Nice, affordable combo
I recently had to let go of my Conrad Johnson PV-10 after about 17 years (bought used in the mid nineties). It blew out and cost about $500 for repairs and mods (by Music Technology), then blew out (the same way)again a few months later (probably my fault by putting in an old crap tube trying to figure out which one was microphonic - turned out to be the $60 GE triple mica I had bought). Anyways, I couldn't afford to repair it again, and had already been considering switching back to solid state due to the prices of the tubes I liked (Mullard, Bugle Boy, Telefunken in the phono, etc, plus the fear of it blowing up again). I sold the CJ on Audiogon. I had been researching options, and had considered something old like a Nakamichi Ca-7 or one of the better Adcoms (which is what I had before the CJ). I saw a write-up about Emotiva (USP-1), and was intrigued. After reading several reviews, and seeing that they had a 30 day money back trial, I decided to give it a shot. Right away I could hear the clarity, separation and detail. Certainly a contrast to the CJ, but I did miss the fullness and ambiance of the tubes. I also thought I had an issue with hearing the aux slightly when on CD mode (turned out that it only happens when the computer out is connected with Aux). Anyway, they shipped me another one in two days, and all I had to do was stick the label on and give the old one to the Fed Ex guy. The Emotiva rep on the phone was very helpful. After considering the possibility of a Musical Fidelity X-10 buffer (I have the X-Ray CD player and love it), I saw a write up about the Yaqin CD-1 buffer. I read such good reviews, and saw that it only requires 1 tube (in the 6N1, 6DJ8, 6922 family), and is ideal for tube rolling, which the MF isn't. I saw a few options to purchase it, but the best one was directly from China. I paid $115 including shipping, and it arrived by Fed Ex in 9 days. I found a 6DJ8 Bugle Boy on E-Bay for a really good price, and put it in immediately. I am very pleased with the result. I ran the buffer between the Emotiva and my amp, and it added the depth and soundstage I was used to with the CJ. It isn't as "tubey" as the CJ, but it is more detailed in the highs and lows. I expect that they both will improve more with break in, but for a combined $564 with a 5 year warranty on the pre and 1 year on the buffer, it's a really good option. I would love to have a Rogue, or maybe an old AI Modulus II, but this seems to be a nice alternative if you want a good option at an affordable price.
System; Classe 15 amp. Vandersteen 2CE signatures, Project turntable w/ blue point, Sansui 217 tuner, Tascam 112 MK II cassette, and the above mentioned CD, pre, and buffer. Cables include anti, Kimber, and Audioquest Ruby.