Jeff Rowland Pre with Pass Labs X350.5 or X600.5

I am keen to know how well does Jeff Rowland Preamps like the Synergy IIi or the Coherence work with Pass X350.5 or X600.5 amps?

Any inputs will be most appreciated.

I think that the current Capri are Criterion are the pre-amps to consider for you Pass amps. Read Guidocorona's review of the Capri. Word of mouth has the Capri on equal footing or better with most of JRDG's prior efforts, as line stages. One of the prior pre-amps is noted for one of the best phono stages ever, unfortunately I forget which. The Capri's phono-stage, which is shared with my Continuum 500 intergrated, is very good.

The Criterion is the current no-holds-barred effort, with battery power (rechargeable). I haven't heard it yet, but if it's better than the Capri, then it's really something else.

Guido favorably compares the Capri with Power Factor Correction added to his ARC Ref 3. The interface with your Pass should not be any issue.

If you've got a line on used JRDG pre-amps, then the more recent models, as you reference, are probably the best bets. I haven't heard Jeff's very early designs, but many have written that they tended to be pretty warm sounding. (Not an advantage in my book).

05-24-08: Dcstep
I think that the current Capri are Criterion are the pre-amps to consider for you Pass amps.

The interface with your Pass should not be any issue.
Dcstep (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers)

On what criteria do you base this recommendation? Would you elaborate, please?
Hi all, my apologies. . . I am not at all familiar with older pres from JRDG. . . but -- for what it matters -- I have reasonably good experience with the current JRDG Capri, which has been in my system for the last couple of months. I still contend that it is a magnificent device, although after several hundred hrs of breakin of Capri connected to the PC1 PFC unit, I am coming to the conclusion that I prefer it even better without PC1. . . greater extension, authority, staging, imaging, micro detail, macro/micro dynamics. My early Capri+PC1 findings were based on both devices rrelatively fresh from the factory, and my findings after break in appear to differ with my original ones. It is fair to remind that PC1 was designed for high current devices such as 102, 201, and 501 amps, not for low power devices like Capri. JRDG does not necessarily support use of PC1 on Capri. As for Capri matching Pass amps. . . Pass amps have an input impedance of 22K Ohms, while Capri has an output impedance of about 40Ohms in balanced mode. . . compatibility should be without problems. Pass and JRDG being balanced designs, I suggest connection of JRDG pres to Pass amps using XLR ICs.

I confirm that I originally preferred Capri over Ref 3. I will resume comparisons of Capri with my ARC Ref 3 in a couple of weeks, after I receive a set of 6H30DR NOS tubes.

And yes, Capri being this good, I am already fantasizing about the upcoming JRDG Criterion 2-box pre, which is expected to start shipping early in Q3.

My Pass XA-60.5 amps have an input impedance of 30K Ohms balanced, and 20K ohms unbalanced.

The Synergy IIi has an output impedance of 80 ohms. Not sure about the Coherence II.
Coherence II appears to have an output impedance of 50Ohms. See:
On the same page above, you will find Synergy II appears to have an output impedance 40Ohms unbalanced and 80Ohm balanced.
If input impedance of Pass amps ranges from 20KOhms to 30Kohms, compatibility with Coherence II and Synergy II is all but assured. G.
Thanks for all your posts.

Can someone tell me whether the Synergy 2i or the Coherence 2 with separate Rec outputs can be used as a tape loop for using a signal processor.
The spec sheet for the Criterion shows 40 ohm input impedance, Balanced and Unbalanced and Output is 60 ohms Balanced and Unbalanced. The Capri Input is 48 ohms Balanced and Unbalanced while output is 80 ohms Balanced and 40 ohms Unbalanced.

Those impedances are reasonably close to the Pass. I can understand why a recording engineer would be concerned with Unity Gain and exact impendance matching, but for audiophile products I believe that we just need to be in the same range. Correct me if I'm wrong. These levels are so close that it's a matter of turning volume to 75.7 vs. 73, or some similar small difference.

05-25-08: Arupg asked:

"Can someone tell me whether the Synergy 2i or the Coherence 2 with separate Rec outputs can be used as a tape loop for using a signal processor."

See for details about Rowland "classic" pre-amps.

Those impedances are reasonably close to the Pass.

Dcstep (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers)

How did you arrive at this conclusion?

My Pass has a balanced input impedance of 30,000 ohms (30K ohms). Do you consider this reasonably close to 80 ohms (the balanced output impedance of the Capri)?
A preamp's output impedance (Unbal or Bal) of less than 150 ohms going into a power amp's input impedance (Unbal or Bal) of 20,000 ohms is very, very acceptable & considered a good match.

Question is how do Rowland preamps sound with Pass power amps? Do the JRDG pre have any particular sonic signatures that manipulate the overall sonics?
Arupg asked:

"...Do the JRDG pre have any particular sonic signatures that manipulate the overall sonics?"

