Both are great products and I don't think you can go wrong with either. With what source and what loudspeakers?
44 responses Add your response
I recently sold a Rowland Continuum 500 and bought a McIntosh MA7000, driving a pair of Sonus Faber Guarneri Mementos. Thus far, I have not decided if I am happy with the transition. The Continuum was fully broken-in (and it did get better as time went by. . . it actually took several hundred hours of use to come into its own.)
The MA7000 is new, has minimal hours and I sincerely hope it will improve as it breaks-in. It does sound good, it just doesn't seem to equal the performance of the Rowland.
The main difference I have noticed is a lack of three dimensional soundstaging compared with the Rowland. The Mac does have an excellent soundstage, imaging is good, it just is not as transparent as was the Rowland.
I feel that things will get better as time goes by - I am just reporting on the here and now.
I owned the MA6900, and the Concentra and Concerto. Aside from system synergy, in general I preferred the Rowlands. Quieter backgrounds, and a bit more detail perhaps. The Mac's are nice, but the Rowland seems to have a bit more musical enjoyment. I went from MC-300/C-15 combo to the Concentra, and later the MA-6900 to the Concerto; in both cases I found it to be an improvement. The Concentra and Concerto (and presumably continuum) also have a different sound. The ICE amps are more neutral and perhaps have better bass, but with the right speakers the Concentra is addictive.
The obvious thing is matching your speakers with the right amp. I would expect both the MA7000 and the Continuum 500 to be excellent units, I'd love to experiement myself.
I have owned two Concentra II's. The first I had I loved and always regretted selling, it was a great match wth the speakers I had. But I replaced the speakers and after doing so I wasn't so pleased, so I played with amps. (It was the speakers, I eventually sold them.)
I later purchased another CII in hopes of selling my spearates, as I had spent a lot on speakers and wanted to even the finances out. My separates were (and are) McIntosh MC402 and C46 and the CII was no match, at least with the speakers I was using.
Above Jimmy mentions the MA6900, which IMO is not on par with the newer MA6600 and MA7000. A friend recently purchased a MA6600 and is extremly pleased with it, replacing Bel Canto mono blocks and pre.
Again, speaker matching is important, but if you have to lean on opinions, Jprice would have to be one of your best sources as he has owned both. After reading his comments, I'd love it if he could have a Continuum placed back in his system, after some more time with the MA7000, and get further thoughts; I am surprised by the lack of 3d with the Mac, a usual strong point for them.
I am suprised by the comments about McIntosh not being 3d. I think it has to be something else in the system. When I hear systems that are supposedly 3d, 99% of the time they sound thin and sterile with no bass. Usually a very uninvolving sound. Accurate, detailed, sterile, thin and no bass. Lifeless. Many like this sound. I can listen to it for about 30 minutes. Then the fatigue starts setting in. Not my idea of enjoyment. Each to their own. We all hear differently, that is for sure. A friend of mine had Pass Aleph's hooked up to quads and then Atmosphere hooked up to quads and he asked what do you think? I said, could you turn it up, I can't hear it. Detailed, thin, accurate, "3D", no bass, as usual. I bet some could go to the actual venue itself and say it did not sound 3d to me. lol
I suggest we eliminate "3D" from the Two Channel Terminological Dictionary of Audiophilia. Or TCTDA (if there is ever one to be written that is). It is a confusing description. A well staged image is not 3D. Live music is not 3D. Any source of 2-channel audio is not 3D. 3D is something forced, that pretends to imitate a phenomenon where pinpoint imaging can emanate from any direction, at any time. Peripheral imaging happens all the time in any channel environment. This can be either from reflections, surround speakers, etc. Standing on a street, in a busy city, will give you the exact idea of what 3D imaging sounds like. A well staged HT scenario will do similar. Two channel NEVER can in any way be authentic 3D. Please take this as a suggestion Tzh21y and not a directed argument towards you. I agree with your overall sentiments.
I think you are both wrong. Three dimensional (3D) means height, width and depth. Any two channel system that is worth having or is not broken will have all three dimensions. Three dimensional does not mean having sound coming at you from all directions as you would on a busy street. 3D has nothing to do with surround sound or home theater. It is what it is!
