Experiencing Rowland M925 4-chassis reference amps

My pair (or should I call it my quartet?!) of the new SS Rowland M925 reference mono amps were finally delivered yesterday.... Needless to say, I am excited!

The 430W M925 monoblock amplifier is a hefty affair: The amp is formed by four chassis: two power supply chassis and two audio chassis, amounting to a total weight of 380 Lbs in the four boxes, and 320 Lbs in their birthday suits. Each chassis is double boxed, protected by heavy urethane foam inserts, and then bagged in a heavy cloth sleeve tied with a drawstring.

Each power supply box also contains an accessory carton, featuring a power cord terminated at one end with a 20A IEC connector, a heavy ombilical to carry DC current to the audio chassis, and a skinnier ombelical, which I conjecture carries control signals and may have an additional grounding line. A baggie contains 3 1-inch spherical delrin footers that can be screwed into the divets at the bottom of the SMPS chassis if if you do not use 3rd party spikes/footers. A smaller baggie contains 4 smaller delrin beads... They fit into the dimples milled into the top of each the power supply chassis, and are used to keep top and lower chassy from touching when the two are stacked.

I am using Nordost Titanium Sort Kones instead of factory-provided footers. Each power supply chassis stands on top of 3 divet-centered Kones. The whole thing sits on top of 1.5 inch thick granite slabs, which have been patiently waiting in place for the M925 amps since 2011.

The audio chassis are even heavier... They will get into place in the next few days, one way or another. Rowland recommends the stacking be a two-person job.

In order to break-in both output terminal in each unit, I will connect each amp to my Vienna Die Muzik with a form of shotgun wiring: Aural Symphonics Chrono and Cardas Golden Ref for the time being. The Aural Symphonics speaker wire connects to the single 5-way binding post of the Muzik speaker with bananas; the Cardas Golden Ref connects to the same posts with spades... I have already tested the configuration using other mono amps... Works flawlessly. Of course, I have no idea if M925s benefit from shotgun wiring... This will be part of the discovery fun!

The amps will be fed by the Criterion linestage through Aural Symphonics Chrono B2 XLR ICs.

Power cords will be Aural Symphonics Magic Gem and Ultra Cube XXV, plugged into a dedicated 20A circuit served by Furutech outlets.

According to Jeff Rowland, breaking may be excruciatingly long, because of the oversized input transformers and power supply. I suspect that the process may extend well into the summer months... I will log my periodic observations on this thread.

For sake of completion, here are the amps specs as far as I know them:

Monoblock Power Amplifier OUTPUT POWER: 430 watts @ 8 ohms/850 watts @ 4 ohms
Monoblock Power supply: 2400 W regulated DC SMPS per channel, with Active Power Factor Correction (PFC).
THD + NOISE: 0.004%, 20 Hz- 20 kHz
OVERALL GAIN: Switchable 26/32 dB
Combined AMPLIFIER chassis & POWER SUPPLY chassis WEIGHT: 160.4 lb / 73 kg (per channel)
TOTAL DIMENSIONS (H/W/D): 16.5" x 15.5" x 16.25" (per channel) 419mm x 394mm x 413mm

Saluti, Guido

Congratulations. I know you've been looking forward to their arrival for a while. I saw a photo of the 925 amps at the 2012 Hong Kong audio show that I think were prototypes, and they were gold colored. Are yours the same or are they housed in the traditional polished aluminum cases? Either way would look very cool.

Also, are these a similar class A/B design to the 625 amps in that they tend to bias more into class A as they warm up?

Since you live in the warm climate of Houston, I would've thought you'd give serious consideration to buying a pair of high-end class D monoblocks that run almost cool. Two large amps, putting out 850 watts@4ohms and heavily biased into class A, will likely produce copious amounts of heat.

Did you consider any other amps, especially the Merrill Audio Veritas or Mola-Molas?

I'm looking forward to hearing your impressions on these very interesting amps. I'd also like to learn your thoughts on how the 925 amps compare to the other high-end amps on the market that you've heard. But I do realize that it'll probably take a few months for your new amps to break-in and reach their optimal sq.

Enjoy your new amps,
Hi Tim, my amps are not gold color... Front and top are silver, while the side panels with their cooling vents are black.

