I'm glad that you are enjoying the JRDG Model 6 monoblocks. I can't say that I am surprised, they were about the best SS amps that I've heard in my 30 years in the hobby. Yes, they (Rowland's) were surplanted by a tube amp, and I am happy. If I were ever to go back to *gasp* SS, the JRDG 2/6/8/9 series would certainly be top on my list.
Anyway, best wishes to you Jeff, and enjoy the Model 6's....
Thanks, John! One thing that I've decided to do this time around is take my time with the components that I buy. In the past, I think I was too hasty. There is so much amazing gear out there, and for some reason I felt the need to do it all!
This Rowland amp is amazing to me!!!! I never expected this. There is so much control. I know I've said this before about other equipment, but I don't see myself ever parting with these monos! And I'm in no way implying that my CJ did a bad job...it was a real stunner!!! Hell it kept me captivated for five years! It's just different. Maybe not even a fair comparison.
Well Jeff, you do know what they say, "patience is a virtue". It's not always easy in this hobby, but it is true nonetheless.
Enjoy the music.
I am glad you are enjoying the Model 6's. I ran those amps for three years and regret selling them. Some friendly advice:
(1) Try to buy the battery power supplies, as they were voiced with batteries and sound best that way (Model 6's come up for sale on A-Gon as often with batteries as without, and someone will be willing to sell the batteries separately). The amps produce objectively less power with the batteries, but subjectively sound like they have more headroom because you can turn them up quite a bit louder before the sound falls apart due to noise (higher volume also magnifies A/C line noise, and the difference with the batteries is not subtle). I suggest that you read Stereophile's multi-part review of the Model 2, which contains a section devoted to how the amps sound with the batteries.
(2) While they work fine when run single-ended, run them balanced, as they were voiced in balanced mode and sound best that way.
(3) Regarding what preamp to run with them, I don't know what your budget is, but I would look at a top differential balanced preamp. The safest bet would be a Rowland Coherence II Mk. 2 (disclaimer - this has been my main preamp for the last five years) and a Synergy IIi would also be very good. The Levinson 32 would also likely work well, although I am just guessing. All of these pre's are quite pricey, though. As for balanced tube preamps, I am against the common wisdom as to tube preamps generally and prefer top solid-state due to noise issues and the problems most tube pre's have driving longer interconnects, but if you must, I would try to find an Audio Research LS-5 Mk. III (some feel it is the best sounding preamp ARC has ever made), ideally turbo-charged with new capacitors and higher-shelf tubes. Ralph Karsten's (Atma-Sphere's) top preamp or the better BAT and Audio Research balanced tube pre's are also obvious contenders.
No offense intended, but your c-j PV10 is essentially a mid-fi component (I know it well) and is really holding you back.
Enjoy your Model 6's -- they are spectacular amps that layer sound like a top tube amp, yet are extended at the frequency extremes and have some of the highest resolution available from any amp technology. In solid-state, only the darTZeel is better to my ears.
Many thanks for taking the time to read over all of my audio jibberish, above! And for formulating your response so well!
Yes, after more sessions with the Model 6s, I can deffinitley tell there is something holding them back. I feel that this is good enough for now, but with just the right preamp, they will SING! No offense taken regaring my current CJ preamp...I know this is not a reference level component.
The Rowland Coherence II is a thing of beauty, and I've dreamed of it for as long as I have the Model 6s...though I've been a tube nut, I've always had a Rowland fetish (did I just say that out loud)! I'm afraid that even on the used market, it would be out of my range - know your limits! However, the Synergy could very well be a contender. I guess I'm afriad of not having tubes on the frontend.
I will also look into the ARC and Levinson models that you mentioned!
Sand-Man: If you have a budget, forget the Levinson 32 ($8k-$10k used). I think your best option is the Synergy IIi.
Yes - budget would be $3K...
Jeff, yes, a good preamp may well help you even farther down the road to nirvana than what you currently have. I also agree with Raquel, that running balanced works best with these amps. I haven't heard the top JRDG preamps as he suggests, and they may work quite well. I've always been more of a tube preamp fan myself, and think you can do better with tubes. Your CJ 10B may be a bit sluggish and warm, but there are many more extended tube preamps out there. You may want to try a BAT or ARC for example.