Look up the definition please!
having or appearing to have length, breadth, and depth :
a three-dimensional object.
I think 3D is a good descriptor for a sound system, and should definitely be included in the TCTDA. Good two channel sound is very three dimensional, as is live music.
I have never heard a so called 3d system sound anything like the real thing ever, especially when it comes to orchestral music. Anyone who frequents the concert hall will know this immediately, it is no secret. What you have with these 3d system is a very fatuging detailed sound that is nothing like the real thing. Anytime I hear people talking about this type of sound probably never heard the real thing or very seldom have heard the real thing. What you have is a detailed illusion of a sound that is totally unreal sounding. Some like this, I do not. Most of the time I will hear a system like this and i get bored almost immediately, totally uninvolving. Detailed and not musically satisfying.
I've been playing the MA7000 almost non-stop since I bought it and it is gradually improving. The holographic, transparent - - - YES - - - Three-Dimensional soundstaging has become much more well defined. I don't know if I am forgetting the Rowland's strengths, or if the MA7000 is improving to the degree that it has equalled what I remember about the Rowland. It does, now sound very, very good. One of the earlier responses told me that I should try single ended rather than balanced cables for the CD input - which I did - it changes the sound, but I'm not yet sure which I like better. I can switch the inputs "on the fly" as was suggested and there is a definite difference. I think that the single ended input narrows the soundstage slightly and makes individual instruments and/or human voices a little a little more defined. (It moves the position of, say a female singer slightly upward and a little more to the left and makes her mouth a little smaller). Probably an anomaly of the difference in the wires themselves. Maybe I should switch the wires right to left and see if she now moves to the right . . . . This never-ending tinkering is fun, but gets old as well.
For the benefit of those who question my ability to listen and describe what I am hearing. . . I have been a high end (often very high end) listener for over 40 years, have owned very good equipment, well set up in well treated, dedicated sound rooms.
I am currently using the McIntosh MA7000 in a SECOND system, driving a pair of Sonus Faber Guarneri Mementos. Sources are an Esoteric X-01 (heavily modified) player. CD and SACD, Vinyl played on a VPI Super Scoutmaster table with their arm and a Benz Ruby 2 cartridge. Mark Levinson No. 25 phono stage. I own over 14,000 LPs.
My main system consists of Spectral DMC 30SL preamp, Spectral DMA 360 monaural amps, Avalon Eidolon Diamonds or Audio Physic Caldera III speakers, Wadia 581SE player, Basis Debut Vacuum turntable, Graham Phantom arm with choice of Graham Nightingale, Clearaudio Discovery or Koetsu Pro-IV cartridges. PASS X-Ono phono Stage etc. etc.
I am terribly sorry to learn that what I have always though to be three dimensional soundstaging is a figment of an over-active imagination on my part. I guess I'd better start changing stuff out to see if I cant make my systems sound flat and one dimensional, and I'd surely better rotate my speakers inward and tilt them forward to stop the sound from coming from space well above the speakers and from, seemingly, from wall to wall well outside the edges of the speakers. I didn't realize that my systems were sterile and had no bass. Gosh, I've got $90,000 worth of speakers that must not sound like a flip because they have the ability to project a phony soundstage.
I also had better go more often to live performances - Heck, I only go to symphonies and Operas a couple of dozen times a year. I've got to go a lot more to find out what live music really sounds like. Maybe I should go to a few rock concerts to really learn to appreciate "correct" sound.
Actually, I think I'll turn on one of my boring, uninvolving, unreal sounding, utterly fatiguing, pile of garbage systems and listen to music, with no bass or no life.
What are these people talking about?
Jprice-I was interested in your comments concerning balanced cables;I would expect you would hear a difference since the balanced cable has better noise rejection thus increasing microdynamics; and being able to retreive more low level detail from your sources.
It should only get better;want to try a cable that is excellant and recommended even by Ralph from Atmasphere is the Mogami Neglex;won't break the bank and is a stellar performer;excellant reports here in the discussion groups as well.
