McIntosh MC275 vs Conrad Johnson Premier 11A

I have a pair of Gallo Nucleus Reference speakers (the original version not the reference 3). I have been driving them with a Spectron Digital one amplifier. Last week I had the chance to try an old Mcintosh MC240 with my speakers and I think the sound was very sweet. Now I am considering get a tube amplifier. Any suggestions for a tube amp no more than $2K in the used market. I was looking at the McIntosh MC275 and the Conrad Johnson premier 11A. They are around 75 watts and are within my price range. The speakers are 4 ohms 90db/W/m. The rest of the system: Audible Illusions M3A preamp, Sony SACD/CD player and Sota Turntable. I listen mostly classical music and Jazz. Any suggestions will be appreciated.
I'll chime in. I have a SOTA turntable and Sony SACD player so our front ends our similar. I think either will fit your needs although my chair time in front of Mac tube equip was limited and a fair number of years ago. I own the premier 11a and it is a wonderful amp. Rock solid reliable and fairly robust. I used it to drive Martin Logans which was not ideal for the amp and it never whimpered although my dynamics were compromised. I still have it but bi-amp now with a heaven hell setup. I want to progress to monoblocks in the future (probably 12's). I lugged it over to a buddy who wanted to try tubes and he was floored (He has Maggie 3.6's). He ended up with Cary V12 monoblocks (superb, beautiful amps). So enough rambling, I think either are solid picks. The 11a for sale now (I have no affliation with the seller) but the price seems very reasonable and I have owned a 11a for over 8 years without a hiccup and have used a slew of different tubes to "tailor" the sound.
I listened awhile back to a MAC 70wpc tubed integrated driving a pair of parasound speakers; the front end was a pioneer elite sacd player. I used to own a premier 11a amp driving a pair of thiel 3.6's and comparing the two the MAC was not as involving as the cj. Of course different electronics different enviroment so it is a little hard to directly compare the two house sounds. Having said that the music just seems to have more life with the cj as compared to the MAC. Nothing against MAC equipment it is very well build and good looking to boot but just doesn't appeal to me sonically. I sold my 11a to a friend of mine and I am still sorry I sold it. Great Amp.
Ha Ha Ha! This is the evil twin who purchased the Premier 11A from czbbcl! Yes, it is a great amp. Build quality is to military specs. I found it, over time, a tad soft/loose in the base region. I now bi-amp with a CJ MF2250 in tandem with the 11A, with the 2250 running the low end. Matter of fact I am right now blasting my 17LS (czbbcl's as well!) at 55, listening to a old Roxie Music LP. Audio Nurvana....and no, you can't have them back!
I think the MC275 is over-kill. Stick with MC240. Too much power is more grain and less involving sound.
Thank you everybody for your responses.
I have never had a Conrad Johnson amplifier but I have had many C-J preamps and I love the sound. The reason for moving to the Audible Illusions M3A was the MC cartridges capability. With the MC240 I was unable to get enough volume when listening to records. I am using a low output cartridge (0.09mV). I don’t have that problem with the Spectron digital one (500W/channel). I don’t know if 70watts instead of 40w will solve the problem. Of course I can get a different cartridge. Any other tube amps that you can suggest for a similar set up (up to 2K in the used market)
Thank you again.
You have many more options in 40 watt land.I use an EAR intergrated 834 to run my german Odeon demi horns.I used tohave the Ref's as well and like Quad'57/63 owners who have bought and sold and re-bought the same spaker 4 or 5 times in a carreer of this madness I always wish I had kept mine but if I did I'd get bored or upset with their few weak points and want to change out again.It's changing out ITSELF I have a love hate relationship.Between the two models you have chosen tocompare I'd say you'd get better bass and a bit more dynamic slam out of the Mac amps and a more creamy midrange with the CJ's.Remember that in addition to the different manufacturer having different soundsfrom circut designs etc tubes themselves have different characteristics.EL34's used in my Conrad Johnson MV50 used EL34's which were great in mids but had less bass than say my Mesa which used utilitarian 6L6 tubes.Problem with CJ's tube amp[s IMHO is that they are npisier than other brands.EL34's are middle range in price for replacement and a favorite of folks who want to power two way moniotrs with good coherence and not a lot of bass demands (and would work well with the Gallo's).Many CJ's use EL34's.KT88's which if you check prices are more expensive to replace are worth it for many folks in either a 25 watt Mini Mite or a 300 watt monster beacuse they may not have that mid refinement but overall have greater bass and more dynamic slam that EL34's or 6550's which are among cheapest to replace.The 6550 is considered a good untilitarian tube which some deigners like and is supposed to be a pretty balanced tube say betwen the characteristics of the 34 or 88.Think you need to find a shop which has Acoustic Research,Cary,CJ,Mac etc and deice for yourself as difficult as it may be with somebody elses speakers (bring yours they are light!) or room and judge for yourself.In some it's like cheap turntables and CD players for say $500.The turnatable for it's adherents will blow away the CD unless you go to SACD format or get a $20K player.Tubes conversely have there weaknesses but as you all ready heard also psses there streengths that SS does not posses in it's harmonic presentation (good distortion if you will).But differnt amps AND tubes sound different.Your speakers don't need gobs of juice like say Maggies so you have choices (unless you are in va big room but you didn't mention it).set a power range of 40-75 watts go look at prices and sit down with what you can afford and listen.
Hello Fernando68 ,
I've had both in my system over the past 3 years driving AP Virgos (90Db/4ohm). My take seems to be a little different.
The CJ does midrange very well for a 6550 based amp, however it lacks bass drive and the highs are truncated in comparison to the Mc275. The CJ puts out no where near 70 watts in real world loads vs the McIntosh that puts out in excess of 75 watts on all taps. If you go for the McIntosh look for the newer model IV version of the amp .
Good luck
I'm not sure what you mean by "old MC275"? Are you talking about vintage or re-issue?

