thinking of switching from conrad johnson......

trying to decide between pass x250.8 or plinius sb 30, was looking at the cj premier 350 or the McCormack dna 500, but these amps are getting a little long in the tooth.  any suggestion and your experience with these two amps would help.  and what pre amp would work best with them.  since not many preamp companies are left.  and any feedback from whilecamaross is very much welcomed......thanks in advance.
Not many preamp companies left? The last time I looked there is as many or more than ten years ago!
Listening to my Pass X250.8 amp right now. Best amp I've ever owned. The preamp is a Pass XP-20. A superb match with the Pass amp, but it's key to use balanced cables between the 2.

Years back I had a CJ MV60SE and LS172. The Pass gear is better in every way.

BTW- there are lots of choices in preamps- 
yes, Conrad Johnson, tends to roll off the top end.  want something a little fuller sound. 
I would go with a pass amp and preamp and most definitely use balanced cables as previously mentioned.You would have matching synergy that would be hard to beat.I had the xp-10 with the xa30.8 for about a year and loved it.I replaced them with bel canto pre3 and ref600m's which I love even more.

It's all about system synergy matching and the individuals sonic presentation priorities in my opinion.

CJ's solid state products are very underrated. I would get the 350. I have the matching preamp (Premiere 18). It still sounds great.
I have CJ ET5 a great sounding preamp better than many i have had.Good luck.
CJ’s solid state products are very underrated. I would get the 350. I have the matching preamp (Premiere 18). It still sounds great.

The Premier 350 is a little old at this point. If you want something more modern, that sounds better and has similar DNA, consider the PS Audio BHK 300 monos or even the BHK 250 stereo. I’ve owned the Premier 350 and felt the gain was too high for that amp. Bascom King had his hand in the development of all these products and you can hear the similarities but perfected in the PS Audio BHK amps. They are truly under-rated and are hybrids with tube inputs. They are wonderful amps.
sfall, is the sound rolled off as I have heard...
ebm, I was thinking about the et3, just had my pv 12 upgraded
joeinid, that is what I was thinking, that the tech is a little out dated now, will look into the ps audio and bhk stuff.

assoc equip speakers alon 4s and 2s
my rotel 965 has had it and now have a nad 565 and
Marantz 5005,
power amps c/j mf 2500a and 2300a which I just had
upgraded, (sounds like a new amp now)
preamps are c/j pv 10 and pv 12 (which I just had upgraded as well)
cables are tara labs vectors on my wifes system and
acoustic zen wow (from dr. zen) on my system.
" preamps are c/j pv 10 and pv 12 "

That's your problem. Those 2 preamps are the very definition of dated sounding. Unless you have a really bright, harsh sounding system, I wouldn't consider either one. I had both, so I'm speaking from actual experience.
Maybe stock there would be notable rollout. Upgrade the coupling caps with cutf v-caps, all resistors and wire in the signal path and replace the diodes, and you might just ask, What rolloff? Oh not to say all the romance is lost but sure a lot more engagement can be had than that opaque vintage cj sound. I too had pv7 and pv5 back in the day. Would have sprung for the et5 but wanted a full functionality pre. If not ignore the above.
dweller tell me about the herron gear.   had a real long and good conversation with an audiogoner about cary stuff. 
Supremely musical, reasonably priced, manufactured by a true believer.
Seek out reviews on the web. Everyone who hears loves it.
Re: Herron Audio, resale may not be the best but according to a friend of mine, absolutely wonderful gear and a true gentleman to deal with.

Supremely musical, reasonably priced, manufactured by a true believer.
Seek out reviews on the web. Everyone who hears loves it.

yeah sfall, that's my thinking as well.  talked with different companies about a change, (dan, w/modwright, jeff, w/cj, I cant think of her name w/vtl, to name a few.  what do you recommend) decided to get pv 12 mod instead, then switched to amp.  thus my question, do you know anything about the two amps  (pass x250.8 vs plinius sb 301)  let me know.
VAC Phi 300 or two Phi 200s if you can afford it.  I've listened to the 300 extensively.  Great amp all around.  VTL 6.5...good luck finding a better preamp , particularly with a remote.

Plus, Kevin Hayes is great to deal with.
I own a Premier 350 and find it anything but old sounding.  The amp has been a number of reviewers "reference" piece.  They need to change to have a current model item for appearances but tend to hold on to the P350.  It's my backup amp for my c-j LP140 monoblock tube amps but I like to bring it in occasionally for it's more dynamic bass and transients.  There's nothing rolled off about it's highs. Seems to me the biggest difference between the amps you're considering is price.  A P350 will be a lot cheaper than the Pass.  
Also... the P350 has only single ended (not balanced) inputs while the Pass is balanced I believe so you'll want to consider cables and matching the output of the preamp when you make your second purchase of a pre.

Thanks! for sharing- coppy777

my 1st taste of Conrad Johnson was w/ the Premier 350sa and an ACT2 Series 2 pre-amp , Eggleston speakers, Audience cabling all around.

Certainly a reference system that still has quite an impression on me as I demo other brands/gear.  What other gear, including cabling, is in your system?

