Jeff Rowland Daemon – Reviewing The JRDG Superintegrated Flagship Amplifier

1. Introduction

Could a no holds barred integrated amplifier rival the performance and flexibility 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 overall sonic performance and I/O configurability?


Jeff Rowland would opine that the design and implementation of his integrated flagship have yielded a performance level and flexibility that rivals the most sophisticated stack of separates. He would point at Daemon, a $43,840 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 included High Performance (HP) phono subsystem. A Wi-Fi/Bluetooth streamer is upcoming (pending ROON certification. Daemon is also available without phono module for $42, 00.


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 each 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. They were designed by Jeff and Thomas Holm from the ground up to be statement-level performers. While the Corus linestage, and the Aeris+PSU DAC in particular, remain superb at their price points even after so many years, Daemon’s DAC and preamplifier sub-systems are said by Jeff Rowland to comfortably exceed the older separates. Similarly, the High Performance phono module was created by Holm and Rowland specifically for Daemon. While it is also plug-compatible with the older Continuum S2 integrated, HP Phono has been designed to vastly outperform the original Continuum S2 phono card.


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 delicate 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.


Cocooned by the Protective matryoshka of a triple box shipping carton, a Daemon review unit was securely braced by two generously-sized Urethane foam inserts. Gripping Daemon through the oval vents of its machined cooling fins, I lifted the factory-fresh device, 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. Cardas 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. Finally, a 20A Cardas Clear Beyond XL PC powers Daemon from its own 20A mains circuit.


The next sections cover:


2. Physical Description

3. Music And Sound – Part 1

4. Music And Sound – Part 2

5. Thoughts And Photos

6. Further Information


So, without further ado, here is:


2. Physical Description


Before we plunge into the more or less chronological narrative of my break-in adventure, here is some more information about this power-beast:


Daemon is hardly a featherweight: at 99LBS in its machined aircraft-grade Aluminum birthday-suit, the single-chassis looks and feels impressive as much as it is solid. The massive construction features the elegant signature Rowland styling and meticulous attention to detail that it shares with M925, M825, 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 allocated to accommodate all multi-layer ceramic boards, circuits, and multiple regulated SMPS power supplies for DAC subsystem, linestage, one SMPS per each power amplifier channel, as well as one each for the phono stage and for Daemon’s future streamer.


The elegant faceplate is slightly convex and subtly prismatic, measuring 1.5” at its 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 alike the remotes of Corus and Aeris.


Continuing with the front plate, below the display are three 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 hallmark of Rowland line stages for more than two decades.


Below the fascia, a quarter inch headphone output socket peeks from the 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 hand-set.


Now let us look at the connection-rich and well organized back-panel. It bristles with 27 individual connection points. These are flanked by two removable machined cover-plates: one conceals the port for the Streaming Module; the other accesses 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 all subsystems. Consistent with all Rowland products, RCA connectors are by Cardas: they are rhodium plated over copper with Teflon dielectrics. Neutrix is instead the supplier of all silver-plated XLR’s, also standard on Rowland products.  


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 transformers couple all Analog line-level XLR and RCA inputs directly to 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? 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 external amplifiers:


·       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 double pairs of output terminals:


·       1 inner horizontal pair of CARDAS output terminals

·       1 outer vertically-oriented 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. But if your headset has an eight inch jack instead, you will find a 3.5mm to quarter inch converter jack inside Daemon’s accessory box.


The High Performance Phono module can be purchased separately for $1140, and can be easily installed in a basic Daemon after removing the chassis’ top plate.


Pining for a streamer? An optional dedicated wireless streamer module is in the works. Supporting both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, It will be released pending Roon certification.


Daemon’s back plate is completed by a power inlet compatible with power cords terminated 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 Bluetooth app: after downloading the app from the Apple App Store, I quickly paired the integrated to my iPhone. Pairing is simple: turn on Bluetooth on the iOS device, launch the app, and then press the mute button on Daemon for five to ten seconds, until the app asked confirmation that I wanted to establish connection. After responding in the affirmative, an icon at the bottom of the app panel confirmed that connection was live.


