I use an aeris myself with 725 monos (and Halcro pre) so Rowland lover as well here.
This is going to be one great thread. Very informative review, props. I look forward to your updates as I sit in front of my TAD Evolution system, which you may know is Class D. The amp is admittedly 95 lbs, so also not the typical form factor. But it just makes the E-1 speakers sing. Class D done right is a joy.
Hello all, thank you for your kind words. While I am working on my next planned instalment of scribblings, I’d like to provide a couple of Daemon tidbits which arose from questions posed by a friend of mine…
In case you were wondering, Daemon’s DAC and preamplifier stages are far from being old wine in a new bottle. In other words, they are not repackaged Aeris and Corus circuits. The DAC and preamplifier sections are entirely unique to Daemon, and were designed by Jeff and Thomas Holm from the ground up to be statement-level performers. While Corus, and my own Aeris DAC in particular, remain phenomenal music makers for their price points, Daemon’s DAC and preamplifier sub-systems are said by Jeff Rowland to comfortably exceed the older separates, and for what I have heard this far, I share Jeff’s opinion without reservations.
Daemon's output power of 1500W/8 and 2500W/4 is indeed a little greater than three times that of a pair of Rowland monoblocks. By now I can already tell that music flows with even greater ease than from my M925 pair. But this incredible power reserve does not emerge on Daemon fresh from the factory, but manifests gradually as break-in progresses... Last night I might have been a little, ahem… Trigger happy J I mashed the volume-up button of the JRDG Remote app a little too long, and Dvorak's 9th symphony was thundering out of the speakers like the proverbial four horsemen of the apocalypse... Awesome transients with Great fluidity and still No distortion artifacts… But my wife had quite enough of Daemon's sonic exuberance, and asked me kindly to pipe it down *Grins!*
There are 150 hours of playing time on the unit right now, and I have doubts that the integrated has unveiled all its power reserve.
Ah yes, before I forget: Daemon has been playing 24/7 since unboxing… It feels barely lukewarm to the touch. Surface temperature seems the same across the top plate, front plate, and side cooling fins. This points to the device’s power efficiency, and excellent heat dissipation management.
Thank you so much Johnd! Actually, paragraphing saves me from going into total mental confusion *Grins!*
Tubes can be wonderful for their sweetnes and air around the notes... Daemon, in some ways, makes me think of the grace of some idealized tube, but with a power reserve that is rare in any topology.
Hope you will continue to follow my scribblings... And please ask me questions... There is so much that otherwise I will forget to tell about this critter!
Hi all, here is a minor update:
Yesterday evening, at about 160 hours, Daemon dipped into a shallow doldrums cycle… Still transparent, still filled with overtones and ever sweet, Stage had narrowed a little, and bass and authority, while unfailingly clean, had somewhat receded. As I mentioned, these periodic performance cycles are expected for the first 400 to 500 hours of break-in, and compared to other devices in my present and past, they are remarkably mild.
All, while Daemon continues to steep and break-in 24/7, here is some more information about this statement-level power-beast:
Daemon is hardly a featherweight: at 99LBS in its machined aircraft-grade Aluminum birthday-suit, the single-chassis looks and feels impressive and solid. The massive construction features the elegant signature Rowland styling and meticulous attention to detail that it shares with M925, M625 S2, and the M725 S2 amplifiers. Yet, a simple glance distinguishes Daemon from its relatives, Daemon’s machined heat dissipating fins are just slightly smaller, as larger internal real estate is required to accommodate all multi-layer ceramic boards, circuits, and multiple regulated power supplies for DAC subsystem, linestage, power amplifier, as well as for the optional phono stage and Daemon’s future streamer.
The elegant faceplate is slightly convex and subtly prismatic, measuring 1.5” at the thickest middle point. The whole gleams with the classic Rowland spiraling diamond-cut pattern. A large 7” by 5” color touch display is top center: it provides status information, lets the user select inputs, and control other operations, either by direct finger-taps, or with the iOS JRDG Remote app or with Daemon’s own Bluetooth remote control handset. Consistent with Daemon’s construction, the multi-function remote is a premium-quality device, milled from a solid Aluminum block, very much like the remotes of Corus and Aeris.
