Is there no one who has listened to either of these preamps extensively at one time or another?
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I sure hope it doesn't sound like the CJ ET3SE! That unit was way warm and diffuse sounding. I listened to it at length and it was just too "confined" sounding. No openness around the instruments but very good left to right soundstage.
The Doge 8 and Doge 8 Clarity are supposed to be more transparent and deep sounding, with a well structured sound stage left to right and front to back. I'll let you know...I have a Dodge 8 Clarity on order.
I've heard the ET 3 and while I would say the CJ has a full mid, upper bass and
lower midrange, this is not less "neutral." People seem to have the
idea that live music is "neutral." Live music has color, and texture. A
preamp that de-natures the texture (timbre) of real instruments is the less
neutral one and is actually suppressing the inner detail of the instrument, which
will also make all violinists sound like their particular brand of violin is generic
(inner detail and low-level resolution are part of making different instrument
makers sound like themselves, just as Steinways don't sound like Baldwins).
Whoever heard a tuba that didn't have a "blattiness" in its sound??
That's part of the completeness of its sound. The CJs ALLOW this quality to
come through, they don't FORCE it to sound like something else.
Alan Sircom of HiFi Plus, reviewed the ET 3 and found it highly resembling the
GAT. It is unlikely that it would sound diffuse (never, EVER a CJ trait). I've had CJ
equipment from the old days, and they have excellent imaging traits, both front
to back, and side to side. In fact, depth layering is one of their strongest traits. I
can only imagine the SE to be a higher-resolution version of this, as Teflon
capacitors (I've had several devices, such as the Audience AR2p-T, which use
teflon, and they ALL reveal a clarity that is fascinating to hear) are higher rez
versions of non-Teflon versions. I haven't heard the SE version, I hasten to add,
but it is unlikely that Bill and Lew are foolish enough to charge more and make
the upgraded version mushier, with less resolution, and ESPECIALLY less focus
(including specificity of image) and put it on the market. Pretty illogical move,
given that even a Classic has terrific specificity of image. Something either
wasn't right with the SE or something in that system wasn't set up right (such
as putting your cables on top of each other (strictly amatuersville: talk about RFI
piling up and smearing the sound!). I'm leaning towards a 3 myself, with my
other option being upgrading my First Sound Presence Deluxe to a MK III
The ET3 I heard was highly resolving and what's more, it has a
"continuousness" of sound that allows you to imagine ALL the
musicians in the room at the same time, instead of just the section that is
playing music. And, included in that, is the ambience of the hall, which many
excellent preamps miss, so that the recordings don't change even from cut to
cut. The ET 3 does this in spades, kings, queens, and jacks.
Go read the review of the ET3 on conrad johnson's site or AVguide.com, which
is the Absolute Sound's site, or google the review of the ET3. Sircom, the
reviewer, has excellent ears, and his opening commentary about the sound was
on the sound staging. More "detail" is not more "live" unless it accompanies the
breathing of the musicians, hall sounds, the hall itself (or the club or even
someone's basement, for that matter!), the way the musicians are playing their
This seems more a question of whether one wants it to sound live or like
OK, here is my update on the Dodge 8 Clarity.
- The comments MUST be taken in context to my ears pleasure center, and that is solidly placed imaging with pin-point spatial location and as little sonic "blending" between each person, instrument ETC.
The Dodge 8 Clarity was the BEST of the tube units I've had at home. I finally heard the tube magic in the midrange area in that it provided a very nice timber and resonance. But, the definition, clarity, and pin-point precision was not as good as my XP-10. The front to back depth wasn't nearly as deep, or well organized.
The DynAudio C4's signatures bring this out immediately, and my ear lends towards the XP-10 verses the Clarity. Also, the XP-10 is a $5,800.00 unit I bought used, so it SHOULD have some decided advantage where it is intended to over a $2,000.00 retail tube unit. And no, the tube rollers will NEVER bridge the sound gap between the two units. It isn't even close. Minor tweaks, yes, a night and day difference, no. Neither unit will trade places with the other. The XP-10 will NEVER have that organic tube resonance. So I'm not knocking either units, just pointing out the fundamental differences that will always remain.
I also listened to an tube Octave unit that was very good, and very expensive...and still liked the XP-10. The Octave unit was even better at midrange texture and fullness, and STILL lost the edge and spatial detail that the XP-10 is so good at.
