Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing A Statement Superintegrated Amplifier

GuidoCorona

Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2010
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Summerville (SC)
Hi all, I replaced all six sections of my scribblings with revised versions... Removed a bunch of typos; streamlined some clunky text; and corrected wording about phono stage... Daemon actually comes standard with the HP Phono stage for $43,840, while the phonoless stripped down version is available as an option for die-hard digital-only users.

Regards, Guido
 

RussR

Well-Known Member
Dec 31, 2017
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Gold Coast ,Queensland,Australia
H
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

Hello Guido,
The Daemon at RMAF 2015 was showing a lot of promise particularly against some highly touted German electronics in another room across the hallway that was in my opinion disappointing!!!!! brash bright and unlistenable ...the large wilson ,constellation DCS room on the ground floor suffered the same ( I know wilson can sound much better and wanting to hear the top 4 piece DCS and high end Constellation amps I was shocked some one would consider turning that system on I left that room in haste , next room along Legacy had fine sounding demo's I was standing in the rear as Peter B was given a demo of the Aeris loudspeaker with Coda amplification ...a huge contrast to the 2 previous disappointing rooms ,even the Naim room with a modest 272 streamer 250 amp and Focal sopra 1 speakers was far more musically fulfilling .
I heard the Vivid Giya 3? in the Philip O'Hanlon room good sound and a lovely guy ,With myself being a Kiwi and Philip an Irish man we chatted about many things and of course rugby which is a sport that holds deep feeling in both countries.Philips room had if I remember correctly had Luxman 171 Turntable merging dac and mola mola amps on the Vivid speakers and he played great music.
There were some fine sounding rooms some I could love and some I could admire, one that comes to mind was the Bricasti room with Tidal speakers it had a highly refined sound being my first listen to these electronics and Tidal speakers ,I would like to hear them playing music I listen to more often as classical is not in high rotation on my streamer .
I will follow your journey and see what you discover, Stay safe.

RussR
 

GuidoCorona

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Apr 23, 2010
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Summerville (SC)
Hello Russ, while I missed RMAF the last few years, I remember the event fondly. Excellent rooms and not-quite-excellent rooms were equally memorable, if not quite for the same reasons.

"Returning now to our "regularly scheduled programming", I am preparing a minor listening and system update, which I hope to post before end of day.

Regards, Guido
 
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GuidoCorona

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Apr 23, 2010
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All, here is the promised update…

At about the 630 hours mark, I seemed to hear a very slight increase in harmonics pressure in the treble region, accompanied by a hardening of transients, perhaps caused by minor intermodulation. The phenomenon seemed to persist for 36 to 48 hours, and then started to abate on its own. I am not sure of its origin. This might very well have been a transitory break-in artifact, but it might instead have been caused by the entire system being active and playing music without a pause for a month. In fact I remember noticing that my standard system configuration of M925 + Aeris + X-01 can start to sound a little hard if it is active for more than one week without break. Jeff Rowland suggested that this might be caused by capacitors needing periodic rests.

Thankfully, at the 700 hours mark the sound was 80% back to normal. I then decided to turn off and unplug the system from the AC and give it a full day of rest. I reactivated Daemon and X-01 after 26 hours, and within a couple hours of re-warm-up, all odd artifacts had disappeared and wonderful music was flowing once again.

At the 720 hours mark I made an experiment. I replaced the Cardas Clear PC on Esoteric X-01 with Clear Beyond XL. The result was quite captivating: a subtly glowing romanticism suffused the entire presentation, combined with a distinct broadening and solidification of stage and images. On the other hand, some minutest detail of treble harmonics and some extra-musical information might have attenuated. I am still undecided on which of the two PCs I prefer on X-01 when the transport digital signal feeds Daemon’s SPDIF BNC coax. They both excel, if in subtly different ways. For the time being, I have temporarily reinserted the Cardas Clear PC on X-01 because of its capture of minutest information.

