Convergent Audio Technology • JL5 Limited Edition Stereo Amplifier $25,000 Review

November 19, 2021 § Leave a comment

After 25 years, I’ve still not discovered a single amp that’s everything to everybody, if such a beast even exists. But I’ve now heard one that comes closer than any other. The CAT JL5 Limited Edition brings together tremendous drive with transparency and, for lack of a better term, humanness. It has the body and presence that bring performers to life, the power reserves to keep up with seemingly any music played at any level, and the clarity to reveal the qualities of each recording. And the JL5 has its own set of super powers, which include exceptional control, wide dynamic range and high resolution, all while driving any speakers (or a pair of huge passive subwoofers). It also displays the tonal beauty of great tubes, in a package that costs less — even far less — than other stalwarts.

Ken Stevens is a unique audio character and as confident as a shaman in his message: that everything that goes into creating audio electronics matters to the sound, that tubes don’t have to give to and take away from the music, that an all-triode amp doesn’t have to peter out when the music gets really loud or really dynamic, and that a stereo amp that achieves all of this doesn’t have to cost six figures. How the JL5 is a Limited Edition is a mystery, because I’m sure CAT will make as many as the company can sell, but it is an audio rarity, and a musical revelation too.

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