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  1. #1
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Conrad Johnson solid state: any thoughts?

    Calling Mr Peabody and others with CJ experience. Recently I've notice some older, CJ solid state amps and preamps turning up on eBay et al. for relatively cheap. How good and how reliable is this stuff?

    I'm look to experience a different sonic character than, in particular, the class D amps I've been using in recent years. CJ's FET, low-feedback designs sound interesting though I'm loath to give up much in the way of resolution & transparency.

  2. #2
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    I know that the class D amps are detailed I owned one for some time and while they are detailed they have a harsh side that will show up in the highs or at least it did in my system and that was to much for me to take. I have read that some of the CJ solid state stuff is really musical but it might depend on the model as well. I would say that anything you give up in detail you would make up for in smoothness and musicality. But that is my opinion as I have moved on to a Pass Labs amp that gives me all the detail in ways the class D just could not do while being perfectly musical.

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  3. #3
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harley .guy07 View Post
    I know that the class D amps are detailed I owned one for some time and while they are detailed they have a harsh side that will show up in the highs or at least it did in my system and that was to much for me to take. I have read that some of the CJ solid state stuff is really musical but it might depend on the model as well. I would say that anything you give up in detail you would make up for in smoothness and musicality. But that is my opinion as I have moved on to a Pass Labs amp that gives me all the detail in ways the class D just could not do while being perfectly musical.
    I like my class D amp very well on the best recordings I have; it is highly resolved, transparent, and grain free. On the other hand with less than excellent source material, it can -- as you say -- sound harsh or at least very bright. Accordingly I am interested to explore for a compromised sound that will have very good transparency but a more forgiving sound in case of less than great recordings.

    What is a pity in hindsight is that I sold my Monarchy SM-70 Pros which incorporated much of that compromise. It's a fact that they didn't have the transparency or accurate top instrument timbres of the class D but I now think that I ought to have kept the Monarchys longer before deciding on the trade-off. Hindsight tends to be 20/20.

    As for Pass Labs, I'm truly envious but I don't see how I can their gear ever, and certainly not any time soon. I am very constrained for cash but some middle-aged CJ solid state models might be affordable.

  4. #4
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    The CJ build quality is very good and I had no issues from mine. I'm sure the solid state CJ is more transparent than the tube gear in the comparable price range. My concern for you the CJ is a warm sound and adds a romance to the music that I wonder if you will like. Is some of the older Classe close to your budget? If getting an integrated you can save, the Classe integrated are very well built and in a more neutral area than CJ. The original Krell kav-300i would be a second on the list, only because they really do sound better with other Krell or at least balanced gear, also the newer versions would probably go beyond your price. On the other hand you only like Classical and I'd love to hear your impressions of the CJ, I'd just hate for you to not be happy with it. You might also keep your eye out for a Threshold or something in Pass's Aleph line.
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  5. #5
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody View Post
    The CJ build quality is very good and I had no issues from mine. I'm sure the solid state CJ is more transparent than the tube gear in the comparable price range. My concern for you the CJ is a warm sound and adds a romance to the music that I wonder if you will like. Is some of the older Classe close to your budget? If getting an integrated you can save, the Classe integrated are very well built and in a more neutral area than CJ. The original Krell kav-300i would be a second on the list, only because they really do sound better with other Krell or at least balanced gear, also the newer versions would probably go beyond your price. On the other hand you only like Classical and I'd love to hear your impressions of the CJ, I'd just hate for you to not be happy with it. You might also keep your eye out for a Threshold or something in Pass's Aleph line.
    I very much appreciate your advice, Mr P: thanks. I'll re-emphasize a few of points.

    First, my budget is very limited: definitely under $1k and preferably significantly less.

    Secondly, I'm looking hear a distinctly different sound than I'm getting with my class D. So if the CJ are noticeably warmer and more romantic, then that's consistent with this criterion. Various tube amps would obviously satisfy the criterion, but might compromise my high standard for transparency. CJ tube amps tend to be more expensive too.

    Thirdly, I believe I need at least 60 wpc for my Magneplanars. This puts standard EL34/KT66 tube amps of about 30-35 wpc out of consideration.

    I've heard the older Classé recommendation before but I wonder whether I would be getting quite the contrast I want vs. my current amp. In case of integrateds, I need remote control: no exception. Thresholds look to expensive unless they're very old which I'd rather avoid. Alephs look too old, too low powered, and/or too expensive.

    I should also re-emphasize that I am generally very well pleased with my Class D Audio SDS-258 amp. My intention here is to educate myself about a different style of sound, not necessarily to permanently replace my current amp.

  6. #6
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    It sounds then like the CJ would fit the bill, giving you a distinctly different presentation. Herman who used to post here used the CJ solid state and if you can swing it he thought the MF2500, the 250x2 amp, sounded better overall but it's probably the most expensive. Some of the CJ preamps are really cheap but you need remote, I'm not sure exactly which models began with remote.
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  7. #7
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody View Post
    It sounds then like the CJ would fit the bill, giving you a distinctly different presentation. Herman who used to post here used the CJ solid state and if you can swing it he thought the MF2500, the 250x2 amp, sounded better overall but it's probably the most expensive. Some of the CJ preamps are really cheap but you need remote, I'm not sure exactly which models began with remote.
    The vibs I'm getting here and at AA are that the MF2250 and the MF2500 are better in that they have higher resolution and transparency than earlier models. The MF2250 seems to be going around $900 which the high end of the range I could consider.

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