Continuing with the front plate, below the display are the physical momentary-contact push-buttons for standby, mute, and for activating the display menu. Just under these, the half-inch thick rim of a large volume flywheel emerges from a horizontal slot milled into the fascia.
Below the bottom edge of the fascia, a quarter inch headphone output socket peeks from the middle front of a slightly recessed Delrin® bottom plate, which houses the Bluetooth transmitter/receiver serving the JRDG Remote control app for Apple iOS and Daemon’s Bluetooth remote control hand-set.
Now let us look at the connection-rich and well organized back-panel. It bristles with 27 individual connection points, flanked by two removable machined cover plates concealing one port which accepts the Streaming Module, and the other for accessing the USB firmware update port.
All audio inputs are transformer-coupled to minimize common mode noise and other distortion artifacts. Distortions are further controlled by use of multi-layer ceramic circuit boards in each subsystem. Consistent with all Rowland products, RCA connectors are Cardas rhodium plated over copper with Teflon insulation, while XLR’s are Neutrix with silver plated contacts, also standard on all Rowland offerings.
The complement of transformer-coupled digital DAC inputs is impressive:
3 optical TOSLINK ports
Lundahl coupling transformers connect all Analog line-level XLR and RCA inputs directly to the preamplifier subsystem:
Want to feed an external analog line-level source into Daemon? Daemon’s DAC and preamplifier subsystems can be bypassed by connecting an analog-line-level signal directly to the Lundahl-transformer-coupled inputs of the power amplification section:
Is your system bi-amped? Daemon’s line-level outputs provide connectivity from the pre-amplifier sub-system to an external amplifier:
Like all Rowland amplifiers, except for the entry-level M125, Daemon supports Speaker bi-wiring with a row of 2 pairs of output terminals. For greater convenience, these are arranged in a mixed horizontal/vertical layout:
Remember that quarter inch socket below the bottom of the front plate? That one is for you stereo headphone lovers… And if your headset has an eight inch jack instead, you will find a 3.5mm to quarter inch converter inside Daemon’s accessory box.
For you vinyl lovers, there are two optional phono cards, standard and high performance (HP) versions. They can be easily installed after removing Daemon’s top cover. Note that as my system does not include a turntable, no phono module is included in my review unit.
Want a streamer? Daemon’s optional wireless streamer module is in the works. It will be released pending Roon certification.
Daemon’s power inlet supports 20A IECs. The back plate is completed by a remote trigger jack for standby /control from a home theater processor, and a grounding post to facilitate star-grounding, as well as grounding of a phono turntable.
Moving now to operating Daemon with the JRDG Remote app… I paired Daemon to my iPhone for control with the JRDG Remote Bluetooth app. Pairing is simple: turn on Bluetooth on the iOS device, launch the JRDG Remote app, and then press the mute button on Daemon for five to ten seconds, until the app asks confirmation that you wish to establish connection.
Typically, the connection remains active all the while the app is running. If connection is lost because you temporarily took your iOS device out of Bluetooth range, or the app has been closed, press the Daemon mute button for 5 to 30 seconds to reconnect. With the app, I can control volume, mute, and input selection from anywhere in my home.
As mentioned earlier, Daemon is supplied with a dedicated multi-function Bluetooth remote control handheld unit, but I have not explored this device yet.
That’s enough for now… And do not forget to ask questions. I will either respond directly, or find out from the factory, and then post the answer to the thread!
Hi @Erik_squires, yes Daemon’s power amplification subsystem runs in class D. Up to now, I have left Daemon running 24/7…. So I am not 100% sure how fast it will return to full performance after, for example a 24 hours or a full week vacation from full power… I will perform this test before long.
To @MRPaul, DSD is supported on the USB port. I am trying to get information as of digital bandwidth, upsampling rates, etc.… What I know for now is that the Daemon DAC is of the “launch&forget” type, very much like the older Aeris, as well as the DAC on the Esoteric K1 CDP, where optimal filters and upsampling are preset by the factory and are not user-selectable.
I am playing now Mahler’s Symphony #1 conducted by Kubelik. It’s a CD reissue from an original analog recording…. It is simply glorious…. The layering of instrumental images, stage, bristling of harmonics, majesty and authority, and sheer clarity are of a degree that I do not remember hearing from my trusty separates… I even discovered that a couple of minutes into the 1st movement, Mahler had scored some small bells… I never heard those before. I was not expection this magnificent sound from a 60 years old recording!
