Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing A Statement Superintegrated Amplifier

GuidoCorona

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Apr 23, 2010
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1. Introduction


Could a no holds barred integrated amplifier rival the performance and flexibility of a stack of top reference-level components: streamer, DAC, phono stage, preamplifier, and monoblock power amplifier pair? Or does the system simplification and space-saving of integrated amps inherently compromise overall sonic performance and I/O configurability?



Jeff Rowland would opine that the design and implementation of his integrated flagship have yielded a performance level and flexibility that rivals the most sophisticated stack of separates. He would point at Daemon, his Superintegrated amplifier: a $43,840 technological tour de force, conceived in partnership with Thomas Holm. The gleaming 99LBs single-chassis–, measuring 17.5” wide, 15.25” deep, and 9.5” high, is milled from solid aircraft-grade Aluminum ingots in the hallmark Rowland tradition. Sporting over 20 I/O ports, the device packs a dual mono amplification subsystem running in class D which delivers 1500W/8 (2500W/4) Watts per channel, fed by what Jeff Rowland asserts to be the most advanced DAC circuit and preamplifier stage he ever created. Vinyl is served by the included High Performance (HP) phono subsystem. A Wi-Fi/Bluetooth streamer is upcoming (pending ROON certification. Daemon is also available without phono module for $42,000.



Eschewing the traditional performance compromise imposed on integrated amps by the use of a single bulk power supply, Daemon features multiple regulated Switch Mode Power Supplies (SMPS): each subsystem is served by its own dedicated SMPS, except for the power amplification section, which incorporates a separate SMPS per each channel.



The Daemon ship group includes a full-featured Bluetooth remote milled from an Aluminum block, as well as a hefty power cord. Apple iOS users can also control Daemon with the JRDG Remote app, which is free to download from the Apple App Store.



Mr. Rowland explained that Daemon’s DAC and preamplifier stages are not old wine in a new bottle. In other words, they are far from being repackaged Aeris and Corus circuits. On the contrary, the DAC and preamplifier sections are entirely unique to Daemon. They were designed by Jeff and Thomas Holm from the ground up to be statement-level performers. While the Corus linestage, and the Aeris+PSU DAC in particular, remain superb at their price points even after so many years, Daemon’s DAC and preamplifier sub-systems are said by Jeff Rowland to comfortably exceed the older separates. Similarly, the High Performance phono module was created by Holm and Rowland specifically for Daemon. While it is also plug-compatible with the older Continuum S2 integrated, HP Phono has been designed to vastly outperform the original Continuum S2 phono card.



With Daemon now having crossed the break-in half-way mark, at approximately 500 hours of making music 24/7, if I may be allowed to jump the gun, I am starting to share Jeff’s confidence. Just as an example, on several break-in CDs, such as the 1967 recording of Mahler’s Symphony #1 (Titan) with Rafael Kubelik conducting the Bavarian Radio Symphony (Deutsche Grammophon 429 042-2

  • CD Box Set), Daemon’s authority and power reserve are staggering. Yet, these do not emerge as simple-minded muscle, but as the binding force of an incredibly layered presentation, where finely graven instrumental voices emerge as solid images from a vast stage which well exceeds the 11 feet speaker’s outer boundaries. Instruments bristle with spicules of rippling harmonics that shimmer in the interplay of crisp attacks merging into the complexity of iridescent decay. There is already an almost magic sense of “living space” between the notes, so unexpected from a young component, extracted from such an old recording – 53 years old, to be exact. In the first movement, I discovered a sudden delicate tintinnabulation of small bells which I had never known existed in the score. And that infamous tonal hardness, which is ever the bane of new components, is quite simply… Missing in action.

    Will Daemon overtake my Rowland + PSU + M925 trio? Future will tell. Yet, what I have heard in the last three weeks intrigues me to no end. But I am getting ahead of myself; Let us return to an orderly narrative.

    I had been aching to evaluate Daemon in my own system for quite a spell. The long wait ended on Thursday, February 27th, when UPS delivered a 121LBs package to my music room -- a fully carpeted open area with fine acoustics, measuring approximately 20’ by 34, where Cardas-connected audio components are aligned along the outer 20’ wall, and a thick 12’ by 9’ woolen rug sits in front of the Vienna Die Muzik speakers.

