Official specifications
Owner’s manual download
How does it sound? (summary)
As close to my long ago sold (silly, silly boy!) Mark Levinson ML7 and more satisfying that my long ago Spectral DMC-12.
How does it sound? (the expanded view)
This two-box Coherence-One cost a small fortune when new. My guess is that very few arrived in the UK. I looked for one for years over here. I never found one. I had to get mine ­– used – from the USA. My one is 110v and is sounds so astonishing via Maplin step-down transformer that I decided not to bother with an internal conversion.
At the time, it was Jeff Rowland’s “statement” design that summed up their sonic aspirations, and, for serious music-lovers, it’s a dream piece worth lusting over. And its user-friendliness makes it a contender for well-heeled audiophiles who’ve never owned similar gear.
My time with the Coherence-One has been time well spent. I’ve found it always exciting and inviting to fire up my system knowing that this preamp was in control. Its ability to organize and solidify the performance of my Vandersteen 2C Signature speakers is unsurpassed in my experience of them
Interestingly, these characteristics are apparent, albeit with varying intensities with my LFD NLE, PA3-M, PA2M-Se and Trio LO7-M monoblocs.
The Coherence-One has made me appreciate, more than ever, how tricky designing a unit like this must be. That’s because it’s so, so far ahead of anything I’ve used other than my old and now sold Mark Levinson ML7 and the ML6a twin-mono preamps. My now sold Yamaha C1 didn’t come close. Neither did my Meridian 501 and 502 units but to be fair, those Meridians did offer terrific value and it might – given their prices – be unfair to make that comparison. Other than the Mark Levinson vintage units, only the ultra rare STAX CY came close.
I’m fairly certain that the Coherence-One has set new standards in my listening experience for low and mid-bass performance and overall dynamic drive. The rest of what it delivers, in every sonic parameter, is also of exceptionally high caliber. I never listened and thought the sound to be ‘edgy’ or ‘dark’ or ‘harsh’ or grainy. I’ve only ever thought – this really is music. I don’t like warm and bloomy from even allegedly state-of-the-art tube preamps. If ‘tubes’ are your thing then you’ll probably not love the Coherence-One. You’ll probably respect it for what it achieves. No, it’s not tube-like – but you’ll never be able to say it sounds “solid-state.”
Now then, I’ve not heard the Coherence-Two. I guess I never will. It’s a monumental UK cost. It might be a monumental sound too. However I find it interesting to note that Rowland Research themselves are rather modest about the changes. You can read about this here:
My guess is that the sonic vision of the Rowland design team for the Coherence-One must have been very clear and very coherent, and they delivered what they set out to achieve. By this I mean an exceptionally coherent and cohesive sonic, and especially musical, picture. Add to that its high build quality and convenience, and, utterly reliable and consistent performance, and you have what was a very expensive product that, when you look at, touch, and hear it today, quickly lets you know you’re in the presence of audiophile greatness – but at a bargain price!
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