Things are suggesting that the DAC section may comfortably be exceeding the Aeris+PSU combination, and the linestage not filtering out even the tiniest micro-detail. Hearing the breadth and ease of dynamic swings, I am also having the impression that Daemon’s power reserve generated by its amplification is staggering.
The fun continues!
To clarify some of the above, at some point of this project, I would like to:
* Contrast the full Daemon output into the speakers to Daemon line-level output into M925 and these into the speakers. Will there be a perceivable difference between the two configurations?
* I am currently using an RCA2BNC adapter on the output side of a Cardas Clear digital coax to feed the digital output of the Esoteric X-01 onto a BNC coaxial input of Daemon... Eventually, I will remove the RCA2BNC adapter, and will connect the Cardas Clear digital cable via RCA to one of the two RCA digital inputs of Daemon.... I am curious to find out if the direct connection without adapter further enhances system performance in an even tiny perceivable way.
Nice review. One thing I have noticed is that Jeff's gear is very susceptible to what power cord and ic that is utilized. The pc is perhaps more important with Jeff's larger amps than with any other amp i have experienced. You can hear immense changes with a pc change. So, while i see that you like Cardas ( which I was also using for many years) I can tell you that IME it is actually not the best for these amps ( not by a long stretch, again IMO). Having tried a number of different cables, at varying price points, the best I have experienced so far is by Black Cat. The amp gains a lot of precision in imaging when utilizing the Black Cat pc's and ic's. Before, when I was using Cardas, and a number of other cables, the imaging seemed fine, ( like I am sure you are experiencing)..BUT..and here's the thing, once you change out the Cardas and go with a more able pc, or ic ( ie Black Cat) the difference is actually striking...and very obvious at that point. If you get a chance to try one of Chris's cables...your Daemon ( or 925's) will really thank you!
G.. Over the years I used everything from Hexlink Golden 5C to Clear, and most of the cables in between. IMO, all of the Cardas looms have a similar 'house' sound. None of these, even the latest Clear Reflection ( I used this for a short time, as it was borrowed from a friend) was up to the SQ of the new Black Cat cables.
Thank you @Daveyf for sharing your Black Cat adventure.
At my end, Cardas Rweflection signal wires, as well as Cardas Clear Beyond XL create a consistently exceptional synergy with all Rowland components with which I have matched them over the last couple years: M925 monos, M535 monos, Aeris DAC, and Power Storage unit, and for the last two and half weeks the Daemon integrated.
With Daemon at only about 400 hours (about 35% into break-in), it is premature to test the impact of other wires on Daemon’s sonic output. But at some later time, I might be tempted to explore up the Cardas signal wires line, and might look into Clear or the top of the lline Clear Beyond analog ICs and speaker wires... I am quite keen in determining the degree of audible enhancement, given that Clear is one level above Reflection, and Clear Beyond sit two levels above Reflection.
May I ask what Rowland components you have recently used with current Cardas wires such as Reflection and the original Clear?
@klh007 At the moment I am using the latest pc from Chris...his Silverstar pc and I am also using the Silverstar ic’s. Additionally, I have his Coppertone ic’s...and they are superb as well. The Silverstar is slightly more specific in its imaging capabilities than the Coppertone, but we are talking small differences here. All of these cables are far more resolving and precise in their imaging ability than the Cardas cables ( which i always felt had a specific family sound...somewhat soft and ill defined...particularly if you compare it to the upper end Nordost cabling ( which I also utilize) )
G, I only have experience with my custom modded model 8T, which does tend to draw a fair amount of juice out of the wall. The Cardas cables were all utilized with this amp, the Black Cat is truly in a different league with this amp...and I would strongly suspect with your Daemon as well. BTW, i also have had the pleasure of using Nordost with the JR, it too is far more resolving and IME, accurate sounding, than Cardas.
Agree, you should get to really break in the integrated before you see what other cables can do, but I do suggest you try other brands besides Cardas ( this is what I did- and the results really speak for themselves).