However, this is by no means the last word on the comparison of Cardas Clear vs Cardas Clear Beyond XL PCs on X-01. I plan to repeat this A/B test periodically during the coming weeks. The system-wide impact of Clear PC on X-01 might very well be different after Daemon has fully matured, and I might discover the Clear Beyond XL PC to be optimum instead. Time and patience will tell.

Saluti, Guido
 

GuidoCorona

Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2010
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Daemon has crossed the 900 hours mark last midnight. I am now playing the fabulous performance of Mahler’s 3rd Symphony conducted by James Levine with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (RCA RCD2-1757). Although the CD was produced in distant 1977, Daemon is making this performance so alive with explosive dynamics of brass and timpani, subsonic rumble of bass drum, mesmerizing fine detail, solidity of instrumental images and human voices, and sheer clarity and transparency that few could guess that this is a 43 years old recording.

Now after 914 hours of playing time, Daemon has completed over 90% of its basic break-in. It might be time to think about the next phases of this project, where I would like to explore the contribution of a couple of Daemons individual subsystems to the whole…

The question is: what to try first?

  • Feed Daemon’s analog line-level signal from its DAC + preamplifier into M925 monos via Cardas Reflection XLRs?
  • Or instead reconnect Esoteric X-01’s digital signal to my Rowland Aeris DAC, and feed the resulting analog output into Daemon’s preamplifier via Cardas Reflection XLRs?

Both paths are interesting. It is quite likely that the latter option will require more secondary break-in time, because all inputs are transformer-coupled, and Lundahl transformers on Daemon’s analog inputs might take their sweet time to stabilize.

So, which one to do first? And does anyone conjectures what audible differences I might experience?



Saluti, Guido
 
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Site7000

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Jul 16, 2011
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Fascinating report, Guido. Comparing either the Daemon's amp or DAC with Rowland's separates would be interesting, but the DAC is a little more so.
 

KeithR

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May 7, 2010
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Guido, have you tried the 625mk2 in your system? How did it compare with the "00s" JRDG that you (and I) didn't prefer.

If Jeff is indeed returning to a warmer tonality amplifier, that's something I might be interested for on my YGs.
 

GuidoCorona

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Apr 23, 2010
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Hello Site7000, thank you for chiming in... Are you also thinking that I should do the Daemon DAC comparison against the Rowland Aeris DAC+ PSU first? And the Daemon amplification stage against the Rowland M925 quad-chassis monoblocks later?

For sure, both comparisons should yield some fascinating results.... Tell us why you feel that the DAC subsystem comparison might be even more interesting than the amplification stage comparison.

Regards, Guido
 

Site7000

Well-Known Member
Jul 16, 2011
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Rowland has a pretty good handle on amps and it looks like the Daemon got the full treatment, so I'm not expecting as much of a change there. I think DAC's are inherently more challenging (i.e. less perfected) and it's going to affect people's impression of the Daemon more, so that should be the first compare, IMO.
 
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GuidoCorona

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Apr 23, 2010
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Hello KeithR, I have had the original M625 in my system, which was very lovely, but not M625 S2... According to all reports I have read/heard, S2 is sonically quite enhanced over the original version. According to some, M625 S2 stereo and M725 monos might be the most refined pure power amps that Jeff designed. Below the list of enhancments in M625 S2 provided by the factory:





"We have taken the existing circuit topology and improved the important distortion specification at higher frequencies (above 2kHz) to a virtually unmeasureable level extending beyond 20 kHz .


This was accomplished with an innovative error correction technique previously unknown, or never implemented in the art of amplifier design.





The S2 incorporates a new custom designed input transformer and linear phase low pass filter for improved input signal buffering and EMI immunity.





Gold plated Cardas XLR input connectors with Rhodium contacts and teflon insulation provides a visually distinguishing appearance from the original 625 and provides improved signal integrity.





The S2 amplifier incorporates ceramic Rogers circuit board material for reduced dielectric energy storage.





