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  1. #1
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    Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    Have you ever wondered if a no holds barred integrated amplifier could rival the performance and configurability of a stack of top reference-level components: streamer, DAC, phono stage, preamplifier, and monoblock power amplifier pair? Or does the system simplification and space-saving of integrated amps inherently compromise sonic performance and I/O flexibility?

    Jeff Rowland would opine that the design goals of his integrated flagship have yielded a performance level and flexibility that rivals the most sophisticated stack of separates. He would point at Daemon, his statement Superintegrated amplifier: a $42,700 technological tour de force, conceived in partnership with Thomas Holm. The gleaming 99LBs single-chassis–, measuring 17.5” wide, 15.25” deep, and 9.5” high, is milled from solid aircraft-grade Aluminum ingots in the hallmark Rowland tradition. Sporting over 20 I/O ports, the device packs a dual mono amplification subsystem running in class D which delivers 1500W/8 (2500W/4) Watts per channel, fed by what Jeff Rowland asserts to be the most advanced DAC circuit and preamplifier stage he ever created. Vinyl is served by the optional High Performance (HP) phono card, and a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth streamer is upcoming (pending ROON certification. Eschewing the traditional performance compromise imposed on integrated amps by the use of a single bulk power supply, Daemon features multiple regulated Switch Mode Power Supplies (SMPS): each subsystem is served by its own dedicated SMPS, except for the power amplification section, which incorporates a separate SMPS per channel.

    The Daemon ship group includes a full-featured Bluetooth remote milled from an Aluminum block, as well as a hefty power cord. Apple iOS users can also control Daemon with the JRDG Remote app, which is free to download from the Apple App Store.

    Mr. Rowland explained that Daemon’s DAC and preamplifier stages are not old wine in a new bottle. In other words, they are far from being repackaged Aeris and Corus circuits. On the contrary, the DAC and preamplifier sections are entirely unique to Daemon, and were designed by Jeff and Thomas Holm from the ground up to be statement-level performers. While the Corus linestage, and my own Aeris+PSU DAC in particular, are still superb at their price points after so many years, Daemon’s DAC and preamplifier sub-systems are said by Jeff Rowland to comfortably exceed the older separates.

    With Daemon now having just crossed the break-in half-way mark, at approximately 500 hours of making music 24/7, if I may be allowed to jump the gun, I am starting to share Jeff’s confidence. Just as an example, on several break-in CDs, such as the 1967 recording of Mahler’s Symphony #1 (Titan) with Rafael Kubelik conducting the Bavarian Radio Symphony (Deutsche Grammophon 429 042-2
    - CD Box Set), Daemon’s authority and power reserve are staggering. Yet, these do not emerge as simple-minded muscle, but as the binding force of an incredibly layered presentation, where finely graven instrumental voices emerge as solid images from a vast stage which well exceeds the 11 feet speaker’s outer boundaries. Instruments bristle with spicules of rippling harmonics that shimmer in the interplay of crisp attacks merging into the complexity of iridescent decay. There is already an almost magic sense of “living space” between the notes, so unexpected from a young component, extracted from such an old recording – 53 years old, to be exact. In the first movement, I discovered a sudden soft tintinnabulation of small bells which I had never known existed in the score. And that infamous tonal hardness, which is ever the bane of new components, is quite simply… Missing in action.

    Will Daemon overtake my Rowland + PSU + M925 trio? Future will tell. Yet, what I have heard in the last three weeks intrigues me to no end. But I am getting ahead of myself; Let us return to an orderly narrative.

    I had been aching to evaluate Daemon in my own system for quite a spell. The long wait ended on Thursday, February 27th, when UPS delivered a 121LBs package to my music room -- a fully carpeted open area with fine acoustics, measuring approximately 20’ by 34, where Cardas-connected audio components are aligned along the outer 20’ wall, and a thick 12’ by 9’ woolen rug sits in front of the Vienna Die Muzik speakers.

    Inside the outer shipping carton, a Daemon review unit was safely cocooned, Triple-boxed, braced and firmly held in place by two generously-sized Urethane foam inserts. Gripping Daemon through the oval vents of its machined cooling fins, I extracted the factory-fresh device from its protective packaging, and rested it on top of my component bench: a 60 year-old, two inch thick solid slab of exotic African Mansonia wood, cut from a single plank, and largely acoustically inert. For further mechanical isolation, one last minor *Gulps!* lift effort, and Three Nordost Titanium Sort Kones slid and clicked into place in the dedicated divots milled under Daemon’s bottom plate.

