You are here

Log in or register to post comments
bjh
bjh's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 12 2005 - 2:33pm
Jeff Rowland Concerto - First exposure to digital amp - NOT GOOD!

I visited a local dealership just a little while back and asked to lead an ear to the Rowland Concerto that was setup in the main room.

I looked forward to this as I had not heard a modern digital/switching amp. I had developed some expectations based upon the comments of a friend whose sonic impression I generally trust. Basically my friends' report was on his exposure to one of the Nuforce amplifiers and it was characterized as having real "get up and go", a report that could easily be mistaken for the description of a Naim amp (not that I've heard one of those either).

Anyway such was my expectation so I expected much the same; incidently the "PRATish" (to coin a phrase) reports I seen of Nuforce amplifiers lead me to suspect that they are "colored", i.e. any pervasive sonic characteristic I considered "colored".

Well the Concerto didn't fit the expected bill, far from it in fact. Instead of propulsive driving/bouncy bass I was immediatly struck by lethargic, ill-defined almost "one note" bass. How anyone could consider the bass to be good is beyond me (especially at the price point for the Concerto).

The highs were another obviously flawed area. There seemed to be a pervasive nasty sheen, the sort of thing that harkens back to early nasty digital (although not bad enough to make you run screaming from the room still bad enough to wonder why anyone would lay down $$$ for it).

Other than projecting pretty convincving imaging, e.g. separation of sonic images, there was little to admire. On Keith Jarrett's Kolm Concert the many stage noises and volcalization that lend to the sense of realism on a decent system almost sounded like "atrifacts"; I'm not sure I'd even recognize some were I not so familiar with the recording.

Overall pretty sad, a real disappointment to say the very least.

----

I was not told initially but it turns out the shop was evaluating the unit. When I disclosed my mostly negative findings the flood gates were opened you might say and I heard a tale of speaker swaps and other attempts to get the thing to sound decent. Some of the guys there are familiar with Rowland amps and stated the Concerto bore little relationship to the "Rowland sound". They were to have a go at cables the following day in the continuing effort but I have not followed up to hear of the outcome... Hey I'm a cable guy myself but I doubt very much that switching from
Nordost Heimdall (with bananas and so not suited to the lugs/bare wire only Cardas connectors on the amplifer) to something else (with lugs) would make a silk purse out of that sow's ear!

Scrith
Scrith's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 9:11pm
Re: Jeff Rowland Concerto - First exposure to digital amp - NOT

I've been considering this amp and I must say I'm a bit surprised by this mini-review (previously I've never read anything negative about it).

Did you compare it to another amp during this test? If not, what makes you think the amp (and not some other component) was responsible for what you were hearing? The comments at the end imply that others had tried some tweaking, but I must say that comments based on an experience of walking into a room, listening to a system without comparison, then walking out and writing a review on one of the components in the system aren't very helpful to anyone and imply that the conclusion was arrived at before any listening even took place.

bjh
bjh's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 12 2005 - 2:33pm
Re: Jeff Rowland Concerto - First exposure to digital amp - NOT

IMO comparisons are hardly needed when dealing with such substandard sound but for what it's worth the integrated was replaced by a McIntosh pre (C220 I believe) and MC501 mono-blocks on my followup visit. I never considered myself a Mac fan but I have come to appreciate the performance of those pieces on multiple visits to the store... needless to say the performance only highlighted the shortcomings of the Concerto.

The followup was specifically to determine if they had had any luck with the Roland, apparently not. In fact the owner indicated that the unit was disliked by all that heard it, something that had never happened in his experience evaluating a component.

dcstep
dcstep's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 16 2007 - 4:59pm
Re: Jeff Rowland Concerto - First exposure to digital amp - NOT

The best sound that I heard at the 2006 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest was through Rowland "digital" amplification and Vienna Acoustics speakers.

A year later I bought the VA Beethovan Baby Grand speakers and I'm considering the JR Concerto to replace my venerable Bryston setup. First I'm going to put a Pro-Ject RPM 10 in the system and break the speakers in for another few weeks, then I'll listen again to the Concerto in my system before a final decision.

Anyway, much of what you hear may have to do with setup. My dealer is Sumiko trained and really does an excellent job of getting the most out of equipment. There was so much truly horrid sound at the audio fest that I need to take a year or two off between visits. Stuff that I thought should sound good was just unlistenable. The Rowland/Vienna Acoustics setup was a breath of fresh air. I had three or four serious listens before I bought.

Listen for yourself. That's the only way to know.

BTW, the 2007 RMAF is a couple of weeks away. I be letting my ears continue to decompress, but it'll be a great opportunity for many people to hear the Rowland stuff for themselves.

Dave

  • X
    Enter your Stereophile.com username.
    Enter the password that accompanies your username.
    Loading