Conrad-Johnson PF-R Preamp Review Summary?

Can someone please summarize the Stereophile review for the CJ PF-R Preamp?

Stereophile Magazine October 1996: Conrad-Johnson PF-R Review page.247. I do not have this Stereophile issue. Thanks!
I don't have the Stereophile issue you mention, but I do love that preamp :-)
In my opinion, the "affordable" PV series of tube preamps from CJ have a wonderful midrange but they seem to roll-off the highs and lack the solid bass that I enjoy. I haven't tried a "Premier class" CJ preamp due to price. I'm curious to learn what the solid-state PF-R might sound like if anyone cares to describe it for me. Thanks!
Abe> The only way I know how to describe it is that it is totally transpsrent. The only thing I have a-b'd it against is an Adcom GTP450 which I use in a bedroom system. There was no comparrison. It wasn't like removing a sheet, but more like removing a thick blanket from the speakers. I have considered upgrading my amp (CJ MF2200) and cdp (Theta Miles)but have never really considered changing the preamp (CJ PFR) If you are considering a PFR I don't think you'll regret buying one.
Abe - I've never heard an application of the PFR that didn't sound great to my ears. It has the familiar CJ family sound, but is somewhat quicker and tighter than the Premier tube preamps. It doesn't produce the same soundstage or have quite the "depth" of its more expensive siblings, but is just as smooth and enjoyable to listen to. And like all the CJ preamps, it has a midrange to die for (ok, I'm biased ;-)).

I've never noticed anything in the high end that would lead me to think that its shy on top, but all of the CJ equipment is a bit on the warm side and the slight rise in mid bass can give the feeling of a rolled top end. I've noticed this with my 17LS, but from what I remember about the PFR its not quite as warm as its brothers, so this effect should be a bit less prominent.

Also, if your prior CJ experience was with a tube preamp, keep in mind that the energy you experience on the top end is directly influenced by the type of tubes it uses. Its possible that the unit you had was using tubes that are indeed a bit soft on the top end. Between manufacturers, the differences in sound can be very dramatic.

-- Ken
Thanks everyone for your input! And a special thanks to a member named "Alex" who sent me the entire article via fax. I thought I remember the CJ PF-R being a highly regarded preamp by their owners as well as by the press. I was looking for some reassurance that it wasn't a bomb. As you know, its no longer made and I bet many people aren't even aware of this unit. I bought one just today on Audiogon and hope to receive it late next week.

I'm hoping it's just a wee bit sweet or warm in the mids without rolling off the highs and lows. I have used the ARC LS16 tube preamp, Adcom GFP-750, various Classe, CJ PV14L, CJ PV12L, and at the moment a McCormack TLC-1 passive/buffered preamp which isn't bad at all but of course its not "sweet" but its not offensive either. I'm really looking forward to playing with the CJ PF-R. Thanks again everyone!
Abe -- When you finally get it up and running, let us know what you think. Given your experiences with both the CJ PV and ARC preamps, it'll be useful to hear a comparison.

-- Ken
Hi abecollins,

I noticed this discussion on the CJ PF-R preamp.  I really love the BAT VK but after having a bad experience with the factory I wanted to try a different preamp solid-state.  I personally don't have the patience for tubes.  Your experience with preamps is larger than mine.  The only preamp that I tested that I really liked was the BAT.  I have an adcom 555 amp which is fine.  And I was thinking of buying a Adcom 750 preamp. But after Reading some reviews one in particular who compared the  BAT VK 20 and 30 to the 750 I just decided not to go there.  If I have to go there I feel now I would go with a BAT 42SE.  But this preamp would have to be in mint like new condition so I don't have to deal with the factory.  For now just to have sound I'm thinking of buying the Adcom 565.  Can you tell me more about your experience with the CJ PF-R preamp?  I think it would be very helpful.


Perhaps I am a little late to this discussion, but here goes.  I am the type of person who prizes unique and clear (transparent) sounding audio sound.  Previously, I owned a current Parasound preamp and amp, which were fine sounding components, but perhaps not that delicate - and slightly harsh at higher volumes.  However, I researched a bit an decided to go the route of "vintage" solid state.  I prefer a bit crisper sound than tube technology so the CJ PFR was right in my "sweet spot".  I paired this preamp with a Yamaha MX-1 amp, which was in excellent condition from Japan.  The PFR had aging parts issues, which took my audio tech expert (I live in Taipei, where there is a great appreciation for high-end audio) about two months to straighten out.  He replaced old capacitors, found SMD technology to replace obsolete semiconductors, replaced relays, and internal connectors.  (I was on pins-and-needles at the time - - - Did I make a poor purchase?  There is a reason people here address him as "Master"!)  I have Usher Mini-Dancer II speakers, which I think are highly underrated speakers, and a Marantz CD player.  I have to say that the sound is powerful and transparent, and will properly exhibit the soundstage, depth, and clarity for all types of music (and I have over 10k CDs). I am quite pleased with the sound, and friends are amazed!  

I would have to say that as an older audiophile of 65 the PFR was without a doubt the best purchase I ever made ($850 on Ebay) in my audiophile life.  I replaced it with an Ayre k-5xeMP and noticed a slight improvement overall, probably due to the added synergy with my Ayre amp.  

I will check out SMD technology to see what they can do in terms of upgrades.  Who know, I might put the Ayre back on the shelf after the upgrade.