It is interesting how brands fall in and out of popularity. For several years I stopped reading reviews and did my own thing. Now that I am back I find brands that were considered mediocre at best are well respected by the audiophile community.
Yoh, I've owned examples of both brands-driving Wilson/ Avalon/ Soundlab/ Quads/Snells/etc--both worthy ,tried and true Pre/Amp products you can be proud to own.
I have had Rowland amps and they sound good but the Pass Labs Sound Great. The difference between Good & Great is huge!
Always remember that when people compare equipment if it isn't apples to apples then it isn't a fair comparison. To just say that Rowland is not as good as Pass or visa versa (or for any component), power output, sensitivity, etc and most importantly price point should be considered. Comparing a $1000 amp to a $5000 amp is in most cases a totally unfair comparison. Same is true with other characteristics. You know. Which Rowland amp was compared to which Pass amp? So for me, I pick a price point whereby I will purchase. I find equipment at that price point and compare. Now every now and then you will find an exceptional piece of equipment that is less expensive than another and will be better, but that is really rare. Most manufacturers design and construct based on price points. Same is true for automobiles and other equipment. So a Hyundi vs a Bently isn't a fair comparison is it? Same for audio equipment.
I have heard Rowland amps and the ones I have listened to were of top quality and construction and sound. I know for a fact that Pass Labs makes absolutely great equipment. But, I have never done an a/b comparison.
I've owned a Rowland Model 2 for about 10 years.
My Pass X150.5 is the first amp (besides my Pass Aleph 2s)
that sounded as good.
I sold the X150.5 simply because the Rowland runs cooler in my bedroom system.
I recently bought an XA30.5. If it is noticeably better than the Rowland or Aleph 2s, one of them will go.
Rowland is very much like Pass, IMO. Very good sound, very good people/company.
Pass is very popular right now. If 200 watts/4ohms is enough power, you can get a Rowland Model 2 for around $1750.00. It is built better than 99% of all amps.
If you ever meet Jeff Rowland you will find him to be very calm, low key, humble and approachable I don't get the feeling he cares to play the games with reviewers to get his stuff reviewed; it speaks for itself. Jeff has a huge following overseas too. I recently purchased a pair of his old Model 9tiHC monoblocks that are old by today's standard but have always been a favorite solid state of mine. I like the Pass, but in AZ it adds to my A/C expense in the summer; they are hot!
I once switched from Rowland components to Pass components and thought it was a nice upgrade. I later switched from the Pass to a Rowland integrated and while the presentation was different, it wasn't a downgrade. From this I conclude that Rowland and Pass both make great quality, musically satisfying equipment.
Rowland popularity slump in North America was partially caused by JRDG's adoption of class D for its highest end amplifiers. The new series of high bias class A/B amps from Rowland might cure the popularity slump. M625 stereo is already out, and a new M725 mono has been said to be out before year end. Looks like no more higher end class D amps from JRDG. G.
They seem like a very low keyed business . None of the dealers in my area have ever sold there gear and reviews are few and far between . The word around our audio club is that they sound excellent in some systems and poor in others .
rowland equipment has a refinement in its build quality and its sound that is, at least to me, somewhat "european" in effect. you look at the beautiful internal layout of the new 625 amplifier on the web site, and then you go hear it on a really top-notch pair of speakers, and what you may find is a very relaxed quality but with emphasis on very subtle details.
And every time i went to the dealer to hear an amp or a preamp i was
probably more frustrated than coming away from other stores; there was little leeway on the price and at the same time a tremendous motivation on my part in trying to figure out where the heck i was going to find the money. a good example of this is when the model 8 stereo amp came out at over $12k when other top brands were going for $7k-$9k. and then the rowland 9 monoblocks were as massive as they were completely insanely priced at the time they were made available. i never got to even hear them as a result (a shame). as such many of us will never experience that level of performance, and then time moved on and JRDG had to, instead of building on that theme, turn elsewhere and see if they could get the job done without the elegance and expense of those huge gleaming boxes.
so as they have struggled with trying to make the very best components possible, so have the rest of us struggled with trying to keep up with the price structures that rowland gear demands. i would love a criterion preamp but i had to settle for something else in the meanwhile costing far less, but that still has excellent sound.
