Tubed preamps and Power amps- How old is too old???

I am currently using a Conrad Johnson Premiere LS17 preamp. This preamp was well regarded when it came out a bit over 20 years ago and list price was over $4000. It has probably seen 8000-10,000 hours of play time. The tubes are all Amperex that test and work fine.

To my ears, it sounds great. That being said, at what point either due to wear of internal parts and/or improved design, is it worth replacing? There is no doubt that things on the digital side of things have move quickly with respect to innovation and implementation but what about preamps and power amps, especially tube ones?

Any members, replaced aging tubed preamps and power amps and found it worthwhile assuming you stayed at a similar quality level? If you wanted to upgrade from my preamp, what would you consider? Budget of $7500 max. For reference, I use digital sources and an R2R Dac and Quicksilver Mid Mono Power Amps into reasonably efficient speakers. No phono section required or wanted.


I agree. You really need to be asking this question on the Conrad Johnson Owners group. There, you will find a lot of very knowledgeable audiophiles who have experience with CJ equipment. The LS17 is a classic. At one time, it was highly regarded by many users. If you are interested in having it serviced, call CJ. For what it’s worth, I would only have CJ service the unit. I’m a longtime CJ owner - amp, preamp, and CD player. 

There is no simple answer to this question.  if it sounds good, i would not do anything to it until it shows signs of needing work.  I know of many amps and linestages that are decades older than yours that work perfectly well.  A friend has a terrific sounding amp that is about 75 years old.  

I have a pair of Luxman MB3045s from 1974 that still sound spectacular.  As mentioned, tubes and caps are really the only parts of concern.  Have it tuned up and brought back in spec and it may out last you.

IMO after 15 years capacitors especially start drying out ,they may still work 

but you can loose well over 15-20% of its true fidelity

having been into modding for over 20 years i know 1st hand, and rebuild my own 

Loudspeaker Xovers since the vast majority from the factory use at best average quality ,they are never-concerned about the Absolute best unless you are spending 3-4 x the average per component .8 owned a Audio store for a decade so speak through experience.

I’ve never owned Quicksilver but have heard them many times.  I think the CJ amps better them in both build and sound quality.  If you like the EL34 power tube look for a Premier 11xs with Teflon caps.  They’re very hard to find so you’ll have to be patient. They’re also only 30w so be sure they will work with your speakers.  Premier 12xs is another more powerful option. I owned them. Also hard to find.  Both will be an excellent match with your preamp.  If you can find either amp with Teflon caps it will mean they’ve been updated, probably in the last 10yrs (or less), and will give you many more years of service.  The Classic 60 that you mention would also be an excellent option and would begin to give you the more modern CJ sound.