As for the battery supplies, I know many did like them, I however was not a fan. I heard these Model 6's with battery supplies, and the sound was smoother, and a tad warmer, but lost much of the extension and rhythmic drive that I felt drove these amps. As you know Jeff, I was using Stealth Dream power cords on these amps. IMS, IMHO, these amps sounded best with AC and with good quality cords.
As always, YMMV.
Seriously thinking about the ARC LS5 MKIII that Raquel mentioned. I wonder what it is that makes this "one of ARC's best sounding"? The LS25 has also seems like a contender.
Still thinking about the VTL 5.5, too. Decisions...decisions!
My only hesitation about a tube preamp is what I previously mentioned, which is to say, the inability of many of them to drive long runs of cable and impedance mismatches with amps (this is mostly a problem when they are paired with solid-state amps, which tend to have much lower input impedances than tube amps). The ARC LS-5 Mk. III has a fairly low output impedance for a tube preamp at 400 Ohms on average and the specs indicate it will work with an amp having a minimum input impedance of 20,000 Ohms. However, the impedance likely rises in the bass. The Model 6 provides a choice of 600 Ohms or 18,000 Ohms input impedance. Especially with long interconnects, there is a chance that you could experience some bass rolloff. This is not a reflection of a lack of quality -- some really high-end balanced tube preamps, like the Audio Research Reference 3 and BAT 52, are worse. Regarding the Audio Research Reference 3, John Atkinson wrote:
"The output impedance was also to spec., at 635 ohms balanced and 326 ohms unbalanced in the treble and midrange, but rose to 1437 ohms and 625 ohms, respectively, at 20Hz. This rise in source impedance rolled off low frequencies a little early into the punishing 600 ohm load (fig.1, bottom pair of traces), with a 3dB frequency of 17Hz. As this is a relatively low frequency and the preamplifier will never be used with a power amplifier having an input impedance as low as 600 ohms, this rise in source impedance will not be a factor in practical use."
In fact, Rowland amps have impedances typically seen on pro gear and you can in fact choose a 600 Ohms input impedance setting (which would work best with a Rowland preamp). The Rowland Synergy IIi, preamp, for example, has a balanced output impedance of 80 Ohms -- it will drive anything.
While you would likely be fine with the LS-5 on the Model 6's (set at 18,000 Ohms input, of course) and I would try it if I were you unless you have really long runs to your amps, the Synergy IIi is a risk-free choice.
Many thanks! I'm thinking more and more that I should just pair thus up with a Rowland preamp and call it "done". Any reason I shoud avoid the Synergy II (non "i" version)? Is the IIi that much better? The reason I ask is that I see plenty of IIs on A-gon, well within my budget...one of them is even black.
I cannot speak to the differences between the two, but I would wait for a IIi if it were me.
Sand_man, you might want to try a CAT preamp with the model 6's. I use a CAT sig with rolled in tubes with my model 8 with choke and the sound is excellent IMHO.
The CAT sig's ( various versions) are big sounding and work well with Jeff's equipment. FWIU, the new Legend preamp is the best available, even better than the ARC Ref3. But on the used market, the Sig's can be had for good prices and again IMHO they are very hard to beat.
Thanks, Daveyf!!!! I will look into that one.
Keep the recomendations coming. I know the "right" piece is out there, and this time I've got patience on my side. Currently, the Rowland Synergy 2i is leading the pack, but I'm not quite ready to pull the trigger.
Not to pile on in this thread, but I ran a CAT preamp for several years (not with my Model 6's, however), and it is a truly excellent preamp. That said, it is single-ended, not balanced, and it has a ton of gain, meaning that, with a sensitive amp, you are not going to have much play in the volume control (i.e., if you turn the volume up just a little bit, your system will be really loud, and, each click of the volume control gives you big jumps in volume). I sold mine because, with my VAC amps, "9 O'Clock" gave me tremendously loud volume and I only had 5 or 6 "clicks" total range on the volume control. CAT could retrofit the preamp to have less gain, but I was told point blank by Marty of CAT that it was not an ideal solution and affected transparency. The CAT preamps have 26 db. of gain, while most have only 8-12 db. - why CAT chooses this gain architecture is beyond me.