    I connected the hefty new baby to the system with my amazing reference Cardas loom, which has proven to me time and again to be phenomenally synergistic with Rowland electronics, and is profoundly integral to the goldielockian musicality and superb resolution of my music reproduction environment: Cardas Clear digital coax from Esoteric X-01 transport into one of Daemon’s BNC inputs; Cardas Clear Reflection Speaker wires from Daemon to Vienna Die Muzik; Cardas Clear 15A power cord feeding Esoteric X-01 from a dedicated 20A AC line; 20A Cardas Clear Beyond XL PC powering Daemon from its own 20A mains circuit.

    Before I delve into some diary observations of my latest equipment break-in adventure, here is some more information about this statement-level power-beast:

    Daemon is hardly a featherweight: at 99LBS in its machined aircraft-grade Aluminum birthday-suit, the single-chassis looks and feels impressive and solid. The massive construction features the elegant signature Rowland styling and meticulous attention to detail that it shares with M925, M625 S2, and the M725 S2 amplifiers. Yet, a simple glance distinguishes Daemon from its relatives, Daemon’s machined heat dissipating fins are just slightly smaller, as larger internal real estate is required to accommodate all multi-layer ceramic boards, circuits, and multiple regulated power supplies for DAC subsystem, linestage, power amplifier, as well as for the optional phono stage and Daemon’s future streamer.

    The elegant faceplate is slightly convex and subtly prismatic, measuring 1.5” at the thickest middle point. The whole gleams with the classic Rowland spiraling diamond-cut pattern. A large 7” by 5” color touch display is top center: it provides status information, lets the user select inputs, and control other operations, either by direct finger-taps, or with the iOS JRDG Remote app or with Daemon’s own Bluetooth remote control handset. Consistent with Daemon’s construction, the multi-function remote is a premium-quality device, milled from a solid Aluminum block, very much like the remotes of Corus and Aeris.

    Continuing with the front plate, below the display are the physical momentary-contact push-buttons for standby, mute, and for activating the display menu. Just under these, the half-inch thick rim of a large prismatic volume flywheel emerges from a horizontal slot milled into the fascia. Its faces are half as wide as those on the fascia. The friction-dampened wheel is mounted on ball-bearings. Its fine resolution action controls volume through an optical encoder – a mechanism hallmark of Rowland line stages for more than two decades.

    Below the bottom edge of the fascia, a quarter inch headphone output socket peeks from the middle front of a slightly recessed Delrin® bottom plate, which houses the Bluetooth transmitter/receiver serving the JRDG Remote control app for Apple iOS and Daemon’s Bluetooth remote control hand-set.

    Now let us look at the connection-rich and well organized back-panel. It bristles with 27 individual connection points, flanked by two removable machined cover plates concealing one port which accepts the Streaming Module, and the other for accessing the USB firmware update port.

    All inputs are transformer-coupled to minimize common mode noise and other distortion artifacts. Distortions are further controlled by use of multi-layer ceramic circuit boards in each subsystem. Consistent with all Rowland products, RCA connectors are Cardas rhodium plated over copper with Teflon insulation. XLR’s are Neutrix with silver plated contacts, also standard on all Rowland offerings.

    The complement of transformer-coupled digital DAC inputs is impressive:

    • 2 BNC coax SPDIF ports
    • 2 RCA SPDIF ports
    • 1 USB D connector
    • 1 AES/EBU input connector
    3 optical TOSLINK ports

    Lundahl coupling transformers connect all Analog line-level XLR and RCA inputs directly into the preamplifier subsystem:

    • 2 XLR balanced input pairs
    • 3 RCA single-ended input pairs

    Want to feed an external analog line-level source into Daemon? Daemon’s DAC and preamplifier subsystems can be bypassed by connecting an analog-line-level signal directly to the Lundahl-transformer-coupled inputs of the power amplification section:

    • 1 Balanced XLR input pair
    • 1 single-ended input RCA pair

    Is your system bi-amped? Daemon’s line-level outputs provide connectivity from the pre-amplifier sub-system to an external amplifier:

    • 1 balanced XLR output pair
    • 1 Single-ended RCA output pair

    Like all Rowland amplifiers, except for the entry-level M125, Daemon supports Speaker bi-wiring with a row of 2 pairs of output terminals:

    • 1 inner horizontal pair of CARDAS output terminals
    • 1 outer vertical pair of Cardas output terminals

    Remember that quarter inch socket below the bottom of the front plate? That one is for you stereo headphone lovers… And if your headset has an eight inch jack instead, you will find a 3.5mm to quarter inch converter inside Daemon’s accessory box.

    For you vinyl fans, there are two optional phono cards, standard and high performance (HP) versions. They can be easily installed after removing Daemon’s top cover. Note that as my system does not include a turntable, no phono module is included in my review unit.

    Want a streamer? Daemon’s optional wireless streamer module is in the works. It will be released pending Roon certification.

    The back plate is completed by a power inlet compatible with 20A IECs, a remote trigger jack for standby /control from a home theater processor, and a grounding post to facilitate star-grounding, as well as grounding of a phono turntable.

