C-J introduces new preamp....

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Puma Cat, May 17, 2010.

  1. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Well-Known Member

    Location:
    East Bay, CA
    Was just perusing the Conrad-Johnson website that last night and noticed that they just introduced a new preamp, the ET3. This preamp will be their new entry level preamp, and will replace the Classic (which seems like it was just announced a bit over a year ago) and the ET2:

    [​IMG]

    Design is borrowed heavily from their SOTA preamp, the GAT, so it should sound pretty good.

    An SE version will also be available.

    From C-J:
    Our new entry-level preamplifier, the ET3, can be expected to set new standards of performance in its market segment. It is distinctly a “baby” GAT. The family resemblance is much more than skin deep. The line-stage circuit of the ET3 is essentially the same as that of the GAT (a 6922 triode supplies voltage gain, with a MOSFET follower providing an ultra-low output impedance). DC regulators patterned after those used in the GAT provide stable DC voltage to the audio circuits. Finally, and especially noteworthy, the ET3 features a relay operated discrete level-control circuit which is virtually the same as that found in the more expensive GAT and CT5 line stages, absent only the balance adjustment function.

    For vinyl enthusiasts, the ET3 is optionally available with a phono stage card that borrows its circuitry from our reference quality TEA1 phono stage.

    Functionally, the ET3 offers the same highly flexible I/O facilities as found in the GAT. There are six separate line-level inputs (including one “tape” loop), plus a theater loop that facilitates use in a home theater system. And all functions are controllable by the infra-red remote control.

    Parts quality of the ET3, while not up to the extreme (and unique) standards of the GAT, is extremely high. All capacitors in the audio circuits and related power supplies are constructed with polypropylene dielectric. All resistors are precision metal film. In fact, the ET3 is built to standards that meet or exceed those of many companies’ “flagship” offerings.

    For customers seeking an even higher level of refinement, a Special Edition will be available which will include upgraded I/O connectors, Teflon “bypass” capacitors, and extensive use of Vishay resistors. These two models will replace the conrad-johnson Classic and ET2 preamplifiers.



    I wonder how it would compare to a Preimier 16 or 17LS2.
  2. TONEPUB

    TONEPUB Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Much as I love CJ gear, I think they are getting a little carried away about how much GAT DNA is in the entry level piece. I'm sure it's good for the money, but a much longer distance from the GAT than the press release would have you believe.

    However, the jump between their TEA2SE (which we are presently reviewing) and the original TEA2 was pretty good for a $1500 increase, so this will probably offer more of the same.

    The toughest thing CJ faces in the light of $4-5000 "entry level" preamps is the fact that there are still some ACT 2 series 1 preamps floating around for about $5500. That's the killer deal if you can find one. Series 2's remain close to $10k. (Still a killer deal)
  3. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Well-Known Member

    Location:
    East Bay, CA
    Jeff, thanks for the input....

    I was thinking of the basic $2500 model, actually. Five grand is still a ways out of my price range, as it has been all along, otherwise I would have picked up a CT-5 by now, most likely.
  4. You can get the Classic, sans phono preamp, for $1,750. Because it is being discontinued, I bet closeout prices will be even lower.
  5. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Well-Known Member

    Location:
    East Bay, CA
    I auditioned the Classic in my own system at home, and my PV12 with it's nicely matched, cryo'd NOS Mulllard CV4003 tubes sounded better. A non-audiophile friend who was listening with me at the time thought the PV12 sounded better, too. We didn't have to listen for long, either, to know....it was obvious right away. A horizontal move, not an upgrade...

    The preamps I have been considering are the Premier 17 LS and 17 LS2, and Premier 16 LS at the far end of my budget.
  6. MylesAstor

    MylesAstor New Member

    Location:
    NYC, NY US
    It would be saying something if the new preamp was 70% of the GAT for the price :) I think the design features of the new preamp that cj borrowed from the GAT would be their choice not to use cathode followers in the circuit and lowering the unit's output impedance.

    BTW, the lower priced cj preamps aren't embarassed by their SOTA brethren. Years ago compared the Premier 17 to the ART; the major areas where the 17LS lacked compared to the ART were the frequency extremes and dynamics-something that obviously smacks of differences in the power supplies between the two units.
  7. TONEPUB

    TONEPUB Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    If CJ was able to produce 70% of the $20k GAT for the $3500 pricetag of the ET3 that would make the flagship product pretty useless, wouldn't it?

    The lower priced CJ preamps are very good, but they lack the transparency and the resolution of the ACT 2 and the GAT. There's a bit more to it than just power supply. Even the ART 3 is more "Old School" CJ sound compared to the ACT 2 and GAT.

    A used ACT 2 series 1 for $5500 is 70% (maybe even a touch more) of the GAT. That's the deal if you want it.
  8. TONEPUB

    TONEPUB Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    If you are buying used, I'd really suggest the series 1 as maximum bang for the buck. Having had both, the series 2 is definitely better, but the gap between series 1 and 2 is nowhere near what it is between the series 1 and anything else lower in the CJ lineup. And $8500 is a good price, the series 2's are still usually going for about 10k.

    The great thing about the ACT 2 preamps is that they are extremely easy on tubes. I got pretty close to 17,000 hours out of my first set of 6H30's.
  9. MylesAstor

    MylesAstor New Member

    Location:
    NYC, NY US
    I was not a big ACT Series 1 fan; didn't hear the series 2. Had both the ACT Series 1 and ART series 3 in my system; sold the ACT and kept my ART series 3. The original ACT was way too dark, uninvolving and lacked dynamics among other things. The GAT is another story.
  10. TONEPUB

    TONEPUB Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    I guess that's exactly the opposite of what I did. I found the ART to be warmer and not as dynamic as the ACT2...

    That's interesting. And at the time, I believe we had the same speakers, MartinLogan Summits.
  11. JA Fant

    JA Fant New Member

    Really a beautiful pic and a great discussion of the other CJ preamps out there.
    I concur in that, the ACT is beyond words, in terms of sound / sound quality- I like it paired w/ a SS amp...
  12. TONEPUB

    TONEPUB Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Yep, the combination of the ACT 2 and Premier 350 is pretty tough to beat.
  13. bgiliberti

    bgiliberti Member

    Location:
    Washington DC USA
    Question for Conrad Johnson Fans

    My 25 year old Conrad Johnson PV-7 Preamp has noisy volume and balance pots and would probably benefit from a total rebuild (capicitors etc) after 25 years. Instead of hassling with that (and the expense), I'm thinking instead of just replacing it with the Classic SE. I don't need a phono stage, which makes the new on a fairly modest $2500 or less proposition. The question is, would it sound better/different than the PV-7, which is definitely mellow but not the ultimate in resolution. I get the impression the new Classic is still the 'classic' CJ sound. Welcome all thoughts....
  14. Wasatch

    Wasatch Forum Resident

    Location:
    Layton, Utah
    Yesterday I got another chance to listen to this unit. Very nice, warm, detailed, awesome soundstage depth/width. Quite enjoyable.
  15. TONEPUB

    TONEPUB Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    The Classic SE is pretty similar in sound to your Jumbo Shrimp. Both excellent tube preamps for the money...

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