Preamp thoughts- Conrad Johnson ET7 S2 V McIntosh C2600

I still haven’t found a preamp I can live with after parting company with a Allnic Audio L-5000 DHT some months ago.

 I had a brief and enjoyable affair with a nice Electrocompaniet pre, which was wonderful in many ways, big, bold, warm and luscious - but ultimately lacking a little in resolving powers. A step up to their latest iteration is a tempting possibility.

Another short encounter ensued, this time with a more integrated solution, a Devialet Expert Pro 220 CI..... nope, not my cup of tea.

So, Conrad Johnson ET7 S2 V McIntosh C2600.

Anyone have any experience with both of these units and care to shed light on strengths/weaknesses one versus the other.
i like big, warm, bold but with extension, air, ambience, detail etc. My Allnic was almost perfect in so many ways but a touch too neutral. 
I’ve looked closely at a lot of preamps including Aric Audio, MicroZotl, Don Sachs, and now the more mainstream units from CJ and McIntosh.

Phono, DAC not necessary but I would like a pair of outs for subs.
Preamp to pair with Thor TPA 60 KT77 monoblocks, but other amps, including solid state will come and go (part time reviewer).
Speakers are Dunlavy SC-III or Castle Harlech or any of a variety of other speakers that come and go. Vinyl mostly, some digital via Aurender N100H / Moon Audio 380D. PSA P10 to keep everything clean.

Up to around $6k on the used market but flexible.

Thanks for any input!!


I have the older model C2500 preamp and find it quite neutral. It is dead quiet with excellent dynamics.  It cost me $4200 used and worth every penny. 
I had not listened to McIntosh for years, but the MC275 VI got my attention. I almost bought one for a third system. So, this lead me to listened to some of their other products. Based on the price, the C2500 is a very good preamp, but to my ears, its could be better - cleaner on the bottom end and a more open on top. For the same money I would get the Herron 360. The CJ ET7S2 is more expensive than both and is 2x your 6K budget. I used an ET5 and a Herron VTSP3 for years. The ET7S2 is many steps ahead of the ET5 and is closer to the GATS2 in its performance (read the reviews, they are spot on). The ET7S2 could easily be your last preamp. If you can find one used (probably no less than $7500), go for it. But if your budget is set, go with the Herron. The real question is whether a new preamp will make you want to change out your Thors. 
Just a thought since you like the Thor sound someone is selling a TA-100 preamp and a pair of TPA-30 monos. You could possibly get him to part with the preamp separately.

Never heard Thor and no relation to the seller just remembered seeing that ad.
In general, I prefer the CJ products over the McIntosh but I would have no problem putting a McIntosh tube amp in my system, which currently has CJ tube's.