if i could not run tubes i would use rowland.
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Obviously, your ultimate decision has to factor in the speakers this amp will be driving and the cables employed between amp and speakers. I have had the opportunity to compare both driving B&W Nautilus 802s, and it was no contest--the Mark Levinson sounded very closed down and lifeless, whereas the Krell 200C was a perfect match.
I now own the 200C, and I use it to drive Dunlavy SC-IVs with Transparent Audio MusicWave Plus cables. Generally, I am pleased with this combination, but not so much so that I am not replacing the Dunlavy's with Revel Studios next week---and I am NOT replacing my Krell.
J meyers has a point regarding, which speakers? With large dynamics and considering I mainly listen to classical & blues/jazz, I would narrow the list to Pass or Rowland. I expect detail from Pass and musicality from Rowland -- then, I'd gauge which of the two gives me the best of my quest for audio nirvana.
I agree about narrowing things to the Pass and Rowland. If you can audition both that would be great but either would be musical with a better natural sound than the Krell and Levinson. I would personally go with the Rowland - it would probably hold its value over the Pass in the long run and sounds a bit more like a live presentation would.
I had a 334 in a complete Levinson line: 390 380s 334. Well...334 was replacing a Classe 200 and was I in for a big disappointment. At first I blamed the speakers then the cables but two months later I realized I have nothig left to blame so I sold all my Levinson gear starting with, you guessed, the 334.
You can talk all you want about bass control, imaging and soundstage if you don't have detail and dynamics, you have a dark, lifeless poweramp.
Krell is a much better option; It's almost the perfect amp that can fit in any system and drive any speakers.
I heard a rumor the 300 series Levinson amps are getting another upgrade soon. If so a "current" 334 owner will have to get the factory mod to "latest" status. This will be I believe $2000.00? I think that's what it cost the first time for the 333... Ask your dealer!
I'd go with Pass. Just my opinion...
I own a krell fpb 200c I actually have it for sale on this site. Its a great amp in every way. But in my system I like the levinson better. It may be because I use a levinson 39 and I had a levinson 335 and sold it and bought the krell 200c. The levinson is more open and airy sounding compared to all above mentioned. They are all great amps. But your surrounding equipment will be the deciding factor. Also if your buying a krell it MUST be the cast version. There is a big diffrence between the fpb 200 and the fpb 200c and If anyone tells you diffrent they are lying to you to make a sale. Good luck
I think I should clarify my system: The speakers I am running are power hungry Platinum Solos-these will not change. I have a temporary preamp (classe cp-35) which I intend on replacing with a tubed preamp such as a hovland hp-100, or sonic frontiers line 3. I also have a temporary cd player which I will replace probably with a levinson 39.
What I am doing is building my system from the speakers, then to the amp, then preamp and source. I want to make sure my amp will run well with tubed preamp, and I will tweak the system with cables etc to add warmth etc. I just want to make sure I have the best amp for those listed attributes. I feel I can always add warmth with tweaks. Thanks!!
First let me state that I am a Pass dealer so there is already a preconceived bias since that is the line I chose to carry.
I have had all the amps that you are considering in house. They all have strengths and all of them work fine with tube
preamps. In the Reference room in our showroom we use the X 600's and the X 250 with either a First Sound Paramount or a Red Rose signature preamp. We of course also have tube mono blocks in the room.
My opinion would be Rowland or Pass but realize you will pay more for Rowland because they start at a higher price to begin with. There have been a few threads that the Rowland amps maybe a touch more musical than the Pass. I would use the term a touch more delicate and because of that I personally find that with the tube preamps that I have in house that the Pass is a better match than the Rowland. Now with different tube preamps that may not be the case I can only offer what I have heard.
The best thing of any of these lines is that any of these amps should last you as long as you desire to keep them. Which in the audiophile world is usually not very long!
I have not heard krell and any tube pre. I have heard the krell fpb300 (and an all krell set-up) through my speakers and loved the sound, as well as I heard the 334 through my speakers and loved the sound also. The problem is I heard both set-ups a long long time ago and cannot really make a decision based on that.
I do feel the krell is a little harsh, thus a nice tubey preamp might make it a special combo? Or is this combo just a levinson??? See my dilemma?
I love the attack and dynamics of the krell and Levinsons, but have not heard the new Pass gear or the rowland with my speakers.
I guess if I had tons of dispensible cash laying around I could buy all 4 and decide at home, then just sell the ones I don't want. But who has this kind of cash??