Happy Listening!

I dont understand why the Conrad Johnson would be "long in the tooth" ? Good 20 years ago is good now nothing radical in sound quality improvements has changed expect isolation tables & cables.

If you can home dem some gear.
Steve McCormack is still upgrading the older McC's.
He is basically creating a new amp. I am having a pair of DNA-1's converted to monoblocks as we speak.
He is at SMcAudio.
safebeslayer, thought about the vtl line could only afford the 2.5 maybe.
coppy777 that is my favorite amp, but I have a pv 12, wouldnt I have to update the pre as well with that.
foey, meaning  i have had it for some time.
gdnrbob, I talk with steve and chris from time to time, love the dna 500.
If you look at VAC - look at the 200 Signature iQ.  Wouldn't mess around with the Phi 200 or 300 models.  The Sig IQ has all the punch and dynamics of solid state will offer, but with the body and fullness of tubes.  The ease of tube rolling with the auto bias allows flexible to tailor your sound.  Truly world class IMHO.    If you can find one at a discount, would add it to the list.
no problem kennesawjet....  keep us posted.  there is a 200 sig iq on audiomart I saw.  they don't come up on the used market often being only a year old or so.  didn't know what budget you were trying to stay around.
There is some silly stuff posted in this thread.  While there is nothing wrong with wanting new kit for whatever reason, to claim some sonic benefit over top level electronics that is up to spec from cj is nonsense.  No one could hear the differences claimed by some in this thread.  Pass Labs stuff is superb, but so is cj and so are so many others.  It is a great time to be alive.
AMEN Bill. Sometimes I'm quite suspicious that people speak of what they know not. CJ is certainly not "long in the tooth", total nonsense.
So much conjecture. I have Coppy’s Premier 350. It’s outstanding. I don’t get anyone who thinks 2005 amp that was absolute reference top of the line would be ”too old”.  Ridiculous! Great yesterday can still be great today. If it sounds good, etc.  also this high end top of the line equipment is built to last. It’s not a $500 amp it was a $8,000 amp. 
go for Conrad Johnson mate,they are far better than most of Pass amps.You can compare the psu first,Pass started to use cheap toroids, small capacitors and so on.There’s no any problem whatsoever about how old is an amp ,is totally irrelevant!
sistemf1   did just that, went for the mccormack dna 500, and was able to get a conrad johnson ETse, in heaven now......
just a follow up, went in for new power cords, new cables, and a power condt, but kept it conrad johnson.

HI kennesawjet

I had and enjoyed the Plinius sb301 and thought it was a pretty good amp. I believe it’s strength was in the bass. I had it on a pair of Magnepan 3.7i’s and it really woke up the Maggie’s in the bass.

When it comes to Pass Labs amps, in my opinion, these are some of the best solid state amps out there. For me, their magic is in their class a designs. There are a lot of audiophiles out there that think that they have to get the big watt models so they go for the Pass a/b designs. Don’t get me wrong, these are still great sounding amps. When I heard the Pass class a amps, I realized that those were amazing. Personally, I would buy their 30 watt per channel class a amp over their 300 watt per channel class a/b amp. People underestimate their drive capabilities and think that they have to get the 300 watt amp to drive a difficult speaker load or it won’t sound good. In my experience, that little 30 watt Pass stereo amp has incredible current output. I’ll give you an example. I had the Maggie 3.7i’s with a pair of their Dwm woofers wired in parallel connected to that xa30.8 and it laughed at that load. Not only did it drive that system with ease but it always remained extremely musical, that is a constant 2 ohm load! Most amps would have shut off with a load like that not to mention sound like crap.  That setup sounded wonderful! Go for the Pass Labs class a amp(s), that’s we’re their magic is. Good luck.


I run a McCormack DNA 500 which was the only amp that did not weigh more than 100 pounds and could handle my Thiel CS5 speakers dipping  to 2 ohms in the bass. Also run it with 8 ohm 88 dbl speakers and no problems there either. 

Having said that, i am thinking about a small Pass Labs amp for the 8 ohm speakers just to see how it might sound....Maybe an XA30...

Not sure what you mean by long in the tooth if it sounds good and still is repairable if it comes to that.

Using the DNA 500 with Primaluna Dialogue Premium  and Conrad Johnson 17LS2 preamps. Different flavors, but the CJ sometimes makes me think it has a problem with the low DNA 500 input impedance of 10K ohms.

My local dealer allowed me to in-house audition various 300 wpc amps from Pass. Krell, Mark Levinson, and Classe and i honestly liked the McCormack just fine. Classe was too soft and Krell  and ML seemed too shouty to me. The Pass was nice, a bit better silence around the notes, but the weight, ugh!

Thanks for listening,

scot....was thinking of pass as well.  but kept tinkering with the mccormack and finally things worked out.  

dsper.....i found that everything didnt sound right with the mccormack.  maybe thats why there was a rash of them being sold at one point.  i tried it with my refitted pv 12 and the results was fantastic.  put eventually went back to the et3se and just redid almost everything....