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Vol. 12, No. 1 Spring/Summer, 2009



NEW PRODUCTS

Conrad-Johnson

Conrad-Johnson Classic preamplifierInterestingly, the two newest preamplifiers from Conrad-Johnson, the Classic and the GAT, are the most affordable and the highest performance preamplifiers in their line. In the Classic, available as a line stage for $1750 and with phono built in for $2500, CJ has used all of the expertise gained in designing products like the GAT to bring audiophiles a very musically-satisfying preamplifier for a very fair price. The Classic faithfully reproduces the harmonic structure of complex musical passages, preserving the distinctive tonal character of each instrument and voice. The space of the sound stage and the ambience of the concert hall are conveyed in realistic, three dimensional perspective. Individual instruments are precisely located within that three dimensional space. Musical transients are reproduced naturally, with realistic impact, but without the artificial enhancement which characterizes so many "hi-fi" components. Never imposing its own distractions, the Classic invites the listener to enjoy the musical performance. Both the line and phono stages are tube, zero-feedback, triode circuits, and the line stage is DC-coupled to a buffer stage whose low output impedance allows the use of long cables and matching to the input impedance of any power amplifier. Premium quality component parts are used in the Classic to assure full realization of the circuit's potential and to dependably sustain that performance for years to come.

In late breaking news, Conrad-Johnson has just decided to release a Special Edition of the Classic preamplifier, the Classic SE. The controls, features, and basic circuitry remain the same, but the sonics benefit from strategic parts upgrades. Specifically, series resistors in the line stage are replaced with Vishay metal-foil resistors, and polypropylene by- pass capacitors ( on the output coupling capacitors and regulated power supply capacitors) are replaced with CJD Teflon capacitors. The Classic SE phono stage gets similar parts upgrades to the line stage circuit. The sonic performance improvement is immediately noticeable as higher resolution, finer gradations in dynamics, purer transients, and increased weight and body in the sound. It all adds up to a very nice improvement, making the Classic SE a near state of the art contender at the very modest pricing of $2350 for the linestage and $3500 with phono. Owners of the standard versions can also have the upgrades performed on their units.

Conrad-Johnson GAT preamplifierThe GAT Preamplifier ($20,000) embodies Conrad-Johnson's latest advances in line-stage preamplifier technology. We believe that it will be recognized as one of the reference standards for line-stage preamplifier performance. The GAT Preamplifier is a vacuum-tube, line-stage preamplifier that looks as good as it sounds and is convenient and easy to use. It features input selection and level adjustment by microprocessor-controlled relays while level and balance can be adjusted in 100 steps of approximately .7 dB per step. These microprocessor controlled relays use gold-plated silver contacts and are located right at the input connectors, keeping signal paths short to minimize crosstalk between channels and inputs. All functions can be operated by remote control. The circuitry of the GAT Preamplifier is elegant in its simplicity. The audio circuit consists of a single stage comprised of parallel sections of a miniature dual triode vacuum tube. This amplifier stage is coupled to the preamplifier outputs through a high-current MOSFET buffer, which achieves a very low output impedance that makes the GAT extremely flexible in the choice of interconnect cables and amplifiers. The vacuum-tubes are isolated by a suspension system designed to minimize microphonics. The dramatic casework features attractive clear Lucite tube guards outside the chassis, allowing for easy access for tube replacement. Without going into excruciating detail, let it suffice to say that only the finest available parts are used with each part being selected on the basis of sound quality and durability. The GAT is built without compromise to achieve a new standard in musical performance, and it is built to last.

Conrad-Johnson TEA2 phono preamplifierFinally, with the increasing interest in vinyl playback, there is a need for an affordable yet musically accurate vacuum tube, phono stage. The TEA2 triode phono preamplifier was designed by Conrad-Johnson just to fill this need. Based on the more expensive TEA1 models, the TEA2 comes in high-gain and low-gain versions. Suggested retail price for either version is $2500.


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