I think I would at the least try a few more 12ax7 tubes,or even better try some Sylvania 5751 3 mica black plates in your current CJ preamp and see how much more performance you can squeeze out ..This may be enough for you to keep what you have and save some money for more Vinyl....
The pre-amp's line stage is important and its presence is audible and influential on the signal it receives either from a phono stage (or an outboard phono stage) CDP, what ever. If your phono stage has tubes and your line stage has tubes then you have 2 opportunities to dial in the tone you want. Some times just the tube in the phono stage will do it, some times just the line stage, more often than not both. Operating on the assumption (I do not know about the PV12) I would start by selecting a tube for the line stage that has a general reputation for being neutral in tone, quiet, and rugged. Then I would try to find a tube that produced the tone you want from the cartridge you are using. It is not always easy to get this right so take your time.
A good place to start is to tell folks what kind of cartridge you are using now, what kind of tone you are getting, and what you would like to improve. Also indicate what tube you are using in the line stage and what tone it is producing as it relates to any source you use. With that info I'm sure there are some folks who can give you some specific and knowledgeable advise.
If you plan to use stand-alone phonostage with volume control like EAR834, it'll keep you with tube business and you won't need preamp.
The linestage provides two functions, if you are using an outboard phono stage. It adds gain. If the output of your phono stage is inadequate to drive your amplifier, that gain is needed. And it adds an attenuator in the signal path and possibly bass/treble/balance controls if you want to use such. Both the gain function and the control functions can also color the sound, for good or ill. If your phono stage has a robust output with the cartridge that is driving it, and if it has a volume control, there is no need for a formal linestage at all.
(There is a third issue with impedance matching; the phono stage has to have a low enough output impedance to drive the cables between it and the amplifier inputs, in order to do away with the linestage.)
If your question is whether or not to switch from a full function preamp (meaning a preamp with built-in phono) to separate phono and linestages, I would say that it is impossible to say, since only you can determine what pleases you most. But separate boxes will cost more, require another interconnect pair, etc. Rollling tubes may help, but what are you trying to achieve? Changing capacitors in the signal path would likely help even more than rolling 12AX7s in the CJ.
Thank you everybody.
To Thorman yes, you are exactly right about trying different tubes. The thing is I was almost at the point to buy some tubes (good ones) from Brent Jesse, $300-500 range per matched pair. I looked at other places as well. Should I mention that I started from ground zero exactly a year ago. So at the time I just needed to start somewhere and I bought the PV12 (this has 12AX7, 5751 and 12AU7) which didn't fail me yet.
But while speaking with Brent it crossed my mind that not all pre-amps (and I intended to stay within CJ for time being, but even with those) have the same tubes some have 6922, some 6H30P and so forth. This and the fact that good tubes are costly made me consider the upgrade first, as well as a minor fact that the PV-12 doesnt have the remote.
And certainly, regarding the question on what I am looking for it is hard for me to realize the deficiency of the sound until I hear something else. I am quite happy with the PV12 sound as it is now. I should add provided the record quality is sufficient/high enough. On some records violins are too harsh, on some bass is not too expressive, but since I have a few records which sound very good I assigned the above week points to the record rather then to the device. But on the other hand I thought I should rather go a little higher, get myself a (as they say) better (read more pricey) CJ device, run it at my place with all the arms and cartridges that I have and then decide. But you are right one needs money for the vinyl J
To Newbee on the cartridges side I have a few, I have not decided though which one (or ones) I will keep. I have Grado Reference (Old Stock), Grado Amber the Tribute, Ortofon Windfeld, Acutex M320 and VDH Colibri LWG. Only 2 arms so far the Rega 300 that came with the used TT (Oracle Paris, old model) and Sumiko MDC800. I am planning to get a light weight (may be some used SME) for my high compliance Colibri, as well I am considering a used RS-212D for Windfeld. Yes, I like music more than HIFI but I dont mind having some fun with different setups as long as I dont take the next mortgage.
Speaking about the tone I would say balancing the details and the warmth I will go for the latter maintaining enough details as much as I can.
To Lewm good point about the controls on the phono stage, I didnt think about it that way! I was missing tone controls on the pre-amp initially when I started but now I dont think I miss that part too much. I also spoke with Ed from CJ about changing the capacitors in the PV12 but it doesnt look like they do such an upgrade in PV12. They do that on the PR16 amp (and EV1 phone stage) though. And this was another reason for my question as well.
But overall it looks like I have more defined plan now thanks to you folks.
Dear Avs9, You have some top quality cartridges, a really good selection. Pardon my saying so, but the cartridges exceed the capabilities of your two tonearms. A tonearm upgrade might produce more results for you than tube rolling, not to mention that you should also check out your tt to be certain the belt is not stretched out, etc, and that it is running at correct speed even when under load while playing music. Those are easy things to do.
