Above: main setup after I decided to set the turntables and associated preamps aside for the time being. The Leema DAC on top of the middle rack was only over for review.
Magnetostatic Speakers. Fully refurbished (new foils, new front covers, new wiring and new crossovers)
Jeff Rowland Coherence II
Battery Powered Preamp
Jeff Rowland Concerto
Jeff Rowland Model 6
AudioAanZee Reference Flow and Aurender N10
Mark Levinson no.37
Mark Levinson no.390S
Wadia 521 + Wadia 25 + EC Designs Mosaic
Transparent Reference XL
Transparent Reference, Transparent Ultra XL, AudioQuest Water and Cardas Hexlink Golden 5C – T T L Treated
Fusion Audio Romance, Belden, Harmonic Technology Pro ACII and Furutech Alpha 3
Above: AudioAanZee Reference Flow music server
Above: Aurender N10 music server
Above: EC Designs Mosaic T DAC on top
Above: Apogee Diva, fully refurbished, with new cabinets made from solid cherrywood and MDF. Behind it is one channel of Jeff Rowland amplification.
Solid, Curvy, Smooth and… sexy. This is the amazing Jeff Rowland Coherence II preamplifier.
Above: Jeff Rowland Coherence II battery-powered preamp. This is one gorgeous piece of styling. And it doesn’t only look good – it sounds immaculately smooth, fluid and organic and is utterly detailed at the same time. A very luxurious experience. This preamp is so good that it even betters the Synergy 1 and 2. You have to change batteries every 5 years and these solid slabs of aluminium weigh 20 kilograms, each! But the sound is all worth it.
Jeff Rowland preamps have always worked best in my system, but lately I have heard some tube preamps that do things that the Rowlands don’t do. Vice versa also, alas.
Due to the Apogees sounding very open and uncoloured, I tend to favour DACs such as Wadia, that bring some character to the table, ideally with an acoustically very convincing Timbre. This aspect may prove far less important in a setup with dynamic speakers such as for example the B&W 802D’s. Good timbre for me is having the feeling that acoustical instruments really possess a “wooden” quality, that stand up basses and guitars have a real body and pianos are actually recognisable as percussive instruments. It’s how well the midrange is coupled to the lower regions, that makes the sound really convincing for me.
The Jeff Rowland model 6 poweramps have been part of my system seemingly since forever, over 10 years actually and although some amps I tried had bigger bass, more power or more impressive dynamics, none of the challengers bested the sixes on all terrains. The Apogee Divas could probably use more power, and that may tie in with my craving for “characterful” DACs. A Bryston amp for example will have a very full sound of itself already, ameliorating the need to “fill in the gaps” elsewhere in the system.
As always I want to stress that certainly in audio, all is relative and thus, my reviews should be viewed in that light, even if I try to provide as much perspective as I can.
Above: video projector image with the screen up… I thought it made for a very interesting 3D-like scene, almost as of the people are in my room, sitting behind the audio system.
Watch this page, as the setup never stops evolving…