Two other things about the CAT that are less than practical: the power supply is hard-wired to the preamp by an umbilical cord that is stiffer than (and nearly as thick as) a bridge cable, and both are heavy as hell -- installing it was either difficult or nearly impossible in my systems. It also has no remote.
Ken Stevens builds an excellent preamp that includes an excellent phono stage, but like his extraordinary amps, they are not long on practicality. I would definitely go with an equally good competitor that is balanced, as the Model 6's sound best when run balanced.
Please...feel free to "pile it on"! I'm here to learn.
FWIW, I did spend several hours with the original Rowland Synergy (MK 1, I guess) when I auditioned the Model 2 stereo amp. Yes, in a "perfect" hi-fi store listening room, the sound coming from these two components was astounding. I can only imagine what the Synergy 2i is like with the improved surface mount technology inside.
Some things I must have with this preamp: remote control and at least one pair of balanced XLR outs for my amps.
Really at this point it would take an impressive argument to sway me away from the Synergy 2i. For obvious reasons, I think it would team perfectly with the Rowland amps.
Precisely the reason I love to observe the expression on my "tube loving" friends' faces when they come over to "try" and find something/anything wrong,with the way my highly modded(by J.R.)two chassis 8t sounds.
Sorry,but this amp stays for a LONG time.How about the non existant heat issue?Nice to not have to wear my Speedos anymore,especially with my subtle winter weight gain!-:)
OMG...my Model 6s run so freaking cool! I'm amazed. I've left them on for a few days straight...temps never change, even after some long sessions with loud volumes. All they are is luke warm to the touch. I realize that mine don't run in "Class A", but I'd still expect more heat than this!
They are cool customers indeed. That's why I left them on 24/7 when I owned them. IMHO, it'd take them an hour or so to sound their best, when left on 24/7 they were always at there best.
FWIW, I've owned a couple of Class A amps, the Model 6's sound like Class A, but as you've felt, run much cooler. That part I do miss.
I guess I'll be buying some Speedo's this summer. :)
I'm glad that came up -- it is not "green", but you definitely want to leave these amps powered up 24/7. And I'm not talking about leaving them in Standby -- I mean full-on, 24/7, except when they are unplugged due to electrical storms. If you do anything else, you greatly increase the risk that they will break (thermal cycles that occur as a result of turning things on and off are what makes transistors or small-signal tubes die over time), and you are wasting your money on performance that they cannot deliver due to the time needed to reach thermal stability. If you run mid-fi gear, a tube amp or a Class A-biased solid-state amp that guzzles tons of electricity and roasts your room, that's one thing, but a very high-end Class A/B-biased amp should generally be left on 24/7, as should, as a general rule, all of the rest of your gear, including all tube gear except tube amps (the output tubes on a tube amp wear out quickly if left on 24/7 because they pass a lot of current, but small-signal tubes usually pass little current and generally last much longer if left powered up 24/7 -- the studies done in the 1950's proved this incontrovertibly).
I am concerned about the summer months,and the turning on/off with thunder storms.This could be a few times a week!I called J.R.,who said not to worry about the amp,but I have a fairly complex set-up,with CD always on stand-by and EP-15a/Ultrapure power conditioners from Exact Power Systems.Alot to cycle on/off. Technically,you are looking at turning on/off about twenty five times a spring/summer.
What would you recommend?
Got another preamp question: I narrowly missed an excellent deal on a Synergy 2i preamp...I was next in line! Still kinda bummed about it, as I had cash in hand for it.
At any rate, what about one of Rowland's "newer" preamps? The Capri and/or the Cocerto? I wonder how these would sound with my Model 6s? I understand that these don't have a separate power supply chasis. And it also looks as though the Concerto is soon to be retired and replaced by the Criterion (which will be well out of my budget). But that still leaves the Capri, which was rumored to sound better than the Concerto any way.
