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Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

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Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by admin » Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:41 am

I built this room from planning stage to completion in about 6 months with most of the work being done in a 3 week period near the end. Comments are welcome!

Equipment:

Speakers:
Magnepan MG 20.1 Cherrywood and Black. Custom stands are very thick steel with cement and epoxy filling and coated with rubber. Crossover capacitors (35) replaced with Z capacitor (eliminating all 35 connections with point to point Jenna labs wire with cardas silver solder in the entire circuit). Fuses directly bypassed. Speaker stands on custom speaker feet marble stands.

Signal Cable Ultra Bi-Wire Speaker Cables
Custom interconnect cables w/ locking RCA plugs and Belden LC-1 cable

Polk Audio RT600's (x4)
Polk Audio RT450's (x2)
Polk Audio LSiC Center Speaker
Hsu Research VTF-15H with rosenut veneer Subwoofer

Pre/Amp/Receiver/Processor:
Conrad Johnson Evollution 2000 Amplifier (Mods: Universal power cable connect added)
Conrad Johnson PV-12 Preamplifier
Conrad Johnson D/A-2b Vacuum-Tube Digital Processor (Tice Power Cord upgrade and optional ST fiber connector)
Jolida JD9 phono preamp (Mods: JJ Tesla 12AX7 matched tubes, Obbligato Premium Film 1.0uF 630V caps, OPA637AP opamps, Sound Damping Sheet applied to interior)
Onkyo TX-SR875 Receiver
SONY SDP-E800 (used as AC-3 RF Demodulator for Laserdisc player)

Players:
ELP LT-100STD Laser Turntable with phono level output (using custom made RCA and power cable)
Rega Planar 3 Turntable (Rega RB300 Tonearm. Dynavector 10X5 cartridge. Monster RCA connector upgrades.)
Oppo Digital DV-980H SACD/DVD player
Oppo Digital DV-970H SACD/DVD player
Sony Playstation 3
Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray player
Pioneer Elite CLD-97 Laser Disc Player (with AC3 output mod and DNR Auto-off mod)
Pioneer Elite CLD-97 Laserdisc Player (with AC3 output mod), backup player
Pioneer CLD-D504 Laserdisc Player, 2nd backup player
Panasonic PV-9450 4-Head Hi-Fi VCR
Aiwa XC-30m 5 disc CD Player
Sony cdp-215 Cd Player
Sony TC-WE305 Dual Cassette Deck

Projection:
Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8700UB Projector
Elite Screens - Home Cinema - 150" Diag. Projector Screen

Power:
AVS Voltage Regulator
APC H15BLK AV 1.5kVA H Type Power Conditioner
Shunyata Research Inc. Powersnakes (x2), Venon PowerCable replacement powercords.

Media Server (Computer, approx 15,500 audio tracks):
ASUS Xonar D2/PM Sound Card
Winamp media player w/ iZotope Ozone - DSP

Room/Furniture:
Walker Edison Everest Multilevel Component Stand (x2)
The room is approximately 24 x 23 feet with vaulted ceilings and approximately 150 12"x12" sound proofing panels and additional corner base traps to minimize perpendicular surfaces and distortion.
Acrylic speaker cable risers.
Custom marble dampening coasters.
Attachments
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Martin Logan Vantage speaker
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Rega turntable
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CJ amp
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CJ PV-12
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Projector and lighting
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Lights off
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Last edited by admin on Mon Dec 09, 2013 9:00 am, edited 8 times in total.
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Re: Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by ZNine » Fri Aug 03, 2012 8:01 pm

If only I had space in my house for a room like this, very nice!

Extra points for the Tron theme!

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Re: Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by ll21 » Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:02 pm

very, very cool! Great room! Great equipment!

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Re: Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by admin » Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:19 pm

Thanks for the comments. It was definitely a "work in progress" for a long time (still is, I guess). Well worth the effort as we enjoy listening to music and watching movies on a daily basis.
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Re: Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by Bliss53 » Sat Sep 29, 2012 5:59 am

admin wrote:Thanks for the comments. It was definitely a "work in progress" for a long time (still is, I guess). Well worth the effort as we enjoy listening to music and watching movies on a daily basis.
That setup and room looks great. What is the strip of ?foam? under the screen?
I miss my theater system. It has been in storage since my last move.

