Conrad johnson amp with Musical Fidelity pre

My amp-preamp combo is:
CJ 2250 (SS, 125wpc) + MF A3.2cr preamp. I'm using a Ah! CD player

I bought this pre-amp pair in my reawakening of audio joy. During my research, I noted that each unit was often referred to as 'musical'. In addition, descriptions of each contained many similarities.

I've since spoken with an audio-invested friend of mine and expressed some, not a lot, of dissatisfaction regarding the quality of the sound. He suggested that while both components are musical, the CJ is tubier despite being SS and the MF is analytical and cold. Whatever the case, he suggested I post for others' to comment.

Any thoughts or experiences out there with these items separately or together?
IMO, MF is not musical. I have heard several MF intergrateds and separates with many different speakers. I feel they are solid and don't have any glaring flaws, just not musical. If it were me I would look at upgrading the pre first. It could be just a bad match with your speakers. What speakers are you running?

No offense to MF owners out there. I am not trying to start a flame MF thread, just voicing my opinion.
both components are quite good and 'musical'. the cd player and/or the speakers? could be where the dissatisfaction really is.
I think the C-J amp needs a pre with better soundstaging and fuller sound. The MF stuff I heard sounds very lean. Have you tried the C-J PV-14L pre?
Have no experience with the MF pre. I have a sister of your amp -- an MF2500 and am also using a CD player. The CD is my only source. It is a Wadia 850. Running it connected directly to the MF2500. A very musical, mellow, and detailed combination. Very close to a vinyl, IMO. I experimented with the 850 connected via a CJ PV12. Almost as good, but not quite. Since my only source is CD and since the Wadia has a volume control, I really did not need a pre. If it aint there, it can not effect the sound.
I currently use a Musical Fidelity CD PRE 24 (3.2 preamp/cd player/DAC in one package) and pair it with a Prima Luna Prologue 5 tube power amp ... very musical and elegant sounding. I had a MF A3 integrated amp prior to this set-up ... very musical, as well. My experience with MF has been a pretty good one. (But after reading some of these threads, I am beginning to wonder if I know what musical sounding is anymore)

For argument's sake, even if the MF A3.2 preamp were not as musical as you would like, I would think that your Ah Tjoeb tube cd player would warm up the sound somewhat.

So, two questions ... before your buddy offered his take on your system ... just what was your dissatisfaction with your system's sound? Secondly, what speakers are you using, as that's half of the equation?

Regards, Rich
I have used the MF 3.2CR for 2 years now. I don't find it lacking in soundstaging, fullness or musiciality. If anything, it might be too revealing. Some might call that analytical.

I have found that some experimentation with setup like supports and cabling can help tune your system somewhat to your preference.
Thank you all for the input.

The dissatisfaction comes from ear strain shortly after sitting down to listen. The sound is thinner than I'd like.

Speakers before: Boston Acoustic. Speakers today: Harbeth SHL-5

I deliberately kept the speakers out of the mix to keep the focus on the amp/preamp. I knew that it was not giving you the whole equation but sometimes that helps me solve the problem anyway and keeps me from looking at the less obvious solutions/suggestions.

Without the speakers in the mix, you've taught me two things: 1. Maybe a preamp is not necessary if you have volume control on your source. I can't wait to take the pre-amp out of the mix to see if there is a change, and
2. MF - I read as much as I could and every thing seemed to draw me back to this company. Maybe I misinterpreted information on the MF.

Other ?:
Other than as switching device, general volume control and if present, a phono stage, what is the purpose of the pre-amp? Is the ideal pre-amp one that adds no color at all?
There is a thread running now on pre or no pre,check it out as it will give you some ideas as you move along in your quest.After you read it forget all you have read including the MF marketing reports.Get some good shipping boxes so you can double-box and figure your finances out,then double that and start buying and trying off this site.Stay away from anything that weighs much more than 50 avoid shipping hassles.Otherwise you need to be using wooden crates.There's usually a synergy between pre and power amps from the same maker,not always,YMMV,good luck,Bob
Musical Fidelity seems to have its fair share of both fans and flamers. Because MF's products frequently show up in the hifi magazines in both the advertising and reviews sections, the flamers tend to have a field day.

You are doing the right thing by experimenting and removing the preamp from the chain and seeing what the results will be.

The preamp is fed the signals from your source (which are essentially inaudible) and passes them to the power amp for amplification and those signals are fed to your loudspeakers. The preamp should be neutral and not add or detract to the signal it is being fed, but all components have a sonic signature and will affect the sound to some degree. Supposedly, passive preamps are the most pure. But you can see now, if the preamp doesn't get it right, everything you hear is affected.

Your situation is interesting. I would have thought that the Harbeth speakers would work well with the MF and the Ah Tjoeb. I don't have experience with CJ, so I don't know if that is the culprit. My MF set-up certainly does not sound thin (I am using Acoustic Research 302 speakers; 3 way; full range speakers from 1995).

Question: Are your speakers wired in phase (+ to +; - to -)? My apologies if that sounds like a KISS question, but it could explain thin sound.

Regards, Rich
This simplest solutions are often of the KISS nature, but alas, the speakers are in phase. It is a valid ? given my aging eyes and laziness as my glasses are often downstairs when I'm upstairs in my audio room working on small parts...

Milliwat: - have you ever tried Mapleshade's products?

Thanks for keeping the knowledge coming..and to Usblues, that's what brought me here...buying and trying off this site. I've just begun the fight.
Good work,Bob
So, days later, Harbeths repositioned, more broken in, some other tweaks, and gone is the tinniness and fatigue. I'm extremely grateful for my gear today.

Yes, I've heard better setups. A pair of Focals with a Krell integrated and CD player as it is set up in the Newington, NH Tweeters is one. I believed Paul Desmond was standing right there, just in front of Dave Brubeck; I'm sure of it.

But I can make what I have better, too. For example, I'm building my own speaker stands especially for these monitors.

I now understand what it means to have speakers disappear and that to me is just jaw dropping amazing.