As you know, I have become a fan of amps that are on the lighter side... So, currently, my only complaint is that M925 chassis are total bears to lift, particularly the audio units... On the other hand, I fully knew what I was getting into, so my gripe is pointless, sterile, and moot to boot *grins!*

Actually I live in Austin rather than in Houston.... Although,the State capital is not much cooler than its South Eastern neighbour. The good news is that I have heard that M925 may run comfortably cooler than M625 and M725, so I hope to be able to break them in throughout the summer months without turning my loft into a Sweedish sauna... We'll see!

Needless to say, I still remain intrigued to no end about the musical potential of new technology amps, including Veritas and Mola-Mola.

Saluti, Guido
This is so reminiscent of the introduction of the Model 9's so many years ago, with a choice of battery or A/C power supply boxes. The mere thought of having a pair of those huge amplifiers with the adjoining connections was enough to make most people (with the $35,000 in cash of course) wish they had a much bigger room to place them in. If i couldn't get my mind around what those might have sounded like in their last and best iteration, now i have an even greater disconnect with the sonic envelope the 925's can produce. And to have to wait for months for them to reach their full potential is just crazy- just put on the 1812 Overture for a couple of days straight! Just kidding of course, but i would hope they would sound quite good after a long weekend playing music "regardless" . At any rate, i am very happy for you and you should have a great time with them.
Hi David, thankfully no batteries of any kind on M925s, nor is it likely there to be a batteries-based supply in their future... The only option for each power supply chassis is a 2400W regulated SMPS fed by a PFC-based rectifier.

forgive me for being so ill-informed, but i still don't know what power-factor-correction IS, and what the benefits of having it ARE. How does it differ from schemes used in past amplifiers to "purify" the incoming electrical source?
Hi David, I do not pretend to be an expert on active PFC, so I am sending you to the Rowland Knowledge base for a few articles on the subject. Strictly speaking the articles deal with the PC-1 external rectifier... But its operating principles apply also to the internal PFC modules used in a number of Rowland amps driven by SMPS, including M625, M725, M825, and M925.


The interesting thing is that PFC rectification is compatible with external power conditioners, provided the conditioner is not power limiting.... I have used the now withdrawn Rowland M312 amp -- which is equipped with an internal PFC module, plugged into a Shunyata Triton, and results were marvellous.
This afternoon the M925s yielded "first sound". Even more than encouraging, it was a bit of an OMG experience.

I managed to connect M925 without breaking anything and without shorts...
I was expecting the usual shrieky time, but... M925 is so musically revealing after 30 minutes of playing that it is spooky... By the way, this has been the First time that my better half has made unbidden positive comments on a component right out of the box... Less than 10 minutes into playing time actually.

What’s astonishing is that, factoring in very minor early oddities, M925 already convey a grandness, poetry, and realism that I have never heard from my own system.

I fully expect for musical beauty and detail to wax and wain for quite a spell, but for the time being, the cadenza in the introduction to the Dvorak string sextet with double bass Op. 48, is almost free of artifacts, which is something I have not yet experienced with a brand new amp.

Likewise, my other test piece by Antonin Dvorak "In the Old Castle", played by Inna Poroscina on what is likely a Bosendorfer Imperial grand, is already showing signs of pedal and felt sounds, which is quite unusual on a brand new amp.

But perhaps the most encouraging sign is that I felt just like sinking into my couch and immerse myself into the music... Will this last? We will see as the break-in enfolds!

At 20 hours, the stage has a nice depth to it.... In addition, resolution is intriguing. Yes, I am discovering some of my CDs anew... if sometimes in unusual ways: I have a set of Bach Well Tempered Klavier played on harpsichord; and I had never realized that there some cute errors in the performance... Not wrong notes per se, but errors in timing between the two hands, and some rhythmic imperfections. Until M925, such minutiae were blended into the background.

I had a little "excitement" yesterday: I had a friend over to help me with the chassis stacking operation... Yes, it is a breeze with two people. However, when I powered up the right amp, the right speaker started to emit a bizarre multi-frequency burr, as if I had a mad cicada in rut inside the coaxial flat driver... And no music signal could be heard at all from that side... Disconnected and reconnected the whole amp to no avail.... The factory assured me that I must have done something wrong with my connections. True enough: I eventually discovered that the source selector switch was inadvertently flipped upward to RCA mode. Flipped the switch back to XLR balanced and reconnected... The amp started to work again without further ado.

