Found Perfect Amp For My Needs, But Is It Too Old?
While traveling last fall, I visited an old friend in Houston. Knowing I have, for a very long time, been serious about audio,and music, he introduced me to a neighbor, that he knew was also of like mind. I spent the better part of an evening listening to his wonderful system and talking audio.
What struck me the most about his system, a number of components of which I was familiar with, were the Jeff Rowland Model 6 mono's, which literally produced the best sound I have ever heard from a solid state amplifier (and I've been a died in the wool tubes guy). He was even kind enough to take the time to allow me to hear them connected to the preamp and cd player from his "office system" the Modwright LS100, and the Oppo Model 95, both of which I own.
My question surrounds the question of long term reliability, and/or servicing that older Rowland amplifiers might need. His performed perfectly, but the situation with those is likely a somewhat unusual case. He was the original owner, and purchased them locally. Since then, thay have never moved from their original place of installation in his listening room, while also being connected to dedicated power, as well as expensive power conditioning equipment. A rare, optimum situation.
I seem to recall reading often that caps need replacement in older amplifiers. And I expect servicing of the amplifers by Rowland might well cost very serious money. Possibly as much as buying some amplifiers?
Having heard those Model 6 monoblocks, I would dearly love to locate and buy a pair. But I need to be able to count on twenty years of service due to certain recent events. These would resolve an issue I've had since last year, in being unable to uncover any tubed amplifiers that will produce the power I need, that I can afford, and which will also not massively overheat my small listening area. And my experimentation with solid state has been less than completely satisfying.
Of course the other problem I am facing is that the Model 6's almost never appear for sale. Granted, there are a rare pair for sale at the moment, here, but both faceplates are badly scratched, and the asking price is far too high in that condition.
I recently sold my Rowland Model 2 after 12 years. I'd still have it, but I wanted a Rowland 625, even more. My Model 2 was the stereo version of the Model 6. The only repair I ever had done was a replacement of the bridge rectifier. One failed locally, & the tech at my Rowland dealer suggested I get mine replaced.
I want to stress I think thermal cycling is one of the worst things you can do to a solid state amp,-(Turning the amp on & off, daily). Whenever my Model 2 was in my system, it was on 24/7. These amps make little heat, and don't consume much power.
As far as power supply caps, the Model 2 had (1) per channel, the size of a small automotive ignition coil. The cap is mounted in an aluminum tube to avoid vibration. Thus cap replacement is straightforward. You don't have to have a tech desolder/solder multiple caps on a board. The caps in my amp were original. The Model 2 production began in 1994. My amp was serial #A20001, the first Model 2 made.
My amp is now in Florida. The new owner is quite happy. My BPS is now in Japan. I liked the amp better in my system without the BPS.
You have good tastes Nightfall, I agree that JRDG's Model 6 monblocks were the best SS amps I have ever owned. I also owned a Model 2 as Danielk141 talks about, and I preffered them without the battery packs. I agree that the price for the pair on Audiogon now is too high. You should be able to grab a nice pair for $3000-$3500. Looking back, I regret selling mine.
As for re-capping, I think that sometime in the next 20 years they will need service, probably a cap change. However, whether you ship them to JRDG for this service or have a local tech provide it is up to you. I also agree with Danielk141 in that leaving them powered up 24/7 will not only provide the best sound, but will allow them to grow old gracefully.
IMHO, JRDG hit their peak with the 2/6/8/9 series of amps in the mid to late 90's. Earlier samples were a bit too dark, more recent models a bit too bright. He had it just right with the 2/6/8/9 amps.
Thanks to all for your responses. I am afraid that I may indeed be in the same place that Elizabeth is, in terms of " Yeah we have stuff we wish for and want.. but sometimes reality intervenes" but I somehow hope there might still be a chance for more.
I would greatly welcome any additional comments, perspectives or thoughts on the matter.
Thanks for your thought Jmgrogan2. I've read your previous posts on these amplifiers, and we are in complete agreement about the Model 6's. My concern is whether I will find anyone offering them for sale within the next six, nine, or more months. I can likely find a local tech to re-cap, at some point. I want my last 20 years, or so, of listening to be all it can be.
JC, it's funny you should mention that. There was a pair of Model 6's sitting on Audiogon for almost a month. They must have just sold or the ad expired. The guy was asking $3500 for the pair. I was watching closely, especially because the seller only lived about 100 miles from me.
In the end, I just couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger. Funds are tight these days, and I had just purchased a new preamp that pretty much left me broke (especially after buying some fancy tubes). It's all just a matter of right place, right time.....and being patient.
The sad fact is that it won't last forever without service. But, at least you have the Roland company to send it to. You know at least that it will be dealt with properly, although certainly at a cost. Not everyone is so lucky. Still, there are other ss products you haven't heard. Who knows, you might like something else even better. Something newer. As mentioned before, Bryston has a great warranty and Classe used to, though I don't know what it is these days. My old Classe pre was stated as lifetime!
