Jeff Rowland support is excellent! I got a custom set of Battery cables made by Jeff for my Rowland Synergy IIi. The JR302 runs cold to the touch which is really nice and the fit and finish is jewel like compared to the bent steal of typically ever other amp on the market.
CJ support repairs was the pits, it took 6 months to get my preamp working and 4 trips back and forth (they sent out and installed the wrong tubes) they hadn't even looked at the unit after 4 weeks! My other friends 2500 amp transformer hummed and they said that was typical! he sold it.
As both are made by respected manufacturers that have been around for many years, one would think that the Rowland is more amp, as you do tend to get what you pay for in life and the Rowland is significantly more expensive than the c-j. What you should get for the extra money is, among other things, better parts quality and a better power supply, which typically (but not necessarily) translates into better sound quality.
As for quality of construction, my guess, based upon personal experience, is that the Rowland will have better build quality (Jeff's expensive gear always has incredible build quality), but again, maybe not.
If it matters to you, the Rowland amp, being designed around the ICe module, will burn significantly less electricity than the c-j.
In any event, at those price points, both amps are going to be excellent products. Despite the price differential, the c-j may prove to be the better sounding amp in your system, as it always comes down to system synergy. We have to assume, if you are putting such an expensive amp into your system, that the rest of your system is high quality as well, meaning that it will clearly allow you to hear even subtle differences among components -- this is all the more reason for you to demo the two amps in your own system to resolve the synergy issue (i.e., it would be foolish to make a purchase decision based upon what other people tell you about these components).
To say the obvious, make certain that you demo amps that are fully broken in (too many dealers do not bother to break in amps).
Finally, there are a number of other amps out there in the same approximate price range that will be competitive sonically (although perhaps not competitive from the perspective of build quality or reputation of the company for reliability -- a lot of the people making high-end gear are flaky and may not be there if your amp breaks).
Just try to get a home demo (system synergy) of each if possible both are great amps but I am biased as you can tell from below.
What is the rest of your system?
I am a c-j owner since year 2000 and not a single factory repair. Knock on wood!
c-j PV-10AL, Premier 11A, MV-60, 17LS Series 2
I guess I'm lucky! LOL
Thank you guys (and girls?) for your input. The rest of my system are as follows: CEC TL 1X, Audio Space DAC-1US, ARC Ref 2, BEL 1001 MK V (mono), SF Extrema. I also have a pair of ATC SCM 100 ASL speakers which I use in my main system . I suspect the BELs are a little under-powered for the Extremas and hence, the need for a more powerful and versatile amp. Unfortunately, from where I live (in Asia), I will have to drive 5 hours across the border to get a demo (strangely, the dealers are not so friendly here). Due to all these inconveniences, a home demo is out of the question.
The Rowland will benefit from the ARC Ref 2 Balanced preamp, the CJ is Single ended only. If you want your system to sound warmer the CJ, if you want it to sound smoother/liquid with dynamics the Rowland will provide that quality. It is oh so listenable with the rowland, makes you forget about upgrades for at least 45 minutes (since we can never resist the urge...) I've heard the BEL Mono's and they do run out of steam just when you get it to the level you want.. nice sounding though.
Thanks Chris, for your thoughts. I see in your other posts that you have quite extensive experience with the hybrid Lamms. Do you think the M1.2s have enough juice for the Extremas?
Jeff Rowland 302 was one of two SS amps on CES 2005 which I have found musical ! And I have some kind of aversion toward SS :(
Thf - 120 watts of Pure CLASS A Lamm power is deceiving.. I just took them over to a friends system powered by 400watt Parasound JC1 and max output was no different.
If you were really concerned get the 2.2's (I owned the 2.1's before I went to these special edition 1.1's as I found that even though I had was using 800watts into 8ohm EAD powermaster 2000 running only two channels, the Lamm had way more vice like control plus more warmth. I like the CJ warmth but wanted something more refined myself. Vocal and horns are amazing on the Lamm's, especially for me to put up with the Class A heat output these generate in Phoenix, AZ!
I've heard the 302 and it is liquid smooth like tubes but with a different warmth. I had to try the Rowland 501's to even get close to the output and control of the Lamm 1.1's I have (The Rowland 201's couldn't control the 3.4ohm woofer on my WP7's like the Lamm could). The 302 powersupply is much more capabable, and really in a different league
The Sonas Extrema's only look like 88dB effecient so unless your room is really huge the Lamm's will drive it without a problem and with ease!
Cytocycle- Yes the Extremas are 88dB efficient but the impedance is 4 ohms. They do go down to 1 ohm (according to the experts and I believe them) and when that happens, most amps including the BELs will run out of steam. While they are not difficult to drive, they do suck current like crazy. But when the amp's current supply is up to it, the Extremas can sound so sweet.
Thf: The lamms are stable to a short, he actually tests all amps by shorting them out.. the safety cicuitry kicks in and then in a few seconds it plays music again..
There is a reason they are so expensive.. the build quality and the sound! These can drive the big apogee's!