But with hour 21, the amps have decided it is high time to go into a bit of break-in funk. Image is more recessed and has lost some airiness. The voice of Mezzo-soprano D'Althan in Exulta Filia by Claudio Monteverdy has developed a bit of a steely burr on the sostenuti at end of phrases, where the incompetent recording engineer is fooling around with artificial reverb to enhance the echo of the small church used as recording venue.

Now I have inserted a tuner into the system, so to exercise the amps 24/7... Nighttime the amps will be served a diet of FM interstation hash.... Extremely healthy and highly decongesting!

At about 100 hours of operations, and an additional 45 hours on standby with the linestage feeding FM hash from the tuner into the M925's input transformers, here is a very brief update

Thankfully the rather jarring steeliness in the resonance notes that I earlier reported on the young mezzo soprano Tania D’Althann in Monteverdi’s Exulta Filia Sion (Girlande Sacre, Ghirlande Profane Arts Music redbook) has been already reabsorbed by about 75%... She does sound significantly more natural than a few days ago. The other side of the coin is that minor blemishes in her intonation, breathing, and rythmic technique, which I had not noticed with my previous amps, are gradually coming to light with M925's low level resolution.

(Just kidding around), but at FIRST you expressed concern that voices sounded steely while the amps were breaking in, and NOW your concern is that due to the improvement in transparency that the amps produce, voices sound flawed due to the limitations of the singer(s). Perhaps a downgrade in the future would be something to consider if this becomes increasingly bothersome...
Hahaha David... You may have a point! To put things into perspective, we are talking here about a very young Tania D'Althann, probably in her late teens or early twenties, on a work with melodic embelishments which are devilishly difficult to render with precision... I do not fault D'Althann for the minor issues... Nor of course the M925 for evidencing them. My only beef is with the recording engineer who took undue liberties with his console, and monkeied around with the reverb pot, just to enhance what D'althann was already masterful on her very own.

If I remember correctly, the CD is copyrighted 1982, but might have been recorded as early as 1978, perhaps a time where recording engineering flights of fancy would be masked by most sound reproduction equipment.

It is interesting that the engineer appears to have lavished his disruptive attentions on D'Althann, because the voice of countertenor Giuseppe Zambon, who uses the same approximate voice range for his selections, is unaffected, and always sounds completely natural.

On a happier note, at approximately 120 hours, the sweetening of the residual steeliness is detectable only in traces, while the singer's image has continued to solidify.

Saluti, G.

i have a related problem with my system, in that very beautifully-recorded cd's (like some Pentatone sacds, Channel Classics, and some others) put an alarming number of OTHER cds, both redbook AND hi-rez, in a very distant 2nd category of sound quality. This dichotomy of "very good" versus "eh" recorded music must not guide my hand as i decide what pieces i want to listen to, and yet- clearly there are a great deal of better recordings being produced today. You just have to be extremely picky when filling your shopping "cart".
It can make the difference between 6/10 sound and 9/10 music.
At 150 hours of operation plus 50 hours on low level standby – The undue ringing (I cannot call it steeliness any longer) is barely detectable on a couple
of notes only…. E.g. The closing note of the motet…. Images are continuing the fleshing-out process, and traces of acoustics from the recording venue (a
small Church in Venice( is starting to emerge. The portatif organ used for accompaniment is impressively crisp and deep…. The overall effect is starting
to be musically immersive and “rather wonderful” (quoted words of my better half, who tends to be merciless when commenting about the sound of my system).

On an non auditory matter, the amps take 12 to 24 hours to stabilize thermically, and so become warm to the touch…. During hot days they feel rather
toasty, if not as much as M725 or M625. Temperature seems completely uniform on each chassis... But power supply chassis are noticeably warmer than audio

Saluti, Guido
A non-musical tidbit....

* Unlike M725 and M625, which have a mild propensity to emitting audible rasberries -- of a very high-end cultivar of course -- through the speakers, whenever power is cycled on/off, M925 are extremely quiet. When the front-mounted momentary contact switch is operated to turn the amps to full power, I can hear only the internal "Klump" from a relay switch, folloed after a second or two by an almost inaudible "tick" from the speakers. When the power button is operate again to place the amps back on standby, there is no noise at all from the speakers or from the amps.