    Moving now to operating Daemon with the JRDG Remote app… I paired Daemon to my iPhone for control with the JRDG Remote Bluetooth app. Pairing is simple: turn on Bluetooth on the iOS device, launch the JRDG Remote app, and then press the mute button on Daemon for five to ten seconds, until the app asks confirmation that you wish to establish connection.

    Typically, the connection remains active all the while the app is running. If connection is lost because you took your iOS device out of Bluetooth range, or the app has been closed, press the Daemon mute button for 5 to 30 seconds to reconnect. With the app, I can control volume, mute, and input selection from anywhere in my home.

    As mentioned earlier, Daemon is supplied with a dedicated multi-function Bluetooth remote control handheld unit, but I have not explored this device yet.

    Daemon's output power rating of 1500W/8 and 2500W/4 is a little greater than three times that of a pair of Rowland M925 monoblocks. By the time of this writing, I can already tell that music flows with even greater ease than from my M925 pair. But this incredible power reserve does not emerge from a Daemon fresh from the factory. Rather, it manifests gradually as break-in progresses.

    Below is an outline of the surprisingly rapid tonal evolution that Daemon undertook during the first few days of break-in. Yes, this means that this initial post is not intended as a stand-alone review. Rather, the whole thread will eventually form a diary of sorts, -- the narration of my experience with Daemon’s tonal and musical evolution through its break-in process, which I expect may extend to a couple months.

    On Friday 02/28 at 6:00 PM, break-in commenced with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances for 2 Pianos performed by Emanuel Ax and Yefim Bronfman (Sony Classical SK61767). I put the CD on repeat on X-01.

    I was immediately surprised: What I did not hear at all was the expected early breaking tonal dullness, hardness, and paucity of harmonic exposure, so common to brand new equipment. Instead, within the first two hours, Daemon managed to flabbergast me. As hard as I tried, I perceived no trace of intermodulative harshness at all. Just a feathery treble and ringing harmonics throughout
    The open range, from high treble to deep bass. A sense of crisp articulation of each note in every track, even in the fastest runs, every note distinct, bearing its own individual transient attack, and shimmering decay: a stunning example of agility.

    The bass, while showing some blanchness, was never the less articulate and complex. Deep bass notes, though marginally shy of the fundamental harmonic, generated a kaleidoscope of ringing overtones, resonating up to the high treble region, just as if I were putting my ear to the live piano board.

    Typically, in very rapid treble runs, recorded piano notes tend to amalgamate together into a semi-homogeneous sound mass, lacking clearly defined inter-note boundaries. Not so on this still very young Daemon, where superfast treble notes were tinkling and shimmering like cascading sonic beads, each with its own attack, sustain, and structure of decaying harmonics.

    What about low level information.... Suffice to say that I could extract from the whole presentation the woody clunks
    Of the piano mechanics: key presses and releases, hammers operating, while Bronfman and Ax could be heard softly breathing and sub-vocalizing. Note that such extra-musical low level information usually starts appearing after a few weeks of break-in if at all, not on a factory-fresh component. Yes, in case you asked, Jeff Rowland had completed construction of this Daemon unit just days earlier.

    I could detect no obvious intermodulation distortion. With loud piano passages, intermodulation takes form of an unnatural harshness or excessive sound pressure that smears loud transients. None of which I heard.

    If I were to make a mild criticism, in the earliest hours, there was a slight tilt towards the treble, with a certain modesty of image sizes, and a stage which was relatively flat and well delimited inside the 11 foot distance between the speakers. Furthermore, while the presentation was refined and utterly enjoyable, it had not yet achieved the grandeur, gravitas, and transient authority of the mature Rowland PSU+Aeris+M925 combination.

    Quite predictably, the first round of doldrums arrived just the next morning. By hour 15, the harmonic shimmer had receded. The tone underwent a couple cycles of being rather closed in or extension-limited, with little low-level information and a slight veil, followed by a slightly more open phase. At about hour 30, cycling had accelerated to shallower swings of just a couple hours each, averaging a minorly more open tone, but with a bass which seemed still recessed. I should point out that this seemingly erratic behavior is totally normal. I expect cycling to persist for a few hundred hours, until the fluctuation will gradually taper off starting around the 400 hours mark, and the device should gradually transition to a more even upswing, which may last for some 1,000 hours until full stabilization.

    On Sunday, around the 50 hours mark, the presentation was once again different: most of the haze had dissipated. Yet, while still pleasing to the ear, music was once again a little trebly and bass-shy, with a relatively flat stage, well contained inside the distance between the speakers. On my standard test CD, Diana Kral’s voice sounded, ahem… Juvenile, while her virtual head size seemed to have shrunk. The English Horn in the 2nd movement of Dvorak New World Symphony under the baton of Leonard Bernstein conducting the Israel Philharmonic (Deutsche Grammophon
    – 4790361) was uncharacteristically light and non-denominational. On the other hand, the often distorting cadenzas in the introduction to Dvorak’s String Quintet Opus 77 performed by the Stamitz Quartet with Jiri Hudec on double bass (Dvorak Chamber Music - Brilliant Classics 92181) were sweet, and clear as bells, without a trace of intermodulative harshness.

