Jeff Rowland Pre-Amps: The Corus & The Capri

I am a current owner of the Jeff Rowland Capri pre amp. Are there any folks who have owned or heard the Capri and have owned or heard the new Corus pre amp. I am wondering how high level a system would need to be to recognize the differences between the 2 Rowland pre-amps and what those differences are. Thanks Stephen
Stephen, I have heard the Corus in two different rooms at CES last January and then again in Orange County and it is superb. I think it is Jeff' most musical line of pre amps since the Coherence II; MkII. I'd go Corus. At Rocky Mountain he didn't use the Corus but a Laptop into his DAC with volume into the M625 stereo amp. Wow, did that one sound great too driving the difficult to drive Thiel top speaker.

Thanks for the response. Have you heard the Capri? As a frame of reference, that is currently in my system and I wonder how much the Corus would effect the rest of the components I currently have. If you can, take a look at my system and let me know your thoughts. Thanks Stephen
Stephen, I do not have any experience with the Capri; only the Consummate; Synergy IIi and the Coherence II; Mk1. The Coherence was the best. It is so hard to know where most of the credit lies in the all Rowland systems I listened to; is it the Corus, the M625 stereo amp or a combination of both. I would say both and also say I have never heard such an easy flow and pace to the sound from any other solid state system. The noise floor is so low and the notes have bloom like a good tube pre amp. I think more and more will be written about this and his top Criterion over time. You have a very nice system; I like Tyler speakers.
Hi, the Corus replaced a treasured Synergy IIi. It provides more musical insight through lower noise level, extended bandwidth (an obviously deeper and cleaner bass) and fluidity (something highlighted by Roy Gregory in his recent HiFi+ review). Unfortunately I don't have any experience with the Capri. But one definite advantage of the Corus will be the transformer coupling used for inputs and outputs that minimizes earth loops and removes a layer of grit – something I experienced with both the Synergy and Corus. The improvement of the Corus over the Synergy is obvious through my relatively modest (if over achieving) Cambridge Audio 840W amplifiers. But do factor in a long run in time. Mark
Thanks for all the comments. I wish I had a dealer near me so I could go back and forth and hear the differences in my system between the Capri and the Corus.
I have the Capri in my system ... it's just incredibly good
I know quite well Corus and Criterion but I never compared them directly to my Capri in my system ...

that being said in my opinion before upgrading to Corus at your place I would start upgrading the Cardas Golden Ref ... if you like Cardas the Clear is much better ... you loose a lot of information and definition with the Golden Ref and if you want to hear all the improvement the Corus may bring upon the Capri I would start there

congrat. nice system!

Thanks for your responses concerning the possible move from the Capri to the Corus. I wanted to throw out my thought process and ask for your thoughts on it. One way to go would be to go from the Capri to Corus as we discussed. Another would be to upgrade my monoblock amps from the Pass XA60.5 to the Pass XA100.5 which would give me more headroom and control of the loudspeakers. These speakers have all SEAS drivers and that includes 2 ten inch woofers, 2 seven inch miss and the tweeter. I really like the Pass XA line and that is another choice. A third approach would be to think about something like the Rowland 625 instead of my Pass mono blocks. That would seem more of a risk . I love the Rowland sound from the Capri but I am not sure I want to give up the Pass sound on the Amp Side. Do you have any thoughts on this. One person said to me that if I upgrade the pre amp, I will effect the transparency and the smoothness of the sound and the lack of background noise. The amp move would effect the headroom and all the tis associated with a power increase. The Pass XA line is outstanding to my ears. I appreciate any thoughts
And the fouth approach would be to get Rowland Corus and 625, and get rid of what you have now beginning with those Cardas cables. I would first try Purist Audio, Gabriel Gold, Jorma and Stealth cables. In any case, I would probably play with cables and power cords to begin with before making big moves.