Saluti, G.
Time for a few updates… First of all, I have been asked about the audible difference between the M725 330W monoblocks that have been my reference amp for one year, and my new M925…

As much as I love M725, M925 are already generating sound that is in an entirely different league…

First of all the obvious…. That is the M925’s sheer power, which lets them generate life-sized stage and images… Yes, significantly larger and more solid than M725, with incredible ease and authority. There is a sense of space, air, and depth that comfortably exceeds M725, and any other amp that has been in my system until now. M925 never breaks a sweat on high dynamic transients… It is in that totally effortless…. There is a harmonic coherence and exposure of fine detail that is very highly resolving, but is musical rather than being “hiFiish”…. Because it makes music emotional, and never analytic. In addition, the bass has a depth and musical purity to die for. Neither fat overhang nor thuddy behavior here.

Of course, break in is very much still in progress, and we are not out of the woods by any stretch... At 250 hours, I listened to Christiane Jaccottet on harpsichord playing Bach’s Well tempered Klavier… there was a very faint zing added to the upper harmonics of the harpsichord… But this sounded more curious than annoying…. Very different from the typical harshness found in many new amps. What I find astonishing is that whatever fabulous behavior I hear from M925 at any particular session, it is usually exceeded by what the amps demonstrate after another few days….

On a more positive note, I played the Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances in the version for two pianos… A performance by EMANUEL AX and YEFIM BRONFMAN on SONY redbook, recorded in 1999 in 24-bits. Several things were remarkable, and already let me confirm that I comfortably prefer the total performance of M925 over every other amp I have had in my system, including Rowland M725 monos…

• The apparent total coherence and extension of the M925 frequency bandwidth, from the bottom notes to the top octaves, without any perceivable suckouts or fatness/overhangs.
• The fine exposure of harmonic information from the high treble to the lowest bass.
• The vast size/proportions of stage and instrument images, that where completely congruent in the three dimensions with real life grand pianos in a recording studio, with the front of the instrument image approximately coinciding with the front of the speakers, and the left/right edges of the stage merging into the side walls of the room (speakers are 11 feet apart, while the room is 18 feet wide)… This among other things means that M925 is thankfully not a forward
sounding amp, but is also far from being recessed.
• Tremendous macro authority and dynamics, perfectly consistent with the illusion of a pair of real life concert grands in the room, from whispering pianissimo (ppp) to fortissimo (fff) without any clipping or other signs of strain.
• Subtlety of microdynamics, which exposes the sudden partial dampening of a piano string when a key is half-lifted and so, lowers the felt damper to graze the string.
• The instant speed of macro and micro transient response at all frequencies. There is no euphonic caramelization of transients, neither there is artificial emphasis of leading edges.
• The sense of emotion and musical immersion…. The listening experience is relaxed…. I sink into the listening couch and enjoy …. I do not feel the need to balance on the edge of the seat ready to bolt with audiophilic anxiety.

A minor milestone tonight... I have just clocked 302 hours of playing time, and an additional 60 hours of low power ops. I decided to check again the Christiane Jaccottet recording of Bach's Well Tempered Klavier... Disk 2 of 4, to be specific.... The trace burr or overpressure in the high treble region of the harmonics that I reported around the 250 hours mark has disappeared completely. If I did
not know better, I would be tempted to say that the amps have reached maturity, as the sound of the harpsichord was magnificent and musically involving...
But I know I should expect even further opening up... probably intermixed by a few more episodes of minor "bad attitude".

Saluti, Guido
To Noble100... Hi Tim, concerning amp colors, I checked with Brandon Kelley at the Rowland factory yesterday about colors for M925 amps: seems to be a little like the old Ford Model T... Any faceplate color is available, provided it is... 'platinum'... Which is actually natural polished Aluminum color. I suspect that the golden color of the units in the 2012 pics you have seen were either one-ofs, or photograpic artifact.

Saluti, G.
All, yesterday, at approximately 430 hours of playing time plus 60 hours of low-level operations, the M925 amps were showing signs of musical grandness as well
as of some… residual break-in growing pains.

