Advice on possible preamp upgrade

I currently use a CJ PV-14L as my 2 channel preamp and am looking for advice and opinions as to whether it is a worth while change to go to another preamp with a budget limit of 2K. I am looking at either an Audio Research SP-16 or 17, or a Cary SLP-03. My system is a combo 2 channel, H/T system so I need a preamp with a H/T bypass. I use a Jolida JD-1000P as my amp and Geddes Abbey 12A speakers. I do not need the preamp to have a phono so a linestage is fine, but if someone has a suggestion in my price range that includes a phono section that is fine. I am not unhappy with the CJ preamp I am just wondering if I can do any better with something in the 2K and under range, if not I will stay with the CJ. I prefer tube preamps but if someone has a suggestion for a SS unit I will consider that also.
If I were you i would stick with CJ. If you can't afford a jump up the CJ ladder, then wait. Changing preamps in a lateral move is not gonna be good in the long run. Especially if you LIKE the sound now. So either go for another CJ that is a step up, or save and go for a great CJ preamp.
I have never owned CJ, but can say I like the CJ sound, and would have owned one if it turned out to be in my path.
You should listen to Elizabeth. She has been known to have multiple preamps daisy chained in a row. Now you know THAT is some good sound.....

Dwr, what is it that you don't like about your current system? I've never heard Geddes Abbey speakers before, but the rest of your system looks like it leans on the warmish side. Is that your listening preference?

If you don't truly have any deficiencies in your sound, but are looking to make changes for the sake of making changes, then my advice would be to simply keep it as is. But if you need, for instance, more transparency, then maybe moving to one of the ARC preamps or a solid-state preamp such as a Musical Fidelity A308cr, Classe CP-50, Innersound iPre, or a Bel Canto preamp. Obviously, this just scratches the surface in terms of options.

Actually I like my sound now. I just wondered if one of the preamps I mentioned would be any improvement over my CJ. From the replies so far it doesn't sound like that is the case and I will keep the CJ in the mix. I am not looking for a lateral move and that sounds like what I asked would be. As for the speakers they are neither warm or bright they are one of the most neutral speakers you will ever hear, I am completely satisfied with them. Thank you guys for the responses I think you have answered my question.
Maybe the Bellamax pre amp from response audio might be worth looking at;5000 new asking 1995;seems to address your areas of concern and might be worth checking out.
If you are deciding to stick with the cj, then contact Bob Backert at and talk with him about what he can do to enhance the musicality of your cj preamp. Bob has a lot of experience modifying cj gear with his own proprietary modifications that will have your cj making music, well beyond what you have experienced. Bob is the real deal. He has done great work on my cj PV-12L. He can do so for you too.
Hifiman5 excellant suggestion as well !!!
Thanks Hifiman I will certainly check into that.
The CJ tube preamps are very nice and I have owned a few as well as some of their amps, very nice sound, great engineering, and quality construction. But Dwr, I am seriously considering buying the Audio Research SP16 with phono myself based on what I have heard and read. One reviewer states the SP16's soundstage and depth are impressive and you won't find a better valued preamp in the $2000-$2500 price range. But more than that I have yet to read any negative feedback on the SP16. Nice looking unit as well!
Take a look at the Cary SLP-2002. I have it and the PV-14 right now. I enjoy the sound of both preamps and they offer around 20db of gain (the PV-14 has 22db).

The CJ has the better volume control and remote. It also only uses 2 tubes. The Cary adds balanced operation, a balanced (and unbalanced) HT bypass that works even when the preamp is off, and a nice headphone amp.

The Cary uses 6922 input tubes and 5814 (12AU7s) as cathode followers. It can be modified by the factory for lower gain with 6CG7s instead of the 6922s. I'm looking at that since I can barely turn up the volume.

Also, the C-J inverts phase through the linestage, but does not do so for the cinema bypass. The Cary does not invert phase either way, if that matters to you.

Anyways, sound and $$$-wise, a lateral move. It's just a matter of what is important to you.

Well I took Hifiman5s advice and sent my PV-14 to RHB and had them perform their mods on this unit. The dynamic linearity servo circuit-5, the RTE power supply circuit with V-caps, and V-cap output capacitors, they also added a second pair of output RCAs. I have only had the unit back for two days, but all I can say is WOW, I am really glad I went this route. Thanks for the recommendation Hifiman5.


I am glad you are pleased with the results. Bob is one great guy to work with and he really listens as he works on your gear. Wait till the V-caps are fully burned in. Great detail and ease at the same time.

Congratulations and enjoy!!