Aesthetic Calypso or CJ Et3 or Primaluna Dialogue 3

Which one of the tube preamps would you mate to a Pass Labs xa30.5 and why?

Used or New option for purchase

I looking for a detailed sound, detailed wide soundstage, and a sweet high end for a 80's rock junky

Any opinion appreciated


Go packers

look into the CJ ET-3 (ET-3SE is even better).  I know that CJ products do well w/ Rock music, as does, Pass Labs.  In fact, Jeff Dorgay of has recently added the CJ GAT2 (over $20K) to his TOTL Pass Labs power amps ($80K) in his reference system.

At one time he had all TOTL CJ gear in his reference system.  Clearly, this man is very wealthy and can (and does) buy whatever he wishes. This is a sound endorsement (no pun) for me.  What is the other gear, including cabling, in your system?  Happy Listening!
2nd Note;
my reference demo as of this date is a CJ ACT2 Series2 pre-amp (until I can audition an ART or GAT) with the CJ Premier 350SA power amp.
Eggleston speakers and Audience cables/cords round out the system.
I played everything-Classical, Rock, Metal and Jazz- all sounded excellent and never disappointed. Played very loud as well w/o issue!
I have demo'ed the Aesthetix Calypso in an all Aesthetix system w/ Vandersteen Treo/Quattro speakers and Silent Source cables/cords throughout.  A very nice, all tube system. I did not spend as much time w/ this system, as I did, with the CJ system. If I can answer any further queries let me know.  Happy Listening!

Your dancing down my trail!!!, too
I'm starting to drill down to my preamp.
I thought I wanted to get a "  CJ pv17ls" until I saw how many caps are in the units

I've heard nothing but, superlatives on the 16 & 17's and think it's my best sound choice.  The thought of replacing all caps as they get old( lots of $$) scares me?
They are of the ART series, but no one has any to listen to!!!

ive listened to a all CJ et3 & et5( Teflon caps) with Treos( non Ct).   It sounded harsh on the highs to me. Treo CT's are way smoother to me
The et3-5 bad taste was probably the system synergy

Ive also listened to the Calypso..... very, very nice & tending that way now
Richer sound to me, between a ARC ls26 and Prumaluna that I heard all together 

Primalunas are clean and sharp in some systems and smooth and warm, like I want, in others.      Tube rolling?   Not sure

so, Still fumbling around but did buy a Meridian Explorer2 dac
i heard nothing but good about the aprodizing filter & Meridian
It DOES make rock albums sound very, very nice ( 2-7k range) and smooth
and Its the cheap one!!!!
plus Tidal is streaming MQA now and it DOES  live up to hype. 

Im thinking I'll buy my Preamp at AXPONA in April ( all in one spot to listen and pull trigger)

keep me informed on on the ART sound profile when you find one 


ps:are you Ready to pull trigger on new stuff yet?      Or still in my fumbling stage?

I just saw a Ohhhhhhh boy!!!!!
cj 350 amp?
that is supposed to be "the 2nd coming" of perfect

How does the ACT sound compared to ET3-5?

Ps: I've given up on ripped CDs since Tidal Streaming
The quality of recordings is way, way better than ripped " crappy" cd's in my opinion
Ps: Meridian soundstaging from DAC is HUGE!!!

The PL has positive reviews.

The newer Dialogue Premium gets listed if you have patience, but they seem to go quickly.
I picked one up recently, with plans of transitioning from a PL Dialogue Premium HP Integrated, to PL HP monoblocks.

Regarding your specific match up-I can’t provide technical reasoning other than the PL probably won’t be a "wrong" choice,only your subjective approval.

If you’re not fussy about "Made in USA" credentials, the PL should be a consideration based on performance/value$

The PL is equal or maybe kills CJ on build quality.

Prima Luma for Web Jockey

Description: Line-level, remote-control, tubed preamplifier. Inputs: 5, on RCA jacks. Outputs: 2, on RCA jacks. Tube complement: two 5AR4, four 12AU7. Maximum voltage gain: 12dB. Frequency response: 10Hz–130kHz, +0/–3dB. Input impedance: 220k ohms. Input sensitivity: 220mV.

((((((((((((((((((((((((((((( Output impedance: 2500 ohms.)))))))))))))))))))
Into a 10 K pass amp would be Foolish.

""""Regarding your specific match up-I can’t provide technical reasoning other than the PL probably won’t be a "wrong" choice,only your subjective approval.""""
I would strongly suggest you stay out of the advice Giving department for a while.
  Glad your having fun mindlessly recommending though
Accepted audio sonics often defy  electronics 101 rules in one way or another.