    Cocooned by the Protective matryoshka of a triple box shipping carton, a Daemon review unit was securely braced by two generously-sized Urethane foam inserts. Gripping Daemon through the oval vents of its machined cooling fins, I lifted the factory-fresh device, and rested it on top of my component bench: a 60 year-old, two inch thick solid slab of exotic African Mansonia wood, cut from a single plank, and largely acoustically inert. For further mechanical isolation, one last minor *Gulps!* lift effort, and Three Nordost Titanium Sort Kones slid and clicked into place in the dedicated divots milled under Daemon’s bottom plate.

    I connected the hefty new baby to the system with my amazing reference Cardas loom, which has proven to me time and again to be phenomenally synergistic with Rowland electronics. Cardas is profoundly integral to the goldielockian musicality and superb resolution of my music reproduction environment: Cardas Clear digital coax from Esoteric X-01 transport into one of Daemon’s BNC inputs; Cardas Clear Reflection Speaker wires from Daemon to Vienna Die Muzik; Cardas Clear 15A power cord feeding Esoteric X-01 from a dedicated 20A AC line. Finally, a 20A Cardas Clear Beyond XL PC powers Daemon from its own 20A mains circuit.
    My next posts will cover:

    2. Physical Description
    3. Music And Sound - Part 1
    4. Music And Sound – Part 2
    5. Thoughts And Photos
    6. Further Information

    Regards, Guido
 
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GuidoCorona

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Apr 23, 2010
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2. Physical Description


Before we plunge into the more or less chronological narrative of my break-in adventure, here is some more information about this power-beast:



Daemon is hardly a featherweight: at 99LBS in its machined aircraft-grade Aluminum birthday-suit, the single-chassis looks and feels impressive as much as it is solid. The massive construction features the elegant signature Rowland styling and meticulous attention to detail that it shares with M925, M825, M625 S2, and the M725 S2 amplifiers. Yet, a simple glance distinguishes Daemon from its relatives: Daemon’s machined heat dissipating fins are just slightly smaller, as larger internal real estate is allocated to accommodate all multi-layer ceramic boards, circuits, and multiple regulated SMPS power supplies for DAC subsystem, linestage, one SMPS per each power amplifier channel, as well as one each for the phono stage and for Daemon’s future streamer.



The elegant faceplate is slightly convex and subtly prismatic, measuring 1.5” at its thickest middle point. The whole gleams with the classic Rowland spiraling diamond-cut pattern. A large 7” by 5” color touch display is top center: it provides status information, lets the user select inputs, and control other operations, either by direct finger-taps, or with the iOS JRDG Remote app or with Daemon’s own Bluetooth remote control handset. Consistent with Daemon’s construction, the multi-function remote is a premium-quality device, milled from a solid Aluminum block, very much alike the remotes of Corus and Aeris.



Continuing with the front plate, below the display are three physical momentary-contact push-buttons for standby, mute, and for activating the display menu. Just under these, the half-inch thick rim of a large prismatic volume flywheel emerges from a horizontal slot milled into the fascia. Its faces are half as wide as those on the fascia. The friction-dampened wheel is mounted on ball-bearings. Its fine resolution action controls volume through an optical encoder – a hallmark of Rowland line stages for more than two decades.



Below the fascia, a quarter inch headphone output socket peeks from the front of a slightly recessed Delrin® bottom plate, which houses the Bluetooth transmitter/receiver serving the JRDG Remote control app for Apple iOS and Daemon’s Bluetooth remote hand-set.



Now let us look at the connection-rich and well organized back-panel. It bristles with 27 individual connection points. These are flanked by two removable machined cover plates: one conceals the port for the Streaming Module, and the other accesses the USB firmware update port.



All inputs are transformer-coupled to minimize common mode noise and other distortion artifacts. Distortions are further controlled by use of multi-layer ceramic circuit boards in all subsystems. Consistent with all Rowland products, RCA connectors are by Cardas: they are rhodium plated over copper with Teflon dielectrics. Neutrix is instead the supplier of all silver-plated XLR’s, also standard on Rowland products.



