A small upgrade in amplification

Feb 3, 2012
599
1
18
Melbourne
#1
As their slogan goes " it just sounds right"...

I've had far too many amplifiers in various types of systems over a few decades. Previously owned CJ dealerships, started out as a hobby grew into a passion or as the good wife says an "obsession" which has helped me into a varied form of character, one that not only enjoys high quality music but also enjoys and appreciates the art of listening to good recorded music.

Having burnt fingers along the way and leading up to upgrades for no good reason other than "must have that" syndrome... Has resulted in too many mistakes not only costing money but also hardships in life...

After selling off the most lovable monoblocks I've ever owned, which were the Premier 8's very long ago in a far away place, I thought I'd never be able to afford another pair of CJ monoblocks again. Several others took its place, such as VTL & Manley Labs, and Melos for a short while, until I ventured back into stereo amplifiers. The cost of CJ amplification was rising fast from even the entry level to the SOTA, prices ranging from $7500 - $40,000.

However, once in a lifetime something superb comes down from the heavens, and if you're patient enough that item/s could well be in your living room in no time. I know of a few here who have managed to acquire the ART stereo amp, and what a marvelous amplifier it is. Probably all you would ever require in a top quality, high performance tube amplifier.

And this point leads to a small upgrade that I have been considering for quite a while. I was looking for a no-nonsense approach, monoblocks that are fairly easy to maintain, given the number of tubes on board, and must have that CJ musicality. This would also be my last and final amplifier of choice and would be just the right amount of power to drive a full range stat such as the CLX's.

So introducing to you my most recent update- I managed to acquire the CJ LP125m monoblocks. It certainly took a while but was well worth the wait.

The amplifiers will be picked up on Monday and I know how these things capture every subtle detail with finesse, take full control over panels and have a superb grip on stats, they are simply outstanding! Would I have waited a bit longer to settle for a newer pair or consider the LP275m's or perhaps the top of the line ART 300's, maybe... But this type of power and expenditure is definitely not in my ethics of "high quality music reproduction". This can be achieved by careful planning, thoughtful expenditure and genuine relationships.

Will post some pics once all set up properly in the shoebox... Now at least I can rest with ease having these beauties looking forward to driving a pair of CLX's in due time. At this point the Ethos stats will do just fine, as there are a few priorities to get through first...

Cheers to all who own monoblocks, look after them well and keep that music live!

Big woof! RJ
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,086
41
48
Beverly Hills, CA
#2
Congratulations on getting the cj LP125s! I’m very happy for you!

Please give us a full report when you get them into the system!

WOOF WOOF!
 
Feb 3, 2012
599
1
18
Melbourne
#3
Thanks for your message Ron,
Good to hear from you.
I certainly will do up a proper write up once all is settled in well. The good thing is there isn't any burn-in time required because these amps have been running in for nearly 10 years! So that part is well taken care of.

The only thing I need to consider at this stage is component placement, as a full overhaul is required due to cables + interconnect length. The shoe box will have to accommodate...
This is going to be a rush, since I only have Mon night to attend to this, and then my work week begins on Tues and I'm flat out till Sat. So I guess only one listening session is possible, what a shame, until the following week!
I'll take it step by step, slowly slowly...
Cheers mate, RJ
 

LL21

Active Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,550
2
38
#4
Congrats Big Dog RJ! Look forward to reading about them when they have settled in! Enjoy!
 
May 30, 2010
13,977
48
48
Portugal
#5
Great to see you are back to monoblock's - I have found that they are really a different world in cj electronics. I do not know about cj official advice, but I have been using the KT150's in the ART monoblocks with great success. As far as I see it, it is also a question of tube selection - most KT150 tubes are withing the range of the bias adjustment, a few can be out of range. I got matched octets - a little more expensive, but with higher probability of being around center values and all of them are biased close to the same position, similar to what I had with KT120's.

Although I am wavering among amplifiers with the Soundlab's, my reference system is still the GAT2 + ART monoblock's.
 
Feb 3, 2012
599
1
18
Melbourne
#6
G'day gentleman,

It's truly a blessing to have these amplifiers finally in place!
Last night or this morning I was up till 5am rearranging the system, cables, interconnects, power cords etc. The wifey thought a Tsunami had struck with the mess... Anyway, all is well and managed to fit everything in nicely, of course preference was given to the monoblocks. My only worry is the TT now sits on top of the Mac sacd player, neither of them don't seem to mind, especially with the Mac built like a tank, I think the feather weight Rega seems to be on a solid platform...

The LP125m's are superb in every way possible! Very similar characteristics compared to the previous Classic 60se, in terms of musicality and that glorious CJ signature sound is fairly identical.

The most significant differences are:
1. The scale and weight of the performance is far greater, also allows you to look into and feel the music, as if you're with or part of the group playing!

