Audiogon Visits Cary Audio

The Audiogon team was lucky enough to be invited to visit Cary Audio in Apex, North Carolina earlier this month for a private tour, and we’re excited to tell you all about it.

For more information or to purchase any of the Audio Electronics products by Cary Audio, click here.

We walked in the door and knew we were in the right place with dozens of audio enthusiast magazines lying on the table in their front lobby.  We couldn’t wait to get our eyes and ears on their latest equipment, the Audio Electronics line, consisting of the Nighthawk headphone amplifier, the Constellation preamplifier, and the Hercules power amplifier.

We began our tour with a sneak peek of their testing room and two listening rooms, though we’d have to wait until a bit later to try anything out.

First on the agenda: Visit the factory floor, where all of the Audio Electronics and Cary Audio products are made by hand.  We walked in and immediately saw several technicians hard at work at their stations.

Technicians Hand Wiring Cary Products

Each piece is hand wired, using point-to-point wiring, for the best quality and purest sound.  Quality Control and Service Manager, Steve Witek, explained his process to us.  The step-by-step assembling process is captured for each item in a color-coded diagram book.  This ensures that products are made consistently, no matter who is working on it that day.  He’s also started up a system where all the parts needed for a product are put together into a kit in advance, so the technicians have all they need in one bag at an arm’s reach.

Quality Control Diagram Booklet

We also visited the Burn-In Station where all of the equipment runs for at least 24-48 hours.  Most problems occur in this time frame so this ensures that there are no issues before shipping.

Burn In Station

Pieces are then taken into the testing room, where technicians take a listen to further ensure that Cary ships only the highest quality items.

Testing Room

Finally each piece is put into a component-unique box with special packaging.  After 24 years in business, Cary Audio has it down to a science.

Next, we learned about the Cary brand and what makes them unique.

Billy Wright, President and CEO, proudly impressed upon us that, first and foremost, all Audio Electronics and Cary Audio products are made in the USA, right at the factory we toured.   He further explained that providing jobs locally and maintaining such high-quality workmanship is of the utmost importance to him and the Cary team.  Wright said, “the U.S. is so technologically advanced, and we are taking advantage of that.”

Another key aspect about Cary is that it’s really a family business.  Billy Wright and his daughter Katie both contribute to the company, but even those that aren’t from the Wright family tree play an important role.  Wright told us, “Everyone’s job is just as important as the next person’s.  It’s like putting a puzzle together – it is not complete without all the pieces.”  He said, “Even Lucas, who boxes and ships all of our products. . .that packaging will be the first impression of the equipment.”

Wright explained to us that customization is another factor that makes Cary stand out from the rest.  They offer custom painting of chassis from any DuPont color code provided, as well as custom silk screening.  Doing all of this in-house cuts down on the cost and challenges that may arise from relying on outside vendors.

Custom Midnight Blue Chassis

Cary’s also developed a unique process for fabricating the transformers.  They use a high temperature wax instead of the standard epoxy, which allows for easier replacement.  If something goes out in the transformer, the wax can simply be reheated and the pieces will slide out.  Repairs can then be easily made and wax poured back in to reset the transformer.  This process is environmentally conscious and reduces costs to both the company and the customer.

Station for Wax Pouring into Transformers

We saved the best for last…trying out the products in the listening rooms!

Electronic Technician, Mark Auble, shared his extensive knowledge with us as we listened.  First, we compared the Cary HH-1 headphone amp with the Audio Electronics Nighthawk.  They both sound incredible, and we were pleasantly surprised how well the Nighthawk performed in comparison.  While the Cary tube headphone amp has more features, the solid-state Nighthawk had an excellent sound quality that’s sure to delight.

Next, we headed into the home entertainment listening room to audition the Constellation and Hercules compared with the Cary SLI-80.  Again, we were very impressed.  We’d love to have a set up like that in our Audiogon office!  The Audio Electronics line continued to hold up with the quality Cary is known for, while sticking with a simple design.  We stayed in this room probably a lot longer than we should have just enjoying the music.

Listening Room

Thank you so much to the Cary Audio family for giving us such a warm welcome and great tour.  It is clear how much special care and effort the Cary team puts into their products, and we love to see that.  We’re very excited about displaying the new Audio Electronics line at T.H.E. Show in Las Vegas and even more amped up about offering the products to our Members in January!

To see more pictures from our visit, check out our album on facebook here!


  1. As I’ve commented on the contacts area for audiogon, plese don’t put hi res images in trivial things like news releases and PR. the first shot of the technicials soldering is a 2MB image. Its wasteful and unprofessional

    1. I agree, some of us could be on mobile devices without huge data plans. Also it’s not necessary for a picture of that size. 200 kb should be plenty.

    2. When I get a not urgent e-mail from Audiogon I don’t think of looking at it on my handheld. I view it at my home on a computer that I can appreciate the images and their hi res. “wasteful and unprofessional” wow. I’m thankful for Audiogon’s ambition.

    3. PP Wilson, first off how about using the spelling module that’s available on 99.99% of PCs. Most decent cameras will give you an image of 2MB or more if you have it set up properly. Wasteful? Unprofessional? I think not.

      1. I see that you have quickly abandoned all thought of Christmas, Jesus, Christianity, and all like that there.

        It must have been too much of a strain on your natural mordancy.

        No. It’s not wit. It’s what passes for humour.’round here. I’m not surprised you fail to see the difference.

  2. I am glad Cary is building in the USA factory, but according to Stereophile the SACD 303 is built in Hong Kong. What’s the truth in stating that ALL products are made in USA?

    1. I own Cary cd player model : CDP 303 bought in around 2002 from Cary Audio directly , and it says on the back panel ” Assembled in Hong Kong ” . I remember seeking explanataion from Cary at that time , but did not get an answer .

  3. In the quest to understand some of the rediculouse prices of hi end audio, I pose the questions: Are the solderers IPC certified? Is the facility ISO certified? To what standards are workmanship & quality control held to?
    Materials alone is not justification.

    1. While I’m sure they get the job done, I’m not that impressed with what I see. The place looks like a mess compared to the Bryston facility (for example).

  4. Hey Audiogon, if you do a write up on a company, you should be more thorough. It is more than worth mentioning that Cary Audio was started by Dennis Had, and many of the amps and pre-amps they still sell were designed solely by him. He led the company to great fame in the audiophile world, with Billy Wright along for the ride as a business partner. Dennis was “persuaded” to retire a few years ago, but his legacy lives on with the tube-based products that Billy Wright was lucky enough to be heir to. Not all of their designs are manufactured here; the solid state and digital products are subbed out to Asian producers.

  5. Wow… folks what a bunch of moaning and complaining. This is a simple quick story about Cary. It’s not about data storage or international industry, it’s just a story about a company that makes products in an industry that we all and love to read about. Enjoy whats here and move past what you don’t care for in the article. the world needs a lot less attacking of one another especially over something so trivial as a story about Hi-Fi gear.

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