The complement of transformer-coupled digital DAC inputs is impressive:



  • 2 BNC coax SPDIF ports
  • 2 RCA SPDIF ports
  • 1 USB D connector
  • 1 AES/EBU input connector
3 optical TOSLINK ports



Lundahl transformers couple all Analog line-level XLR and RCA inputs directly to the preamplifier subsystem:



  • 2 XLR balanced input pairs
  • 3 RCA single-ended input pairs


Want to feed an external analog line-level source into Daemon? DAC and preamplifier subsystems can be bypassed by connecting an analog-line-level signal directly to the Lundahl-transformer-coupled inputs of the power amplification section:



  • 1 Balanced XLR input pair
  • 1 single-ended input RCA pair


Is your system bi-amped? Daemon’s line-level outputs provide connectivity from the pre-amplifier sub-system to external amplifiers:



  • 1 balanced XLR output pair
  • 1 Single-ended RCA output pair


Like all Rowland amplifiers, except for the entry-level M125, Daemon supports Speaker bi-wiring with a row of double pairs of output terminals:



  • 1 inner horizontal pair of CARDAS output terminals
  • 1 outer vertically-oriented pair of Cardas output terminals


Remember that quarter inch socket below the bottom of the front plate? That one is for you stereo headphone lovers. But if your headset has an eight inch jack instead, you will find a 3.5mm to quarter inch converter jack inside Daemon’s accessory box.



The High Performance Phono module can be purchased separately for $1140, and can be easily installed in a basic Daemon after removing the chassis’ top plate.



Pining for a streamer? An optional dedicated wireless streamer module is in the works. Supporting both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, It will be released pending Roon certification.



Daemon’s back plate is completed by a power inlet compatible with power cords terminated with 20A IECs, a remote trigger jack for standby /control from a home theater processor, and a grounding post to facilitate star-grounding, as well as grounding of a phono turntable.



Moving now to operating Daemon with the JRDG Remote Bluetooth app: after downloading the app from the Apple App Store, I quickly paired the integrated to my iPhone. Pairing is simple: turn on Bluetooth on the iOS device, launch the app, and then press the mute button on Daemon for five to ten seconds, until the app asked confirmation that I wanted to establish connection. After responding in the affirmative, an icon at the bottom of the app panel confirmed that connection was live.



Typically, the connection remains active all the while the app is running. If connection had been lost because I took the iOS device out of Bluetooth range, or I terminated the app, I simply pressed Daemon’s mute button for 5 to 30 seconds to reconnect. With the app, I control volume, mute, and input selection from anywhere in my home.



As mentioned earlier, Daemon is supplied with a dedicated multi-function Bluetooth remote unit, but I have not explored this control option yet.



Coming Next:



  • 3. Music And Sound – Part One


Regards, Guido
 
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GuidoCorona

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Apr 23, 2010
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3. Music And Sound – Part One


Daemon's output power rating of 1500W/8 and 2500W/4 per channel exceeds a pair of M925 monoblocks by a factor slightly greater than 3. By the time of this writing, I can already tell that music flows with even greater ease than from my M925 pair. But this incredible power reserve does not emerge from a Daemon fresh from the factory. Rather, it manifests and grows gradually as break-in progresses.



Below is an outline of the surprisingly rapid tonal evolution that Daemon undertook during the first few days of break-in. Yes, this means that this initial post is not intended as a classic component review after-the-fact. Rather, the whole thread will eventually form a diary of sorts, -- the narration of my experience with Daemon’s progressive tonal and musical evolution throughout its break-in process, which I expect may extend to a couple months.



On Friday 02/28 at 6:00 PM, break-in commenced with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances for 2 Pianos performed by Emanuel Ax and Yefim Bronfman (Sony Classical SK61767). I put the CD on repeat on X-01.



I was immediately surprised: What I did not hear at all was the expected early breaking tonal dullness, hardness, and paucity of harmonic exposure, so common to brand new equipment. Instead, within the first two hours, Daemon managed to flabbergast me. As hard as I tried, I perceived no trace of intermodulative harshness at all. Just a feathery treble and ringing harmonics throughout

The open range, from high treble to deep bass. A sense of crisp articulation of each note in every track, even in the fastest runs, every note distinct, bearing its own individual transient attack, and shimmering decay: a stunning example of agility.



