conrad-johnson hVA1 - $7000!

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by AllanMarcus, May 20, 2019.

  1. Billy Budapest

    Billy Budapest Rando

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    I’d lay off bashing CJ. They are new to the headphone market and probably are interested in selling a unit to plug a hole in their product line, and give CJ owners who like to stick with the brand a chance to do so. The fact that they have appealed to the headphone community is a plus, and shows this is a serious entry. However, you have to understand their market. Like McIntosh, for example, their customers tend to stick with one brand of (admittedly very expensive) equipment. CJ is not just a company that exists to sell to rich people (although it certainly does that). They produce components that truly are built like tanks. They make their own Teflon capacitors, use glass epoxy circuit boards, and huge, heavy, well made transformers. Plus, it’s all made in the USA. To produce equipment with a high quality BOM with American labor results in expensive components. CJ isn’t trying to be the best, but rather to deliver a consistent CJ sound that its devotees identify with. That’s my take on it, anyway.
     
  2. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    I wouldn't worry so much. It's just silly expensive and where the bashing comes from. Only a select few brands get exempt from silly expensive but no bashing.
     
  3. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    Well, who knew this has only a few steps to the volume, like 10 max. Runs uber hot but sound good. Very good actually, TOTL for sure. There wasn't a proper source and I only had my WM1A to work with. Very rich and detailed, a bit dense but not overdone, controlled the crap out of my HD650 and made it sound word class within the limits of the dac.
     
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  4. drgumbybrain

    drgumbybrain Science Nut

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    Why they advertise the amp as “low impedance” headphone amp?
     
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  5. Mindbender

    Mindbender Acquaintance

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    What are the chances that Audio Research will also release a headphone amp now that CJ has had their product for several months?

    Admittedly, I have a 2-channel speaker amp from CJ and it has a lovely tone to it. But I find it interesting that premium brands are expanding into the HP market (albeit at prices I’m not considering).
     
  6. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

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    For that money, channeling J.C.R. Clarkson, it should have retractable rocket launchers and asteroid destroying lasers. Standard.
     
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  7. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    This deserves bashing.

    McIntosh is expensive, but their MHA150 at least comes with a decent DAC, some huge iron (transformers), fricking cool meters, and can drive speakers (50W in 8-ohms).

    Conrad's Johnson has "two 6922 vacuum-tubes (one for each channel) for voltage gain coupled to a high-current FET buffer stage". May as well buy a Project Horizon, add a nice LPS, exotic coupling caps, and hire someone to put it all into a fancy case milled from billet aluminum.
     
  8. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar was: dingleberry; now: chill + interesting

    Slaytanic Cliff Clavin
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    McIntosh does everything in house and has a house sound some guys love.

    This... is a joke. They’re headphones. Why not just pay for someone to build a speedball crack and slam away?

    Why not get the class a bryston thing, shove it in a fancy rack case with a nice rack mount dac if it doesn’t have one. and a rack mount eq And then you have a super fancy huge metal headphone tank machine for the same amount of money and can tame all treble and impart some goo if you want. You can get a transformer pre and run your headphones off a speaker amp. There are so many cool ways to get cooler sound for 7k.
     
  9. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    Not really a necessary warning in our crowd, such a purchase would attract the title of village idiot. Just on the stupidity of having a 10 step volume pot it's not worth it.
     
  10. willsw

    willsw Friend

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    It's actually 12 steps. Given that all headphones are the same sensitivity and impedance and all sources have identical output, this should be completely adequate for every user.

    I went to the MD meet where a CJ engineer and a local dealer brought this amp before it was released. Both guys were pleasant to talk to and the dealer, who knew very little about headphones, was gracious and paid attention to a few people who tried to give him an intro to high-end headphones. The engineer made it sound like they might actually make adjustments based on feedback given at the meet.

    The only thing I remember about the short time spent listening to the amp was how ridiculous it was to have only 12 steps in the volume control. Their apparent solution of specifying a 20-35 Ohm headphone range might be the dumbest thing I've read from an audio manufacturer, which is a bar set so low that I didn't even believe there was space for C&J to shimmy under. I'm pretty sure that every person who listened to the amp (including me) told them very clearly that 12-steps was a significant problem and I thought they had acknowledged this, but I guess by the time they lugged the amp back to the factory the didn't feel like doing anything else.

    $7000 for an amp that you're not supposed to use with almost every good-sounding headphone available. Cool. At least it matches my gold Chrysler.
     
  11. ogodei

    ogodei Friend

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    Serious question: What brands (if any) would members of this board exempt from silly expensive bashing ? And,outside of those brands, whats a top price range for headphone amps before everyone's eyes turn up ? I'm talking about headphone gear brands, not these two channel guys making one-offs to fill out their line.

    I've paid 7k or close to it for a few amps at this point. Had both good and bad experiences with them, just like at lower price points. Wonder if I've passed the point of diminishing returns without noticing.
     
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  12. Superexchanger

    Superexchanger Friend

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    This is noise but goddamn I can't stop laughing at this. Superb.
    Carry on.
     
  13. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    No brand is immune from silly expensive bashing here. Heck, some people including myself bashed Bifrost MB 1 for not being good enough for it's $549 price.

    The 12 step attenuator, use of 6922 + FET output (c'mon, we can do better), lack of cred in the personal audio space*, first foray being priced at $7k but internals with BoM that appear to be less than a ECBW...

    It's these things that qualify it for silly bashing. Price alone does not do this because there is an understanding of diminishing returns.

    I mean, Jebus, we can get a DNA Stellaris here where the cost of the upgraded iron and caps is more or less passed through by Donald.

    Conrad can stuff his Johnson up his butt. The hVA1 is offensive.

    * Not knowing anything about HF or other personal audio sites isn't exactly an asset. It's dumb.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
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  14. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar was: dingleberry; now: chill + interesting

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    7k would get me my dream speaker rig and a new sick full stack from a pawn shop. Conrad's tiny Johnson isn't going to blow my hair back like those.
     
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