In my room, with my system, I really like the Cardas cables and can't see changing them. I have tried many other cables and always come back to Cardas.
Well, never mind then. But if you change your equipment the situation might be different and without trying other brands you wouldn't know. You don't build your system around cables.
Tell us what you decide to do.
I keep coming back to whether I would effect more of an upgrade by upgrading from the Rowland Capri Pre-Amp to the Rowland Corus pre-amp or by going from the Pass XA60.5 Monoblock amps to the Pass XA100.5 Monoblocks. Its so difficult because I don't have the opportunity to try both in my room and actually hear the changes from both moves. That is the down side of not having the products local to try each change which is really what I would want to do.
Yes, it's a difficult decision. I would guess that you are more attached to Pass amp than to Capri preamp. In any case, whatever you do will be an upgrade. Unless your speakers really need more current and power, I would probably get Rowland preamp now and later think about upgrading the rest of the electronics. After all, preamp is at the center of the system.
IMHO, the difference between the XA60.5 to the XA100.5 in terms of wattage/headroom is not worth the change. If you went to perhaps the XA160.5, there would be definite benefits.

Personally, I like the match between a Rowland preamp (Capri) and Pass Lab/Threshold amps (X5, Aleph 2, SA/6e).


Have you heard the two sets of monoblocks ? Would it not also be room dependent as well as speaker dependent or is your view that regardless, there would not be much of a change. My speakers are 4 vs 8 with a sensitivity of 91. They have alot of drivers including 2 ten inch woofers.
I'm speaking from just a wattage point of view. There will be some sonic differences between Nelson's class A amps of 60W and 100W. However, I only noticed the greater headroom once I went from 60W to 125W or more. YMMV.
I you like Cardas cables try the Clear ... it is much better than the Golden Ref

start with the loudspeakers cables and then tell us

what sense does it makes to buys new preamp when 50% of the "better signal" will not be transmitted by your golden ref ??

good luck

what sense does it makes to buys new preamp when 50% of the "better signal" will not be transmitted by your golden ref ??

I dont agree with that comment and don't believe that cables are the main ingredient to define a system. They are an added flavoring on the top of the cake.
Cables are very important. And power cords. There are better, much better cables for your system and your room. Probably more expensive too but not necessarilly. Please give it a thought especially since you intend to upgrade.
I really like the Cardas Golden Reference Cables. In addition, I believe the quality of the system is more determined by the ampp, pre-amp, speakers, source, and room.
Of course. However, the connections between the components should not be underestimated. Power cords can make a big difference too, the degree of it varies. When I put Custom Power Cord Co. Top Gun on my Audiolab integrated the improvement was incredible. No, it didn't start sounding like Rowland. There was already good power cord there before, by the way. Now I have a much better integrated but I didn't compare power cords yet, I just put the same Top Gun and it works great.
"I dont agree with that comment and don't believe that cables are the main ingredient to define a system"

If you would have a Ferrari would you save money on the tires ?

With the wrong cables you can you can loose much more than just a flavor
make the tests for yourself taking home other cables and compare
starting with the loudspeakers cables
Golden Ref are dark and low resolving compared the certain others, it can make the music sound smoother but you loose a lot of speed and definition ...
just my opinion

bonne chance
Pettyfevesk, a couple of us sure don't like your Cardas cables, huh? :-) I've never heard any so have NO opinion on Cardas. I do believe that improvements in pieces of a system are cumulative, and mine continues to improve its transparency as I improve pieces, including IC cables to Sonic Craft's best Neotec UPOCC-conductor cable and Xhadox silver-conductor RCAs. Speakercables on the 3 front channels are now a 6-conductor braid of solid-conductor Neotec UPOCC silver, and I wouldn't go back for lots of money.

On poweramps and power differences, I tend to agree that probably the 100-Watt amps will make little difference in headroom and 'ease' compared with the 60W. versions, as the 100s have only 2-1/4 dB more power, while the 160s have 4-1/4 dB more power than the 60s.

I hope whatever you do makes you happy.

BTW, it's 'preamp' and not 'pre-amp', just as it's 'preamplifier' and not 'pre-amplifier'. :-)
Thank you Jeffrey for your thoughts. Its so hard to compare all these components when we all have different rooms and other components they are matched with.
This has been a worthwhile thread to read. Upgrading a system effectively does take some thought. It`s frustrating when potenial components are`nt available to audition.