The Dvorak 9th Symphony 2nd movement under Bernstein and the Israel Philharmonic is magnificent: size and clarity of staging, imaging, speed and fullness
of macro transients, authority…. The lower brass fanfares are not only powerful and harmonically complex, but are heard inserted into the living context
of the 3D stage, rather than a musical object without spatial references… I know I said this before, but the reality is that these effects keep growing
in perceived size, complexity, and sheer emotional impact.

The massed upper and mid strings are not only textured and sweet, but resolve into the bowings of the individual fiddles and violas. The flutes have an
ethereal beauty, while the English horn keeps enhancing the multilayered earthiness to its melancholic sound. The chamber-like section toward the end of
the movement is assuming delicacy, detail, harmonic richness, and a filigreed transparency that are enchanting....

However, we may have a little temporary break-in tantrum… The mid bass has lost a bit of power and resolution, while manifesting some signs of wooliness...
I could hear the anomaly in the introduction of the Dvorak sextet with double bass, in the plucked electric bass of Diana Krall’s Temptation, and in a slight
uncertainty of the string bass line of Dvorak’s 9th, particularly the plucked sections... The bass anomaly could also be heard in a certain lack of vicerality
in the midbass of Bach's toccata, adagio and Fugue in C minor performed by Wolfgang Rubsam on Naxos redbook. Interestingly, the minor emotional disorder
does not affect the deep bass: the lowest bass notes in the adagio movement remained visceral, pitched, and harmonically textured.

Today I powered down the whole system including amps, and disconnected all components from the AC for four hours, so to recycle charge on all capacitors, transformers, etc…. I will log my next report at the end of the month, close to the 600 hours mark.

Saluti, Guido
Hi Guido,

I've been following this thread and have been enjoying your good reports. I'm glad you're digging your impressive amps.

The gold appearance of the 925's at the Hong Kong audio show may be as you say, a photographic artifact. It could be a reflection of gold colored curtains or surroundings in the platinum mirror like finish. It looked nice but, if I was investing that much money in a pair of amps, I think I would order the platinum as you did.

So far, it sounds like you made a great choice.
Hi Tim, in olden days, Rowland used to offer some amps in a golden livery...In fact, the front plates of my old 7M monos had a warm champagne hue... Nowdays, the only faceplate available is the untinted 'platinum' look, with charcoal Venturi cooling side channels.
Your continued impressions on the differences between the 725's and 925's are most appreciated. Thanks and congratulations on your new amps!
Hi Jjy, admittedly, my M725s are wonderful amps, but what I heard tonight on M925 at the 576 hour mark, is simply not possible on M725. I was postponing any serious listening to tomorrow morning (Saturday), so I decided to turn on my old NAD tuner and listen to Film Score Focus on KMFA Austin instead... Today the program was dedicated to "travelling to the Moon" or something to that effect.... The track "The launch" -- by James Horner I believe -- from the 1995 film "Apollo 13" blew my mind for the intimate depth and power of the bass.... Not a bloated swelling thing, but a tidal depth at the very bottom of the audible range.... Something that the triple 9" bass drivers of the Muzik speakers were transmitting to my chest and feet perhaps more than to my ears. The entire image: bass, and mostly synthetic orchestra occupied a solid continuum from beyond the left wall to beyond the right wall. Mesmerizing is perhaps the best way to describe it... Sure, there was authority and all of that, but.... An authority that just "exists" without the need of questioning its right to be... An authority that works for the music material without attracting attention to itself.... Just allowing the material to flow in a totally integrated way, because.... It is in the nature of music to achieve that... And in the nature of the amps to deliver the effortless magic.

I realize that this is rambling and all, but tonight I do not have a better way to express it.

Tomorrow I will play once again my usual test tracks... But I have a strong hunch that the bass malaise that I reported last week has gone away.

By the way JJY, do you own Rowland M725 monos?

