Conrad Johnson--does anyone use this brand anymore?


Does anyone have any opinions re Conrad Johnson Phono Pre amps?   
Versus other brands?

I currently have TEASE2---but need step up transformer for cartridge.

Thoughts---?

bluesnbike1954
Yes, I am a big fan of this brand -bluesnbike1954

check out the Conrad Johnson forum;
www.conradjohnsonowners.com
Love c-j.....
Yes indeed. It just sounds right! 
Have had many CJ preamps and a few amps such as Premier 5s.I now have CJ ET5 preamp wonderful sound very musical and well made.I am one of thousand of very happy CJ owners.What do you have at present?
ebm-

I have only heard the ACT2 Series2 and ET-3SE pre-amps from CJ.
The ET5 is next on my list to demo. Happy Listening!

I'very owned 3 CJ preamps over the past 30 years among other esteemed brands. They are wonderful, musical products.

Quality......sound and build.  Many thought I was crazy for buying a preamp without a remote,  but that Classic 2SE is killer and a bargain compared to a lot of what's  out there.   
"Yes"



McCormack amps made by CJ.
 amazing is all i can say.


I love my ET5, TEA2MAX, ARTsa, recently added a Bob's Devices SUT (SKY10) for an Ortofon Per Windfeld (0.3mV) mc cartridge.  Just magic.  CJ just pushes all my buttons: great sound, superb quality, great personal service if needed.  There is nothing not to like about this company or it's products. 
Yes I have an MV-51 tube power amp but it is not a point-to-point wired with a few cap upgrades and it does sound really good.  No so good in stock form though.

Happy Listening.
I have an ART 3 preamp and nothing has ever come close . . .

Good luck.

Frank
CJ products sound spectacular, even their entry level products are very good and are a cut above the competition but can benefit from upgrades since they have a very solid foundation to work with.

I had called CJ trying to get a part for a preamp during normal business hours and each time I got a recorded message. Finally I called again and stated that if you are going to run a high end company you should answer the phone once in a while, they immediately picked up and after a brief discussion they sent me the part for free. Great company.
Love my CJ ET3 SE. Best preamp I've ever owned. Only one thing concerns me, the age of the ownership. Bill Conrad is over 80 years old. Any idea who takes over in the future?
I think OP was specifically asking about CJ phone preamps. The CJ linestage preamps need no endorsement.
The last time I was in Knoxville, the only decent shop sold this and really pushed it, about as religiously as a Linn dealer.
linnlingo said:  Love my CJ ET3 SE. Best preamp I've ever owned. Only one thing concerns me, the age of the ownership. Bill Conrad is over 80 years old. Any idea who takes over in the future?















 I agree, i  get nervous as well, as when the original owners hit Valhalla, the companies usually go for another year, or two, then close doors.
usually money, or laziness is the culprit. 
 It is hard to find anyone trustworthy enough to work on old amps, electronics.  thats the gamble we all take.
I am considering selling 2 pair of mono block amps to buy 1 stereo magtech, but then again, Roger isn't a spring chicken any more. hell, all the good sounding brands are getting old. as are we !
Some companies have gone on after their founders, Audio Research and McIntosh are two examples. But with CJ there doesn't seem to be a plan unless some conglomerate is willing to buy them out. Also correct me if I'm wrong the partner Lew Johnson passed away a few years ago.
Excellent great sounding gear.

I use a Premier 14 and Premier 11a in my main system and a Premier 15 series 2 phono in the second system
I'd love to own CJ amplification.  Listened, loved it, sadly can't afford it.
i can't afford it either, .  i did the hardest thing, I saved a tiny bit each week, every bill i would handle over a 10 spot would get put away, i did without, food, beer, fun many a night just to save that 20 bill, or 50 bucks. I saved for about 4, just under 5 years this way.

