can someone answer me this.....

i have done some extensive research and talked to quite a few people who own or have had this preamp.  I recently came into a conrad Johnson et 3 se, nt much clarity,the bass is muddy and the presentation is dark, ive read where some claim the system is to bright.  ive also read where its good to get a specific type of tube.  I don't want to do that just yet because im trying to learn the units characteristic.  I wonder if its not quite broken in yet.  maybe the impedance thing that Im just learning.  steve mccormck suggested that I try some after market power cord, that I ordered.  
assoc. equipment
McCormack dna 500
oppo 203
alon IV's
acoustic zen interconnects
I make my own speaker cables …..
no wires are touching, none are on the carpet or floor.....
Have you had the tubes tested? Bad tubes (weak) can cause exactly the problem you describe.
I think checking the tubes is the first easy thing to consider or just buy some Gold Lion 6922's on eBay.

I have a DNA-500, and with my Conrad Johnson 17LS2, the sound is thin at the bottom end; so I went back to my PrimaLuna Dialogue Premium.

However, the ET is supposed to have a lower output impedance than the 17LS2 so, hopefully, it will not be a problem for you.

I would be interested in how you think the ET sounds with the DNA-500, once you have the clarity/muddiness figured out.

Thanks for listening,

I make my own speaker cables

Oh dear. Sorry to be the one to red pill you, but there are no good DIY cables. Period. Whatever you spend on material will always buy you way better performance in a professionally designed product. Always. No exceptions. Not even close.

What you have right now might as well be lamp cord. No offense. It just is. Never heard any exceptions to this. A long time DIY'er one time compared his all-time best in my system. Even he had to admit it was handily trounced by some random thing I pulled out of my old cables drawer. About $75 from Synergistic, something like that.

You've got good components. Before doing anything else, get some good wire.
Regarding impedance compatibility, the DNA-500 has a specified input impedance of only 10K, and the manual for the ET3 recommends a minimum load impedance of 20K. Based on some interior photos I found on the web it appears that both the ET3 and the ET3SE utilize 4 uF coupling capacitors at their outputs, so the 20K recommendation presumably applies to the ET3SE as well as to the ET3.

However, given that the impedance of a 4 uF capacitor at 20 Hz is 1990 ohms, and given that the output impedance of the preamp at frequencies above the deep bass region is undoubtedly far lower than that (the specified nominal output impedance is 100 ohms), while the resulting mismatch will produce a slight rolloff and a bit of phase shift in the bottom octave, that is unlikely to be the major contributor to the problem. More likely the single tube that is used in the unit (assuming the optional phono stage is not included) is the major culprit, as Ralph (Atmasphere) suggested. And if the optional phono stage is included, given that you are using a line-level source the single tube that is used in the preamp’s line section is what should be focused on.

-- Al

Avoid new manufactured tubes! Stick with NOS vintage tubes. Especially small-signal types like the 12A*7 and 6DJ8/6922 types! These front-end tubes are very critical to SQ in preamps and power amps!
Toss a Siemens 6922 in there-- one that you have had tested and know it is good.  For $100, you should be rocking.

MillerCarbon.....I have not found that to be true.   The connecting ends are the most important (I've tried Oyeida and Furutech.....both good, but I like top Furutech)
Dont drink the blue juice . Just roll some tubes. Power cords and crap are not going to make near as much difference as tubes. 
thank you all the your responses, cancel the power cord.  will have to just go with tube rolling again.  I know nothing about the 6922 tubes, I come from 12au7.  almarg, don't know a thing about the imped factor.  and do you still have that 17ls.  or what preamp goes best with the dna 500....
@millercarbon   Hmmm.  Must be nice to be THE authority on wire.  We have quite a few folks here who make their own gear including cables and have achieved high levels of sonic reproduction. Who are you to say otherwise???
I purchased some used Bob Carver amps that sounded as you described. Running to Klipsch Cornwall’s. Rolled several sets of tubes. +1 on the new production Gold Lions. I also have Manley tube phono stage. Came with Tungstram 6922 tubes. Didn’t take long before I replaced with Gold Lion tubes. There is a chart on the internet that shows relative gain for bass, mid and highs.  Gold Lion tubes where shown to have nearly equal gain in all three ranges. My listening to some of the others shown in addition to the Gold Lions seem to agree with what was reflected in the chart. 
Did you invert both your speaker wires at the speakers?
The ET3 Preamplifier is phase inverting.This is conveniently done by reversing the positive and negative connections to your speakers (be sure to reverse both channels).
When the system is in the correct phase, transients will be noticeably cleaner and more sharply defined. - not all recordings are phase correct so
listen to several before concluding your investigation of absolute phase.       Best
Post removed 
audioconnection +1
I have an old CJ Classic pre, and always forget to invert phase when shifting it around. I've even written "Invert Phase you Idiot" on a label on the back :-)Hopefully your problem is as simple as that.

