For starters, the Concerto is either a preamp or an integrated while the Nuforce 9 is monoblock power amps.
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This one is easy. Have Nuforce send you the 9.02's so you can try them. I believe you can return them if you are disatisfied with the results. I highly doubt that will happen. They must be the 9.02's because they have made changes in the amp design.And while you are at it, might as well pick up the p-8 pre/amp there so called "entry level" pre. A little suggestion when you do get these, dont just plug them into a power conditioner and call it good. You need to try plugging these directly into the wall. These are extremely fast amps and the conditioner can slow them down and sound a little dark. The panamax I am using did not work well with these. Dont get me wrong, they still sounded very very good just not as good as going directly into my dedicated circuit. There are other power conditioners that will work, just not mine. There was a significant difference in presentation going directly into the wall, clarity sums it up. These amps will let you know if your other equipment is up to the task and wiring is a piece of equipment. Hopefully you like bass and have the room for it because it is going to be there in your face slammin you around. Do not compare these to most 160w amps, they play much stronger with little effort. They work great with my jm lab 936's. The bass in the 936's is tight and takes a powerful amp to drive them right. These do it easily and now the 936's shine.
Regarding the pre/amp. I do not own it yet but sources that can not be mentioned here are raving about it. They feel that it has been overbuilt for the price point by a large margin. You will hear about it soon enough. Good luck with your search.
Hi Art, possibly the type of cdp they were using could cause this. To my ears and stomach these are not lean at all. The bass goes right through you and is not muddy. To me the bass pitch is right on. They would work the best probably with a big single driver at 10" or better. I have two eights on the my 936's and they fill my room now which is pretty big 15'x30'x10' tall.
I can't speak to the Nuforce, but do I own an earlier version of the Concerto (the Concentra), and it is far and away the best SS integrated amp I have owned. Obviously system synergy is a very big factor, so you might get some better answers if you listed your associated equipment. With my Concentra, I am using Green Mountain Audio Callisto speakers, an Audio Aero Prima CD player and an Audio research CD3, and a vintage Accuphase tuner. I also run my (two channel) home theater through the amp.
Aside from sound quality, the Rowland is the single best made component I have owned. The quality of construction and attention to detail are both remarkable. It's also worth considering that the sound can be taken to another level by running a truly balanced source into the balanced XLR's in the Rowland.
Hope this helps a bit.
I have heard the Concerto, but not in my own system, so it is very hard to compare to my Concentra. I did do some research before buying my Concentra, and (predictably) found differing opinions. The people at JRDG believe that the Concerto is a big step forward, but of course (with due respect) they need to sell the new version in order to make money. Some of those who have heard both (including a couple of dealers with whom I spoke) don't believe that the sonic differences are great, and a couple actually preferred the sound of the earlier (Concentra) models.
Two things are certain: the Concerto is smaller and runs cooler (using "Ice Power" chips) than the Concentra.
I, like most other Concentra owners, am so happy with the amp that I simply can't imagine there being enough of a sonic difference to justify the added expenditure.
The Concerto uses the ICE power amp modules, so it's more than just a normal evolution from the Concentra. I have the Rowland Concerto pre with the 201 monoblocks, which is effectively the Concerto intergrated. But have not heard the Concentra pre. I did listen to the Nuforce 8's vs. my Rowland 201s and preferred the Rowland. But the 9 may be a different story.
Lean sounding usually has nothing to do with bass heft or extension. It is associated more with the midrange and midbass where instruments and vocals lack body and fullness. Most SS amps excel at bass, but it's the crucial midrange where music lives that tubes have it all over them. So having bass that "goes right through you", doesn't really mean anything at all in this context....
Ozzy62, I was switching cables around on the nuforce amps and found that the heavier guage copper brought out more fullness in the mid bass and did not lose too much in the highs. The amps do sound lean in the mid bass with light guage silver but open up a little more. I think with these amps, having a copper and silver mix cable design using maybe 8-10 awg could be a great match. Now that I know what lean sounding really means I will be looking for cables that are a heavier guage. I liked what I heard with the copper.
I owned a pair of Rowland Model 201s (same amp modules as in the Concerto), and bought a very early model Nuforce Ref 8. The Ref 8 was horrible to listen to but somehow it seemed that underneath a nasty hardness to mids and treble there was something good happening. So I played around with the Ref 8 and more or less came up with the same mods as Nuforce did in the Ref 8.02. The sound was so good I sold the Rowlands and ordered a pair of Ref 9.02s. So if it was me, it would be the Nuforce not the Rowland. It is hard to describe but there is something that sounds more real, more truly transparent to the original event about the Nuforce. Both the Rowland and the Nuforce do similar things, but I reckon the Nuforce just does it better.