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Re: Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by admin » Sat Sep 29, 2012 7:36 am

Bliss53,
Thanks for the comments on the room! Sorry to hear your theater is in storage, you've got to get that baby out! :)

As for the foam strips on the bottom of the screen, they are basically corner acoustic wedge foam. I really liked these as I find them to be of pretty good quality and relatively inexpensive. Also, they fit perfectly under the screen to hide the white baseboard (which I thought was an eye sore). You can easily buy however many pieces you need then line them. I think they helped take some of the brightness out of the room (along with the other 150 acoustic panels).

The dimensions of each piece is: 12" x 12" x 24"

I have attached pictures as well as the acoustic lab testing properties of the unit in PDF format if interested.
Attachments
bassbroad2.jpg
Corner Bass Absorbers
bassbroad2.jpg (4.7 KiB) Viewed 17296 times
Corner-Bass-Absorbers.pdf
Corner Bass Absorbers info sheet
(293.26 KiB) Downloaded 358 times
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Re: Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by wynnytsky » Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:33 pm

That chair and side table look like family heirlooms.

Your EV2000 is in far better condition than the one I picked up. It took 8 2.5" sorbothane feet to get mine to float above it's own feet. When I got it the sound was leaning to the left. I ordered a pack of 4 cryo'd JAN Phillips online and it came to life in a huge way. I seriously doubt the prior owner would have sold it for $1250 had he known the tubes were so bad. I was considering replacing the plastic window with a sheet of glass. The dimensions are...
Width 3 1/2"
Height 4 7/8"
Thickness 1/16"

I also drive mine with a PV12! I have an ET3 as well on an A/B switch, and the ET3's increased detail is especially evident in the best 24/96 studio recordings (not the vinyl rips). The ET3 sounds more like a solid state Premier 18Ls than it does a tube preamp. In general I noticed that solid state equipment improves more (or better realizes) high res content. This is the only advantage I give to my ET3 and since most of my FLACs are 16bit (even the audio test discs) my PV12 easily sounds better. And it's not even close. I hate to say it but it's almost like someone turned on a "loudness" button and a touch of some really natural DSP to make the room feel bigger. I can listen to the ET3 for 10min and start to discern and appreciate it's virtues, but when I switch back to the PV12 I immediately appreciate the bigger stage that reaches forward with a fun musical smooth sound that draws me in. I heard Chesky speak in NY about the challenges of getting recording studios to release more hi res content and I would definitely say it's the studios that are holding back this hobby from realizing the advances in high fi.

I see a black PV-12 that was recently listed on audiogon and it appeared to jump to ebay. Is this yours?
http://www.ebay.com/itm/CONRAD-JOHNSON- ... 27cba4804f

Many CJ preaps starting with the PV-14 have the theater pass-through function to easily coexist with a home theater processor. Are you using a mechanical switch instead?

Some additional points:
-None of my stuff has the vishay resistors and teflon caps (but CJ told me I could update the PV-12 for $800)
-Putting cryo'd RCA clear tops in the PV12 were a great upgrade (though not as big as the tube replacement in the EV2000)
-Thiels are generally criticized for their brightness/harshness, and I wonder if the PV12 (or tubes in general) do something to mitigate/mask the brightness without sacrificing dynamics. Once my ears are warm up I tend to play my PV12 louder than the ET3. I think my ears fatigue at a lower volume with the ET3. Makes me wonder what equipment Thiel used when designing my speakers.

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Re: Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by wynnytsky » Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:40 pm

Pictures didn't attach because they were too big. 2nd attempt...
Attachments
Baryl Johnson.JPG
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Couch view (small).JPG
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ET3, PV12, EV2000 a (small).JPG
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Re: Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by admin » Tue Oct 09, 2012 5:49 pm

wynnytsky wrote:That chair and side table look like family heirlooms.

Your EV2000 is in far better condition than the one I picked up. It took 8 2.5" sorbothane feet to get mine to float above it's own feet. When I got it the sound was leaning to the left. I ordered a pack of 4 cryo'd JAN Phillips online and it came to life in a huge way. I seriously doubt the prior owner would have sold it for $1250 had he known the tubes were so bad. I was considering replacing the plastic window with a sheet of glass. The dimensions are...
Width 3 1/2"
Height 4 7/8"
Thickness 1/16"
When I first saw your pictures I was like, oh know, somebody stole my equipment! :) I'm glad to hear that you are getting the same high level of enjoyment from your Evolution 2000 and PV12 as I. $1250 was a steal! That's awesome, it usually goes for slightly above $2000 on the auction sites. I hope the tubes didn't cost too much, but even if they did, it's still a great deal.

