Jeff Rowland Design Group Model 2 power amplifier 1995 Review System

Sidebar 1: 1995 Review System

Analog fans may consider me a traitor to the Cause, but most of my listening to the Rowland Model 2 was done with digital sources. Because of Rowland's commitment to balanced operation, I wanted to listen to it in the context of other balanced components, and I didn't have on hand any phono preamp with a balanced output. The line-stage preamps I used—both fully balanced—were the Sonic Frontiers SFL-2 and the Balanced Audio Technology VK-5. I did spend a bit of time listening to unbalanced phono (fully updated Linn LP12, Ittok, AudioQuest AQ 7000nsx) through the Convergent Technology SL-1 Signature and found that this combination worked well, without any noise problems or other negative side-effects attributable to the mixing of unbalanced and balanced operation.

Digital source was a PS Audio Lambda transport and Sonic Frontiers UltraJitterbug feeding a Sonic Frontiers SFD-2 processor, replaced late during the audition period by the HDCD-equipped Mk.II version. (Love that HDCD!) The digital links were the latest-series TARA Labs RSC AES/EBU. All digital equipment was plugged-in to a Tice Series II line conditioner; the preamp and power amp were plugged-in to separate, dedicated AC lines. Interconnects and power cables were TARA Labs RSC; speaker cables included TARA Labs RSC and Dunlavy Audio Labs Z-6. Speakers were Dunlavy Audio Labs SC-IVs (see reviews in Vol.17 No.4 and Vol.18 No.3). My 16' by 14' by 7.5' listening room has strategically placed RoomTunes and Tube Traps, with some sound-absorbing material covering the wall behind the listening seat.—Robert Deutsch