CJ Premier 11a vs. Audio Research VT50/VT100MKII ?

I'm currently running a CJ Premier 11a driving a pair of Thiel CS 1.5's. The CJ has 4 6550 output tubes. My preamp is the Audio Research LS16. My main source component is the Cary 306/200 24/192 CD player. This combo sounds very nice to me.

I would be curious to know if anyone has personal experience with the CJ Premier 11a vs the AR VT-50 which would be the most fair comparison since the VT-50 also uses 4 6550 output tubes and is in the same price range (LIST).

I'm also seeking opinions on the CJ Premier 11a vs the AR VT100MKII (and the VT50 vs VT100MKII for that matter) which is more expensive and uses 8 6550 output tubes vs the CJ's 4. Opinions based on personal experience only please, not something you've read in an audiophile rag or online review. Thanks!
I would recommend the ARC VT 100 MKII over the CJ. The ARC does a much better job with bass control and soundstage. I would also recommend the BAT VK-75-SE over either the CJ or the ARC.

If you are looking for customer service, DO NOT buy ARC. CJ and BAT will always treat you right. Don't hesitate to email me if you have any questions.
I have a setup similar to yours. I have been using the ARC LS16 and LS12 with my CJ 11a. First some general comments.

1. The set up is very very correct sonically. If you are trying to create music you should not change amplifiers!

2. You can make substantial imporvements by using ARC tube dampers on the input and driver tubes to the CJ 11a. This will improve resolution and dynamics.

3. Right out of the box the CJ 11a is missing bass response. Upgrade your output tubes to KT88s. This will improve the low end response and increase your amplifiers output power from 70 watts to about 84 watts. Use the Svetlana or Telsa KT88s.

4. The LS 16 is not a full frequency preamp. That is the bass response is down somewhat. The attraction of this pre is its glorious midrange with delicate highs. By the way the LS12 is actually a better preamp and will work with your CJ 11a quite nicely.

5. Make these changes and you can forget about the VT100 MkII. I have not heard the MkIII.
Jtinn and Etbaby, thanks for your comments. I have heard from others that the CJ Premier 11a is a very muscial and engaging tube amp but lacking a little bit in the bass. Etbaby, thanks for your suggestions on the KT88's. I've been meaning to try a set for some time now. I don't want to alter the sound of this system too much. I like it a lot. Etbaby, its interesting that we both arrived at similar setups.

I found that the CJ PV-14 tube preamp with the Premier 11a seemed to roll off the low bass and treble somewhat. The LS16 is a bit more neutral and allowed me to regain some of the lost low-end and treble and still retain a nice tube sound. I haven't tried any Premier class CJ preamps or the AR LS12 which I believe is the AR solid-state preamp(?). I have tried the Adcom GFP-750 and to my surprise its an outstanding full frequency preamp with great bass slam and control plus good high's. It's maybe just a little bright for my taste but with the GFP-750 in the system, I miss that sweet tube sound that I enjoy so much.

Etbaby, with regard to the LS12, did you lose any of that nice tube midrange and soundstage like I described about the Adcom GFP-750? I'm keeping the Adcom, its an awesome preamp and sometimes I'm in the mood for its style. But for now, I still prefer the all tube setup. I don't want to lose that magic tube sound and I'm wondering if you give up some of it in exchange for full frequency coverage with your LS12 ?

On another note, some folks in another thread have said the LS16 is noisey. Sure it hisses slightly if you put your ear right up to the speaker but no more so than the other tube preamps I have tried (CJ PV-14 & CJ PV-12). Is your LS16 noisier than normal or noticeable enough to annoy you? In a normal listening environment, I don't hear the hiss. Like I said, for me its only noticeable with my ear right up against the tweeter and thats not how I normally enjoy my music. ;-)
I hear CJ-P11a with ARC-VT100MKII in the store and bought ARC. At that time we try both CJ(16 or 17?) and ARC(LS15) pre. P11a has a warmer sound (more tuby) to me. But I choose ARC because it make orchestra sing better than CJ in large classical recording. Back home, ARC fills my small room with huge sound stage when I play record. Instead of tweeking stereo by myself, now I have whole family sitting with me in the front row of concert hall. It confirms my choice and I have no regret(my wife agrees my expense first time, don't take it wrong, she has good ears too).

To me CJ is perfect for jazz vocal at winter night IMHO. Warm and laid back (you are all right, tube bass.. can improve a little by power, but just louder tube bass). If you play record and have warm speakers, it may overdose the warmness ( too much sugar can ruin the cake too). It is a small room with a few guys play around you. In that respect, I think, old ARC class series are well comparable. On the other hand, ARC VT takes more people in a concert hall. I do admit that with ARC, I still have to have some room treatment to make it perfect (bcz more high and low end but worths every minitues). I guess CJ may not need it, just guess.

So, to me, it is concert hall vs studio. CJ is somewhat compressed to reach the warmness you like. But you like is what you like. May just stay with it!

BTW, VT-100 is dead quiet (you probably hear fan more than hiss) and it really make you appreciate you DAC if it has the quality.
This is a rather apples vs. oranges comparison. The CJ and ARC sound are different as one can get, and to appreciate one over the other will certainly mean that some part of you likes one type of "family" sound over the other. Both are excellent amplifiers, and will do dramatically different things with the music. Also, keep in mind that the proper comparison is the CJ Premier 12 and the VT-100 mkII, not the lower powered Premiere 11a.

Anyway, that said I'll throw my hat into the ring for the Premier 11. While I think that the ARC amps are excellent, they almost universally leave me cold -- too analytical and lacking in a certain *something* that involves me deeply in the music. For me, the CJ amps are quite the opposite -- easy to listen to, very musically involving, and thoroughly enjoyable. One limitation that I'll have to admit to however, is that most of my experiences with ARC amps have been with ARC preamps (and with Thiel speakers), and likewise for CJ. I do know how the LS16 and VT100 II sound together, but I'm not entirely sure how the combo of ARC preamp and CJ amp sound. My guess is that the CJ provides some warmth to augment the transparency of the LS16. Without hearing it, I'm guessing that it might be a very good combo.

Anyway, just some food for thought. I'm curious to hear your assessment of the ARC/CJ combo, especially if you get the chance to try it out against the ARC amp. For myself, I've been curious how the CJ preamps would do paired up with an ARC amp. Maybe someone out there has a few insights about this.

Without dragging this out too much, I can add that I owned a P11a and chose is over the VT50. I did not audition the VT100 because it was in a higher price class that I could not consider. I can strongly say that the P11a was sooo much more enjoyable than the VT50 however. The VT50 seemed weak and anemic in comparison to the P11a which had amazingly good dynamics, slam and bass control for a 70W tube amp.
Very good points everyone. CJ Premier 11a should be compared to VT50 and not VT100 to keep things in proper perspective in terms of tube count and price class.

Ken you got it exactly right when you said, and I quote - CJ provides some warmth to augment the transparency of the LS16. I do like the warmth of the CJ but found that some of the CJ preamps that I tried didn't have quite the transparency of the LS16 and the CJ preamps seemed to roll off the highs and lows a little too much while the LS16 was more neutral. And I like the CJ warmth with the somewhat dry Thiel CS 1.5's.