A vintage MC275 in top notch condition is actually more expensive than a CJ11A... And all the re-issues sound inferior to the original 275.

I have been using a CJ6550 for about a year. Replacing the factory stock 6550 with Svetlena KT88 improved the sound a lot - better dynamic, treble extension and midrange smoothness. Treble is not truncated in my setup (CJ17LS, Vienna Acooustic Beethoven + sequerra T1 tweeters).

Both amps are good and it's a personal taste after all. Since their resale value are quite high, it does not harm to try both. =D
Get a MC step up device. Because of my low sensitivity amp,
I had similar issue with SP-11 MKII with VDH MC cartridge ( 0.5mv )
Are you using dual mono mode on the MC240? The gain is much higher than stereo mode.

To "chazzbo"- Is it true all conrad johnson tube amps are "noisy"?
i heard the cj premier 140 at my house for an extended period of time, and it was *very* quiet. in fact, i'd say it's lack of noise was probably one of it's strengths...
I was confronted with exactly the same choices Fernando. Took my time listening to both, since I had the opportunity: a new MC275 Commemorative and a used Premier 11A on a bunch of speakers from B&W 805S, Lipinski L-707 and Reference 3A Dulcet to Klipschorns and KEF IQ9. With the McIntosh I always used a Mac 2200 tube pre-amp.. whilst a C-J PV-12 tube preamp partnered the Premier 11A. Though both are wonderful amps that sound amazingly full and detailed when heard on their own, tested back to back, using the same Naim 5x CD player and identical Nordost Baldur cable and interconnect setups, the McIntosh never sounded anywhere near as musical as the C-J. I also ended up listening to a McIntosh MA-6900 Integrated, which could do little to stop me going for C-J. I have to admit that although the MC275 was my first love right from the beginning, even before I'd ever heard about Conrad-Johnson, the listening tests left no doubt in my mind that the Conrad-Johnson offered higher resolution and an amazing sense of oneness with the music. Its soundstaging is also on another level. I ended up buying the Premier 11A and recommend it highly. You can spend a lot of money and still not find anything as musical as this at even four times the price. The 11A is so good that even if you don't have enough cash at this point to match it with a proper pre-amp, it'll make a startling difference, as it has in my setup, using a $600 Yamaha home-theater receiver as pre-amp until an almost new C-J Premier 17 arrives with new Reference 3A Dulcets. The next step up from this would be an Audio Research Reference 3 pre-amp, 610T mono tube amp setup. And that'll cost you a good 40k if not more with the Reference CD player. Then there's Lamm and ultimately MBL's reference stuff. C-J is better than McIntosh in every range, I feel, having heard the ART pre-amp mated to Premier 8s recently