I`ll say this, I`ve heard the Cardas cables being mentioned here compared directly in my friend`s all VAC system. Without any question the Cardas clear was 'much' better. It was more transparent,clearer,nuanced,open,dynamie, etc. Simply better in every way IMO. The Golden Reference was veiled and cloudy in comparison.
You may not be experiencing the Capri preamp to it`s full sonic potential. Just a thought. Capri+clear could equal or exceed the Corus+GR cable.
Good Luck,
Oops meant its not it`s.
Petty, I think the power amp change(XA60.5/XA100.5) would result in the lease amount of improvement.
Take a step back and please explain why you want to do any upgrade at all. The Capri is a very fine preamp. Even if the Corus is significantly better it is not clear that your system and room setup would let the improvements fully develop. This is not a knock on your system/room, but it does bring up the point that once your system gets to a certain quality level that achieving truly better sound reproduction is harder than just substituting a "better" component. You have a very high quality system now, what is it you want to improve?

Very thoughtful and important question that I keep asking myself. I would say that I am confident that my speakers can give give me more back with a more powerful amp. They take a bit of power to push even in my 12 by 24 room and are not being pushed by my current amp. How much will another amp effect it? I am not sure. I do know I play the music loud and there is a point where the amp can't go.
Without any question the Cardas clear was 'much' better. It was more transparent,clearer,nuanced,open,dynamie, etc. Simply better in every way IMO. The Golden Reference was veiled and cloudy in comparison.

exactly the point ...

and there is much better than Cardas Clear !
Why didn't Jeff include a BYPASS INPUT for the Corus as he has with my SynergyIIi pre amp? Unless I am missing something it is preventing me from upgrading.
any input can be programed as a unit gain bypass circuit.
Stephen, I'll try to address your Corus vs Capri question as specifically as I can.

1. I have experience with Capri and Criterion.

2. Criterion is so close to Corus that any discussions about sonic differences between Corus/Criterion are as meaningful as disquisitions on number of Angels dancing on a pinhead. Hence, please equate Corus=Criterion for all intents and purposes.

3. In my system, the rest of the chain consisted of Esoteric X-01, Rowland M312, and Vienna Mahler V1.5.

Here are the differences I perceived:

A. Criterion has more fleshed out sound stage in the three dimensions, with much more specific instrumental/voice images and greater "silence between the notes".

B. Criterion has more harmonic development than Capri.

C. One of the few shortcomings of capri is a certain lightness or blanchness of the bass... Criterion's bass is much deeper and textured, without running the risk of becoming woolly deep, or romantic.

D. Criterion treble is once again, more articulate, textured, and coherent than Capri, and is much more capable to control strident intermodulation in multi-part string passages.

Hope this helps, Guido
Hi Guido,

Thanks for the response. Where does the Coherence II fit into this equation regarding the quality of the various Rowland preamps. Thanks Stephen
Stephen, Rowland like many other designers, learns something new with each new product, and his devices have evolved. His older designs were warmer-sounding, and not quite as extended, resolving, and transparent as his newer ones. In particular, I remember Rowland commenting on Capri vs Coherence II... according to him, Capri outperforms Coherence II in resolution, transparence, and musicality, even though Coherence looks like a much more impressive device... At the time of Coherence, Rowland did not have available the high speed low noise parts that he used in Capri, and later in his Criterion and Corus devices.

Of course, older products have already that "nostalgia factor", that the newest stuff will eventually acquire a decade or so down the road *grins!*

Stephen, three years ago you asked this question. Now in your system the Capri is still mentioned. Did you make any direct comparisons with Corus? Was there any argument not to upgrade because of sonic matters?
I'll just mention this and let you do the research. The Rowland Continuum S2 integrated amp is unimaginably good. I replaced a Capri and a pair of Hypex NCore 400 monos and was amazed by the upgrade. Before my purchase I was very persuaded by the Roy Gregory review.
It puts out 400 watts per channel, contains the new Capri S2 preamp and can be bought with either a phono or DAC on board. Functionally, it is identical to your current Capri. Same inputs, outputs and controls. Worth a look.
Stephen, since my last post, Capri has been replaced by Capri S2. I prefer S2 over the original..... In particular, S2 is much better at managing the complexity in the treble, which in the old model occasionally suffered of minor instances of brittleness.... At the last RMAF, I could not detect any trace of ragged treble. Bass was much more well defined and deep than on the old model. I heard Capri S2 driving a Rowland M825 stereo amp, as well as the preamplifier subsystem of the Continuum S2 integrated. Both marvellously musical. By the way, Capri S2 also supports an optional internal DAC card, which was not available in the original model.

Capri S2 preamp user interface and technical details are found at: