Crescendo Hits Some Peaks

Crescendo Fine Audio of Boulder, a year-old venture founded by music lover and second-generation audio dealer Matt Alterman, 34, made its first showing at RMAF into a major event by sponsoring two impressive rooms. In 9018, Aerial Acoustics 7T loudspeakers ($9850) danced with Ayre’s V5X 175Wpc stereo amplifier ($7950), C-5xeMP universal audio disc player ($5950), and QB-9 DSD DAC ($3250). Preamps were Octave’s tubed HP 300SE ($7000) and, for phono, Red Wine Audio’s battery powered Analogica ($1995). A VPI Classic 1 ($2800) with Sumiko Blackbird cartridge ($1099) topped a system supported by Quadraspire’s Sunoka Vent 2 bamboo shelf rack ($795/shelf), and wired with Shunyata Research cabling, with a Shunyata Triton power distributor with stainless-steel feet ($4995) making sure everything sounded at its best.

In 9014, Dynaudio’s Excite 34 floorstanders ($3400) and Excite 14 bookself speakers ($1500—not auditioned) mated with Rogue’s 100Wpc Cronus Magnum tube integrated amplifier with phono input ($2300), Naim’s UnitiServe 2TB server ($3800), Bel Canto’s 24/192-capable DAC 3.5 VB Mk.II ($3495) and Phono 3 VB phono preamp ($1800). The analog source as a VIP Scout 1.1 ($2000) w/Sumiko Blue Point #2 cartridge ($400). The rack was Quadraspire’s Evo 2 ($175/shelf), cabling from Kimber Kable, and, for power distribution, Shunyata’s Venom PS8 ($695).

There was too much chatter to allow serious listening in the Aerial Acoustics/Ayre room, but the Dynaudio/Bel Canto etc. system was a winner. The equipment produced bright, clear, extremely enjoyable sound on both a Tracy Chapman recording and Tuck & Patti’s “Taking the Long Way Home.” The sound was so nice that I was tempted to chuck my schedule and spend an hour reveling in the sound.

That, of course, would have led to 35 other exhibitors calling for my execution. Hence, I asked to hear the Price/di Stefano/Gobbi recording of Tosca. Only cartridge-related brightness around voices detracted from the captivating presentation of space that fine analog affords. Despite a room-related bass control issue, the clarity, sense of space, and sheer loveliness of the midrange won out on Jacques Loussier’s jazz rendition of Ravel’s Bolero. I predict that next year, when Matt can build on his newfound knowledge of the Marriott’s acoustics, his demos will be an ear-opening success.