What do you think? Coming from a CJ PV10BL, it has to be an improvement??!!
ALL equipment, each component, has to be unplugged from the wall to protect against electrical storms -- turning things on and off provides no protection. You can put antisurge protection at the subpanel and elsewhere as an alternative.
My opinion is that current production Rowland components are not the equal, in terms of sound or build quality, to his all-out designs of the 1995-2000 period. The parts quality has dropped significantly, which is reflected in the much lower prices (inflation adjusted) of his current gear. Gone are things like separate power supplies ("Why did these idiots make this thing in two pieces? My home theater installation guy is telling me they won't fit on the shelf"), and I don't believe that either of the current production preamps are truly differential balanced, a much costlier design that requires twice the number of parts. At some point, a decision was made to produce higher-margin products aimed at the B&O / high-end home theater crowd (take the 201/501 amps -- he is charging $4k/$6K for a pair of ICe modules that cost $750/$1,500 in a fancy case). In short, the Coherence II / Synergy preamps and Model 2/6/8/9 amps, all designed in the late 90's at the height of the two-channel boom, represent the pinnacle of Rowland production and sound quality.
If it were me, I would be looking for a Synergy IIi and the Model 2/6 battery power supplies that Rowland has retrofitted for use with the Synergy IIi.
Raquel, how would you assess the Model 10 amp vs. the 2/6?
Well said, Raquel. I'll wait...
I agree with most of what Raquel has stated, especially with the mid to late 90's being JRDG's golden years, and his reco for the Coherence II/Synergy preamps.
I do have a couple of differences though, first being that I would still prefer a tubed preamp. I like tubes, that's me, that's why I sold you the Model 6's Jeff....tubes. I feel that a tube preamp can be used with the Model 6's with great success, using the 18K input impedence switch of course. I know, I've done it. I feel that you are not happy with your CJ, which I can understand, as I never really warmed (no pun intended) to the CJ sound myself. However, if you have cash in hand, I'd seriously take a look at Upscale Audio who is selling NOS BAT VK-31SE's for just under $4K.
Great, great preamp, and IMHO better than any SS preamp out there. I would buy new for the 5 year warranty though, it's worth it.
If I had to go back to SS, I actually preffered the Threshold T2 over either Rowland preamp, or Krell and Levinson to boot. I'm not trying to confuse you, just let you know of other options. Raquel's Coherence II/Synergy reco would come right behind the T2, IMHO, along with maybe a Klyne Series 7 preamp. If you'd like to match JRDG for synergy sake, that's certainly understandable, but I wouldn't paint myself into that corner. There are many better preamps out there than your CJ PV10BL.
Lastly, I do agree and disagree with Raquel on his comment about unplugging equipment. I do agree that ALL equipment should be unplugged from the wall for electrical storms. I disagree that antisurge protection at the panel or elsewhere is and alternative. I've been a audiophool for over 30 years now, and I have owned many protection boxes, but have found NONE provide absolute saftey for close (<1mile) lightning strikes. Many protect from surge, but NOT lightning. If a storm is a brewing, I still unplug/disconnect my main audio/HT breaker box.
Believe me, when you're talking about very expensive/sensitive equipment, if your $3000 surge protector fails, it will cost much more than that to fix your rig. They're great for most 'hiccups', but unplug for severe storms.
This Sonic Frontiers Line 3 SE looks interesting:http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?preatube&1209840622
Care to comment? I had one of SFs earlier preamps (can't remember the model), and I reacall it being prety good. Not nearly as "high-tech" as this one.
Balanced ouput impedence of 90 ohms and 45 ohms unbalanced should work really well with the Model 6's. Those output impedences are almost SS like in nature, which is also one of the complaints about SF gear, is that they are tube, but sound too much like SS. If you are looking for the best of both worlds, this may well be it, however, beware the call to upgrade to NOS 6922 tubes, as 10 of them could be very, very expensive.
I've heard several SF amps, but only the SFL-2 preamp. I think this would be a very intruiging combination though. SF definitely does NOT sound like CJ.
I found the 10/12 to be open and quick, but lean sounding -- I prefer the 2/6/8/9 sound, which is more burnished in the mids.
