Conrad-Johnson MV-75A-1 Amplifiers

MV-75A-1

75 Watt Tube Amp (1983-1985)

User Reviews (7)

Showing 1-7 of 7  
William Mitchell   Audio Enthusiast [May 12, 2017]

I have had my CJ MV75a1 amp since 1986 partnered with a CJ PV 5 preamp. Along with the preamp it remains command central for my music system. Yes, it has taken three trips to CJ in 31 years, one for the a1 mod and the other for tube problems and a power supply meltdown. CJs service is truly wonderful. This venerable amp provides me with more musical pleasure than anything before it and more than I have heard since. I play classical pipe organ and attend plenty of live music events. When I come home, the live music sound, harmonics, and coherence is still reproduced here . What more praise can I give it? It is part of my musical life as is the PV5. CJ is the best for true musical reproduction.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
tvr2500m   AudioPhile [Dec 30, 2002]
Strength:

- History: the MV-75/A/A-1 is a nice piece of history I believe did a lot to clear the mediocrity of the seventies and shape the high-end audio market we have today. - Satisfying: it's strengths then are it's strengths today. Its easy musicality with great soundstaging. - The Thalmann updates do a lot to bring the amp up to today's standards of control, resolution, and impact while maintaining and enhancing all of the amp's traditional strengths. - They're still fairly desirable on the used market, which says something...?

Weakness:

- The stock units certainly aren't up to today's standards of control, resolution, neutrality, accuracy or weight. - Top end not so extended or silky. - Bottom end lacking weight, control and extension. - All the above might be strengths to some folks. That lush, softer tube amp sound... - Age. They're old and might need a little TLC. Old electrolytics, and the like...

I thought I'd throw my thoughts in on this one. This is certainly a venerable old amp and I suspect predates many of today's audiophiles and enthusiasts. This is a bit unfortunate because unless someone cares to explore the history of home audio technology one might not know how important this humble amp was, and, well, is. It's not as significant as a product as Edison noting electrons leaping about inside an evacuated bulb, the discovery of circuit feedback, the Williamson amplifier, the Marantz 9 or Macintosh 275, or Hafler's ultralinear amps that introduced masses of people to good, fun audio. Etc... I missed Stereophile's recent 40th anniversary issue listing the most important audio landmarks of the last 40 years, BUT from the way I read it from having been there was that it was Audio Research and Conrad Johnson that lead the resurgance of quality audio in the mid seventies, and the reintroduction of vacuum tubes, that did so much to purge the mediocrity of seventies audio and set the stage for where we are today. For CJ, it was their preamp and the MV-75 (it always reminded me of a beefed up Dynaco ST-70, which I don't think is a bad thing at all) that were all the rage. I remember the MV-75 reviews in Stereophile and The Absolute Sound. It was a reference amp. It was one of the products that began the change of the way people thought about audio. For Audio Research it was the SP-3 (and this preamp always reminded me of a beefed up Dynaco PAS-3)tube preamp and assorted tube amps like the monster D-76. I was a kid. It was a stretch. I bought my MV-75 new, with a tube cage, along with a CJ PV-2 preamp. They were my first real audiophile pieces. They replaced my Dynaco PAT-5 Bi-FET and ST-416, with I'd had a lot of fun with. With the Magnepan MG-IIBs I bought to go along with the CJ gear, I had my first audiophile system. It sounded good then and I'm sure would be mighty listenable even today. Today, I still have the MV-75 I bought as a kid, and the PV-2. Over the years I also have owned, and have listened to a lot of other amps and preamps. Most of it very good - Levinson, Boulder, Sonic Frontiers, Jolida, ARC, other CJ, Hovland, Musical Fidelity, Linn, BAT and on and on... There's certainly no shortage of good audio today, I think. The MV-75 is still a very fine amplifier and one that seems to be kept in the closets of a lot of audiophiles and audio reviewers. Bud Conrad and Lew Johnson kept bugging me to get the darned MV-75 updated each time an update was issued (they were a VERY small company back then). Finally I did update it to the A-1 spec. It sounded a bit better and was certainly more stable. Recently, I bought another one with the intent of running them as 150w/ch monoblocks. On the referral of CJ, I sent both of them to Bill Thalmann (Bill, mentioned in the previous post, was employee #3 at CJ after Bud and Lew and Director of Engineer for over 20 years) at Music Technology for a check up and Bill's updates. The results were, I think, well worth the money spent. The original MV-75/A/A-1 was always very lush and easy to listen to with a sweet, convincing mid range and very good soundstage creation. The top and bottom ends weren't so extended. The bass was also very soft and the high end wasn't so silky. The Thalmann updated amps, while maintaining all the virtues of the original MV-75, they are now much more neutral, fast, tight, more revealing of inner detail, quieter, and smoother and more extended on both the top and bottom. In fact, they're very comparable to my Premier 11A, with much more bottom end punch and weight operated as monoblocks. I recently acquired a very nice condition MV-75A-1 (though no tube cage). I don't know yet what I'm going to do with this one, but I don't have the heart to change it in anyway. I'd rather just preserve this one.

