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Old 12-01-2017, 02:02 PM
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Default Review of the GAT 2

There's a review of the GAT 2 at TAS by Jacob Heilbrun:

http://www.theabsolutesound.com/arti...lifier/?page=2

Personally, I find Jerôme's review to be even better.
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Old 12-01-2017, 04:25 PM
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Sounds like a great performer but at $24k, that is one hefty price tag. There is nothing exotic or extraordinary about the design, just a very generous profit margin at the end users expense Stephen? I can almost understand a product like the Ayre KX-R being $18k, if you glance under the hood, it makes sense, I suspect glancing under the hood of the GAT2 will not impress at all for the money? I could be wrong but I suspect this is just a statement piece to line the pockets of CJ. Surely there is nothing that amounts to any technology or expense that rivals the price of a brand new Toyota Camry. A great tube preamp will sound great but it doesn't have to cost $24k in my mind without offering some serious technology behind the price tag. There is nothing inside the GAT2 that would convince me of it.
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Old 12-01-2017, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puma Cat View Post
There's a review of the GAT 2 at TAS by Jacob Heilbrun:



http://www.theabsolutesound.com/arti...lifier/?page=2



Personally, I find Jerôme's review to be even better.

No Stephen : mine was just impressions and feelings. You give me too much honor but thank you anyway !
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Old 12-01-2017, 04:38 PM
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Sounds like a great performer but at $24k, that is one hefty price tag. There is nothing exotic or extraordinary about the design, just a very generous profit margin at the end users expense Stephen? I can almost understand a product like the Ayre KX-R being $18k, if you glance under the hood, it makes sense, I suspect glancing under the hood of the GAT2 will not impress at all for the money? I could be wrong but I suspect this is just a statement piece to line the pockets of CJ. Surely there is nothing that amounts to any technology or expense that rivals the price of a brand new Toyota Camry. A great tube preamp will sound great but it doesn't have to cost $24k in my mind without offering some serious technology behind the price tag. There is nothing inside the GAT2 that would convince me of it.


Actually Serge I think that you may well be very impressed by a nudie of the Gat. The quality of construction and the parts are very impressive.
Anyway, what makes the price looking "normal" is mostly its sound. I have seen quite a few of KX-R, C1000, ARC REF, Pass, Lamm, Nagra preamps for sale.
Try to find a used GAT for sale : they do not appear often.
This preamp is spectacular. I personally have owned like you quite a few high end preamps. The GAT beats them all.
I am happy I got mine at a used and friendly price.
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Old 12-01-2017, 04:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome W View Post
Actually Serge I think that you may well be very impressed by a nudie of the Gat. The quality of construction and the parts are very impressive.
Anyway, what makes the price looking "normal" is mostly its sound. I have seen quite a few of KX-R, C1000, ARC REF, Pass, Lamm, Nagra preamps for sale.
Try to find a used GAT for sale : they do not appear often.
This preamp is spectacular. I personally have owned like you quite a few high end preamps. The GAT beats them all.
I am happy I got mine at a used and friendly price.
Jerome, also have to consider the actual units sold.. No doubt Ayre, ARC, McIntosh sell many more units, therefore you will see many more floating out there as the audiophiles chase the next object of desire. I don’t doubt the GAT2 sounds great as do many tube and SS preamps but we both know that in a serious A/B listening session there are much more affordable products that would impress to no lesser degree once our “emotional” part of the buying aspect is put aside and only our ears are allowed to make the selection. It’s the pitfall of high end audio and the feeling of belonging to a certain camp or being partial and loyal to a particular brand that gets in the way of a rational purchase of audio gear. Am i wrong??
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Old 12-01-2017, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by PHC1 View Post
Jerome, also have to consider the actual units sold.. No doubt Ayre, ARC, McIntosh sell many more units, therefore you will see many more floating out there as the audiophiles chase the next object of desire. I don’t doubt the GAT2 sounds great as do many tube and SS preamps but we both know that in a serious A/B listening session there are much more affordable products that would impress to no lesser degree once our “emotional” part of the buying aspect is put aside and only our ears are allowed to make the selection. It’s the pitfall of high end audio and the feeling of belonging to a certain camp or being partial and loyal to a particular brand that gets in the way of a rational purchase of audio gear. Am i wrong??

