Croft Acoustics Phono Integrated integrated amplifier Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: AD's Associated Equipment

Analog Sources: Garrard 301, Thorens TD 124 turntables; EMT 997, Ikeda IT-407 tonearms; EMT OFD 25 & TSD 15 70th Anniversary pickup head; Denon DL103, Miyajima Premium BE mono, phono cartridges.
Digital Sources: AudioQuest DragonFly, Meridian Explorer, Wavelength Proton USB D/A converters; Apple iMac G5 computer running Apple iTunes v.11.0, Decibel v.1.2.11 playback software; Sony SCD-777ES SACD/CD player.
Preamplification: Silvercore One-to-Ten, Auditorium 23 Standard (SPU version), Hommage T2 step-up transformers; Sutherland Insight phono preamplifier; Shindo Masseto preamplifier.
Power Amplifiers: Shindo Corton-Charlemagne & Cortese, Fi 421A.
Loudspeakers: Altec Valencia, DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/96, Quad ESL.
Headphones: Sennheiser PMX 90.
Cables: USB: AudioQuest Carbon, Nordost Blue Heaven. Interconnect: Ayre Acoustics Signature, Nordost Tyr (balanced); Audio Note AN-Vx, Shindo Silver (single-ended). Speaker: Auditorium 23, TelWire. AC: manufacturers' own.
Accessories: Box Furniture Company D3S rack (source & amplification components), Keith Monks record-cleaning machine.—Art Dudley

Croft Acoustics
US distributor: Bluebird Music Ltd.
310 Rosewell Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M4R 2B2, Canada
(416) 638-8207

Rick Tomaszewicz's picture

between this and the preceding review of Marantz's Network Audio Player.  Idiosyncratic old school vs bleeding edge new age.  This is why I love reading Stereophile!

Despite the measured flaws JA found in the Croft, Art and Stephens' emotional reactions (and greater focus on the music played than the player) spoke louder - particularily since they're both contextually well informed.  It's not the first time I've noticed such a discrepancy in these pages.  What's really going on here?  Does art trump sound engineering?  

Reminds me of a Japanese mantra; better to do a small thing well than a large thing poorly.

Rick Tomaszewicz's picture

I'm not an electrical engineer.  But, when I look at the photo of the Croft's innards I'm struck by the apparent circuit simplicty, paucity of parts and what looks like point to point wiring.  Could this be the reason it sounded so good to Art and Stephen, despite JA's poor measurements?  Perhaps its flaws were lost in the light of what it did so well.

And, what are the pots on the rear panel's top left corner?  

LS35A's picture

The importer is in Canada.   I'm trying to find a list of U.S. dealers..... 

Doesn't Stereophile have some rule about how many dealers a product has to have before they will review it?   





Stephen Mejias's picture

The importer is in Canada.   I'm trying to find a list of U.S. dealers.....

Bluebird Music handles all North American distribution for Croft.  You can contact Bluebird for a dealer near you.

Doesn't Stereophile have some rule about how many dealers a product has to have before they will review it?

The Five Dealer Rule.

Rick Tomaszewicz's picture

I know this is well above my pay grade, but wouldn't it be fun if Stereophile held an internal competition once a year?  Pick a gear type, let's say speakers the first time out, invite companies to submit the product they're proudest of, and then run a controlled blind test with Stereophile's editors and reviewers.  Let the companies know in advance what the associated gear will be so they can send their most compatible product. (Yes, without regard to cost or category, let your staff listen to all the speakers blindly "on a level playing field".) There could be two categories; rank overall, and, rank vs cost ratio.  To motivate the companies, you could give the winner of the second category free advertising for a year!  

It would be a blast to read the results; probably even more fun than Mikey's cartridge shoot-out over at AnalogPlanet and would set the bar very high for the audio press.  Of course, the 1%'s would be interested in the highest rank overall.  The rest of us 99%'s would love the highest rank vs cost ratio. 

It was your recent comparison of the Marantz to the MSB which triggered this idea.  A similar test of historic (Strads and Guarneris) and modern viloins was done by one of the violin magazines a while back.  The results were surprising.

andy_c's picture

With that kind of RIAA accuracy, it's a fair bet that the design was done by the proverbial "passionate artisan".

jgossman's picture

Croft was an advertiser in Listener.  

