Jeff Rowland preamps

I currently have the following; Synergy IIi, Rowland 501, 2 x PFC and read with interest here that the new Capri has received positive feedback. Has anyone here compared this with the Synergy IIi which has now been discontinued in terms of sonic performance. With new technology introduced I assume the Jeff Rowland has taken the performance for his preamp upwards. I'll have to ignore the flagship Criterion as this is wayyyy out of my budget.
Hi Dtanclim, I am among those who are very fond of the little Capri pre. You may have read elsewhere that in fact I have replaced the ARC Ref 3 in my system with the Capri. I do not have direct experience with the Synergy series devices, but have only the words of the designer--Jef Rowland--according to whom the Capri is his best sounding pre to date, barring Criterion. According to him, the key to Capri is the TI Burr Brown OPA1632 differentially balanced opamp, which has extremely high linearity, bandwidth, and low distortion. He designed Capri around this device, managing to achieve an extremely short signal path, which is also key to low distortion and purity of sound. According to JRDG, Capri is more extended, open and linear than any of his previous preamplifiers, without sacrificing any musicality. I admit that its amazing musicality is one of the reasons I prefer Capri over Ref 3. It is also worth pointing out though, that Capri does not attempt to emulate any stereotypical tube-like euphony. Feel free to msg/email me if you want to know more. Guido
Hello guys!
I have a Krell FPB-200c amp being driven by a Sonic Frontiers SFL-2 pre. I'm scouting for a JRDG preamp now to pair with this because a Krell pre is extremely hard to come by here (i don't want overseas items unless i get them personally).

Replacing an ARC Ref3 with a Capri tells about this toy's capability ;-) so i will be scouting for that. Any other suggestions for my setup?

Best wishes guys!

from Manila,
Hi Guido, I am surprised how Rowland have managed to improve on the Synergy when it is so well built, separate power supply chasis, fully balanced, flexible, etc. in comparison to the Capri which is comparatively more compact and less costly. My feeling when the Capri was introduced is that it is an entry level preamp introduced by Rowland for the 102 power amp. As it seems the 501's or 201's do not have a corresponding preamp.
It may be entry level when it comes to where it stands in the JRGD product hierarchy, but it is anything but entry level when it comes to sound. A very nice preamp and for the used prices they have been showing up for here a bargain.
Hi Egay, the only recommendations I have about Capri is to:

1. use it in balanced mode if at all possible.
2. Allow a full break in of about 500 hours of actual music playing before critical listening.
3. Leave it always turn on unless you have stormy weather.
4. Turn down the volume knob to 0 if you need to do a 'reset' with the rightmost button. . . or you may hear a pop through the speakers.

Dtanclim, it is indeed remarkable and perhaps partially serendipitous how the little Capri came apparently to exceed all previous JRDG designs. . . it was one of those cases where the designer had a huntch "on spec". . . perusing a TI Burr Brown data book actually, where Jeff Rowland came across the extremely interesting specification of the OPA1632 module. . . and thought it would constitute the core of a nice little pre with very minimal signal paths. . . and it obviously did. In the mid 1990s, when Rowland designed the then state of the art Synergy, he designed it around the componentry available at that time. . . a decade has passed, and at least in some areas of technology, evolution is still meaningful.

Guido, hello btw..

Can you please give me a quick synopsis comparing the Concerto (not integrated) and the Capri? I have had the former for almost 3 years now and refuse to part with it. Even though I have upgraded my system with the Wyetech Opal...I keep the Concerto handy when Im in the mood for its pleaseant attributes. I hope this question does not upset the purpose of this thread btw.

Aptquark, unfortunately I have no direct comparative experience of Concerto pre vs Capri. . . so I decided to ask Rod Tomson of Soundings Hifi in Denver, who has had a lot of experience with both. He suggested that from the point of view of extension, linearity, imaging and staging, the two are very similar. The difference seems to be that the Capri yields a more stable behavior under dynamic stress. . . e.g. greater stability / less distortion during high dynamic orchestral passages, and more convincing harmonic exposure after transients. . . e.g. greater harmonic content in decaying piano notes. Guido
Much appreciated Guido. I find your posts VERY informative and fulfilling.

