ConradJohnson--Can their vintage compete with new?


I am considering going back to separates. I owned a Conrad Johnson PV-8 tube pre-amp (1988) and liked it alot. However, I like some opinions on what might be CJ's best vintage amp and pre-amp of the last 10 years only. Would even consider reasonable, reliable, modifications if worthwhile and audible. (Unfortunately, CJ's new separates are very too expensive). I have a Creek SE5350 Classic, but can't find another integrated that fits my needs and power requirements and price range. All opinions and comments welcomed. Thank you
sunnyjim
A little older,but nice.The CAV-50 integrated.
I found the CAV-50 to be extremely warmed sounding with rolled highs. Not saying to avoid it; rather, it needs careful system matching. Also, this is the only CJ piece I ever heard that went to this extreme. Usually they have a nice natural level of detail (as opposed to extreme "in your face" detail or rolled off).

This might be an over-generalization, but the CJ family sound has evolved a bit over years from being very tubey/warm and with natural detail to being more neutral and fast these days, still beautiful and with natural detail. So the vintage you choose is likely to reflect this evolution in sound.

Art
I am using a PV-14L preamp in my system that was modified by RHB Sound Dezign. I went this route as opposed to upgrading to another preamp. I am completely happy with the sound of this preamp now and am very glad I did not go the route of buying another preamp. I would seriously recommend if you go with an older CJ pre or amp to consider the RHB mods as a very good way to go.
".....what might be CJ's best vintage amp and pre-amp of the last 10 years only"

Uuummmm......SS, or tube? Price range? C-J has made so many excellent components over the years, it's hard to answer w/o narrowing it down (the very "best" I'm guessing are the most expensive).

FWIW, I own a C-J Mf2250 amp, & a PF-R pre-amp, that I use in my "bedroom system". If you want SS, they're both great sounding components, & probably a lot better sounding than most integrateds...
I am using a PV-14L preamp in my system that was modified by RHB Sound Dezign. I went this route as opposed to upgrading to another preamp. I am completely happy with the sound of this preamp now and am very glad I did not go the route of buying another preamp. I would seriously recommend if you go with an older CJ pre or amp to consider the RHB mods as a very good way to go.
Sorry guys, why that posted again I have no idea????
Well, I have the CAV-50 and don't think it is especially rolled off. It's sound is the most 3 dimensional amp I own. Sounds great with B&W 805s, which is a very detailed speaker, so perhaps there is a balance here.

Vin
I had a PFR-1 pre when it first came out, sold after a few years for a Hovland, then re-purchased one for my BR system about 5 years ago and have not looked back. It was Stereopjile Class A in its time (FWIW) and still is an excellent performer. I have seen used ones on "Gon for less than $1000, which buys you a top flight SS pre that sounds great and is very versatile.

Neal
It is more than 10 years old but the best vintage C-J in my opinion for a preamp was their PV-11 with phono. A great piece, sorry I let mine go, no other piece elicits that response.
Still use da PV-5 had levinson krell all kine high end preamps but always find myself enjoying da music more with my c-j!! Had all new auricaps put in as one upgrade.Enjoy da mele cuz!!!
It's funny but I owned the PV5 and always wanted a PV8. I sold the PV5 and bought an ARC LS9 w remote. Very good sounding preamp but not enough gain for my system. I took a chance on a VanAlstine Super Pas 3si preamp and when I received it it was a revelation. It had NOS Phillips 12AX7's in it and it was good. Later I sent it to Tom Tutay and had him go over it to see if he could improve it. Well my line stage has 12AU7's and the phono stage has 12AX7's and my gain is only 9db in the line stage and about 40db in the phono stage. It is super quiet, and a bigger sound stage than before and to be honest it matches my Tutay modded Dynaco Stereo 70 very well. It's a great bargin and an improvement in stock over the CJ. But the Tutay mods gets rid of the rolled off highs of the stock VanAlstine and opens the preamp up! In stock form it still is more extended than the PV5 to my ears. Excellent see through quality and very good presentation of the sound spectrum. Give something like the Super PAS 5 a listen if he is close you, you may find it very interesting. Good Luck.
With the right speakers, a PV14 with an MF2250 or MF2250A would make a really nice combination. You could also go with PV10B or PV12. The PV12's are hard to find, though. I use to have an SS PF2.. it sounded similar to my Threshold T3i... very close but not quite there. The price of the T3i was almost 3x the price of a new PF2.
Thanks to those who responded; you have provided good information and sensible alternatives....To Dwr, I had Bob Backert modify my CJ-PV-8 for a lower noise floor, there was some improvement, but not necessarily revelation. Though in retrospect, it did bring something extra to the sound--- tonal color and harmonics were fuller or richer. Bob was working for Danby Stereo in Ardmore, Pa.and that was at least 15 years ago....Dwr, Could you tell me approx. how much those mods and upgrades cost for the PV-14L ??. Some members also mentioned other and "earlier" CJ pieces which are interesting. The question is are the newer vintage pieces qualitatively better than older ones, and therefore a better bet to modify and improve??
I think you know... I hope. Conrad Johnson will upgrade a PV-14L to a PV-14LS2.
Vinkim, your comment makes me wonder whether I heard the CJ integrated with either poorly matched gear or poorly matched tubes. I'm very pleased to hear that piece is working out so well for you.
Art
Sunnyjim, I emailed you the cost and explanation of the mods I had RHB perform on the preamp.
Gslone. I did not know CJ modded their older pieces. Thank you for update. Jim
Could anyone comment on the performance of CJ's SS gears the "Motif" line please.Thanks.
Although the PV11 was less noisy than the PV9, for me the PV9 was much better sounding than the PV11. I had both with a MV125 driving Quad ESL63 and it was a great combination!
To Dwr
Hi
I am considering to go the same route as you did it seems (I have PV12 with phone stage). Would you be so kind to email me a few details about what exactly modifications were done, any points on your side would be great. Thank you, Anatoliy
Nobody wants to part with their PV-12, including yours truly. In some ways they are better. CJ was known for the CJ glow back in the day. Their adds were photographs of sax, trumpet, trombone, across a piano. Jazz saxes were "saxier" and trombones were "trombonier" if you get my drift; they weren't "neutral", they were better than neutral.
Thank you, Orpheus, this is good to know.
Not sure if I should keep remembering that but I saw a post where one mentioned 'possible' problem with the 'balance' handle on the PV12, I can't recall at the moment what exactly was said. Was wondering if you had any 'side effects' in this connection. But if I decide to go with the mods either with RBH of CJ I was going to ask the folks there to see if anything can be done.
I think I saw your other post where you did share a favor opinion about the mods. If you did go that route - did you make it through with RBH or CJ? Thank you
Yes, it doesn't seem to work very well. Fortunately, the center channel, plus right and left are where they are supposed to be; but I just checked "balance" and it doesn't seem to work. Since this is in the bedroom as opposed to the listening room, that's not as critical.

If you think that's going to be a problem, call CJ before you buy. I only have Black Gate caps in the power supply.
I have a CJ PF-R SS preamp made in the mid to late '90's, formerly Stereophile Class A. It cost $2500 when new. I use it in my BR system but recently swapped into Main Rig when the caps in my Wyetech Opal was being upgraded to Teflon caps. The CF-R, while no Opal, certainly gave a more than respectable account of itself, and I could have continued to live with it quite happily if I had to. It still is quite handsome looking. Used, you probably could get one for $1000 or so but they do not come up often.

Neal