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  1. #1
    Stereo value > car value texlle's Avatar
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    I've got the power!

    After nearly 8 years of running my Dynaudio bookshelves on 60 watts or less, I have finally arrived at the decision that these babies need to stop being underfed. I decided to go the Conrad Johnson route and picked up a Sonographe SS amp for $350, running it through the preout stage of my Cambridge integrated. Firstly, let me say HOLY BASS awakening! These speakers will shake a room! I knew they packed a punch for their size but not like this. The Sonographe seems to be perfect for the Dyns in terms of power output considering the room size is roughly 14x12. Moving up from the Jolida, I instantly noticed the soundstage and image increased twofold if not threefold. That extra 65 watts goes a long way. Tube mushiness- gone. High volume dynamics- here to stay. The midbass was a little bloated and the detail so-so (due to the preamp), but I still got a great first impression of the amp- slightly smooth and euphonic in tone but very accurate and clean. Very musical as well. A nice, agreeable compromise.

    I was not keeping the Cambridge in this setup and decided I was longing for that tube seductiveness again. The Sonographe has a surprisingly sweet and natural timbre somewhat reminiscent of my Jolida, but still, the lifelike aura was not there. I was looking at Jolida tube preamps but decided to go for the gold, or champagne, and match the sonographe with a preamp from the same corporate house. Step it up a bit. In my boundless laziness, I was growing weary from separating myself from the couch everytime I had to adjust the volume for each track change, so a remote was required. I was having a difficult time staying within budget and trying to stick to my relative cost principle, but eventually arrived at the PV-14.

    When I connected the PV and started ramping up the volume for the first time- my first impression was- overly smooth, syrupy, and mellow. Leading edges of notes seem softened, while trailing edges and note decay seem to be almost artificially extended to the point of echo. I instantly compared it to my Jolida which seemed to be slightly crisper and had better immediacy of attack- I'd say livelier and more exciting. The Conrad is definitely a bit smoother but certainly not slower at all. The conrad conveys great speed and transparency, but seems to smooth out the "digital nasties" a bit too much. However, the Conrad is hands down the better gear. It absolutely eclipses the Jolida in resolution and sheer detail. Bass control and output is unbelievable. Not only is the bass now present for my music, but now it is far tighter, controlled, and more abundant with the PV.

    Overall, its an adjustment. I never expected the Conrad to be more mellow than the Jolida, but it is. The PV is more accurate solely by virtue of its superior resolving ability, but it lends to a more laid-back, smoother timbre. Impressively, the harmonics are extraordinarily rich and textured with fantastic detail- in a word- refined. The previous owner said he played it maybe 5 times a year, so I am not convinced this unit isn't fully broken in yet. Either I am acclimating to the sound or it is continuously improving hour after hour. At first, I was having put off by grainy, harsh treble and an almost honky midrange, but this seems to have worked itself out for the majority. I considered that it may need new tubes, but it now seems to be a receding issue.







    So far, soooo good!
    Dynaudio Audience 42
    Conrad-Johnson PV14
    Sonographe SA-250
    Music Hall CD 25.2
    Musical Fidelity V3 series- X-LPS phono preamp, X-DAC, X-PSU
    Rega RP1 w/ performance pack
    Pure i-20 iPod dock
    -----------------------------
    B&W DM603s2- B&W LCR60s3- B&W DM302
    Velodyne CT-120 12" sub
    Rotel RSX-1055
    Arcam CD73T
    Samsung LN46C630 46" LCD
    Denon DBP-1611 bluray
    -----------------------------
    KEF K120- Jolida JD202a- Cambridge Audio D300 cdp- T500 tuner

    Photo gallery

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Congratulations on the new gear. Yes I also appreciate what power can do. Some speakers perform their best with current and good damping factor. Enjoy!
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, FunkFirm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cones. Grado Sonata, Moon 110 LP phono.
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  3. #3
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    Nice to know that someone else's rig benefitted from some extra juice to get the SQ just where you wanted it. Congrats!

