Description

Kind of an eclectic system that was created by budget finds and internet-direct purchases. Fortunately I've found surprisingly good synergy.

For the future, looking to complete the front end with a used cj preamp. For the price the Sierra-1s have been great in reigniting my interest in music, but would love to explore other speakers when the time and finances are right.
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Components Toggle details

    • Ascend Acoustics Sierra-1
    Non-fatiguing and internet direct speakers that constantly surprise me.
    • Sunfire HRS-8
    Matches cosmetically and sonically with the piano black Ascends.
    • Conrad Johnson PV-14LSII
    Tube c-j preamp
    • Conrad Johnson MF-2300A
    Bought used for $500, which has opened the door to my love of champagne gold.
    • Logitech Squeezebox Toch
    The most versatile transporter you'll get for the money
    • Music Hall Maverick
    SACD Capable bought used through Audiogon.
    • PS Audio DigitalLink III
    Great little DAC, but have been looking at the Eastern Electric DACs coming out.
    • MIT AVT3
    Throughout the system
    • Signal Cable Magic Power Digital Reference
    For the pre, DAC, and Maverick
    • ATS Room Treatments
    This should have been a DIY project...but I simply didn't have the time or patience.
    • Vibrapod Isolators II
    Under the DAC and Preamp
    • Pangea Audio Sorbothane Feet
    Under amp

Comments 24

222222&text=jo
I had this exact system...a PV14 and a 2300A. I always thought it sounded great but, I have a small sampling pool. I just got an ET 3 SE....waiting for it to burn in.

Cheers,

joemarsh

222222&text=zs
Nice system!

I'm about to pull the trigger on a CJ PV-15 & MF-2500A within the next couple of days. Your system and the comments helped me decide.

My girlfriend asked me to build her a system nearly from scratch. She has a Denon 3808ci for TV/movies, 4 zones of Sonos, and an Oppo 83SE. She gave me carte blanch and a nice, hefty budget. We're getting the PV-15 and MF-2500A here on A'gon for $3200 - a steal as far as I'm concerned.

We don't have speakers yet, but we have a short list: JM Labs Electra 1027 Be's are the front runners...I've had JM Labs in my system for a while now. We're also going to listen to Paradigm Studio 100s, Acoustic Zen Adagios and Revel F208s to pair with the CJ gear.

I also thank you for your comments on the PS Audio DAC. I might not need it, as I'm going to have the mail room Sonos modded, so I may go direct into the PV-15 from there.

Cheers!

zstokes

222222&text=hi
Nice clean system Toro. How do you like the PS Audio DLIII? I am looking for a DAC for PC audio use.

highend64

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Owner
System edited: Updated equipment.

Ag insider logo xs@2xtoro3

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Owner
Thanks for the warm compliments, Invenio! I actually just joined that forum prior to looking at your post. I actually stumbled upon Conrad-Johnson while purchasing a Parasound P3 preamp in Tucson. The seller had just taken the MF2300 out of one of their customer's system and were going to list it on ebay. Bought the amp for $500 and haven't looked back.

I've been very reluctant to move away from the Ascends, but I wouldn't mind checking out some Proacs and perhaps an Eastern Electric DAC. Someday I'll get there...but for now, I'm pretty satisfied with the synergy and the new addition (PF14LSII).

And, love your system and the look of the Evolution 2000!

Ag insider logo xs@2xtoro3

222222&text=in
Awesome system. I am a big fan of Conrad Johnson equipment myself. I currently own the Conrad Johnson Evolution 2000 amplifier and the PV-12 preamp. I also had owned their PF-2 preamp in the past. I find their sound to be unparalleled.

If you want to see my system you can find it here on "Conrad Johnson Owners.com". You may want to check the site out as it's a completely Conrad Johnson audio equipment dedicated forum site. Or you can just google "Conrad Johnson Owners". Kind of cool to have a dedicated site just for Conrad Johnson equipment.

Well, like I said. Congrats on the system it's really beautiful.

invenio78

222222&text=ll
Toro3,

We have all asked and received help from someplace at one time or another...happy to be of some help. Good luck and pls post your findings!

Lloyd

lloydelee21

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Owner
I feel like you should get a commission. Thanks for clearing everything up and giving me direction (again). Really appreciate it. Brent Jesse and and the EAT tube dampers are things I'll follow up on.

Again, thank you - as well as Smortega, Jax, and MJ -- for all the great insight. You have no idea how much it's appreciated.

Ag insider logo xs@2xtoro3

222222&text=ll
Hi Toro3,

Your preamp uses 2 6C4 tubes (also known as 8080 from what i understand). (it will NOT work with 6922s...those work in my CJ preamp, and i was just using an example...sorry for any confusion.)

If you email Brent Jessee at audiotubes.com i have done business with Brent for the last 7 years, and bought over a dozen high quality NOS tubes from him. Mullard 8080s should be quite good assuming they are quiet which they should be. The EAT tube dampers are (in my experience) amazing, and i will not remove them from the key signal tubes (in my DAC and in my preamp). period. good luck.

lloydelee21

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Owner
Lloydelee,

Again...great information and direction. Here's what I've been trying to wrap my head around since I'm a newbie with tubes: Which tubes can I thrown in the PV14LS2?

Right now it has Mullard 8080s, but I've seen posts that state recommendations for the EC90s, cj website for the 6C4s, and your recommendation for the 6922s. I'm assuming all of these tubes work with this preamp, I'm just curious (and perhaps even cautious) to as what other tubes may work in addition to ones already mentioned.

