CES & THE Show 2014 • Hot Product

Convergent Audio Technology (CAT to you and us) showed its 100Wpc, all-triode JL5 stereo amp as a prototype at last year's CES and even hit the final price on the head, $11,990. The final version has some features not revealed earlier, like OptiBias, which keeps the tubes perfectly biased, even with power-line fluctuations of +/-10%. LEDs indicate when the KT120 tubes need changing, so there's no guesswork. However, because they're operated at a quarter of their rated output, long life should be assured. The amp's 15-pound output transformers are potted in their own magnetically isolated housing lined with birch plywood -- "one of the most musical woods," as the amp's promo sheet puts it. As with other CAT products, the JL5 has a heavy steel chassis that's internally damped, and it rests on viscoelastic feet, which provide mechanical isolation. The "baby CAT," as Ken Stevens calls his least expensive amp, appears to be a lot of amp for its price.

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