2. The grip it has on the stats and transient control is just marvelous!

3. Thanks to a slightly higher input sensitivity, I receive all the necessary impact of a very live scale with tremendous realism that was not quite there before unless turned up. However, I don't think it's just the power rather the current on tap and that ample amount of drive capability it has over the other amps I've used in the past.

4. The start /stop acceleration and speed is the greatest factor it has over the Classic 60 and with the KT120's in place they're just cruising along... Effortless sense of dynamics, very open and does not over-power the music nor over-energize anything. I've kept the bass levels the same settings as when used with the classic 60 and there seems to be a much greater level of synergy when it comes to a fine balance of transient control and impact when called for.

This full level of control is truly remarkable, something I only experienced when we had the Apogee's or Infinity's driven by 350w Manley's. However, musicality was lacking big time in those massive setups. Perhaps the premier 8's excelled in this area but only just one pair of those were ever sold back in the day...

It is now way past 4am closer to 5, and although I could go on and on like the Energizer Bunny, I need to get some rest for a busy week ahead, and I'm bloody exhausted from all the kneeling down and bending side ways to place things... Should have hit the gym this morning.

Cheers to all with monoblocks in whatever size or form, and specifically to CJ mono-amplifiers, there musicality and finesse along with everything you require for large scale music to small jazz ensembles is more than marvelous!
Cheers & a very loud woof! RJ
 

joeinid

Active Member
Mar 15, 2011
1,534
0
36
NY
#7
Congratulations RJ. So happy for you. I love your enthusiasm. Enjoy your new amps in the best of health.
 
Jul 18, 2014
583
14
18
#8
+1 also loving your enthusiasm RJ and that you are appreciating your new amps in the best way we can, excited and playing music through the night! Bring on the music, joy is very the healthy natural state of things... so enjoy!
 
Mar 28, 2012
40
0
0
#10
Beautiful system (and cute cat). Are those the Classic 60se amps in your profile, or are they new LP125s?
Also, how do you like you Mac CD player?
 
Feb 3, 2012
599
1
18
Melbourne
#11
Hi there BG,
Thanks for your reply.
Yes, these are the LP125m monoblocks, not brand new though, carefully used by the dealer's personal demo system, which I traded up from my previous Classic 60se.
I always wanted to figure out how the heck the cat gets in nearly every pic I would take... This is the older fella, the younger one is probably somewhere behind biting on speaker cable...
Both are from the rescue shelter, get along quite well and both enjoy the music!
The Mac sacd player was not on my list at all, until I was very keen on the mighty MC452, which drove the Sonus Faber Stradivari's beautifully. Right after the Demo, I walked out with the Mac CD! Again traded up from a previous Cayin tube CD player, which I had acquired from the same dealer who offers SF & Mac, the full line all the way up-to the Extrema's that cost over 100 grand!

The CD players on my list were Cary, Marantz and ARC, which I tried all of them at home when I had the Quads (ESL2905). All three were fantastic in their own way and had very different signature sound. However, the moment I listened to the Mac and saw it's build quality along with that striking front face plate, I just had to get it! It was the most solid build of all and a very grounded sound to it, such that it didn't seem to add or alter the music as compared to the others. It offered a more transparent sound, especially on electrostats.
The Cary was a very sweet sound and quite enjoyable, whereas the Arc Ref 7 & 8 had an expansive soundstage with an added sense of weight to all the notes... It sort of boosted the full frequency with a sense of heaviness to the soundstage or call it "thick". To me it was not as quick nor transparent compared to the Mac. Perhaps on a different system the Arc would excell...
I think the Ref 9 is a much superior CD unit but also comes at a hefty price tag in Aus, close to 20grand.

Now Mac offers a newer unit plus an upgraded transport, I've heard it and it's awesome!
At the moment I hardly have much time to listen, if at all only 2 nights a week and that's just around 4hrs each session. So I think I'll just give it a rest for now and enjoy whenever I get a chance. Retirement would be nice, then I can sit back and relax but they all say we're too young to relax, so the hard work continues...
Cheers mate and have a good one.
RJ
 
Feb 3, 2012
599
1
18
Melbourne
#12
G'day all music fans, audio enthusiasts and fanatics...
Just wanted to send out a thanks to the messages received regarding the placement of the TT on top of the mac CD unit. I should have known better... As there was definitely some unwanted noise being picked up along the way, as duely noted...

I thought this would be just a short term placement until all else is being built, however it seems like this won't be happening any time soon, darn.

Therefore, obviously for better reasons, I have placed the TT on its own shelf, as recommended, isolated on the Auralex platform, supported by nordost sort kones. The CD unit now rest on the bottom shelf under the preamp on its own as well, and the phonostages plus power supply rests under the TT shelf on the floor/carpet, for now... Supported by fairly high rubber mounts providing adequate ventilation around and under each unit.

