Cary Audio Cinema 6 Pre/Pro and Cinema 7 Amplifier Page 2
Being in an old-time frame of mind, the first thing I put in was Doc Watson's sweet-sounding Songs from Home CD, and I was immediately taken in by the Cary combo's warmth and approachability. Watson's legendary baritone was excellently delivered, with a body and punch that set it apart, but it also had a fluid, easygoing character. The same balance of fullness and effortlessness characterized the sound of Watson's peerless flat-picking, along with a feel of detail and individuality with each pluck of the strings that held form even as Watson really got going—and if you know Doc Watson at all, you know how quickly he can get going. This is precisely what I like to hear in home theater gear from high-end companies that are better known for musical reproduction. These pieces may be multichannel-oriented and even less expensive, but they have a musicality to them that will remind you where they came from.
I led off at a different end of the musical spectrum for my high-resolution and multichannel demos with DVD-Audio renderings of Mozart's Symphony Prague (KV 504, Dg Gold) and Respighi's Pines of Rome (AIX Records), plus the SACD version of Bucky Pizzarelli's Swing Live (Chesky). I started with the big band and was pleased to see that the Cary combo's natural handle on music was preserved in the multichannel domain. It was even warmer and more effortless but still explosive when asked to be.
Both pieces handled the Energy V2.4's lively tweeter nicely, but I was even more impressed by the Cinema 7's control over it. Even with the benefits of high-resolution source material, this tweeter can get carried away with inferior amps, but it's dead-on with a quality power plant, which the Cinema 7 clearly is. Don't be fooled by its modest 100-watt power rating; the Cinema 7 proved with the denser and more-dynamic orchestral tracks that it can deliver the juice. I detected the slightest hints of fatigue-inducing strain during heavy transient bursts with the classical material at high volumes, but recovery was quick and clean. This may not be the amp to run big electrostats or other punishing loads—in a multichannel context, I'd consider Cary's outstanding Cinema 5 for that. However, with 95 percent of the speakers that people will likely run off this combo, I'd say you're not going to have any problems. Auditioning Movies
I couldn't get the Cinema 7 to tire with movie soundtracks, even with all seven channels firing, unless I pushed well into unreasonable volumes—where you can make most any multichannel amp flinch somewhat. Dynamic range was impressive, evidenced nicely by Neo on the helicopter-mounted Gatling gun in The Matrix and the juxtaposition of the softly tumbling spent shells with the large reports of those shells' former contents. Still, warmth was again the first thing I noted, which I don't really expect with entry-level separates. Granted, it's clearly a generalization to say that less-expensive separates are rougher around the edges than those from the top shelf. After all, smooth, natural sound is a product of good design and execution as much as quality parts. But I'm still pleasantly surprised to see the kind of refinement that this Cary combination showed at this price. This combo will never bite unless the source asks it to. If anything, it leans to the laid-back side, which is always the side I'd rather see gear lean toward. I ran a range of movies through this pairing, and it never disappointed on any level, whether it was dynamic range, naturalness, power delivery, or any other soundtrack criteria you could think of. Again, the theory holds form: Get music right, and it will do movies right, too.
As if you had any doubt by this point, I'll make it crystal clear for the record: I like this Cinema 6/Cinema 7 combination a great deal. It's got a smooth, natural sound with movies and music that really doesn't need any price-point qualification; but, when you consider that these two models are priced at the entry level, as separates go, it becomes that much more impressive. Throw in tremendous ease of use, a full range of features and other perks, and even a slick aesthetic character based on the silver skins mine came in, and it's clear that Cary has a combination here that should get some attention. Home theater's middle-class ranks will keep growing, and the competition will continue to intensify; however, if entry-level separates are your target, you'd do well to have this Cary combination somewhere at the top of your audition list.
• Smooth, natural sound with music and movies
• As easy to set up as it gets
• Will upsample digital audio to double its original frequency rate