Speaking only to the Capri, there's no signature, IMHO. It's transparent, detailed, stress free, with solid lows and sweet, open highs. There's no etching of the highs, but neither are they rolled off. In contrast, my prior Conrad Johnson was "golden" and slightly darker in overall color. The Capri with acoustic bass you hear the air around the strings and the rosin on the bow, at the same time you hear the woody body of the bass.

So, I think that the Capri passes the sources onto the amp(s) with great accuracy, bottom to top.

Do the JRDG pre have any particular sonic signatures that manipulate the overall sonics?
Arupg (Threads | Answers)
Stereophile reviewed both the Synergy IIi and Coherence. The descriptions of their sound is fairly complete.

You might contact member "Raquel" directly for his thoughts about the Coherence II.
Thanks Tvad for pointing me towards Raquel for more info.
Hello Arupg,
I had a brand new Pass x350.5 amp hooked up to my Synergy 2i last week. It worked quite well. It had fabulous bass but the mids/highs were not as good as with the Pass Aleph P. Neither were the dynamics. It sounded a little more "laid back" because the Synergy has that characteristic.
I do miss the dynamics and "live" sound of the Pass x350.5 that my Krell FPB300cx doesn't quite deliver.
Depending on your speakers, room acoustics, and personal tastes, it might be a great combo.
If you are looking to wring the last ounce of "life" out of the music, use a Pass Labs pre-amp, as the Rolands just don't deliver the last word in dynamics.
I can't comment on the Coherence as I have not had one in my system.
A slightly laid back sound with moderate dynamics was apparently a hallmark of classic JRDG equipment. I suggest that in newest iterations this may have changed towards a more 'centristic' approach. On my own system at least (TEAC X-01 Limited, JRDG 312, Vienna Mahlers) the diminutive Capri pre appears to yield greater macro/micro dynamics, authority, bass definition, extension and detail than my ARC Ref 3.
Hi Audiopath
I appreciate your response regarding the Synergy 2i with the Pass Labs pwr amps. Infact - a laid-back easy going sound approach is what I'm looking for with an Accuphase's new DP-700 SACD/CD player as a source. Another reason for opting for either the Synergy or the Coherence preamps from JRDG is I've a Krell made Bass-Alignment mono filters for my B&W speakers & I'd like to use this in the Rec Out / Input In loop which is very much present in the Synergy & Coherence preamps but probably missing in Pass Labs ones.
Too bad the Capri doesn't have a tape loop (or fixed level outputs). A thing of the past, I suppose...but I still utilize it.
Rowland calls the Capri "basic" for a reason. Alas, the Criterion has all the bells and whistles, but it's going to be $18k.

Grant, is the functionality you are looking for Theatre bypass? From the user's manual. . .

(1) INPUT SELECT: This button will select the desired input, the input number corresponding to the numbering of the inputs on the rear panel. Each press of this button will scroll to the next successive input. Once Input 4 has been reached, the next press of the INPUT button will select the BYPASS input. Another press of the INPUT button will return the selection to Input 1.

(3) BYPASS MODE: The Bypass Mode allows the CAPRI to be installed in a home theater or surround sound system for optimal playback of stereo music sources when the multi-channel system is not in use. Pressing this button will allow a multi-channel processor to bypass the preamplifier functions of the CAPRI, with the volume controlled only by the external processor. The indicator light below the BYPASS button will illuminate yellow to show that the Bypass function is active.

3) BYPASS INPUTS: If the CAPRI is installed in a home theater or sound system, the Left Front and Right Front output connections from the surround processor should be installed in the BYPASS input connections. The CAPRI will only accept unbalanced RCA interconnects from the surround processor.

From the input section specs:
1 pair Unbalanced (RCA) Unity Gain (Bypass)

I'll email you the complete user's guide in PDF.

Guido, I'm not certain, but I don't think the Capri's Bypass mode functions the same as a tape loop.
Hi Grant, I will find out. for what application would you use a 'tape loop' feature?
Guido, I send the source's signal (fixed level) through the tape loop's output to a balanced line transceiver, which then sends the signal to a second system. Vice versa, I use the tape loop's input to take the signal from the second system and use it as a source in the main system. Obviously, I can use any input for the incoming signal, but a tape loop offers an additional input in situations where a preamp may have a small number of available inputs.

I have five sources (turntable, universal disc player, CD changer, tuner, balanced line transceiver).
I use the bypass on my Continuum to send a line-level signal to my headphone amp. I think you could use the Capri's bypass to send that signal to your transceiver. There's not as much room on the back of the Capri, so you'll have to look at the manual Guido's sending you to see if there's both unbalanced and balanced.

I don't want to bypass the Capri. I want to listen to source "A" in my main system, and also send a line-level signal of source "A" to my second system. Does that fit the bypass feature of the Capri. It doesn't fit what I traditionally consider the function of a bypass circuit.

I greatly appreciate receiving the manual from Guido. I'll take a look at it.
Yes Tvad, you can use both Line Outs at the same time with the Capri. The Bypass Input can be used as a third input for your Transceiver which, in turn from what I understand, can accept additional inputs. So you've got three line level inputs on the Capri ("1" can be converted to phono) and two line level outputs that can be used simultaneously.

