I don't have the Stereophile issue you mention, but I do love that preamp :-)
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In my opinion, the "affordable" PV series of tube preamps from CJ have a wonderful midrange but they seem to roll-off the highs and lack the solid bass that I enjoy. I haven't tried a "Premier class" CJ preamp due to price. I'm curious to learn what the solid-state PF-R might sound like if anyone cares to describe it for me. Thanks!
Abe> The only way I know how to describe it is that it is totally transpsrent. The only thing I have a-b'd it against is an Adcom GTP450 which I use in a bedroom system. There was no comparrison. It wasn't like removing a sheet, but more like removing a thick blanket from the speakers. I have considered upgrading my amp (CJ MF2200) and cdp (Theta Miles)but have never really considered changing the preamp (CJ PFR) If you are considering a PFR I don't think you'll regret buying one.
Abe - I've never heard an application of the PFR that didn't sound great to my ears. It has the familiar CJ family sound, but is somewhat quicker and tighter than the Premier tube preamps. It doesn't produce the same soundstage or have quite the "depth" of its more expensive siblings, but is just as smooth and enjoyable to listen to. And like all the CJ preamps, it has a midrange to die for (ok, I'm biased ;-)).
I've never noticed anything in the high end that would lead me to think that its shy on top, but all of the CJ equipment is a bit on the warm side and the slight rise in mid bass can give the feeling of a rolled top end. I've noticed this with my 17LS, but from what I remember about the PFR its not quite as warm as its brothers, so this effect should be a bit less prominent.
Also, if your prior CJ experience was with a tube preamp, keep in mind that the energy you experience on the top end is directly influenced by the type of tubes it uses. Its possible that the unit you had was using tubes that are indeed a bit soft on the top end. Between manufacturers, the differences in sound can be very dramatic.
Thanks everyone for your input! And a special thanks to a member named "Alex" who sent me the entire article via fax. I thought I remember the CJ PF-R being a highly regarded preamp by their owners as well as by the press. I was looking for some reassurance that it wasn't a bomb. As you know, its no longer made and I bet many people aren't even aware of this unit. I bought one just today on Audiogon and hope to receive it late next week.
I'm hoping it's just a wee bit sweet or warm in the mids without rolling off the highs and lows. I have used the ARC LS16 tube preamp, Adcom GFP-750, various Classe, CJ PV14L, CJ PV12L, and at the moment a McCormack TLC-1 passive/buffered preamp which isn't bad at all but of course its not "sweet" but its not offensive either. I'm really looking forward to playing with the CJ PF-R. Thanks again everyone!