Music Reference RM-9 MKII Amplifiers

RM-9 MKII

125 Watts - E34L Output Tubes - Adjustable Negative Feedback

User Reviews (12)

Showing 1-10 of 12  
David Savage   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 08, 2017]

I bought the RM9 MII 12 years ago and upgraded it with 5881 tubes. It sits with top end speakers, pre amp turntable tube FM receiver.

The sound is linear and I would compare it to any 10000 unit or better. Im an Engineer and i did own 2 units but sold the MK1 for 2300.00 10 years ago. Roger designed and built the Gold Standard for sound reproduction inn class AB2 design amplification. i have kept more comments limited because the pre and follower on description are without bias

Davi R. Savage

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Ralph John Steinberg   AudioPhile [Mar 31, 2007]
Strength:

Uncolored sound, soild, sharp imaging, flexibility in gain/impedance settings, types of output tubes accepted (I use the stock EL-34's, but I am curious about KT88's/90's). Taut bass. TUBES RULE!

Weakness:

Heavy, runs VERY hot, needs space for ventilation. Tube cage impossible to remove without prying off; I leave the cage off, partly to get better ventilation for the tubes.

I first heard about the RM-9 (original version) in 1988, but passed it over for a Counterpoint SA-20 hybrid power amp, which eventually failed and could not be repaired. Subsequently, my partnered purchased the RM-9 for me as a gift; I am now sorry that I didn't consider it earlier on. This is probably the finest amp I have ever heard; transparent, smooth, detailed, with images as sharp and solid as polished marble. The bass is amazingly tight and articulate; who says that tubes are inferior ro solid state in this respect? Although rated at 100 wpc, it sounds much more powerful than the old Counterpoint at 200 wpc. I have it driving a pair of the original Martin-Logan Sequels, and they make a perfect match, because of the superb amplifier stability in handling reactive loads and low impedences (I use the 2-ohm tap and the gain switch at "high"). I ssuspect that the RM-9 will shine most brightly with electrostatic speakers such as the Martin-Logan, as this speaker design will mate well with the amp's neutrality. I can imagine amps as good but none better. Has anyone heard the current replacement version?

Customer Service

Excellent. Roder Modjeski is always available for ansering questions. I recently purchased the Manual for the RM-9 and it makes for easy and interesting reading.

Similar Products Used: Counterpoint SA-20; Fisher 35 wpc tube integrated amp from 1966 (I forgot the model number).
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Ralph Steinberg   AudioPhile [Mar 30, 2007]
Strength:

Solid, clear sound, no colorations or audible distortions, terrific imaging. They do justice to all forms of music, from Rocjk to Classic Chamber. Old recordings that were carefully made shine through this amp. Flexibility in choosing tubes and matching output impedance to speaker. AND, the amp is a physical beauty! I do consider this the finest power amp I have ever heard, or ever hope to hear.

Weakness:

VERY heavy to carry, runs VERY hot. But who cares?

My partner purchased this amp for me as a replacement for a Counterpoint SA-200 hybrid that had failed and can no longer be repaired, as Counterpoint went out of business. I had first heard about the RM-9 (this is the original version) back in 1987, and I'm now sorry that I didn't make it my first choice at the time. Although rated at half the power of the SA-200 (100WPC as opposed to the SA's 200), the RM-9 sounds far more powerful and dynamic. Instumental sounds now sound like polished marble, so solid and effortless the sound is. The bass is the real surprise: It is taut, articulate, and blends perfectly with the rest of the audio image; anyone who says that tubes produce loose, boomy bass should hear the RM-9. The midrange and treble are superbly liquid, clear without any harshness (unless the recording is harsh) and the imaging is almost scary at times. When listening to speaking voices, I have often mistaken them for actual people in the room. And by the way, they sound great with historical recordings made in the 78 rpm era! This baby shines most with difficult loads, such as electrostatic speakers (I have it driving a pair of Martin-Logan Sequels). Currently, I am using the supplied EL-34 output tubes, but I am curious about allowed alternatives (KT-88's/90's, 6550's). It is impossible to recommend this amplifier too highly. There is no question in my mind: TUBES RULE, AND MUSIC REFERENCE IS THE TUBE RULER!