    70 hours marked a distinct turning point, where all parameters opened up and an early form of tonal maturity emerged for the first time. The stage extended laterally to the outer edge of the speakers, a moderate stage depth appeared, instrumental images assumed more concreteness and more realistic proportions, bass became more vigorous, while some authority and gravitas entered the scene. Thus Kral’s virtual head returned to accustomed proportions, and her voice reverted to full adultness. What’s more interesting is that for the first time I enjoyed listening to Temptation, and realized that the song is in the form of an all be it elusive tango structure.

    Daemon’s upwards evolution was progressing around the 100 hours mark, when the closing low brass fanfare in the Dvorak New World Symphony second movement found me unprepared to the emotional rendering that this young integrated generated for the soaring fanfare of horns and trombones: a low brass Chorus which rose gradually from pianissimo into a sweeping crescendo, finally erupting into the fortissimo resolution of the cadence. I felt I was witness to the majesty hallmark of a mature chain of reference separates, rather than to the tentative authority of a very young integrated: growling bass trombones in full cuivre’ punctuated by the thunderous yet crisp transient of timpani. The stage, still of moderate depth, seemed never the less to exceed speaker boundaries; in the background, Bernstein was not-so-quietly sub-vocalizing the bass line as if he were throat-singing. The entire passage was almost overwhelming, yet totally transparent and effortless, without a trace of harshness.

    Thinking further back, for the first 24 to 48 hours of operation, the integrated felt somewhat shy of power reserve and authority, but things evolved rather rapidly, al be it with cyclical fluctuations. Thus, around the 100 hours break-in mark, I was a little, ahem… Trigger happy  I mashed the volume-up button of the JRDG Remote app a little too long, and Dvorak's 9th symphony was thundering out of the speakers like the proverbial four horsemen of the apocalypse... Awesome transients with Great fluidity and No distortion artifacts… Unfortunately, my wife had quite enough of my… I meant Daemon's sonic exuberance, and asked me kindly to pipe it down… Life ain’t fair to suffering audiophiles  Yet, I had doubts that the integrated had already unveiled the full might of its 1500W of its entire power reserve.

    At about 160 hours, Daemon dipped into a shallow doldrums cycle… Still transparent, still filled with overtones and ever sweet, Stage had narrowed a little, and bass, while unfailingly clean, had somewhat receded and blanched. As I mentioned, these periodic performance fluctuations are expected for the first 400 to 500 hours of break-in, and compared to other devices in my present and past, they are remarkably mild.

    With break-in just crossing the 260 hours mark, Daemon sounded extremely promising. While I fully expect further cycling of doldrums, this is the first time that I have encountered an amplifier of any topology which has been this musically enjoyable so soon.

    Now approximately half way into the estimated break-in time of 1000 hours, Daemon’s periodic performance doldrums have attenuated significantly. The integrated has entered a much smoother rising phase.

    Depending on recordings, with the on-display volume indicator showing between 49db and 59dB -- that is some 25 to 35dB below 85dB unity gain, music reaches realistic concert levels, without a hint of fatigue or distortion. The presentation is grand, instrumental virtual images reaching real-life sizes, and rippling harmonics seem to be rivaling anything I experienced elsewhere.

    I am starting to think that the word "iridescence" might be a good overall descriptor of Daemon’s tone.... It first popped to mind when I loaded Alfred Brendel's 1992 recording of Beethoven's Waldstein Piano Sonata No.21 Op. 53 , (Philips 438 472-2). It is difficult for me to explain precisely, but the combination of staggering macro-dynamic swings, minutest micro-detail, fast authoritative yet natural transients from deep bass upwards, crisp treble runs, ever sweet harmonic shimmer, graceful evenness of frequency response, and total sweetness and effortlessness feels, well… Iridescent.

    I can’t help reminding myself how this musical magic is not happening in a vacuum… My trusty Cardas loom has demonstrated to me again and again how the synergy generated by a superior match between components and cables is paramount to further elevating the performance of even the most refined component till it takes wing and, well… Soars, and Sings.

    Daemon has been playing 24/7 since unboxing… It continues to be barely lukewarm to the touch. Surface temperature feels the same across the top plate, front plate, and side cooling fins. This bespeaks this 1500W power-house’s superior energy efficiency, and excellent heat dissipation management.

    Needless to say, I am incredibly excited about what I have heard so far. I will continue to post updates to my Daemon Break-in adventure. Next, I will post links to several photos of this product.

