Conrad-Johnson PF2 Preamplifiers

PF2

User Reviews (11)

Showing 1-10 of 11  
david   AudioPhile [Oct 16, 2016]

Gets the phase right. Also, my unit doesn't have the polarized plug & sound changes depending on which way the plug is connected to power source. Sold my tube amp after this purchase. Mates well with McCormack DNA1.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
ken   AudioPhile [Jul 14, 2007]
Strength:


The build quality both internal and external on this thing is spectacular. It uses an alps pot, resistors for the balance control which are out of the signal path when its centered. It uses all polypropylene and polystyrene caps, even in the power supply. The knobs are beautifully milled, and have a very refined purposeful feel. The case is solid and the front panel is thicker than my sa250.

Weakness:

This thing INVERTS PHASE. To get good sound you need to swap the speaker terminals. CJ notes this with a red insert in the manual. I tried it both ways, much much better sounding with the corrected speaker terminals.

I let it warm up overnight. The next morning the sound was not bad, but a noticeable step down from my homebuilt design. I was shocked. I played with interconnects, tried XLO speaker cables instead of my nordost, and cardas and xlo interconnects. No matter what the setup there was a slightly thin hard sounding lower midrange. I kept feeling like I needed to edge the volume up to enjoy the music.

At this point I was shocked. so I figured I would try my other backup preamp which is a very very old 1980s class A David Belles design. It doesn't even have gold plated RCAs. The David belles design was not as smooth as either other preamp but it did not have the harness.

If I had to characterize the CJ, it would be very hifi sounding. Smooth, with detail, and a controlled top end. I really really wanted to like this piece. It looks spectacular feels like a million dollars, and matches my amp. It was not a terrible sounding preamp but it did not do anything spectacular either.

I purchased this from a local dealer. I have a CJ sa250 songographe that I LOVE. Its as good as many of my tube amps, and one of the best purchases I have ever made. I figured the CJ pf2 preamp would be a perfect match for it.





Customer Service

CJ has wonderful service. There is always someone to talk to on the phone willing to answer questions and help out.

Similar Products Used: my system as follows
magnepan 12qr
CJ SA250 (recently bench tested by local shop)
David Belles DMC preamp / Home built design with relay driven volume
CEC TL5100 cd player
nordost super flatline II speaker cable / XLO speaker speaker cables
alpha core silver interconnects / XLO and cardas quadlink 5c

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
bluesky2   AudioPhile [May 08, 2004]
Strength:

Image soundstage width and depth. Clear, natural sound. Very reliable, especially with no electrolytic caps.

Weakness:

Sensitive to static electricity. No remote control.

I've had this preamp for 5 years. It's the PF2 (with phono). I'd have to say it's a very capable, very good sounding product. I purchase the rest of my system since purchasing it and the c-j MF2200 at the same time. I don't feel the PF2 has held me back until now. Given the cost of differential in the remaining equipment, that's quite an accomplishment. Kudos to c-j! I added audioquest big feet under the unit. That lowered the noise floor a bit, removing a layer of etch to the highs, tightened and added definition to the bass. A must tweak for this unit! In it's class, it has an open, natural sound. Very good resolution. Soundstage is deep and wide. Bass has very good definition. Individual bass guitar notes are readily distinguishable and have good body. Highs are clear and true. Triangles on various Classic symphonic re-issues are very realistic and pure. Female vocalist like Alison Krauss & Joni Mitchell sound like their in the room. It's dynamics are good, probably better than most in the price range at the time I bought it. In 1999, I compared it to c-j PV10 & PV12. I bought the PF2 over the PV12 which sounded too-rolled off on the high end. The PV10 just didn't have the resolution of the other two. The phono section is quite good although limited in gain. Loading resistors need to be soldered in-line in order to adjust moving coils. I used it this way for 3.5 years, before finally buying a Pass X-ono when I upgraded from a Ruby H to a Ruby2. The PF2 phono wouldn't have the gain to drive the lower Ruby2 and loading changes on the X-ono are dip switch controlled, much easier. The X-ono improved the depth and air around the instruments, really bringing them to life compared to the PF2. Although, I wouldn't go back, the PF2 phono was enjoyable and well worth the added cost. Provided years of fun. I'm now considering upgrading preamps. Comparing the PF2 to c-j's Premier LS17 (mk I), the LS17 is considerably better. And it should be cosidering price. The LS17 has a significantly lower noise floor. Which is easily noticeable in A/B comparisons, but having lived with the PF2 for a year since comparing, I don't miss it. I just know the sound will be that much better when I upgrade. The LS17 is clearer, has more texture and better image stability than the PF2. The unit is sensitive to static electricity. I have to ground myself after getting off the couch in dry weather to avoid nasty POPs. Particularly annoying since it has no remote. But the unit has never failed. Summing up, on the used market, this preamp offers great value compared to it's original cost or what it would currently cost to upgrade. A gem on the used market.