Similar Products Used: Counterpoint SA-200. Fisher 35 wpc integrated amp (from 1966).
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Ralph Steinberg   AudioPhile [Sep 04, 2006]
Strength:

Smooth, solid sound with superb imaging, lots of air, and bass performance that belies supposed weaknesses of tubes in this area. Mates well with demanding loads.

Weakness:

Extremely heavy, runs very hot, needs lots of space for ventilation. Probably too powerful for very efficient speakers; overkill.

I also have the first version of the RM-9. I obught it as a replacement for the Counterpoint SA-220, which is no longer being manufactured and is not eseily repaired. Interestingly enough, when I first thought of going over to tubes back in 1988, I was considering the Music Reference RM-9. Having lived with it for over two years, I wish I had purchased it in the first place. Listening over Martin-Logan Sequels, I now understand why electrostatic speakers are recommended to be powered by tube amps.
First of all, with the RM-9, I do not understand the usual complaints about tubes being unable to produce full and WELL-DEFINED bass. What is hear is solid, articulate sound extending all the way down. One downside to this is that on one of my historical CD's, specifically the Pearl issue of Schubert played by Artur Schnabel, there is now an audible rumble in the first movement of the "Trout" Quintet, causing woofer displacement. I never heard this any other amp, solid-state or hybrid.
Secondly, musical images now have a solidity that I would discribe as smooth marble surrounded by ample air space. This is especially notable on wind instruments. Strings now sound individualized rather than homogenized. Piano sounds very lifelike, same with voices.
This amp does wonders also with old, historical material. The classic Felix Weingartner Beethoven Ninth Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic, State Opera Chorus and soloists Luise Helletsgruber, Rosette Anday, Georg Maikl and Richard Mayr on Opus Kura has now an impact that does not compare unfavorably with more modern recordings, soundwise.
If you can find this amp secondhand, as I did, put it on your short list of required listening. I'm sure you'll have no regrets.
By the way, this amp sounds more powerful than its power rating.
I give it 5 stars on both overall and value rating, but 10 stars would be more appropriate.

Similar Products Used: Counterpoint SA-220.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
gmood1   AudioPhile [Jan 02, 2003]
Strength:

Soundstage,true to the music,bass,decay, clean highs without being glazed over !

Weakness:

Gets pretty warm in my listening room. But what tube amp doesn't! Draws 220 watts at idle , I wouldn't leave this thing running allday. The price you pay for great music.

All I can say is the more things change the more they stay the same. Musically I can't seem to find any faults with this amp. Soundstage,decay,etc it seems to get it all right. Why would anybody want another tube amp . There is nothing I can add that hasn't been already said. Accept Mr.Modjeski is the man ! No wonder you can't really find these used on the web. I bet you will never see this one .Good luck finding yours.

Similar Products Used: Cary audio,Mcintosh, Monarchy Sm 70
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
mark maloof   AudioPhile [Nov 22, 2002]

Ok, a little update on my previous review. I now have the RM9 powering a pair of Quad 63 USA Monitors (electrostatics, but, duh, I'm sure you know that!). The amp was supposed to be voiced with Quad 63s, and all I can say is "holy cow". My admiration for the amp has grown. More holgraphic than before, and it just gets the music right. I also swapped out the power cable for Belden (ala the Bob Crump diy cable recipe). My love for this amp has grown, they do have a cult-like status

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
George Reizis   Audiophile [Apr 16, 2000]
Strength:

Excellent sound, clarity, transparent midrange,great bass, sweet highs, amazing micro-macro dynamics

Weakness:

very heavy

To put it shortly, this was one of the very best amplifiers I heard with Acarian Systems Alon V-Mk III. I forgot I was listening to electronics, sound stage was so huge, natural, vivit and transparent. RM 9-MK II was perfectly suited to presenting music as one might hear it in a concert hall. Open,airy and spacious with the 6550s Svetlana leaves you with the question how better can sound the real music.
A real bargain at this price level, a class A performance.

