Jeff Rowland Model 7 & Model 5 Upgrade

This is my first, and long overdue, post on the forum boards so please bear with me. Wanted to let everyone know that there is a substantial upgrade available for owners of the JRDG Model 7 and Model 5 amplifiers.

Briefly, I purchased my Model 7's a little more than 3 years ago and was amazed at the sound. Then one night one of the amps died. Basically something went very wrong inside and it became so hot you could not touch it. Yes, these amps will run quite warm normally, but this was smoking hot.

Next day spoke with Jeff directly about the amps and after some fact checking and trouble shooting we discussed the possiblity of upgrading the amps. This was something he had been wanting to do for the Model 7 and Model 5 amps for some time. We discussed ICE technology, as this was the time of the TAS review, and I also had long discussions with the audio store where I had made most of my purchases. After some considerable thought decided to pull the trigger. Shipped them off to Colorado, in the original crates, and waited for their return.

In my discussions with Jeff we decided to leave the power transformers in them to filter the ac and Jeff basically completely gutted the amps and put all new technology in them. I have before and after photos that I would be willing to share with anyone but do not know how to post them to this site. The whole process took about 4 plus months as these were the first amps to undergo the upgrade and Jeff had to create everything from scratch.

Finally got the amplifiers back around Christmas 2006. Jeff even called the day I brought them home to see what I thought, I informed him I was just in the process of unpacking them.

Now to the specifics. With the upgrade there is a 5 year warranty, they shed about 20 lbs. and now weigh in at a little more than 100 lbs each with balanced inputs. Power is conservately rated at 600 watts at 8 ohms, 1200 watts at 4 ohms. They are in a constant "on" mode and never get warm to the touch. Basically they are the new 501's in a Model 7 body.

Now to the sound. After a year of listening to them all I can say is Marvelous!!! I am not an audio writer but will try to convey the difference and improvements as best I can. In a word "Articulation". They have not lost their midrange warmth, but have improved upon it. It is more open, less tube sounding. Instruments are better defined, but not harsh or edgey. The soundstage is better delineated.

Part of the reason for not writing this sooner is because I was making numerous changes and upgrades to my system. It is now basically set for some time to come and consists of the following:

JRDG Coherence I Preamp (updated), Clearaudio Maximum Solution, Graham 2.3 tonearm, Benz Micro M2, Brinkman Phono amp, JVC XL1010 CD Player, Otari MX 5050 4 track R2R, Sonus Faber Guarneri Memento speakers, Siltech SQ110 interconnects with SATT, Siltech Power Cords, Siltech Emperor with SATT speaker cables.

I want to publicly thank Jeff Rowland for all of his help in this process, and apologize for not writing this sooner. It is extremely rare in todays business world to come across a company like JRDG, let alone its founder, designer, and owner to spend the kind of time he did on this project. It truely speaks for his passion of audio and improving his designs.

Finally, I am not an employee or in anyway associated/affiliated with the JRDG. I am just an audio enthusist like everyone else that visits this site and would highly recommend this upgrade to any owner of the Model 7 or Model 5 amplifiers.
do you prefer the loss of tube warth that they now have?
I always wanted to try and listen to his products but never had; I prefer a tubelike sound as I own tube amps;
How do they seem to perform with string instruments?
I had an issue with my model 10's a few years back. I was the second owner and Jeff knew this but he still was patient and repaired my amp for free. Still wish i had that amp!
I originally purchased these amps for two reasons. Like yourself I like the sound of tubes and these amps, to my ears, and the reviews that they had received, came closest to it in a solid state design. I wanted that sound without worrying about the availability of tubes, or of changing tubes. The reason for this is that I tend to keep things for a very long time. Economics and the spouse factor preclude me from changing components on a frequent basis.

The change in sound as best as I can describe it is that the warmth of the original tended to colour or muddle the sound. With the upgrade the sound is clearer, more delineated. Again the best word to describe it is articulation. Instruments are better defined but not with an edgy sound. On my system stringed instruments and acoustic guitar sound more natural. Having played violin for a number of years I am sensitive to what they should sound like.