Jmcgrogan2: We don't disagree. I wrote that there are alternatives, but I did not mean better alternatives. My drafting error.
I ran a Hovland with my Model 6's for about a year and got very good sound, but, as noted above, I prefer very high-end solid-state preamps over tube preamps -- the very best ones layer space every bit as well as the best tube preamps, but they have lower noise floors (crucial in high-rez systems) and can drive any length of cabling. I do have a preference for tube amps over solid-state, however, as they almost always layer space better and have, to my ears, a more life-like presentation than solid-state (an exception to this statement is the amazing darTZeel).
Regarding the other preamps mentioned, the Kline is not balanced, is it? BAT certainly makes fine gear, but I do not like equipment that uses 6H30 tubes because there is only one manufacturer and your stuck with that sound -- does the BAT VK-31 use a different tube? If you must do a tube preamp, the Sonic Frontiers Line 3 is well built and has a nice remote. Chris Johnson, a former principal of Sonic Frontiers and now owner of PartsConnexion, has a lot of integrity and is a pleasure to deal with -- he can help you with tube selection. In addition to the LS-5 Mk. III, any of the Audio Research Reference preamps that do not use the 6H30 tube will provide excellent sound, as will Ralph Karsten's (Atma-Sphere's) top preamp. If it were me, however, I would be thinking Synergy IIi (or budget permitting, the Coherence II Mk. 2 or Levinson 32 -- they may be the best solid-state balanced preamps available).
For whatever it's worth, I run a Coherence II Mk. 2 (and Cadence phono stage) with VAC Renaissance 140 Mk. III zero-feedback triode monoblocks.
Raquel and all,actually I am aware of the unplugging during storms.My question was...is the on/off cycle of doing this around thirty times a year somewhat harmful?The powering down,then up...so frequently?Or is it rather benign?
If I remember correctly you're using a GNC moddied ARC SP15 with your 8T. Did you have balanced outputs added to your SP15 or are you running it single ended into the 8t??
I just have to say how helpful Jmcgrogan2 and Raquel have been!!! I sincerely respect the advice I'm getting here!
It's true,this preamp situation is making me a bit desperate. My CJ PV10BL was/is an excellent match for my CJ Premier 11A, however, I can sense (hear) that the Rowland amps are begging for a more accurate, and better defined input. Something refined and more neutral. I need less of the CJ "house sound". To be cliché, this PV10BL is throwing a veil on some recordings.
I think I was satisfied on initial sessions with the PV10BL and Model 6s, because the amazing bass control had won me over. Now I can sense that the cymbals don't have the same rush or ring that I was once accustomed to.
I'm trying my best to be patient. Ideally, I want a Rowland Synergy 2i. However, the ones currently on A-gon, just don't fit my criteria (one is in Canada, one comes with the battery and is out of my price range, etc).
I thought about finding out how much it would be to have Rowland upgrade a Synergy 2 to the "i" version. Then I could pick up a Synergy 2 for a lot less.
I guess, I just have to wait.
Does turning equipment on and off damage it? Over time, yes, some equipment more than others depending upon how hot equipment gets, as the hotter a piece gets when powered up, the more expansion and contraction occurs when it is turned off and cools down (it is expansion and contraction that causes components to fail over time). Leaving equipment on 24/7 does subject the caps to additional wear, as a cap is smacked around by alternating current waveforms (hence the term "A/C") whenever power flows to it, but good caps last many years even when seeing power 24/7 and are easy and relatively cheap to replace. The other parts of a component are not necessarily easy or cheap to replace, however, and the best way to protect them is to keep them at a constant temperature. People think that solid-state amps are easier to own and more "reliable" than tube amps -- wrong -- ask Krell and Madrigal amp owners that question after they lose transistors and then discover that the transistor is no longer made. In this regard, the riskiest component to buy used is probably a solid-state power amp -- most people turn them on and off, and after a number of years of being "pulled in and out of the fire", so to speak, some internal components have literally become brittle (a tube amp, on the other hand, essentially becomes a "new" component when it is retubed). Ask any honest tech who works on these things (the dishonest ones will say "turn it off", as it helps keep them busy). Manufacturers will tell you the same off the record, but often say "turn it off" in owners manuals because of liability concerns. Others want you to have best sound and most reliability, and do not include an on/off switch at all -- when the component is plugged in, it's on. Some components have to be turned off or can be more safely turned off. For example, tube amps must be turned off because output tubes pass a lot of current and last longer if powered down when not in use. Class A-biased solid-state amps burn a ton of electricity and heat up a room when left on constantly, as well as go out of bias too quickly. A component using small-signal tubes (preamps, DAC's, etc.) can be turned on and off if it also uses tube rectification, as the tubes in the power supply bring voltage up to the other tubes very gently, but most tube gear uses solid-state rectification, which is the biggest reason why people are constantly, and unnecessarily, replacing small-signal tubes (at power-up, the voltage applied to the tubes is like a kick to the groin).
