Jeff Rowland Capri preamp

Has anyone heard Jeff Rowland's new preamp, Capri, or know anything about it? It looks pretty interesting:

If no-one is familiar with this particular model, any comments on Jeff Rowland's preamps in general?

I miss my Syngery IIi (one of those components you shouldn't have sold...).... Looks pretty amazing, plus Rowland released a another high end preamp at CES.

The Display and volumn adjustments are amazing on Rowland Equipment!(The Placette Active has the same positive stepped style but the Rowland has the nice display...) The other amazing thing about Rowland preamps is they have no hum or other power problems... I have had 4 other brands (other than my Theta and placette) which have hummed because of power problems even with a balanced conditioner and dual ground rods...

Rowland equipment has that smooth tube presentation without but with the bloom and amazing lower bass attenuation. Build quality is amazing...
Thanks for the response. The preamp will be paired with a pair of Channel Island Audio D-100 monoblocks, fed by a Cyrus CD8x cd player. The Cyrus is a very good cd player but can be a little bright if paired with the wrong equipment. Your description of the Rowland preamp as smooth and tube-like sounds like it fits the bill.
The Rowland will be the smoothest Solid State amp you can buy without the hassel of tubes, and will provide the best dynamics and amazing soundstaging. Plus it is a truely balanced component which is noise free!!
Cytocycle - Do you know what the cost of the new high-end preamp is? Thanks
The new double chassis rowland preamp is reported to cost $15k unfortunately..
Rowland stuff,sometimes,is criticised(wrongly,IMO).These products are built to heirloom standards,and hold up very well as to sound.Also,Jeff is a class act!
I'm going to disagree a little. I own a Concerto preamp and have owned both the Model 1 and 201 amps. In the case of the new products, which have been on the market for a while now, I think it is beyond shameful that users manuals do not ship with and are not available for them. Balance is controlled in a sort of odd way (actually, in a very poor way from a human factors standpoint) on the Concerto, but I had to write to JRDG to find out how. Ditto for setting the display to shut off.
Drubin: Interesting, their website use to provide manuals in PDF format, but the new website has no downloads of manuals. It's great to hear that you can actually shut the display off on the newer Preamps.

Not Every manufacture can provide Wilson like manuals (truelly amazing, room placement, Acoustic treatment, Test CD's to setup the subwoofers, diagrams, etc..)
Just came into a Concerto (and a pair of 201s) myself. The build quality is inspiring, carved as they are out of solid, billet aluminum. As has been said before, executed to "NASA-grade tolerances." Heirloom-grade, indeed -- makes most of my other gear, past and present, look and feel like cheap toys. Oh, and they sound pretty swell, too. Prehaps not the last word in fidelity (what is?), but a significant improvement over the prior Plinius / Bryston combo I was using. The combo is at times surprisingly more resolving, while at the same time being absolutely dead silent (totally inert both physically and noise-floor-wise).

I wouldn't necessarily call it a tube-like sound, though, having come from two different tubed pre-amps previously. I would, by perhaps uneducated comparison, say that they present a remarkeably neutral and uncolored presentation. Previously, I had gravitated to generally warmer-voiced stuff, which tended to put a varnish of warmth and forgiveness on everything, making poorer recording more user-friendly and the remarkeable stuff, well, less remarkeable. With the Rowland(s), there's comparatively no varnish -- and the unvarnished truth sometimes aint pretty. (That said, also put all new, balanced, silver wires in with the new gear -- approaching a sufficiently large number of hours in, but I sill expect I haven't hit a final sound). I find myself re-listening to most everything and discovering layers of sound, micro-dynamics and soundstaging info I never suspected were there. And that's pretty cool. So far, really love the stuff. Objectively (ie, opinions other than my own), I've read a quasi-consensus that the Concerto is really special and the 201's are perhaps less so by comparison. Having done it all together, though, I really couldn't say.

That said, Drubin, you up for sharing how to re-center the balance on the thing? Gotta admit, not immediately apparent, not by a long shot. Also, for turning off the display, is the answer that you have to uncork the thing and reset some switches in its guts (read someplace that's what was called for regarding the Concerto integrated)? Aside from these two nits -- which, I certainly agree, could have been better thought out, or at least documented -- I'm a big fan....
What's the deal with only 5 inputs though? You would think with all of the components people can have today a preamp should have at least 6 if not more.
i had the pleasure of borrowing a Capri pre-amp for about two months now with the contention of probably buying it.
Like most posters rowland is smooth and tube like--yup, thats the sound. No grain.

the build quality is like a tank. the remote control is great.

Soundwise, i couldnt complain. Its tubelike though its still not tubes. Its on the warm side of things similar to tubes.

