Sonic differences between Conrad Johnson preamps

I'm considering three Conrad Johnson preamps for my second system, the PV-8, the PV 11 and the fet PV-2. I would appreciate anyone's experice with the sonic differences between these components. Thanks!
I have owned or used all of these preamps. Does that make me neurotic?

The PV-2 is a fantastic preamp. Rather slow and emphasizing the body of the tone over the leading edges it is rich and full bodied. It lacks detail and is somewhat rolled off but with very good dynamics. This is a very old preamp and one should be very careful about the condition of the caps and pay particular attention to any hum. If you are considering this preamp definitely get the PV-2ar which is the last iteration and has several power supply enhancements that make it much better. It can easily be identified as the knobs are black rather than champagne. You did not mention it, but the PV-5 is like a PV-2 on steroids, with greater extension and detail. It is well within your price range and, if you like this sound will be a better choice. Very few preamps put the music together as well as these two. They are both greater than the sum of their parts.

The PV-8 was a disappointment to me. It is an amalgam of the older sound as described above and a more linear, literal sound. To me it always seemed clogged sounding without letting the music shine through. It was not in production for very long and this may be why. My least favorite of all of the CJ preamps. I hope that someone else will weigh in and have a different perspective.

The PV-11 really is a preamp that begins to combine the old with the new. It is less bloomy than the PV-5 yet still favors the body of the tone over the leading edge. More wood, less metal. But gets much closer to the middle, with better extension at both ends of the frequency spectrum. Dynamics are good, as is detail. It is a nice contrast to the PV-5, while still having the CJ house sound. It will not romance you like the PV-5 but tells a truer story which may tip the balance in it's favor. Being much newer, issues of age will be diminished, though not eliminated. Good luck.
Sorry, Triumph, I reread your question and you are not asking about the PV-2, but the PF-2 which is a solid state preamp. I have used it in my system, but will not weigh in on this one as my bias is to the CJ tube units. There seem to be other companies that do solid state better. It does not have a standard phono stage, if that matters.
The PV-5, PV-8, PV-11 and PV-12 are all similar in design. The higher number model replaced the one before it. You will notice the front face layout and look is about the same on all four models.

The solid state PF-2 has a sonic signature that is similar to the popular PV-10 tube preamp; just a little faster and cleaner. I would actually pick the PF-2 over the PV-10. There is also the older PF-1 which is similar. Phono on both is an option.

The PF-2 is similar to the Motif MC-8. The Motif line was Conrad Johnson's entry in high end solid state in the late 1980's and early 1990's. The CJ PFR solid state preamp is a close clone of the Motif MC-10. The Motif line did have many higher spec parts than the cloned CJ models.

There was a MC-8 for sale recently here on Audiogon. It has two phono stages as well; one MC and one MM. I still use an MC-8 in my home office system.

Follow this link for information on classic CJ products.

I am not sure I agree others do solid state better. Maybe just different. My favorite solid state gear is made by Conrad Johnson and Blue Circle. Both companies are better known for tube gear. McCormick is also now part of the Conrad Johnson stable.
As for sonic differences I can't comment as I haven't heard the models you are interested. FWIW, I have owned a PV11 for about seven years and it has been absolutely trouble free. I enjoy the sound the PV11/premier 11a immensely. I can and do listen for hours on end. I have never looked back after buying the PV11 and I use the phono section of the pre also. It replaced a Apt/Holman solid state and to my ear the tube system brought "life" to my system. Other than hitting the lottery and buying an ART or 16 this is the preamp I am sticking with.

Have Fun
I upgraded recently from a PV-5 to a PF-R and I was astounded at the difference. Some would say that the difference in transients is probably due to SS vs tubes, but if so, so be it. The speed of this unit is startling. I bought my PF-R for $925 from Ebay, which I would think would be a good starting point (dollarwise) for a second system.

The PF-2 is a very nice warm-sounding ss preamp, and a steal at the used prices I have seen. If you don't need a remote in your second system, you could spend half what a PFR would cost and get a very similar sound that is very easy to live with. If you use your second system sporadically, the PF-2 may be a good hassle-free choice. It is "on" all the time and always instantly ready to provide great music.

I used a PF-2 for several years and recently upgraded to a new c-j tubed preamp (PV-14L) that cost twice as much. I'm not really sure I prefer the sound of the new one and may just switch back to the PF-2.
Sugarbrie said;

"The CJ PFR solid state preamp is a close clone of the Motif MC-10. The Motif line did have many higher spec parts than the cloned CJ models."

Perhaps, but the PF-R has soft recovery diodes, meaning low level detail will not be lost by a muddy DC bias. I strongly suspect that the PR-R would spank the MC-10, though it does need Black Gate caps to be all that it can be.