Conrad-Johnson Premier 11a-a good used amp?

Hi. I am considering purchase of a C-J Premier 11a (used, there are a couple up on a-gon right now) and was wondering what the consensus on this amp is? I have relatively easy to drive Soliloquy 6.3's, and my listening tastes are mostly jazz and orchestra, at moderate volumes. I have a wonderful tube preamp (EE Minimax) that I would like to mate with a musical, yet detailed amp. I don't want something toooo lush/syrupy, but kind of a liquid, yet detailed sound (which is exactly what the Minimax is for a preamp). In my system, I have had a McCormack DNA-125 (nice amp, but not detailed enough and has some grain) and audioned a PS Audio HCA-2 (very nice amp-great detail and extension, nice liquid presentation for SS), but many owners documented troubles turned me off).

How does the Premier 11a stack up against these? Is it more "new-school" tubes (detailed with a rich presentation)or more old-school (excessively warm and lush)? Thanks!
built like a brick outhouse and will drive a nail. i just purchased a used one off a-gon. no problem. mine has kt-88's but they usually come with 6550. CJ has steadily moved away from thier house sound. You still could pick thier amps out of a crowd. not lush at all. new school i guess.
It has been a little while since I heard an 11a, but I was VERY impressed with it--it sounded great. Built well, CJ can still service them, and represent essentially "free" hifi. By that I mean that if you get one and don't like it, you can almost certainly sell it for what you own it for.

I've not heard it compared to either amp you mention, though I've heard the McCormack. I'd agree that it's closer to "new school."


I owned one and loved it. I was driving a pair of Thiel 3.6's and it wasn't quite enough power for them hence the reason for selling. However mid to high end detail was supberb with only the bass end lacking a bit. I listen to primarily classical (symphonic and chamber pieces) and female jazz vocals at moderate volumes. Still sorry I sold it!!!!!!! And as naimfan mentioned it is basically free hifi. I would say go for it especially if your speakers are relatively efficient.

I have been buying and selling and trying lots of gear over the past decade or so in an attempt to speed up my learning curve as my compulsive obsession with audio has infected my soul. I am , at this stage of developement having a hard time finding anything that satisfies my need for musicality other than CJ gear. I am trying different products in their line , past models as well as present production models and am finding this company has something special going on within the minds of Bill and Lew. We have all heard of CJ and how its tube line is " magical " in the sense that it is warm and involving . I have found it involving in a way I had not expected but not warm and colored by any means. The soundstage simply sounds right to me . Instant contact with the musical notes effortlessly draws me in and for the first time in years i have forgot about occupying my time analyzing the synergy of my chain and now let the music flow through me. For me at least , i have found my company of choice and have ordered their top of the line preamp and pair of tube amps from them . The end is closing in on me at least for now and i couldnt be happier .
Very natural sound, very lovely, a bit warm sounding, well built. VERY popular in its day and a classic. Make sure that your speakers are very efficient, or the room is small, and don't surround it with a lot of warm sounding gera as it's already warm. You want transparent cables and preamp to let the CJ present the beauty of the music to you.

BTW I usually prefer KT88's over 6550's but in the 11a and premier 12's (monoblock version) I ended up preferring the 6550. I find 6550's more neutral than KT88's and again, the 11a is already on the warm side.

The newer MV60SE might be good competition for the 11a (even that it's not considerd part of their "Premier" line). I don't see these often used though, or at the same price point.

I bought one in the nineties used and love it. It didn't quite have the grunt to power my ML ReQuests full range, but it is simply great on the panels now that I have the Hafler to tame the woofers.

Absolutely trouble free and real nice with Ei KT90's from upscale.

I lugged it over to a friends who had two Adcom 555's powering his Maggie 3.5's and he was sold. He ended up with Cary V12 monoblocks (great looking AND sounding) for the maggies but the tubes sold him.

If I ever sell mine it will probably be to move to 12's or if lucky 8a's to go full range tubes.

have fun

Boy, I couldn't agree more. CJ designs just have a musicality about them that I believe most others simply can not match. As they say "It Just Sounds Right." So what amps are you buying it sounds like a pair of Premier 140's in monobloc. I am currently utilizing an MF2500a / 16lsII combination. I am looking to upgrade to the premier 350. I love tube amps but with the way my system is racked there simply isn't the room for a tube amp let alone tube monoblocs. Plus tube amps and my wife do not mix. Good Luck and yes I am envious.

Chuck: I have it on authority from somebody at CJ that Lew Johnson personally considers the new solid-state Premier 350 to be CJ's best sounding amplifier ever, period - tubes or no! Haven't heard it myself though.

BTW Chiho, if you think your DNA-125 lacks some detail and refinement, I'd ask if you've upgraded the power cord, and if you leave the amp permanently powered-on. If you do both of those things, these qualities will improve markedly. I haven't compared the 125 to a Premier 11a, but can tell you that it beat an MV-55 in my system in terms of detail (but so would an 11a, and the 125 still doesn't sound like tubes of course, though it sounds like very respectable SS).
How would you characterise the sound of the 6.3's? Two friends of mine say they were too boomy to be enjoyable.
I have had my Premier 11a for quite a few years since I bought it new. It and the Mac C-2200 pre-amp make beautiful music together driving my Genesis V's.