Conrad-Johnson Premier 17LS Preamplifiers

5/5 (13 Reviews) MSRP : $4500.00


Product Description

Tubed Line Stage PreAmplifier


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Reviews 1 - 5 (13 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by William Stevenson a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: August 19, 2011

Bottom Line:   
This is for the original 17LS. My experience with tube preamps is limited though I've been through a slew of solid state gear. I first ventured into CJ gear wanting to add something to the mix which would soften the sound and I first bought a CJ PV15 which I found much too dark. Taking a chance based on glowing reviews I bought the 17LS in part because it had two sets of outputs allowing me to run two amps at the same time. It has some irritating quirks like the clicking on the volume and the gain always seems a little high meaning it's hard to turn the stereo down to a low, near audible level. Apart from that I love this thing--it seems like the perfect compromise between excessive tube sweetness/darkness and clarity. And for those scared off by the technical trial and error of tube rolling well I loved the sound of this just fine with cheapo Tesla 6922s. I sold the first one I bought and later bought another because I missed it that much. Like a fool I sold the second one and went with an Aesthetix Calypso which could resolve every last detail but was too forward and bright for my system and room acoustics. My gear with the CJ was a Meridian 508.24, Aerial 10ts and a variety of Classe amplification. If I get another one it may be the last preamp I own for a long time.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2001



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by paulwbranner a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: September 2, 2006

Bottom Line:   
Well, well, well. Now having the 17 LS brings me to what music is all about. Before I could really get to know this gear I had to get the system in prime shape. First things first. D5, Kontact,and then Pro gold. Then the most important tweek, RCA caps from top to bottom(MCM in one.com 89 cents each. Some Bozo on Audiogon was selling these for $5.00 a pair) Now the system has integrity. The CJ has great build quality and it is over sized to be show cased. Not to be stuck in a rack, it won't fit anyway. It is to be sat on top or on table. I have mine on a table made out of solid black walnut. Real handsome piece to look at!

Right away I noticed the tone. This was scary. It's been a long time since I heard this kind of realism. Then came the soundstage, this is by far the most impressive. My Mags(3.6r) came to life then I was drawn in further and further.
Then came time to test the 17LS with my reference stuff. First up on digital was Mycoy Tyner, Land of the Giants. The CJ bought it full cirlcle. This will bring out the best in a system as well as its shortcomings! Then came Marc Antoine, Modern Times. This is well recorded and very demanding on dynamics. This is a complicated CD. One of my favorites. This CD is one of few I can listen from start to finish every time its in a session! Next up was Bob James Trio, Take it from the top. I love this CD. By far, in my humble opinion, is the best BJ has done! Execellent songs, great band, real serious recording. The final digital stop is Renee Olstead, self title. Hard to believe she was just 14 when she recorded this. All standards that will test any system. The tone has to be right, otherwise it is not fun to listen to and fatique sets in real quick! Not with the CJ. All of the tracks blended well together. Especially at low volumes...

On to vinyl. First up, Chick Correa, My Spanish Heart. You have to be there to believe it! Then is was Patricia Barbara, Cafe Blue. This should be in every collection. I have a half speed master. Cherry Mint ofcourse. Hard to imagine that it could be better than SACD. It is. By leaps and bounds. Hard not to listen to every track over and over again.
Finally, Joe Sample, Carmel. This is truly an amazing recording. I heard Joe humming in the backround, and his breath was right in front of me! Very suttle, and real. This recording was miked in a simple configuration but very demanding. If not played with a quality set up, the players are smeared on top of each other. Not so with the CJ. The players were easy to pin point and Joe's playing was from center to right center on just about all the tracks. Pretty nice set up.
The 17LS is a winner and deserves its props! The cat I bought it from, told me it far exceeds the ARC Reference 2. He was pissed to let the CJ go! This says alot about the 17LS. I love ARC gear. As a matter of fact, I was considering the LS25. I am so glad I went with the CJ!
Great tube pre amps are not inexpensive. I remember my first CJ pre amp back in 82'. I couldn't believe this small box cost $700! After I hooked it up and took a listen, then I said yeah ok.
The LS retailed for $4500 its cousin, the LS2 retails at about 6k. Having bought this on the used market, I did good. On the other hand, I would have definately went out and spent retail as well. Not for the LS2. I heard it's not that big of a difference.
In addition too. You have to have the right gear. Do not play around with this. Any weak link will be disasterous!

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Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $2379.00

Purchased At:   Audiogon



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by paulwbranner a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: August 22, 2006

Bottom Line:   
I have been a fan of CJ gear for many many years. With the 17LS I can see why. I just did a soft listening session with some low end cables. My custom Mogami cables will be installed next week. Stay tuned...
This is a scary piece of gear. By far ahead of what I use to have.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $2379.00

Purchased At:   Audiogon



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Lindsay a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: July 17, 2006

Bottom Line:   
The Premier 17LS2 is still brilliant after over 2 years of use. Now changed the power amp for a VTL ST150 with KT88 valves. The pre-amp soundstage can be improved even more by using cryo-treated valves. They seem to give more space around each musician and solidify the focus. I got mine from Watford valves for £28 each plus the dreaded VAT for NOS valves, worth every pound. The price paid for the 17LS2 was £4250 of which I still think was a good price for the quality delivered. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in a natural 3d soundstage with superb control and focus.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2004

Price Paid:    $4250.00

Purchased At:   The Audio Consultant



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by afan a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: September 13, 2005

Bottom Line:   
It make a huge difference. I have not relized that a Pre-AMP can open up so much.

However, I am writing this to tell another secret. I read about the Conrad Johnson ART review at Audiophile and found a note. All interconnect cable should be kept within 10 feet. At any point, Interconnect cable should keep 4 inches clearance from power cable. I visit some store and internet stores. I have found $200+ to $500 cable spacer. It just sounds stupid to me. a week ago, I was swimming with kids. I see the "noodle". It is 6 Foot floating form with a hole in it. I took two cut it in 6 inches to 1 foot long with bread knife. I cut again along the tube so the cable can insert in. Then magic happened again. My wife ran into me and ask what I had brought again. It sounds that much different to her. It is about $3.99 a noodle. It is too cheap not to try.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2001

Price Paid:    $2400.00

Purchased At:   audiogon




Reviews 1 - 5 (13 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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