Jeff Rowland Model 1

Came across this little beauty at a used stereo store. Should I pick it up? I am on a strict budget just starting a new system. The seller wants 900 bucks. Any thoughts on this amp?


Good little amp get it, what Rowland was good at "linear amps", can "almost" do the wattage doubling act into each halving of impedance loading (below), would have to be BJT (bi-polar) output stage as complimentary Mosfets couldn’t do these figures.

Should be able to drive "hard to drive speakers" that aren’t too inefficient, like many of the mid/large sized Wilson or Martin Logans with their 1ohm loading or Maggies I noticed you talking about in other threads

Tested at
84W into 8 ohms
140W into 4 ohms
220W into 2 ohms.

Cheers George
I had one ( used it with a Rowland pre).. a little soft in the thighs.  I recommend using the balanced option.  Sounds like a good  find.
Get it if your speakers or system is already on the cool side.
The Model 1 and 2 are fantastic. They are a little on the warm sound side of the spectrum. I owned a Model 2 I still regret selling.

The "on" light on the button of these units tends to fail given their age. The parts should still be available from JRD and most qualified techs should be able to replace it easily enough.
Here is another perspective...Although it was a great amp in it’s day ( well built, single ended and balanced, switchable input impedance, bridge capability, ran the driver stage continuously, unless the rear power switch was off, during a vacation period, dc coupled, etc. ) and yes, on the warm side of things ( in fact, I thought it to be dark sounding ), it is almost 30 years old, and I feel, with the new generation of amplifiers, it is worth getting, if, Jeff Rowland, or someone with a good technical background, can do a complete rebuild, which will not be cheap. And I say, why bother. My Krell KSA 50 was so much better, to me......which sold, new, for less than the model 1. I have thought many amplifiers, by Aragon, McCormack, Pass designs, and several others, more recent and for less money, bettered it. My belief, is amplifiers should be purchased to match the speakers it will be driving, and I am into " easily driven " speakers, not needing an amplifier to " double down " as georgie states. I recently went through my closest ( s ) during the last 3 years, and sold the majority of my collection, for a few reasons. Most of them, although excellent, sounded dark, and lacked detail, compared to some newer, more recent designs. 2nd, I am, although an amplifier junkie, feel, Class D will be the way of the future...OH O, georgie is here.....just some things to think about. So I, you asked...the decision is of course, yours.......please, no hard feelings, to you, or anyone posting here. Enjoy ! MrD.
My belief, is amplifiers should be purchased to match the speakers it will be driving, and I am into " easily driven " speakers, not needing an amplifier to " double down " as georgie states.

Like I said Great amp, and my reason for saying it also, is that the OP hasn’t stated which speaker yet. He’s listen to ML esl’s which are a min 1ohm, this amp will handle it.
And this amp is that can drive anything he decides to get, now or in the future,
The OP can get any speaker with it and it will be happy diving them because of these figures. Tested at
84W into 8 ohms
140W into 4 ohms
220W into 2 ohms.

Cheers George
George, I am with you, not questioning you at all...Following the few posts by the OP, it appears he owns Maggies. A friend of his has ML, and purchased a Model 1.......The OP does not like mosfets either, including Pass......Opinions vary, experiences vary, likes and dislikes in this hobby vary. George, you are one of my favorite people here on the " Gon......all good, my friend....Always, and Enjoy ! MrD.
My thinking is amplifier design had reached maturity by the turn of the century and that any high end amp even if its 30 years old will stand up to anything today as long as it is serviced( new caps etc. Do you guys think anything new out there at 900 bucks can beat this little Rowland Model 1 or any other used amp out there for same price. I called and talked to Jeff himself and he said he will service it for 500 bucks. So is there any new amp out there for 1500  new that will compete? Again I am on a strict budget. 
Plenty of used amps for $1500 that will compete.  Like already stated, good little amp, warm and musical, no game changer.  $900 is the max for a great condition one.  The amp uses modules so if it breaks a local tech cannot repair it.  An old HK Citation 16 to my ears is a much better amp in direct comparison but the JR will be a little sweeter in the mids.