I heard than Coherence II and 9T monoblocks was the best Rowland pair ever. And that many prefer older Rowlands anyway.
oh, i forgot to mention... i had at one time a Rowland Consonance preamp with Phono (a demo piece) that was a pleasure to own, especially when JRDG issued a new line stage module (just plug it in, no tools or solder necessary) that improved the sound another 25% (for a mere $450). i later upgraded to the Consummate Preamp that i was also extremely happy with. i had wanted as i mentioned before an amplifier but as the Model-1 had only 60 watts and the Model-8 was completely out of reach i had to look elsewhere. anyone out there with a M8-TIHC might weigh in here why anyone would, even now, need another amplifier. on the other hand Jeff's obsession with battery power (if you wanted this option it would cost even more) unfortunately
robbed the 8 and 9 of some dynamic capability, not to mention having to get new batteries every so often from the company (rather than from multiple sources).
but then again I never got to hear what Jeff felt was the very best sound he could squeeze from these designs. and all but the wealthiest patrons of this hobby were left to wonder what his concept of state-of-the-art could do for their favorite music.
i guess if you had THAT much money you were probably into hand-built tube equipment and turntables with impossibly-exotic cartridges.
but THEN you had to limit your musical choices to string quartets played on wussy speakers built to make the most of five watts... (just kidding).....
To conclude, if you have ANY Rowland gear IMHO you're in VERY good shape and getting to hear your music as well as anyone might want.
Could not have said it better myself French_Fries (grins!) .... By the way, have you ever considered Corus instead of Criterion? Corus pre should sound very close to Criterion, unless you happen to receive very dirty AC in your home, and it is quite a bit less expensive than Criterion. And do not exclude the little Capri pre .... According to Rowland, Capri sounds better than any of the pres he has designed before, and I have much preferred it over my own ARC Ref 3 for most parameters.
I own a pair of model 6 monoblocks and don't ever see parting with them for quite some time.
Maybe the switching power amps design has hurt them but I have never heard any of that design;I think 6,8 and 9 were probally considered his best in amp design;just my opinion though.
Capri better then the Synergy11i?
I own Rowland gear - beautiful, supremely built to last and sounds great. Doubt I will ever change things......
So one of the reasons why Rowlands are not talked much about is because they are simply great and there is not much to say. Another is perhaps that many Rowland owners are low key too, just like Jeff. I know that his amps are very popular in Asia. In fact, he probably sells more there than here. Not sure about Europe.
2/3 years ago I switched from a Plinius 9200 integrated to Rowland C500. The Plinius is not bad, and I still have it in my bedroom and won't part with it, but the rowland was clearly a much higher sonic performance level. I know it is at a different price point, so no surprise. Can't be happier and both amps will probably stay with me till they stop working.
Gocubs999, I have not personally compared Capri (which I have used extensively) against Synergy (which I have never used). Mr. Rowland has asserted that Capri sounds comfortably better than all Synergy models. However, I have not heard any confirmation from a 3rd party as yet. G.
I trust Jeff as this will be an inexpensive experiment I will enjoy. You can pick up a used Capri for around $1,900. Once I get my 312 hooked up to a pair of Avalon Indras the listening session will begin.
Thank you Gocubs999, please let us all know the results of your upcoming Capri/Synergy comparisons! G.
Agree with the other posters. My model 8 with choke has been a central part of my system for many years now. This amp is still highly competitive with other ss amps that are far more costly today, IMHO. I still haven't heard any other ss amp that I would say is so superior that I would want to trade it in....at any price point. I believe that the reason one sees so few used JR model 1,6,8 and 9's on the market speaks volumes.
Jeff is very low key, but his amps speak loudly to those in the know...IMHO..:0)
I am a software developer of limited funds, but yet wanting Rowland equipment/sound. My approach to solving the problem has been to acquire a Bridgeable Model 1 (obviously not enough power yet), and am now looking for a second, bridgeable Model 1. As per Daveyf's comment - hard to come by - especially with the bridge switch. The sound of my current model 1 is glorious! When I get the second one I will have 240 watts on each channel - plenty for me. This approach allows me to make the purchase in incremental chunks. For me, this is the best approach. Regards, Craig.
Interestingly, the upcoming Rowland M725 will also be bridgeable. G.
What is the projected stereo power rating of an unbridged 725?
Hi Giarcwm, M725 in unbridged configuration is likely to yield somewhere in the general vicinity of 300W over 8 Ohms... But the amp has not yet been released, and JRDG seems to be keeping information about M725 "pretty close to the vest"... We might need to wait until the RMAF weekend in October to learn all details about it, including actual power ratings in both bridged and unbridged configurations. G.
Guido, Do you know if the Corus is 110V or 220V?
Husk, Corus uses a universal auto-ranging power supply.... There is no 110 or 220 model per se. See the Corus manual at:
Guido, I assumme that means that the same Corus will work in both the US and Europe as regards to voltage?
Husk, the Corus manual contains the following statement regarding operating voltages:
" Due to auto-ranging circuitry and dual-stage voltage regulation, the audio performance will not be affected by any voltage fluctuations within the operating voltage range. The CORUS PREAMPLIFIER can be operated at any mains voltage over the range of 85 to 265 VAC without any adjustments necessary. "
However, I have neither the technical nor the legal expertise to interpret the above and tell you if a unit destined to the European market can be operated safely in the US, or a unit destined to the US market can be operated in Europe. The only entities with such a technical and legal expertise are the JRDG factory and its registered distributors. G.
Guido, Thanks for the info. Nobody seems to have the knowledge about Rowland gear like you.
Hi Cyrus, I usually pour over the various downloadable manuals, and refresh my memory with the Q&As in the JRDG Knowledge Base at:
While the facility seems to have some gaps, it is amazingly complete on some devices..... there are over 120 questions on Criterion alone..... and most of them apply to Corus, except for those that discuss the NiMH battery system.
i'm considering changing my power amp- 'mcintosh275' to rowland's power amp to drive my 'dali helicon 800' speakers. actually i'm not sure '275's capacity to drive 'em. but somebody said it's ok although they say dali need upto 400watt amp power to be driven.
my preamp is rowland 'synergy ll'
if i have to do,
i wonder if rowland model 5's power is enough to do it.
or model 10, model 8, model 7.
i need your experiences and advices.
Zabiaud, I had the Model 6's on my MAXX 2's and they sounded good, but I felt the lowest octave of bass was missing. I use the Model 9 mono blocks now and the are perfect. The 6's, 8 and the 9's have been some of Jeff's most highly regarded amplifiers and if you can find an 8 I would go that route. The new 626 (I think) is excellent too; I heard it at a show and it sounded excellent.
thanks hifimaniac, i'm looking for model 8 but it's not on the list. i guess 250w @ 8 ohm - 400w @ 4 ohm will drive my
big dali 800(4 ohm) well enough.
what about model 5 ? not enough for big speaker?
and do you think rowland preamp synergyll goes well with
those old model power amps?
Or if budget allows.... Jeff's new 925 mono amps....they promise to be something very special
Daveyf, M925 are still in the making.... If we are extremely lucky, they might start making music by CES 2012. In the meantime, there is hope that Rowland will release the M725 bridgeable amp by Rocky Mountain 2011 in October... I have heard that M725 may contain some of the internal innovations originally developed for M925.
I have found a pic from the recent Hong Kong Audio show that shows M925, and a pair of M725.... Note that M725 look like the M625 stereo.
As discussed above, the new series of high bias class A/B amps from Rowland sounds interesting. When will a high bias class A/B integrated amplifier from the Jeff Rowland Design Group be available? I have emailed Jeff Rowland several times looking for a retailer in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have not received a response. If none in my area, I asked about other areas in California. I will try calling them on Monday.
Hgeifman, Rocky Mountain Audio Fest is the best time/place to pry rumors out of JRDG..... I'll try to find out if they have any plans for an integrated based on the current high bias A/B designs when I get there in mid October.
