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  Review: Jeff Rowland Continuum 500 Amplifier
Preliminary, limited review --
I haven't even taken delivery of my Continuum 500 integrated amplifier yet, but I got to listen for 3-hours this afternoon to help with the decision to put down $8,800 to take it home.

My dealer is Soundings, South of Denver, Colorado, owned and operated by Rod Tomson with the very able assistance of this very knowledgeable crew. See the Soundings site at www.soinc1021

When I arrived at Soundings the Continuum 500 was driving the very nice DALI Helicon 400 Mk.2 speakers. This are very nice speakers that received a positive review from Michael Fremer in Stereophile recently.

I listened to several cuts from the following CDs:
"Strike A Deep Chord" on Justice Records
"Cannon Reloaded" on Concord
"Breakfast on the Morning Tram" by Stacey Kent on Concord
"Famous Blue Raincoat" by Jennifer Warnes on Shout
"Don't Take Your Time" by Erin Bode on MaxJazz

I started off really worried when I played "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" from the Cannonball Adderley tribute album, Cannon Reloaded. The bass was indistinct, with few overtones and just showing a one-note quality. The bass on this cut is Marcus Miller playing some really tasty electric bass, with lots of energy and pop. It was lacking all those.

After that I pulled out the Jennifer Warnes CD and played the "If It Be Your Will" cut which has extensive, low, bass synthesizer. On the DALIs it lacked definition and detail. I just sounded like a low sine wave being switched on and off, with no character.

Listening to the DALIs with several vocals, with more typical, higher bass and things were pretty good, with great imaging, rich midrange and high-end details.

When I expressed my concerns to Soundings' Mark Krekeler he suggested that we put the Vienna Acoustic Beethoven Baby Grands into the system. There was immediate nirvana. Now Marcus Miller's bass was rich with overtones and details. The synth on the Warnes CD now had texture and detail, not just sine waves.

Now I could really listen the amp and not be drawn to focusing on what I wasn't hearing in the particular speakers attached.

Several cuts on the "Strike a Deep Chord" were very revealing. The richness of Odetta's voice has absolutely powerful. The chest and head were clearly revealed. Most striking was Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's which features extreme dynamics, from almost silent to huge sections of bass, guitar, vocal, horns and drums. The quiet was almost totally black.

The highs had no extra edge. I was really surprised by this, given the low hours on the amp. Clarence plays with a piercing tone on "The Drifter". (We guitar players call this tone, "icepick-in-the-eye" bright). Well it was all there, but not ugly. I didn't detect any of the usual "new equipment needs burn-in syndrome" so if this things gets better with time I'll be VERY, VERY pleased.

That's all for now. I need to get it into my own system, in my own room, burn it in for a few hundred more hours, then spend three or four several hour sessions to get more conclusive. I'll hang onto the Conrad Johnson CA200 long enough to do some meaningful comparisons. (Watch for a great deal on A'gon in the not too distant future).

Here's the bottom line, I loved the Continuum 500 enough that I'll be taking a $8800 or so check to Soundings this Friday.

Dave

Associated gear
Vienna Acoustic Beethoven Baby Grand speakers
Analysis Solo Crystal Oval 8 speaker cable
Pro-ject RM10 turntable
Sumiko Blackbird cartridge
Pioneer Dv-58AV universal player modified by Ric Schultz

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Dcstep  (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers | This Thread)

04-22-08
  Responses (1-55 of 55)
Click title to read one, or click date to read all below it.

04-23-08   Oops, i almost forgot to mention cosmetics. jrdg is known fo ...   Dcstep

04-23-08   That's really exciting dave. . . and -- no surprise -- you d ...   Guidocorona

04-24-08   I'll come back to answer you question after i take delivery. ...   Dcstep

04-24-08   I brought it home today and plugged it in. it's too early to ...   Dcstep

04-25-08   Hi dave, i know jeff rowland is a great believer in fully b ...   Guidocorona

04-25-08   I don't remember seeing an xlr on the back of my modded pion ...   Dcstep

04-25-08   The 312 in my system was not at all new, but had probably no ...   Guidocorona

04-26-08   Interesting. there's no standby mode on the continuum, so it ...   Dcstep

04-26-08   Hello dave, thank you for the nice review. can you tell me i ...   Dob