Thanks for the dimensions on the cover, now I am thinking of whether to replace it with glass. Sounds like a future DIY mod!
I also drive mine with a PV12! I have an ET3 as well on an A/B switch, and the ET3's increased detail is especially evident in the best 24/96 studio recordings (not the vinyl rips). The ET3 sounds more like a solid state Premier 18Ls than it does a tube preamp. In general I noticed that solid state equipment improves more (or better realizes) high res content. This is the only advantage I give to my ET3 and since most of my FLACs are 16bit (even the audio test discs) my PV12 easily sounds better. And it's not even close. I hate to say it but it's almost like someone turned on a "loudness" button and a touch of some really natural DSP to make the room feel bigger. I can listen to the ET3 for 10min and start to discern and appreciate it's virtues, but when I switch back to the PV12 I immediately appreciate the bigger stage that reaches forward with a fun musical smooth sound that draws me in. I heard Chesky speak in NY about the challenges of getting recording studios to release more hi res content and I would definitely say it's the studios that are holding back this hobby from realizing the advances in high fi.

I see a black PV-12 that was recently listed on audiogon and it appeared to jump to ebay. Is this yours?
http://www.ebay.com/itm/CONRAD-JOHNSON- ... 27cba4804f
No, that one on ebay is not mine. But I also saw the listing. It seems like it's in a very nice condition. If any readers out there are looking for a good preamp, I highly recommend the PV12 and the one with the phono stage is just a nice bonus. I have the linestage version myself.
Many CJ preaps starting with the PV-14 have the theater pass-through function to easily coexist with a home theater processor. Are you using a mechanical switch instead?
No switches. I actually have the setup wired completely unique and not connected. I have a two channel setup with my CJ gear, and then I have a completely separate 7.2 speaker setup, receiver, player, etc for movies. I found that I prefer a very different approach to serious music listening and movies so I decided to go with two completely isolated setups even though they are in the same room.
Some additional points:
-None of my stuff has the vishay resistors and teflon caps (but CJ told me I could update the PV-12 for $800)
-Putting cryo'd RCA clear tops in the PV12 were a great upgrade (though not as big as the tube replacement in the EV2000)
-Thiels are generally criticized for their brightness/harshness, and I wonder if the PV12 (or tubes in general) do something to mitigate/mask the brightness without sacrificing dynamics. Once my ears are warm up I tend to play my PV12 louder than the ET3. I think my ears fatigue at a lower volume with the ET3. Makes me wonder what equipment Thiel used when designing my speakers.
So one little question. Where are you players? I see the preamps, amp, and speakers. Do you listen mostly to digital or vinyl?
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Re: Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by wynnytsky » Thu Oct 11, 2012 1:33 am

I only ever had one source for playback and that would be the lossless content I download off torrents and news groups. Currently I use Foobar2000 with the WASAPI driver into a Grant Fidelity TubeDAC-11. I stopped spinning CDs in the home 10 years ago and only continued to burn them for the car, but that stopped as well 6 years ago when I got a radio with a USB port.

I started with very good speakers, a great amp, and an incredible room. The ceiling crests at 13ft. The speakers are 15ft from the side walls, 3.5ft from the back wall, 9ft from each other, and 12.5ft from my face. I dread the day when I no longer have this attic. I'll likely sell off all my equipment and become a headfi enthusiast posting questions about which headphone amp is best (so sad).
VERT - Focus High - Distant Top Left.JPG
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For a 2 channel system I didn't see any point in purchasing a preamp if I didn't need to juggle inputs. I figured all I needed was an external USB sound card (wasn't even looking at DACs). In the picture that's a USB powered Sound Blaster velcroed to the back of a netbook, running directly into a 114lbs amp. That was early 2011 and I didn't know any better. (Note the Kilowatt which only has the amp plugged into it, and it's reading 213w @ idle)
Amp Left.JPG
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On a whim I tried putting an Adcom preamp in between the SB and amp. Oh crap did it ever improve. And that was only an Adcom. I immediately began searching for the PV-10 and ended up with the PV-12. That would be amazing upgrade #1 (thought technically not an upgrade because I didn't have a preamp to start with). The tubes in my power amp were close to death so I got cryo'd tubes for the amp and the PV12. That was amazing upgrade #2. At this point the sound blaster was so outclassed that it was ready to up and exit the room on it's own. Out with the $90 sound blaster and in with a $275 Grant Fidelity TubeDAC-11 preordered from China. That was amazing upgrade #3.

