Conrad-Johnson CAV-45 S2 – High End Stereo Equipment We Buy

McIntosh is one of the most dependable brand names when it comes to high-end audio systems. For years the brand has been recognized by audiophiles throughout the world as equipment that delivers clear and consistent quality in music. McIntosh is probably best known for its amplifiers and preamps, but the company produces many other components and parts for stereo and home theatre.

What are the specs for the Conrad-Johnson CAV-45 S2?

Power:
60 watts per channel RMS both channels driven into 4 ohms from 30Hz to 15kHz at no more than 1.5% total harmonic distortion or intermodulation distortion.
Small Signal Distortion:
less than .1% at mid-band
Frequency Response:
20Hz to 20 kHz +0/-.5 dB
Hum and Noise:
100 dB below rated power output
Phase:
speaker output is phase correct
Input Impedance:
100 kOhms
Dimensions:
13.375”D x 17.375″W x 6.625″H
Net Weight:
42 lbs.

What else to know about the Conrad-Johnson CAV-45 S2?

"There’s a thing about tubes that when it’s delicious, you can’t forget it. But it’s a road with a lot of detours. If your experience has mirrored mine at all, no doubt you’ve heard amplifiers with a silky smooth high end, others rendering a three -dimensional space that is so beguiling you might think you were under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs, yet others offer a delicacy that’s almost intimate enough to be obscene.

The CAV-45S2 offers all of this and a well-defined lower register to boot. Whether I was listening to bass-heavy ambient tracks or heavily layered vocals, it comes through like few others. The presentation that the CAV-45S2 provides is deceptively simple. Should you place one in a system achieving an excellent match, you’ll not only find yourself losing track of time while listening, but you’ll also question why you didn’t do this earlier.

As female vocal tracks are often the litmus test for engagement, I picked three tunes – one for the boomers, one for gen x, and one for the millennials in the audience. I queued Christine McVie’s ”Songbird,” Ellen Reid’s “I’m Just Chillin’” and Lana Del Rey’s “Venice Bitch.” All were equally enticing. I’m sure you have your favorites.

There is a cohesiveness to the sound created by the CAV-45S2 that still defies complete description. If this makes sense, it’s got the delicacy and low-level detail retrieval of a great SET, with the punch of a great push-pull amplifier, and plays a lot louder than you might expect a 60 watt per channel tube amp on a relatively compact chassis. Finally, it’s quiet. Jeff Fischel doesn’t hesitate to mention that the S2 is 10db quieter than the model that precedes it. The music gently falls into nothingness through the CAV-45S2, and you’ll find yourself having an internal dialog over how this can be so good for five grand.

No, you can’t play AC/DC at concert hall levels (though you probably could with a pair of Avant Garde horns) with this amplifier. But this amplifier produces such a high level of engagement that with careful adjustment of the volume control puts you in a positively engulfing spot. You’ll know when you hit it. A little too much, and it’s bloated, too little – the soundfield isn’t quite as three-dimensional as it can be, with detail you didn’t think was there. That’s the spot that keeps you in your listening chair for hours.

Few material things in life are this close to perfection, even fewer at this price. If you have a room and system that can work within the constraints of a 60 wpc amplifier, I submit there’s nothing more fun or engaging than the Conrad Johnson CAV-45S2. It’s an affordable masterpiece. Time to pony up. I am adding this one to the long list of great C-J amplifiers I’ve had the pleasure to own." - ToneAudio, Dorgay

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The following images show actual Conrad Johnson equipment purchased by StereoBuyers.