Some of you have seen my latest reviews of this amp, where I've got the MV60 "SE" version, which is more powerful than the normal mv60. I've been using the mv60se for nearly 3 years now, and have upgraded a few things since 2008...
I no longer have the maggies, nor the PV10AL pre, nor the original 6550c output tubes the mv60se uses.
I changed the output tubes to the new KT120 and have partnered the amp with a c-j ACT2 preamp and the speakers are now Quad ESL 2905's. The mv60se with the original 6550c tubes drives the Quads much easier than the maggies, and with the KT120 tubes it's even far greater in terms of depth and realism. there is more impact and greater dynamics from the KT120 tubes and overall the MV60se performs extremely well.
I have done a direct comparison with the 6550c tubes and found them to be more mellow and equally good on the mid-range. However, where the KT120 surpasses the 6550 is mainly in the bass region and mid-upper highs, there are notes that I hadn't heard before, or maybe it was extra wax in me ears, don't know... but there is far more detail driving the Quads now than ever before. both sets of tubes were equally musical and a joy to listen to for endless hours...
all in all, if you can get hold of the mv60se, that would be better than the mv60 since you can easily interchange tubes between any of the KT series and 6550's to your liking. or just the standard version of the mv60, which I have heard works fine as well in terms of musicality and finesse. hooked up to some very high quality speakers, perhaps electro statics or smaller ribbons, and you will really enjoy your music!
cheers and have a good one!
my association with Conrad Johnson goes back over 10 years, first had the MV50 and a PV8 pre-amp (glorious sound) driving a pair of Paradigms studio 80. Then I upgraded to the Premier 11A and PFR (solid state mosfet pre-amp) again Glorious sound driving a pair of Magneplanars MG3.5/R. probably the best I ever owned for many years since 2002. Had to migrate to Australia for higher studies, and have now somewhat settled in Melbourne, also had to sell the previous system and I cried for nearly 3 years. Finally vola! I now am the proud owner of a brand new MV60SE and a PV10 AL (in mint condition) pre-amp. What a fantastic combo!
Driving a pair of older maggies MG3A this is very close or even exceeds the previous combo I had in all aspects, perhaps not so much in the speakers since I did have the newer version of Maggies MG3.5/R. I must say that the MG3A may be an old maggie speaker, but I managed to get hold of a pair that is in mint condition, and I can tell you this present combo beats a hell of a lot of systems for the money, which costs around 15 grand or more! Trust me, I have heard many of them.
What's key here is speaker placement for the maggies (very critical) and remember if you are using maggies, place the tweeters into the listening area (i.e. toe them in towards your seat!) this will give you excellent imaging and depth. Drven with the MV60se and PV10AL my night listening sessions go well beyond 4am!
Conrad Johnson gear is for the mature music lover, not the young bucked up sound blast enthusiast! If you are in the latter, please try other gear such as solid state names liky Bryston, Krell, Aragon, Mark Levinson, Pass Labs etc. these solid state gear I have heard, excellent sound, but will NOT deilver the emotions of true musicality and live music (warmth of tubes) cannot be compared to solid state devices. C-J will give you the whole musical experience, although they do prefer live music, acoustic instruments, natural piano, Jazz (probably the best!) and anything and everything vocal; from Diana Krall to Ray Charles, they are right there in your living room (standing and singing like at a live performance).
this is what the c-j sound is all about. And yes the MV60se can drive magneplanars better than the premier 11A did! I know this is a very bold statement, but I am a person who owned both these amps with different preamps of course.
The premier 11A was an outstanding amp, capable of delivering everything you wanted through your speakers, the music was just there! Hwoever, on certain passages it kind of runs out of steam when driving maggies at certain bass levels. However, with the MV60se I noticed that the MV60se is much heavier, plus has improved current drive, hence the ability to drive the maggies better to more realistic levels. Also the c-j tube pre-amps have excellent gain and control the power amps very well indeed. I highly recommend that you use or partner c-j equipment with top-notch gear perhaps something in the same league for speakers.
other speakers I have heard that sound marvelous through c-j amps are: Sonus Faber (any of their models) Proac (excellent combo with c-j) Quads (all the ESL designs from the old ESL 63 to their newest 9802 or whatever the latest ESL is) and of course Maggies; they are probably the best speakers "I" have personally heard with c-j amps and they sounding simply out standing (breath taking) is the word! So for the final note: "if you want to be immersed in the emotions of true musicality, go for conrad johnson, it won't ever let you down!"