    Below is the link to Daemon’s homepage:

    https://www.jeffrowlandgroup.com/daemon/

    Are you asking where you might be able to listen to Damon live? Sunny Components near Los Angeles (CA) has a Daemon unit in stock. Give Sunil a call:

    Sunil Merchant (Proprietor)
    Sunny Components
    West Covina
    California
    Phone: 626-966-6259
    Phone 2: 626-966-2630
    Web: http://www.sunnyaudiovideo.com

    Regards, Guido

    PS. Needless to say, feel free to PM me.
    Electronics: Rowland Daemon 1500W Superintegrated, Rowland Aeris DAC+PSU, M925 430W monos, M535 900W bridged pair, Esoteric X-01 transport
    Speakers: Vienna Die Muzik
    Cables: Cardas Clear Beyond XL PCs, Clear Reflection XLR ICs and speaker wires, Clear digital coax

  2. #2
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    Re: Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    Guido - I skimmed your passion for JR - there is something about simplicity. Enjoy!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Source Analog: Kuzma Stabi R with 4point 9 arm & Kuzma 40 Cartridge
    Source Digital: Aurender N10 | Brinkmann Nyquist MK II
    Amplification: Dan D’Agostino Momentum Pre Amp and Monos | Boulder Phono 508
    Speakers: Wilson Alexias
    Cabling: Nordost Valhalla 2/Odin: power, interconnects & speaker | Ansuz: C2 power & interconnect | Audioquest Diamond RJ45’s
    Power: Nordost QRT series | Furutech FP55SN cable from 20 amp breakers to Furutech GTX D NSF packages | Keces P3 & P8 | ADD POWR series | Environmental Potential EP2050
    Other: HRS M3X | Stillpoints Ultra 6, SS & Mini | Nordost Sort Cones TC & BC | AQ Vox SE switch | etherREGEN | Gigafoil v4 | Vicoustics | Audio Desk Systeme - Gläss








  3. #3
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    Re: Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    As promised, here are several Dropbox links to Daemon pics, photos kindly provided by Lucien Pichette at the Rowland factory:

    • Daemon faceplate:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/u6qoxbh65y...face2.jpg?dl=0

    • Daemon front panel:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/ge1dhgltcs...panel.jpg?dl=0

    • Daemon face detail:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/1iirg1lu7y...etail.JPG?dl=0

    • Back-panel, including upcoming streamer:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/f0webn03wv...er%20.jpg?dl=0

    • Streamer:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/f0webn03wv...er%20.jpg?dl=0

    • Input names screen:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/41cr3vp06v...creen.JPG?dl=0

    • Input screen:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/tm422z2b6h...creen.JPG?dl=0

    • iOS JRDG Remote app screen:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/7tnqsrvihr...emote.PNG?dl=0

    • Hand-held remote hand-set:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/vow5x8i98i...emote.JPG?dl=0

    • Standby button detail:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/k80ai3y3fe...%20up.JPG?dl=0

    That’s it for now. Enjoy!

    Regards, Guido
    Electronics: Rowland Daemon 1500W Superintegrated, Rowland Aeris DAC+PSU, M925 430W monos, M535 900W bridged pair, Esoteric X-01 transport
    Speakers: Vienna Die Muzik
    Cables: Cardas Clear Beyond XL PCs, Clear Reflection XLR ICs and speaker wires, Clear digital coax

  4. #4
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    Re: Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    Hello UltraFast69, I was concerned that simplification would result in some performance compromise.... But I am starting to think that in Daemon's particular case, my concern might be unfounded.

    Regards, Guido
    Electronics: Rowland Daemon 1500W Superintegrated, Rowland Aeris DAC+PSU, M925 430W monos, M535 900W bridged pair, Esoteric X-01 transport
    Speakers: Vienna Die Muzik
    Cables: Cardas Clear Beyond XL PCs, Clear Reflection XLR ICs and speaker wires, Clear digital coax

  5. #5
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    Re: Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    Have you ever wondered if a no holds barred integrated amplifier could rival the performance and configurability of a stack of top reference-level components: streamer, DAC, phono stage, preamplifier, and monoblock power amplifier pair? Or does the system simplification and space-saving of integrated amps inherently compromise sonic performance and I/O flexibility?