Lamm M1.2 specs
Pure Class A hybrid amplifier producing 110 Watts into 8 AND 4 Ohms,
400 Watts into 2 Ohms,
600 Watts into 1 Ohm (continuous).
Low impendence settting produces an amazing! Most other Class A amps roll to Class AB after 4ohm and lower..
110 Watts into 4 Ohms (Class A operation).
220 Watts into 2 Ohms (55 Watts Class A operation).
400 Watts into 1 Ohm (27.55 Watts Class A operation).
If you needed more the M2.2 in high impedance
220 Watts into 8 Ohms (41 Watts Class A operation).
440 Watts into 4 Ohms (20.5 Watts Class A operation).
700 Watts into 2 Ohms (10.25 Watts Class A operation).
900 Watts into 1 Ohm (5.125 Watts Class A operation).
or in Low Impedanc (flip of a switch on the back)
220 Watts into 4 Ohms (41 Watts Class A operation).
440 Watts into 2 Ohms (20.5 Watts Class A operation).
600 Watts into 1 Ohm (10.25 Watts Class A operation).
Based on the specs I would go with the M1.2's
Cytocycle- Thanks for your very detailed effort. Actually, my first choice is the Lamm M1.2s. The only drawback is the heat. I will seriously look at them again before I make a final decision.
Raquel and the rest- What are your thoughts on the Lamm M1.2s?
In my opinion, the Lamms hybrids are very competitive with other top-shelf solid-state amps, the downsides being a slightly dark character that requires a bit of system matching or tube rolling, they produce a lot of heat, and I think they are ugly. They are extremely well-made and Lamm has a reputation for supporting its products. I can only guess how they sound when partnered with your ARC Reference preamp (probably pretty good -- the ARC Reference preamps are reputed to be sunny and open sounding). A final comment about the Lamms: while they are very good, my understanding is that both Lamm's hybrid and tube amps are a bit overrated, and that the honey of the Lamm line is Vladimir's $14K preamp.
I do not know about the availability of these products where you live in Asia, but if you are opening up your list of contenders, I would mention the CAT JL-2 stereo or JL-3 mono tube amps. They are incredibly well-built, will man-handle any solid-state amp you are likely to consider and would likely be exquisite with Extremas. But if your choice is limited to the Rowland, the c-j, and the Lamms, I would go with Rowland -- his stuff sounds and looks really good, it won't break, and if it does break, Rowland will likely be around to fix it (PS - I use a Rowland Coherence II preamp and Cadence phono stage in my main system, and used to own Rowland Model 6 monos w/ batteries that worked really well with an ARC LS-3 solid-state preamp in my second system).
Cytocycle. You said you have heard both the 501's and 302's. Do both possess the ability to drive low impedances in the bass ( ie 3ohms) and play effortless loud. ie for my Vienna Mahlers which are bitches to drive.
Does the 501 have the refinement and dynamics of the 302, or is the 302 in another league.
Raquel- Thanks a lot for your thoughts which will help me greatly in my buying decision.
Downunder: If you have a resolving system and can afford the 302 get it! but the 501 is a bargain and can drive low impedences (my WP7's dip to 3.4ohm).
The 501's are that much better than the 201's especially for driving low impedances (still pretty amazing and I wouldn't have pick this as a weakness if I hadn't been comparing it to my Lamms!!!) The 501 to 302 is just as big of a leap with twice the powersupply capabilities! The build quality and the cool to the touch is amazing on the rowland amps.
Raquel: I have only once found my Lamms sound the slightest bit dark and that was comparing it to the excellent VTL Sigfrued 400 amp that has a sparkle on top in my opinion! I totally agree that system synergy is everything.. My rowland preamp sounds amazing with my Lamms! (Lamm doesn't make a remote controled preamp!)
Cytocycle. Thanks for this, do the 302's have any isues in running out of steam driving low impedance speakers loud?. My room is reasonable big being 26 by 24.
I think it is rated at 300-400watts into 8ohms and double as it drops.. 3ohms is not a problem for rowland gear..
If you are worried about that; Rowland can double the power supply for you. My local dealer has the 301 monoblocks with either 2-4 of the 501 powersupplies in the chassis. They are true beasts!
Cytocycle- You mean JR is willing to put the power supply of the 301 into the 302?
Thf: 301 has room for the extra powersupplies because they are monoblock, I don't know about the 302, I've seen a 302 listed here on agon that was 4 channel because of the powersupply setup and had two sets of outputs and inputs. So there might be an upgrade available for the 302.
Thank you folks for all your thoughts.
You were absolutely spot on about the CAT JL2. I drove 5 hours to actually try to buy the JR 302 when I saw a used JL2. I asked the dealer to put it in his demo system (with Eidolon speakers) and know what? One minute into the demo, I decided to take the JL2 home. And the best thing is, it really brings the Extrema to a new level of performance.
Have used both. Please feel free to email me for my comments
Prior to your 5 hour drive to hear the Rowland 302, did you have experience/own tube amps, or were you in the SS camp?
No, I do not have any experience with or own tube amps before but I do own tube and hybrid preamps.