The OP wrote: " These would resolve an issue I've had since last year, in being unable to uncover any tubed amplifiers that will produce the power I need, that I can afford, and which will also not massively overheat my small listening area. "
Have you looked into the Butler Audio TDB-2250 Tube/MOSFET power amp? 250 watts/ch. Go to this link:
I cannot relate to Elizabeth's response. NBD, it's just not my ilk. Why o why would I want any audio product to last for 20 years? I owned a Bryston 4B for 10 years. True it had power slam dunk bass, but the 20 years means nothing to me. I would grab that used baby, enjoy it, and fix it when or if it goes. Relative to $$ spent, I would take used greatness rather than good longenevity. Who wants anything to last forever, except my mother. "buy good carpet. It will last 20 years!" Problem is I hated the carpet after 5 years and felt so guilty ripping it up because I spent so much. That was when I was young, naive, poor and stupid...
Nightfall, here's a link to that pair of Model 6 amps I was talking about. It looks like they expire in about 22 hours. Yeah, he spelt the name wrong AND has no feedback, but since he 'lives' about a 100 miles away, I was thinking of taking a look at them, maybe cash n' carry. The pair I used to own had the black faceplate too, I like that better than the silver.
The problem is, like I said before, I'm kinda tapped out for cash at the moment. I COULD do it, but I SHOULDN'T do it. Then I'd have to buy a couple more power cords with 20A IEC's......it never ends. GREAT AMPS though.
@Tom6897, I did hear the Model 112 at a dealer's, it wasn't bad, but for some reason, JRDG just never seemed to relocate that magic it had in the midrange when they changed to their digital switching amps. Like I said earlier, I think Jeff reached his pinnacle with the 2/6/8/9 series of amps. Earlier models were a bit too dark, and the newer models, with the digital switching, just never grabbed me in an emotional way that his earlier amps did.
Nightfall, I would not be terribly concerned about maintenance of M6s.... Rowland amps are built like battlewagons.... I used for 10 years a pair of M7s made in the late 80s.... When they were picked up bodily by their newest Daddy a couple of years ago they were still in perfect operating conditions.
Concerning the Rowland sound, yes it is true, after M6 and M8 Rowland underwent a bit of a technology transition for a spell.... His reference machines ranging from M12, M112, M302, and early M301 were a little unemotional, often with slightly depressed leading transients.... And his Lower end amps like M201 and M501 did sound a little matter-of-fact and not particularly "Rowlandish".
However, I found the more recent M312 to be a very intensely emotional and musical device, which remained my reference for several years. Now I have M725 monos, which seem to deliver all that M312 did, but has an even sweeter treble and delivers a denser harmonic structure.
Soon I will try out the new M925 monos.... But that's a tale for the hopefully near future.
Thanks very much for the link to the mis-listed pair of Model 6's. I've been checking at least 4-5 times a week here for the past nine monmths or so, but obviously, my seaches never caught this listing due to the mispelling. Unfortunately, I was at the hospital dealing with a family emergency (that very thankfully has ended with all being well, or at least will be). I just got home and showered and sat down to wind down ehile checking things online before getting some sleep and saw your post from yesterday. By the time I clicked on the link, it had expired a few hours earlier. :(
While, for my system, I would prefer the chrome vs black, I did leave the seller an email indicating that I might be interested in purchasing them, assuming they are available. My biggest concern is that he has no feedback, and, unlike you, I am not 100 miles away (about 600 miles for me), so the purchase would be a definite risk.
02-20-13: Jmcgrogan2 Nightfall, here's a link to that pair of Model 6 amps I was talking about. It looks like they expire in about 22 hours. Yeah, he spelt the name wrong AND has no feedback, but since he 'lives' about a 100 miles away, I was thinking of taking a look at them, maybe cash n' carry. The pair I used to own had the black faceplate too, I like that better than the silver.
Before making a decision I would recommend contacting Liberty Audio - the direct distribution arm of PBN Audio. Peter Noerbaek has a solid reputation in speaker and electronics manufacturing. You may have heard of the success of the Liberty B2B-1 phono preamplifier. I did some research and ultimately purchased one unit. Then took the next step and run two of these in mono configuration. For the money nothing (and I have tried very expensive gear) approaches the performance. His most recent project is the Liberty B2B-100 amplifier. For around $3,000 I think he has accomplished another feat. I ultimately bought two (again running in mono) and I am amazed at the capabilities. Not sure if the Liberty Audio website is populated yet with the product information so reach out directly. I can send photos, etc. to those interested. firstname.lastname@example.org
02-22-13: Dhumphrey Before making a decision I would recommend contacting Liberty Audio - the direct distribution arm of PBN Audio. Peter Noerbaek has a solid reputation in speaker and
Thanks for the recommendation, but $6,000.00 for two monos is way outside my allowable budget.
electronics manufacturing. You may have heard of the success of the Liberty B2B-1 phono preamplifier. I did some research and ultimately purchased one unit. Then took the next step and run two of these in mono configuration. For the money nothing (and I have tried very expensive gear) approaches the performance. His most recent project is the Liberty B2B-100 amplifier. For around $3,000 I think he has accomplished another feat. I ultimately bought two (again running in mono) and I am amazed at the capabilities.