Conrad JOHNSON Phono Preamps

I’m currently in the process of starting a Vinyl system, Project Classic with Hana SL.

I’ve been looking at primarily a Musical Surroundings Phenomena, but 

I have a CJ ET3 line-stage that I am very happy with. I do not hear anything on CJ phono stages.

are there any CJ phono stages that are recommended? Reasonable prices new or used ?

I have a CJ PV-3 bought used. A bit long-in-the-tooth but still capable of excellent sound! It does have a line stage. But still a great find for a few hundred dollars!
the PV-5 had a great MM phono stage in its day. Very musical sounding. many of the reviewers used it as their ref piece.
I owned a PV-5, 8, 11 and 12. The 5 was the only the only model I regretted selling. It has quite a cut following.
C-J makes wonderful stuff including/especially phono preamps.  I currently own their top TEA1series3, but before that had a TEA2, and before that a ET3 and before that...well you get the idea.  Nobody ever got hurt buying C-J.  They are competitive at every price point, usually best in class.  I believe you could have your ET3 modified at the factory to have the phono stage built in probably at a cost savings as compared to buying a stand-alone unit.

Bill, thanks for feedback 
yep, cannot go wrong with CJ 

tea1. Wow ,
I was wondering why all the CJ phono preamps are lower on gain ....
Then, Duh....CJ linestage are 25 db vs 8-9 db for most

so., how was tea2 vs tea1 ?  Are either noisy?
any sound characteristics to note vs linestage ?


ps: what are you running for system ?      It must be spectacular
      Do you run a GAT?

Hi Jeff,
This is way off topic, but briefly my system as it relates to C-J is GAT2, TEA1iii, ART150, all of these powered by a PS Audio P20 power conditioner.  To  your question of noise, the TEA1 is quiet competitive with the best solid state, the TEA2max had some noise more typical of vacuum tube electronics.  This is in my primary home in Florida.  We have two older homes in New England with older less exotic systems and I can tell you I would be thrilled to have an ET3 in either or both of those.  There is nothing second rate about an ET3.

I was told the CJ Sound was the “ English gentleman “ of sq. Refined, grainless with all the detail and soundstage 
But, I almost returned the ET3, as it was more edgy than what I wanted.( Thiel speakers at that time )

I tried Matsushita/National 7dj8 Cyro and was dumbfounded by the change .    Needless to say, I’ve kept it , and love it now 

I keep hearing that CJ preamps are hard on tubes ?   But not a issue here.

What other components round out your system?
I would especially like to know your cartridge, as your CJ sq , and preferences are probably close to  mine ?


ps: take care in Florida with the “ crud” 
I have a lot of cartridges.  The best of my better MC cartridges has been an Ortofon Per Winfeld, but I have more recently been happier with the sound of a SoundSmith Experion, which is a MI, based on the older Bang & Olufson design, which in turn is based on an old Grado design.  Anyway the Experion is sublime.  I have two turntables in this system, a VPI HW40, and a Technics SL1200GAE sitting side by side.  I usually have the SL1200 set up for Mono and the HW40 for Stereo.  I listen to a lot of old jazz and so need both, back and forth all the time.  Speakers are Sony SS-AR2.

There is a host of other stuff, cables, rcm, digital stuff, SUT and on and on.  My grandmother got me started in this hobby, I am 72 years old now and have records in my collection acquired when I was 11 or 12 years old.  A lot of stuff.
Before I bought the GAT2, I had an ET5 and it was indeed hard on tube, singular it only had one.  The GAT2 seems to have solved that problem.  I believe the high gain, combined with using one tube for both channels was asking too much of one tube in the ET55.  Anyway, it sounded marvelous until it got noisy, about every 6 months for me, but I play my system 2-4 or more hours every day.  The ET3 doesn't make the same demand on the tubes.  It is really a great design.

I’ve heard of the Orth Winfield 
 top of the pile !

I’m excited to get started 

The old albums with great microphones and analog Sonics is going to be “The Best”

but, I’m sure the learning curve will be ugly.

