new CJ sound compared to old CJ sound

I am considering going back to a CJ linestage. Having owned the ART, the 16LS series 1 , and the premier 14 , I am familiar with the great dynamics, dimensionality, and that draw you in to the music quality those units had while in front of my old premier 8a amps. I was wondering if any of you have had any experience w/ the CT-5 or ACT2, and how the new CJ house sound may compare w/ the previous units I have owned. It would not be much of a surprise to hear the newer models are quieter, more dynamic, and have greater detail, but do they still retain all the qualities of the older units while doing so?
From my perspective the short answer to your questions is: Yes.

On the CJ web site is a link to a Martin Colloms review of the ACT2 which includes comparisons to the ART and the 16LS. My own review of the ACT2 at does a direct comparison between the ACT2 and 16LS series 1. (Sorry for being a tout, but it seems relevant :-). Sounds like you've plenty of experience with CJ gear.

I have not heard the CT-5 yet - it is quite new and I don't believe CJ is advertising it just yet. A report I've had from someone who has heard it lends credence to the notion that the CT-5 is to the 16LS as the ACT2 is to the ART. Hope this helps.
Tim , I just finished reading your review of the Act 2 in Soundstage . Wow. You nailed the review in convincing fashion. Having lived with the Act 2 as well as the Premier 350 for the better part of 1100 hours now I can faithfully say your experience mirrors my observatiions regarding its performance. I have the new Lp 140m monoblocs coming soon and will put them on my Pipedream 21 towers and move the 350 to the subs. Can you spell CJ Nirvana? i am so enamored with their new gear i hate to even dress for work. music has NEVER been this much fun for me . Again , thoughtful and complete review !
Hi Brainwater, Tim and Fjn, I've had the Premier 7b in the past. I think it was (and still is) a fine preamp. But to much hassle with tubes, so I changed to solid state (Accuphase C-290V, which is also very good). In my opinion the older CJ's have lots of air surrounding instruments and voices. I thought it could be a bit of false (artificial) "halo" or "air" somehow generated by the tube design I suppose, because it could be heard on nearly every recording. It was certainly pleasant but probably not what one hears in real live.
I also own a CJ Premier 8s amps, driving them with a Hovland HP100 with great results... but.. I am sure I will be in the ACT/ART camp soon enough.

New vs. old???.. I do feel that since the sonic signature of the Premier 8 leans toward the soft, rich & harminic side, a LIVE presmp helps.. I should go for the "new" option in your case.


The new gear incoroporating the teflon cap and latest generation topologies is a more refined sound and I find it a brilliant compromise between their famous richness and hyper transparency. Somehow , they have managed the near impossible which is to marry the two extremes without the sound drawing attention to itself nor abandoning the objectives of accurete musical reproduction. Be warned however that the teflon caps need at least 100 hours before you even LISTEN , and 500 before critical evaluation of the components can be made . Also , I run in system a minimum of an hour before settling down for a session and it continues to improve for at least 4 till it levels out and is constant. Its a little work for sure but nothing worth having comes without some kind os fight. This is a ring i climb into daily.
i have little experience with CJ - i've heard their solid-state power amps MF2250 (if I remember the model # correctly). I've also heard a couple preamps of theirs - one of them I cannot recall the model # (the reason for this is that its sound was very 'blah') & the other one was the 16LS Mk2. The 16LS Mk2 sound was very good - great details, soundstage depth & width &, for me, it was atypical of CJ, which IMHO was a very sleepy sound. I also understand that the 16LS Mk1 was even better! Prior to listening to the 16LS Mk2, my opinions reflect that of member Dazzdax - a sound I'd rather forget!
However, it seems like CJ has woken up from a deep slumber [maybe a beautiful princess kissed Conrad or Johnson or both! :-)] & I'm happy that they have. For such a great name in audio to be slumbering was a travesty. If their newer gear is anything like the 16LS Mk2 then the customers seemingly can have their cake & eat it too - sonic accuracy with optimum colour. The sound of their newer gear appears to be truer to the recorded medium & I'm happy to note that. Now, if we can only arrange that price........
Thank you Brent for the kind words.