You plumb your components with specific cable and other seemingly ridiculous items don't you?

So just reply directly to the OP with your all knowing audio wisdom and save the condescending remarks for somewhere else-grow up.

Ive not heard the Calypso but have auditioned the other 2 in my system. If your a rocker then the single tube CJ would be my pick given only those 2 choices.   
A general guideline when pairing a tube preamp with a SS power amp is that the amp's input impedance needs to be at least 10x of the preamp's output impedance. To be safer with the match, use 20x because at specific frequencies, the preamp's output impedance may be even higher than it's nominal value.

Pass Labs xa30.5 input impedance - 15k ohms unbalanced

Primaluna Dialogue 3 - 2500 ohms - Obviously, this preamp should be avoided.

Aesthetix Calypso - 1k ohms - Should be a match, but to be absolutely sure verify that it doesn't rise greatly at any frequency.

CJ Et3 - 100 ohms - Excellent match

TY- tls49
Excellent advice.

good to see you in this new year!  The CJ ACT2 Series2 and ET-3SE are going to be on par w/ one another. The ET-3SE is  a tough competitor because of the teflon caps (SE version only).  Otherwise the ACT2 will trump a non-SE ET-3.

At this level of performance, I would audition both CJ and Aesthetix.
I was disappointed w/ the Treo/Quattro. These speakers do not present like a Thiel, especially, the CS 2.4, 2.7 or 3.7 models.  The "2" and "3" series from Vandersteen are much closer but do not image nor sound as timbral.

Jeff, where are you  located?
I am trying to figure out if the CJ 350SA can drive my Thiel speakers properly.  It is a beast of an amp for sure, I do not know if it dips down below 4ohms though?

I will be traveling more this new year and auditioning gear that is on my must-demo list.  Happy Listening!
frozentundra ...Output impedance on the Primaluna Dialogue Premium is 256 Ohm. It would match very well with your Pass Labs xa30.5 ...Oh,did I mention that it sounds fantastic also? A giant killer if there ever was one. A tube rollers delight...

Milwaukee , Wi

is Alabama a state?  Lol
go Clemson 

i think the 350 is 200 watts
im driving mine with 130 watts
30 watts class a

when getting the pass from Class d
i moved the subwoofer setting from 7 to 4
then new Kimber monocle, moved setting to 3

all with 30 watts

as they say " it's the quality not quantity" of watts.   It's true, It's true

87 Db can be run by most 100 waters 
unless you listen at 120 db

I peak at 95 and still not over 30 watts
thats loud & my ears ring

My ramblings 


tube rollers delight?
I've heard primaluna sound very smooth & then sound very super clear

i guess tubes do make a big difference?

if I liked the warm & smooth high end, Ehat tubes

ps; I did figure the Prologue to Dialogue difference was 2 more tubes
but impedance went from 2500 to 256ohms
they sounded the same, but application!!!!!!

"i guess tubes do make a big difference?"

Yes siree...big time!  
What tubes did you try?

what did you have before Primaluna?


Hi again Jeff.

So far... I have tried the stock Primaluna 12au7’s... Mullard 4003’s... Mazda 2 and 3 tier mica’s...Brimar 6189 KB/AD’s and the Phillips/Monza 12au7’s made in Italy.[this tube is in a musical league all of its own,and almost non-existent].

For Rectifier’s...

Primaluna 5AR4...Philips 5R4GYS CV717... BRIMAR military grade CV717/5R4GY

The combination that I am using right now are the Brimar rectifiers in line with the 2 mica Mazdas in the first driver stage,the Brimar 6189 KB/AD’s in the second driver stage and Phillips/Monza in the input stage. I like to mix brands as you can see. All tubes have their own virtues and rolling different brands is what makes tube equipment so enjoyable for me. Think of tube rolling as an equalizer, only with a much better quality of sound.

My preamp prior to the Primaluna Dialogue Premium was an Edge Signature-One used in its battery mode. The Edge was and is a great preamp, but in my opinion... could not compete sonically with the PL pre.

Good luck with your search...Mark

"For Rectifier’s...

Primaluna 5AR4...Philips 5R4GYS CV717... BRIMAR military grade CV717/5R4GY"

Mark, you like the BRIMAR better than the Philips? Can you give some impressions as to the differences in sound of these tubes?

Hi Dave. I like both of the rectifier tubes in question. The Phillips have a bit more detail than the Brimar which work well with Mullards in line.The Brimars sound more organic and have more of a natural presence character to them. I really like the Brimars with the Mazda's in the first drive slot,synergistic combo to my ears for sure.