All of that said, if you feel that you have to unplug your equipment to protect it against electrical storms, then you have to unplug your equipment -- suddenly running a few hundred thousand volts through your equipment is an extreme example of the deleterious effects of thermal cycles.
Scott,balanced output to amp.
I am under the impression that the Rowlands are always powered up whenever they are plugged in... esssentially in a 'sleep' mode until the front switch is activated. I know that my model 8 works in this manner and I am fairly sure all of the line does the same.
Are we suggesting that these amps be left on full power up all the time?
That's how I interpreted Raquel's response...leaving them "on", beyond the "stand-by" mode (which is plugged into the wall as far as my Model 6s are concerened).
When plugged into the wall, the input circuitry of the Model 2/6/8/9 amps remains powered up, but you have to engage the button on the front of the faceplate so it glows pale orange for voltage to reach the caps and the output transistors. The Model 6's run quite a bit warmer when fully powered up, meaning that they see significant temperature variations depending upon whether they are in Standby or full-on -- it is such thermal cycles, i.e., changes in temperature, that you want to avoid (not to mention that it takes a few hours after full power-up for the amps to sound their best).
Yet another question: I'm leaving the Model 6s powered up 24/7 now. Still leaving all my other sources switched off. However, with nothing else running (except for the Model 6s), I can her some noise coming from my speakers when I place an ear to them. A slight "hiss" from the tweeter and a slight "humm" from the woofer. I can't imagine this to be "normal"...is it?
To be honest, I'm using nothing in the A/C line conditioning area: no special cords, wall outlets, dedicated lines, conditioners, etc.
What can you guys recomend as a "poor man" solution? The very basics as it were. I know the JRDG batteries would help, and those might be added at a later date. Just looking for the quick "low hanging fruit" right now. Is it time for a better wall outlet and/or power strip?
Let's just say that my other hobby involves 4-wheels, a big turbocharger,and wide bodied car that a certain German company made during the '80s [[cough]]Porsche 930[[cough]]! Between this damn car and my audio sickness, I'm a broken man!
Woh woh ... time out. Why would you turn off your other sources? Your Electrocompaniet CD player could take anywhere from a day (some tubed DAC's) to a week (Naim) for the unit to stabilize after power up. Your c-j will sound much better and the small-signal tubes in it will last much longer if you leave it powered up 24/7. The combined draw off the line from those two components is only 30-40 watts. Put another way, it makes zero sense to be running vintage Rowland gear if you are running your source components from cold! When you are not listening, just turn the volume all the way down and engage the Mute on your preamp. Simple. That's how it's done.
The noise you are hearing is something in your A/C line (which can be mitigated or eliminated), and a bit of transistor rush (normal, and nothing can be done about it). The cheap way to cut down on A/C line noise is to make sure that there are no halogen lamps, dimmer switches, refrigerator motors, etc. on the same "side of the bar" on your sub-panel (an electrician knows what this means), and to make sure that all of your audio gear is on the same side of the bar. An electrician can move the lines around on your subpanel to achieve this for modest $$. Of course, running the Rowland batteries will achieve superior results.