    Over the years I have spoken with the designers of a couple of world class product lines. A couple of them indicated that their "integrated" solutions could possibly exceed the performance of their separate lines "under normal" operations. The integrated solution might not handle the most demanding loads, the specs on separates might be better but that might not translate to better audible SQ. So yes, I believe it is quite possible,
    Jim

    D'Agostino Momentum M-400's & HD Pre-amp
    Wilson Alexandria X2 Series 2 speakers
    Digital: dCS Vivaldi DAC, Clock & Upsampler
    Analog: SME 20/3 with Esoteric E-03 Phono
    Transparent Opus Speaker Cable & Interconnects & Opus Power Cords
    Power Cords on Digital: Shunyata

  6. #6
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    Re: Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    All,

    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
    Electronics: Rowland Daemon 1500W Superintegrated, Rowland Aeris DAC+PSU, M925 430W monos, M535 900W bridged pair, Esoteric X-01 transport
    Speakers: Vienna Die Muzik
    Cables: Cardas Clear Beyond XL PCs, Clear Reflection XLR ICs and speaker wires, Clear digital coax

  7. #7

    Re: Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    Guido, friend of mine used to be a Cardas fan...that is until he tried a loom of Stage 3 cables and heard how lacking the Cardas cables are in resolution.

  8. #8
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    Re: Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    Thank you Pearce for the suggestion. While there are several respected cable brands available, this review project is anchored on Cardas, the brand of cables which I have found to create the highest synergy with my components over the last two decades.

    Over the years, I have experienced a variety of looms and cables from a number of manufacturers in my system. Amongst these, Shunyata Z-tron and Nordost Valhalla II have doubtlessly created wonderful music.

    Most other brands have delivered results ranging from good to fair, while a few have missed the mark spectacularly. Failures ranged from total dullness, to uncontrolled bloat and humps in the mid-range to mid-bass, to the sheer acridity of rampant intermodulation, up to suicidal propensities: One displayed a singular yearning for self-disassembly, while another one decided to immolate itself by shorting at first power up, with a delightful complement of a pop, wisps of bluish smoke, and delicate scent of singed plastics.

    Stage 3 is a respected brand. I heard some of its wires at RMAF a few years ago, but I have not have had Stage 3 cables in my system yet, hence I do not hold a meaningful opinion about them.

    Regards, Guido
    Electronics: Rowland Daemon 1500W Superintegrated, Rowland Aeris DAC+PSU, M925 430W monos, M535 900W bridged pair, Esoteric X-01 transport
    Speakers: Vienna Die Muzik
    Cables: Cardas Clear Beyond XL PCs, Clear Reflection XLR ICs and speaker wires, Clear digital coax

  9. #9
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    Re: Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    Guido,

    Thank you so much for all your efforts. I really appreciate your hard work posting and trying to explain to us what you hear.
    Wharfedale Linton w/ stands, Avantgarde Duo XD, Klipsch RB-75, Klipsch RP-160M.

    Luxman 590AXII (incoming), Job INTegrated

    Conrad Johnson GAT2, Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE Stage 2, Misho Myronov Wooden pre.

    Misho Myronov Wooden amp, First Watt SIT-3 (x 2 - one as backup), First Watt F7 (incoming), Job 250 Monos, Valvet E2se, NuForce STA200, AkitikA GT-102 amp, ASL Wave monos, Dennis Had 45 monos.

    RME Audio ADI-2 DAC FS, Lumin U1 mini, ModWright Ultimate Sony XA-5400ES, Audio Mirror Tubadour III NOS R2R Tube Dac w/ SE upgrades.

    Burmester 948, McIntosh MCLK12, Kimber Kable, Siltech, Cardas, Avanti Audio cables.

  10. #10

    Re: Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    Quote Originally Posted by GuidoCorona View Post
    Thank you Pearce for the suggestion. While there are several respected cable brands available, this review project is anchored on Cardas, the brand of cables which I have found to create the highest synergy with my components over the last two decades.

    Over the years, I have experienced a variety of looms and cables from a number of manufacturers in my system. Amongst these, Shunyata Z-tron and Nordost Valhalla II have doubtlessly created wonderful music.

    Most other brands have delivered results ranging from good to fair, while a few have missed the mark spectacularly. Failures ranged from total dullness, to uncontrolled bloat and humps in the mid-range to mid-bass, to the sheer acridity of rampant intermodulation, up to suicidal propensities: One displayed a singular yearning for self-disassembly, while another one decided to immolate itself by shorting at first power up, with a delightful complement of a pop, wisps of bluish smoke, and delicate scent of singed plastics.

    Stage 3 is a respected brand. I heard some of its wires at RMAF a few years ago, but I have not have had Stage 3 cables in my system yet, hence I do not hold a meaningful opinion about them.

    Regards, Guido
    Guido, Thank you. I appreciate what you say, Clearly the Cardas loom works for you. My question is this..if another cable was utilized that clearly was able to show how much information the Cardas loom was leaving behind, would that NOT be a better solution? Along with being able to truly allow you to hear what the Daemon is doing ( and possibly what it is not doing--since there is no 'perfect' amplifying device?)
    I'm not repping for Stage 3 ( although this is a good cable), but for more resolving cable looms than Cardas ( which in my experience is just as my friend experienced). Does this make sense?