I would imagine the Synergy pre amp would work well with the model 8, but others who are familiar with Jeff's pre amps after the Synergy II can chime in. I heard the Corus preamplifier with Jeff's new AB stereo amp at the CES show last January in two different rooms, one with Vienna Acoustics and the other with a $140k speaker I wasn't familiar with. Also his new DAC was in use. Jeff's rooms were the best all solid state rooms I heard, so check out the new stuff too if you have the budget. The D'Agostino Momentums were the best solid state amps I have ever heard. But for a complete system my vote goes to Rowland.
I have emailed the Jeff Rowland Design Group (JRDG) three times asking for the name of my local JRDG retailer and for information on their new integrated amplifiers using the their A/B designs. They have not responded. Someone on Audiogon emailed me the name of a local Jeff Rowland retailer. I emailed him and got no response. I looked for their phone number but could not find it. It is strange that the JRDG would not provide information for a local retailer.
JRDG has a very good website. Here is the link to list(with phone numbers)of USA dealer/distributors:
I've found the JRDG reps in my area (southwest) to be incredibly responsive.
The 625 and 725 power amps mentioned by Guido have A/B blocks and zero feedback design, but I can find no integrated amps currently offered by JRDG in this configuration, yet. Have you heard differently?
IMO, with the Ayre you already own one of the better A/B, zero feedback-designed integrateds around.
As noted above, I have been trying to contact the Jeff Rowland design Group for information on their future line of integrated amplifiers. Someone sent me their phone number, 719-473-1181, and I called it. The message said this mailbox has not been setup by this subscriber. Thanks to Sandstone above, I finally located a list of JRDG retailers. There are no retailers in the San Francisco Bay Area and the JRDG has not answered the three emails I sent them. I give up on the Jeff Rowland Design Group.
As Sandstone indicated above, I like my Ayre AX-7e Integrated amp very much and have decided to keep it. This is a hobby so it is fun looking around for something better. The Luxman integrated amplifiers sound great but I am trying to buy an American piece. I sold my McIntosh MA6900 integrated because my Ayre sounds much better. Many years ago I owned the Jeff Rowland Concenta but a friend wanted to buy it so I sold it.
I would really like to buy a Pass integrated INT-150 amp but these are 19" deep and that is too big for my shelf in my living room. I emailed Pass Labs and suggested they make a smaller size integrated. They very quickly responded that "there probably won't be a smaller integrated from Pass Labs since they like to bias their amps and you simply can't get the heat out without heat sinks". The GumuT integrated looks like a great amplifier but it is too expensive (for me). The Bel Canto integrated also looks interesting but it only has one balanced input (I need two).
Many of the integrated amplifiers I looked at were very good but not as good as my Ayre.
Maybe owning Pass amp would be worth changing the decor a little.
I am very surprised with Rowland's way of doing business. Very very strange and unexpected.
HGeifman, the Rowland SF dealer is:
Worth pointing out that Rowland has no/no/no current integrated amplifier based on a class A/B design. Any such hypothetical product at this point is no more than pure audiophilic speculation... Dealers will not have any hard information about such a mythical creature. G.
I have ROWLAND 8T 250CH a wonderful amp.
My experience with JRDG customer service has been extremely positive. Have a Rowland Pre and a Pass amp.
Same here - very positive with Rowland service and support.
As recommended above, I finally connected with Matt Aikawa. He works for the The New Audible Difference in Palo Alto, CA. It is strange his name is listed as the Jeff Rowland Retailer and the name The New Audible Difference is not listed. I asked him about the possibility of a new Jeff Rowland Integrated amplifier using the Class A/B design similar to the Model 625. He said he would check with Jeff Rowland and let me know. Most likely, he said, a new integrated could be 6+ months away (and maybe more).
I am still disappointed that the Jeff Rowland Deign Group never responded to my three email messages. In any case, I now have the name of someone who represents the JRDG and will keep me posted about any new Integrated amplifier. Thanks.
rowland model 501, 201
they are 'class D'(chip amp) mono blocks using 'ice power' technology from jeff rowland.
any big differences from analogue amps like model 7 or 302
in sound quality?
some said no problem but must be difference btw them.
need your words.