Need advice on CJ preamps

I currently have a conrad-johnson classic SE preamp. I am very happy with the sound. However, the lack of remote is a major problem for me. I have no other experience with CJ preamps so I would appreciate some advice from people with more ownership experience.

I want to upgrade to a CJ preamp that has a remote. I can go as high as $2400 used. I'm looking for basically the same rich sound this clasic SE preamp has but with a remote. If I could pay to just add remote capability to this preamp I would gladly do it, but that is not possible so I must upgrade. Which CJ preamp?

One other option is to save up for a new ET3 SE, but it's currently out of my price range.

Thanks for any advice! : )
A 17 series II or 16 seris II . Both are excellent and come with a remote. The 16 II is the better of the two.

I agree with Chuck but the Premier 16LS II will set you back another $1,000 or so. It is a great pre-amp I have one and really enjoy it. The Premier 10 is also a good choice as is the PV-11 which can be had for under a $1,000. I had one of those to and really enjoyed it.
I have owned CJ preamps for over 12 years and just got a third one. Totally agree...16II is stunning and matches the description of what you are looking for, as far as i can tell. Given that you like the Classic, i would be surprised if you were disappointed with 17 or 16. Good luck and enjoy!!!
Thanks guys! What are your thoughts on the 14LS I or II?
Oh, and what's a good price on a clean 17ls?
Well Jax I have owned my PV-14L for about a year and a half now. I had mine modified by Bob and Gary Backett at RHB Sound Dezign, and I will say this. I have owned quite a few preamps in this price range and the PV-14L will not leave my possession. I like it that much. I have had a Supratek Chenin, a Modulus 3A amongst others and they don't come close. You must remember though any component is system dependent, what sounds good to me in my system may not sound good to the next guy in his system.

i owned the pv14l...on its own, it is a warm, smooth pre...but in comparison to ARC Ref 3 or the later CJs, there is a clear fuzziness...i would def go with Bob Backert to mod it.
Yes Lloyd thats exactly what the mods cleared up so to speak. The pre now uses 12au7 tubes and with the circuitry they modified the preamp sounds just fantastic. That was the decision I made when I had this piece modified, either keep it and have it modded or sink the equivalent amount into an ARC unit.
You want to go with the 17ls II. The series II version has the teflon capacitors which many people feel are an improvement over the 17ls. I haven't compared the two.

You should be able to get one in the $2400 - $3000 range, I'd guess.

It uses 4 6922 tubes, so if you want to tube roll keep that in mind.
One more thing. The 16 and 17ls (I and II) make a clicking sound when the volume is changed. Some people find this annoying and don't like these preamps for that reason.

Apparently the people at c-j felt that the sound quality that this volume mechanism produced justified the noise. Maybe someone can explain more about it.

what you describe is exactly what many people have described with Bob's work...great! and Enjoy!!!


i'm no techie...CJ use switching relays to increase the sound, where the unit switches on and off each relay as it steps up the volume. that is the clicking noise. Someone has to take it from here as to why individual relays are better...less circuitry in the way?
I'm currently saving my pennies to have the Sound Dezign mods done on the line stage of my PV-15 pre amp -- 12AU7 tubes, rewired circuitry, and teflon caps. The PV-15 uses 2 6922 tubes.
I had a Premier 14 and a 17LS2. The clicking never bothered me. Very nice preamp and WAY better than the 14. But I went from the 17LS2 to an Aesthetix Calypso and like it better in every way, including the flexibility of the remote.
I have owned a premier 14 for about 10 years and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I use mullard and hitachi NOS tubes - mix and match.

Don't know what amp you use unless I missed it above, CJ preamps typically have a high output impedance which might require careful matching with some amps.
Pops, all I can say is that you'd LOVE a 17LS2 :-)

The main reason I ditched mine is that it had no polarity switch and I have very
polarity-sensitive speakers. I just got tired of switching speaker cables all the
time. But then I came to realize that the Calypso had a lot more to offer than

EDIT: I went through the same tube-rolling as you did on the 14 and came to
the same conclusions. Still have a sackful of used 6GK5s if you want them.
Nice Dopogue, I remember our conversations about the premier 14. I would love a 17LS2! I know Asthetics make nice preamps, that would be my next logical move in my mind - I mean preamp. I don't change components that often and the CJ is my oldest component - so you know what that means!

My amps input impedance are 10K which has always moved my interest away from CJ since they typically have a higher output impedance.
Pops, you may already know this, but the Premier 14 uses a cathode-follower output, so its output impedance is 'low'.

1. When one can buy NOS Mullard 6GK5s for $15 per 5...
...why switch to another tube?

2. The Premier 14 uses only one coupling cap per channel in the signal path, a 2-times-2uF pair. I suspect they're c-j's 'styrenes.
3. Replacing these output couplers probably would be quite easy, and one wouldn't necessarily need 4uF, either, depending on the input impedance of the poweramp.
4. The PS regulator-output cap is a 2uF, and that too would be easy to upgrade.

I suspect anyone doing these upgrades would end up with a VERY-fine-sounding linestage preamp for not much money.
IMO, and apparently in CJ's opinion too, 6GK5s are not exactly world-beaters, Mullard or no. You'll note that no current model CJ uses them, unless I've missed something. My DIY audiobuddies keep trying to find a use for the ones I had left over, and keep giving them back to me!
Dopogue, probably you're right about the inherent quality of the 6GK5; c-j switched to the M8080/6C4 in several preamps several years ago. As it too is a 7-pin single triode with 6V. heater, I wonder if it's a drop-in replacement or perhaps doable with only a resistor change or 2. I know only enough about circuit design to be dangerous, so this isn't a recommendation.

...but it is an encouragement to Jaxwired to consider one.

I performed cap upgrades such as I mentioned to my c-j MET-1, their now-discontinued 6-channel preamp, and the sounds improved to such a degree even this tin-eared audiofool readily heard them.