I only mention those 3 upgrades because they were profound. I can't say for certain my other upgrades made a damn bit of difference, but I'll list them anyway...
-Sorbothane feet
-Herbie Tube dampeners
-Morrow MA2 and Blue Jeans interconnects
-DH Labs Silver Sonic T-14 speaker wires
-CJ Premier 18LS (sold it because not as friendly with my Thiels, nor as involving and musical as the PV12)
-CJ ET3 (similar to 18LS but worth keeping as a backup because of the detail in reveals in great recordings)


BTW: your Canon PowerShot A540 blows away the Olympus I was taking my photos with

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Re: Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by admin » Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:44 pm

Very interesting to hear your transition from different digital sources. It seems like you are completely digital. I used to be digital centric early on but over time I also developed a fondness of vinyl. It's a different sound, but a very pleasing and rewarding one once you have a good setup. I have a media center with digital tracks but the truth is that most of my listening is done from CD and the turntable.

If you have never experimented with vinyl you may want to "dabble" in it. It's actually not that expensive to get a descent audiophile grade setup. Rega sells some nice turntables that are very affordable and the used market will give you an even better deal.

I only bring this up as you like "digital", yet your setup is very heavily tube based. As you know tube based equipment is "technically" less accurate but have more "feeling". This is also typical quality of vinyl. Both your preamp and amp are tube based so you may be a vinyl aficionado and not even know it.... :)

As for you comments about the listening room playing a huge role in the sound, I couldn't agree more! I think that is one aspect of the music listening experience that people often neglect is the actual room. Congrats on having a nice dedicated listening room, there are many that would love to have a dedicated space such as the one you have, enjoy!
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Re: Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by wynnytsky » Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:54 pm

From the looks of your pictures you also have a good venue. Most audio system I see are in rooms that are entirely inadequate for the hardware they are showcasing. Think audio shop, or trade show. You could make a cable show with the cast of people I've met selling stuff off craigslist -- it would be called Audio Hoarders: Buried Alive. Initially I thought that was unique but I see it over and over. Some of these people will never know just how good their stuff is and instead they are stuck in an upgrade cycle looking for an elusive sound that is unachievable within the dimensions of their room. Eventually they sell that piece of equipment to the lucky guy with the big house.

I think because I'm doing so much 16/44, the tubes are doing a great job of anti-aliasing the jaggies (as would a good DAC or a tube buffer). I figure if I was spinning vinyl (or more 24/96) than I would probably prefer to use a more revealing modern preamp (like my ET3). I have two serious audio buddies and neither of them are curious about vinyl ATM. If by chance I do meet someone who agrees to audition vinyl gear on my system then I'll grab that opportunity to A/B vinyl/digital, played simultaneously on different inputs.

I was into home theater in the 90s but always kept my budget small. I first became aware of 24/96 in 2009 when I pulled down FLAC files that were as big as raw 16/44 WAV files. I figured whatever I grew tired of in my previous system could be attributed to 16/44 granularity. I figured 24/96 was the promise of digital convenience+piracy and vinyl quality. Once I assembled a better stereo, only then did I realize how much better 16/44 could sound. It's sad that my best recordings are still 16/44 (like the 9 disk set from Focal JMLab). I found that titles remastered in 24/96 cannot compare to a 24/96 recording made in the last 10 years. So the old classics I listen to don't sound anything special. Of the new recordings I listen to, VERY few get released in 24/96. And I doubt the fans of Vampire Weekend, Awolnation, and Santigold are asking for it.

But on the rare occasion that I do come across a new 24/96 track, I'll throw two switches that route it through the ET3 and that's an experience.

I leave you with some 16/44 tracks make my room sparkle ...

