balanced and with a strong sense of presence. Nothing shy about this system. I could immediately tell I was going to enjoy the demo.
The Legendary SL1 Preamplifier
I was immediately drawn to the open top of the legendary CAT SL1 preamplifier laying out on a table like a supermodel laying poolside. The unit was showing off three 6922 tubes, two 12AX7s and a volume control that consists of two separate 46 position shunts with soldered resistors.
Everyone wants to hear about "new" products at Axpona and the SL1 has been in continuous production since 1985. Though the base model number has not changed in all those years, doesn't mean this legendary pre hasn't been updated and improved. Since its release the SL1 has been divided into two models…the SL1 Legend Black Path Extreme and the SL1 Renaissance Black Path Extreme.
CAT designer Ken Stevens explained that the overall circuit design hasn't changed much but the CAT SL1 has seen upgrades over the years in circuit board materials, capacitors and internal wire. Ken’s drive for perfection has ensured this “legend” of a preamp continues to be a top tier piece for serious music lovers. Today, what some audiophiles call the “best preamp in the world” retails for $69,995.
At one point Convergent Audio Technology was even building their own capacitors (which is almost unheard of) and in the past, purchased the remaining stock of the well regarded Rubycon Black Gate capacitors. Today they still design their own caps and have them built specifically for CAT. They even use ultra hi-end caps for the tube plate, which seems a little overkill, but apparently is worth it as the system sounded wonderful.
The Sound in the Convergent Audio Technology Room
It is not easy to set up a room in short order and get the sound “right”. For that reason, I don’t hold any mediocre sound at shows against the equipment. Unlike some rooms, this system sounded glorious.
Although I only had a few minutes of listening, the system sounded stunning with the macro and micro dynamics standing out with just a touch of a lush glow around the instruments. The soundstage was deep and immersive and the overall presentation was powerful and authoritative.
CD Player: Audio Arrow Capital Classic (discontinued)
Power Cords: Assorted ESP power cords and distribution box
ESP Renaissance ($5,000)
ESP Pro ES ($800)
ESP Reference ($2,500)
ESP Eloquence ($20,000)
Interconnect to Preamp: Black Path amorphous Gold and Silver Hot Rod 1.5M ($10,000)
Interconnect Turntable to Pre: Amorphous Gold/Silver shielded phono cable ($8,000)
Interconnect Pre to Power: Black Path amorphous Gold/Silver Hot Rod 3M ($16,000)
Isolation for amps: Ginkgo Arches
CAT also played two other amps during Axpona 2023: The Statement Extreme ($224,900/pr) and the CAT JL7LE ($59,000/pr).
This was one of the rooms in which I could have stayed and listened all day, but unfortunately I had to move on...Lots to see and hear!
(TrackingAngle welcomes our newest contributor Dean Cacioppo!)