took me a long time of agony of saving, but in the end, when it was time to shop, and my purchases FINALLY showed up, it was a magical feeling.
How have you liked the TEAse2 so far?
I'm nowadays on the outside looking in but have had some CJ preamps from back a few years ago but their quality control killed CJ for me. Maybe just bad luck but Act2 out of box was dead on arrival and worse was a huge bolt of juice coupled with a very big pop when I first turned on a new Premier 350. Scared me to death about the speaker that took it but alas no damage. Back it went to service after the excitement of first listen was toast but never trusted it again. Have had tremendous good fortune with many other high end brands.
Finally I know all the CJ verbiage concerning no balanced circuits due to complexity and cost. IMO this has cost them big time. This factor that doesn't seem to hurt ARC among others. 
Finally I think CJ has made some great products to include the ART pre and Premier 16 just to name a few. However I'd be very concerned to buy in now from a company longevity standpoint. It's a real issue.
I've used a PV6 since 1984. I just had the capacitor upgrade done and I doubt I could have gotten a better, new C-J or other comparable brand for the cost of the upgrade. It's much faster on the transients now and I perceive that it is better at reproducing the loud cymbal crashes. This upgrade probably brings it up to par with their current, smaller pre's with phono in performance. It has a big limitation on inputs, which the new ones don't.

I would recommend the C-J preamps over any other comparably priced tube preamp and many more expensive ones. Change the tubes every so often depending on use habits and you're in for decades of lovely musical performance.

Enjoy the music.
I've owned most c-j pre and power amps since the Premier days, both solid state and tube.  Currently running a GAT pre, LP140 monos, a Premier 350 and the TEA1bc phono.  I know the company well... Bill and Lew are two very smart guys, both PHDs.  The company has a well conceived perpetuation plan and is now run day to day by Jeff Fischel, the next generation of management. Jeff has been the technical guy behind the scenes for many years.  Fischel has taken over ownership with Bill and Lew still very active.  Their business is good with many products going to Europe and Asia where tube equipment is highly respected.  They have just announced a new generation entry level preamp with GAT style technology.  Great products and no worries.
Who doesn't like Conrad Johnson?
Absolutely no one I can think of. 
Some of the most musical gear ever. 

N
Thanks! for sharing- coppy777

what other gear, including cabling, is in your system?
Happy Listening!
I've been smitten with CJ ever since hearing a buddy's PV5 preamp.  Was it "colored"?  Did it have a touch of honey about it? Yep.  But every time we listened to music through it I found myself relaxed and smiling.  Not bad!

I've been using a Bob Backert heavily modified PV12L for years now and it is awesome.  Even before the mods. that CJ smooooooothness was there.  I always attribute much of their gears' sonic success at the attention to the power supplies in their designs.

Almost bought a CJ SS amp years ago, but ironically enough went the McCormack route.  As fate would have it, McCormack is now a CJ line!
Hey jafant,

Speakers are Wilson Yvette (a nice upgrade from Sasha 1), most cables are Wireworld silver over copper, a JA Audio f113 sub, Marantz SA7 S1 CD/SACD, Ayre QB9 DAC, Shunyata power conditioning, Magnum Dynalab Tuner, MacBook Pro running Tidal, Qobuz, Audrivana and Roon.  Happy Camper here.
Very nice gear- coppy777

I am fond of the Premier 350sa power amp. I know it gives hours of listening pleasure. Did you buy it new?

Happy Listening!
jafant... yes, everything was purchased new.  That was a while ago however and I still use it regularly.  It's very powerful.  BTW, for anybody who'd interested, the c-j LP140 monos came with 6550 power tubes.  After a few years and at the suggestion of Lew Johnson, I replaced them with KT120s.  Nice sounding and lots of headroom.  Those tubes are now about five years old.  I was talking with Jeff Fischel at c-j a few weeks ago and he recommended Gold Lion KT88s.  Just put a set of them in this week... a nice improvement, better mids and way more dynamic.  Very pleased.

Very sweet! coppy777
Happy Listening!
LinnLingo... Mr. Johnson, Lew, heard of your earlier comment and wanted to make it clear that he is very much with us and doing just fine. In fact he is working harder and doing more daily to support the company since the sale to Jeff than he has in some time. He and Bill are both not 75 years old and really have deep concern for the future of conrad-johnson.  That business is their legacy and they both want and expect c-j to continue indefinitely into the future.  Their product quality and design philosophy have always reflected the long view.
I started in the 90s with a CJ MV 55 stereo tube amp and when I needed beefier amplification for a wider range of speakers I auditioned everything under the sun - solid state and tubed. For me the CJ Premier 12 monoblocks came out on top. Just like Michael Fremers review said at the time they had an almost miraculous balance of qualities - that utterly intoxicating CJ midrange married to guts - an extended sparkling but not bright high end and low end with punch and pitch control of all manner of speakers. I still haven’t replaced them in 16 years and I would likely regret it if I did.