04-26-08   Switch-mode i think, consistant with the rest of jeff's prod ...   Dcstep

04-26-08   Btw, i put in 8-hours of listening today, 5 of which were fo ...   Dcstep

04-26-08   Rafael, i can confirm that continuum uses switching power ...   Guidocorona

04-27-08   04-26-08: guidocorona said: "rafael, i can confirm that ...   Dcstep

04-27-08   You are correct dave, what i wrote concerns the 500 model; ...   Guidocorona

04-27-08   04-27-08: guidocorona said: "you are correct dave, what ...   Dcstep

04-29-08   I've got a rowland concerto integrated (250 watts per channe ...   Ric982

04-29-08   Thanks ric. i've heard that the continuum 500 has pfc but no ...   Dcstep

04-29-08   In current integrateds continuum 500 has pfc; 250 does not h ...   Guidocorona

05-02-08   I'll be running down to colorado springs on monday to have r ...   Dcstep

05-02-08   Hi dave, not surprised about your reaction to the soltl per ...   Guidocorona

05-02-08   Yes, both reiner and solti benefited from that incredible cs ...   Dcstep

05-05-08   I drove down to colorado springs today to have jeff install ...   Dcstep

05-10-08   Omg, i got the bill for the phono cards and it blew my mind. ...   Dcstep

05-10-08   Hi dave, if the continuum phono stage can even rouse old rei ...   Guidocorona

05-10-08   Given the sonic delights of those old rcas, you won't be too ...   Dcstep

05-11-08   Hello dave, does your amp operates in fully (i.e. from inpu ...   Dob

05-11-08   Yes, if i fed it that way. of course, the phono is unbalance ...   Dcstep

05-11-08   Rafael, the answer is yes, current jrdg designs are comple ...   Guidocorona

05-11-08   Thank you dave and guido. as you describe its suberb design. ...   Dob

05-11-08   Yes, a real pleasure rafael. dave   Dcstep

05-20-08   How does the unit compare to the concentra iis of yesteryear ...   Keithr

05-20-08   Kr, sorry but i haven't heard the concentra ii. the pre-amp ...   Dcstep

05-20-08   Because of the built-in power factor correction circuit, it ...   Guidocorona

05-21-08   Guido, at least that's what i'm hoping. hopefully i can make ...   Dcstep

05-26-08   Here's a follow-up on the little $355 phono stage now that i ...   Dcstep

06-07-08   Here's another follow-up. the top of my c500 is hot to the t ...   Dcstep

06-14-08   On a related topic, see guido's rowland capri update at gui ...   Dcstep

09-05-08   I have had the continuum 500 in my 2nd system for a couple o ...   Cappuccino

09-05-08   Hi cappuccino, your findings do not surprise me a bit! have ...   Guidocorona

09-05-08   I haven't been experimenting with pcs on the continuum, but ...   Cappuccino

09-05-08   Thank you cappuccino, what linestage did you use with the b ...   Guidocorona

09-08-08   I am currently using burmester 011 preamp with the 301 monos ...   Cappuccino

09-08-08   Cappuccino, what speakers do you use with 301s? i have hea ...   Guidocorona

09-08-08   I have a listen and wrote a short review on the continuum 50 ...   Kiwi_1282001

09-08-08   Thank you kiwi for the review. how many hrs of playing time ...   Guidocorona

09-09-08   Guidocorona, i wouldn't mind about damping factor. my 301s d ...   Cappuccino

09-09-08   Kiwi's well written review of the rowland driving his mbls c ...   Dcstep

09-09-08   Gents (guido, mapman, dave), in response to your questions ...   Kiwi_1282001

09-09-08   Kiwi, i suspect you may have been reviewing a device that w ...   Guidocorona

09-09-08   Yes, i didn't mean to say that the mbls are not "dynami ...   Dcstep

09-09-08   Kiwi, if you don't mind me asking, how long did your auditio ...   Dcstep

02-15-09   hi dave, i have just finished a follow up audition of the ...   Kiwi_1282001

02-15-09   Beautiful review(s) kiwi. thanks for linking here. between o ...   Dcstep

02-15-09   Hi kiwi, i can confirm that the heat from the c500 is cause ...   Guidocorona

02-15-09   Guido, have you spoken to jeff about when he feels the softw ...   Husk01


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