Typically, the connection remains active all the while the app is running. If connection had been lost because I took the iOS device out of Bluetooth range, or I terminated the app, I simply pressed Daemon’s mute button for 5 to 30 seconds to reconnect. With the app, I control volume, mute, and input selection from anywhere in my home.


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


Coming Next:


·       3. Music And Sound – Part One


So, here is:


3. Music And Sound – Part One


Daemon's output power rating of 1500W/8 and 2500W/4 per channel exceeds a pair of M925 monoblocks by a factor slightly greater than 3. 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 and grows 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 classic component review after-the-fact. Rather, the whole thread will eventually form a diary of sorts, -- the narration of my experience with Daemon’s progressive tonal and musical evolution throughout 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 audible 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 which turns the articulate transparency of energetic transients into brittle opacity. None of which I heard.


If I were to make a mild criticism, in the earliest hours, the tonal color had assumed 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 landed the following morning. By hour 15,   the harmonic shimmer had receded. The tone underwent a couple cycles of being rather closed in and extension-limited, with little low-level information and a marginal 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 performance fluctuations to persist for a few hundred hours, until the fluctuating troughs 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 Krall’s voice sounded, ahem… Juvenile, while her virtual head size seemed to have shrunk. The English Horn thematic solo 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 distortion-prone 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 box set) 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 Krall’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 scored 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 wave that this young integrated generated on 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, not to the tentative authority of a very young integrated: growling bass trombones and French Horns in full cuivre’ were 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 in its emotional grandness, yet totally transparent and effortless, without a trace of harshness.


Coming next:


·       4. Music And Sound – Part Two


So, here is:


4. Music And Sound – Part Two


Thinking further back, for the first 24 to 48 hours of operation, the integrated felt somewhat shy of power reserve and authority. Center-stage was actually affected by a marginal image suck-out. 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 J 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 in a grand wall of sound that now evenly filled the virtual space without weak spots… 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 L Yet, I had doubts that the integrated had already unveiled the full might of its 1500W power reserve.


At about 160 hours, Daemon dipped anew 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 receded somewhat 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 expected 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.


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 its 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. The stage is vast, deep, and solid, without traces of mid-stage suck-outs. It extends from left to right comfortably beyond the 20 foot lateral boundaries of my listening space.


I am starting to think of the word "iridescence" as an apt descriptor of Daemon’s tonal signature.... 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, dense harmonic shimmer cross-spectrum, graceful evenness of frequency response from the articulate rumble of deepest bass up to the stratospheric harmonics of orchestral violins in 7th position, 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 keeps demonstrating 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 its song of musical Nirvana.


Coming up next:


·       5. Thoughts And Photos


Which means that below you will find:


5. Thoughts And Photos


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 the 1500W power-house’s superior energy efficiency, and excellent heat dissipation management.  


I am incredibly excited about what I have heard so far. I will continue to post updates to my Daemon Break-in adventure. This might eventually include separate play-tests of individual subsystems.


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


·       Daemon faceplate:


·       Daemon front panel:


·       Daemon face detail:


·       Back-panel, including upcoming streamer:


·       Streamer:


·       Input names screen:


·       Input screen:


·       iOS JRDG Remote app screen:


·       Hand-held remote hand-set:


·       Standby button detail:


Coming up next:


·       Further Information


So, last but not least, here is:



6. Further Information


Below is the link to Daemon’s homepage:


To find your local Rowland dealer, click on your region next to “distribution” on the Rowland homepage:


Once the COVIT19 pandemic ebbs, you will be able to audition Damon live at Sunny Components near Los Angeles (CA). They have a Daemon unit in stock. Give Sunil a call:


Sunil Merchant (Proprietor)

Sunny Components

West Covina


Phone: 626-966-6259

Phone 2: 626-966-2630


For complete information on the wonderful Cardas products, including Clear Beyond XL PCs and Clear Reflection signal cables, visit the Cardas home page at:


Regards, Guido


PS. Needless to say, feel free to PM me.



