jeff rowland 501 & 201 vs. bel canto ref1000

I am looking for anyone that has compared the three and your opinions on them.

I'm looking to step up from a bel canto s300i. Using gallo ref 3.1's

Any input will be appreciated.

I had the original Ref 1000's a few years ago- certain things were phenomenal- prodigious bass response; super low noise floor; wide bandwidth; decent texture- however, the highs were (slightly) grainy and mids not quite as 'organic' as other SS amps I have had and now own (i.e. Symphonic Line RG4 MKIII- much better liquidity), and sometimes sounded a bit 'thin' depending on the pre (impedance mismatches perhaps?). Anyways, I heard they have a 'MKII' version out now- perhaps some of these issues have been addressed- the technology holds much promise and from what I have read, all ICE amps are not created equal- perhaps the Rowlands are a step us as well- I hope this thread gains some traction...
I am thinking about the mk11s myself right now. Judging by specs the input impedance has been made much easier to drive. It was 10K/20K ohms now it's 100K/200K ohms unbal/bal.
The boards are totally changed with much higher capacitance and rfi shielding. I live in Texas and power bills are high anyway and I'd love to do without the heat. Definitely the next generation, but I think we'll see lots of advances quickly which may make technology obsolete quickly until engineers figure it out.

Did you ever try the ref1000's with a tube preamp, by any chance?

Thanks for your help man.
Yes- Sonic Frontiers Line 3...
Anyone compare the jeff rowland and bel canto side by side?
The MK.2 version of the BC Ref 1000 has addressed the graininess issue in the treble. I have not compared the JRDG 501 (no PC1) with BC R1000 Mk.2 directly, but have heard them only on separate systems. They are both very fine amps with comparable power handling. Perhaps 501 slightly more on cooler side of neutral and BC slightly on warmer side of neutral.
Guidoc- have you heard the BC's (or JRDG's) through a higher efficiency speaker?
No, I have not. . . my speakers are Vienna Mahlers, which are not high efficiency by any stretch. On the other hand, what I have heard is that these high power amps work perfectly with high efficiency speakers, provided you use a preamp with very fine gain granularity, such as the JRDG Capri for example. Guido
GC- My Pre is a (power supply modified) SF Line 3- it will do the granularity thing... Back to these Ref 1000's- would like to try the MKII's, but what is with that price increase? Guys asking like $4k for a used pair, when you can get the MKI for ~ $2k- don't understand that...
Sutts, it is quite common for older models to be offered at a further discount on the Agon listings, particularly if the newest model has greater perceived performance. On the other hand, only you can be the judge of price/performance value in your own system and for your own ears.
How much of a difference is there really between the ref1000 MKI and MKII? The price is up 1k each form the original.
Him, I should be able to compare the Mk1 and Mk2 versions before too long. Guido
Guido, Cool I'm very interested in the two being compared.
GC- add me to the 'before and after' list as well
I can't affirm that there's a graininess to the highs... but, I will say that there is a very slight glazing in the midrange though that's noticeable in comparison to a tube amp I've heard in an A/B comparison.

See you this Sunday Guido?
Surething Aaron. . . I'll see you at 2:00 PM. G.
Anyone else? What has the bigger more forward soundstage of the three?
Hmmm ... am I the only one looking forward to comments following the comparison between the mk 1 and the mk 2 of the bel canto ref 1000?
After comparing the Bel Canto Ref 1000 mk1 and mk2 versions last weekend, the consensus was that the mk2 was a bit more extended in the treble, while the mk1 was a touch more transparent overall and more engaging. A minor caveat is the mk1 in this instance wasn't fully warmed up.

The general conclusion was that if you already owned the mk1, it would not be worth the upgrade...and you might be better off with the mk1.
I once owned the BC Ref 1K MKI for over 6 months. At first, I was flabergasted by the thick and chunky midrange and the overall power. However, I found that soundstage was truncated and there was a lack of air on top. And while bass was strong, it didn't have the pacing and definition as well as startling factors I was looking for. So, I sold it and brought home a Nuforce MCH3SE to try and figured if it doesn't perform, it'll be put back on Agon for sale.

Long story short, the Nuforce stayed and has been so for over 1 year. My impression is that it presented a much bigger soundstage in size, breadth and depth. Clarity and instrumental separation as well as voices are on a different league entirely. There's plenty of air and sparkle at the top when available in the recording. Resolution was much enhanced through out the range. Bass has plenty of speed, definition and PRAT, etc... Midrange was layered, textured and clean but not lean--just the way I like it. Among others, the dynamic capability be it micro or macro is quite unbelievable. Overall, I didn't expect much of a change since they're both class D amps but boy was I wrong.

One caveat though, the Nuforce requires that you look at the rest of your systems for possible lack of synergy. If you're willing to pair them with cablings that's neutral or slightly to the warm side of neutral, then all is good. Also, component footers need not be the hard and spiky variety but perhaps something more neutral or warmish, then you'll get musical performances worthy of your time and investment. Like with all equipments, do the yin/yang balance right and you'll enjoy yourselves. However, with the Nuforce, it is much more so because it is a precision music making machine the requires that you calibrate the rest of your system up to its standard.

Just my take,

How broken in was the mk2 here? Surprising after reading the stereophile review and seeing the new specs!! How did midrange (vocals especially) compare?
>> How did midrange (vocals especially) compare?

The MK1 was slightly more transparent than the MK2 in the midrange, with the nod going to the MK1 for vocals.

The two amps are extremely close in performance. The MK2 had more extension on top by comparison, but the MK1 was a bit more compelling. There were some other differences, but nothing that suggested superior sonics per se. Again, though, the differences were subtle; both amps are great performers. I would have a very difficult time saying in absolute terms which was better.

One aspect worth mentioning about the MK2, however, is the difference in input impedance... The MK2 will be easier to mate with a wider variety of preamps (i.e., tube preamps). So, if you were looking to purchase Bel Canto Ref 1000 amps--and had a tube preamp--it would be a good idea to ensure that the amps and preamp would play well together.

Guido would have to tell you how broken in the MK2 was...
One of the Bel Canto Ref 1000 Mk.2 amps has just slightly over 500 hours on it, the other one had only 80 hours. Hence, I suspect that many of the issues . discussed above, may have to do with the very asymmetrical break in of the Mk.2 amps. I am inclined to suggest that unless we have Mk.1 and Mk.2 amps with very similar and hopefully complete break ins, and equally warmed up -- Mk.2 were definitely more warmed up than Mk.1s -- it is not possible for me to form an opinion. G.