Guido, I received the Capri and I am very impressed with it. Great find. It has I believe at least 1000 hours on it. Dead quiet, great soundstage, and good imaging. Built quality is what you would expect from Rowland. Best value I have found for a pre.
Thank you Cyrus, isn't the little darling wonderful? The more I use the Capri the more I love it. Of course Capri is very sensitive to power cords. . . I have preferred the Shunyata Anaconda Helix Alpha this far, compared to PAD Anniversary and Cardas Golden Ref-- because of harmonic integrity an overall linearity. . . but I will be trying a few more PCS in the not very distant future.
Of course, Capri won't be ideal for everyone. . . it's not for those who seek the classic midrange 'glow' of tubes, nor for those who are questing for the ultimate ironfisted energy of some SS. Yet to me, it makes Music the way I like it. G.
Guido, since it appears that you have good communication with Jeff Rowland, has anything been done or is planned to fix the balance display situation?
I really like the Capri, I still have a second silver unpacked unit, but as hard it is to disagree with general positive feedbacks, I am still perplexed with the above very serious miss.
Audiofil, I don't understand why you think that the lack of a balance read out is such a "serious miss." Yes, it when be convenient when setting the balance in initial setup, but why would you ever touch it again after it's set? I actually set my balance with speaker placement and never move the pre-amp off center, but I can understand why some might use the balance control, but only once.

Maybe I'm missing something.

Audiofil, I understand your pain. You are correct in that lack of visual feedback on left/right balance on Capri may be somewhat annoying for some. The limitations are as I explained elsewhere, historical. while the signal-sensitive circuits of the Capri are state of the art, for cost control reasons, The Capri's control circuits are exploiting legacy designs/hardware components used by JRDG since the early '90s, including the seven-segment numeric display. Future designs are likely to include a more sophisticated display and firmware capabilities. Currently, the only thing one can do on Capri is to turn the volume down to 0, select an unused input, then press the pause button for 5 seconds to reset the firmware.

From a purely personal point of view, most amusingly, anything that JRDG does with more elaborate visual I/Os in the future. . . will not yield any better usability for me. G.
Dcstep, for a number of reasons. When inadvertently pressing balance on the remote, it will require a reset, a fairly easy method, but one that must be remembered. The other problem is system calibration and back value setting, which in this case is simply impossible. I fix would be in order. From another point of view it raises a question why even have balance in this unit in an unfinished form?
Excuse my ignorance. What is "system calibration and back value setting"? It still sounds like a once in a great while kind of thing, whatever it is.

I fix the first problem by not inadvertently pressing Balance. I did that once and thought to myself, "Let's not do that again."

I somewhat agree that the usability of the balance is not the best, but I manage fine with it. I'm more curious though why it only allows a 3db swing in each direction. Not that I need more or less, but just out of plain curiosity.

More of a pain for me is not having the ability to switch polarity via remote.
Dstpep. LOL. It is rather self explanatory. Once you calibrate your system (in this case balance as a subject) one will experience a difficulty bringing back the same channels volume values. Use your imagination to create such scenarios. I like the digital temperature display in my car. Also, my inadvertent changes are probably related to the simple fact of alcoholic beverage consumption while listening to music and non music radio broadcasts. I will not go into this, but balance is very handy with some broadcasts. Perhaps it has also to do with dim lights in my environment and need for corrective glasses. Effectively I greatly enjoy the JRDG quality, but I am also often critical of ergonomics.

Clio, yes, the range is somewhat of a mystery.

Good listening!
Ok, if you say so.
The lack of polarity switch on the remote has also a historical origin. The remote was designed in the late 80s or early 90s. While the Capri has what some of us find to be one of the best sonic/musical attributes in the domain, it is worth point out that it was designed and it is priced as an entry level device. . . the signal path is state of the art, the mechanical package is outstanding, but some of the I/O flexibility and control function are limited, created with available legacy parts, or otherwise cost engineered to meet a price point. G.
"Yet to me, it makes Music the way I like it. Guido"

well said, guido.
and thanks for your answer to my question.

it is hard to come by used JRDGs here in Manila because owners just REFUSE to part with them (like us Krell owners refusing to let go of ours).

i asked our local JRDG dealer to look around for me.
i am tempted to try Audiogon but i am a bit concerned about some stories i heard about getting bad products (DOAs); and then there's the shipping & handling costs PLUS taxes that i have to contend with :-|

you guys are fortunate because this fine product are practically just by your doorsteps :-)