  4. #4
    Suspended Smokey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by texlle View Post
    I instantly noticed the soundstage and image increased twofold if not threefold. That extra 65 watts goes a long way. Tube mushiness- gone. High volume dynamics- here to stay.
    There you go

    As the old saying goes, you could never have too much power. I always cringe when some audiophiles recommend low power amps because it is "loud enough".

  5. #5
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    You beat me to this post

    I planned to post something very similar to this out of the results of a little experiment I did yesterday.

    I have had a pair of JM Labs Tantal 509s for about 15 years now but they have always been in a secondary setup or driven thru a Niles selector box back when I was still using my Hafler gear and later the Stratos amp in my main rig. The JMs are in my family room connected to about 100 feet of 3 different grades/types of very small gauge wire. Most recently they are powered with a Rotel 1052 Integrated using my OPPO93 as a CDP.

    Yesterday I decided to swap out the Clearfields for the Danes but mid swap I decided to put the JMs in my main rig in the living room. So I got 2 chairs from the dining room and placed the JMs on the chairs with some rubber sheets in between and tilted them so they were pretty close to no angle.

    I always thought that the JMs are a tad on the bright side due to the Titanium tweeter, while I like a silk or soft dome most of the time. They also never seemed to have enough bass and because of the built-ins they normally reside, they had a boost. And lastly, I had used a pair of Groneberg ICs to add a little more bass to the mix and for a secondary setup, I have been pretty pleased with the results.

    Now, just as Texlle posted, WOW! What a transformation. These not so little bookshelf speakers can kick some serious butt hooked to the right setup and even when I auditioned and bought them, I never heard them quite like this. Although the Clearfields have a little more control and detail, the JMs put out deeper bass. The mids and highs were crystal and highly detailed as are most JM-Focal speakers. But the bass was incredible for a small speaker.

    I spun a whole lot of bass heavy material and they held their own, even on the Marcus Miller M2 disk as well as Larry & Lee, Special EFX, Bruford, Yes, Pete Levin's Party in the Basement and several others. I never once wanted to flip the switch for the sub and if I already didn't have 2 big floorstanding speakers for the main rig, I could be pretty happy with these as mains except for one issue. They are 92db efficient at 8ohms so in the normal gain mode of my pre, I cant get them to play at a low level without flipping the pre to the passive buffered mode. But that said, in the passive mode, at normal listening levels, the sound was awesome and I would only want to roll back the highs a tiny bit if I could, but again that is due to my preference for a silk tweeter. Others may love the brightness of the JMs.

    Anyway, I think I paid about $699 for these and the sound they put out is not very far from a $2400 pair of Dynaudio or a $4500 pair of Clearfields.

    Using an all tube pre along with a 200wpc into 8ohms hybrid amp made these sing like I have never heard them before.


  6. #6
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    congrats Tex!

    I think Mr.Peabody owned that preamp for a while. And he had Dynaudio Floor standers as well. I listened to that system many times. the CJ gear has every thing going for it...all but one thing. It was really sweet....and in my opinion it was not the best match with Dyns as his Dyns which where the Contour series where also darker in nature. But you described it perfectly. It's hard to describe but it had resolution, transparency and everything, but it seemed veiled due to the laid back sweetness.
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


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  7. #7
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchmon View Post
    congrats Tex!

    I think Mr.Peabody owned that preamp for a while. And he had Dynaudio Floor standers as well. I listened to that system many times. the CJ gear has every thing going for it...all but one thing. It was really sweet....and in my opinion it was not the best match with Dyns as his Dyns which where the Contour series where also darker in nature. But you described it perfectly. It's hard to describe but it had resolution, transparency and everything, but it seemed veiled due to the laid back sweetness.
    There is a poster over on Audio Aficionado that just got Dynaudio C1's and he's running them with a CJ Pr 350 and he just loves the sound. I guess you really have to try the combo and see if it works for you.
    2 Channel System
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
    Pass Labs X150.5 (Amp)
    Cary SLP-03 (Preamp)
    Music Hall MMF 5.1 (TT)
    Goldring 1012GX (Cart.)
    Pro-ject SE II (Phono Box)
    Rotel RCD-1072 (CD Player)
    Bryston BDA-1 ( DAC )
    Sennheiser HD-600 (Headphones)
    Musical Fidelity Xcan V3 (Headphone Amp) _