May be overkill at this point but I would say Rowland too. The MLs seem somewhat dead with most speakers I have heard them on, Krell is not smooth enough, and the Pass Labs go against all logic for longterm use with their ridiculous no-feedback circuits - although they do sound good for the first year. Rowland is beautiful sounding (almost as good as my favorite McIntoshes) and good design. In being an electronics engineer, I rank circuit design second to music in importance). Listen to them all if you can first however and decide for yourself.
Pass claims their new XA line maintains the clarity of the X series without the coolness.
Pass' US patent 5,376,899 shows the balanced input in the X and XA series. My understanding of the circuit is that it requires a balanced input, or else half the output stage is essentially idling, carrying nothing but the distortion cancelling signal.
Aball, why do you say the circuit uses no feedback? It uses local feedback, but not global.
Don't count on the Rowland holding its value. I had a Model 10 in like new condition a year ago and had to about give it away. The amp wasn't even a year old. It was amazing how little AudiogoN shoppers were willing to pay. Anyway, I replaced it with a Pass X-350 and haven't ever looked back. Also, don't count on great customer support from Rowland. Meanwhile, the Pass people have been exceptionally responsive.
One more vote for Rowland. The others are good, with the Pass being the most musical of the other three in the systems I have heard. I have a Rowland after selling my tube gear and haven't looked back. I don't think that the Rowland sounds "better" than tubes, I just find the musical presentation keeps me from missing tubes. I am happy with my system which is a hard thing in the audiophile world to accomplish. I have no plans to part with the Rowland for years. The sources are the limiting factors and will be for years. The top end of the Rowland extends like no other solid state amp/preamp I have heard. Jallen
The Pass XA amplifiers are not a viable alternative for Jadis because they will not fall in his budget. Per his post, he is looking to spend approximately $3,000 to $3,500 for an amplifier. There will be only two models of the XA series made. The XA-200 at $28,000 per pair and the XA-150 at $18,000 per pair. To go after a pair of these would really blow the budget he has set for himself.
[Sorry for the topic drift...] Those of you who are Rowland enthusiasts--which models do you recommend? Has there been a major change in the sound of their amps from, say, the Model One to the Two to the current offerings?
There are plenty of Model Ones around at good prices and I am tempted to give one a try.
I own two Pass X350s and couldn't be happier. They are one of my favorite audio purchases. Pass customer service is outstanding. Build quality and sound quality are among the best. I started off with a Krell amplifier that went on fire, next moved to a Proceed, and finally settled with Pass- and have been content ever since. Thinking of adding a Pass X1 or Rowland Synergy IIi preamp. Any comments on these two? I like the Rowland because it offers dual balanced outputs. The Pass X0.2 offers this as well, but is a big jump in price from the X1.
I own a Rowland Model 2 with a BPS (battery power supply).
Until I heard the Pass Aleph series, it was the best sound I've heard/owned. I do not like the newer Rowland amps. I believe they are weak in the bass. I bought my Model 2 from a friend who "moved up" to a new Rowland Model 112.
Although it was rated at 150 watts compared to the Model 2s 75 watts, everyone who heard it on his Wilson Witt 2s agreed, the Model 2 had better bass control. He sold the Model 112 & bought a used Levinson 333, its now for sale on Audiogon...
I recently bought Pass Aleph 2s on Audiogon. The Pass Aleph is the first amp I've heard that came close & in the midrange beat my Model 2. Right now I wouldn't sell either.
I also own an Aleph 3 & an Aragon 4004 MkII, they both work great for the systems I use them in...
The Rowland amps must be left on all the time. The Pass Alephs run too hot in Class A to leave on, they warm up in 20-30 minutes.
Its like having 2 girfriends!
Rowland & Pass..
I'll second the Pass aleph nomination. I have a pair of aleph 2's and I don't think I'll sell them in the next ten years. If you can get away with 100 Watts per channel , a used pair of aleph 2's can be had for around 3K. btw I run them with the aleph p and watt puppy 5.1's. The levinson sound a little dull in my opinion. I never liked any of the krell systems I've heard except one owned by audionut. His krell system sounded great so maybe matching with krell is difficult. I would go with Pass.
As for holding value, let's not kid ourselves. If you buy this stuff new -- any of it -- even with the typical 10 percent to 20 percent discount, you take a beating when you sell. As for sonics, with my Dunlavy SCIV/A speakers, the Rowland Model 10 had a bit more clarity; the Pass X350 has a fuller sound (more body). Both are awfully good. The Krell and Levinson amps I've heard aren't in the same class, sonically. That's my opinion, anyway.