A few years ago I replaced my older locally built tube preamp with a CJ Premier 16LS2 and as you may imagine it’s a beautiful match - somehow this preamp does incredible transparency more akin to what I would hear when I used my DAC to bypass my previous preamp, directly into the monoblocks. Yet it has that glorious CJ glow, sparkle and liquidity that makes musical instruments come across as organic and unmechanical.

So, yes, some of us certainly are still using CJ gear :-)
coppy777 thanks for the info. I have had my CJ ET3 SE for a little over a year and love it. Just two weeks ago I added a pair of Aerial 5T's to the stereo and the combination is the best sound I ever had.





I had CJ gear for years. I had an MV60SE amp and a 17LS2 preamp. I've since  switched to Pass, an XP20 and X250.8. I've lost nothing and gained much by switching. Ultimately I found CJ gear a little too golden. I hear zero solid state nasties on my Pass gear and the noise floor is definitely lower. To each their own. 
I think all agree that Mr. Pass is an excellent designer.  Not suggesting you should change anything, but modern c-j amplifiers are just that bit more linear.  Some miss the golden sound, while most enjoy the expanded accuracy.  And, don't you miss that something that comes with tube sound?  My P350 is excellent even today but I always come back to the LP140s.  It's a personal choice and a great deal depends on our speaker choices as well.  I'm a Wilson guy with a new pair of Yvettes.
Regarding people's worry about the companies future, I wouldn't stress about it. It's tube electronics any competent tech should be able to fix it. 
As zavato mentions, cj does have that "Golden Sound" to match up with their golden faceplates.  My guess would be that a cj tube pre matched with a cj tubed amp may in some systems be a bit too much of that golden glow.
linnlingo-

the ET-3SE is a very fine pre-amp and mates well w/ other tubed or solid-state gear.  Which other gear, including cabling, is in your system?

Happy Listening!
The gear has to be matched expertly- hifiman5

Once accomplished, the pay-off is there in spades. Happy Listening!
+1 on gears need to match. Some CJ preamp models tend to have unusually high gain and depending on the pairing amp you may not be able to move the volume control past 9 o'clock for most listening conditions. Check the (gain) specs carefully before committing.
I love my C-J equipment!  Phono-stage, Pre-amp, and Amp!
Re Coppy777's question if I miss that something you get with tubes- with the Pass gear, truthfully, not at all. However, if I truly do need or want a tube fix, it's not beyond my reach. I have built a couple of tubed headphone amps. 
coppy777

I sent you a PM.
No doubt that Pass Labs is the best solid-state gear at this juncture.
Also, CJ pre-amp(s) are sonic matches for both brands. Happy Listening!
Post removed 
@normansizemore  Not disparaging cj in anyway but I had a premiere 11a for a while and did not like the amp at all. It also turned me off the 6550 tube for life. So not "everyone" loves cj. In fairness I've not auditioned any current cj gear in my own system.
jond,

I am surprised to hear that, maybe something was amiss with your sample?  I have always liked the way their products are 'voiced'.  I find them more to the sweet/rich side which I enjoy.  Even their lower end solid state amps of the late 80's early 90's sounded pretty good. 
Personally I thought the Premiere 5 mono blocks were superb.  Wonderful balance and not bass heavy like my  KSA 50 or the ML2's I once had.

N.
@jafant   

"No doubt that Pass Labs is the best solid-state gear at this juncture"

The Best?  I don't doubt that Pass Labs is excellent SS gear...but
The best day of my audiophile life was when I received my MF 2500A.Worst day was having to sell it,,,,,,Bad Mistake!!!
     My system has not sounded as good since .Have not heard their phono preamps. I will one day buy another CJ power amp !