@klh007 Nordost is what I use for speaker cabling. I went from Cardas to Nordost and never looked back. Since i run two amp set ups ( one tube and one ss (Rowland)) but not at the same time, I utilize the Nordost cabling on my tube mono blocks and the Black Cat for the Rowland. Albeit, for the Rowland I still utilize Nordost speaker cabling ( which is far far quicker sounding to my ears than Cardas). I may experiment with Black Cat speaker cables there too, but the Nordost is excellent at the moment.
You are right, b_limo... Daemon is beautiful besides sounding divine.
I will post today Dropbox links to several photos of the handsome critter courtesy of Lucien Pichette at the Rowland factory.
And were it not for the COVIT19 emergent situation, friends in driving distance from Los Angeles (CA) could visit with Sunil at Sunny Components, and listen to Daemon live... Sunil is feturing Daemon in one of his showroons... I believe this unit might be complete with a streamer, and is ready to go to a new music-loving home :)
Here is Sunil's contact info
BTW, B_limo, this being a family-friendly site, and all of that good stuff... How about trimming out your understandingly-enthusiastic verbal bio-hazzard *Grins!*
As promised, here are several links to Daemon pics on my Dropbox -- photos kindly provided by Lucien Pichette at the Rowland factory:
That’s it for now. Enjoy!
Thanks so much for digging deep in your passion well to truly salute this Integrated Amplifier. Being in the business now for quite some time, I can tell you this Integrated is special.We at Sunny's can offer some very fine products for audition.
@Egglestonworks Viginti speakerVivid Audio Giya SpiritMartin Logan Expression 15AStenheim Alumine SEAmphion Krypton
Please call me if you have any other questions at 626-966-6259www.sunnyaudiovideo.comThanks,Sunil Merchant.
G.. are you using a dedicated line with the Daemon? I think that all of Jeff's power amps really benefit tremendously from a dedicated line...and a decent after market power outlet. The Oyaide R1 that I installed in my room really works like a charm with my amp. Jeff once told me not to use a power conditioner with his amps, which i totally agree with. I tried an Audience with my 8T a few months back...and sure enough everything sounded worse.
The Daemon probably sucks a good amount of juice out of the wall, even at idle, so the best power you can give it would make sense.
Hi again @Daveyf, Daemon's power efficiency is extremely high.... Regardless whether it is idling, at medium volume, or playing at concert SPL, its outer temperature remains barely luke-warm across the whole chassis... This has not changed since I turned on the device on 02/28, and it has been playing music 24/7 since then. Never the less, as mentioned in my previous post, Daemon is plugged into its own dedicated line.... Good for an instant response on those power-sucking transients.
I have no power conditioners in my system... Neither for power amps nor for the X-01 transport. All components are plugged directly into the AC mains.
Hello KLH, my apologies for the delay in responding to you... yes you are absolutely right... I will not try any cable changes until Daemon has stabilized, lest results would be rather meaningless.
Nordost is a fine brand. I very much enjoyed the Valhalla V2 line a few years ago. Yet, I have found that my loom of the current crop of Cardas products are magical with current Rowland offerings in my arsenal, such as the M925 monos, M535 monos, Aeris DAC fed by PSU, and more recently the Daemon integrated. At RMAF I heard M825 fed by Clear Beyond, which was equally impressive. I have heard third-party reports of excellent results also with M625 S2, M725S2, and Continuum S2.
G. It makes perfect sense that the Daemon runs cool, it is after all a class D amp! I sometimes wonder why Jeff needs all of the heat cooling exterior work that his chassis exhibits, as Class D amps really don't need that-- they inherently run cool. Looks great, but from a functionality aspect...never mind additional cost??
Hi Davey, yes class D amps are efficient and run much cooler than class A/B, never mind class A furnaces. Never the less, some entropic heat is released. Some smaller class D amps, such as the M535 do not need heat sinks at all. However, larger amps such as Daemon, and even more so M925 and M825 do benefit from heat sinks in order to maintain internal temperatures within optimal operating values.
All, time for a performance update…
Now approximately half way into the estimated break-in time of 1000 hours, Daemon’s periodic performance dips have attenuated significantly. The integrated has entered a much smoother rising phase.