I have also played with the valves over the years, and agree that they can make a huge difference. Some new manufactured one like the JJs and Electro-Harmonix make the Classic too bright for me. I have ended up with some NOS Mullards that sound just right. With the right valves, my pre is definitely not muddy and dark.
Good luck.
get em hifiman…
jengelmann get me that site...
audioconnection and safnz: I have a conrad Johnson pv 10 and 12 and 2300a and 2500a so im very familiar with the phase thing, thanks.  
almarg speak English, my head started hurting, followed by flashbacks of science
disper my thinking is these Teflon caps aren't broken in yet, but will let you know.    
A combination of bad tubes and a source component (Oppo 203). Replace the bad tubes and upgrade from the Oppo 203. 
I think the Oppo 203 is your weakest link in the chain. Front end source component(s) are the most important element in hifi chain. 

almarg speak English, my head started hurting, followed by flashbacks of science
The point I was making in my previous post was simply that while the impedance situation in the connection between the preamp and the power amp is not ideal, and does not conform to the recommendation stated in the manual for the preamp, I’m pretty certain that it is not what is causing the symptoms you have described. And I expressed agreement with Ralph (Atmasphere) that a tube is the most probable culprit.

The reason I went into further detail in that post is that you had referred in your initial post to "the impedance thing that Im just learning."

almarg, don’t know a thing about the imped factor. and do you still have that 17ls. or what preamp goes best with the dna 500....

It was another poster who referred to the 17ls, not me.

-- Al

I have your amp and pre-amp.  Before getting the ET3SE, I contacted Steve McCormack and he said there should be no issues pairing the two.  I use  an Amperex 6992 from Andy's Vintage Tubes and have been very happy with the result.  As mentioned by others, be sure to account for phase inversion by reversing the positive/negative terminals either at the speaker or amp ends. The sound you describe could be a result of forgetting to do so.
If it's new with little hours of play time my thought is break in. My CJ took hundreds of hours but once those caps are broken in the sound was wonderful. Roll tubes once it's broken in.
If your pre takes a 6DJ8 / 6922 tube(s) you have limited alternatives.  The used tube market for vintage NOS Siemens 6922's, especially Cca and grey plates is like looking for unobtainium.  I've been using them for about 15 years, after testing maybe a dozen or more different brands and time periods and simply have no more nor are there any real ones out there.  What I have found which seems to be as good, or nearly as good as a Siemens and Halske Grey Plate early 60's Cca is the 75 vintage have no connection to this person other than I have purchased tubes from her 6 times.  Everything arrived very securely packed and was exactly as advertised and they perform exactly as they should.  It used to be $99 a pair now it's $219.  Siemens and Halske Cca grey plates used to be $40 a tube then they were $400 a pair, now there are no real ones.
I went through the tube rolling phase with my CJ Premier 11a and 14 in my main system and was able to arrive at considerably better sound by doing that.  I suggest that you make sure you have no polarity issues and then post your query on a tube board - other owners of your gear can offer specific suggestions on what worked for them.

You only have one tube (6922) IIRC so tube rolling won't be too expensive.