The bass, while showing some blanchness, was never the less articulate and complex. Deep bass notes, though marginally shy of the fundamental harmonic, generated a kaleidoscope of ringing overtones, resonating up to the high treble region, just as if I were putting my ear to the live piano board.



Typically, in very rapid treble runs, recorded piano notes tend to amalgamate together into a semi-homogeneous sound mass, lacking clearly defined inter-note boundaries. Not so on this still very young Daemon, where superfast treble notes were tinkling and shimmering like cascading sonic beads, each with its own attack, sustain, and structure of decaying harmonics.



What about low level information? Suffice to say that I could extract from the whole presentation the woody clunks of the piano mechanics: key presses and releases, hammers operating, while Bronfman and Ax could be heard softly breathing and sub-vocalizing. Note that such extra-musical low level information usually starts appearing after a few weeks of break-in -- if at all, not on a factory-fresh component. Yes, in case you asked, Jeff Rowland had completed construction of this Daemon unit just days earlier.



I could detect no obvious intermodulation distortion. With loud piano passages, intermodulation takes form of an unnatural harshness or excessive sound pressure which turns the articulate transparency of energetic transients into brittle opacity. None of which I heard.



If I were to make a mild criticism, in the earliest hours, the tonal color had assumed a slight tilt towards the treble, with a certain modesty of image sizes, and a stage which was relatively flat and well delimited inside the 11 foot distance between the speakers. Furthermore, while the presentation was refined and utterly enjoyable, it had not yet achieved the grandeur, gravitas, and transient authority of the mature Rowland PSU+Aeris+M925 combination.



Quite predictably, the first round of doldrums landed the following morning. By hour 15, the harmonic shimmer had receded. The tone underwent a couple cycles of being rather closed in and extension-limited, with little low-level information and a marginal veil, followed by a slightly more open phase. At about hour 30, cycling had accelerated to shallower swings of just a couple hours each, averaging a minorly more open tone, but with a bass which seemed still recessed. I should point out that this seemingly erratic behavior is totally normal. I expect cycling performance fluctuations to persist for a few hundred hours, until the fluctuating troughs will gradually taper off starting around the 400 hours mark, and the device should gradually transition to a more even upswing, which may last for some 1,000 hours until full stabilization.



On Sunday, around the 50 hours mark, the presentation was once again different: most of the haze had dissipated. Yet, while still pleasing to the ear, music was once again a little trebly and bass-shy, with a relatively flat stage, well contained inside the distance between the speakers. On my standard test CD, Diana Krall’s voice sounded, ahem… Juvenile, while her virtual head size seemed to have shrunk. The English Horn thematic solo in the 2nd movement of Dvorak New World Symphony under the baton of Leonard Bernstein conducting the Israel Philharmonic (Deutsche Grammophon

– 4790361) was uncharacteristically light and non-denominational. On the other hand, the distortion-prone cadenzas in the introduction to Dvorak’s String Quintet Opus 77 performed by the Stamitz Quartet with Jiri Hudec on double bass (Dvorak Chamber Music - Brilliant Classics 92181 box set) were sweet, and clear as bells, without a trace of intermodulative harshness.



70 hours marked a distinct turning point, where all parameters opened up and an early form of tonal maturity emerged for the first time. The stage extended laterally to the outer edge of the speakers, a moderate stage depth appeared, instrumental images assumed more concreteness and more realistic proportions, bass became more vigorous, while some authority and gravitas entered the scene. Thus Krall’s virtual head returned to accustomed proportions, and her voice reverted to full adultness. What’s more interesting is that for the first time I enjoyed listening to Temptation, and realized that the song is scored in the form of an all be it elusive tango structure.