    HT System
    Usher X-719 (Mains)
    Usher X-616 (Center)
    Usher S-520 (Surrounds)
    Rel T2 (Subwoofer)
    Anthem MCA20 (Amp)
    Yamaha RX-A830 (Receiver)
    Panasonic TH-46PZ85U (Plasma TV)
    Denon DBT-1713UD (BluRay/SACD)

  8. #8
    Stereo value > car value texlle's Avatar
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    I talked to Ed at C-J and he said the hiss and overall mushy/muddy sound should be remedied by tube replacement. New m8080 Mullards on the way! Can't wait to hear what this thing really sounds like.
    Dynaudio Audience 42
    Conrad-Johnson PV14
    Sonographe SA-250
    Music Hall CD 25.2
    Musical Fidelity V3 series- X-LPS phono preamp, X-DAC, X-PSU
    Rega RP1 w/ performance pack
    Pure i-20 iPod dock
    -----------------------------
    B&W DM603s2- B&W LCR60s3- B&W DM302
    Velodyne CT-120 12" sub
    Rotel RSX-1055
    Arcam CD73T
    Samsung LN46C630 46" LCD
    Denon DBP-1611 bluray
    -----------------------------
    KEF K120- Jolida JD202a- Cambridge Audio D300 cdp- T500 tuner

    Photo gallery

  9. #9
    Stereo value > car value texlle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchmon View Post
    congrats Tex!

    I think Mr.Peabody owned that preamp for a while. And he had Dynaudio Floor standers as well. I listened to that system many times. the CJ gear has every thing going for it...all but one thing. It was really sweet....and in my opinion it was not the best match with Dyns as his Dyns which where the Contour series where also darker in nature. But you described it perfectly. It's hard to describe but it had resolution, transparency and everything, but it seemed veiled due to the laid back sweetness.
    I found the contour series to be benefitted by a lively, tube-esque solid state amp like Ayre. The Audience series is a bit of an easier drive and is not dark at all. I heard some seriously sharp treble when I had the MF dac running straight to the Jolida 502 without the tube buffer x-10, but reintroducing the tube buffer quickly took care of that.
    Dynaudio Audience 42
    Conrad-Johnson PV14
    Sonographe SA-250
    Music Hall CD 25.2
    Musical Fidelity V3 series- X-LPS phono preamp, X-DAC, X-PSU
    Rega RP1 w/ performance pack
    Pure i-20 iPod dock
    -----------------------------
    B&W DM603s2- B&W LCR60s3- B&W DM302
    Velodyne CT-120 12" sub
    Rotel RSX-1055
    Arcam CD73T
    Samsung LN46C630 46" LCD
    Denon DBP-1611 bluray
    -----------------------------
    KEF K120- Jolida JD202a- Cambridge Audio D300 cdp- T500 tuner

    Photo gallery

  10. #10
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack in Wilmington View Post
    There is a poster over on Audio Aficionado that just got Dynaudio C1's and he's running them with a CJ Pr 350 and he just loves the sound. I guess you really have to try the combo and see if it works for you.
    Not only that, but I also know all Conrad Johnsons don't have that syrupy sweet sound. Its apparent from reading reviews.
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    W10 i5 Quad core processor 8GB RAM/Jriver 20/ Fidelizer Optimizer/ iFI Micro DSD DAC-iUSB 3.0/Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/MS Phenomena ll+/Canton Vento 830.2