No, this does NOT say that the Clarity is a bad pre- amplifier, it says I tend to favor a fast, clear, precise sound and a sound that the C4's are excellent at extracting. The build quality of the Dodge 8 Clarity was excellent, especially at the price. Nothing was short of, "built like a rock".
In my price range, the sonic pallets seem to fall on one side or the other, a softer but harmonically rich sound (tubes) or a precise fast, detailed sound (SS). Heck yes, a uber high-end tube unit might get BOTH. I just don't hear it at under 10K at the moment.
Which one do you like? Well, if I replaced the tube units with the SS XP-10, I never wanted to switch the XP-10 out again! So that pretty much decided it for me. Your results may be exactly the opposite.
My ear tends to be absorbed in spatial precision. A cymbal tap clicks, and the resonance overtones emanate EXACTLY from where the tap was spatially located. Like a rock plopping into water, and the reverberation ripples emanating exactly from there. Again, your "ear" may weigh different types of accuracy. Mine just goes big time this way.
One last note, Pacific Valve was 100% responsive to their commitment to allow a trial over a 30-day period with a minor restocking fee and return shipment. No, that means it isn't "free", but it is still a more economical way to try a good lower priced but mid range sound targeted tube unit. I would not hesitate to recommend a trial.
Rower30 - Great evaluation! I certainly get the flavor of where you put the Doge in your landscape. I would consider myself more mid-fi with my SS system looking to inject Tubes into my music/ HT. combo.(MA- sr6, Para p7/a52, oppo 83se,vpi classic/benz micro. (Somewhat bright.)
I assume you used your Sim audio phono pre with the clarity ?If you had a chance,did you evaluate the phono section of the clarity compared to the Sim? I'm looking at an HOMC now but a lower output cartridge is in my future.
Do you think the tubes in the DOGE were broken in sufficiently to yield the kind of precise soundstage you are looking for? optimum tube selection?
Here is my takeaway from your discussion. I too (would)enjoy a defined and 3-d soundstage but I also need/want tubes. if the Doge can't deliver soundstage then I,m thinking it will bring tubism but I can get more of that in a 6SN7 based preamplifier . Soooo...
I should acquire both a Clarity and a used Modwright and compare side by side. I;m doubtful tho that 30 days is enough breakin with the supplied tubes for the Doge.
Anyway,I appreciate the time and careful objectivity/consideration you put into your review-
The Clarity had upgraded tubes from the factory. Now if you mean continuous tube rolling...well.
The built-in phono stage was entirely too noisey for MC, so I ditched it right away and went with the MOON LP 5.3 line stage. For $2,000.00 I didn't see it as a loss. I don't use a MM cartridge so I can't comment on background nosie, which is unservicable in the MC settings.
Yes, 30-days is a short duration for break-in, so run the thing 24/7 for two weeks on the radio. Don't expect the tiger to change it's stripes too much after two solid weeks of break-in, though. All my stuff has shown it basic fundamental sound by then.
I also have a Benz Micro, a RUBY 3, that I bought as a re-tip (notice I buy a lot of used stuff!) that sounds pretty good. But, my favorite was an Accuphase AC2 that I just wore out. A channel intermittently drops out. At 30 years old I guess that's expected.
I'm thinking of a Soundsmith The VOICE the next time around.
I have spent some time w/ the CJ ET3 mated w/ the CJ classic sixty. A Prima Luna cd player was the source. B&W 802D were the speakers. Audioquest cabling/cords.
I was surprised that the classic sixty really drove those B&W speakers! It is such a small amp, I never would have guessed...
The ET3 performed flawlessly, IMO. A very satisfying musical experience.
I know I started this thread, supposedly trying to decide between the Doge and the CJ. However, my research pointed me in another direction completely, and I am now awaiting the arrival of a Dehavilland Ultraverve 3. I was offered a price I simply could not pass up, so I went for it. We shall see what happens.
Coming late to this party but here goes:
I have owned a Doge 8 Clarity for a little over a year. I don't use the MC section but instead use a Ypsilon SUT with the MM section. It is incredibly quiet.
I feel that this amp is very hard to beat for under $5-8,000 range Preamp. The linestage is amazing. Great tube depth,not syrupy or romantic.I have rolled the line tubes from GEs,Amperex,NOS Mullards,and the stock Phillips.
The GEs are the most exciting and easy to get cheap.
I would recommend this to most of my friends. The others are in the stratosphere.