Daemon’s upwards evolution was progressing around the 100 hours mark, when the closing low brass fanfare in the Dvorak New World Symphony second movement found me unprepared to the emotional wave that this young integrated generated on the soaring fanfare of horns and trombones: a low brass Chorus which rose gradually from pianissimo into a sweeping crescendo, finally erupting into the fortissimo resolution of the cadence. I felt I was witness to the majesty hallmark of a mature chain of reference separates, not to the tentative authority of a very young integrated: growling bass trombones and French Horns in full cuivre’ were punctuated by the thunderous yet crisp transient of timpani. The stage, still of moderate depth, seemed never the less to exceed speaker boundaries. In the background, Bernstein was not-so-quietly sub-vocalizing the bass line as if he were throat-singing. The entire passage was almost overwhelming in its emotional grandness, yet totally transparent and effortless, without a trace of harshness.



Coming next:



  • 4. Music And Sound – Part Two

Regards, Guido
 
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GuidoCorona

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Apr 23, 2010
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4. Music And Sound – Part Two


During the first 24 to 48 hours of operation, the integrated felt somewhat shy of power reserve and authority. Center-stage was actually affected by a marginal image suck-out. Things evolved rather rapidly, al be it with cyclical fluctuations. Thus, around the 100 hours break-in mark, I was a little, ahem… Trigger happy J I mashed the volume-up button of the JRDG Remote app a little too long, and Dvorak's 9th symphony was thundering out of the speakers like the proverbial four horsemen of the apocalypse: awesome transients with Great fluidity and No distortion artifacts in a grand wall of sound that now evenly filled the virtual space without weak spots… Unfortunately, my wife had quite enough of my… I meant Daemon's sonic exuberance, and asked me kindly to pipe it down… Life ain’t fair to suffering audiophiles L Yet, I had doubts that the integrated had already unveiled the full might of its 1500W power reserve.



At about 160 hours, Daemon dipped anew into a shallow doldrums cycle… Still transparent, still filled with overtones and ever sweet, Stage had narrowed a little, and bass, while unfailingly clean, had receded somewhat and blanched. As I mentioned, these periodic performance fluctuations are expected for the first 400 to 500 hours of break-in, and compared to other devices in my present and past, they are remarkably mild.



With break-in just crossing the 260 hours mark, Daemon sounded extremely promising. While I expected further cycling of doldrums, this is the first time that I have encountered an amplifier of any topology which has been this musically enjoyable so soon.



Approximately half way into the estimated break-in time of 1000 hours, Daemon’s periodic performance doldrums have attenuated significantly. The integrated has entered a much smoother rising phase.



Depending on recordings, with the on-display volume indicator showing between 49db and 59dB -- that is some 25 to 35dB below its 85dB unity gain, music reaches realistic concert levels, without a hint of fatigue or distortion. The presentation is grand, instrumental virtual images reaching real-life sizes, and rippling harmonics seem to be rivaling anything I experienced elsewhere. The stage is vast, deep, and solid, without traces of mid-stage suck-outs. It extends from left to right comfortably beyond the 20 foot lateral boundaries of my listening space.



I am starting to think of the word "iridescence" as an apt descriptor of Daemon’s tonal signature.... It first popped to mind when I loaded Alfred Brendel's 1992 recording of Beethoven's Waldstein Piano Sonata No.21 Op. 53 , (Philips 438 472-2). It is difficult for me to explain precisely, but the combination of staggering macro-dynamic swings, minutest micro-detail, fast authoritative yet natural transients from deep bass upwards, crisp treble runs, dense harmonic shimmer cross-spectrum, graceful evenness of frequency response from the articulate rumble of deepest bass up to the stratospheric harmonics of orchestral violins in 7th position, and total sweetness and effortlessness feels, well… Iridescent.



I can’t help reminding myself how this musical magic is not happening in a vacuum… My trusty Cardas loom keeps demonstrating to me again and again how the synergy generated by a superior match between components and cables is paramount to further elevating the performance of even the most refined component till it takes wing and, well… Soars, and Sings its song of musical Nirvana.



Coming up next:



  • 5. Thoughts And Photos


Regards, Guido
 
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GuidoCorona

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Apr 23, 2010
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5. Thoughts And Photos


Daemon has been playing 24/7 since unboxing… It continues to be barely lukewarm to the touch. Surface temperature feels the same across the top plate, front plate, and side cooling fins. This bespeaks the 1500W power-house’s superior energy efficiency, and excellent heat dissipation management.