  11. #11
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by texlle View Post
    I found the contour series to be benefitted by a lively, tube-esque solid state amp like Ayre. The Audience series is a bit of an easier drive and is not dark at all. I heard some seriously sharp treble when I had the MF dac running straight to the Jolida 502 without the tube buffer x-10, but reintroducing the tube buffer quickly took care of that.
    Well, when Peabody had the CJ gear and driving the Dyns as well as Zu audio speakers. We took out the CJ pre and put in my Vincent tube pre which is not syrupy/warm and the Vincent
    pre, CJ amp, and DYNS/ZU speakers had a livelier presentation.
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    W10 i5 Quad core processor 8GB RAM/Jriver 20/ Fidelizer Optimizer/ iFI Micro DSD DAC-iUSB 3.0/Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/MS Phenomena ll+/Canton Vento 830.2

  12. #12
    Stereo value > car value texlle's Avatar
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    I like the look of the Vincents but have yet to hear them. They strike me moreso as the next logical step up from Jolida, as an alternative to C-J. I hear nothing but praise. My Sonographe actually came off as a tad dry to me, after moving up from the Jolida, but the PV14 has certainly sweetened the equation, worn out tube noise or not, this was apparent. I don't dislike sweet sound though- just when it sounds like my speakers are being suspended in vats of honey.

    Was this a SS C-J amp? If so, what kind?
    Dynaudio Audience 42
    Conrad-Johnson PV14
    Sonographe SA-250
    Music Hall CD 25.2
    Musical Fidelity V3 series- X-LPS phono preamp, X-DAC, X-PSU
    Rega RP1 w/ performance pack
    Pure i-20 iPod dock
    -----------------------------
    B&W DM603s2- B&W LCR60s3- B&W DM302
    Velodyne CT-120 12" sub
    Rotel RSX-1055
    Arcam CD73T
    Samsung LN46C630 46" LCD
    Denon DBP-1611 bluray
    -----------------------------
    KEF K120- Jolida JD202a- Cambridge Audio D300 cdp- T500 tuner

    Photo gallery

  13. #13
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Mr. Peabody sold the Conrad-Johnson PV14 which I thought was not as warm as the preamp he replaced it with which was the Conrad Johnson CT6 ....The power amp I thought where great...a pair of MV60's in mono
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    W10 i5 Quad core processor 8GB RAM/Jriver 20/ Fidelizer Optimizer/ iFI Micro DSD DAC-iUSB 3.0/Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/MS Phenomena ll+/Canton Vento 830.2

  14. #14
    Stereo value > car value texlle's Avatar
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    So, I received the new tubes from Conrad-Johnson last Friday and have been doing some extensive listening over the long weekend to fully appreciate the capability of this system. Firstly, I will say simply that I am blown away. I had NO idea my speakers were capable of delivering such a level of performance for entry level bookshelves. I knew they were being held back by the underpowered Jolidas, but I didn't expect this much potential. My friend who has a Def Tech/Yamaha 5.1 setup with a custom HT PC came over to listen and commented that he believed my stereo was competitive with some of the setups we heard at AXPONA back in March. Focus and overall resolution of detail are two aspects that could go toe-to-toe with some of the AXPONA gear, but my system lacks the realistic soundstaging and low end control that you achieve with more upscale components.

    I decided to clean some of my vinyl following the same friend's suggestion and I am glad I did. We listened to Dan Fogelberg's Longer from his Phoenix album before and after cleaning. At first, his voice was more strident- threadbare as the volume increased. After cleaning, I was able to turn the volume a full 8-10 dB higher with no fatigue. Strings were much cleaner and his voice more flat, accurate. This was an enjoyable listen. I had never really heard Dan Fogelberg until my friend pulled the record out of my collection of hand-me-down records sitting in a bookcase in the den. Other choice selections were Eagles- Greatest Hits, The Allman Brothers Band- Beginnings, Fleetwood Mac- Mirage, The Cars- Heartbeat City, and Jim Croce- Photographs and Memories.