Similar Products Used: Current system: Amps - Conrad Johnson Premier 11A - Odyssey Stratos Preamps - CJ PV-2A - CJ PV-12A/w phono Source - I'm still sorting this out... ;) - Pioneer PD-65 Elite used as transpo
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Rob   an Audiophile [May 14, 1999]

This amp is a classic. If you can live with 75 watts, then you will be hard pressed to do better than the MV75a-1.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
Jordan Dourmashkin   an Audio Enthusiast [Jun 06, 1998]

I wasn't actively seeking a (any) tube amp(s) when I came across this one (I took through a trade offer). This amp was current in the early to mid 1980's, and the A-1 modification reflects design improvments current to 1986 standards (when mine was modified). Used, it still has a fairly high value, $750 to $900+ depending on condition and if the A-1 mod has been done). It is (as I'm told) only happy with sturdy 6550 tubes (the Svetlana 6550c currently), which makes this amp fairly monogomous in my book.
Without intensionally entering into a tube/SS arguement, this amp beat my previous amp (ARC D-60) on almost all counts; the only area that didn't measure up is low end bass control, it does get just a bit muddy, but by no means is it a negative (I love it), the ARC was just a little tighter. However, I feel there is more bass extension, so its kind of a glass half full/half empty situation. The mid and high frequency ranges are beautiful. I find the sound/soundstage bigger, and more three dimensional. Single instruments and Voices are incredibly alive, carrying out all the little nuances you might expect to hear in a live performance. I find no weakness across music genres, but I don't listen to heavy rock much so I'm no expert there.

Now, I'm sure many amps will do a better job (tube and SS). Some will be drastically more expensive, and others on par, but this one is incredibly satisfying, I never experience any listening fatigue. I listen to music more often, and without any concern for the stereo, e.g., could this or that be a little better? I have no interest in upgrading this amp to another. Using it with the VCR is also fine, it handles movies with no problem.

Rest of the System:
Snell EIII speakers
McIntosh C28 preamp
Rotel RCD 950 CD player
w/Audio Alchemy DDE v1.1 DAC, and PS2 power supply
J.A. Michell Hydraulic Reference TT
w/Souther SLA-3 triquartz linear tracking tonearm
Either a Grado MCX MC cart, or Sumiko Black Pearl MM cart
Cables are a hodge podge of Tara Labs, Van den Hul, Wireworld, and MIT.

In conlusion, this is an excellent amp (4 stars), and if you can find one, give it a whirl, it won't be a let down. However, I can't compare it to other new amps in the same price range (Jolida and GTA in particular) so unless its a "now or never", its always good to shop around, but after this one, I won't be looking anymore.

BTW: If you do have one and you are into modifications Bill Thalmann (one of the head CJ engineers for 20 yrs who helped if not was the designer of the MV 75) has his own modification business: Music Technology (www.musictechnology.com).

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
Jordan   an Audio Enthusiast [Dec 22, 1998]

I have since had the amp I reviewed above modified. This entailed better internal parts (caps, resistors, wiring, Cardas Rhodium binding posts and the bias controls were all calibrated). The result easily (in my opinion) bumps this amp up to 5-stars.
The sound became clearer; a fair amount less tubey, which as the folks at CJ would say, the amp is much faster, especially in the bass. The amp just does a better job at reproducing the subtlies, obviously it didn't totally change its character.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Stan   an Audiophile [May 02, 1999]

Note: this is an MV75, not a modified MV75A/A1. It can be modified, but I am satisfied the way it is for now:
Wow! What a difference! I've looked for a long time for a tube amp that can surpass my previous solid-state amps. Found this used early MV75 for $800 with new 6550 tubes and it has blown away my DNA 1.0 in its immediacy. It is a perfect match with my PV10 preamp; the c-j magic in its full glory! I've never heard voices and acoustic instruments like this before in my system....it's not tubey, it's not mushy, it's not soft, it's just like a voice or just like a guitar!

I am truly hearing things I've never before even picked up in old CDs. Maybe it's not quite the powerhouse as the DNA1.0, but really in my smallish house I can't complain. The bass is satisfying, not just adequate.

I am very impressed. It's a rare find these days on the used market so if you are looking for a see one up for grabs in the $750-$900 range, give it a try!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Steven Ramos   Audiophile [Feb 23, 2001]
Strength:

GREAT higs,mids,vocals are sweet and liquid,full sound.

Weakness:

LOW BASS, no slam on the bass.

I have this amp over 2 years,and it can tackle any type of music which is important to me as I listen to a wide variety of music.The only weakness is the bass,I'm currently KT-88 tubes instead of the 6550,and I feel that these tubes give it more bloom and better bass too.Currently I have a pair of B&W 802 series III and the amp is just driving the mids and highs,and this is where the amp truly excels even better,without having to do the lows.I have a bi-amp setup with a SONOGRAPHE SA-120 driving the bottom and this for me is a very effective and dynamic combination.Currently i'm using Audible Illusions Modulius as the preamp,due to the MV-5 getting fixed.this is a nice combination of Conrad Johnson products and I used to have the MV-6 preamp,and this was a nice combination.This power amp MV-75a by CJ is truly a CLASSIC and will always stand the test of time.The only thing better than this is the PREMIER series.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-7 of 7  

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