I am incredibly excited about what I have heard so far. I will continue to post updates to my Daemon Break-in adventure. This might eventually include separate play-tests of individual subsystems.



Meantime, here are several Dropbox links to Daemon pics, photos kindly provided by Lucien Pichette at the Rowland factory:



  • Daemon faceplate:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/u6qoxbh65yu0dr2/1%20Daemon%20face2.jpg?dl=0



  • Daemon front panel:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ge1dhgltcswx829/2 Daemon front panel.jpg?dl=0



  • Daemon face detail:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/1iirg1lu7y560jz/3%20Daemon%20face%20detail.JPG?dl=0



  • Back-panel, including upcoming streamer:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/f0webn03wvcqz29/5%20Streamer%20.jpg?dl=0



  • Streamer:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/f0webn03wvcqz29/5 Streamer .jpg?dl=0



  • Input names screen:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/41cr3vp06vnosyt/6%20Input%20name%20screen.JPG?dl=0



  • Input screen:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/tm422z2b6hq5i1e/7%20Input%20screen.JPG?dl=0



  • iOS JRDG Remote app screen:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/7tnqsrvihrdj1wh/8%20iOS%20remote.PNG?dl=0



  • Hand-held remote hand-set:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/vow5x8i98iwypvx/9%20Handheld%20Bluetooth%20remote.JPG?dl=0



  • Standby button detail:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/k80ai3y3feygz9c/10%20Standby%20button%20close%20up.JPG?dl=0



Coming up next:



  • Further Information
Regards, Guido
 
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GuidoCorona

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Apr 23, 2010
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6. Further Information


Below is the link to Daemon’s homepage:



https://www.jeffrowlandgroup.com/daemon/



To find your local Rowland dealer, click on your region next to “distribution” on the Rowland homepage:



https://www.jeffrowlandgroup.com/



Once the COVIT19 pandemic ebbs, you will be able to audition Damon live at Sunny Components near Los Angeles (CA). They have a Daemon unit in stock. Give Sunil a call:



Sunil Merchant (Proprietor)

Sunny Components

West Covina

California

Phone: 626-966-6259

Phone 2: 626-966-2630

https://sunnyaudiovideo.com/



For complete information on the wonderful Cardas products, including Clear Beyond XL PCs and Clear Reflection signal cables, visit the Cardas home page at:



http://cardas.com/



Regards, Guido



PS. Needless to say, feel free to PM me.
 
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Lagonda

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Nice and thorough write up ! A comparison of sound to your Rowland separates
would be appreciated :)
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Hi Guido

so nice t see you again in our little neck of the universe. I hope all is well with you and that you are staying safe my friend
 

KeithR

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Can't see what's so revolutionary with a $40k integrated containing Class D amplification other than the price. Sorry. I do fully respect the active preamp section though which some super integrateds don't include. But I'm hard pressed to pay 50% more for this vs a likely better sounding Class A/B DarTZeel that includes a good phono stage.
 
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GuidoCorona

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Apr 23, 2010
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Hello Lagonda, I admit of being rather methodical and plodding.

Until Daemon has completely stabilized, it is a moving target... A comparison with my separates would not be particularly meaningful at this time.

Once Break-in is largely complete, sometimes past the 1K hours mark, I am planning to conduct some comparisons of power amplification of Daemon against the M925 monoblocks, and of Daemons DAC+linestage sub-system with the Aeris+PSU stack.

One thing that has already become clear though, is that Deamon's rising performance curve is faster than I expected. It seems to be evolving more rapidly than the M925 monos and the Aeris DAC.

Regards, Guido
 
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GuidoCorona

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Hello Steve, yes... So far so good, thank goodness... There is still relatively little COVIT19 here in SC... Yet, I live largely sequestered, just in case. More time to dedicate to this scribbling project of mine :)


... And, I'm real happy to be back on WBF!!!





Saluti, Guido
 
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GuidoCorona

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Hello KeithR, Skepticism is a healthy thing of course. And DarTZeel does make superfine products in its own right, which I always greatly enjoyed listening at RMAF.

