CAT ultimate mk 2 tube questions

Jan 23, 2011
4,170
80
160
Amsterdam holland
#1
hello, i have some questions regarding tubes in the cat i have ,here is the picture , it does have a legend front panel and left /right volume switches just like in the legend not volume /balance .
(some in between design???)


DSC_0454 by andromeda61, on Flickr

If i look at the print the left section would be phono and the right linestage .

the linestage is quit, the phono not so anymore , it was a second hand unit when i bought it .

The tubes in the phono section are from several brands , JJ EI Sovtek and tubes with only a typenumber/letters
Any body any recommendations on a nice new set of quit tubes , the same type of course , although i dont know what has been changed by the previous owner so i might alter brands .

Ive cleaned all the switches with contact cleaning spray and the line /phono switching noise seems to have dissapeared , also the sound seems to have improved by cleaning the switches and in and out puts

The sound is phemenol still , the tube sound quality is still very good , this audiocomponent amazes me , or maybe it was just that an improvement over the nagra plp which is no competion for this thing , this is a complete sounding musicmachine from the bass to the the top

I m gonna also clean the tube pins and sockets


henk jan
 
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mep

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
9,483
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#2
My advice is don’t be a cheapskate and contact Ken Stevens and buy a new tube set from him. Nobody knows this preamp better than Ken and he knows how quiet each tube needs to be for what position in the circuit it’s in. You pay more than when you buy tubes from Nikki No-nothing, but it ends up being cheaper in the end.

The only other choice I would recommend as a somewhat distant second would be Kevin Deal from Upscale Audio.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#4
Great advice Mark

I always buy my tubes from the manufacturer for the reason you suggested but have on many other occasions have also bought from Kevin at Upscale Audio
 

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,223
7
38
New York City
#5
Great advice Mark

I always buy my tubes from the manufacturer for the reason you suggested but have on many other occasions have also bought from Kevin at Upscale Audio
The other person who many like, though his prices are higher, is Andy Bauman of Vintage Tube Services. Tremendous stock and great knowledge of what works where ;)
 
Jan 23, 2011
4,170
80
160
Amsterdam holland
#6
Yes but i live europe , buying original CAT tubes would probably be the best idea , not only soundwise but also resale value , by bringing it up to date .
Only problem is that sometimes these things go through 2 or 3 extra parties before they end up with me with at a " tremendous " extra cost , i could contact cat if they had a website ???
There are some tubespecialist shops as well here with knowledgable people
 

DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2010
6,135
141
63
La Jolla, Calif USA
#9
Henk, You might try rolling in some NOS tubes.
Not that Ken doesn't know his preamp better than anyone, but his feeling seems to be that tubes from manufacturer's that he hasn't heard or used aren't that great. I don't subscribe to his opinion on tube rolling. In my case, Kevin Deal suggested some GE NOS tubes for the phono stage that were in a different league to the stock tubes that Ken liked and recommended. The difference between the stock tubes and the GE's wasn't subtle.
I'm getting ready to re-tube the line section and I will definitely be talking to Kevin again to get his recommendation. I know you are in Holland, but tubes can be ordered from Kevin via e.mail or
by phone and shipping should be no problem.
BTW, Jim McShane is another great resource for tube questions. http://www.mcshanedesign.net/tubes.htm
 

mep

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
9,483
5
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#10
Davey-Jim McShane is a good guy who happens to specialize in Harmon Kardon restorations. Is Jim passing out recommendations for how to retube a CAT preamp? Trying to outsmart the designer is always a tricky business.
 
Jan 23, 2011
4,170
80
160
Amsterdam holland
#11
Microstrip ,Thanks good advice.
Myles ,interesting to read (some of ) the manufacturers standpoints
Tube swapping can be a dangerous activity - if you get this addiction and start trying every tube you can get in your expensive preamplifier you are increasing the risk of picking a faulty tube. As far as I know, the CAT preamplifier uses semiconductors in the circuit, mixed with the tubes - if you get a short circuited tube, you can damage the preamplifier.

My advice - get a tube tester and never put a new tube in the preamplifier before checking it. Even tested tubes can become damaged during shipping.
 

DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2010
6,135
141
63
La Jolla, Calif USA
#13
Microstrip ,Thanks good advice.
Myles ,interesting to read (some of ) the manufacturers standpoints

Henk, I wouldn't be afraid of rolling tubes into your CAT. If you get some advice from a reputable dealer like Kevin Deal or jim McShane, you shouldn't have a problem with the tubes, and I suspect you will be able to hear the CAT at its very considerable best.
In my instance, the upgrade was easily discernible and very worthwhile.
 
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Jan 23, 2011
4,170
80
160
Amsterdam holland
#14
After having bought this preamp in 2012 and having expiremented with all kinds of NOS tubes ( were they new NOS in the first place thats highly questionable ) and genelex gold lion tubes , i decided to go cheap this time and not take the audiophile route.
My tubes got noisy and needed to be replaced
Here in europe there is a big electronic online retailer called CONRAD .
I bought my ECC 83 and ECC 88 online and i got them a few days ago (at least you know these are new ), i also ordered KONTAKT 60 electronic cleaning spray , priice around 180 euro for 10 tubes plus a couple of spares
Its a 13 year old pre so i can imagine its good to remove oxidation , so i removed the tubes sprayed in all the sockets , stepped volume attenuator , rca contacts .
After waiting some hours and putting the juice back on , i had tube ringing for the first hour or or so , i never had that before with the CAT pre, i switched some phono tubes for the line stage ( identical tube setting ) and put my finger against a tube to prevent it from ringing , after about 1 hour it all settled and the pre sounds better then it has ever sounded before .
I also changed the interconnects for the first time in 10 plus years , i didnt go to an audiophile store this time but i went to a studio /music equipment shop and i bought Roland studio black line rca cables 18 euro s for 1 meter .
Conclusion in this situation i think tube dampers wouldn t be a bad idea .
Layering improved ,clarity improved , noisefloor is off course lower and the soundstage expanded with better image separation .
I know its sounds diplomatic , but its just how it is lol .
I think this oldie now sounds better then it has ever done before .

Ps the interconnects were transparent link 200 cables , probably also with a cap parallel in the ( black box ) , caps dry out over time and regarding the latest disccusion i decided to get rid of them all together , no more mysterie boxes in my system .

Tube brand was JJ and for the other tube type was a nameless tube.

PS The design question has been solved as well , this model was specifically designed for a german audio show( 2007 / 2008 ) to show a legend model was coming , according to the german distributor
It says CAT ultimate MK 2 on the back but it has a double vol control , not vol / balance .
 
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