I wanted to find an audio system that would convey music in a more engaging way. I was using krell which is incredible for what it does. I auditioned Audio Research in my home system and did not care for it. I then brought in the Conrad-Johnson PV14Ls2 and the MV60 and found what I was looking for. This combo defines the term "musical". I've read reviews on these pieces and after talking to an engineer friend of mine I discovered what makes the Conrad Johnson so great is it's ability to convey micro and macro dynamics better than anything I have ever heard. Some have come to associate the term "detail" with "analytical" or almost a negative. The type of detail the Conrad Johnson gives is definitely a positive. You will be able to hear a distinction between each background vocalist's contribution and a distinction between various horns in a horn section. These won't sound like one big sound but come through as distinct and separate parts. Vocals will have more texture and audible description. This is the type of detail you will get. The tubes will give the music a presence or live feel that I've not heard from solid state. The Krell has unequalled slam and impact, in my book, of a live show but something still told my brain it was artificial while the Conrad Johnson lacks that slam it does have the ability to fool my brain into excepting the performance could be in my living room. The highs are wonderful, they do not sound rolled off and cymbals have nice hang time and natural decay. On certain recordings I can tell the Conrad Johnson doesn't play as low as my Krell did but the Conrad Johnson does not sound rolled off on the bottom end. The bass frequencies it does cover, are nicely detailed and very full sounding. The soundstage has a depth that I haven't experienced before. It's hard to explain but for example on the soundtrack to The Choir you could really feel the spaciousness of where it was they were singing from and it was more than just a reverb it was more a spacial que that went back beyond your rear wall. On other recordings you get a feel of placement of musicians front to back not just spread across on one plain.
I had reservations at the MV60's 55 wpc rating as I was using a 250 wpc solid state amp. My speakers are 86 dB Dynaudio t2.5's. I'm not going to try to tell you it filled the krell's shoes power wise but the MV60 was surprisingly strong and pushes my speakers to an adequate level. I am also very happy with the MV60's ability to handle all types of music, as long as the recording is good I haven't noticed any musical congestion.
The Conrad Johnson gear performs way beyondit's price point. I am thrilled with this combo and cannot give it a high enough recommendation.
I am using an Audio Note 1.1x DAC which I prefer over my Krell's internal DAC. I use the Audio Note Lexus to connect the DAC to the preamp and an Siltech New Yorker connect between the pre and power section. I have Transparent from power amp to speakers.
Conrad Johnson PV14
NAD 5000 CD player
Cambridge Audio T500 tuner
Velodyne F-1000, Foundation series
Audioquest Crystal cable, Audioquest emerald interconnects
Was searching for an amp to make these [old but quite smooth & musical] speakers really sing. And the mv60 delivers beautifully. As directly compared with Forte 4 (very smooth, 50wpc solid state amp), Krell KAV 300i, Bryston 4BST, the MV60 delivered what I personally was looking for: unusually gorgeous midrange (something that makes you say "wow -- unusually good", high end clarity that had surprisingly more detail than the Krell, and reasonably good pace for modern rock, hip hop. (Krell boogied better, but had nowhere near the smooth high end for jazz singers, strings, etc...which matters to me despite my listening to hip hop, club music as well). As always in audio, it all depends on what you want. But if want reasonably good boogie, phenomenal midrange and very clear but still smooth high end clarity that compares to significantly more expensive amps, for $2795 full retail, I personally did not have to look any further.
Separately, I have heard the mv60se has better punch as loses very little of the mid-range beauty that is generally is an inherent strength of tubes. Worth a try?