Which is REALLY the best Conrad Johnson Preamp

I would like to start a discussion about what you think is the best sounding CJ Preamp. Just because the manufacturer needs to change to sell more boxes and Magazines need advertising dollars doesn't always mean that the sonics have improved. For example some audiophiles like the older art series over the new GAT Preamps and it's lesser siblings. Would like the informed opinions of those lucky audiophiles who have heard both. I like the old CJ sound but haven't heard the new offerings.

Can’t believe no one mentioned the Premier Ten.

The Ten is the one to get IMHO. Its similar circuit as the Premier 14 but with a hand made ladder network stepped attenuator (Only one CJ ever made). I also believe there is one less resistor in the circuit in the Ten over the 14. I also prefer the good old fashion Vol Knob rather then the newer button relay setups. Blech... The Premier Ten is the best, then the Premier 3, PV-12 w/phono, and finally the PV-10b w/phono. Don’t bother with anything else.

nice we revived this old thread... 👌

but will the next reply come in 2026?  🤣

@jjss49, nope.  The next reply is in 2023.

I have had an ET3SE and the ET5.  Bought both used; $1,800 for the ET3SE and $4,200 (new/demo) for the ET5.

I  did an A/B comparison and I think the ET5 is the best bang for the buck.  It's hard to make something so subjective a linear equation, but the ET5 costs 2-3 times as much as the ET3SE on the used market, but it sounds between 5 and 10 times better; clearer, more defined soundstage, etc.

Now, if I didn't have 2 kids going to college I would be looking at a now-discontinued GAT2...



Always good to see you. I wish that CJ would build a Reference Integrated Amp.

A model with increased current/ power output than CAV 45/45S2.


Happy Listening!


yes i agree that would be nice but at this point doubtful is my guess

since jeff f took over the company i feel the pace of innovation has slowed significantly

perhaps it was the covid period but my sense is that they have good business exporting to asian and european markets, raised prices and cut off marginal products to stay fully solvent, minimizing new product work, at least for the time being

especially with the war and tube supplies being a mess, especially power tubes, a new tube integrated would be most unwise to launch