You can control the volume of both outputs from the Capri, but they'll both be at the same level. If you want different volumes in different locations, then you'll need at least one remote volume control.

I require a fixed level output, like that in a tape loop output. I cannot use a line level output to the transceiver.
06-02-08: Tvad said:
"I require a fixed level output, like that in a tape loop output. I cannot use a line level output to the transceiver."

Ok, the Capri doesn't have that.

Thanks, Dave. You saved me some time reading the manual.
A recent discussion on the Tape Loop or Accessory Loop subject with Mr. Jeff Rowland suggests it exists in the Synergy and Coherence preamps.

If a CD player is connected to Input 1, the fixed level Rec output of that CD signal via Input 1 can be routed back to the pre via Input 2. You would press "Record for Input 1" and "Listen for Input 2".

The Listen and Record features were only available in their Synergy & Coherence.
Yes, the old manuals for the Synergy and Coherence are still on the web site. I believe that the Critereon will have similar functionality and more. Rowland considers the Capri his base preamp.

If anyone were interested in some of my latest a/b comparison between JRDG Capri and ARC Ref 3, see:

Hi all,

I am looking for a pre-amp for my Pass LAbs X150.5

like Arupg, i am also after "laid-back easy going sound"

would Capri + X150.5 give me what I want? or should i look else where?

Driver73, if you are seeking sound that is not fatiguing, extended in frequency, with very good macro and micro dynamics, and very fast but not abnormal transient response, Capri may work for you. On the other hand, I would not characterize Capri as layed back, if by this you meant moderate dynamics, slightly glossed transients, and a frequency range that favors upper mid bass through lower treble. Or in other words, Capri is neither stereotypically SS sounding, nor does it sound stereotypically 'tuby'.

From a compatibility point of view, the Capri has rather low output impedance -- 40Ohms single ended and 80Ohms balanced -- and should work well with Pass amps. G.
Hi Guidocorona, ok think i'm unclear with what i really wanted.. still feeling high from the x150.5 :) ... maybe easier if i tell u what i want to avoid: lean, bright and forward sound.

The Capri is not "lean, bright and foward" if that helps, but neither is it "laid back".

Think neutral, detailed, transparent, uncolored, dynamic and quick. Also think revealing. So, if your sources are good and stress free and you have good ICs and cables, then you're likely to love it.

thanks dave.. The capri sure sounds delicious . . .
Ah yes. . . I call that "a visit to the dentist without novocain". . . worry not. . . Capri will be neither bright nor forward. . . unless you match it with some particularly bright/forward ICs and PCs. . . in which case all bets are off on any components.
Yeah, I think the key is not to count on a Capri to round off any sharp edges already in the system. Certain ICs and speaker cables can make a system sound hard edge and/or congested. The Capri will reveal such a weakness, rather than sweep it under the rug or cover it up.

oh.. the CDP is Marant SA11S2

Capri will be fine on your Marantz. . . as I understand, Marantz is never a harsh sounding brand.
Yes.. marantz is defintely not harsh...

finally got to hear the Capri + 102 in action... though I am not familiar with the rest of the system, the audition at least confirmed that the setup is not "lean, bring & forward".

one step closer to getting the Capri to match the X150.5, hope they "like" each other :)
That's fabulous Driver73. If you get Capri, remember that the creature will take over 500 hrs to shine. . . and that a good PC will make a world of difference on it as well. I like very much the Shunyata Anaconda Helix Alpha. . . but given it draws only 6Ws, I suspect the Python Helix Alpha will be equally good. Keep us posted. G.
Please realize that Guido is talking about the nth degree of refinement taking 500-hours to shine through. If you'll look back at his early impressions of the Capri and my early impression of my Continuum 500 (which uses the Capri's pre-circuit) you'll see that we were both very favorably impressed very early on.

Yes, it does improve with more hours, but it's good after the first hour and very good at 100-hours, then amazing at 500+. At least that's the way I see it.

Dave of course is correct. . . I confess suchly of being exceedingly a*n*a*l*l*y retentive. *grins* G.
For instance, I just got off the phone with another new Capri owner. He's ordered his with the phono stage and borrowed my inverse-RIAA board to burn in his Capri's phono circuits. He got put just 60 hours on it and says it's surpassing his Levinson and Sutherland dedicated phono stages already!!! This guy can afford whatever he wants and has spent tens of thousands on pre-amps over the years.

He's going out of town so he's returned the board. I told him to call me when he gets back in July to put another hundred or so hours on and he'll be even more amazed.

This is a "bar none" kind of product, so don't let it's small size and low cost fool you.

i just got a offer for a new condition but used Bel Canto Pre3 at half its price... just wonder would the Pre3 match up with the Pass X150.5?

That Pre 3 will almost certainly "work". What you have to ask yourself is do you want one of the very best pres available at any price, or a good pre for a bargain price. Either is appropriate and only you and your wallet can decide.