I don't want to take business away from anyone, but the price you quote for matched tubes is, shall we say, high. Remember that matched tubes can age at different rates such that eventually they are no longer matched, and in all but balanced circuits, I think matching is over-rated. So long as the tube is not noisy and as long as both halves of these dual triodes are in good condition, I would just use singlets. Lots of tube vendors will test for this standard.
I find it odd that CJ says they will not upgrade the coupling caps in your unit but they do so for other products. Any good local tech can do it for you, if CJ won't. Try some teflon output caps; you will be amazed. Finally, be aware, if you are not already, that you cannot just plug any old 9-pin miniature tube into any old 9-pin socket. To use 6DJ8, 6922, 6H30, etc, in your preamp would require some major re-design of the circuit. But if 12AU7 is begin used as a cathode-follower at the output, you might try an ECC99 there or any of several 12AU7 direct subs.
I got it wrong from CJ I am afraid just spoke with Ed from CJ, they CAN do the teflon ones on PV12, the price I guess is not a secret it is $1200. I am not sure if I can find a cheaper option here. The teflon upgrade on the PR16 is actually much more! So I may consider staying with PV12 after all.
Yes, thanks for pointing out my arms deficiency. The upgrade was actually planned, still working on it. Now if you can make another step how does RS-212D sound (used, mint for $1450) for Windfeld and used SME 3009 type for Colibri? The Colibri Light Weight is a demanding baby, with only 5 grams weight it asks for the lightweight arm not above 14-16 gr effective mass. The thing is I can not bring myself to buy what is being a little far from the classical (IMHO) type like SME IV or SME V or linear tonearm. I am more into classical style like Ortofon, Origin Live, earlier SMEs etc
I guess the Ortofon applies some fees with the brand name, not sure how wrong it would be to assume that the Ortofon arm will suite the Ortofon Windfeld better, they seem to fit based on the compliance factor.
For the tubes price I checked a few sites mentioned on this forum, the best ones like Mazda silver plate triple mica is $425 per pair, 12AX7 Telefunken smoothplate, diamond mark 1960s, $230.00 per pair. So yes, you are correct - there are options, staying with PV12 I probably dont have to go high, like you said with cartridges the PV12 (and my CJ MV60SE later in the chain and not above average speakers, I used Audes from Estonia) would probably limit the benefits of the most costly tubes. I need to do more leggwork here I guess.
Sorry. I have no experience with any of those particular tonearms, but I do have a bias (why not?) in favor of the modern SME tonearms over the old SME tonearms, e.g., 309 vs 3009. For tonearms in the $1000 to $2000 price range, I like the Dynavector DV505 (no longer made but can be found used for about $1200). I suspect that the Ortofon tonearms are quite good as well, but with no direct evidence. I also like Technics vintage tonearms EPA100 and EPA500 and Micro Seiki MA505. These can be bought for less than $1K. Fidelity Research FR64S is in the price range and is said to be great for low compliance cartridges. Victor, SAEC, and Lustre are other vintage brands that are excellent for well under $2K. RS Labs RS-A1 is very odd to use but sounds good, too.
I must say I never imagined that 12AX7s had gotten so expensive, but you are paying a premium for "matched pairs", which I would not do.
AVS9 , All the suggestions in the above posts will help you achieve nirvana but prior spending your $$$ I would suggest getting your turntable away from the rear corner and moving your speakers further into the room and away from the side walls.You may find this is all you need to allow you to just sit and listen.Upgrades can be done in the future after you find the proper placement for your speakers and turntable.
Really nice equipment for starting only one year ago.
Take your time, your on the right track
Thank you all, very much appreciate the feedback.
Ed - why move the TT from the corner?
And about the speakers - the nirvana room is pretty small - 14 x 11. What distance in your opinion I should maintain between the wall and the speaker in this speakers corner?
The corners will collect the greatest bass power, which in turn could cause resonance in your turntable, especially since iti is not a suspended model. Getting the speakers out into the room a little, and out of a corner, will tend to smooth out the bass and add some air to the sound.
Another arm you might look for is an Alphason HR100 or Xenon. classic style, titanium arm.
Only listening will determine the preferred placement for your speakers but I would start by bringing them forward from the 14' wall,6-7 feet apart measured from the center of each speaker.
This would be a starting point.Your room is small but great sound can be achieved.
If you have the capability to move your turntable further down the wall away from the corner you may also find improvement.
Part of the enjoyment of this hobby is trying to find the IMPOSSIBLE SOUND before we are committed.