Take a look at this article - 17 different 6922s assessed.
  Try NOS Telefunken E88CC’s . I use both 12AU7’s and 6922’s . I have nos Telefunkens, Seimens , Amperex . Including the CCa’s and Silver plates . The Telefunken E88CC , is the most linear and flat across the spectrum . The Seimens is close and the Amperex is too bright on top . Brent Jesses web site gives a great/ accurate description of tube tone . I have a friend with an older CJ pre that he had professionally restored . He runs a Benchmark amp . I’ve loaned him the above tubes and he chose the Telefunkens too . We both run Morrow Interconnects and speaker cables , so the comparison is easy . We run different power cords and power stations however . For cost I’ve been very pleased with Anti-Cables stuff , but currently run more expensive Morrow items . I’m not pushing any brand of cabling however . But try the NOS Telefunken from a reputable dealer . They are pricy , but absolutely fabulous. And ask about a return policy . Happy Hunting , Mike B.  

kennsawjet: unless millercarbon has made his own speaker cables out of 14 or 12 gauge solid copper or solid silver wire, twisted - he has no idea how good it can sound.
ALSO: you can tri-wire your speakers - have you tried that?
If all else fails: I'll part with, and sell you either my Morrison ELAD (SS) or my Wolze Line Level Preamp (TUBES).
kennsawjet: unless millercarbon has made his own speaker cables out of 14 or 12 gauge solid copper or solid silver wire, twisted - he has no idea how good it can sound.

Got to love that, "twisted". In my best Walter White I say, "You got me!"

As. If.

Not only have I tried DIY speaker cables, I've also built interconnects and power cords. Always based on what seemed really solid advice and top notch methods and materials. All were much better than ordinary lamp cord, patch cords, freebie power cords. None were anywhere near as good as even very inexpensive professionally made products.

But by far the greatest most experienced cable maker was a friend of mine who has been making his own for way over 30 years now. Not only has he built pretty much everything you can find on-line, he's even gone so far as to tear down and reverse-engineer and compare his DIY with some truly mega-buck cables. He's got a whole room, impressive work bench, all devoted to DIY cables.

Results? I never was impressed, not in the least. Maybe that is why one day he calls me up all excited to PROVE to me he has finally made one just as good as this $4k cable he copied. So identical he cannot hear the difference. So he brings it over. Yes I have told this story before. Should be pinned to the top of every make your own cable thread for all time.

So on my system we use one and then the other. The instant his DIY goes in, well you should have seen the look on his face. Poor guy is crushed. In despair he is telling me it really did sound the same... in his system. 

But in mine? In mine it was so obviously inferior it was painful. Literally painful. You could see the pain on the guys face. He was adamant how great it sounded at home, totally at a loss for words why it was so obviously crap now. Tried pulling some cheap old random cable from my collection, thinking maybe his might at least sound better than what you could buy for $75. But no, even my worst oldest cheapest was light-years better than what he had made. What he had spent hours and a lot of money making. Not to mention decades of his life. To have something that sounded like pure crap. Which even he now had to admit was the case.

And oh by the way to those shouting "System matching! System matching!" nope, sorry, but "system matching" is BS invented by people who can't figure out how to make a good cable to save their life. So instead of solutions they sell band aids. The whole theory behind system matching is your system is too much this way, so patch it up with some crap that is too much the other way. Next time you feel like saying, "system matching" try saying, "hiding crap with even more crap."

Because this is exactly how you wind up with a system like my friend, one so awful its almost impossible even to use it for comparing. Because it imposes so much of its own sound. When the goal should be a system that has no sound. Which if you keep covering up problems with problems how are you ever gonna get there?

That. Will. Never. Happen.

Not like I don't have any sympathy. Its not easy sifting through the vast piles of wanna-be wire looking for the rare few that really work. (Although maybe not so hard, if you try Synergistic.) As said before I have put plenty of my own time into trying this stuff. I do not shirk from mods, have done a lot. Almost every piece of gear in my system has been modded in one way or another. I have Active Shield-modded cables, and have modded Active Shielding and other power supplies. Which is how I know which things are worth doing, and which are a waste of time. DIY cables are top of the list, with a bullet, of time and money wasters.