I love its gain since it has 100 steps.

Matching with power amps is no problem. I'm currently auditioning it with the Jeff Rowland Model 102 power amp.
Just a tip for the Rowland 201,501, and probably the 102's. Make sure to put about 400hrs on them before you become critical and don't turn them off at the back. They really open up starting at the 400hr mark and get better all the way to the 800hr mark.
Hi Nolitan - What is the list price of the Capri? Thanks
$2950 I believe
Here's what Rowland says about balance:
The balance control function operates in .5 dB increments with a maximum available differential between left and right of 6 dB. This is achieved by pushing either left or right balance buttons on the remote. With every push you get a .5 dB increase in that respective channel, for a net differential incremental increase of 1 dB between channels with every button push (because the opposite channel goes down .5dB also). The balance will max out at 6 dB differential between left and right. Balance is reset to center by powering down the Concerto or resetting the Concerto via holding down the mute button (for about 5 seconds) until the display turns off. There is no visual display confirmation of balance status.
Regarding the display, they say, "The display can be set to time out, but it is a factory or dealer only modification as it is a bit tricky to do this operation." However, they will walk you through it if you call them.
Thanks, Drubin. As I suspected. I also found directions for setting the Contentra display (which I suspect is similar to the process for the Concerto) to shut off on the website here. Officially looked like more trouble than it was worth.
the capri list for $2800 or $2700, cant quite remember.
the display can be set to display for 3 sec and then blink out or just left display mode on all the time.

the 102 has been with me for over month, left on all the time, yes, it does improve with time.

still its best left on all the time.
>>> from Nolitan (01-24-07)
>>> the display can be set to display for 3 sec and then blink out or just left display mode on all the time

Hi Nolitan,

Can you advice how to set the display in Capri with the blink function as you have mentioned ??

Thanks a lot.
Has anyone compared the Rowland Capri and/or Concerto linestages with the Audio Research Ref 3?
The Jeff Rowland Capri is incredibly musical. I'm running it with Dynaudio speakers and the result is hours of fatigue free listening. Very involving musically. The soundstage and depth is expansive, the top end is sweetly rendered with very very little grain. The amp itself is very very quiet with little grain or hum. Tonality is top notch, instruments sound like themselves and have seperation. Bass is solid. The sweetness and musicality of tubes with the drive and authority of solid state. No other way to describe than to hear it for yourself.
Mr. Rowland is an artist.
"sweetness and musicality of tubes with the drive and authority of solid state."

Pause, my sentiments exactly. May I quote you if I ever write a review of the Capri for TAS? I should add that the Capri's frequency extension is outstanding, and so is its harmonic richness. I am powering it through a Purist Anniversary PC. I am currently trying to gage the impact of the new JRDG PC1 external Power Correction Factor on Capri. My standard Linestage is the ARC Ref 3. My very initial and tentative impressions is that Capri by itself may compare favorably to Ref 3. Capri being this good, I can only wonder how the upcoming statement level JRDG Criterion is going to sound like.
Agree with Pause 100%.

I would like to add that I used a 102 amp with a lesser pre (an Arcam Solo with internal amp, bypassed to the 102; dumb setup). The sound was nice, but perhaps a little too velvety. Highs were rolled off considerably and bass was tight but lacked punch.

When I replaced the Arcam with the Capri, it opened up a whole new sound. The velvety qualities remained to some extent, but the highs became much sweeter and crispier, and the bass gained considerable authority.

Having listened to little else, I am no expert, but I can say that the synergy between the Capri and the 102 is superb.

I had an email discussion with another member about the Rowland 102 vs. the Bel Canto S300. The fellow had moved from the 102 to the BC, claiming the Rowland was too laid back. I suspect his preamp was the culprit. With the Capri, I'd call the sound anything but laid back.
I just acquired a pair of Rowland model 12's and was wondering how the capri preamp sounded. From the above posts it sounds exactly what I'm looking for. I'm currently using an Air Tight ATL-10A passive pre. A trip to Soundings and a talk with Rod seems to be in order.
ConiferDave, by coincidence, Sounding's Rod's Capri was in my system just a couple of weeks ago. He did the Master Set on my Mahlers and 'forced' me to listen to the Capri. . . what a harsh man! (Chuckles!)
Guidocorona,is the Capri tubelike in the mid's with extended frequency extremes? I've been considering a tube pre but the WAF would really like something to match the Rowlands. By the way, how did the Master set change or improve things. Have been considering doing that also.
The Master Set optimizes the interaction between your speakers and your room. . . I thought my Mahlers sounded already good as I had 'set them up' by my own self. I was kindly disabused of that notion. While there is nothing magical or Newagish about the entire process, in effect the final result is quasi. . . Magical.
Yes, it would appear the Capri is extremely extended at both ends. Not sure if you could classify it as 'tuby' in the midrange though. I cannot detect an emphasis of midrange fundamentals per se or of subjective 'warmth' that I would not be personally wild about. Rather, I am hearing more harmonic texture than I am used to, which subjectively to me sounds 'musical'. The Capri I have in the system right now is apparently straight out of the factory. . . . how it will sound after 500 hrs of stout breakin can be only left as an exercise to my feverish imagination.