Post removed 

Hi Davey, while I do not miss any sonic aspects of my vinyl collection, the LPs did have a deep emotional value for me... The collection had been started by my Dad in the
1950s, and had been periodically fed by me starting the late 1960s until 1984... Lots of fon memories of my childhood and youth in it... But a household
move made me reconsider the value of keeping the heavy/bulky lot purely as a nostalgic memento... So, eventually out it went to its new loving home, in
the name of household streamlining and audiophrenic simplification.

On your other topic... Yes, Daemon’s list price is not for the faint-hearted, but neither is the cost of equivalent separates. Ideally, the choice of separates vs integration
should be one of lifestyle and personal preference, rather than be largely forced by performance limitations.

Ultimately, my philosophy is somewhat functionalist, just as Igor Stravinsky wrote in his Oxford lecture series:

 “Judge the tree by its fruit then, and do not meddle with its roots. Function justifies an organ, no matter how strange the organ may appear in the eyes
of those who are not accustomed to see it functioning”
Igor Stravinsky – Poetic Of Music [Oxford University Press, p. 49]

Thus in the end, Daemon must justify its worth for the quality of music and sound that it enables, regardless of integration or form factor, or physical appeal.

Saluti, Guido

G, So that we are clear, I am NOT questioning the pricing of the Daemon or the system that i last heard it in. IF these prices are accepted by the high end audio consumer, then I would say that these meet a market demand, if not...well that speaks for itself. My prior observation about the price of the system that i heard the Daemon in was meant as an observation that the total system cost would a) have to compete with some very outstanding systems that are available worldwide ( and I’m not saying it cannot compete ), and b) has to compete with everything that the consumer has as options for similar money. In our hobby, at least at this moment in time, I think many manufacturer’s and their distributors are still trying to ascertain wherein the maximum price point is that is not seen by consumers as too ’over the top and thus unacceptable’ it the $500K system, the $1M system, the $50M system...where??? Now whether the current pandemic and its economic fallout will have anything to do with their future thinking on this remains to be seen...IMHO.

Hi Davey, I agree completely with you. My observation that the worth of a component like Daemon must primarily justify itself in the musical beauty it enables really should extend to the entire system.

Sheer physical elegance of a component, or of an entire system, undeniably has an immediate effect on the average audiophile. Yet it should be icing-on-the-cake towards its adoption, not constitute a determining factor in favor or against. Perhaps, having lost my eyesight more than three decades ago, I have a slight audiophilic advantage, as I am unequipped to evaluate looks at a distance, and the tactile experience takes the music lover only so far... In a sense, I am a quasi-purely audio-bound audiophrene.

The matter of pricetags is even more squirrelly than that. Undeniably, an abundance of trailing 0s can be an irresistible appeal in itself for some. Whether this will persist in a post-pandemic age is impossible to predict.

As for myself, I am mostly Stravinskian in my approach to audiophrenic bliss... I persist judging trees by their fruits, and evaluating audio systems largely by their musical beauty... Admittedly with some occasional lustful side "glances" at their roots and verdent limbs... I meant, at their gleaming looks :).

Saluti, G.


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).  While this 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 to the whole of a couple of Daemons individual subsystems…


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 try first? And does anyone conjectures what audible results I might encounter?


Saluti, Guido

G, I would be more interested in the results from you feeding the DAC and the preamp into your 925's. This would likely give you the biggest increase in SQ. Simply because you are now utilizing a dedicated mono block for the amp stage. Feeding your Esoteric into the Rowland DAC and then into the Daemon's preamp..still utilizes the Daemon amp stage-- although you now presumably have a more resolving front end solution. The question is how much more resolving and how much of that is lost in the Daemon's amp stage?

Good points, Daveyf. More than likely, there will be audible differences between the two system configurations.

