Conrad Johnson Premier 350 ... an Amazing amplifier ...

joeinid

Active Member
Mar 15, 2011
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#1
Thanks to "turntable" for the heads up, I was able to score a Conrad Johnson Premier 350. I had no idea what I was in for with this baby. I love my Dartzeel NHB-108, but the Premier 350 has b@lls with seemingly unlimited power. Incredible dynamics! Huge soundstage and that characteristic CJ dimensionality. They really should come out with a re-issue or new, updated version. It can easily compete with the best of the best.

Joe
 

mep

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
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#2
Joe-Let's cut to the chase...aside from the larger testicular capacity, does the Cj 350 sound better than the NHB-108?
 

joeinid

Active Member
Mar 15, 2011
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#3
Joe-Let's cut to the chase...aside from the larger testicular capacity, does the Cj 350 sound better than the NHB-108?
Right now, I think I would choose the Dart over CJ 350 on the CR-1's. First of all, the speakers are not broken-in, the CJ 350 is coming out of a 4+ year hibernation and needs some time to re-acclimate and wake up. I'm using XLR to RCA adapters from the 15' Transparent interconnect cables to the CJ - not an ideal combo. But, I have to tell you I am loving the CJ 350. I know what I said about the Dart and it still stands. I am not using either with their ideal respective preamps and that could affect the balance but, the CJ 350 - after a long, long warm up is phenomenal. I do sense a slight forward balance to the treble with the CJ that I don't get/sense with the Dartzeel. There could be many reasons for that slight forwardness and seems to be source related as well. The Dartzeel is certainly more refined while the CJ seems a little more explosive. I do sense that the CJ 350 could overtake the Dart 108.
 
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mep

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
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#4
Thanks Joe. Honesty is always refreshing even if it becomes humbling at times.
 

joeinid

Active Member
Mar 15, 2011
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#5
I found it a little difficult to sum up my thoughts and get across my feelings. If I can hook up a GAT to the CJ 350, I think I'd be in a puddle on the floor. I don't know the full history on the CJ 350. I was told it was repaired once by CJ but CJ has no record of it coming back to them. I'd like to send it back to CJ at some point to get the once over and a clean bill of health from them. I'd feel better. The Pr 350 drives the CR-1's with ease and seems to go lower on the bass. The CR-1's expose so much detail in the recordings, it is amazing.
 
May 30, 2010
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#6
(...) There could be many reasons for that slight forwardness and seems to be source related as well. The Dartzeel is certainly more refined while the CJ seems a little more explosive. I do sense that the CJ 350 could overtake the Dart 108.
As I have owned both the Dart 108 and the cj 350 for a long time I can tell that IMHO you are spot on.

But the big variable will be the preamplifier. The first time I owned the 108 I liked it, but it was not until I owned the darTZeel NHB-18NS preamplifier that I could really appreciate its quality.

But if you would own a GAT the good choice would be the 350. (BTW, as the 350 has high gain, many other tube preamplfiers will sound noisy with it).

I find interesting that most cj 350 ex-owners miss the "explosive" dynamics of this amplifier - and most use exactly this word. Once you get used to the feeling of unrestrained dynamics of a 350, other amplifiers can seem anemic.

And yes, if your amplifier was in store for years you will need 200 hours burn-in before it sounds at its best and gives away the too "forward" sound.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,876
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#7
As I have owned both the Dart 108 and the cj 350 for a long time I can tell that IMHO you are spot on.

But the big variable will be the preamplifier. The first time I owned the 108 I liked it, but it was not until I owned the darTZeel NHB-18NS preamplifier that I could really appreciate its quality.

But if you would own a GAT the good choice would be the 350. (BTW, as the 350 has high gain, many other tube preamplfiers will sound noisy with it).

I find interesting that most cj 350 ex-owners miss the "explosive" dynamics of this amplifier - and most use exactly this word. Once you get used to the feeling of unrestrained dynamics of a 350, other amplifiers can seem anemic.

And yes, if your amplifier was in store for years you will need 200 hours burn-in before it sounds at its best and gives away the too "forward" sound.
Joe - Smokes...i agree with Microstrip, Turntable and the rest of the crew here... I have heard the 350...it is a bloody good amp. And while one might normally think 'midrange with some muscle' with a CJ SS amp...it actually has incredibly powerful, articulated bass in addition to CJ midrange sound. i heard them driving B&W 801s...wow they really blew me away. Incredibly good tightfisted control...and in an 85 pound amp. Very impressive...i very nearly bought it. It just was not the right time when i heard it. The key is the preamp, as Microstrip says. And with the GAT, smokes, that is a combination i would truly love to hear. And the 350 is a sight less expensive than the DTZL...giving you room to move to the GAT.

you might never look back...
 

joeinid

Active Member
Mar 15, 2011
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#8
As I have owned both the Dart 108 and the cj 350 for a long time I can tell that IMHO you are spot on.

But the big variable will be the preamplifier. The first time I owned the 108 I liked it, but it was not until I owned the darTZeel NHB-18NS preamplifier that I could really appreciate its quality.

But if you would own a GAT the good choice would be the 350. (BTW, as the 350 has high gain, many other tube preamplfiers will sound noisy with it).

I find interesting that most cj 350 ex-owners miss the "explosive" dynamics of this amplifier - and most use exactly this word. Once you get used to the feeling of unrestrained dynamics of a 350, other amplifiers can seem anemic.