IMHO, just because one spends lots of money on a system does not mean it will sound good together. If you go that often to the concert hall, you should know that music does not sound as detailed as it does on your system. I sit four rows back right in the center, right in front of the pit. I never hear the instruments in the rear of the orchestra sound anything like they are portrayed in most systems. What it sounds like to me is mono, like an old mono symphonic recording. That is the closest example to my ears at least. I have had or listened to many of the same components you have mentioned and they all sound different, but not necessarily "better" than any given component. I hear all these amps with their "Class A Stereophile rating" whatever that means, and the so called experts who review them. A system is only as good as the person thinks who listens to it. I wonder if we closed our eyes and were asked to listen to several systems and asked which one we liked the most, I wonder what we would pick? Would it be the 100K system or a 20k system that was well matched, or maybe a 10K system? Who knows. I do not prefer most detailed, solid state, or otl systems. They sound boring, sterile, most are very light in the bass, and uninvolving to me. They may not sound this way to the next person, but they do to me. When I owned or heard these systems, I never liked the way they sounded, and I could not listen to anything less than the best recordings. I fought this for so long. I wanted it to sound great because everyone told me it was "the best". So I was not listening to great performances anymore, but to detailed sound that was not very musical. I do think that McIntosh does make very musically satisfying components. much more so than some of the other stuff I have owned regardless of what many say. I am very glad that I finally have a system that I can actually enjoy, and it does sound much closer to the real thing than anything else I have owned or heard.
I am not saying you do not have a good system, heck is sounds like a great setup. We all just like different things. The Rowland is a great amp, and the Mac is also a great amp as well.
Thanks for all the input everyone. I should note that I have gone with the mcintosh integrated but have decided that both brands offer great products. HOWEVER, in my set up I have recently swapped out my cardas golden reference interconnects and replaced them with virtual dynamics ultra clear interconnects and this has had an effect that is nothing short of a miracle. I have never heard an interconnect on any system have such a profound effect on the overall sound. Furthermore, I have taken the advice of many on this thread and used rca connections with these interconnects. I suggest everyone audition them these cables. They are by far the best interconnects I have ever heard. I guess I'll mention that I have absolutely no affiliation to virtual dynamics or any audio equipment manufacturer. This is just my honest opinion.
I should start by expressing the respect I have for the cardas golden reference interconnect. It is quite a good cable and I would not have been using them had I not found them to be better than all I had tried prior to buying my virtual dynamics cables. However, when I swapped the ultra clear cables by virtual dynamics I could not believe my ears. The improvements in clarity, attack, soundstage, and dynamics were not subtle. Basically, my system is now producing a much more believable and enjoyable sound, no matter what kind of music I have chosen to play. It's seemed almost like the virtual dynamics cables were now capturing and conveying a ton of information that had fallen off the sides, so to speak, of the cardas cables. I should note that they also seem louder than the cardas cables. I simply wasn't aware that an interconnect cable could ever make its presence felt (or not felt, I suppose, since trasparency is always the goal) the way these ultra clear cables have with my set up. They are darn good cables.
I read the AudioEnz review some time ago and, just as the reviewer found the Continuum amp to be "inconclusive", I found his review to be very much the same - inconclusive.
I do find it interesting that in another review,the same reviewer unhesitatingly found the Continuum to be superior to the Gamut DI-150 in several areas. ( http://audioenz.co.nz/forums/showthread.php?t=8099 ) Remember that Jonathan Valin said in TAS that the Gamut was the best integrated he had ever heard.
This guy aparently really listens and listens well. His evaluations are complete and well thought through. I guess that his findings are a result of his personal taste. As for myself, I did find the Rowland to be very emotionally involving - but then I don't have platinum ears like the Audio Enz reviewer. (I also liked the Gamut a lot).
What is my take on his review? A very good review - expressing another view on a very fine amplifier. I do wonder though if his amp was fully broken in. (several hundred hours of "normal to hard use" to make it come into its own.) My continuum really didn't become fully "musical" until I played it a lot, and then it became magic.
I don't have platinum ears like the Audio Enz reviewer.I don't have those gifted ears either. :) I also wondered about the break-in. Knowing that class D amps take long to break-in, I am surprised he didn't mention how much time was on the amp. There is also the possibility of system synergy, a second set of speakers can be helpful in an eval, but not always a possibility.
