Conrad-Johnson Premier 12 – 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 Premier 12?

Power Output:
Ultralinear
Operation:
140 watts per channel RMS at 4, 8, or16 ohms both channels driven from 30Hz to 15kHz with no more than 1% THD or IMD.
Power Output:
Triode
Operation:
60 watts per channel RMS at 4, 8, or16 ohms both channels driven from 30Hz to 15kHz with no more than 1.5% THD or IMD.
Input Sensitivity:
0.90 volts to full power
Hum & Noise:
98dB below full power
Input Impedance:
100K ohms
Dimensions:
17.5W | 7.25H | 15D inches
Weight:
48 lbs.

What else to know about the Conrad-Johnson Premier 12?

"A great deal of equipment passed through my system while I had the Premier Twelves for audition: various cartridges, turntables, preamplifiers, and CD players. This can make reviewing tricky: Exactly what are you hearing? How do various combinations change the sound? Of course, the sound of my system changed with each insertion, but throughout the many months I had the Twelves, the sound described in this review remained relatively constant—as did the differences between the Twelves and the VTL 450s. The VTLs' warm, soft midbass made them a poor match for the Jadis JP 80 Mk.II I reviewed a few months ago. The taut-sounding Premier Twelves mated better with the ultra-rich-sounding Jadis, but, as I wrote in my December 1998 review, I still couldn't get the French preamplifier to rock.

Effects of associated equipment aside, the Conrad-Johnson Premier Twelve is the most exquisitely balanced amplifier I have ever heard in my system. It combines the speed and detail of the VTL MB 175 I reviewed in June 1997 with the airy, transparent, lush, and palpable performance of the single-ended Cary CAD805 I spent some time with a few years ago—but with tighter, deeper, faster performance in the bottom octaves, and a top-to-bottom coherence that is extraordinary.

While it performed as if producing far more than its rated 140W, the C-J Premier Twelve is probably best mated to either relatively efficient loudspeakers, or to designs featuring small bass drivers—like the Virgos (no easy load to drive, according to John Atkinson's measurements in Vol.18 No.9). Small- to medium-sized rooms would probably be best too. Were I not in the process of looking for a new home with a much larger listening room, I'd buy the Premier Twelves.

Depending on where I end up, I might anyway. After living with them for a while, I understand why, after five years in production and despite their relatively modest output and steep price ($7000 may not be "steep" for some of you, but get real!), they remain so popular. Listen for yourself; I think you'll agree." - Stereophile, Fremer

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