I also prefer live recorded music as opposed to studio recordings. Since the upgrade I have had many more moments of being startled by the music into thinking you are there or that the performer is in my room. Again, to my ears at least, the sound is not harsh or edgy but very natural with some warmth and great presence.

In my discussions with the audio store where I made most of my purchases we came to the decision that it would be best to leave the power transformer in the amps. We were concerned about the "digital" sound of ICE Power but believed the power transformer would act as a great filter for the AC.

So, in answer to your question, I don't believe I have lost the warmth of tubes, but have improved upon its inherent characteristics.
how much is the upgrade?
i also had at one time (before ICE-power) asked if JRDG could further-improve my consonance preamp, which was already upgraded with a new line stage module years ago (the sound opened up and got alot clearer and only cost $450 (!) INCLUDING 2 sorbothane pads that wedged the top-plate against the phono-stage and line-stage modules to reduce microsonics).
maybe i should call them again? one obvious problem with JRDG is that alot of people (my guess) are hanging onto their older rowland components- there is little reason to upgrade something that is already so musically satisfying and well-built as a model-5 or a model-8 or 9. the consummate at consonance preamps are imho awsome preamps with a design that was years ahead of the competition (in several areas) at the time. the new stuff hasn't gotten great reviews, which doesn't make sense as Jeff has one of the best set of ears in the industry. but my main point is, if you have an older preamp or amp and just want some better sounding parts rather than a whole new component, i'll bet they are getting a number of requests along those lines.
AND, if that's true, i wonder how those request are going over with their customer service department...?
I had Jeff upgrade my two chassis 8t amps,last year.If I were to describe the improvements,and the wonderful "way" about dealing with JRDG my thread would be so long,nobody would read it.
I too love the sound of the "better" tube designs,but there is just something magical about a well voiced system,run with Rowland amps.To not hear one,is to not know how good a SS amp can sound.
I reaaly snicker,at times when reading about the stereotypical SS sound,as thin or grainy.NOT the case with JRDG stuff......BTW,Jeff is a very low key,and honest guy.I guess that demonstrates his confidence in his products,and customer service.
The answer to your question about the cost of the upgrade is multifaceted. Remember these were the first Model 7 amps to be upgraded by Jeff. In my discussions with him before the upgrade he wasn't sure what the total cost would be. He wasn't sure how much time it would take and wasn't sure what all would be involved. He personnally worked on them for about 4 months. He told me that he had to repeatedly go to the CNC department to refine and make new parts. This was a work in progress and would be the template for offering the upgrade to other customers. Obiviously if I had to pay for his time the cost would have been exorbitant. My understanding is that JRDG is now offering this upgrade for about $2,500. Considering what is involved and the sonic improvements, in my opinion it is worth the price.
Couln't agree with you more Sirspeedy. The whole process and communication with Jeff was, in my experience, unprecedented. Your comments about the sound are right on. The voicing of the whole system has been greatly improved, and it doesn't matter where you are in the house the realism of the sound is uncanny.
Hi 94968, I own a pair of JRDG 7Ms which I dearly love. I confess of being a great fan of Jeff's current 312 design, which is currently my favorite amp. Soundings of Denver (Co) told me that Jeff has just introduced an external device containing the same Power Factor Correction circuitry found in the 312. It is said to bring a 501 close to the level of the 312. eHave you thought of applying it to your 7Ms? Or does your modification already include Power correction logic. I believe the device may be called PC1 with a retaile price of $1200.
Hello Guidocorona, Can't say for sure as to whether or not Jeff included that within the modification. I know that he was using the latest updates in ICE Technology within the modification. He may very well have included the power correction logic but I will have to ask him directly.
Hello Guidocorona, would mind sharing your opinion on how the 312 compares to the 7Ms? I heard the 7Ms ages ago and still remember it was musically involving. I bought the 201 and was quite disappointed as it doesn't have the tubey sound of the 7Ms. I believe the 312 still uses ICEpower, but with a traditional PSU. How does the 312 compares with the 7Ms?