I’ve got two audio buddies with superb analog Setups , to guide me, though. ( I know how great analog can be !)



I ordered the turntable and cartridge todayI’m sure there are 8 million tweeks for analog to put money down, on , too

I sold my 700 albums back in 90’s thinking CD is the cats meow.    I feel real good about that, now 


ps: what coast of fl ?        My mom lived in ft Myers for 30+ yrs 
East Coast.  West Palm Beach.  Have fun.  Let me know if I can help you at any time.

you sure can help !

Do you have a list of your “ oldtime “ jazz or classic albums you could recommend?

I’m betting you have really cool albums, if grandma started you !!!!

will Mono albums play on stereo cartridge ?

Ps: my Gma had a baby grand she played when growing up . She talked of jazz clubs she hit 

Hi Jeff,
Re-issue mono records will play on stereo just fine, although a true mono cartridge still sounds quieter.  KAB makes a mono switch that is not expensive that would do the job too.

As for a place to start: Time-Life offered a series on vinyl entitled the Giants of Jazz. There were 28 volumes in the series, each volume comprised of 3 records and included an excellent booklet written by a recognized music scholar.  Each volume featured one artist, and of course each artist was accompanied by important sidemen of the day.  This series is a great place to start because it was widely distributed and copies are easy to find and usually very reasonably priced.  The quality is audiophile grade too.  Look at Amazon and Ebay to begin your search.  This series will take you from the early roots of jazz up to the beginnings of Bebop. 

Bebop and an off spring of it usually known as Cool Jazz or West Coast Jazz started about the middle of WWII and lasted well into the 1960s.  After that came Fusion or Jazz-Rock, which I am sure you can intuit on you own.  If you want to skip ahead just to get the flavor of this stuff, for Bebop pick up an Dizzy Gillespie/Charlie Parker record, or pick up a Johnny Costa CD.  Johnny was the pianist for the Mr. Rogers show and he played Bebop that sounded so much like Art Tatum that even Art Tatum himself was fooled.  Not many people know this, btw, but Charlie Parker was playing Art Tatum riffs.  For the West Coast sound, either Dave Brubeck Quartet - Take Five, or one of the Peanuts cartoon character records like Charlie Brown's Christmas, the music was all written by Vince Guaraldi and is West Coast jazz to admire.  For Jazz-Rock, start with the man who invented it Miles Davis and get Bitches Brew.  Follow that up with Weather Report's Heavy Weather.

But get grounded with early jazz first then get back to me.   At any time, if you need a break from your jazz lessons listen to some Bob Dylan, who just might be the best blues lyricist ever.  There are many great black singers.  Someone might tell you that Robert Johnson was the best blues entertainer ever.  Forget that.  Besse Smith was the best ever, male or female.  This might seem unrelated, but once you get yourself saturated in the roots of jazz you will find that it all comes from the blues.  So, don't get all uppity about what kind of music should be labeled jazz.  Duke Ellington didn't even like the word jazz.  His autobiography was entitled "Music Is My Mistress."
You are in for a great adventure.

I am a huge fan of the Conrad-Johnson sound. Having owned a PV7, PV5 years back and currently a Bill Thalmann upgraded PV9a  I can't imagine where I might go from here with specific reference to the magnificant phono stage in this component. The presentation is huge with micro/macro dynamics that mimics live music. Resolution of subtle detail is excellent and dramatically improved with the upgrades. I'm sure the newer CJs are  among the best of the tube designs out there along with VAC but at a big premium. Love the ET5 and the Classic 2 was a great value. 

FYI, this pre has 6 tubes which I replaced after the upgrades that were performed by Bill. This was in August 2015. They are still testing strong, (last month on my Hickcock tester). I purchase all my tubes from Andy Bowman of Vintage Tube Services.   A bit more maybe but well worth it as they are tested in many parameters resulting in dependability and high performance.    

I am using a Benz Micro .4 LOMC wood body. Plenty of gain and reasonably low noise.  Good luck and enjoy Jeff!

C-J also produced the EF-1.
A MOSFET design phono stage.
I've had mine for over 25 years.
No issues, knock on wood.....