While I never thought of CJ preamps as sounding 'blah' or 'sleepy', I agree with Bombaywalla that the 16LS represents a less caramel-colored, less yin-like approach. This is not to say that current models do not reflect the CJ heritage. Rich harmonics, superb dynamics and timing, clarity, focus, vitality, and a lower noise floor - yes, imo, the top of the line continues to progress quite nicely, and the mid-lower price points benfit from their innovations. While reflecting its heritage, the ACT2 is, at the same time, a magical leap forward - a preamp so good I found it far easier to listen to than think about - which is a good place to be!
I agree with all the positive comments on the new generation c-j preamps.

The new c-j preamps raison d'etre is preserving the soul of the music. You will hear how artists play their instruments and how they deliver their vocal lines. You will also hear harmony/melody finally brought forth from your favorite recordings. Simply put, c-j unleashes the music in your system!*>)
interestingly there are 3 ACT2's for sale on audiogon.

for me and my musical tastes I believe the new cj pre amps go just a liitle too far in the search for neutrality. that is a pity as I have always liked cj products and for the first time in almost 10 years I have none.
Interesting thread because I have been noticing the change too. I recently auditioned a ton of the latest CJ gear and compared to the older ones I have (and had), I find the new stuff does indeed head for greater neutrality and resolution. There seems to be less body to it now - and I find that a shame because 3D imaging suffers as a result. But like everything else, you have to match it to the right source and speakers - it is just a little tougher to get it right with the new gear.

The new stuff from CJ is not musical, sweet and have that magic midrange that you are used to, I will keep my old cj preamp for sure. Great post
I heard the CT5 in my system, and compared it to a First Sound Presence Deluxe II and a Modwright SWL9.0SE. I thought the CT5 was stunning with vocals, and was clearly warmer than either the FS or Modwright. I quite liked it, bit I did not hear it for more than an hour or so.
I owned a CJ Premier 17LS for a couple of years before
replacing it with the CT-5. The 17LS had more of the
classic CJ sound. It was warm and forgiving. A bit
rolled off on the top and bottom but the midrange
was excellent. Although I liked the warm sound
of the the 17LS it does occasionally get in the way.

The CT-5 is much more resolving and has better
dynamics. I find I'm listening more to the music
and less to my pre-amp with the CT-5. It seems to
vanish into the music in a way that the 17LS simply
could not.

I also had a similar experience to that of Tvad. I also thought the CT-5 rounded things out in direct comparison to the FS pres Dlx2. I ultimately decided to stay w/ the FS, but am now considering going to a truly balanced preamp. I have a long 26 ft. rca between amp / preamp and I have made some comparisons using shorter( 1 meter) runs of the same cable.
I feel that if I stay w/ this current setup ( amp/ speakers on short wall/ rest of components on long wall), it would be of great benefit to have that long run as an XLR. Hope I did not change the subject too much, I did own the 16 ls 1 and Art 1,and although they were on the warm side, I did not hear the CT-5 as a total departure from that.
I have heard the CT-5/LP 70 and CA 200 and have to say that my immediate reaction, aside from Wow, was how quiet and pure the sound was. I think neutral is a new reality and companies are finally learning how to get there. The new CJ sound is neutral and musical. They have not deviated from their roots, just improved upon them, maybe even come closer to perfecting them. It is not lean at all. I hear live music daily and know the difference between lean and electronically interferred with. CJ is accurate and musical. As we reach neutral we will see that many speaker companies are far from there, as are cables and digital. But, back to CJ. IMO they are on the right track and the new equipment is worth a serious listen. I for one will go with one of the new amps and keep it for a long time. CJ has allowed me to get off the amplifier merry-go-round. Cheers to Lew and Bill!
this is the great thing about hifi. everyone's taste is different. One person's neutrality is another's brightness and visa versa.

My tastes are firmly in the slightly euphonic warm personality with midrange clarity and musical drive which enables me to enjoy ALL of my music, not just audiophile recordings .
always a balancing act thou to go too fare in either direction.

Cary seems to do that more than the current cj range of neutrality.
Interesting thread - have you noticed that CJ users/owners place musicality on top of their evaluation parameters?

I am currently using no-preamp (yes - I said I had a Hovland with the Premier 8s earlier in this thread, but now it is gone) and placed an Axiom Passive (I am again in the passive preamp route) and acheiving great results in terms of transparency, speed, resoution and.. musicality.