Conrad Johnson--Best used Model

I just purchased a Pass Labs XA 30.5 & want to pair with a CJ preamp

I'm looking for experience on which model to by used or new for $1-3 k

I would love the Lush house sound with details and soundstage without being plodding


Used c-j  ET 3SE .....i have a a c-j Classic 2SE and it is an awesome preamp.   It has no remote but I wanted the best sound for my money and have never been a fan of digital volume.....  although the ET 3 uses a bank of resistors that are switched via relays so it is a true analog volume,  unlike my previous pre the McCormack RLD 1 which used a Burr Brown digital volume circuit.   It was a good pre but sounded veiled compared to the Classic.   

I listened to a stock ET 3 and my 2SE and was hard pressed to tell the difference,  they both sound fantastic.   My DAC and other sources have remote volume so lack of remote didn't matter so much.   Check out Spearit Sound in Northhampton MA, great guys to deal with and are one of the bigger c-j dealers around.   They always have a good stock of demo and used.    
I have a hard time Finding a place to listen to CJ near Chicago 

hopefully you can compare " sound profile" of CJ preamp to ARC which is easy to find and listen

I find ARC new pres tube units; detailed, fast but somewhat edgy

I will 2nd the CJ preamps and can strongly suggest the guys at Spearit Sound. Ask for Jack Tozzi .

2ND note;

I have always wanted to demo a CJ ART3 pre-amp.

I have heard and auditioned the ACT2 pre-amp, very fine indeed.

Used to own a 17LS2. I rank it as the 2nd best preamp I ever owned
Pass amps tend to sound best through their balanced inputs. c-j only makes single ended outputs. Some of the c-j pres  output impedances might be tricky with the Pass's input impedance.

Buy a used Pass Labs X1 or XP15 from Reno Hi-Fi.

CJ is a poor match with Pass, IMO.

Unsound is right, Pass is best with balanced.
Hey not what you specifically asked but when I had that amp in my system it really sang with a Lamm LL2.1 Deluxe and prior LL2 Deluxe, this pairing was the best I heard the XA30.5, if the amp wasn't 80 pounds and bulky I would still own it and kind of wish I still did.

The CJ is very good.  I had the 17LS. That being said, I'd look at a balanced preamp from BAT or Cary to go with the balanced Pass.  You have to be privey of the output impedence of the pre with the input impedence of the amp.  Best.  Regards......

A couple of more suggestions. I really enjoyed the Premier 16 when I owned it. Went from 16 mk 1 to Art mk 1, and did like it a bit better. Though, certainly not much better. You might get lucky, and find one for 3K. One more that comes to mind would be the Shindo Aurieges. I bet you wouldn’t be tooblue with the Lamm (-:
fun04, love your play on words.
fjn04, damned kindle
XP15 is a phono preamp. I would have to concur that there is a substantial positive benefit of running balanced outputs from a preamp to a Pass amp, and you can't do that with CJ. 
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Agree with oddiofyl about getting in touch with Spearit Sound. A first class group whose members have always provided helpful answers and advice following questions I've posed before and quite some time after I purchased my CJ Classic Sixty amp from them.
Going w/ don_c55