So, if I understand you correctly, you would prefer that I test (1) Daemon DAC+linestage into M925 monos first, and later try (2) Aeris DAC+PSU into Daemon linestage+amplifier.

The quad-box mono construction of M925 might be one of the factors influencing the performance of configuration 1....   But would it be the main one? There is usually a myriad of details that might be involved in the behavior of the whole.


All, any other suggestions and conjectures about next steps and eventual outcomes?


Saluti, Guido

G. I am suggesting trying the Daemon into the M925mono's first. Like i said before, the fact that the 925's are a mono block design should give you a nice increase in soundstage imaging and separation. That has always been my experience when I compare a stereo amp to a mono block design. Certainly true when I listen to my stereo Rowland vs. my mono block Jadis amps.

All, on Friday, around the 955 hours break-in 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

G. That's a VERY long break in time! I am always a little surprised ( that's the only word that comes to mind that I think isn't derogatory) when a component takes hundreds ( thousands??) of hours to 'break in'. I can understand if a component takes several hours to break in ( maybe even up to 50-100??) but hundreds...or more!!! Yikes!

Hello DaveyF, admittedly I am tediously patient and rather annoyingly unflappable:)

M925 took 1500 hours to stabilize... Aeris DAC about 2200, PSU about 70 only, and M535 about 800...

It really depends.

According to Jeff himself, the major responsible for slow break-in are the input transformers.

High end audio electronics is not as bad as string musical instruments... What makes me scratch my head is why a quality new cello should take several years to break in... There are certainly no coupling transformers inside a cello *Grins!*


As usual, patience is the name of the game.

Saluti, G.

G, I was talking about this very aspect ( lengthy break in times) with my tech. He is a big believer in Teflon caps, which he tells me take on average about 500-600 hrs to break in. I have never felt that it was the consumers job to break in audio gear, albeit most audio manufacturers see no problem in evidenced by your Daemon findings. Personally, I feel that if a piece of gear needs much more than 100 hours of break in before it shows its best, then there is something that isn’t quite right going on, and that the manufacturer should be addressing this in production. IMHO.

Hi DaveyF, no manufacturing flaws at the Rowland factory, nor at the manufacturing facilities of any other high end brands, on the contrary! In my admittedly modest experience, I found that most components require long exercise of their function to yield their full capability and magic… Just like high end acoustic string instruments, they are “living” works of art, rather than static ones, such as paintings, sculptures, or books, which are largely frozen in time once completed.

While there are audio lovers who feel ecstatically happy and artistically fulfilled with the performance of a device fresh out of the factory, or after a set time of 20, 50, or 100 hours on it, or even 500 hours, for me witnessing the musical evolution of a new component is an open-ended joyful labor of love. It is actually a wonderful experience when believing that the device has finally reached its zenith, I suddenly discover that it has even more to give.

Yes, it’s somewhat like the much delayed reward of acquiring a brand new high-end cello or violin, and gradually bringing out its complex luminosity by playing it day after day, week after week, month after month, and even year after year. For a bowed string instrument there is no set time for it to reach its full performance potential… It depends on a myriad of factors, mostly imponderable. And like audio components, a new fiddle or cello might experience cycles of dullness or cycles of hardness on its way to musical maturity. I remember an interview with a British violin players years ago, when he opined that his grandchild would probably be the first one to experience the full glow of his new instrument, a couple decades down the road.

The good news for the slightly audiophilically anxious is that unlike so many brand new components, Daemon does already make very charming music after only a few hours of operation. On the other hand, I do appreciate your discomfort with the seemingly open-ended diaristic timeframe of my little project. Perhaps our audiophrenia is on two subtly different paths?