I must say the benefits are quite obvious two fold! For 1: no more unwanted hums, buzzes or sudden noises and 2: the TT does not vibrate or pick up unwanted airborne vibrations during bass lines even at relatively moderate levels. This is marvelous since now much more of the music flows through with superb clarity and soundstaging, such that now I'm beginning to realize the full potential of the CJ monoblocks.
"Mighty fine" I would say.
So thanks for the suggestions, they were very valuable indeed!
Cheers, RJ
 
Feb 3, 2012
599
1
18
Melbourne
#13
After another long hard working week, I decided to power up the system for a wonderful session...
One of the 6922 tubes on the monoblocks failed! There was a bright white flash and then continued to flash like something was cooking on high heat... So, I immediately turned off the amp, replaced the tube with a spare 6922, and issue solved!
Still need to order another one, as I've got only one spare remaining.

For about two weeks, I was also trying out the ET series preamps, ET3se, 5 & 7.
Enjoyed them all very much, the ET3se I'm very familiar with as I had this one before the ACT2. I really enjoyed my time with the ET7, it was a marvelous preamplifier indeed.
Apart from the superb match up all of these had with the monoblocks, all three of them had a certain level of hiss. I clearly remember even the ACT2 having this as well but more apparent than normal. Apart from the ACT2, comparing the ET series preamps vs the performance I'm getting from the simple PV15, the performance upgrade is only marginal, around 20-30%. Hence, this is not justifiable for me to spend the extra dollars. As compared with the CLX's and the monoblocks, which was over 50-60%, actually closer to 70% of an improvement, I just had to make a decision.

I'm just equally happy with the level of performance from the pv15, and most of all zero noise, absolutely no hiss whatsoever! The musicality from the M8080's is simply superb and matches very nicely with the monoblocks. Therefore, returned the last one yesterday, which was the ET7 on loan. Just before returning it, I listened to an LP from Miles Davis, Sketches of Spain, wow what a beautiful performance!

Anyway, I'll wait a bit for now and see what's on offer for next year, I'm sure CJ will introduce some wonderful preamps for 2019. I'll be very eager to learn what they have.
Cheers to all, RJ
 

bgiliberti

New Member
Mar 28, 2012
40
0
0
#14
...
I'm just equally happy with the level of performance from the pv15, and most of all zero noise, absolutely no hiss whatsoever! The musicality from the M8080's is simply superb and matches very nicely with the monoblocks. Therefore, returned the last one yesterday, which was the ET7 on loan. Just before returning it, I listened to an LP from Miles Davis, Sketches of Spain, wow what a beautiful performance!...
Agree with you on the Mullard M8080s. Nothing quite like them.
 
Feb 3, 2012
599
1
18
Melbourne
#15
M8080 Mullards

Agree with you on the Mullard M8080s. Nothing quite like them.
G'day mate, been a while since we heard from you. Very happy to hear that you're enjoying those tubes on your preamp, absolutely musical indeed!

Speaking of which, another 6922 tube just failed again! Now in the other monoblock, dam! It's not even been more than 6 months if I can recall, I purchased three pairs of tubes (2 pairs of M8080's & 1 pair of EH6922's). I needed the M8080's for both the preamp and input stages on the monoblocks. But now both 6922's have gone... Good thing I had a few spares. Oh great for the love of tubes!

I better order some tomorrow, any advise on some reliable 6922's? Other than what I've been ordering from EH...
Cheers, RJ
 

bgiliberti

New Member
Mar 28, 2012
40
0
0
#16
G'day mate, been a while since we heard from you. Very happy to hear that you're enjoying those tubes on your preamp, absolutely musical indeed!

Speaking of which, another 6922 tube just failed again! Now in the other monoblock, dam! It's not even been more than 6 months if I can recall, I purchased three pairs of tubes (2 pairs of M8080's & 1 pair of EH6922's). I needed the M8080's for both the preamp and input stages on the monoblocks. But now both 6922's have gone... Good thing I had a few spares. Oh great for the love of tubes!

I better order some tomorrow, any advise on some reliable 6922's? Other than what I've been ordering from EH...
Cheers, RJ
Not about 6922s, but FWIW, I got a couple of M8080s direct from CJ that went bad prematurely (about 2 months, I think), and they were glad to replace them, even though we both agreed it wasn't their fault.

On the subject, what would you think about replacing each 6922 with a pair of M8080? I've never liked the 6922, which is why I think the Classic One sounds a shade better than the Classic Two. CJ only went to the 6922s in that model because the supply of reliable M8080s was diminishing. It wasn't to improve the sound. Obviously, it would require some rewiring, but it's not that big a deal if you are handy. I think the M8080 is livelier and more detailed than the 6922, and might be a good tweak.
 

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