Actually, Daemon does sell usually complete with the High Performance Phono sub-system pre-installed. So, more than the phono stage being optional, its my phono-less Daemon which is a bare-bones unit, meant for hardened digital-only audiophiles like me.

Were it not for the Covit emergency, you could visit Sunny Components and experience live whether Daemon were of your taste or not... One never knows what our ears might tell us, isn't it :)

Saluti, Guido
 
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Carlos269

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Mar 21, 2012
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Guido, while I’m sure that Rowland Daemon integrated is a wonderful unit, your post and site wide cross-posting across the various forum threads feels like an infomercial. Please post some pictures or videos of the unit in-use in your room, in your system.

If you are receiving industry accommodations, discounted pricing or a prolonged loan of the unit, for promoting this product or if this is a personal retail purchase, with no strings attached, please state the terms, either way, so that we, the readers of your posts, fully understand the context.

You have been all in with Rowland gear for quiet some time so I appreciate your enthusiasm. I own a number of Jeff’s pieces, including four WL-500 monoblocks that I use to power the bass towers on my Wisdom Audio Adrenaline Rush speakers in my reference system. The WL-500’s were one of Jeff’s first products, which he designed for Dr. Roger West of West Labs for his original large Sound Lab electrostatic speakers. I could use and have used a number of different amplifiers on these bass towers before finally preferring the WL-500’s. On one of my other systems I use a Coherence series I MK II as the preamplifier on my Martin Logan electrostatics based system. So I have respect and appreciation for Jeff Rowland and Rowland Research products and developments.

Do you listen to or use any other gear, other than Rowland these days? At one time you were reviewing equipment professionally correct? Is that still an active profession?

Getting back to the Deamon integrated, what a great looking unit and concept. I like to know more about Holm’s contributions to the product. This is the same Thomas Holm from HOLM Acoustics in Denmark which received some good attention from the press a few years back for his digital signal processing. Does the Deamon have any DSP features to customize or tweak the sound/presentation, such as the HOLM room-correction DSP engine?
 
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GuidoCorona

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Apr 23, 2010
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Thank you Carlos for expressing your concerns.

As I already mentioned in the diary, which BTW I had to split into six post not to exceed the 10K character limit per post, the Daemon in my system is a review unit.

I did not mean this scribbling project of mine to feel info-mercialish. My writing simply reflects my opinion -- and yes, undeniable enthusiasm -- about the device. On the other hand, I will be happy to trimm down or even remove any crossposts pointing to it if Steve Williams directs me to do so.

Yes, it would be nice if I had some photos of my system. Unfortunately, that might be difficult. I have been blind for 35 years and taking photographs has not been in my artistic toolkit since the early '80s. This also means that the photos I have posted of Deamon were provided by Lucien Pichette of the Rowland factory, as I already mentioned in part #5 of the scribblings.

I have been a Rowland user since 1998: I have owned or still own M7, M625 (V1), M725 (V1), M925, Criterion linestage, and Aeris Dac. Daemon is a review unit instead.

There are a couple of other brands of electronics that I am very fond of: DarTZeel for one, Soulution, Bel Canto, and Esoteric for its CDPs.

While I am inordinately fond of M925, and consider Damon to be highly promising, I cannot say that I have been fond of every Rowland product I have listened to... M302, M301 original version, M201, M501, Continuum 500, and Continuum 250 have not been in general of my liking.

This scribbling project is my first semi-structured return to reviewing since my semi-technical article on the Vienna Die Muzik speakers was posted to Positive Feedback several years ago. I am a retired access technology compliance engineer, mostly with IBM and AT&T. Am not currently affiliated with any audio publications.

Yes, Thomas holm is the gent of Holm Acoustics fame... Thomas has collaborated with Rowland on Aeris, Capri S2, as well as on Daemon's digital and analog line-level subsystems. Unfortunately, I do not know a lot about internal details at this time. I will post more about internals if I get more info. In general Daemon's DAC is of the launch-and-forget type. In this it appears similar to the phylosophy of the DAC in the Esoteric K1, where filters and upsampling are optimized by the designers and are not user-selectable. While my audiophrenic obsession would love to be able to tweak Daemon's DAC to "my liking", the results I am hearing right now make me wonder if perhaps I might be wasting my time fiddling if such settings were available.