Saluti, Guido

G. As an ex pro musician, I don't really agree with your analogy between musical instruments and our hi-fi gear. Without doubt a great instrument 'matures' over time, I have experienced this on many occasions myself. OTOH, said  instrument does NOT start out as an inferior piece from the beginning. However, there is really no time in the best instruments life that it doesn't portray a great sound, it just gets better with age. Now in our audio hobby, we have numerous examples of gear that sounds poor to start with and tends to get better with 'break in'. My point above is that I think that 'break in' shouldn't have to be foisted on the consumer to begin with, IOW as a 'Beta' tester. To be clear, I am in NO way saying or implying that Jeff's gear leaves his factory with any manufacturing flaws! ( that is something that you incorrectly attributed to my post). I am saying that apparently there is some of his gear ( like many others in the industry) that leaves his factory requiring the consumer to 'break in' his piece before it can be fully enjoyed and show off its true merits. VERY different thing than what you wrote!

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Hello DaveyF, I really feel for your deeply felt audio-lover's Angst.
My bad, I interpreted your "... then there is something that isn’t quite right going on, and that the manufacturer should be addressing this in production.
" to mean "manufacturing flaw".
There are at least a few fieldable solutions to your concerns, any of which I hope will induce you to put the issue to rest on this particular thread:
* Contact any affected manufacturers directly, and voice your concerns to their engineering teams, with any suggestions on how to correct the quality gap
in their production process.
* One particular manufacturer of extremely high end audio equipment probably suffers of no prolonged break-in issues. The US importer once assured me that
their components sound marvellous and perfect right off the factory floor, and that no break-in at all was warranted for their products. I'll be happy
to provide you that name in private... Send me a PM if you were interested.
* Create a dedicated thread on Audiogon, so we can meet there to ponder this admittedly weighty matter.
Hope we can now agree to circle back, and return this little Daemonish audio watering hole to its primary subject.
Regards, G.

G, I get that you want me to buzz off this third, LOL. So, with that said, i have created a thread, like you suggested, that does discuss the issue of incredibly long 'break-in' time...and why i don't think that is something that should be at the consumers' expense..

Excellent, DaveyF... I'll look for your new thread.

Meantime, by mid next week at the latest, I'll post some new observations on Daemon right here.

Saluti, Guido


In preparation for the next eval phase, I took down the system today at the 1135 hours mark. Seems evolution tapered off asymptotically between 950 and 1000 hours.


I re-configured it 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.


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 to let X-01 share dedicated AC circuit 2 with Daemon instead, and/or to plug X-01 into the default multi-outlet 15A circuit of the listening space, which is currently unused.


Saluti, Guido

G. Very interested in your results once you are up and running again. Questions..shouldn’t you plug the 925’s into one AC circuit, either AC circuit 1 or AC circuit 3...and not one amp into a separate circuit, like you contemplate?
Are the circuits dedicated 20 amp or above- or are they 15 amp?

Hello DaveyF, Interesting idea...

Dedicated circuits 1, 2, and 3 are all 20A. Additional multi-outlet circuit 4 is 15A instead.


In general, it is suggested when possible to run monoblocks on separate circuits to minimize any stray cross-channel interference. My additional rationale for the current AC configuration is as follows... while M925 is rated at 450W/8 per channel, the power supply of each chassis has the potential of drawing bursts of up to 2400W from the wall outlet. With these premises, there is an outside chance that feeding both chassis from the same outlet might overload the single dedicated AC circuit. As such, since I took delivery of M925 in 2013, I have been always running the monos on separate dedicated 20A circuits.

On the other hand, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts behind the suggestion of powering the two monos from the same AC pool.

Meantime, the weather has improved markedly... So, my sysstem has been up and running again for the last 28 hours with X-01 into Daemon DAC+linestage, into M925, into Die Muzik... I will post some preliminary observations before EOD.

Saluti, Guido

G. I run my mono blocks off the same circuit. Admittedly they do not pull that much current off the wall. However, I was initially not doing this and was running them like you suggest. I found that I was getting more noise this way, and was told in a thread on another forum that the reason is that I was getting stray cross-channel interference...exactly the opposite of what you state. Apparently if there is any misbalance between the circuits, not only can a ground loop develop, but also noise can interfere. Jeff grounds his amps well, so that probably isn't a problem with your 925's...OTOH, you won't know this 100% until you try. 
I would have thought that if you have a 20amp circuit that should suffice for the 925's. So long as you do not have anything else on it.