Best, Guido
Guido, yes I own and enjoy 725s. I also have a Corus preamp on order and should take delivery within a week. I have owned Rowland gear in the past, but this generation is really something special. I would seriously consider an upgrade to the 925s if the performance is relatively commensurate with the cost difference. Consequently, I will be watching your continued comparisons with great interest. Thanks for your well written commentary.
Regards, Jerry
Interesting that Elliottyeh mentioned battery powered Rowland amps. I heard thru the dealer that the amps had no "guts" on battery power and therefore speakers with greater power demands were not a good match. so i am curious as to whether the M-9tihc (high-current) amps could even operate properly with battery power supplies.
So little has ever been written about the Model 9's, but they were
extremely exotic as well as expensive for their time- I also remember the ML-33's at 400 pounds/each. or the Krell Master Reference amps- 1000W each.
A steinway piano might have weighed a bit more, but not by much.
BUT I imagine with a refreshed
set of caps and other critical parts, the M-9's might still blow most of us away even in 2013. I am not saying the 925's are not everything Jeff wants to achieve at this point, but as in the case of the new Pass XS line as well as any other 4-box arrays, you are talking about a LOT of hardware to power your speakers.
perhaps when the Rowland 825 stereo amp (two-box) comes out that might
be a little more practical - and shares the same level of technology with the 925's. As to when you might see the 825 "on the shelf", that's another chapter yet to be written. Plus every extra "box" of 6061 aircraft aluminum adds a lot of money to the cost of the final product.
All, I do not have direct experience with Model 9 variants, so my opinion is conjectural. Based on what seemes to be the sonic trend in Rowland amps since Model 7 through M825/M925, I suspect that Model 9 variants are somewhat warmer and midrange-centered than M925, with a little less resolution and clarity of staging/imaging. I further conjecture that they may be a little nmore prone to mid-treble distortions... But, as I said, this is somewhat conjectural.

Regarding M825, the device is now shipping, with a list price of $32K.
Guido, do you know when Rowland will start shipping Continuum S2 integrated, how do you think it will differ from 500 model?
Thank you.
Hi Denon1, I will call the factory next week and will ask about Continuum S2 status. meantime, on pure conjecture, based on the fact that Rowland has selected a new more advanced supplier of power conversion modules for Continuum S2 (Pascal), and that Rowland changes component parts only if warranted by more desirable audible performance or reliability, I suspect that the new S2 is likely to sound sweeter than C500.

CS2 also uses the circuit of the new Capri S2 as linestage (designed in partnership with Holm Acoustics), and is compatible with the new DAC card designed for Capri S2. Continuum S2 will also be compatible with the external PC-1 PFC-based rectifier.

Saluti, Guido
Hi Denon1, I spoke to the Rowland factory today, the Continuum S2 integrated has not yet started to ship... Will keep you posted.

Hi French-fries, Concerning Model 9 variants versus M825 and M925, I have exchanged a couple of emails with Ron Gaston, proprietor of Black Forest Audio in well, you guessed it... Black Forest (CO), and long time Rowland dealer and friend. Ron has extensive experienced with every Rowland amp since the original M7. Here is what Ron wrote on this subject:

"The Model 8/9 amps are big, rich and earthy in presentation. They are not, however, a match for the 825/925 in soundstage, detail or palpable realism. They seem downright sluggish in comparison. I believe the 625 to be superior in nearly every respect to these older, very great amps."

Ron further explains that Only in the bottom end authority M9 variants can outperform the little M625.

Just in case you asked, Ron's house was not affected by the recent fire... Ron, family, and his gear are doing fine.

Lastly, I have been away for one full week.... Break-in has resumed tonight at the 600 hours mark... The sound has an eary beauty even with the amps stone cold after 9 days completely disconnected from the AC. I listened to a couple movements from Mahler's 4th Symphony conducted by Bernard Heitink... Totally enchanting... Even though from my old NAD FM tuner, the bass was foundational and pitched as clear as a bell.

Hi Guido, regarding your "beloved" NAD tuner, i am in the market for a tuner but
i don't know if i should spend $150, $1500, or $3500. You seem to be happy as long as the device brings in stations fairly well with as little fuss as possible (i.e. oscilloscopes and other cute add-ons). OTOH Magnum Dynalab makes really great tuners- who wouldn't want an MD-109 if they could win it in a local drawing..? I have a good classical station with a strong signal and very little noise from nearby broadcasts, Plus two stations with good jazz programming.
any thoughts while you listen to your $100 tuner through your $60K amplifiers?
Hi French_Fries, the primary duty of my tuner is to feed FM interstation pink noise hash to the amps. Secondary duty is to let me enjoy the musicology lectures of Bill McLaughlyn... Quality of sound is suboptimal for the rest of the system. But I still enjoy the experience. As of today, I have no immediate plans to replace the little NAD tuner... But who know what the future may bring!