I turn my Rowland 201's off at the back when I'm not using them. I'm concerned that a transient on the power line could cause a noise pulse from the amps which could damage my speakers.
Guidocorona, thanks for the reply. Sounds like the Master set is a must have. Will have to set up an appt. with Rod soon. After you've got the Capri broken in, mind if I borrow it ( just kidding). Again, thanks for the info.
A_hayman: You should contact Rowland about your concern but my understanding of the amplifiers operation: They remain in standby consuming 7watts, they are waiting to get a active input from the preamp (when you turn on the preamp and present a signal) before the outputs of the amplifier are activated. You sound is severly hindered by not letting them stay on. If you are concerned pickup a Transparent Power Conditioner for the ultimate in protection Without limiting those amplifiers.
Rod did my Master Set also. I think it's critical to get that done before you start trying to evaluate equipment. Yes, you can evaluate equipment without a Master Set, but stopping the fight between the speakers and the room removes much stress (probably IM distortion)that makes it harder to hear the little refinements. When the speakers are working right, then the smaller difference pop out so much easier.

All, I am now feeding the JRDG Capri a steady diet of 384V DC through the JRDG PC1 PFC unit with very intriguing initial results. I have just started a new didicated thread if anyone were interested. . .

The Ayre K1Xe seems to be the most honored solid-state preamp in the last few years (at least that's what I take out of the forums). Could anyone contrast the Ayre to the Capri?

Whoa, no way Ayre is "most honored". Let's call it "worthy competitor" and leave it there.

OK, fair enough.
Anyhow, any comparisons are welcome. Thanks.
Is the Capri better than the Concerto? Because I had one of those and thought it was, well, disappointing.
Yes, entirely different, or maybe more accurately, very different.

Capri and Concerto internals are extremely different--Capri being a brand new design based on TI Burr Brown OPA1632. However, not having had the opportunity of a direct a/b audition, I am not in a position of offering my own comparative findings. Rather, I have contrasted the Capri with the ARC Ref 3 for about 3 months and currently prefer Capri on most all audible parameters, in particular for extension, bass control, overall linearity, low level detail, harmonic development. Macro dynamics is comparable. Slightly more romantic and slightly darker the Ref 3 than Capri. Overall two great pres for slightly different musical tastes. I have posted some more detailed findings in other related threads on Audiogon.
How would the Capri match with an Edge NL12.1?
(I find the Edge to have a great grip on the bass, with lots of bass detail, smooth but well-textured mids and highs,
and nothing really stands out in the entire spectrum. It has nicely rounded dense but not-too-thick images along with a moderate degree of airiness.) Thanks in advance for any thoughts or speculation.
Rgs92, I am not familiar with the Edge NL12.1. Having said that, as the Capri has very low output impedance of 80Ohm balanced and 40Ohms single ended, there is a very good chance that synergy will be good. Guido
Thank you Guido. Rich
I'll be getting a Capri with the phono boards. For the time being it will be run through the amp section of a VAC Avatar SE, 70 watts ultralinear push-pull.

I've enjoyed reading many of the threads on this preamp. I'm looking forward to auditioning it.
Clio09, I think you'll be happy. Be sure to let the Capri burn-in at least 100-hours before getting critical in your listening, that includes the phono-stage (I bought a little inverse RIAA card that allowed me to burn in the phono cards with my CDP). Keep everything running for a week and you'll have 150-hours on it before you know it.

It should be a fine match for you VAC. If you ever want to go ultra-quiet, then consider a full-Rowland set up with PFC and Rowland amps. Still, as you have planned should work well.

Clio09, I am even more conservative than Dave about Capri's breakin. . . mine has continued to sweeten and open up for over 3 months. . . I estimate that breakin time may be as much as 800 hrs before Capri stabilizes. after 100 or 150 hrs Capri will be quite good, but will be far from being at its best. A critical comparison with your current pre would still be premature with 150 hrs on it. G.
Ultimately I would like to go to an all balanced set-up. I might be getting a set of VAC Musicblocs in the future with the balanced input upgrade to go with the Capri, but for now it will run unbalanced into the VAC Avatar SE. However, I may try the balanced outputs on my DAC into the balanced inputs on the Capri. I don't have balanced cables right now but I should be able to pick up some Mogami Neglex which would not be too expensive.