Devil's advocate: if you enjoy doing it, do it. Just don't kid yourself or anyone else that you're saving money, or even making anything anywhere near as good as what you could just go and buy for the same or, more likely, a lot less money.
... and stringgreen: why not do as I do - run and fasten BARE WIRES ... We do so much that goes counter to common sense: why confuse the issue by creating another junction with RCAs or Us? and why coat them in Gold of all materials ( making them into Audio Jewelry!) instead of silver or copper, which are so much more conductive...
kennesawjet: Tell you what - let's try an experiment: I'll make you a set of 3 (per side) home-made speaker wires (need to know lengths per side) at either 12 or 14 gauge solid core copper wire (to be determined) with bare ends, twisted. I'll also include 8 short lengths for you to experiment with single wire, using the short length as jumpers...
SO - ( in my best Brooklynese) WhaDaYaDink?  
kennesawjet: did some quick research and since your amp is 500w - 10 gauge is recommended for all speakers in the array. You said you make/made your own speaker cables -  did you use stranded or solid core wire? copper, tinned copper or silver? 14, 12 or 10 gauge wire? And did you break in your speaker wire with over 300 hours of continuous play (I 
usually do 750 hours on any new break-ins, a solid month!).
Any of the above could make a major difference in you sound man...
millercarbon: thank you for your summary of experience - at least I agree with the first 7 words in your last paragraph. But I wholeheartedly disagree because my speaker cables cost abit less than $14 - run as biwires. And the Lampcord idea was tried with a miserable outcome...
I wouldn't/shouldn't disagree that ever system is different - usually a mash of financially achieveable wants, hopes and dreams. I know a fellow who's recently spent ABOUT $550.K on Italian speakers, a complete ( and I mean COMPLETE) system of all one brand components, a turntable that looks like it should be orbiting the earth, a brand new (completely refurbished and custom painted) reel-to-reel, and top of the line speaker cables and interconnects from a custom manufacturer. He's a guy who would NEVER experiment with anything BECAUSE HE SIMPLY ACCEPTS THAT THE PRICE RELATES TO IT ABILITY TO PROVIDE THE BEST. I do not subscribe to that theory in audio: I could spend more but don't. I prefer to prove things before I become a member of blind group-think...
millercarbon ... feeling rather foolish right now: I agree with the FIRST 9 WORDS of your LAST PARAGRAPH (guess I got wrapped in what I was going to profess in my soapbox reply to you and miscounted...).

millercarbon, these speaker wires sound great....
caphill,  whats wrong with oppo 203,  its not rotel, but it sound great.  
insearchof,  yes....and just talked with steve McCormack not long ago,  said 16-18 gauge is fine, and that's what im running.  pure copper, tri wired...…

I personally don't think this amp is broken in yet, and I will be tube rolling, with andy…….
follow up....
after some months with this amp, it is just now starting to break in.  the signature cj sound is starting to come into the amp.  the separation, the detail, the sound staging. apparently this is  a new amp and the componets and tubes are not  broken in yet.....just wanted to let you all know...….

I have a c-j Classic 2 SE and love it, but the new line of c-j like the Classics and ET s are tough on tubes .   Only two tubes have proven to be rugged AND sound good.

They are the Gold Lion 6922 and Reflector 6H23 eb.....  I have a JJ 6922 in mine now and I thought it sounded great , but after only a few months it is noisy.
Also, my unit had a bad Electro Harmonix 6922 after only a week.   Never a problem with the Gold Lion 6922...   not cheap but in my experience last longer than most NOS 6922 which are pricey .   On the CJ if you get a low hiss it's a bad tube... its like a low rushing noise that can be heard at low to moderate volumes when you mute the source
I am probably not qualified to say too much on speaker cables as mine are only 24" long with bare wire ends.
I used run Romex. Then I tried pretty expensive solid silver ones which sounded worse even after 2 weeks permanently on. In a direct comparison, the Romex sounded better. I also tried it in another rig with the exact same results. Ridiculous, huh? It put me off cables. Anyhow, that was years ago.