Saluti, Guido
 
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RussR

Well-Known Member
Dec 31, 2017
28
11
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Gold Coast ,Queensland,Australia
Hello Guido,
I heard the Daemon at the RMAF 2015 upstairs with YG loudspeakers and the sound you are describing sounds like the Daemon I heard was not fully run in ,but in saying that the JRDG room had to my ears the best match at the show to the YG speakers ( if I remember correctly they had Nordost top end speaker cable not one I usually feel comfortable with ) .
I am enjoying your journey into the Daemo ,as it is a solution a lot of people want towards rather than multiple boxes an various oil rigs littering the room( been there and done that over the last 35 years ) .
At the RMAF my friend asked the YG designer outside the JRDG room " why was the Rowland room the only room that sounded respectable with his speakers"!!!!! I thought that was a little harsh ,at the time , but it was not intended as a put down more a question of WHY ? The speaker designer didn't like it so much and Jeff Rowland let out a guffaw of surprise and obvious delight that his room inspired that response in a visitor to his room .I felt a little uncomfortable about the way my friend put his question to the YG designer ,it did catch him off guard ,so if he reads this please accept that we both thought the YG speaker was a very good product ,and no hard feelings.
I look forward to your next update or scribblings as you describe them.

Russ R
 

GuidoCorona

Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2010
327
32
433
Summerville (SC)
Hello RussR, glad you are enjoying my scribblings.... Much more of them to come during the next several weeks :)

I vaguely remember that the Daemon used at RMAF in 2015 was not only factory-fresh with little or no break-in, but may have been a relatively early prototype, rather than the finalized production-level version… So, not bad if in spite of that you found Daemon to be best of matches for YG speakers at the show!

Talking about good speaker matches for Daemon, Lucien at the factory recently told me that at the 2018 Munich show, Daemon was driving a pair of Vivid Kaya 90 speakers with fab results. Seems that Vivid speakers might be an excellent match for Rowland gear in general. I listened to Vivid several times at RMAF… Truly fine and captivating house sound. However I have not auditioned a Vivid+Rowland pairing, so I do not know yet if I would prefer Vivid over my Vienna Die Muzik in my system.

Regards, Guido
 
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KeithR

VIP/Donor
May 7, 2010
4,354
1,607
628
Marina del Rey, CA
I have been a Rowland user since 1998: I have owned or still own M7, M625 (V1), M725 (V1), M925, Criterion linestage, and Aeris Dac. Daemon is a review unit instead.

There are a couple of other brands of electronics that I am very fond of: DarTZeel for one, Soulution, Bel Canto, and Esoteric for its CDPs.

While I am inordinately fond of M925, and consider Damon to be highly promising, I cannot say that I have been fond of every Rowland product I have listened to... M302, M301 original version, M201, M501, Continuum 500, and Continuum 250 have not been in general of my liking.

That's funny- the M201 was perhaps the worst amplifier I have ever heard in my system. Not sure what Jeff was thinking and sold it a few weeks later. I still remember the buzz at the time as digital was so new.

My favorite JRDG product was the original Concentra - good luck finding one! I owned the Concentra 2 for awhile and it didn't have the magic. Concentra on ProAc was one of my first good hifi experiences with a simple Meridian CDP at Stereo Exchange in NYC.
 

GuidoCorona

Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2010
327
32
433
Summerville (SC)
Hello KeithR, unfortunately I can't help you about digital power amplifiers. I do not think I ever heard one.

As for the analog class D M201, it was a very early device, and it showed its technological immaturity. I am not surprised you did not keep it. I auditioned it a few times, and never developed a fondness for it.

Thankfully, The Earth having revolved around the Sun some sixteen times since then, The sound of the little and long withdrawn M201 is oceans apart from M925 and Daemon. Lest, in this thread, I would not be scribbling about my experience with modern this superintegrated.

As for M201, and its similarly ancient kins, Zork would comment about them: "A valiant attempt!"

may they rest in peace!

Now returning this scribblesome thread to its originally scheduled programming :)

Regards, G.
 

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