The S2 Power Factor Corrected regulated Power supply improves upon the original 625 by incorporating Jensen four-pole capacitors which offers nearly an order of magnitude


reduction of output impedance and noise suppression. The power supply output voltage has been increased slightly to yield a 25 watt increase in total amplifier power output."








...





Your question about warmth is very interesting. From a frequency band extension and linearity, I would say that Rowland's curreent goal is neutrality more than ever, in the sense that there does not appear to be a preferential treatment of any particular region of the band. What rather has been happening in the last several years is a dramatic loweering of distortive artifacts, increase in harmonic complexity, and sensitivity in very low level detail.





The old early class D designs like M201, M501, and in some sense M525, could be accused of sounding matter of fact, and perhaps even sterile. I remember auditioning M201 and M501at Stereo Exchange and RMAF... The word "immersive" and "warm" certainly did not apply. The presentation was somewhat matter of fact and unemotional, even tiring. Even the original Continuum 500 integrated did not seem to elicit the use of the words "warmth" and "emotional".





But what Rowland has done in later years, including the devices that I have had in my system like M312, M625, M725, M535, M925, and now Daemon, bring back to me the emotion of my old M7 from the classic Rowland days, but with the resolution and transparency possible today.





So, to make a long story short, while current Rowland amps are not strictly speaking "warm" in the sense of having a preferential hump in the lower midrange and upper bass with a corresponding filtering of high treble, they have an immersive sound that some will call "organic", others will call "warm", and I instead call "immersive" and "congruent" with the sound of live acoustic instruments and human voices.





BTW, Rowland is preparing to release a new major product.... I'll post here as soon as I receive meaningful details from the factory.





Saluti, Guido
 

GuidoCorona

Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2010
327
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433
Summerville (SC)
Hello Sunil, thank you so much for chiming in!

Are you still able to demo Daemon during these times of CUVIT?

I know that before this virus, we could reach you at:

Sunny Components
West Covina
California
Phone: 626-966-6259
Phone 2: 626-966-2630

What is the best phone number or/and email address to reach you during these pandemic days?

Saluti, Guido
 

GuidoCorona

Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2010
327
32
433
Summerville (SC)
All, on Friday, while Daemon was playing the Post Horn movement of Mahler's 3rd Symphony around the 955 hours breakin mark, I realized that the critter was still making significant performance strides... In other words, music was even more luminous and magic than the day before.


So, I decided to give the integrated a day of rest, and then put it through at least one more week of break-in before reconfiguring system I/O.
My system will be reconnected and Daemon up and running in integrated configuration in the next five minutes.

Saluti, Guido
 

GuidoCorona

Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2010
327
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433
Summerville (SC)
In preparation for the next evaluation phase, I took down the system today at the 1135 hours mark. Seems evolution tapered off between 950 and 1000 hours.

I reconfigured Daemon as follows:

* Esoteric X-01 transport into Rowland Daemon DAC subsystem BNC via Cardas Clear Digital.
* Rowland Daemon analog linestage subsystem output into Rowland M925 monos via Cardas Clear Reflection Balanced XLR.
* Rowland M925 monos into Vienna Die Muzik speakers via Cardas Clear Reflection speaker wires.

The system will stay offline until at least noon tomorrow... Will plug it back into AC and activate it as soon as the current bad weather system has dissipated.

* M925 left chassis will be plugged into dedicated AC circuit 1.
* Daemon will be plugged into dedicated AC circuit 2.
* M925 right chassis will be plugged into dedicated circuit 3.
* Esoteric X-01 will share circuit 3 with M925 right chassis.

Sorry, I have only three dedicated circuits in the room. I might at some point try X-01 share dedicated AC circuit 2 with Daemon instead, and/or to plug X-01 into the default multi-outlet 15A shared circuit of the listening space, which is currently unused.

Saluti, Guido
 

highendpassion

Well-Known Member
Oct 2, 2016
10
4
83
Buongiorno Guido
any new update on this matter?
I am sure everybody is eager to know more about your ongoing testing experience with the JR Daemon...
Thanks and Saluti,
Riccardo
 

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