I’ve moved on and now run a DIY effort.
After reading that many upscale cable manufacturers us very pure copper, I tried Neotech solid core 14ga UP-OCC Teflon wire which costs a few bucks per foot. The improvement was dramatic and remains so to this day. Despite Millercarbon's argument to the contrary, I would urge folks with shorter cable runs to give it a shot. It might save you a lot of money.
oddiofy,  im been hearing that, also to get the gold lion.  but andy also recommended some others..

noromance, to problem with your observation. the one I use are pure copper from axiom speakers out of Canada.  I have a pair of their
 m100's.  I just couldn't at the time get anyone to do tri wires.  I called everywhere.  so I just brought me some bulk wire, and termination ends, solder, and went at it...they sound great.  

in a few months," a tube rolling we will go, a tube rolling we will go"..

just want to up date you on the conrad Johnson et3, got tired of the sound. didn't want to put all that money in new cords and such.  did get a siemens nos tube, all is right in the universe now.  these crappy 6922's it comes with are the it sounds like the cj gear im use to..just wanted to let you know
You should have listened to the first reply from @atmasphere ! Live and learn.

My local hifi store store used to use that same preamp for demo’s. If you were auditioning speakers or amps or whatever he would usually use that exact same preamp and it ALWAYS sounded great. I thought it was a tremendous value every time I would listen to it. If working properly it’s a fantastic preamp for the money.

The first question I have for you is which preamp did you use before you got this CJ pre? 

One of the the members who responded said that the input impedance of the DNA 500 is only 10k. If that is correct then that is unusually low but that’s not going to cause all the issues you describe so I would look elsewhere. If you are going to replace the C J pre there are not a lot of preamps out there that will work with that low of an input impedance. I don’t know what your budget is but I would look at the Backert Labs Rhumba or Rhumba Extreme or the Rhythm models as he uses a proprietary circuit that he designed himself that has an unusually low output impedance of just 75 ohms, that’s not a typo, 75 ohms. Their preamps are supposed to sound great and they start at $4000.00. That would be ideal for that amp.

The people that that are claiming the system is too bright, are these people who have heard YOUR system? I don’t understand your statement of “I’ve read that some people claim the system is too bright” are they saying that the ET3SE can be bright? CJ gear can be a little darker sounding but some people like that.

Also, how old is this preamp? Due to the fact that it’s been discontinued I would be surprised if it’s not broken in yet. I doubt if that’s the problem. 

When I look at the equipment list the weak link (no offense) is maybe the home made speaker wire. Did you use that same wire before you changed the preamp and did it sound good with the old preamp?

With regard to getting a specific type of tube that’s just personal preference. You may love a certain 6922 and I may not like that same tube so no one can tell you what tube to get, they can tell you what they like but you have listen to determine which tube you prefer. Trust your ears.

The first thing I would do is replace what may just be a bad tube. If you put in a new tube you will be able to tell right away if it’s a bad tube. I would call CJ because the head of the service department just recently bought the company Conrad & Johnson. I would buy one of their replacement tubes, it won’t be expensive, if it’s the tube the used when they ship new ET3SE’s it’s probably a descent tube, they’re not going to ship it with lousy sounding tube. That will at least tell you if that’s were the problem is. If that solves the problems you’re hearing, then you can start tube rolling to determine which tubes sound best to your ear.

If all that doesn’s Fix the issues there might be something wrong with the preamp and you may need to send it back to CJ for service. I would call CJ first and talk to their service department. Good luck, I hope you get it figured out soon.


A reviewer found the same characteristics you did with the ET3se:

I had a different CJ pre paired with different McCormack amp for a little while and found them to be a poor match, even though both are quality products.
noromance, I did listen.  I just wanted to make sure it was broken in first. 

scot, I make great speaker wires, thank you. 

thanks smres13 will look that up.  but every things is fine now......