I said I would report back when I got the Croft/Apollo up and running, they are still not in final position in the room, and the Rega P5/Ortofon Blue wont arrive until later in the week, then a bit of remodeling to the shelves, so its another couple of week before the full system is ready.
However, I have been doing a lot of listening over the last few days. Highly significant it has been too . . . With only my 20 year old memory of how things used to be and current experience of the venerable Rotel 820, it was a culture shock on first listen
What have I done, £1500 on kit that is out performed by a 20 year old, budget integrated amplifier, and a basic PC! Friday night was not a good one! Burn the Croft in was the obvious answer, 5 hours, 10 hours, no significant change. Then I read a snippet on site about multi strand (500) speaker cable. I had a short run of Supra cable in the loft, dating back some 25 years. Could only find one 3m length . . . ! so, I had to cut it to 1m and 2m. To cut a story short, the multi strand got hold of the music, I was able to sit back and enjoy. All the main elements clicked into place, especially an issue with brightness, I like a warm but detailed sound.
That was 7 o'clock Saturday night, was my Linn K20 cable letting me down, are valves not the panacea I have believed in for all these years . . .
Cut to the chase . . . 2pm Sunday, all is well, 25 hours burn-in seems to have tamed the beast. I am sitting typing, listening to that warm detailed sound I enjoy, with the Linn K20 cable in situ. All elements are there as I remember valves used to sound.
Significantly, the burn-in process seemed to go in steps as one 'heat cycled' the Croft. Switch off, cool down, turn on, allow to warm up . . . am I hearing things, is it actually improving?? At this point I started to 'not believe my ears'.
I still have issues worth pursuing re the 500 multi strand cable. I think the amp will gain subtleties over the next 25 hours, but the basics, I can now describe as 'exhibiting the Brio beating presentation' I heard at the dealer dem. I have not mentioned the Apollo CDp . . . as a slave to the amp, it seems to have simply raised its game as the amp improved . . . what more can I say? The amplifier and speakers are the window, the window has been cleaned . . .
The 20 year memory tells me the Croft is finally producing a musical quality closely akin to my original EAR mono block valve amps . . . rose coloured glasses? perhaps, its 'pretty dam good' IMHO . . . I feel there is a slight lack of comparative image, this I would expect comparing integrated against mono blocks.
More to come . . . ? CJSF