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This review first appeared in the August 2013 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read it in its original Polish version here. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own articles, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity or JRDG. - Ed

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacula
CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air V-edition
Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC
Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory Shilabe & Kansui
Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III Signature with Regenerator power supply
Power amplifier: Soulution 710
Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom
Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic + Acoustic Revive custom speaker stand
Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro 600Ω vintage, HifiMan HE6
Interconnects: CD/preamp Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, preamp/power amp Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo
Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx
Power cables (all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
Power strip: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate
Stand: Base IV custom under all components
Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under CD player, Audio Revive RAF-48 platform under CD player and preamplifier, Pro Audio Bono PAB SE platform under Leben CS300 XS
Review component retail in Poland: 36.900zł | 49.900zł | 53.900zł for DAC, pre and power amp respectively

Very few hifi components stir lust in audiophile hearts as those from Jeff Rowland. The gear from this Colorado Springs marque has an unmistakable look, its build quality eclipses just about all else. Their very distinctive face plate finishing duplicated on the top panels won't be confused with another brand. The ripples are actually an optical illusion but extremely convincing. Only one other company ever had anything like it: Enlightened Audio Design, alas no longer in business.

Their people were fanatics too who now work at Noble Electronics. Their front panels came from Jeff Rowland – or more precisely through them since the actual supplier is specialty firm Vertec Tool from Colorado Springs.

Almost obsessive attention to every last detail goes hand in hand with carefully selected circuit solutions Jeff rates highly whilst others consider them controversial. Though not the case for the 625 under review, some JRDG amplifiers run class D switching output stages. The 625 is built upon LME49810 ICs driving discrete power transistors. What's more, all gear from Jeff Rowland relies on switching power supplies which many view with great negativity. However Linn, Chord and Soulution have already proven that the issue was never one of topology but implementation. Last but not least there are the coupling transformers which for JRDG gear are ubiquitous. Each of their components sports at least a pair of them in the left and right channels, often more.

Those transformers are either balanced coupling devices or couplers between stages. ICs abound throughout and discrete transistors appear only in the output stages. Jeff Rowland champions a minimalist approach which means ultra-short signal paths and a minimum parts count. So no, this brand cannot be mistaken for any other. To experience this up close and personal I arranged for a complete review system: Aeris DAC, one of two preamps names Corus and the 625 stereo amp. Launched for the company's 25th anniversary, the latter is also available as the 725 monoblocks.

Albums auditioned during this review: CDs - Bach, Violin Concertos, Yehudi Menuhin, EMI/Hi-Q Records HIQXRCD9, XRCD24, CD (1960/2013); Black Sabbath, 13, Vertigo/Universal Music LLC (Japan) UICN-1034/5, 2 x SHM-CD (2013); Clifford Brown, Memorial, Prestige/JVC VICJ-41562, Digital K2, CD (1953/2006); John Coltrane, A Love Supreme (Deluxe Edition), Impulse!/Verve Music Group 589 945-2, 2 x CD (1965/2002); Kraftwerk, Minimum-Maximum, Kling-Klang Produkt/EMI 3349962, 2 x SACD/CD (2005); Mills Brothers, Swing Is The Thing, History 20.3039-HI, "The Great Vocalists of Jazz & Entertainment"; Patricia Barber, A Distortion of Love, Verve/Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 2100, "No. 01083", SACD/CD (1992/2012); The Mills Brothers, Spectacular, Going for a Song GFS275, CD. Audio files - Random Trip, Nowe Nagrania, 005, CD + FLAC 24/44,1 (2012); SATRI Reference Recordings Vol. 2, Bakoon Products, FLAC 24/192; T-TOC Data Collection Vol. 1, T-TOC Records, DATA-0001, 24/96+24/192, WAV; Al Di Meola, Flesh on Flesh, Telarc, 24/96 FLAC, HDTracks (2011); Charlie Haden & Antonio Forcione, Heartplay, Naim Label, 24/96 FLAC, NaimLabel; Depeche Mode, Delta Machine, Columbia Records/Sony Music Japan SICP-3783-4, FLAC 24/44,1, HDTracks (2013); Persy Grainger, Lincolnshire Posy, Dallas Wind Symphony, Jerry Junkin, Reference Recordings, HR-117, HRx, 24/176,4 WAV, DVD-R (2009); Sonny Rollins, Tenor Madness, Prestige, WAV 24/96, HDTracks (1956/2012); Stan Getz & João Gilberto, Getz/Gilberto, Verve, 24/96 FLAC, HDTracks (1963/2012).

Audio is the art of compromise. That much is clear right off. It’s important to understand however that this applies to both makers and consumers. In classical language the manufacturer would be the sender of the musical message, the consumer its receiver. But this basic information exchange overlaps with another. On the basis of the communication between manufacturers who 'program' their products to achieve specific results and the music lover's own expectations and preferences responding in unique ways to the sender’s offer there's another layer – that of the music where performer, sound engineer and producer become the composite sender and the music lover the recipient all over again.

This second data exchange is the primary one but as the first ends again with us. That's why consensus is so elusive. Listeners must define themselves in the context of their own expectations about both music and the delivery medium of their chosen audio system. We thus decide whether and to what extent the final presentation may be modified to remain acceptable. This short intro was needed to appreciate how Jeff Rowland understands these relationships; and to draw your attention to the fact that his choices and decisions are well informed and patiently thought out. That's because there is no other way to achieve what we get from this review system. It doesn't occur by happenstance nor by cloning existing solutions nor a lone flash of inspiration. It only comes as the result of long hard work.