Depending on recordings, with the on-display volume indicator showing between 49db and 59dB -- that is some 25 to 35dB below 85dB unity gain, music reaches realistic concert levels, without a hint of fatigue or distortion. The presentation is grand, instrumental virtual images reaching real-life sizes, and rippling harmonics seem to be rivaling anything I experienced before.
Slightly expanding on what I might have already touched upon a few days ago, playing the 1967 recording of Mahler’s Symphony #1 (Titan) with Rafael Kubelik conducting the Bavarian Radio Symphony (Deutsche Grammophon 429 042-2
G great to hear that the new Daemon is delivering the goods. This is no surprise to me. Last night i had a long listening session with my modded 8T and once again confirmed that it really is a very special amp. I have heard a number of ss amps in the last year or so, from Soolution to D’Ag to CH..all good, BUT not superior to Rowland, IME!
Jeff’s amps have a way of ’lighting’ up the stage ( as you are stating) that is truly enticing, and they are consistent in their performance. Listening again to Doug Macleod’s amazing Reference Recording release(s) brought home the exactitude and accuracy of timbre and imaging that his amps can deliver. Here’s the thing, i don’t think you even need the power of the Daemon to get this kind of SQ, just a great match up of one of Jeff’s amps with the rest of your gear...once the synergy is right, all else follows. While it is nice to have power to spare, Jeff’s amps are so flexible in this regard, that i would suspect that most folks will be able to garner this tremendous performance with their ancillary gear.
Do keep us informed as to your interesting journey with this integrated...and perhaps mention how it compares more to your model 925. I would suspect ( strongly) that it isn’t quite as encompassing in the imaging department as the 925’s...simply because IME mono blocks tend to have more imaging capability ( slightly in the case of a great amp like the Daemon) over the stereo amp.
Hello Davey, you are Right about Rowland amps lighting up the stage… So far, Daemon does this in droves.
Of course, while my Die Muzik speakers appear to be loving Daemon’s power reserve, not all speakers are born the same, and many speakers may benefit from more moderate power. Most brands are wise to the fact… Rowland for example has currently amps delivering 125W, 250W, 330W, 400W, 430W, 900W, and 1500W per channel.
As I already mentioned, once Daemon is well broken-in, I will feed its linestage output into the M925 monos…. It will be fascinating to assess the differences in stage and imaging, but also all other parameters. It’s far to early for me to make an even half reliable guess… As I might have said at the beginning of this journey… This is a voyage of discovery, and I am fully open to the unexpected in all its nunaces.
G.. I will wait with anticipation as you your findings of 925 vs Daemon.
I suspect i already know the differences, but will wait for you to confirm.
Another thing that I have found with Jeff's amps, is that they also benefit greatly from having a decent amp stand. I presume you have that taken care of as well.
BTW, there is rumor that Jeff will be going back to his more classic designs with an amp based on the ' Class AB' technology, have you also heard that?
Hi DaveyF, as I had touched upon in my root post, Daemon sits on Nordost Titanium Sort Kones, on top of a two inch thick slab of an exotic African hardwood called Mansonia. The slab forms the upper shelf of a two tier structure, where the lower shelf is identical to the top shelf.
M925 monos rest on 2 inch thick granite slabs instead.
I also have heard some vague rumors that Rowland might have a new product under development. As soon as information is released, I will post it here.
All, the root post has been updated today with all the break-in narrative I posted in fragments until now. Also, I made a number of spelling corrections, and trimmed down some clunky passages. Correct the bit about the Phono Stage... The High Performance (HP) phono stage is actually part of the standard Daemon configuration listed at $43,840. What I received instead is the basic stripped down version without phono, made for users of only digital sources.
All, here is an update…
At about the 630 hours mark, I seemed to hear a very slight increase in harmonics pressure in the treble region, accompanied by a hardening of transients, perhaps caused by minor intermodulation. The phenomenon seemed to persist for 36 to 48 hours, and then started to abate on its own. I am not sure of its origin. This might very well have been a transitory break-in artifact, but it might instead have been caused by the entire system being active and playing music without a pause for a month. In fact I remember noticing that my standard system configuration of M925 + Aeris + X-01 can start to sound a little hard if it is active for more than one week without break.