Happy Listening.
Lot of folks, myself included, believe that Jeff's amps from that era are superior to a number of his later class D designs. To that, at the price point you are looking at, and with a service from Jeff, I think it would be next to impossible to buy something new that would better this amp.
Lot of people will naysay the idea, I doubt any of them have actually owned or lived with a model 1. As an owner of a model 8T that Jeff modded for me, I can tell you that it easily competes with a number of other ss amps from today that are not built anywhere near as solid, or sound anywhere near as resolved or transparent. The current crop of ss amps are also many multiples in price of Jeff's 'Golden era' amps.
HK Citation 16....LOL, not in the same league at all as the model 1, IME.
This little amp is a Jewel. Just the way is looks. Thick front faceplate, rounded heatsinks, compact. On the inside, everything is shielded and very clean. You can tell this guy LOVES building amplifiers just by how it is constructed. I have heard the Model 2,6 and 8 are his best amps ever and are considered some of the best of all time. His class D gaining respect but I am old school when it comes to amp design. Colorado putting out some INSANE audio equipment. Jeff Rowland, PS AUDIO, AYRE, BOULDER, WILSON, AVALON, ETC

@daveyf - my opinion is different versus the HK.  I own them now along with many other vintage amps such as the HK XXs which are a level above many current SS amps today.  While the JR was musical if it has issues a local tech would need to buy the modules to get it repaired.  How do I know this?  I repair all audio components besides manufacturing my own line of components.  Your opinion matters also but my experience is simply different.  Does not mean I don't think it is a good little amp, it is.  I know the JR goes for $900 used but I usually find vintage gear at estate sales for a lot less.

Happy Listening

There is a authorized MAC repair shop where I live with TONS of vintage used stuff for sale. I have seen a few HARMON KARDON amps there. I will check them out. They are a lot less money than the ROWLAND and maybe sound as good. 


Here is another person who buys and sells vintage gear that I emailed today to ask the same question:

Hard to remember I sold both of them a year or two ago. Got $1000 for the Rowland, $750 for the H/K.  The Rowland wins hands down in looks. It also may have a little bigger soundstage but difficult to work on and repair.  The HK was tough to beat for overall bass and musicality.  Also easier to upgrade and work on.

I hope this is helpful.

@bigkidz  There is something else that perhaps you are missing. With the JR if there is a problem, all one has to do is to send the amp back to the factory and it can be repaired. ( many times also upgraded). I had a small issue with my model 8, so I returned it to the factory and Jeff himself worked on the amp ( and did several updates and mods). Can you say the same thing about an old HK amp? There you are at the mercy of your local tech...need I say more! 


The HK circuit can be worked on by anyone with an electronics background.  The JR needs the modules.  When I sent mine back, it came back to me as non-working and I had to send it back again.  I have no skin in this game other then my own experience.  I have personally met JR and he is a nice guy.  To me both amps are great for the used prices. I can upgrade the HK easier that the JR but that is just me, the OP may do what ever he feels he wants to do as all of this is just the opinion of each of us and I don't think he can go wrong either way.  Happy Listening.

I think some vintage gear sounds fantastic still even among the newer stuff out there in similar price ranges. I also think looks is something that effects our ownership when we have it. Not needed but it does effect it. 
Now I have had the Rowland model 1. I have been around a lot of Rowland stuff. It isn't bullit proof but close.  In amps the model 5 is my favorite all around, recongnizing it is a little soft but that can be dealt with pretty easy.
It depends on your system, but a couple of amps that were a good but a little different sounding to me were the sumo polaris solid state and the muse solid state amps. Both can be worked on by most capable tech's. And personally the sumo is so very good sounding to me I liked it better than the model 1 and most anything else in it's time for the price and well above it's price.   I liked the ARC classic 60 and 30 better in some ways though back then. But I was trying to stay away from tubes. And bettingeraudiodesign can still keep the sumo stuff going if needed.