All, I am still doing some testing with minor variants of the current config: X-01 into Daemon DAC + linestage, into M925, into Die Muzik speakers... I will be posting my observation tomorrow instead of tonight.



Grazie Signor M-DB, questo mio progetto Daemon sta rivelando risultati veramente affascinanti!


English translation – Thank you Mr. M-DB, this Daemon project of mine is producing truly fascinating results]


Saluti, Guido


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Hi Guido, we haven’t heard any news on your Daemon testing since April. Saluti

Hello Juan, happy to see you on my little watering-hole :) ... You are right, it has been a spell since I posted an update to my Daemon project. A number of stressers of a global and a personal nature -- totally unrelated to the world of audio -- have contributed to distract me. I will resume before long with a summary of my experiences driving the M925 monos from Daemon’s line stage subsystem.

Stay tuned, Guido

PS. In case anyone asked... I am fine... Did not catch COVIT.

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Hello A1UC, it was indeed fab chatting with you about Rowland Daemon!


I have since checked with the Rowland factory. I was told that Albert at Precision AV in Chicago should have the amazing Daemon in stock for you by mid or late next week.


Note that the device is likely to need some break-in... So I expect that it might still undergo audible evolution.


In case others would like to reach Albert and listen to the Daemon superintegrated, or to the Rowland M735 monos (also in stock), here is how to contact Albert:


Albert Sportis

Precision AV





Saluti, Guido



I really appreciate all the info in this thread.  I’m learning a lot, and have a question.  Hope this isn’t an inappropriate question for this forum. 
I have a Rowland Capri S2 running into  JLAudio CR-1 crossover, and from there into a pair of Rowland 301 second series mono blocks with Class D 600 wpc @ 8 ohms, 1200 wpc @ 4 ohms, and 2 JLAuddio Fathom F112 subs. The Rowland 301s drive only the Avalon Isis speakers. All Nordost V2 cabling except speaker cables are Synergistic Research.  Front end is dCS Bartok headphone DAC. 
Here is my question. Recently I’ve been auditioning a Shunyata Denali power conditioner and some demo Shunyata Sigma and Alpha NC power cords into DAC and Preamp.  I can hear a small improvement but not enough (to me) for the cost.   So I started wondering whether the Rowland amps (and Pre-amp) being 7 - 8 year old Class D, might be a weak link that lessened the improvement of the Shunyata gear that I’d anticipated.  
So now I’m wondering whether to try more recent Rowland amp and Pre-amp, or try another brand such as Pass or Spectral with sufficient power (250-300 or more at 8 ohms). Or just leave things alone (Certainly the most economical decision!) and not expect a power conditioner and power cords to be a significant improvement.  Opinions?

PS- by the way, about heat, and the effect of heat sinks on Class D Amps. . The 301s run barely warm. I have two Rowland M125s in my home theater system that are also Class D but much smaller heat sinks, and they run much warmer. 

Hello @lwilkins44, your question is very interesting and somewhat complex because of the relatively large number of variables involved. A reasonable treatment bears a dedicated discussion, which would exceed the scope of this thread.


Some of the variables are the M301 amps themselves and their vintage, the speaker wires, the optimization of PCs for the Capri S2 (it draws merely a constant 6W in class A), and of course your listening preferences and preferred music genres.


How about we take the discussion of your system offline so we can conjecture and ferret out some possible approaches.

Send me a PM and we can take it from there.


Best regards, Guido

PS. No, I am not a dealer... Only an enthusiast.

Guido and other who are experienced with the Daemon, any news on the comparison with the subsystems of the Deamon with/against other separates? Maybe DAC against Aeris+PSU, amp section against 925 or 735? Any long time experiences after 10 months?
Thanks, Balazs

All, I realize that a very significant time has elapsed since my last Daemon update. Today, I would like to share with you my experiences using Daemon as a DAC+line-stage front end to the M925 monoblock amplifiers.


