Conrad-Johnson Premier 3 preamplifier J. Gordon Holt, August 1985
The more I listen to this tubed preamplifier, the more I'm convinced that it's a worldbeater, I liked C-J's PV-5 a great deal (particularly with solid-state power amps), but the Premier Three is simply in another class. At this point, it becomes almost mandatory that I audition Audio Research's legendary SP-10 preamp. Until I do, I am prepared to opine that the Premier Three is the best-sounding preamplifier money can buy if you know what live music sounds like.
I still believe the Klyne preamps to be more accurate, but somehow they do not imbue reproduced music with the gorgeously realistic, luminous bloom that I hear from these C-J units, in particular the Premier Three. Euphonic colorations, perhaps? Almost certainly but these damn things sound superb on every system I've tried them with. To me, the bottom line continues to be musical enjoyment, and these bring me more of that than any other preamps I've heard in years.J. Gordon Holt