Mr. G, maybe i misunderstood, but you said you were listening to Mahler through the tuner...? and you stated you enjoyed the experience. But anyway,
i am trying to figure out if a Sansui tuner would be sufficient, or do i need a truly great component (and spend 3X as much)?
I did enjoy the experience immensely French_Fries.... It was in fact remarkable that the bass was so clear, and the voicing of various instruments so distinct, in spite of the ancient vintage of the darling tuner. On the other hand, I am not implying that what I heard was close to what the system is capable of when playing back a top notch CD on the X-01 player.

I should like to point out that with amps that graced my system prior to M925, results on tuner were less satisfying.

I am not an expert in tuners at all, so I really cannot make any meaningful recommendations.
All, my apologies for the long absence from updating you on M925 progress. Today at 1,780 hours of operations per my Excel break-in tracker, progress has been steadily significant since the 600 hours mark discussed earlier in this thread. I use the term “steadily significant” on purpose, because I am not sure that the progressive refinement of this amazing amplifier has abated yet.

Reality is that, starting about the 700 hours mark, I have been tempted several times to declare the amplifier fully “broken-in”… After all, when one perceives no constriction anywhere, frequency and harmonic coverage is a linearly sculptured affair throughout the spectrum, treble intermodulation of multi-part violas and violins has vanished, your mind freely zooms in and out of musical detail, Authority as well as micro/macro dynamics have established such a “right” to exist that you do not even perceive them as isolated factors in the musical whole… And most of all, you simply get lost in the music without reservations… Well, you would thing the creature is just about ready and stabilized.

Yet, things have continued to refine until now…. Perhaps we could claim that by the 1,100-hour mark the amp is 100% broken in… I would have assigned this milestone to the 1,000 hours mark, except that at about 1050 hours I experienced the very last performance oscillation, where M925 showed a slight “warmishment” for just 4 to 6 hours, after which things have returned to normality without further flexions.

To my surprise, all audible parameters have continue to refine after this point, leaving me quite befuddled about how much immersive music the whole rig, starting from Rowland Criterion and ending with the Vienna Muzik speakers, is increasingly able to extract from my old Esoteric X-01 player. Will things continue to evolve even further? I have no idea yet... But will et you know.

if anyone were starting to wonder if my couple of months of silence meant that perhaps yours truly were having second thoughts, falling out of love, or succumbing to the pangs of obsessive second guessing, or simply getting a little case of audiophilic wandering eye (or is it wandering ear?)…

Nothing could be further from reality… Rowland M925 has firmly established itself as my absolute reference amplifier by far.

Saluti, G.
Hi G., I just wanted to pipe in here with still another vote for my Mark Levinson #53 amplifiers which have not been well regarded due to certain factors that i won't expand upon here. this is simply to say that in reading through your increasing enjoyment of the 925's, i have come to similar emotional connections to many of my cd's. Just yesterday i listened to a female vocalist album that put me in a mental state of lying in a warm bath melting away, so sweet was her voice. I couldn't have faulted some nuance or detail in that state of bliss even if i had wanted to, but when the piece was over i was disappointed that it couldn't have contained (many) more tracks.
I am just glad the audiophile BS hasn't ruined my ability to get off like i used to do back when i listened to dorm room stereos.
Hi FrenchFries, I am delighted that you are experiencing long term nirvanic persistancy... Very rare among us sufferers of Degenerative Audiophilic Chorea (DAC).

At my end, the entire lovely review loom of Aural Symphonics wires had to go back to the manufacturer... While I am pleasantly surprised about how well M925 are doing fed by simple stock power cords, I am looking for alternatives that will bring their performance to the next level... I will be scouting RMAF for likely candidates.

