Conrad-Johnson PV3 Preamplifiers


  • Gain: Phono Stage 38 dB
  • Distortion: less than .05% THD
  • Response: bandpass 10Hz to more than 100kHz

User Reviews (3)

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VacTubesJM   AudioPhile [Mar 14, 2012]

I've had the PV-3 since 1991. Got it in Japan, so YES, I paid twice as much cuz that's what ponjins do. They find excuses to double the price of US goods to make their crappy stuff more attractive. Price was 60,000 Yen. I'd have to go back and see what the conversion rate was in '91.

It's 100v.

I love this Pre-Amp.

Way back in 1989 when I got the Maggie's SMG, (Yes, paid twice as much. My buddy loved the SMG's so much he brought a pair back on his flight from the States to japan). all I had was a crappy Sony integrated. My Audio guy lent me a Macintosh Integrated. It was fine, but not as much of an improvement over the Sony for the big bucks (yen) he was asking. I was given a damaged Pioneer SA-8800II. My audio guy repaired it for free. I have no idea what parts he added or what he did to get it up and running, but it was a BIG improvement over the Sony.

Moved to a bigger area of japan.

Auditioned an Accuphase P-300X. WOW! That's what the Maggies needed. This power amp had attenuators so, I could run the CD directly into the amp. OK. Auditioned the Accuphase Pre-amp that was the Power amp's match. Didn't care for it at all. Started using the Pioneer's Pre-Outs for LP and CD.

Got the PV-3!! OKAY! That's it. Everything was coming to life! What a great combo!! PV-3 and P300X!! (And the SMG's) I was astounded! The sound that was being produced was so pleasing I'd spend hours sitting in the sweat spot just listening with eyes open to see the performers on stage.

2010. Moved my audio rig to a 3rd-world-country.

Got a Voltage Regulator from 220v to 100v. Had to connect to an UPS as power outages were quite common.

Everything was fine and sounding good.

2012. Had not used the P-300 for a long time. OK. Set everything up. Powered up the P300. One min later it shut down and smoke cake up from the right side. WONDERFUL.

Took the PV-3 to a shop just to look at it before powering it up for fear it might have the same fait as the P-300. All was OK.

Hooked it up to the Pioneer's Pre In. Blah. Not so good. The Pioneer sounded better as an Integrated Amp rather than just a Power Amp with the C-J. With the CD running thru Audio Alchemy DTI PRO and DEE 3.0 the sound was pretty good. Why were LP's sounding so microphonic? Bad tube?

Present day: Searching for a Power Amp... looking at B&K, Carver, SAE and possibly a QSC PRO AUDIO AMP. Can't afford a c-j amp, Krell nor Aragon. Want at least 150W/channel at 4 ohms.

If you can get a PV-3, DO IT! Heck, contact me, I'll buy it from you as a spare.

REGA Planar 3 Elys cartridge, Sumiko Blue Poit Special NUDE
MIT Cables
Marantz CD-95 and CDR 631
Audio Alchemy DTI/XDP DTI PRO DEE 3.0
C-J PV-3
Dead Accuphase P300X
Pioneer SA-8800II
VPI 16.5 LP cleaner
Bendini Ultra Clarifier
Magnapan SMG
Marigo 24 Stand (Two legs only)
Bright Star ROCK

fde   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 11, 2010]

very good preamplifier
sound clean good base, very musical sound very fluid
better than than conrad jonhson pv10
and audio research sp6B
very good phonograph very very musical and detail

Ethan Whitaker   AudioPhile [Jun 12, 2010]

This preamp was available as a kit or built by CJ. It is small and solidly built. Inside is found only premium parts. The caps are mostly Sprague, and a glass epoxy circuit board is used. American made transformer and a thick steel case indicate a quality unit built to last. There are 4 tubes (two for line, two for phono). The PV3 performance increases as it warms up over a 30 minute period. I bought mine second hand for $100 and it would be almost impossible to better this for less than $300, used. There is a good sense of space and the clarity is good, although my VTL Super Deluxe beat it easily. The VTL sells used for $900 so not a fair comparison. Susan Vega's "Solitude Standing" LP came through the PV3 with realistic vocal texture. The sense of "air" was preserved well enough. The PV3 has good bass extension and good tonality, however it isn't super fast. My tech friend said the rectifier could be upgraded to improve transients. I didn't find there to be any obvious frequency peaks or dips. The sound is basically even top to bottom. The main weakness is a mil-spec look and a cheesy feel to the push buttons. The volume control is solid aluminum and feels good. I reccomend this unit over a Dyna PAS III or any solid state preamp in this price range. I prefered my Bryston BP20 in terms of speed and tightness of sound, but the PV3 is more musical, a little better timbre and texture giving the music a sense of presence, or liveliness, that the Bryston lacked. So all in all, a great little budget preamp that could last many more years and should be easy to maintain and repair due to it's conventional parts construction and simplicity. The tubes are common and will last decades. IF you can find one of these(a big if as it seems to be a scarse model) in good shape for under $300, don't hesitate.

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