Audio Analogue Crescendo review

The Crescendo has its strengths, but can't quite reach the heights achieved by its rivals Tested at £595

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The Crescendo needs to up its game to hold its own against some top-class rivals


  • +

    Good build

  • +

    decent musical detail and lively presentation


  • -

    Lacks outright expression and insight

  • -

    uninspiring remote control

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The Crescendo is Audio Analogue’s attempt to regain the amplifier-market middle ground once held by its excellent Puccini over a decade ago.

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

Audio Analogue Crescendo

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

Audio Analogue Crescendo

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.

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What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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