I called CJ and talked to Keith and found out that this model was manufactured beginning in November of 2005. This units serial number indicated that it is the 6th unit off the line. Keith at CJ thinks it was built in December 2005.
Includes the Owners Manual, remote and power cord. In really great shape with nice sound.
The PV15 is part of the Conrad-Johnson bread-and-butter PV (preamp/valved) series. It looks every inch a C-J product, with its classic champagne-gold faceplate. It clocks in at a regulation 19"W x 3 3/8"H x 13 3/4"D. It’s also a solid piece, weighing in at a healthy 15 pounds.
Inside, the PV15 uses two types of 8080 miniature triode vacuum tubes. C-J chose these tubes for their durability, ease of accessibility, and sound. They claim that they know of no readily available replacements that sound as good. C-J feels that you should get a good two or three years of music out of the tubes before replacement with normal usage. They also recommend not leaving the preamp on continuously, as this will shorten tube life. They recommend giving the PV15 at least 15 minutes of warm-up time before you do any listening in order to give the preamp tubes time to stabilize.
According to the owner’s manual, the PV15's line stage offers 28.5dB of gain, a maximum output of 5.5Vrms, and frequency response from 2Hz to more than 100Hz. About the only things missing from the PV15 versus it counterparts of yesteryear are knobs and switches. They’ve been replaced by round push buttons and a microprocessor. The buttons control input switching, the EPL passthrough, the home-theater-processor loop, balance, mute and volume.
All of these functions are available on either the front panel or the slim black plastic remote that looks wildly out of place with a preamp of this visual quality. Still, the remote functions just fine and probably helps keep the cost of the PV15 down to MRP $3000USD. One thing found curiously missing from the remote, though, is a power button. You can switch power on and off from the remote, though, by pressing and holding the Mute button for off, and pressing the Mute button for on.
The preamp has a good-sized LED window that marks the volume level for each channel numerically. Each is adjustable in 0.5dB increments. If you use the balance control you’ll see the number of the channel you want to adjust go up or down depending on which channel you choose. I found that this system was preferable to the normally seen balance knob, where any adjustment is pure guesswork. The window also contains the C-J logo, which, as long as the unit it attached to power, remains lit. So it seems that the power switch is in reality a standby switch and not a true power on/off.
The PV15 comes standard as a line-stage preamp with five sets of single-ended inputs, along with the EPL and Theater inputs. One of the main inputs will be used if you order the internal phono stage ($850) NOT INCLUDED! If you order it, you can request whether you’d like the phono stage to be for use with either a moving-magnet/high-output moving-coil cartridge of 1mV or better or a low-output moving-coil. There is only one set of main output jacks. There is also the EPL output, which can be used for connection to a headphone amp.
One feature of the PV15 that is most useful and unique is that the preamp passes signal to the EPL output without having to be turned on. A brilliant idea, especially for a tube preamp. This way you’re not logging hours on your precious (and expensive) tubes when you don’t need to.
It's important to note that the PV15 inverts phase. Be sure to switch speaker connections to preserve system phase. Fortunately this is clearly spelled out in the very informative owner’s manual, which you should read before using the PV15, contrary to the usual audiophile wisdom of plugging in then playing.