Concerto pre-amp vs. the Synergy IIi

Is the Concerto a step up? What is Rowlands best pre-amp?
The Concerto is a line-level only preamp, meaning it has no step-up transformer or phono stage of any kind in it.

Rowland's Cadence phono preamplifier has a step-up transformer in it, should you need a phono stage with a step-up transformer.

The best current production Rowland preamp is the Synergy IIi. To answer your question, however, "[W]hat is Rowlands best pre-amp?", it is the now discontinued Coherence II with battery power supply. The Synergy IIi has been said by Rowland to offer 90% of the Coherence II's performance at less than one-half the price.

A used Coherence II can be had for $5,750-$6,500, while a new Synergy IIi with a standard bricks & mortar store discount of 10% can be had for +/-$5,400. Used Synergy IIi's tend go for +/- $3,500.

Are you basing your comments of the Synergy IIi vs. Concerto on a head to head comparrison that you have done?

I have the Synergy IIi and would like to hear feedback from anyone who has done an A/B with these two pre amps.
if you have a Synergy IIi, take it to the next step and run it on batteries like I have. Your rowland dealer can order a custom cable and use two Optoma Marine Batteries! You can see the wiring of the batteries in my system photos of the Optoma Battiers.

Talk about Silence and no expensive Power cables required!

The latest Preamp doesn't have an external power supply. I haven't listened to it to compare it, but it does retail for a lot less than the Synergy IIi did.

I am curious to learn more about the improvements made when you added the batteries to your Synergy and a little info regarding the bateries, connections, charging etc.

Also, though the Concerto is a bit cheaper, how did it perform in comparrison to the Synergy IIi?


Raquel is correct. I asked JRDG about the Concerto and Synergy IIi and was told that the Synergy IIi would be slightly better because of the separate power supply, slightly quieter background I believe is what they said; but I believe you would be splitting hairs.

Personally I wouldn't hesitate to purchase the Concerto if interested in a Rowland preamp.

i am also interested in getting more details on how to make this work (connections, charging, etc.). thx

You asked "Are you basing your comments of the Synergy IIi vs. Concerto on a head to head comparison that you have done?"

No, I am basing the comment upon the fact that the Concerto is significantly less expensive than the Synergy IIi, the latter being Rowland's most expensive current preamp.

As for my familiarity with Rowland, I have owned a Cadence phono preamp for almost five years and a Coherence II preamp for a year and a half, both of which are in my main system. I recently sold Model 6 monoblocks (w/ batteries) that were in my second system.

I will make an added comment about the sound of the Coherence II and Cadence run from batteries, as I believe you expressed an interest in the sound of the Synergy IIi with batteries. The difference is subtle and it is not. The batteries do not lower the noise floor so much as they confer some kind of subtle "rightness" to the sound that is hard to describe. As I said, it is subtle, but over time, I came to find that I much prefer my system with the batteries engaged (or more accurately, the A/C line disconnected from the batteries, as the Rowland battery power supply that comes with the Coherence II / Cadence merely disconnects the A/C supply from the batteries when "full battery" operation is engaged -- at other times, the components still run from the batteries, but the A/C supply is connected to the batteries). In short, my guess is that the two components were voiced by Rowland in pure battery mode, as again, there's just something more right about the sound in pure battery mode. As for the noise level on the Coherence II, it is by far the lowest of any preamp I have owned and something that I find addictive -- I can hear an incredible amount of information that my other preamps (ARC LS-3 solid-state, Hovland, CAT Mk. III, Jadis DPL-2) obscured or buried. As I listen to a lot of chamber music and symphonic music whose accurate reproduction depends in part upon the ability of the components to permit the listener to "hear" the venue in which the performance takes place, I love this aspect of its sound.

My comments about the batteries apply only to the Rowland battery power supply, which is evidently still available for +/- $3,500, feeding the Coherence II and Cadence. As for how Cytocycle's retrofit of batteries to a Synergy IIi would sound, I leave that to him.
As to running the synergy on batteries requires two marine batteries (I use Optoma Marine batteries from Costco $139 each for the deep discharge), I use two motorcycle battery tenders for each attached to a switched outlet that I turn off when I want to listen.

There was a review of the Synergy IIi and then a followup where running the Synergy IIi on the BPS battery supply made it 95% of the Coherence II in performance. I can't remember which magazine, I found it online.

My Rowland dealer ordered the cable from Rowland (took a while because it was custom made by Jeff) and got the wiring diagram for the hookup from his customer that was running the setup.

I don't have the battery wiring hookup (the napkin has disappeared somewhere) so I can't be much help, talk to your local Rowland dealer.

Raquel: It is a subtle thing but it was a WOW in my system because of the noise on my powerlines that I use. It was more natural than running on my PS audio and about the same blackness, it truely makes you forget about the preamp in my system