The Rowlands are great, well built amplifiers. They are not my cup of tea, I can see how someone else could really enjoy them. There is something about the autoformers in the Mcintosh that is really addicting. They sound more like tubes. Personally, I love the sound of tubes and will not look back. To me, the difference in the sound of tubes vs. transistors is as pronounced as night and day.
I have owned a lot of Mac gear and love it for it's utilitarian approach. I have moved on to Jeff Rowland's products of late (a C500 and a 102/Capri pair) and am enjoying the transition. The Rowlands are a more relaxed and fluid sound, and offer up detail lost on my mac gear. It's not up and in your face like some products (Krell, Pass, etc); but a more calming tonality.
I really like the sound of the 275. I have heard many different amps and at this point, it does enough things right for me to keep it for a while.
The C220 is a fine preamp and is designed to mate with the 275. you probably could find better preamps I am sure but it sounds great to my ears with the 275. The tubes it comes with sound okay, but I have rolled mine and it sounds much better with the NOS tubes.
I am sure the 275 would sound great with the Capri. It sounds great with just about anything. If I had to put words to describe the sound, I would say "romantic and liquid" sounding. You also can voice it to your own taste. What kind of speakers do you have?
Yeap, the C220 and C2200 are also in the list. They set the bar against which I'll judge other preamps such as the Capri, Lamm LL2, Aesthetix Calypso, Audio Note M2, etc. I noticed most Virtual Systems with MC275 also run either C220 or C2200, though, which has me thinking maybe I'm getting just too creative...
My speakers are B&W 804S, and tubes are genrally a good match for my taste with those aluminum tweeters. BTW, I also have a REL (Storm III). I have rolled in upgraded small tubes for the MC275 (KT88 pending). Seems our taste might not be that far off. You have a nice system. One day I'll dive into vinyl, but before I need to upgrade so many other parts of my system!
The guy, Jamiek. asked a question that started this thread. . . .
"Does anyone have an opinion as to which integrated amp is better between a mcintosh ma7000 and a jeff rowland concentra or continuum? Thanks"
And, yet, no one here seems to be interested in answering him. I sincerely doubt if more than a couple of us who have posted responses in this thread have ever heard either of the components in question, yet some of you have set yourselves up as experts in all things Audio. and have spouted your obvious lack of information to folks who could care less.
why are we talking about Lamm and tubed McIntosh separates in a thread asking about solid state integrated amps?
Try, for once, to stick to the topic. Lighten Up Folks!
How are we supposed to know what is best for his system? Do we really know which is better? To my ears or to your ears. They both are good, they sound different. I do not know about better? They are different sounds, I am not sure that one is necessarily better than the other. To my ears, I like McIntosh, but I prefer tubes anyway.
Hey Jamiek ,,,
Hopefully you have picked the JRDG C500 over the MA7000,, because I owned both of them ,,, and I must say that MA7000 ... is just not an hi-end products.
The sound was just dark and flat... I am not sure if there is something wrong with my MA7000(Sold it right away I bought it based on all the reference on the net before I even heard it... bad move) bottom line C500 worked well withmy W/P 8 without any issues,,, MA7000 .. I tried it with HARBETH SHL5... when you try to go louder than 11' ,,, the sound is distorted.... its.. just not a good amp.. trust me I head it with both of my ears....
Sorry Mac,,, you look beautiful but for the money you have to go with JRDG, PERIOD.
JPrice - before you jump - you are not crazy - 3d sound stage "should" exist, if you're doing it right. It is the holy grail that most read about, chase and are unable to achieve, so they say its a falsehood.
As for Mac and Jeff Rowland, if they took all the engineers and all the employees from Macintosh and lined them up in front of Jeff Rowland, they still could not shine his shoes. Jeff Rowland gear achieves things very few manufacturers can do. Its all in the power applications and attention to detail (ceramic circuit boards) for Jeff and no one comes close.
My dealer once demonstrated a few different amps, and since then I can detect the 3D sound stage.
In my experience, class-A amps tend to project this 3D image, but I don’t know if all the class-A can do or the other classes can’t do.
I have heard a few Macintosh in different occasion, and I don’t feel 3D is not their strength.