Hi Mr. G, the dealer never gave me any power cords with my amps (!) I know!
anyway, i obtained the best PS Audio power cord they make, along with some
very well made but inexpensive cords and (of course!) a PS audio wall outlet
(for good luck i guess...). long story short, the sound coming out of my speakers are in "balance" already. they don't "shout" at me or bite my ears off,
which is not always easy when you turn up the volume.
but the GOOD NEWS is that, even with a ton of detail being presented along with the music, the artistry comes shining through as well. I was afraid at one point i had "overdone it" with all the upgrading i have done. OR maybe some elements were still breaking in, as you have suggested. i am just really pleased it all worked out.
Jeff Rowland is certainly one of the top amplifier designers. His designs are stunning, exude quality, and demonstrate a favorable price to value ratio. Its nice to read a rave for a company that really deserves it, but without more of a frame of reference (Pass, Soulution, Gryphon, Dartzeel, Ayre, Boulder to name but a few possiblities), it might be misleading to other potential owners. The fact is, Rowland gear has a house sound that may or may not appeal. The Rowland sound is highly refined, but clearly there are some aspects of great sound that are better served elsewhere.
Thank you Psag. My intent on this thread was not to "rave" nor to mislead, but to share my own experience with these amps in as much detail as possible throughout a break-in process that was replete with ups and downs. At the end of the process I do adore these devices... But I will never say that they are "the best", or that they are "better" than anything else... I am prepared only to tell you what they do for me... What is in my ears correct, and the reasons why.... And if I hear a flaw, you will read about that as well. Since the 1050 hours mark I have not heard obvious defects.

I have a lot of respect for some of the brands you mention, as well as some of the brands you have not mentioned, like ARC and VTL. AT RMAF I am looking forward to have my first listen to Solution, and hopefully to the Boulder 3000 series, and a few others.

If I have the opportunity of listening to M925 or M825 in the same context with other top shelf amps, and the exhibitor or owner manages to convince me that the amps are completely broken-in, I will talk about the differences that I perceive.

HI Guido

As an early user of M925, your experience has been invaluable to those interested in JF top gears.

I just read some background information that M625/725 are Class AB machines, and M825/925 are Class D. Looks like Mr Rowland has produced a top Class D gear as a successor the previous 3XX series.

As the price tag of 725 seems getting close to 825, how would you describe the difference between the music presentation of 725 and 925?
two things come to mind for me. #1- there are many less-expensive choices to be had that have rave reviews behind them- the Pass XA-100.5 monoblocks come to mind just one good example. #2- as for "reference grade" amps, or price-no-object, there is such a wide range of prices vs performance, and after reading about and hearing a whole bunch of expensive gear over 30 some-odd years,
i do not subscribe to $150,000 as being worth the money under ANY circumstances. Goldmund makes a PREAMP that costs more money than a R-925. And I say "so what?" after a certain point i need to see a faceplate with 18K gold and diamonds a la Rolex to justify spending that kind of money.
My chief problem with Rowland is how much are you spending on the cosmetics (i.e. diamond-etching), however attractive they might be. that goes for useless meters, pretty lights, and other gadgets as well found on other brands.
A friend of mine still has a pair of Pass Aleph 1.2 amps which are, i know, not as good as the present breed of Pass Class-A amps, but you wouldn't be too concerned about it after listening to some Blue-Notes on his system. you would most likely be saying (as i have on many occasions) "play it again, Sam".
Even if you have to have "the best", i would hope that sound and reliability would be the primary criteria to determine the choices made.
The 825/925's are Class D? And they sound gorgeous? Sacrebleu!
Ahh, the progress of technology. Hurray for that.
Guido, I have no doubt that its a wonderful-sounding amp. My first high end amp was one of Rowland's Class D offerings. Ultimately I felt the need to let it go, as it lacked the ability to convey (for me) real musical excitement. It took me a long time to realize that something was missing. Since then, I've occasionally read comparable things about other Rowland amps from a few of the more discerning reviewers. At this exalted level, I think it comes down to personal preferences.
My understanding Class D operation refer to the output stage, aiming at delivering power and dynamics, ability to deal with speedy and transient responses.

Frankly I was not too impressed with the previous 3xx models in class D. Yet the 925 sounds real sexy in the showroom with its ability to drive demanding speaker systems.
"Even if you have to have "the best", i would hope that sound and reliability would be the primary criteria to determine the choices made."

Thank you French_fries for pointing this out. Yes, I choose my gear based on my own subjective perception of extremely high musical/sonic performance, as well as of manufacturer's track record of high reliability. As you know, I am blind. As such, esthetics is for me of secondary relevance only, and not a purchasing criterion per se... It remains however, a charming bonus not to be despised or otherwise shunned out of facile masculine pride.

Bottomline, I judge the tree by its fruits, not by its roots... But I think you heard this paraphrase of Stravinsky's Poetics of Music from me before.