Serge,

I share some of your points.
High end gear is way overpriced. We do agree.
But my experience is that stunning preamps are very rare. They are just very tough to design and build.
Power amps ? I could be more impressed by a 2k power amp than a 20k one. It happened to me more than once.
Not true for preamps. If you can find me a preamp that sounds as good as the Gat at a fraction of the price, then I will sell the Gat without any hesitation.
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Old 12-01-2017, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome W View Post
Serge,

I share some of your points.
High end gear is way overpriced. We do agree.
But my experience is that stunning preamps are very rare. They are just very tough to design and build.
Power amps ? I could be more impressed by a 2k power amp than a 20k one. It happened to me more than once.
Not true for preamps. If you can find me a preamp that sounds as good as the Gat at a fraction of the price, then I will sell the Gat without any hesitation.
Jerome, just as one example listen to Convergent Audio Technology if you find one. I don't care if its the one from the early 90's or the more modern SL1 Renaissance version.

There is a whole bunch more "toobage" going on under the hood of a CAT and it is just as resolving but musical as anything that I imagine CJ can come up with considering there is only a pair of 6922 and a sprinkle of Teflon caps and not much else in the GAT2 for which you must shell out $24k new. There is only so many ways you can skin that sonic cat with a pair of 6922, nothing revolutionary going on here.

The CAT never cost nearly as much. $7950 for the Renaissance version I believe when it was sold new.



GAT2











CAT SL1 Renaissance.

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Old 12-01-2017, 09:43 PM
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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.
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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Old 12-01-2017, 09:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome W View Post
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 come 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.
Jerome, I can't tell you if the CAT sounds better than GAT2, I have never auditioned the GAT2 but spent quite a bit of time with the various CATs over the years listening to them in various systems. The CAT was an incredible preamp back then and nothing changed since then. My whole point was is that I feel some audio gear is drastically overpriced banking on the fact that they have a following and exploiting the loyalty of customers. Throw a few of them out there to the reviewers of the better known audio magazines who are all too happy to do a favorable review because the advertising fees is what keeps them in business (magazines) and they also often get to keep the gear at a substantial discount (professional courtesy discount) sometimes keeping it, sometimes selling it... I have never put too much faith in any magazine reviews because I know the business model all too well. I was also involved with marketing and advertising and a health magazine at one point in my life. I know how important advertising bucks are.

Trust your ears only my friend. When you can't audition, trust the ears of the friends who share your passion for audio and you know their taste in sound/music and can deduce from there.

Over the years, we get to know each other pretty well from posts and get a picture of who likes what and their taste. When I was looking for a DAC, I knew I could trust Stephen with his suggestion because he knew the DAC I was interested in well. He described it to me down to the last detail and that's exactly what it turned out to be. The advice of audio buddies carries much more worth and weight than any magazine, at least to me.


Having said all that, I am not suggesting you go looking for a CAT preamp or anything else for that matter, you are happy with the GAT and that's all that matters. Would you spend $24k on a new one? I'd rather convince you to be careful and try to save you money!
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Old 12-01-2017, 10:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PHC1 View Post
Jerome, I can't tell you if the CAT sounds better than GAT2, I have never auditioned the GAT2 but spent quite a bit of time with the various CATs over the years listening to them in various systems. The CAT was an incredible preamp back then and nothing changed since then. My whole point was is that I feel some audio gear is drastically overpriced banking on the fact that they have a following and exploiting the loyalty of customers. Throw a few of them out there to the reviewers of the better known audio magazines who are all too happy to do a favorable review because the advertising fees is what keeps them in business (magazines) and they also often get to keep the gear at a substantial discount (professional courtesy discount) sometimes keeping it, sometimes selling it... I have never put too much faith in any magazine reviews because I know the business model all too well. I was also involved with marketing and advertising and a health magazine at one point in my life. I know how important advertising bucks are.

Trust your ears only my friend. When you can't audition, trust the ears of the friends who share your passion for audio and you know their taste in sound/music and can deduce from there.

Over the years, we get to know each other pretty well from posts and get a picture of who likes what and their taste. When I was looking for a DAC, I knew I could trust Stephen with his suggestion because he knew the DAC I was interested in well. He described it to me down to the last detail and that's exactly what it turned out to be. The advice of audio buddies carries much more worth and weight than any magazine, at least to me.


Having said all that, I am not suggesting you go looking for a CAT preamp or anything else for that matter, you are happy with the GAT and that's all that matters. Would you spend $24k on a new one? I'd rather convince you to be careful and try to save you money!

Serge...
I agree.
And I would not spend 24k on any unit in hifi today. Money is just too hard to earn !
As I said, I was very lucky to get a second hand GAT at a very friendly price and in a mint condition.
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