I am using a First Sound with rowland 201s. Looking forward to trying out a Rowland Concerto pre.
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My goal has always been a fully balanced system. At the minimum, it has given a very quiet system and additional gain.
I have used the Rowland Consummate as well as the BAT VK5 with Rowland amps in fully balanced mode with great success.
If you are using a tube preamp with a solid-state amp, make sure you do not have impedance missmatch. Many tube preamps do not perform optimally with low-impedance amp (10k or less) despite claims to the contrary.
Responses will depend upon which Rowland amp you have.
Early Rowland amps used the 600 Ohm balanced input impedence standard and won't work well with some tube preamps.
The 6/8ti/9ti, the 10/12, and the 300 series amps are transparent and resolving -- they demand quality preamplification. These amps are fully differential balanced and benefit from a balanced preamp (that's one reason the top ARC amps work well with them).
The 201/501's are more forgiving of partner components.
I used two single-ended preamps with Model 6's, a Hovland with the amp switched to the higher impedence setting (18 Khz.), and an ARC LS-3, with the impedence set to the standard 600 Ohms. Both set ups were great.
Yes, 32K or 40K settings should be more than enough in most cases.
While these are just general guidlines, try to avoid a match between an amp and preamp where the preamp has 1/10th or less output impedence compared to the amp's input impedence. For example, some tube pre's have an average output impedence of 1,400 Ohms or so. Using the one-to-ten ratio, you would thus not want to pair it with an amp having an input impedence of less than 14,000 Ohms (many solid-state models do).
There will be either factors you need to check for, like appropriate preamp gain to get desirable levels of volume from a given amp, and amp sensitivity, which is the flip side of the preamp gain preoccupation. In general, you want to avoid amps with unusually high sensitivity, as most preamps will make them go very loud with only a few clicks on the volume control, thereby giving you only large gradations in loudness from soft to loud. Of course, you want to be wary of preamps with really high output (the CAT amps), as they for their part can drive a moderately efficient amp into clipping with juts a few turns of the volume control, the same lack of play in the volume control being the issue.
Just noticed that some pre-amps are "DC coupled", such as the EC-4.7 from electrocompaniet . What's the advantages and disadvantages of using the DC coupled pre? Is there any concern of using this type of pre's with rowland gears?
Thanks Raquel for your detailed explanation on impedance matching, it really helped me a lot.
Thanks Daveyf for the recommendation on CAT pre.
With 'only' 5 years delay I rediscovered this thread.. . I am using a JRDG Model 312 stereo amp. I have driven it with the following fully balanced pres, in ascending order of preference. . . from lowest to highest:
ARC Ref 3.
312 has same input impedance of approx 40K Ohms as older 302. None of the pres I used exhibited impedance mismatch issues. But Capri and Criterion, with balanced output impedances of 80 and 60 Ohms respectively, yield IMO most preferrable results. G.
I am glad Guidocorona restarted this thread. I am using a Herron VTSP-3A with my Rowland Model 10 and it is a wonderful match. I have tried a number of preamps with the Model 10 and do not find that balanced vs single ended matters as much as the quality of the preamp. The Herron is single ended, but is dead silent with the Model 10. The detail, transparency, tonal reality, frequency extension, bass, and soundstaging are superb. I have tried a number of highly regarded amps of recent vintage including the new Modright, Ayre, and the newest Spectrons used as monoblocks and none of them measure up to the Rowland Model 10. It is a keeper. The same goes for the Herron preamp.
DC coupled? Sorry I'm five years late, but DO NOT use a solid state amp with a DC coupled preamp. They can (not always, but once is more than enough) cause a significant surge on powering up, and that can literally fry a solid state amp. I know from experience- my NEW P-3 is DC coupled. Cooked both ICE modules in my Rowland 102 and actually set fire to an Audio Research D130 amp- which was damaged beyond repair and had to be junked. I now use an EAR 868 preamp, but I'll use the NEW in a back up rig with tube amps only. Rowland designs his preamps to mate well with the character of his amplifiers, so in the long run, you may well have been best off to go with a JRDG preamp.