a Pass Labs x-10 is excellent matching pre-amp.
Greetings to you from the frozen tundra of Wisconsin south of Lambeau. 
I can't speak to the compatibility with the pass. But I suspect 
unsound and don c55 are correct. What I can say is that I own a 
PR 16 which I upgraded to a 16-2 . Either version is an awesome preamp that has the full bodied musical sound you are looking for.
it is IMO better that the 17 or 17 2 which I have also had in my system. (PR 12 monoblocks B&W Signature 30s) But just barely.  The 16 can be had 
for about 3-3.5K. The 17-2 for about 2.5k and since it has the Teflon caps it's just a bit faster than the 16 but not quite as rich. The PV 14
my brother has with his PR 11 is a very musical set up but not up to the 16 or 17. Heard the ET5 in my system for a week or so and as you get to the newer CJ models after the Premiers they are faster and cleaner but IMO not as musical as the older models. IMO you trade lush and full and easy to listen to for faster cleaner and more detailed and I am guessing you bought the Pass because it's warm sounding class A solid state. The CAT 6 is also a nice pre that excels in throwing a great soundstage that I heard with an MV60. I think most of the magic in the music comes out when you optimize the synergies in your system to match your personal tastes. I've always had CJ and I obviously like their house sound and I think the preamps are what influence the sound the most. The 17 or 17 2 are in the sweet spot and you can try different tubes to tailor the sound
to your liking at far lest cost than you can with a 16 that uses 6 6922s where the 17 used 2 if memory serves. Check out Help Wanted: Bass in the forum if you decide to try tube rolling with a
CJ pre for my experience in that department. Enjoy the Music

You are the real Frozen Tundra!  If in GreenBay & my guess is Depere?

Everytime I drive past Lambeau I get the " Dry Heaves"
Im a Bears fan, due to kid dancing the " Super Bowl shuffle" at 1
The turned into a Cubby, too

I'm from Menomonee Falls 

so you are a CJ fan & one I'm looking for 

How does a CJ Pv-12 sound next to Pv-17!
30% of albums are the 80-90's overprocessed sound that I'm trying to get to sound good/ok vs bright/ hash/digital

im hoping to find that " middle" between the old CJ warm/ plodding & the new CJ that sounds like ARC- Electronic sounding

A few on Ag have said the Pv-12
A few have said the 16-17 is the " sweet spot" with good detail, soundstage and Lush
A few have said ET3

so, now I don't know

ive listened to a few of the tube ( preamp) stuff that just does not do it for me

ARC.......sounds like electronics
PrimaLuna........maybe ok?
BorderPatol amps.......real nice sounding... but no preamp
Cary SLi 80 integrated ...... Ok, but not the lush I was expecting

So, help ?


ps: Pass is really nice, went from Class D to Pass
ps: Snowing up there yet?

Frozen tundra  I am a cj PV-12L owner.  When reading your 1st post, you mentioned the lush house cj sound without being plodding.  The PV-5 fits your description but has the overly bulbous bass of that era's cj sound.  The PV-11 that preceded my model fit your description to a tee.  I went for the PV-12L which promised to be a bit more revealing with less cj house sound.  I don't know if there are many PV-11s out there but they would be worth a look.
Good luck in your quest!

Watch out for impedance mismatch when pairing a CJ tube preamp with Pass.   The CJ Act 2.2 did not do well at all with the Pass X250.5.  I later inserted the Pass external cross-over (XVR-1), and it fixed the impedance issue (as well as split the signal to a sub) and sounded great, but without the impedance fix, it was not a pairing that worked.  
GO PACKERS! (Shareholder) 

From the cj older house sound the 17 and 16 are both very nice the 16 a bit more detailed. Experienced both pre-amps driving cj tube and ss amps.  I now use pass xa100.5's mated with a pass xp-20 and it is a very good match as you might expect.
Oh No:

A Shareholder!!!!!   YOUR THE WORST!   Lol
Darn dyed in wool, Cheesehead


Thanks for repsonse.

1st question: Why the switch at preamp?

2nd question: Is the CJ sound that much different than Pass?  
What are the house sound differences?

3rd question: 
What are the system components you are using?

Last question: 
Why is Kramer not in Canton yet?


Been one my whole life !

1) I moved away from cj separates to downsize to a Cary Integrated which was fine for awhile but I kept having issues with power tubes. I decided to try some Pass components and that is where I am today. Also speaker changes through the years led to some of the changes in amplification.
2) The 90's cj pre-amps possessed a warm and smoothness that to me was very nice especially the 16 series II as it also had some nice detail (wished I would have kept that pre-amp).
The newer cj amps are more analytical less lush but are very nice sounding. I would not hesitate to go with cj again as I found their components very reliable and their customer service was top notch. The pass sound is very nice as well; detailed and smooth with very good bass control.
3) VPI TT, Herrron VTPH-2 phono-stage, heavily modded Sony SCD-1 with Focal Be monitors. 