Experimentation with different tubes can pay off big time for any tube loving music lover.
Of course...personal preference is just that...personal ...Either one of the two would be a great choice with high quality 12au7's.
Post removed 
Thanks Mark. The Phillips 5AR4 rectifier tube is outstanding in my MW 9.9 power supply. Approaches magical with Shuguang Treasure CV181-Z 6N7 tubes in the MW 5400ES player's output stage.

there used to be a few shops in the Madison & Appleton areas.
Milwaukee is not far from Chicago.  Get out there and listen, listen, listen to the gear! 
I think you better budget in a better dac, here is a quote from the Asylum, when asked if anyone had compared the Meridian with any other dacs.
" I have the Meridian Explorer 2 and compared to an Auralic Vega.

Meridian Explorer 2 sounds plastic and tinny. Good for $199 which is what it is going for now but no more than that.

I'll be on the lookout for a proper MQA DAC that is not a toy."

And I have read his posts for a long time, I trust his listening skills. I also have a friend who has at least four dacs, maybe more in the basement, I will be able to listen to the Explorer in the near future, if he has anything good to say about it. His main dacs are an AR CD9 and a PS Audio Directstream.

As to preamps, I have a CJ CT-5 which I really like, but I haven't heard the others. If I was shopping for a preamp, I would audition the PS Audio BJK Signature, among others. The one downside is that CJ is single ended. If you have long runs of IC between preamp and power amp, balanced is preferred. That said I run 15ft cables with no issues.

I just got a 3 month trial of Tidal, and am listening to the partially unfolded MQA. It is good, and I may subscribe if they don't raise the price. I don't think there 16/44 stuff sounds as good as either a proper rip or the actual CD in a good transport, with a good dac.

I personally like simple two-four tube preamps, I did a lot of tube rolling with my last preamp a totally modded Nobis Proteus. It gets old, I'd rather listen to music than listen to tubes. Do you remember Sound Investments on Silver Spring? The CJ was a huge step up.Have you listened to any of the Rogue preamps at Audio Emporium?

As far as dacs go,they need to be listened to for a while to appreciate the differences, but when you hear a few reference tracks you will want something better than the Explorer. Seeing as the majority of dac manufacturers have rejected MQA's requirement that they implement the changes, I think we may see full MQA become available as software. Just think if Tidal hadn't done the partial unfolding, there would be very little discussion, but check the various forums, it's a hot topic.

Very nice- jeffstarr

CJ pre-amps are special indeed.  Happy Listening!
Where are ya- frozentundra?

I've listened to a bunch of DAC's and we have a local audio group that has superb ones to listen too
But, I have this funky hearing issue at the crossover range and the " Meridian" aprodiziing filter seems to solve my issue (90% of it)
The group has always said; Trust your hearing & they are right!  We all have different hearing & tastes
I've listened to : DCS, Lampizator,Metrum,Exogal,Meridian 808,Aurelic Vega
Eventually, I'll upgrade DAC ( yes, there are lots better out there for detail resolution)
Anyway, I'll stick with DAC for a while & work on Preamp.
The Silverspring shop I have not been to!

ps: You must be a Milwaukee guy. We have an active audio group of your interested?


Yup, born and raised. Sound Investments closed a while back. It was a husband and wife who owned it. The story is that she passed away and Brian started having health issue. They were both really overweight. When he decided to sell of the inventory, a few of his employees allegedly stole a bunch of stuff. He had a small room with used stuff, there would be classic Mac and Marantz sitting next to mainstream crap, but he always had some unusual, interesting gear in there. He was the main designer for Nobis, all tube gear, the bottom of the line amp was based on a Dynaco 70. When Nobis shut down he changed the name of the equipment to Signature Technologies. I sold of my Nobis stuff, as he was the only one who could easily repair it.
I believe in trusting your ears, but doing comparisons when possible. I was running a Benchmark Dac2 HGC as my dac, I bought it because I wanted DSD. Well, a good friend loaned me his Lindeman 825 and once again, next level. The Benchmark is now taken over preamp duties in the bedroom, retiring a Tara Labs tube preamp.
There are a lot of dacs that give you filter options, I think the Mytek does, it is also MQA. I believe they offer a trial period.
A lesson that I have learned, the hard way, is to buy from companies that aren't going to shutdown, because they are one person operations. I have some Camelot gear, and luckily he is still around, but it is not that well known. I have a nice Camelot Arthur V3 24/192 that needs it's coaxial input repaired. Nice dac, but wouldn't be an easy sale.

I might be interested in your group, send me a PM and I'll give you my email. We can talk about it. I have a nice system in a dumpy house. Got to go, the Packer game is coming on. Do or die, next time we talk, it will be go Pack, or we'll get them next year;-)