An upgrade in pre-amplification or not...

Feb 3, 2012
G'day Maties, greetings from Melb;

Although I have been extremely pleased with how the system is settling in very nicely, especially the CLX's driven with CJ monoblocks, and having placed in the Genalex Gold Lions 6922 driver tubes on both monoblocks, they're sounding superb!

All was going well until... I received a call from my trusted CJ buddy, who happens to have the LP275m's and a wonderful CT5. I know this preamp very well and am very keen to go for one, since I've previously had the ACT2 for quite a number of years. Therefore, I'm well aware of the sound quality in all three preamps.

When I say three, they're as follows:
1. ET7
2. ET5
3. CT5
PV15 (currently using)

Now I have the opportunity to go for either one of these, and although I've listed them in order from 1 to 3, it doesn't necessarily correspond to their sound and my preference. Although I spent quite a while with each one of these pre's, I very much prefered the sound of the CT5, and the PV15, which I'm currently using.

I noticed the ET7 & 5 are very fine preamps, such that they bring out the best of the music, unhindered, clearer, with a very smooth overall drive factor to it, such that they control the monoblocks very efficiently.
On another note, the CT5 uses the notorious 6N30P tube, which I'm very used but was temperamental with the ACT2. Outstanding performance I must say but very erratic in reliability. Over the years the ACT2 went through a few fixes, plus an upgrade but still had its moments, and the most annoying one of them all, was that hiss...!

Now with the PV15 in place, very high level of musicality from the wonderful sounding Mullards M8080's, that lush mid-range and extended airy highs, with a musical low bass to it, not a heft and thump compared to the ACT2 or CT5, and the best of all, zero hiss!

Now my question is to the experts:
1. Is it worth while considering the CT5?
2. Should I pass on the CT5 and focus more towards the ET5 or ET7?
3. Should I just forget the whole thing and just enjoy the PV15 as is, and as I've been doing (highly recommended by the wifey).

Another thing I was wondering is at what percentage of improvement would I achieve? Would it be only around 10-15%... Unlike power-amps, where the performance improvement was much higher, therefore the upgrade was more justifiable to me and made more sense.

Am I going around in circles between these preamps, in which case I might as well wait it out and settle for a GAT ultimately.

What's the best advise here and which preamp is going to deliver the highest level of performance improvement overall?

Cheers, RJ
May 30, 2010
The CT5 is a fabulous preamplifier - I have used if with a cj premier 350 for sometime and I still keep it as spare parts for the GAT , they share many common parts, including the control board ... A lively and joyous sound, if we can use this word for sound. I got it used, and probably represents the best value for money I have ever had in preamplifiers. The only serious limitation was its inability to drive low input impedance amplifiers, not an issue with cj amplifiers.

I find astonishing that you refer that it had hiss - my unit is really silent, and was one of the few cj preamplfiers that could be used with the very high gain cj premier 350. The same way the ACT2 was also noise free, although the probability of getting a noisy tube was higher, it had 4 triodes in parallel per channel. I got my tubes from a net supplier in Germany, burned-in and tested them for noise and distortion. About one in every four or five 6h30 tubes had noise problems, I just smashed them to be sure they would never go in equipment again!

Please present my apologies to your wife for being so enthusiastic on the CT5! :)
Feb 3, 2012
Thanks for that mate, it certainly makes sense. After all, it is a scaled down version of the ACT2, and delivers equal performance of the ACT2 in every regard.

Yes, my ACT2 did have a significant amount of hiss. It was quite annoying as I could hear it well and good from the listening position. Once the music started, the hiss could be ignored only again to be annoyed during quiet passages. Apart from that the ACT2 had other issues... So when I finally got it upgraded and it was working fine, I managed to find a worthy owner, who actually collects CJ vintage gear. He also happens to have the original ART preamp in pristine condition. Drives his Martin Logan Monoliths with the big premier 8A monoblocks, combined with the ART pre it's one hell of an experience!

Quite similar to our reference system back then, with the Apogee Divas and prem8's plus the ART pre. I can confirm the Monoliths are far more transparent than the Divas. Which is a very similar effect I get from the CLX's as well.

So it is the CT5, I've placed the order and confirmed delivery for next week. I have a very strong feeling that this combination will be exactly what I'm looking for in a full CJ pre-power match up to drive the CLX's effortlessly in full swing.

Once received, will post a proper review.
Thanks again for your confirmation on the CT5, much appreciated. Cheers
Sep 8, 2010
I just want to second the recommendation for the CT5. IMHO, it's also the best looking design of the three!

I, too, have paired it with the Premier 350, and haven't had any hissing, except for induced ground loops when connected to my video gear (not the fault of the CT5). I've also had no problems whatsoever with the 6N30P tubes. Enjoy!
Feb 3, 2012
Thanks for your feedback Maties,

In fact I spoke to the boss man yesterday arvo, and he confirmed the following:
1. Added ground plate placed in
2. Tubes selected for balanced triodes, low noise & low microphonics
3. Full service done
4. New tubes placed at no extra charge.

He said the thing is sounded fantastic, dam close to the ET7. He also mentioned a few extra Teflons have been added in the power supply, hence to give it plenty of time to burn in. As this will be my final preamp, I ordered all the goodies /upgrades that are possible on the CT5.
Also claims this combination with the LP125m's driving the CLX's is pretty much SOTA, which is good great then I can finally lay it all to rest. That's where the train stops!

Will report in due time when finally installed into the system. Cheers and have a good one, RJ
Nov 24, 2018
Klipsch Klipschorn

Conrad Johnson Premier 11 amp

Conrad Johnson PV 12 with phono line pre-amp

Would you rehab CJ amp & pre-amp or sell and get new equipment other than CJ. if sell what would you replace CJ with?
Feb 3, 2012
Premier 11 & pv12 was probably the most enjoyable and musical pre-power combination one could possibly have at the time! That particular match up was just marvelous driving a pair of Quad ESL63's. That's the stat system I first started with.

To out-perform this type of sound:
Airy extended highs
Lush mid-range
Musical bass lines
Sheer musicality, which is the hall mark of CJ, I'm affraid nothing can replace CJ, other than its very own...

Even then, these two amplifiers are a real classic with a classic type of signature sound to them. When you want to surpass the above attributes get ready to spend a whole lot more! Sometimes after spending a considerable amount of time, money and effort trying to better CJ, you may find yourself back in full circle.

I would never replace CJ amplification as they have been part of my musical experience since 3 decades. I have ventured away at one point, tried various top notch stuff, fingers burnt and nearly ended up homeless at one point, although jobless was quite common...

There are plenty of others out there that will not better the sound but rather sound different or more closely related to the actual event, after all that's the main goal of every highend designer.

Even though these other lofty offerings are available, you have to personally try them out and compare for yourself. Other gear is immensely important, such as speakers, source equipment and accessories, in order to determine what kind of sound you're after overall.

After going through the motions, I found myself always going back to CJ, just can't beat it's musicality.
Cheers, RJ

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. A place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss existing and new audio products, music servers, music streamers and computer audio, digital to audio convertors (DACS), turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel to reel, speakers, headphones, tube amplifiers and solid state amplification. Founded in 2010 What's Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing