Jeff Rowland Design Group Consummate preamplifier Tom Norton Compares
When I brought the Rowland Consummate back into the mix for a direct comparison with the Krell KRC, my initial impressions were confirmed. The Rowland sounded more soft and sweet. The KRC's viselike grip was replaced by a more relaxed, rounded presentation. It had its own charms, to be sure—sweet without ever being quite tubey, laid-back without sounding recessed. This seems to be typical of Rowland—it certainly was characteristic of their Model 1 amplifier which captivated me a few years back. But the Krell KRC had a tighter, more detailed, dynamic, and—that word again—gutsy sound. This was not an easy conclusion to reach—I own the Consummate—but the KRC lifted another veil from the sound.
The slight softness I noted in my earlier evaluation of the KSA-300S power amplifier was, apparently, not inherent in the amplifier itself. It largely disappeared when the 300S was paired with the KRC, replaced not by any degree of hardness or brightness, but simply by a more alive, open quality. To be fair to the Consummate (it remains a superb preamp, and I intend to continue using it in situations in which precise, repeatable control of listening level is required), it was not able to benefit here from the undeniable synergy which exists between the new Krell KSA-300S and the KRC.—Thomas J. Norton