I am not quite sure buying a  used CJ pre-amp is a worth even a mint one.  What are you really getting for your money?? Most CJ pre-amps and line stages have no remote, headphone jack ( or amp)  and no phono stage.   Sure, if you want the purest sound, a no-feature line stage "may' be great..  Of the above features, the headphone feature may be most optional.. 

However, it you are still doing analog and a have quality set-up, you have to purchase an outboard phono stage which could run as much as $500 possibly more. (Unless you can find a used mint Musical Surrounding Phonnom  II which can be had for about $350. Also an additional IC must be purchased that is almost audiophile level. 

The volume control I always considered as a type of tone control which allows the listener to adjust levels incrementally until you have reached a volume compatible with the dynamics of the recording  Therefore, it is easier and more enjoyable to do this from your listening position than getting up every 5-10 minutes to adjust volume as you from track to track on a CD or LP

 I had a CJ PV-8  in 1988, and in retrospect, I was happy it had a MM phono stage; I took it for granted that it was more than adequate quality, and I played a 80% LP's in those days, and only 20% CD's  It sounded good, but I was somewhat uninformed about the differences in  sound quality between  phono stages.. That is my 2 cents.  Good Luck    

I had a PV-11 for several years.  It was a wonderful preamp, and had a wonderful MM phono stage.  I had C-J go over it and bring it up to original spec for $200(!).  Ultimately, I had to sell it because the balance control did not have enough range to deal with my room, source, and software channel imbalances (yes, I am obsessive about a well-centered soundstage).  Also, I wanted, and got, a preamp with a remote control.  But as far as sound quality goes, the PV-11 was a wonderful piece of kit. 
I can't comment on any of the recent offerings from CJ as I haven't listened in a familiar system but I HAVE been listening for the past year to a PV9a extensively upgraded including bypass caps, resistors, diodes and wire among other things by Bill Thalmann in Virginia. All of this made a quite excellent performer into quite possibly the most engaging preamplifier I have personally owned.  Only downside, too much line stage gain and limited in the use of medium to low output MC phono cartridges and no remote which I don't view as a necessity although a nice convenience.
Thoughts on a CJ CT-6 preamp anyone?

I just listened to a CJ ET3, finally

I found the soundstaging, resolution and tone to be very good. The high end was pretty forward.
I expected more of the " warm side" and still had issues with the 2k-6k hz area on the 80"s type of music
I also compared to a ET5 with the Teflon stuff
I found the units very comparable, but the ET5 ( Teflon caps) 10-20 % smoother, less sibilant in the 2-5k hz range ( more organic?)

Overall the CJ stuff is very comparable to ARC items, but CJ was 10-15% warmer in tone and better in soundstaging.

So: The question 

If I buy a PV-17 vs ET3 will I get more of the " warm" tone and less forward/ sibilance in the 2-5k hz range?  ( i.e. Metal dome tule of edge)

Or are they still " of the family" 

I love the resolution & soundstage but need more warmth & less brilliant in the high end

more confused than ever

ps: I listened to all CJ system and VandersteenTreos
@frozentundra Did you listen to the cj gear through Treos or Treo CT?  I ask because the tweeter in the regular Treo is said by many to be brighter than the carbon tweeter in the CT model.

FYI - the ET3 got a very negative review in due to its exaggerated treble.  The reviewer seemed quite surprised that it wasn't in keeping with traditional CJ sound.

Most reviewers are tone deaf anyhow.

I've listened to the Treo CT with ARC
The tweeter is much smoother, and not as sharp.( metal dome like)
I never liked the Treo, but CT is almost a different speaker In my mind.
I knew going In that the et3 with treo would not be right for me.
But,I could compare with ARC preamps
As a side light, has anyone listened the Brackert Rhumba preamp ? that is the same price range as the ET3