  11. #11
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    Re: Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    Hi Pearce, Daemon is a moving target because it is not even completely broken in yet, thus it would be totally pointless to make any system change until it has stabilized... Yes, there would be some perceivable difference of one form or another, but its origin would be in doubt.... Could it be because of some different wire, or because of Daemon slowly rising towards performance stability?

    Furthermore, before I introduce any equipment alteration, I intend to test the contributions of various Daemon subsystems to the whole.

    After crossing the 1K hours mark in about one week, I plan to feed Daemon's line level output the my Rowland M925 monoblocks via Cardas Reflection XLR, so to gage and document perceivable differences.

    Further down thee road, I may contrast Daemon's DAC against the Rowland Aeris+PSU combo.

    It is worth pointing out that sheer information resolution of a component or a wire is only one parameter to be considered. There are several other parameters that are as relevant, and sometimes even crucial.

    For instance, evenness of acoustic energy across the audible spectrum: are there any humps or suckouts?

    Naturalness and extent of harmonic exposure: are harmonics produced by instruments perceivable, or they blend in. And do they induce a tonal color congruent with physical unamplified instruments and voices?

    What about dynamics and microdynamics? Are transients and microtransients realistic? Or are they softened, or instead abnormally hypertrophic?

    What about micro-information: from string vibrato, to performer's subvocalizations, to mechanical noises of a piano, to breathing, to minute hesitations of the performance that can betray interpreter's discomfort with the work... A system should be able to tell us what the intentions of the composer may be, what the understanding of the performer is, how the performer has internalized the music, what the performer is consciously trying to tell us, and even what the performer would prefer we do not grok of his effort.

    Last, but hardly least, more wires than a few hype resolution, and sometimes mimick it instead, while they induce artificial intermodulative enharmonics in the treble region. While these might be appealing in some percussive music, they manifest as utterly unnatural harshness in 7th cords at the cusp of cadences played by bowed high strings, and opaqueness on transients at high SPLs.

    The reason that I am so fond of Cardas wires is that the modern incarnation of these cables avoid humps, troughs, harmonic deformities, unnatural transients, acrid intermodulations. Instead they deliver what I call a Goldilockian beauty: wide and even extension, congruence of harmonics and transients with reality, marvellous low level detail, and that living silence between the note that is the hallmark of musical magic.

    As I attempted to imply in my previous post, musical magic is a rare thing. Thus, rather than flittering with a wandering eye (I meant... ear) from manufacturer to manufacturer, I'd be keener eventually to explore and document further audible gems yielded by Cardas lines further up the chain.

    Regards, Guido
    Electronics: Rowland Daemon 1500W Superintegrated, Rowland Aeris DAC+PSU, M925 430W monos, M535 900W bridged pair, Esoteric X-01 transport
    Speakers: Vienna Die Muzik
    Cables: Cardas Clear Beyond XL PCs, Clear Reflection XLR ICs and speaker wires, Clear digital coax

  12. #12

    Re: Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    Guido, I totally understand where you are coming from...trying to keep as many variables to a minimum as much as possible. That is certainly a good goal. What i am questioning is how much you are hearing is actually from the Daemon and how much is from the soft diffuse sound of the Cardas loom? While i accept the fact that you like the sound from the combo...and therefore the synergy is pleasing to your ear; I am also suggesting that in the future ( not now) that you consider replacing the Cardas loom with another cable that is far more neutral and accurate. While you say you will go up the line in the Cardas family, my point is that all you will be accomplishing is more of the same...as Cardas has a definite family resemblance in my experience regardless of what model you pick.
    So, its not what Cardas delivers( when you say it 'avoids humps, troughs, harmonic deformities, unnatural transients, acrid intermodulations, etc.) it is what it leaves behind.
    Are you at least open to the idea that this is the case?

  13. #13

    Re: Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    So where is your review going to be published?
    Micro Seiki SX-8000 air bearing table, SME 312s arm, SME 3012R arn, Dynavector XV-1s cartridge, Lyra Etna SL cartridge, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 2 track R2R, Ampex 350 tape repros, Roon Nucleus Plus music server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6, ARC Ref 75 with KT-150s, JBL 4345 speakers, Viero Equilibro Level 3 speaker cables, and Definitive Technology Ref subs.

  14. #14
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    Re: Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    Hi Pearse, I now understand what you mean.

    The audible positive delta that I am perceiving with Daemon in the system is largely a product of Daemon. The reason is that the current Cardas cable loom has been a constant in my system for a couple of years. I have been applying it to the set of Esoteric X-01, Rowland Aeris DAC + PSU, Rowland M535 bridged, Rowland M925 monos, and Vienna Die Muzik speakers.

    I utilize the qualifier "largely" because at this time there is no Reflection XLR IC in the signal path. Hence, the extant removal of a single Reflection IC might, at least in principle, be a factor of yet unknown import to the whole.