Andrew Bird - Oh No (from 2009 album Noble Beast)
https://secure.logmein.com/f?00_MQCoKeH ... s5H8UrXMMZ

James Vincent McMorrow - If I had a Boat (from 2011 album Early in the Morning)
https://secure.logmein.com/f?00_lOzjHcQ ... NGjUTS1ZLe

Adele 19 (bonus disc) - Melt my Heart to Stone (live)
https://secure.logmein.com/f?00_vlt1d31 ... n45Uup6VGL

Adele 19 (bonus disc) - Many Shades of Black
https://secure.logmein.com/f?00_O4pbViv ... G8zFgkIux5

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Re: Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by admin » Sat Oct 13, 2012 2:08 pm

I share your pain that most music out there is only 16/44 and consumers really have not been offered much alternative. Yes SACD/DVD-Audio is out there, but the selection is very sparse and the price quite high. I like a lot of 70's rock and boy some of those recordings are pretty terrible (although there are some audiophile gems among them). It seems like recordings on CD's kind of hit it's high point in the late 80's and 90's and then subsequently went down hill with the "loudness wars" where there is no dynamic range in most commercial CD's now. Once again, not to say all recordings are bad, there are many wonderfully dynamic and audiophile CD's but it's tough to know what your going to get.

I will download those tracks you have listed and take them for "test drive" and report back. :) I see you have two Adele on there, I haven't really listened to her music too much as I find I am staying away from "main stream" of late. But I did see the new James Bond - Skyfall trailer and apparently she sings that song (which is pretty good, both the song and the trailer).
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Re: Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by admin » Sun Oct 14, 2012 8:31 am

I listened to the songs you posted. They are very good. I think that acoustically the best one is the Andrew Bird - Oh No track, I would rate it 5/5 (top audiophile quality). The Adele tracks are quite nice as well, I would say it's her voice here that really shines and makes it sound better than the true recording quality, acoustically I would give it a 4.5/5 on audio quality. We also have to keep in mind that it was a live recording so that inherently is not going to sound as good as something recorded in the studio.

Overall, very nice!
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Re: Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by wynnytsky » Mon Oct 15, 2012 6:44 pm

If you ever have trouble locating a track on the torrents, you should take a peek at what is available on the news groups.
In this link I'm looking for 24/96 FLACs ...
https://www.binsearch.info/index.php?q= ... &postdate=

For those of you who are using torrents, the steps required to install+configure a news client (with NZB support) is a bit more involved. I would guess that news groups are doing more damage to copyright laws than the torrents (especially with large downloads like complete discographies, blu-ray movies, games, etc). However you need to spend at least $100/yr to a news provider for service and this deterrent keeps the user population limited to the fairly hard core leechers.

It's crazy that your phone can identify a tune in Shazam, and in seconds you snatch a lossless version off the newsgroups. 10 years ago I dreamed of being able to hum to the computer and get back the song title. Now we have our phones listening to what we here, and following it with the Lyrics. I never saw that coming.

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Re: Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by admin » Mon Dec 24, 2012 11:20 am

I recently changed my viewing seat. I had a simple chair as you can see from my first picture post above. After some convincing I decided to put a comfortable couch in there that would be more spacious as well as comfortable for more than one person. I had been looking for an appropriate couch for quite some time as I wanted to make sure that it would be very comfortable. I don't know how many dozen couches I put my butt in before settling on this one! Overall this setup is much more comfortable and I think the dampening due to the size of the couch actually improves the acoustics of the room a bit.
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Re: Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by admin » Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:58 pm

I decided to do some rearrangement of my equipment when I installed the CJ D/A-2b processor. I moved the power conditioner to the Right side of the front floor. I had to use an extension cord for one of my components in the prior setup and this way I can directly plug in all my equipment. I think it looks ok and it's nice to have all the "buttons" on one side of the room. Here is a picture:
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Re: Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by Mr_BT » Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:00 pm

I think a pair of CLX's would fit nicely in your room....:-) Damn....you could even go with Statement E2's

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Re: Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by admin » Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:14 am

Mr_BT wrote:I think a pair of CLX's would fit nicely in your room....:-) Damn....you could even go with Statement E2's
Indeed, a pair of CLX's are definitely on my wish list! I have looked around but they are quite expensive even when bought used.

Believe it or not somebody was selling a pair of Statement E2's on audiogon, probably about a year ago, and I did put an offer in. Never worked out though. :( That would have been amazing to have!
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Re: Home Theater Room with CJ preamp and amp.

Post by dhoni234 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 6:46 am

I've had the CJ premier 17LS II and the modwright 9.0SE. The CJ had a more lush sound and a wonderful midrange quality. The modwright was very neutral. The biggest problem with the modwright is that it inverts phase on all inputs except the HT bypass. This means you have to switch the polarity on your amps every time you switch between HT and music. The CJ inverted polarity on all inputs so you don't have to worry about switching all the time.

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