I've been looking for a pair of 7Ms, but with kids around, the 201 or 501 is much more family friendly than the 7Ms. So, if the PC1 can bring the 501s closer to the 312, I'll definitely be interested.
I am still in the process of comparing the 312 with the 7Ms. My initial impressions are that the 312 is faster, with more authority, headroom, better staging, transparency, detail, extension, and harmonic complexity. As I said elsewhere, I consider 'warmth' to be a slight emphasis of fundamentals in the midrange at the cost of a slight attenuation in the treble. This can admittedly be quite pleasing when contrasted with ragged treble (that drives me to distraction) or a bloodless midrange ( that puts me to sleep). The 312 seems to be yielding a treble that is more extended than the 7Ms while also being sweeter. The midrange of the 312 is not 'emphasized', but is simply very interesting and textured. The bass is both more extended, more controlled, and more tuneful than the 7Ms. Please note that the 312 needs to be well broken in and left on at all times to sound its best. Even a well broken unit just inserted in your system after having flown/trucked to your place will need a few dozen hours of playing time to sound at its musical best. Seems that the sign of a 312 not yet stabilized are harmonics that I can describe as 'out of sorts' with the fundamental; e.g. a grand piano sounds a little jangly/twangy; no fear. . . the issue goes away with more playing time. I have some early indications that this may be a characteristic shared with some variants with other ICE-based amps like the NuForce Sig 9 SE V2, where the sign of a unit requiring more break-in time manifests itself as an apparent slight ring-modulation in the upper treble.
Some pics won't hurt.
Hi Cohen 50, I am no longer using M312 or Model 7... I have since upgraded to the current Rowland flagship... Model 925. You will find pics of M925 starting on the Rowland Press Info page at:

And my own adventures with the amazing M925 are logged at:

Yes, M925 runs endless circles around Model 7 and Model 312.

Saluti, Guido

If I may, I was interested in your thoughts on power cords for the Rowland gear you own (and have owned). I have a Continuum S2 that I'm really digging and I am interested in what power cords you have used.


Hi Tim, and congrats about your Rowland Continuum S2... It is an amazing piece... I listened to it for three days in a row at RMAF 2013, powered by a Cardas Clear Beyond PC, and the result was totally scrumptious. There appears to be an undeniable synergy between Rowland electronics and Cardas wires.

By pure happenstance, I have not experimented with recent Cardas wires in my own system, but I am hoping to do so eventually.

Among the wires that I have tried with my Rowland electronics, my preferred lines have been the Shunyata Z-tron Anaconda, and the latest Nordost Valhalla 2 PC... All marvelously musical on my Rowland gear.


Thanks for the informative response.

I am particularly mindful of the sophisticated power supply in the Continuum S2 and I'm wondering if a power cord that offers too much power filtering of sorts, would kill the dynamics and neutrality that I love in this amp?

Hi Tim, you hae a valid concern... That is why I would never recommend an old Shunyata VX series cord: its FeSi pellets floating inside it had a kind of caramelizing effect on music... Both in terms of micro-detail and micro-dynamics. Conversely, recent Shunyata series, and Z-tron in particular, exhibit none of those problems. aRather, they block very high frequency hash incoming from the AC mains, and outgoing to the AC. The result is great frequency extension, and a natural flow of micro detail and dynamics... And an utterly involving music experience free of unnatural artifacts.

Nordost Valhalla 2 uses completely different technology/architecture, yet they exhibit results that are perfectly congruent with my goldilockian ideal of delivering all the music with a plethora of complete dynamics and inner detail... And fear not: Valhalla 2 does not create any transient excesses, ghost intermodulation in the treble region, frequency non-linearities, or other bizarre artifacts.

I have not had the opportunity of testing Cardas Clear and Clear beyond yet, but my initial impressions at RMAF were very positive.

Saluti, Guido
, yet musical results

I've been listening to a Wireworld Silver Electra power cord in my system since Monday. I'm using it plugged into my Herron Audio VTPH-2 phonostage and the results are not subtle. I'm now considering this same PC for my Rowland Continuum S2.