    Doubtless, when I eventually insert M925 into the signal path, the result will be somewhat biased by the reappearance of Reflection.. To an extent which may be difficult to gage.

    It's a given that the replacement of any wire in the system is almost certain to induce a delta in some parameter, resulting in a positive or negative audible contribution to the whole.

    It is also the case that replacing an entire loom with a different brand of wires may induce an even greater delta, resulting from the interaction of multiple parameters. The challenge is to identify a loom whose composite delta is uniformly positive, without a performance degradation in some parameter offsetting the gain in some other ones.

    My ultimate "standard candle" is congruence with live unamplified/unprocessed music, acoustic instruments, and the human voice. Yes, they have been in my life since childhood.

    Am I open to eventually examining a loom from an unCardas source? Sure.

    G.
    Electronics: Rowland Daemon 1500W Superintegrated, Rowland Aeris DAC+PSU, M925 430W monos, M535 900W bridged pair, Esoteric X-01 transport
    Speakers: Vienna Die Muzik
    Cables: Cardas Clear Beyond XL PCs, Clear Reflection XLR ICs and speaker wires, Clear digital coax

  15. #15
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    Re: Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    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 import 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
    Electronics: Rowland Daemon 1500W Superintegrated, Rowland Aeris DAC+PSU, M925 430W monos, M535 900W bridged pair, Esoteric X-01 transport
    Speakers: Vienna Die Muzik
    Cables: Cardas Clear Beyond XL PCs, Clear Reflection XLR ICs and speaker wires, Clear digital coax

  16. #16
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    Re: Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    All, on Friday, at about the 955 hours mark, while Daemon was playing the Post Horn movement of Mahler's 3rd Symphony, 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
    Electronics: Rowland Daemon 1500W Superintegrated, Rowland Aeris DAC+PSU, M925 430W monos, M535 900W bridged pair, Esoteric X-01 transport
    Speakers: Vienna Die Muzik
    Cables: Cardas Clear Beyond XL PCs, Clear Reflection XLR ICs and speaker wires, Clear digital coax

  17. #17

    Re: Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    Quote Originally Posted by Pearce Harrison View Post
    Guido, I totally understand where you are coming from...trying to keep as many variables to a minimum as much as possible. That is certainly a good goal. What i am questioning is how much you are hearing is actually from the Daemon and how much is from the soft diffuse sound of the Cardas loom? While i accept the fact that you like the sound from the combo...and therefore the synergy is pleasing to your ear; I am also suggesting that in the future ( not now) that you consider replacing the Cardas loom with another cable that is far more neutral and accurate. While you say you will go up the line in the Cardas family, my point is that all you will be accomplishing is more of the same...as Cardas has a definite family resemblance in my experience regardless of what model you pick.
    So, its not what Cardas delivers( when you say it 'avoids humps, troughs, harmonic deformities, unnatural transients, acrid intermodulations, etc.) it is what it leaves behind.
    Are you at least open to the idea that this is the case?
    Why should he be? Because you and your "friend" don't like Cardas and now you are a self-proclaimed cable expert that doesn't like Cardas cables? Come out from behind the curtain DaveyF.
    Micro Seiki SX-8000 air bearing table, SME 312s arm, SME 3012R arn, Dynavector XV-1s cartridge, Lyra Etna SL cartridge, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 2 track R2R, Ampex 350 tape repros, Roon Nucleus Plus music server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6, ARC Ref 75 with KT-150s, JBL 4345 speakers, Viero Equilibro Level 3 speaker cables, and Definitive Technology Ref subs.

  18. #18
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    Re: Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    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
    Electronics: Rowland Daemon 1500W Superintegrated, Rowland Aeris DAC+PSU, M925 430W monos, M535 900W bridged pair, Esoteric X-01 transport
    Speakers: Vienna Die Muzik
    Cables: Cardas Clear Beyond XL PCs, Clear Reflection XLR ICs and speaker wires, Clear digital coax

  19. #19

    Re: Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    Why should he be? Because you and your "friend" don't like Cardas and now you are a self-proclaimed cable expert that doesn't like Cardas cables? Come out from behind the curtain DaveyF.
    Seriously, who are you??

  20. #20

    Re: Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing JRDG’s Superintegrated Statement Amplifier

    Quote Originally Posted by Pearce Harrison View Post
    Seriously, who are you??
    You can change your name. You can change your IP address. You can't change who you are.
    Micro Seiki SX-8000 air bearing table, SME 312s arm, SME 3012R arn, Dynavector XV-1s cartridge, Lyra Etna SL cartridge, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 2 track R2R, Ampex 350 tape repros, Roon Nucleus Plus music server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6, ARC Ref 75 with KT-150s, JBL 4345 speakers, Viero Equilibro Level 3 speaker cables, and Definitive Technology Ref subs.

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