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Old 12-01-2017, 09:43 PM
Jerome W's Avatar
Jerome W Jerome W is online now
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Default Review of the GAT 2

Thanks Serge !
I read the reviews and the SL1 seems to be a very serious preamp for sure. I am not familiar at all with CAT and I am not sure if it is available in France.
I am not a technical guy at all. I never considered the price of the GAT too high because it uses only 2 tubes. Actually it is a hybrid design, each tube being coupled in the output stage to a MOS-FET transistor.
To me, the large number of tubes in the CAT would be a concern : as you know, tubes are not for ever and failures before their supposed life time is common. I like the simpler design of the GAT which looks more trouble free in terms of maintenance over the years.
The CAT may well be a better sounding preamp than the GAT. But just because of all these tubes, it would need to sound really much better than the GAT for me to consider to buy it. And honestly, I don't see how come something could be "much" better than the GAT to my ears. At this level, I am not sure to hear the differences on my system ( which is not a high resolution one as the one of the Stereophile reviewer ) and if I hear them, I doubt that I could consider them of real importance.
Not being a technical guy, I do not "believe" in the complexity of a circuit as being a proof of superior sonics. I actually believe in the opposite. Sometimes, designing simple things is much more "complicated" and difficult but leads to much better results.
Makes me think of the statement of JC Verdier about the MC225 amplifier.
"The design is terribly simple and as paradoxal as it may sounds, it is the precise reason why it is extremely difficult to build one similar. The incredible sonics of the amp comes directly from this simplicity".
Seems to me that CJ took this path of simplicity over the years for both their preamps and their amps. The modern designs being much simpler than the old ones.
If my road crosses a CAT preamp, be sure that I will listen to it carefully. [emoji6]
But something in the reviews of the CAT make me think that I will end up preferring the GAT : they all say that the preamp reproduces very precisely what is on the recording. This is an other way of saying that average or poor recordings will sound barely listenable on most systems. And this is the reason why some high end hifi owners end up listening to only audiophile recordings instead of listening to a wide variety of music. This level of "excellence" is terrifying to me because it literally shrink your universe to excellence. And excellence is rare.
As I mentioned already, the GAT is very neutral and faithful, yet, it has a "soul". I mean that it has the magic of making you enjoy all your recordings. Not only the audiophile ones. Yet, it does that without coloring the sound. Without magnifying details that should remain in the background. I think that this magic comes from "just the right" amount of resolution needed to enjoy the music fully. As CJ claims : it sounds "just right". Not more than right. And the difficulty in design I guess, for these stunning units, is precisely to stop the resolution ability at the right point. This is a common attribute of CJ and Shindo for example. But they are not alone of course.
Think about the most beautiful lady on earth. If your eyes had unlimited resolution, you will see absolute horrors on the surface of her skin. And if you could read in her soul you could also discover horrible things. It is good when resolution stops somewhere.

On a side note, CJ sold 250 GAT I.
How many KX-R preamps do you think that Ayre sold ?
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Last edited by Jerome W; 12-01-2017 at 10:08 PM.
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