conrad johnson CAV45, CA200,...

I've been wondering why conrad johnson has no line stage in their "control amplifiers" like the CAV45, CA200, CA150, ...  Their manual says that it "eliminates an entire stage of audio circuitry (the line stage) and its inherent colorations."  I get that idea and I can see why other manufacturers with a minimalist approach to the signal path might eliminate a line stage from an integrated amp.  But why cj, who manufactures and sells so many excellent preamplifiers? 

I'm curious about the thinking here, but I'm really curious how these control amps sound compared to cj separates.  Has anyone listened to a cj control amp next to comparable cj preamp/amp combo that can share their thoughts?


I think CJ does this to keep things simple and to keep the signal as pure as possible in the integrated or control amps. Separates are separates, and I guess they feel folks who play in that more expensive territory want each stage of amplification to have its own effect on the sound.

Making a truly good sound preamp is expensive, so it's good way to keep costs down in a setup where c-j can optimize the interface.

The CAV 45 is an excellent sounding amp.   Supposedly the mk II is even better.   CJ just knows how to voice their amps to "just sound right"   

It is designed to use the source signal that is more than enough to power the amp section as designed. 

Thanks for your thoughts!  It seems the likely reason is to keep the cost down.  Better to skip the line stage than build an inexepensive one.

So I should expect something like a PV14 + MF2275 to sound better than a CA150? 

Or, for another example, a Classic 62 amp + Classic 2 preamp would sound better than a CAV45 S2 ?

I have a CA 150 paired with Salk SS6M’s, have small living room (13X16) and it  is a really nice unit. I have had a lot of separates (including mono blocks) and this CJ is incredible, especially for the price. I am very happy with it and paired with the Salk speakers I believe I can not get better given my listening space. Not going to give up this combo! My two cents…


Yes, indeed. +1000

The CAV 45 S2 makes my Sonus Faber monitors sound very close to electrostatics with pinpoint imaging. I find the presentation to be quite uncanny and special

This CJ control amp does indeed "just sound right."  I finally no longer miss the SQ of my dearly departed vintage tube separates.

"So I should expect something like a PV14 + MF2275 to sound better than a CA150?"

Better I doubt it.  A little different yes. I ran the PR 16 with the PR12's for quite a while. Also ran the PR 16 with a 2250. Went to the CA200 after that.  Lost very, very little in terms of SQ. Still the CJ house sound without the more lush, older CJ tube sound.  I would expect that if they were to come out with a newer model of the CA200 it would sound even closer to the newer tube models.