Guido, I had read about the break in on the Capri. I will run my break in disc on it a few times and alternately run a CD on 24/7 repeat for a week to get things started.

Dave, where do you get the inverse RIAA card? Also, how would you rate the phono section? I think the upgrade was only $750. I'm using the VAC Avatar SE phono now and have had a K&K Audio SE phono in the past. Any comparisons to these or other phono stages would be helpful.
Yes, use balanced wherever you can. VAC will be excellent, now and post upgrade, but try to hear all-Rowland with Power Factor Correction before you make a final decision on that amp upgrade. YMMV regarding balanced, as a lot depends on your RFI/EMI environment and how tightly packed your components are (particularly the digital stuff).

The inverse RIAA card kit is $29 from Hagerman

The Capri's phono card is excellent, in the very top echelon. In my case it blew away my Pro-ject SEII, but, more importantly, it replaced a Levinson and a Sutherland in other systems that I know of. I don't know of anyone that replaced a K&K and I've never heard the K&K. Everyone's reporting plenty of gain with a wide variety of pickups along with enough loading choices to work with most cartridges. (If you've got "special needs" for loading, then there could be an issue, but the Capri handles "standard" loads). Uncolored, transparent, sweet, open, large stable image are things that I've heard from the three or four reporters that I've heard from directly by phone or email. The phono presentation is very consistent with the line inputs.

Hi again Clio, interesting you use VAC: Capri has same output impedance of 40Ohms SE and 80Ohms balanced as VAC Ren II pre. I suspect impedance match will be quite good. What I am not sure is if VAC is differentially balanced or simply has XLR inputs. . . may make a difference on Capri performance. Guido
For the time being I'd like to keep tubes for my amp. So the VAC or Atma-sphere come to mind (my speakers were voiced with the latter, but the designer also feels the VAC amps work well, which they have so far with the Avatar SE).

I've seen the Hagerman card now that you mention it and will order one. Since I'm using a MM cartridge the load is not an issue. I'm more concerned with the quality of the phono stage. I suspect the Capri phono will be fine.

I've read where the Capri on its own is immune to voltage swings. If I recall it can operate optimally at as low as 85 or as high as 385v. I read how some people use the PFC and I get that it actually mimics batter power with the conversion to DC, but I think I might hold off on that for now.
Search around for Guido's comments regarding the PFC. He prefers the Capri without PFC. Since it's a low current device, that's very understandable, but YMMV depending on the quality of your mains' power and the load presented by other devices in the same circuit. Guido's JRDG 312 amp has PFC, so you know it's presenting a nice sine-wave like demand to his mains, but you may not have that case in your system. Everyone that I know that combined the Capri with amps without onboard PFC, like the Rowland 501s, noted a very major gain by adding PFC to both, which the PC1 is set up to do with Rowland products.

That 385v is after PFC in DC mode. In AC mode (w/o PFC) you could hear some voltage sensitivity. Like I said earlier, a lot will depend on the basic stability of your mains along with whatever your amps and other components may be doing to contaminate.

All that said, assuming a relatively average environment, I think you'll be darn happy with the Capri without PFC, particularly if you use balanced at every possible point.

Just got the Capri and put it in my system yesterday. Currently running it single ended but that will change once I get some balanced cables. I'm currently looking at trying Mogami Neglex, Oyaide Pa-02TX, and Magnan Vi. I may add the Alha Core TQ-2 to the mix as well. Any other suggestions from Capri owners would be appreciated.

I bought a used unit here on Audiogon so I'm hoping break in time will be minimized. I ran my Granite Audio burn-in CD through it yesterday and there is about another 36 hours on it so far. Initial impressions are the preamp is quiet and more detailed. Sound is smooth, but somewhat relaxed. Soundstage is not as deep as the VAC Avatar SE, but still very acceptable. I'm running the Capri through the HT bypass on the VAC Avatar SE while I await my VAC Auricle Musicblocs.
Congrats Clio, I found that my own Capri kept opening up throughout 4 months of heavy usage. I recommend that you put about 1,000 hours of playing time on it yourself before you decide what the creature does for living. By the way, you should leve it on at all times, unless there were thunderstorm or other heavy weather. . . . just do not expect 'midrange bloom'. . . you won't find it, even after 1000 hrs. . . . authority, definition, extension, and harmonic complexity will come in very gradually.