conrad-johnson Classic Vacuum Tube Preamplifier with Phono Stage



"conrad-johnson It just sounds right"

Dimension in terms not only of width, but height, depth, and pinpoint placement do not have to be 'manufactured' after the fact. If they exist in the source material they can be conveyed in all their glory through just 2 speakers. The Classic does just that. It conveys the realism and/or intent in the source material. Whether that is a small club, an intimate theater, or a large hall, the Classic didn't need help from some Digital Signal Processor ambience mode to place me at the performance.

What's the big deal? Virtually every home theater receiver/processor has an analog mode. The big deal is that they generally don't offer the same pure, unadulterated signal path as the best analog gear, in this case the Classic. Based on my own very recent experience, even some very expensive processors fall short when it comes to analog pass-through. They have relays, capacitors, and various and sundry electronic circuits along the way. As good as those parts may be, each extracts a tiny fraction of flesh. Combined, those fractions can become pounds. The Classic extracts nothing. It adds nothing. It does so gloriously.

As a newer member of the Secrets Team I continue to learn some valuable lessons. Thanks to the Secrets Editorial Team and Lew Johnson (of conrad-johnson) for their patience. I appreciated the Classic so much that I played way too much (material). I pulled out all stops, and ended up listening to CDs and LPs that I hadn't listened to in years; that in and of itself should be an indication of my opinion of the Classic. I even pulled out 2 additional sets of speakers. I had 20 pages of notes. I needed to go back and narrow my impressions down from just a few of my favorites. That allowed me to play even more. By the way, throughout this review I promise not to use the word aplomb.