Conrad-Johnson PV-5 preamplifier Specifications

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Description: Tube stereo preamplifier. Inputs: MM or MC phono, tuner, 2 tape loops. Controls: Left, right, stereo, reverse, mono. 2 main outputs, 2 tape outputs, 4 AC outputs (2 switched, 2 unswitched). Frequency response: +0/–2dB, 2Hz–100kHz. Maximum output: 25V volts. Phono overload: 500mV.
Dimensions: 16" W × ll¾ × D by 4" H.
Price: $1485 (1984); no longer available (2021).
Manufacturer: Conrad-Johnson Design, MacLean, VA 22101 (1984); 2800K Dorr Avenue, Fairfax, VA USA 22031 (2021). Tel: (703) 698-8581. Web:

Conrad-Johnson Design
2800K Dorr Avenue
Fairfax, VA USA 22031
(703) 698-8581

tonykaz's picture

I carried the entire Conrad-Johnson line of tube Electronics and can assure that we had great hopes and aspirations for the PV-5 but it never lived up to Mr.Holts experiences.

For around $500, at the very same time, the Audible Illusion Modulus Pre-amp ( that we carried ) was a Brilliant Sound Quality performer. Everyone compared, resulting in our entire line of CJs to collect dust.

Personally, I loved the little MV-45a Amp and wish that I still owned one. ( I'll certainly buy one if I happen to find one )

Back then, I was ignorant of Tube Sound Quality sources until I encountered ( 2014 ) the Schiit Valhalla 2 and Lyr headphone Tube Rolling Groups.

Now I realize that; the Audible Illusion Modulus Preamp had outstanding tubes while my entire line of Conrad-Johnson Electronics were shipped to me ( Esoteric Audio ) with so-so Tubes ( not the outstanding glass that reviewers would review ).

A pair of Sennheiser HD580,600,650 headphones will easily & accurately reveal the sonic differences in Tube Sound Quality and that Tubes are the Singing Voices of Electronics. Great Tubes have great voices.

Reading this review, of one of our product Line, reminds me that Holt and Tony Cordesman were primary reasons we carried the Entire Line of Conrad-Johnson including the Premier Line and that expecting gear to perform like these authority influencers experienced leads to pricy disappointments.

Tony in Venice Florida

ps. this is the first time I read Mr.Holt not referring to himself with the Royal we, he does say "our" once but mostly says "I"

Ortofan's picture

... either the slightly more expensive Audio Research SP-8 or the Luxman CL-34, at about half the price.

Jack L's picture


Even if the greatest preamp did exist on this planet circa 1980s, costing an arm & a leg back then, there is always room to upgrade its greatness today with the advancement of electronic technology.

Old tube timers generally sound slow, opague & even noisy to me though I am a malomaniac of triode tube amps.

Ideally I want a great tube amp to sound crystalline-transparent, fast-transient, & quiet like the best solid state amp but without the typical clinicality of soldstate devices.

Yes, an apple is apple & an orange is orange. We can't change an apple to an orange, right ?

So bipolar junction devices (transistors, FET, op-amps etc) can't be made sound like a vacuum tube due to their totally different design.

That said, Nelson Pass has been doing great job in design/building for sale, solid state power amps sounding pretty close to vacuum tubes by using certain FETs having close linearity of a vaccum tube. He even designed 2nd harmonic distortion generator inside his class A solid state power amps to make them sound as musical like a tube amp where 2nd harmonic distortion often dominates.

Let's see...

Listening is believing

Jack L