Similar Products Used: conrad-johnson mv-50, electrocompaniet AW-100, Jef Rowland model 2
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Michael   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 29, 2000]
Strength:

fully user adjustable, great sound, good heater

Weakness:

extremely heavy, blown fuses difficult to replace, hot

This amp is a real peach. Great sound, a little warm but dynamic. Tight bass with standard EL34s. Variable impedance outputs and user tunable bias make maintaining optimal sound a breeze. Able to handle difficult speaker loads (varying impedance) so good with a range of speakers.
Negatives - this amp gets VERY warm and is extremely heavy so moving it is not for the faint hearted. It is large and barely fits in my eqipment rack. It blows fuses more often than I would like and this entails removing the base to replace them.

Similar Products Used: Dyna Stereo 70
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Dave   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 11, 2000]
Strength:

Classic tube virtues; good bass; long tube life

Weakness:

None

This is a very transparent and musical sounding amp, and with good bass (rare for tube amps). Makes a real synergistic match with RM5mkII preamp. What Tom Norton said about the amp in Stereophile is absolutely true - the mkII version does indeed run circles around the venerable McIntosh 275 and Marantz 8, but I might add that it will do so only at low or medium feedback settings and with matched and broken-in (at least 100 hrs) EL34 tubes. I found the GE 6550s that came with the amp just a bit too twangy in the midrange. Contrary to another reviewer I did not hear much difference in the bass when switching over to EL34s - only richer mids and smoother highs.

Complaints? Not much. Other than the top-mounted fuses poping from time to time (I've gone thru a half dozen already but they're a snap to replace) the unit has been totally reliable. In all fairness I think that's just the design having too much safety margin built in because the tubes were OK everytime (the factory tubes in my unit lasted 5 years).

Currently used with:

Linn LP12 Valhalla/Ittok/Grado Signature
Music Reference RM5mkII
Marantz CD17mkII
Vandersteen 2CE

Similar Products Used: ARC D115, MAC 275, Marantz 8
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
mark maloof   Audiophile [Nov 11, 2001]
Strength:

Strong Bass for a tube amp, smooth now that new caps and tubes have broken in, not the most holographic tube amp I have been exposed to, but close enough to make me very happy. Great transformers. Also, while my speakers are fairly tube friendly, this amp can drive difficult speaker loads.

Weakness:

Heavy when you have to lift it (but that can be taken as a good sign, nice big transformers), may not want to use it in summer due to the heat it puts out. May almost be too powerful for my Manhattan apartment. Also, like any tube amp, requires some dedication on the part of the owner (the previous owner didn't understand the finicky nature of valve amps). It's picky about the first input stage tubes, they must be matched properly.

I have the earlier RM9 version of this amp( Got this used at a steal price of $650 ($800 to $1000 is the usual used price for these). The previous owner knew nothing of tube amps. He had it repaired by a shop that used questionable parts and not the best tubes. I put several hundred dollars into it (cap upgrades, new tubes, all done by Blakie Pagano of Tubesville here in NYC), and now have to say that I have a mighty fine sounding tube amp. The bass of this amp is very well controlled for a tube amp, not quite as tight as solid state, but tight enough. It's fairly holographic, not having quite that SET reach out and touch the performers quality, but having more of the dynamic punch and bass that push/pull has to offer, and it still is fairly 3D, with good depth. This is one of the most pleasant amps I have owned, although it's 100 tube watts per channel is almost overkill for my NYC apartment, but on days when the neighbor is working (I'm freelance, so have some weekdays off sometimes ), WATCH OUT!

Similar Products Used: Dynaco MKII tube monoblocks, Tandberg Mosfet power amp with zero negative feedback (nice sand amp!), Acurus 200 watt power amp.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 12  

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