EAT tube damper looks interesting. Good stuff, Lloydelee.

Ag insider logo xs@2xtoro3

222222&text=ll
Hi Toro3,

Glad to be of some help! BTW, i still own and love CJ preamps...i have 'upgraded' my tubes from the stock Electroharmonix to a pair of Amperex 6922s from Brent Jessee Tubes...you may wish to give this a try...huge difference in my CJ. audiotubes.com i think.

Also found EAT tube dampers made a big improvement...the images solidified dramatically along with the solidity of each note, and the separation of instruments...a slight blur disappeared. Costs like 19 bucks each EAT tube damper. YMMV. Meanwhile...enjoy!!!

lloydelee21

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Owner
Hey Llooydelee21,

Thanks for all of your input regarding the cj line. Really informative! I'm pretty happy with the 14LS2. It's pretty neutral, perhaps not as warm as I expected, but the Sierra's are pretty non-fatiguing speakers. I figure I'd look at tube amps sometime in the far far future. Thanks again for sharing your experience. Really helped in figuring things out.

Ag insider logo xs@2xtoro3

222222&text=ll
Good luck! I have heard great things about 14ls2...used to own the 14l...I have had a CJ preamp in my system for 12 years straight! Enjoy! I heard the cj2300 and at the time bought the mv60 instead. I thought it had a special magic, and with the ability to monoblock them, something you may wish to consider as well. mv60SE with the 65500 tube are supposely more linear sounding with far greater bass and soundstaging.

lloydelee21

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Owner
Sold the Wadia, going to sell the Parasound, and purchased the PV14LS2. Next change will be the speakers, but that's gonna be a while since I'm pretty content with the Ascends.

Ag insider logo xs@2xtoro3

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Owner
Ah, never mind. Jax already gave a pretty good perspective of the PV14.

Ag insider logo xs@2xtoro3

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Owner
Not too sure if I'll get much response, but any thoughts on a c-j PV14L Series II matched with the c-j 2300A?

Smortega -- Haven't tried the analog outs. Supposedly it's dramatic depending on the DAC you're using. I may be moving down to PHX in the next few months...figure it'd be a good opportunity to try it out when setting the system back up.

Ag insider logo xs@2xtoro3

222222&text=sm
Hi Toro3
Congrats on purchasing the Squeezebox Touch. It's just an outrageously cost effective little gizmo even when you throw in a DAC and upgraded power supply. I'm interested on what difference you find running it through your DAC vs using the analogs out.
It's also great to see your system posted. As I'm home getting over a stomach bug (my idea of physical effort is using the turntable instead of the digital sources) it occurs that a nice addition to virtual systems would be a place for software.

smortega

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Owner
Hey Jax,

Thanks for the warm compliment! I only wish that the Classic had a remote, otherwise it would be at the top of my list. Weighing in at 85lbs, the MF2300 is built like a tank. I would only assume that the preamps are just as well made.

I've been checking out your system for the past few months for inspiration and ideas. My flexy rack didn't come out nearly as nice, which brought way to the Salamander rack. Anyways, love your system, and the pictures on the walls couldn't be classier. Awesome job!

Ag insider logo xs@2xtoro3

222222&text=ja
Hi Toro,

Very nice system. I'm a big CJ fan myself. I've owned the Classic SE and the PV14LS2. The Classic SE was awesome and true to it's name with the warmer classic CJ sound. Holographic and rich. The PV14LS2 was also excellent but not as warm, far more neutral. CJ doesn't make a bad preamp. I highly recommend them especially with your CJ amp. Anyway, congrats on a lovely system. Cheers!

jaxwired

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Owner
The P3 has been a great preamp, which has made me slow on pulling the trigger on a used cj. I've been perfectly happy with the combination for the past year and a half. With that being said, tubes have repeatedly crossed my mind as a whole new experience.

Llowde, you're correct. I prefer the warmer sound. The ET3 and 17LS have been at the top of my list for a while. Haven't seen too many ET3s on Audiogon. If I'm patient, I figure I could wait a year or two for the prices to go down (retail and used).

Just got the squeezebox touch -- what an awesome little unit. Looks like I'll be selling my Wadia in the near future.

Ag insider logo xs@2xtoro3

222222&text=ll
Hi Toro,

I liked the ACT2 pre, which was in the generation you mentioned where the 'honey sound' was minimized. Having now compared to the new GAT, i think this is absolutely true. the GAT is far, far more natural and yet at the same time has a much lower noise floor and is far more detailed. Incredible.

If you like the description of GAT, try ET3. If you like the slightly warmer sound of earlier CJ, try the 17LS.

The PFR is excellent for the money, though i think you might find compared to the ET3, it will show its age a bit in terms of sheer resolution while remaining exceptionally natural. Just one man's opinion. Good luck and pls us posted!

lloydelee21

222222&text=mj
I had the P3...also had a CJ SS amp. The P3 is excellent and will be tough to beat for the money. Personally, I found the less expensive CJ pre's a bit dull for my taste (especially when compared to their SS amps). Don't sell the P3 short. It's great.

mjmch2003

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Owner
Thanks for the nice compliment, Lloydelee!

Got any recommendations for preamps? I've almost gone full circle after reading up on the majority of the cj preamps. I was originally interested in the PFR, but have taken interest in the 12A, 16LS (too much, though), 17LS, ET3, and Classic. From what I've read the typical cj sound was minimized between 1998 to 2008.

Ag insider logo xs@2xtoro3

222222&text=ll
Nice system, and have enjoyed CJ preamps for many years. enjoy your great system!

lloydelee21

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