It’s solidly built. The volume knob on the front panel is also a ‘push and twist’ control – press it in lightly to switch between the five inputs. There’s also a REC out, headphone out, and a frontal 3.5mm input to connect an MP3 player.
However, the basic remote control leaves much to be desired – it ought to be better designed to complement the Crescendo’s build quality.
Audio Analogue Crescendo: Sound quality
The amp needs a good hour’s warm-up after turning it on, but it never runs too hot. Once it’s ready to show its stuff, we play Texan indie-folk band Okkervil River’s Lost Coastlines. We’re rewarded with a lively and friendly presentation.
It’s capable of going loud without getting shouty or muddled, and there’s a good level of detail and enthusiasm. The midrange is slightly forward, though, which can sometimes make vocals and instruments sound a little closed in.
Something more technically demanding, like The Chemical Brothers’ Das Spiegel, reveals the Crescendo falls short of the precision needed to handle the complex electronic arrangement. Play the same track through the rival Cyrus 6a and it zings through the complex arrangement with precision and agility.
Audio Analogue Crescendo: Tough competition
Play Hans Zimmer’s excellent Gladiator soundtrack, and the soaring music should make an emotional impact, but the Crescendo doesn’t quite have the insight. The focus on midrange means the bass is understated, and the soundstage isn’t as open as with, say, the Rega Brio-R.
Both the Cyrus and Rega have a deeper level of subtlety and can handle tonal gradations and dynamic shifts with more elegance, which communicates the emotion of the music better and also makes them more engaging.
The Crescendo’s presentation means it won’t suit all music styles. It’s a decent amplifier, but it faces tough competition from some fine rivals at this sort of price.