And yes, if your amplifier was in store for years you will need 200 hours burn-in before it sounds at its best and gives away the too "forward" sound.
Thank you for confirming what I am hearing. I guess having 600+ wpc vs 160 wpc into 4 Ohms has something to do with it as well. I realize especially now, system matching is of utmost importance. I've gone in different directions and find myself torn between great gear, realizing I must complete the front end and stick with one manufacturer. The CR-1's are so revealing, EVERYTHING MATTERS. Compared to the 911mk3 and Dart 108, the Pr. 350 (as well as other CJ gear I've had) seems noisier to me. I assume gain is a component of the noise. I have to say the Dart 108 seems polite in comparison, while the Pr.350 seems more brawny. I think I've gained a couple of octaves on the bottom using the Pr. 350. Way more bass. In the next couple of months I'll need to make some decisions and am not sure what road I'll ultimately take.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,876
107
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#9
Thank you for confirming what I am hearing. I guess having 600+ wpc vs 160 wpc into 4 Ohms has something to do with it as well. I realize especially now, system matching is of utmost importance. I've gone in different directions and find myself torn between great gear, realizing I must complete the front end and stick with one manufacturer. The CR-1's are so revealing, EVERYTHING MATTERS. Compared to the 911mk3 and Dart 108, the Pr. 350 (as well as other CJ gear I've had) seems noisier to me. I assume gain is a component of the noise. I have to say the Dart 108 seems polite in comparison, while the Pr.350 seems more brawny. I think I've gained a couple of octaves on the bottom using the Pr. 350. Way more bass. In the next couple of months I'll need to make some decisions and am not sure what road I'll ultimately take.
Hi Joe, I've pm'd you. As to your observations...would support them...the good thing is that the noise floor of the GAT...zilch. and the 350 is actually quite good. and the combination (i would imagine) must be incredible. i was stunned at the level of detail that has come thru since putting in place over my ACT 2 which has now been moved on to a former owner of a CJ 17ls mk2. many reasons...noise floor is one. without doubt.
 

mep

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
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#10
Sounds like the 350 is a special amp. It's always nice to get confirmation from people who have owned both pieces like you did from Microstrip.
 

joeinid

Active Member
Mar 15, 2011
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#11
Sounds like the 350 is a special amp. It's always nice to get confirmation from people who have owned both pieces like you did from Microstrip.
I never expected to own one and I am thrilled to have received the opportunity. Sometimes I tend to be a little impatient with gear and if not for the feedback here, I may have done the unthinkable - I at least thought about selling it before giving it a full, fair test. It's not going anywhere. Now it needs a GAT to strut its stuff. :)
 

RogerD

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May 23, 2010
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BiggestLittleCity
#12

joeinid

Active Member
Mar 15, 2011
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#14
That is one word that I detest in audio.
Sorry. That's the first word to pop into my head. I could have said "organic" but I hate that word more ;) The Dart seems smoother and more even across the board. Nothing added or subtracted. The CJ 350 has more bass for sure. Since mine needs more break in to smooth it out, it seems a little more edgy/grainy/forward in comparison. Any better?

:)
 

joeinid

Active Member
Mar 15, 2011
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#17
Well what ever comes out of the comparison at least you have made up your mind , which is the most important .
Problem with audio is that there are so many variables to choose from:D
Thank you. I think the chase is just as important as finally getting "there".
 

FrantzM

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
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#18
Hi

Could this just be a matter of .... POWER. The TAD CR-1 is a 86 dB speaker... I would think that the more powerful amplifier will sound , well, more powerful. Also how many day have you heard both to form a more ...well... objective impression? Were the level somewhat matched? We are not talking about precision 0.1 dB thing , just a gross SPL reading with same material with something like the Rat Shack SPL meter?
I am now a fan of huge power regardless of speaker sensitivity ... 86 dB is low sensitivity and I wouldn't be surprised that real measured sensitivity would be much lower around 83 dB call this a hunch... I have heard the TAD and this is reference speaker ... It requires a bit of power though to give its best. I am a disciple of Tom Danley on the subject of amplifier power (and other things too) , the more the better unless you're dealing with 94 dB + and even then :) ...

Joel.. If I were you I would slow down on the purchase of gear and simply enjoy one of the wonderful amplifiers you have .. I will stress there is no condescension in this advice. I do know the feeling of new toys and had to force myself to come off the endless experimentation.. Your stable of gear is superb and should likely provide you with hours of joy. Enjoy the Music
 
May 30, 2010
15,211
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Portugal
#19
I think its better to ask , " what didnt microstrip own ???:D
Andromedaaudio,

And I can assure you know less than one third of it ... :) For my defense I consider that I have never owned a piece of equipment I could consider a crap. Also, as I am prepared to technically test any audio equipment I often buy used equipment - otherwise it would be out of my reach. And once you get something for a nice price it is not difficult to find a friend to become the new owner when you want to change.

Once I was having a beer with a good friend and we tried tho to do a list of all the turntables we have owned. I won by a small margin, but our list was really impressive.
 
May 30, 2010
15,211
561
113
Portugal
#20
(...) I have to say the Dart 108 seems polite in comparison, while the Pr.350 seems more brawny. I think I've gained a couple of octaves on the bottom using the Pr. 350. Way more bass. In the next couple of months I'll need to make some decisions and am not sure what road I'll ultimately take.
At the risk of repeating myself, all is a question of properly matching cables and speakers. Used with wrong system the Dartzeel will sound polite as you say. But I have to say I heard the Dartzeel sounding great and very "impolite" with a pair of JMLab Grande Utopia!
 

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