    I switched over to the iPhone/MF dac and was not happy. Too smooth, warmed over. No pace, no attack, no speed. It was as if someone had veiled my speakers with a thick wool blanket when comparing to the vinyl I had just heard prior. Of course, the MF tube buffer. Out that went, and in came the music I was looking for. Now I have all the speed, and quick reflexes of SS, with the rich, textural tube goodness of the C-J. I will say that the PV14 is not as tubey as the Jolida, which is fine. The C-J is so much more articulate and involving and the bass has such tactile grip and abundance. The PV does seem to place a lot of emphasis on the background as well as the focal instrument (lead singer- lead guitar- often coming off a bit forward and imposing) which can occasionally drown out the rest of the band.

    Here's an updated photo of my system. I have also removed the Music Hall CD player because it just sucks. I much prefer the sound of my iPhone through the MF dac. The PV really exposed the lack of detail, bright highs and uninvolving midrange.

    I feel like I am almost where I want to be with this setup. I'd like to see what some Focus 140's would do, but I am very happy with my choices to date. Now for some Deutsche Grammophon Carmina Burana.

    One final note- I have no idea how I am going to get anything done this week. This system is just too good to allot free time for any other tasks. The weekend has FLOWN by!

    Here is a current photo after a much-needed reorganization.



    Here's a photo from 2008, I believe.

    Dynaudio Audience 42
    Conrad-Johnson PV14
    Sonographe SA-250
    Music Hall CD 25.2
    Musical Fidelity V3 series- X-LPS phono preamp, X-DAC, X-PSU
    Rega RP1 w/ performance pack
    Pure i-20 iPod dock
    -----------------------------
    B&W DM603s2- B&W LCR60s3- B&W DM302
    Velodyne CT-120 12" sub
    Rotel RSX-1055
    Arcam CD73T
    Samsung LN46C630 46" LCD
    Denon DBP-1611 bluray
    -----------------------------
    KEF K120- Jolida JD202a- Cambridge Audio D300 cdp- T500 tuner

    Photo gallery

  15. #15
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    I enjoyed this CJ PV paired with the 2a3 Paramour mono-blocks for awhile. As I reflect back it might have been a little on the sweet and mushy side. Replaced it with a Bottlehead Foreplay III which is a better sonic fit. The old CJ had tons of gain and a pretty decent phono stage.


  16. #16
    Stereo value > car value texlle's Avatar
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    Ah, yes. The PV1- such an attractive piece. A majority of the vintage pv's can be a bit on the mushy, syrupy side. My 14 is proving to be quite accurate and sonically balanced. Strings and drums are just excellent. Piano as well. Tchaikovsky Symphony no. 7 performed by the Philadelphia orchestra on vinyl is on now and it's captivating. .

    I like the open cabinet designs you employ, poultry. They contribute a nice large image without detrement to the dynamic range. This is what I've gathered from hearing a couple of custom MDF designs with similarly sized drivers you have pictured. One used a single board mounted vertically to hold the full range driver, and the other used a vertical 3-piece hinged baffle. I've heard Orion 4's on the new Pass labs amplifiers but I preferred the custom cabinet speakers as they conveyed a more open presentation. Then you have the vast difference in cost.
    Dynaudio Audience 42
    Conrad-Johnson PV14
    Sonographe SA-250
    Music Hall CD 25.2
    Musical Fidelity V3 series- X-LPS phono preamp, X-DAC, X-PSU
    Rega RP1 w/ performance pack
    Pure i-20 iPod dock
    -----------------------------
    B&W DM603s2- B&W LCR60s3- B&W DM302
    Velodyne CT-120 12" sub
    Rotel RSX-1055
    Arcam CD73T
    Samsung LN46C630 46" LCD
    Denon DBP-1611 bluray
    -----------------------------
    KEF K120- Jolida JD202a- Cambridge Audio D300 cdp- T500 tuner

    Photo gallery

  17. #17
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Congrats on your new gear!
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    W10 i5 Quad core processor 8GB RAM/Jriver 20/ Fidelizer Optimizer/ iFI Micro DSD DAC-iUSB 3.0/Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/MS Phenomena ll+/Canton Vento 830.2

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