Similar Products Used: c-j Premier LS17.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
robert awad   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 24, 2003]
Strength:

musical

Weakness:

no

for mucical; mucical; it just sounds like tube cj it is the best

Similar Products Used: anthem yba3 vtl and tubes
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Chris Dimitriou   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 09, 2003]
Strength:

pv-10 sonic.. frontiers sfl-1 5stars + prise

Weakness:

no

soudstage musical prise

Similar Products Used: pv-10 sonic frontiers sfl-1
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Sam   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 07, 2000]
Strength:

Soundstaging, Looks, Great value.

Weakness:

Only 1 preout

I have owned this preamp for about 2 months. Wow did it make a difference. The soundstage has totally changed and opened up. It also is very smooth. I previously had an older Bryston 4B preamp which is not a bad preamp especially for the money but it sounds dark in comparison.I have listened to AR, YBA,Sonic Frontiers, and the PF2-L is more natural to my ears. I like SS because it is more dependable and overall the bass is more natural and yes there are good SS products out there you tube people. haha. I like the CJ products and like the logo says " It just sounds right" is true. I have this mated up to a CJ SA-400 amp and am very pleased. Just wish it had 2 preouts.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
the rhyno   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 25, 2000]

what can i say. this (albeit dated) preamp has some nice nice sound. yes, i'd like more inputs to select from (5 total, but one or 2 more would be quite helpful!) and i still havent quite figured out what the 'record' selector does (which may just be my own ignorance--its my first pre), but damn does it (along with my c-j 2100 amp) sound nice.

5 for value (i paid $550 used) but 4 for overall (for the inputs)

the rhyno

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
joe   an Audiophile [Nov 23, 1998]

I've lived with many pre-amps over the years. From Many PS Audio pre-amps toPAC pro-reference tube pre-amp. I've never received so much satisfaction than from this conrad-johnson product. Along with the MF2100, they provide an extrememly "musical" experience. One gets the impression that the musicians are playing in harmony. Not like many other systems I've heard where it's very detailed with pinpoint imaging but the sounds seem detached from each other. I hear many descriptions about systems in these pages but not too many people talk about musicality. Associated equip. B&W 805 matrix w/ASW800 subwoofer.
Philips transport w/adcom GDA600 DAC. Linn Sondek LP12 valhalla, MIT speaker cables, PAC and monster(M1000) interconnects.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Chris   Audiophile [Sep 10, 2000]
Strength:

Amazing transparency and breathtaking dynamics for its price range. From a purist's point of view the simplest ergonomics and circuit design makes it one of the best. This is a "use it and forget it preamp" that encourages one to forget about tweaking the sound and adjusting the controls in favor of just sitting back and enjoying the music as close to the original source material as is possible. Represents one of the best SS preamps out there, in my opinion.

Weakness:

Control knobs can get wobbly with repeated use--common to most cj gear. Use a 1/16 allen key to tighten the knobs periodically.

I recently replaced my all-tube PV10 with the PF2. Firstly, the unit can be left on all the time--not an option with tube preamps. From a purist standpoint I admire what c-j has done with the PF2 compared with the PV10. The inputs are simple: Tuner, Phono/Aux, CD, Tape 1, Tape 2--no "video" input and no separate tape monitor switch. There are dual knobs for listen (source) and record.

Pop the cover and the innards of the PF2 are a model of simplicity. The preamp forgoes all the usual buttons and knobs of more complicated designs and encourages you to sit back and listen--exactly the way the c-j gear was intended. Like the PV10, it is a great match with the Sonographe amps, which are very close to c-j's own MF series amplifiers at half the price. Note, my PF2 is line stage only. For phono I added a Creek OBH8. Rumor has it that c-j is no longer offering the phono option on the PF2, which is now a discontinued model, so get them while you can! Either in line stage only or full phono, I don't think you can go wrong with the PF2!

Similar Products Used: conrad-johnson PV-10 (sold)
conrad-johnson D/A 3
Sonographe SA 250 amp
McIntosh MCD 7007 CD
California Audio Labs Icon mk. II CD
Nakamichi BX-300 cass.
Sony 730ES cass.
Sota Comet turntable
Sumiko Pearl cart.
Von Schweikert VR3 speakers
Synergistic/MIT cable & interconnects
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Kofi   an Audiophile [Mar 04, 1999]

I've been married to the PF2 for about 3 months and I'm still honeymooning! This is a serious preamp with a lot of musicality, resolution, pace, and detail. Like another CJ product which I recently divorced (the PV10A) it has some very real ability to convey music. Very slightly more open (brighter) at the top than the PV10A but without any trace of solid state hardness. Deals better with complex passages than the PV10A. I have the PF2L so no comment about the phono section. Quite something, guys!
System: Infinity RS 8Kappa spkrs
Hafler 9500 Trans nova pwr amp
NAD 5000 CD palyer
Wireworld Polaris spkr cable and CD-to-preamp link
Monster M1000 MkIII interconnect b/t PF2 and 9500

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-10 of 11  

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