Ahhh Sumo. Back in the day I had a pair of Vandersteen 2ci's powered by a B&K ST 202 plus. I brought home a Sumo andromeda to compare. The Sumo ( pun intended) crushed the B&K. It really tightened up that rear firing acoustic coupler in the Model 2. A little grainy but very powerful and amazing bass. The Polaris was the step down less powerful but probably a great amp as well. 
Correct. The Polaris was a 100watt into 8ohms and I think 170 into 4 ohms. They made three versions, the first was my favorite. It was a Rich May design (mosfets).  I did not care for the next two versions. The Andromeda about twice as powerful and was a Jim Borgianno design (bi-polars). The Polaris was noticably less grainy. In fact I detected no grain, maybe a slight mosfet mist but not even sure about that. It had a seduction to me. It had body like the B & K but had real snap. To me it was like a class A/B Threshold but with real body, meat on the bones. 
It's that MOSFET MIST I cannot stand plus MOSFETS are weak in the bass department. That's why I liked the ANDROMEDA. It slammed like a Krell. Who cares about grain. Unless you are running OTL tubes your gonna get it ON ANY SOLID STATE. MOSFETS are for car stereo. Lol
Wow....MOSFETS are for car stereo ? Really ? Mosfet mist ? Weak in the bass department ? A well designed mosfet amp, as I own many, do a very good job, at doing what I expect them to do, and would take any of them, over the Rowland Model 1. But, go buy, and enjoy, that amp, with much happy listening. YMMV, is the best, I can say.......MrD.
Yeah, made famous by ROCKFORD FOSGATE. CAR STEREO. Listen to some dance, rock, electronic with MOSFETS compared to BP . Krell, Mark Levinson the last time I checked aren't using MOSFETS
Really ? Mosfet mist ? Weak in the bass department ?
Don;’t know about the "mist" remark Mr D.

But yes for the same given complimentary pairs of Mosfets v (BJT) Bi-Polar,(both with great power supplies) the BJT output stage amp will deliver much more current (doubling down to 2ohms) into low impedance’s than Mosfets can hope to.
This is why you’ll see the reputation for best amps in the world that can drive evil loads that many of the great speakers have, are BJT amps.

Cheers George
George, as usual, you are talking about drive capability (specs ), into extreme low impedance loads. ( 1 ) I would never own a speaker such as that ( 2 ) There are many fine mosfet designs out there ( 3 ) You obviously feel tube amps are not very good, because they, too, cannot handle the extreme low impedance loads ( 4 ) jeffvegas is your new best friend ( 5 ) Amps using either bipolars or mosfets, can sound wonderful ( 6 ) Mosfets need to be driven differently than bipolars ( at least, this is my understanding ). Not every designer knows how to work with mosfets ( 7 ) Mosfet designs sound closer to tubes, which is a good thing, to many ( 8 ) As I each his own....ymmv... .Enjoy ! MrD.

Having been repairing Counterpoint hybrid power amps that used MOSFETS and converting them to bi-polar transistors, my experience finds the MOSFETS are very musical but do not measure up in dynamics, clarity and frequency extension compared to the same amps I rebuild with Mosfets.  Same goes for the Class A amps I build.  BUT it does come down t the design and implementation.

Happy Listening.

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Kudos bigkidz, my experience also, you need dynamics for reality, you need frequency extension for the full picture, this is where BJT’s shine.
This is not just me, but there are many quotes on line from lecturers on the subject. here is just one
" BJTs tend to have better, more linear gain characteristics…and can give you a lot higher voltage gain than MOSFETs.…They’re also able to handle higher output currents…and have a lower output impedance.…That gives BJTs a huge advantage over MOSFETs…for building amplifier circuits…that need to provide a significant amount of output power…and or drive loads that have low input impedance.…MOSFETs are going to have a harder time…driving a low impedance load…because they have a higher output impedance.…"

Yes and before anyone says it, you can make Mosfets lower in output impedance, just put a **** load of feedback around them and they’ll equal a BJT then, but we all know too much feedback sounds like c**p.

Cheers George