In any event, if you are going to leave anything on 24/7, make it the preamp and CD player. Turning this stuff on and off is a good way to make it sound like Adcom/NAD (actually, worse, as Adcom/NAD gear can be quite enjoyable if used properly).
Understood! Then that's how I'll do it...leave it all on, all the time. In addition, I'll track down an electrician and let him have a look at my panel.
As to why I've always done it this way: deep down, the notion that I'm wasting something by leaving it on, has always gotten the better of me...I'll fight the urge!
why would you not use your own god given ears to determine if leaving on all your equipment all the time actually leads to better sound ?
Just always used the same routine when operating my equipment. Never thought it waranted an experiment. I've NEVER just fired up the gear and started listening. Most of my time spent listening is done on the weekends. Normally, the first thing I do on Saturday morning is switch it all on, and several hours my pass before the first song is played. So there has always been a good warm up time...and to my "god given ears", everything sounded fine.
Keep in mind, all of my power amps in the past were tube based. I generally didn't just let them run...so when they went off so did everything else.
So an interesting turn:
After some recent changes in financial obligations - my ten year old son is now wearing braces on his teeth (of which not much was covered by my dental plan), and the tuition at my kids' school was just increased - I had to rethink my budget for a replacement preamp...I don't generally purchase things on credit. Sucks to be an adult!
So I had to think back to the days when I used to vsist my local hi-fi shop and recall the equipment that really left an impression on me. One such name, Muse Electronics. In the big picture, not a generally well known name, but still a solid company doing good things, with a good leader, Kevin Halverson.
In short I've purchased a Muse Model 3 preamp in black (will match nicely with my black Rowland Model 6s) with the optional external power supply that has the digital attenuation/gain display. Lucky for me, I actually got to audition one of these units back in the day, after my local shop sold his floor model, Rowland Synergy preamp. The unit I heard did not have the improved optional power supply and was connected to the Rowland Model 2 stereo amp. I remember thinking how absolutely neutral this preamp was/is. Really stunning! DEAD QUIET! In fact from what I recall, I enjoyed the Muse/Rowland combo over the all Rowland set. Granted this was an original Synergy...not a 2 or a 2i that I heard. I'm sure the later version of Rowland's Synergy would put it to shame...but I'll just have to wait for that. The tubeyness of my CJ PV10B is just getting on my nerves, and after further listening, it's just not a good match for the Rowland gear.
I should have the Muse M3 by tommorow, so stay tuned for my impressions. Though the Muse has a couple "balanced" XLR ins and an XLR out, it's doubtful that this is a true differential design like the Synergy. In addition, I'm not sure what the output impedence is. Regardless, I'm so very excited to hear this thing!!!
Congrats on the 'new' preamp Jeff.
Kids.....I know about stinking kids....if it weren't for my three boys I'd have had the money to keep them JRDG Model 6's as my spare amps....
I hope the Muse works out well for you (though I still say go tubes :) ).
I think what's driving me to seek out the more neutral sounding (no signature of it's own?) solid state Muse M3, is the fear that my mid-level CJ preamp has been hiding some details in all of it's warmth. Why this never really bothered me before...I have no idea. Perhaps there is zero system synergy with the Rowland, that once existed with my CJ Premier? And now it's shortcomings are just glaring! I just know that I'm ready for a total change...same feelings that pushed me into the Rowlands to begin with.
In addition, I'm also upgrading my interconnects, and I think that will also add an improvment.
Here's a picture of the Muse M3 unit I bought:http://gon8.audiogon.com/i/c/f/1203124839.jpg
Very simplistic styling...typical of Muse's form following function approach. Stunningly beautiful, it ain't!
Jeff.....Dude....relax, I was just joking. I think you probably got a great deal on the preamp, like you did on my amps. Hopefully you will live happily ever after. There is no doubt in my mind that you will now have a more neutral sound than your previous CJ gear, as IMHO nothing sounds warmer/sweeter than CJ gear.
Enjoy the Muse/JRDG hook-up.
