Conrad Johnson PV12 vs. Audible Illusions Modulus 3a

For those who've heard either preamp, and especially for anyone who's compared these two preamps head to head, what are your thoughts on them? My specific concerns based on forum searches are that the CJ sounds slow and the Modulus 3a sounds bleached / thin. What are your experiences, esp. if you compared them? 

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Have had an Audible Illusions 3A forever--not bleached/thin at all. Hard to characterize the sound as it does so much right. Perhaps its greatest strengths are its truth of timber and rich tonal colors. Weaknesses are its high line stage gain and requirement for tubes that can handle being run hot. Fortunately, those tubes find great. Mine is the MM version. Have only heard the CJ PV 12 in passing--I think with Premier 11 and 12s--loved the sound.

Edit: those tubes sound great (not "find" great)

Have owned both preamps but not at same time. Would agree completely with @hedwigstheme , the 3A is far from bleached sound. The PV12, and PV11 were nice as well. But my fav of the PV series was always the PV-5. A bit warm sounding but could hold your rear in the listening chair for hours. 


The AI also evolved over time, complicating the matter based on what iteration you get. Cheers,


This is a perfect example of the difficulty in describing sound and how the words we use may have a different meaning to someone else.

I know the sound of both preamps well and, to me, the sound of the Modulus is indeed what I would describe as “bleached” sounding; what I sometimes refer to as having a “gray” sound.  HOWEVER, it is definitely not thin sounding. In fact, it is quite full sounding and with larger individual images than the CJ. I think some listeners associate the description “bleached” with being thin. “Bleached” is the absence of natural tonal color even when the sound is very full and not thin at all. To me, the CJ sounds more colorful the way that live music sounds and is actually a little thinner sounding, but not edgy or harsh at all.

Good luck with your choice. Both excellent preamps; each with different strengths.

I like the Modulus 3 and would put it a bit ahead of the PV12 (an PV5). but it isn't up to my main system preamp, a CJ Premier 14.