Thankfully, at the 700 hours mark the sound was 80% back to normal. Remembering Jeff Rowland recommendation to let capacitors discharge periodically, I then decided to turn off and unplug the system from the AC and give it a full day of rest. I reactivated it after 26 hours, and within a couple hours of re-warm-up, all odd artifacts had disappeared and wonderful music was flowing once again.
At the 720 hours mark I made an experiment. I replaced the Cardas Clear PC on Esoteric X-01 with Clear Beyond XL. The result was quite captivating: a subtly glowing romanticism suffused the entire presentation, combined with a distinct broadening and solidification of stage and images. On the other hand, some minutest detail of treble harmonics and some extra-musical information might have attenuated. I am still undecided on which of the two PCs I prefer on X-01 when the transport digital signal feeds Daemon’s SPDIF BNC coax. They both excel, if in subtly different ways. For the time being, I have temporarily reinserted the Cardas Clear PC on X-01 because of its capture of minutest information.
However, this is by no means the last word on the comparison of Cardas Clear vs Cardas Clear Beyond XL PCs on X-01. I plan to repeat this A/B test a few more times during the coming weeks. The system-wide effect of Clear PC on X-01 after Daemon has fully matured might very well be different than today’s, and I might discover the Clear Beyond XL PC to be optimum instead. Time and patience will tell.
G, Thanks for the update. I did not know that Jeff recommends letting caps discharge periodically. Although this makes a lot of sense, IMO.
BTW, you may want to try another brand of cabling besides Cardas...as I had mentioned before. Cardas has a house sound that is pretty consistent from one cable to another as you go through the line. While I understand that you like that house sound, it would be instructive to get another cable from a different manufacture in the equation.
Thank you Daveyf for the recurring suggestion... My current scribblling project is predicated on a modicum of methodology and system consistency.
Hence, for the first basic phase, until Daemon has stabilized completely, I intend to keep system configuration intact... Only exception being a temporary -- and possibly periodic swap of Clear PC on X-01 to Clear Beyond XL, and then back to Clear.
After stabilization, I am likely to experiment with feeding Daemon's line level signal output into the M925 monos, using Cardas Clear Reflection XLR ICs.
Following that, I might try Aeris+PSU into Daemon's line level input using the same Reflection ICs... Daemon's output terminal going into Die Muzik speakers.
In a hypothetical second phase, I am intrigued by the idea of possibly utilizing Clear Beyond XLR ICs and Speaker wires instead of ReflectionXLR ICs and speaker wires, and how the change might affect the output.
As I might have mentioned already, the current Cardas loom is the set of cables which I have found to be the most synergistic in my system over the years. Yet, Cardas is by no means the sole brand I have experienced. Duringthe the last several decades, I have used looms and single cables from a number of manufacturers, and many more I have auditioned in stores and at the RMAF show. A few of them I have been extremely fond of -- Shunyata Z-Tron and Nordost Valhalla V2 in particular have proven to be exceedingly fine wires for my gear; others have ranged from quite good to fair, while some have missed the mark in various spectacular ways, ranging from sheer tonal dullness, to acridity, to... Shorting their IEC connector with smoke and delicate waft of singed plastics at first power-up.
Nor this is my first application of Cardas. Time ago, and for several years, I used Golden Ref speaker wires and power cords, as well as Neutral reference XLR ICs... Yes, those lovely old wires had a unique "house sound" combined with a marginal propensity to intermodulate and harden the treble: I did comfortably prefer the already mentioned Shunyata and Nordost over them. But Cardas Reflection, Clear, and Clear Beyond are very different and superior creatures compared to legacy Cardas wires.
Will I ever scribble about other cable brands? Possibly, but not in this project.
Saluti and be safe, G.
G. Glad that you got hear what Nordost can do. Albeit with other gear. Nonetheless, the Valhalla V2 is a very fine cable and certainly capable of resolving what the Jeff Rowland products can do.
BTW, I may have missed this, but are you planning on installing the phono module at some point and listening to analog?
actually I used the lovely Valhalla II and the equally lovely Shunyata Z-tron looms with a variety of Rowland gear, although not on Daemon.
I sold my vinyl collection to a work colleague four years ago, and I have owned no LP playback equipment for a spell before that.. So, no I will not install the High Performance phono module in Daemon.