Got the itch; where to go after Rowland Concerto?

Hi All,

I love my Jeff Rowland Concerto integrated amp, but I've got that itch--no, it isn't rational. I'd love to hear the opinions of my fellow A-gonners about where I might go with separates at this point to get appreciably better sound. I'm thinking of a tube pre and solid state amp for starters, but I'd love to hear suggestions so I can start my research and looking around. I want to stay around $5-6K on the audiogon used market.

I use Martin Logan Spires (and love their sound), a PSAudio phono section, and the spectacular Resolution Audio CD player. I listen to folk, jazz, classical, and rock.

Thanks in advance for any/all ideas you're willing to send my way.

the rustler
The itch is never rational. I've owned a Jeff Rowland Concentra II, but not the Concerto. Try to find a VAC Avatar Super tube integrated amp. It should run about $3K on the used market, and I felt it ran rings around the Concentra II.
I was going to suggest looking into penicillin for that itch, but then I realized that was singularly unhelpful. So much for that. Personally, I cam from a tubed pre (Rogue 99 Magnum) in front of solid state (Bryston 4b-st) to my Concerto (albeit the preamp version) -- so I guess, snark notwithstanding, I'm not qualified to point in the direction you're leaning. No accounting for taste (mine, in particular). If partial to Rowland kit (though apparently not), the new generation gear (Continuum integrated, etc) is meant to be a real improvement. Tubes + SS definitely can be fun, though.
Several years ago, I sold my Jeff Rowland Design Integrated amplifier and replaced it with an Ayre AX-7e integrated amplifier. I have the Ayre AX-7e integrated amplifier driving my Sonus Faber Auditor M Speakers in my living room The music source is the Ayre CX-7eMP CD Player running balanced cables (XLR) to the Ayre amplifier. I also have a Magnum Dynlab MD-807t Internet tuner running balanced into the amplifier (have MD-809t on order).

The Ayre AX-7e integrated sounded big and more open than the Rowland, especially in the sense that the music it played seemed more like real music. It was more like good music than merely good sound. I found it easier to relax and enjoy the music that had been there all along. It provided more musical details and plenty of volume on my Sonus Faber speakers. The lower end was excellent with both amps but again, more defined with the Ayre. I liked the way the Ayre portrayed the positions of the players and the singers. The Ayre integrated is very clean sounding, but with a slightly richer and truer harmonic envelope (key point). Both have superb timing but, to my ears, the Ayre seems a touch more coherent than the Rowland. I find the Ayre to have a surer musical sense, a better sense of real musicians making music in real spaces. The build quality was excellent on both amps.

Please note that the Ayre AX-7e Integrated amp sounds much better running with balanced inputs and not RCA inputs. Many reviewers have said this. Overall, the Ayre sounds much better to my ears in my system.

I suggest you borrow some other amplifiers (including the Ayre) and give them a listen to help you decide. You might want to look at the Ayre pre-amp and power amp products (5 series).
I agree regarding Ayre equipment