Just for starters, in case you asked, my quick answer is yes, I still love Daemon very much, and am particularly in awe of it when I deploy it in its most integrated configuration – That is Daemon serving as DAC+linestage+power amplifier. Admittedly, I have also enjoyed the graceful result of using Daemon as a DAC+line-stage front-end feeding my Rowland M925 monoblocks, although, I still comfortably prefer the pure Daemon configuration.


I conjecture that my current analog ICs, the Cardas Reflection XLRs, which feed Daemon into M925, being below the top-of-the-line Cardas Clear Beyond series, may be subtly shading the ultimate potential of the Daemon+M925 combination.


I tested at length the following system sub-configurations using Daemon as a front end to M925:


• Sub-configuration A – Esoteric X-01 used as transport shares a single 20A AC power circuit and outlet with the right-side M925 monoblock, and are plugged into the rightmost dedicated 20A outlet. The left side M925 is plugged into the left-most dedicated 20A circuit. Daemon is served by the middle 20A dedicated circuit. All devices are powered with Cardas Clear Beyond XL power cords. A pair of Cardas Reflection XLR ICs feed Daemon line level output into M925.

• Sub-configuration B – Esoteric X-01 used as transport is served by the right-most 20A AC circuit. Both M925 monoblocks are plugged into the left-most dedicated 20A circuit. Daemon is served on its own by the middle 20A dedicated circuit. All devices are powered with Cardas Clear Beyond XL power cords. A pair of Cardas Reflection XLR ICs feed Daemon line level output into M925.


Sub-configuration A is delightfully warm, if perhaps subtly euphonically so. I detected no perceivable treble intermodulation, as potentially difficult passages revealing of treble complexity remain sweet and grain-free and wonderfully devoid of any harshness. The configuration however seems marginally frequency band-limited at both end of the spectrum, with a subtle hump in the mid bass. Stage is slightly smaller than sub-configuration B below, and dynamics are subtly softer by comparison.


By Contrast, sub-configuration B yields broader and more muscular macro-dynamics, while micro-dynamics are more revealed. B yields a more extended and linear bandwidth, as well as micro-detail with finer granularity, which is evident in the soughing sound of breathing of performers, and their unwitting sub-vocalizations -- which audio engineers have not been able to remove from the recordings. In Sub-configuration B, Images are more concrete; I perceive the virtual stage to be laterally broader and slightly deeper; it manifests enhanced layering of instrumental images. As in sub-configuration A, potentially challenging passages remain free of artificially harsh

artifacts. Overall, I comfortably prefer configuration B over A.


However, whenever M925 is inserted in the signal path, I still perceive a qualitative gap in the sonic and musical experience, compared to the sheer emotional magic created when Daemon is deployed as a full integrated with all its subsystems (DAC, linestage, and amplification) engaged in the signal path. Here, I hear a superiority of staging in the three dimensions, imaging

concreteness, palpability of the virtual venue, grace of harmonic delivery, absolute ease of macro and micro transients, layering of the presentation,

sense of the living silence between the notes. There exists a depth and presence of the deepest bass without it ever seeming overwhelming. The solo Daemon projects a sheer enveloping overall grandness, and intensity of the musical experience, which neither M925-based sub-configurations A or B have achieved. Perhaps the words that define Daemon’s fully integrated/solo performance are: a grand luminous and enveloping profundity.


The massive 1500W per channel of Daemon’s amplified power are likely responsible for its comfortable advantage in Sheer presentation scale, depth/profundity of bass, and effortless authority. Conversely, Daemons exceptional DAC and linestage subsystems are driving the devices superior image layering, resolving power, sense of living space between the notes, and that absolutely mesmerizing emotional impact that I never encountered until Daemon graced my system.


Best regards, Guido