Road Tour: Rogue Audio

The reason for my trip to Brodheadsville, PA was two-fold—check out Rogue’s purpose built factory, pick up an RP-1 preamplifier, and hang with Mr. Rogue, Mark O’Brien. Did I say two-fold?

I first became aware of Rogue Audio back in 1997 when my father and I visited John Rutan’s Audio Connection on Bloomfield Ave in Verona, NJ. Mick, that’s what my father was called, and I wanted to hear the then-new YGA CD 1 Blue Laser CD Player. This is what we told John so he escorted us to the back room so we could hear Rogue Audio gear on Vandersteen speakers. You see, John was more excited about us hearing music through this setup than a CD player with a blue laser. Kudos to John.

Fast-forward to 2006 when I reviewed the Rogue Cronus for 6moons. Here’s one thing I said about that experience:

Do you ever get tired of all the fuss? Delicately balancing your components’ voices and wondering if that new cable with the hemoglobin-packed sheathing is just the thing your system needs to pump some life-blood back into your musical enjoyment? Did you ever want to simplify? Clean house? When that feeling moves you, there’s no better salve for weary audiophile bones than an integrated amp. And the Rogue Audio Cronus offers a feature-filled 55 watts of solidly engineered and solidly built, value-packed juju. But don’t let all that practicality and value fool you – the Rogue Audio Cronus has balls-to-the-wall (of sound) coupled with the delicacy and detail to transform your tunes from stored media to musical juju on tap.

You could say Rogue and I have history. I love history.

The Rogue crew moved into their new purpose-built factory last year. As you can see, it is a well-lit open and airy place that also happens to be damn clean. Damn neat and clean. There’s the main assembly room, which takes up most of the space, a nicely proportioned listening room, the front office, a room to eat in, and ADA Accessible rest rooms. Out front, on a street where no one ever walks by because there’s nothing to walk to other than Rogue Audio, is a sidewalk that leads nowhere in both directions. Building codes can be so…precious.

This is where Rogue Audio products are made. Right here in PA, which also happens to be in the US. At present, there are 17 products in the Rogue lineup and I recommend a look at their website for the specifics. This gaggle, what do you can a group of audio products?, consists of power amplifiers, preamplifiers, phono preamplifiers, integrated amplifiers, and headamps. To say that Rogue audio products are well made and sensibly priced is like saying Usain Bolt likes to run.


Mark & Co. are currently working on a new hybrid amplifier, the DragoN, which uses a Hypex Ncore Class D amp coupled with Rogue’s proprietary tubeD™ circuit topology which integrates a tube section into the amplifier. The Dragon will replace the existing Medusa.

DragoN details from Rogue:

The DragoN (Capital D for class D and capital N for Ncore technology) is an interesting circuit. There are two 12AU7 phase splitters at the input and they are included in a small feedback loop from the OEM Ncore output modules. This forces the amp to test and behave like a tube amp yet put out about 500 Watts into 4 ohms.

It’s worth noting that the Cronus I reviewed 13 years ago is still in production, albeit with a number of updates / improvements, as the Cronus Magnum III. When I mentioned I like history, I appreciate a company who stands by their products by not phasing them out every year so owners feel compelled to buy the new one. I once reviewed a new DAC that saw its MK2 version hit the shelves a month after my review appeared—before the “new” one I reviewed was even a year old. Ick.

I mentioned that one reason I went to the Rogue factory was to pick up an RP-1 preamplifier so you may be wondering—what’s up with that? What’s up with that is I am putting together a ‘separates’ system as part of my reviewer’s stable so’s I can review separates. This system now consists of the Rogue RP-1 (I love this review of the RP-1 by my pal Herb Reichert) and a pair of Mytek Brooklyn Amps. You’ll be more hearing about this in more detail in the not-too-distant future.

I hope enjoy this photo tour as much I enjoyed being there. But before we go there, here are Five Fun Facts About Mark O’Brien:

  1. Mark O’Brien was invited to be Larry Holmes sparing partner
  2. Mark owns the painted human skull which appears on Archie Shepp’s The Magic Of Ju-Ju record
  3. He spent decades racing motorcycles (that’s Mark leaning)
  4. Mark has a deep interest in, and knowledge of, Baroque and Renaissance Art
  5. Mark’s father was asked to make the Mensa IQ test more difficult because his score was too high to measure
one of Mark’s favorite paintings: Lady With Ermine, Leonardo da Vinci (1489/90)