Oh yeah, no worries John! It's hard tell over the "interweb", but you didn't ruffle my feathers. All is cool! I merely was pointing out why all of a sudden I made this shift with the type of gear I'm running. It's like discovering a whole new world. At the time, I just wasn't ready to let go of my tubes. I know full well that a better tube preamp would have done the trick, also. I just figured I've come this far, might as well go the distance and toss a solid state pre in there!!! LOL!
I am using jeff rowland gears ,for the past 6 years.Its one of the best build amps .Build and the intergrity of the components is simply outstanding.The sound emmited is unlike your conventional solid state. All the proud owners of this brand;I CAN SAY;MONEY WELL SPENT.CHEERS
COOKING WITH GAS, NOW!!!
So I've finally gotten to spend some time with my "new to me" Muse Model 3 preamp! As I told the A-gon member, Jamscience, who sold it to me, this is the finest sounding "system" I've ever had in my house! What I love most is that all of my changes, as I move from tubeland to silicone valley, have been DRAMATIC! Nothing subtle here! None of this, "hhhmm, yeah I *THINK* it sounds a little different"!!! There is no doubt that I'm playing in a new game!
Now for the sound: When I was first listening to the Rowland Model 6s with my CJ PV10B preamp, I was initially awestricken because the increased wattage of the Rowlands (I went from a 70W tube stereo unit, to 150W monos), provided so much control, headroom, and bass!!! That was new to me...and I loved it! Thus explaining my initial glowing review at the opener of this thread. However, the more time I spent, the muddier the waters became. Something was getting in the way. Where were all those details? I first noticed this when I spun The Eagles, "Hotel California". This is not normally a band that I dabble with, but the song is a classic and the way Henley's high-hat, and cymbals shimmer and ring in that song, ALWAYS brought on the goosebumps when I was running CJ pre and power units! However, this time I noticed that the crash and shimmering was being cut short. The magic had dried up ever so slightly. Perhaps there was too much of a good thing? A little too much bass that was masking some of those trebbly details?
So before I left for vacation, I was able to connect the Muse M3, and let all burn-in while I was away for the week. As mentioned earlier in this thread, I no longer turn any of my sources off. As soon as I was unpacked, I was ready to spin, and the gear was good and warm! The clarity and level of detail being revealed is astonishing!!!!!! Yep, this is a good match!!! In fact, outside the perfect hi-fi boutique with it's dedicated power and room treatments, I'm not convinced I've ever experienced this. As I suspected, these Rowland amps, have all the warmth needed to support such a neutral, almost non-existent preamp!!! The warmth of the Rowlands with the warmth of my original CJ pre...was overkill!!! Another thing that I've enjoyed having with the Muse, is a FREAKING REMOTE!!!!!! Full functioning, no less! Including a button to invert the polarity of the output signal. In all honesty, I'm still getting used to this sound. I was growing accustomed to all the bass, and now some of that has been leaned out. And I'm not sure if the CJ was just bloated or if the Muse is more on the lean side...or should I say accurate? Whatever the case, I don't mean to imply that the bass is missing, just that it's been toned down...better formulated, and even more controlled. Whatever is on the disc is what you get...not a penny more, sir! It'll take some time to get used to. I've also noticed how much louder my system will play with no ill effects and while maintaining all of the elements that I love. The sound stage is top notch and expansive, even in my my small room. And another phenomenon that is new to me...SPEED! The elements are all being delivered with greater momentum...nothing laid back here! The flow of sound is amazing! In addition, on some CDs/tracks, The Shins, "Wincing the Night", for example, the details are so damn near perfectly replicated, there is almost a spooky, eerie feel. It's hard to describe. I'm not sure what is causing this, but me LOVE IT! In the case of my current setup, the more I listen, the more drawn into the music I feel. Almost, an emotional connection. Engaging, I think. Where as before, the more I listened, the more pissed off I was becoming, because I knew something was wrong!
A special thanks to Jmcgrogan2 and Jamscience for being such stand up guys who provided excellent A-gon service! You guys have helped fulfill my hi-fi wishes! I know it gets better than this, but I don't know at the expense of how many more thousands? For my modest lifestyle, this is as good as it gets!
Up next: Gregg Straley Reality Cables...interconnects and speaker, on the way! Stay tuned - more to follow...