Still, there's no snark intended so don't take it as such.  I usually don't remember where I put my keys.  And if it was after you sold publishing to another company, you may have never known.  I would be more surprised that you both knew and remembered than otherwise.

Great review.  Unfortunately for my taste, my signal path hasn't had a transitor in years now.  Unfortunately for my purchasing power, I'm about to be a new dad.  Maybe one of my fellow readers can enjoy this amp based on the review.

JayeColby's picture

I have owned my Croft linestage integrated R for six months and enjoy it more and more each day. I don't listen to the measurements.

nunhgrader's picture

I usually have very similar viewpoints as Mr. Dudley's! Great article - I dig Mr. Mejias's unique and youthful voice/ viewpoint as well - keep up the great work!

SET Man's picture

Hey! After seeing so many expensive audios full of bling-bling, especially some of which I saw and heard at the NY Audio early this year.... some didn't sound good to me and made me want to throw up after they told me the price!

       This is just what the real world need today. Good audio piece at more affordable price for the 99%s like myself. For me I don't care much how the audio component looks if it sound good to me, but if it happened to look good too than that is a plus. Of course there will be people who buy audio with their eyes first still... well its their money.

     Man! Wish I could this Croft in my own system just to see and hear them.

killersax's picture

When a component's sound and its measurements diverge so much, we have a good opportunity to re-examine some assumptions. Two questions come to mind: (1) Is there something important about components that JA is not measuring? or (2) Do even expert listeners like their music better with added harmonic distortion and rolled-off treble? Very puzzling. (Although it is heart-warming to learn that Stephen Mejias likes Bruckner.)

SergioLangstrom's picture

Seems to me that if a component measures as badly as this one does, then those that liked how it sounds needs a hearing checkup. How can anyone trust reviewers that can't hear obvious faults in a component? Pretty soon everything will start sounding peachy.

Magnum Innominandum's picture

I fail to remember how often a device greatly praised for it's sonic qualities by the reviewer in this publication is measured by John Atkinson and it turns out it measures worse than a turd.

Here, we have TWO reviewers agreeing "sounds great" even the reviewer who knew it "measures poor" just loved the sound.

So, we can go with the conspiracy theory and consider that both reviewers were paid off by the manufacturer (that one seems universally popular) or we can simply conclude that the standard measurements JA performas have comparably little, if any bearing on actual sound quality (this one is unpopular especially among those who love to believe in "measurements", so it would likely have the ring of truth to it).

Indeed, I would issue two challenges to John Atkinson:

1) Justify measurements performed and their weighing in terms how they relate to what we hear, taking into account the extant body of work on the subject. So if for example harmonic distortion is measured and the impression is given that "lower is better" it should be backed by evidence that provides proof that lower distortion reliably results in better sound.

2) Justify the measurements interpretation in a system context; e.g., should I worry about the given amount of distortion in a given amplifer, considering the know distortion levels in speakers and microphones (or indeed LP records, analogue mastertapes). One might say justify any interpretation with an impact analysis.

To ask more pointedly, for example, why does anyone "define clipping at 1% THD"? It has for example been shown that much higher levels of certain types of distortion are inaudible while other types are both audible and objectionable at levels of THD much lower than 1% THD [1] and when most speakers exceed double digit level of THD at rated power. 

Failing any support by solid science regarding their importance and impact, performing measurements and interpreting them has preciously little value.  When solid evidence that these methods are not reliable or able to give us information about the audible effects and sound quality is present, continuing with the same old methods is something that Richard Feynman once charaterised thusly:

"In the South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now.

So they've arranged to imitate things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas--he's the controller--and they wait for the airplanes to land.

They're doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn't work. No airplanes land.

So I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they're missing something essential, because the planes don't land."

It would be a major step forward in Audio SCIENCE, if we could discard trappings of science and instead actually act scientific, so that, in a figure of that speech, "the planed land", which for audio measurements would mean measurements that reliably predict if a given item will sound good or not.

Magnum Innominandum

[1] E.R. Geddes and L.W. Lee, “Auditory 

Perception of Nonlinear Distortion-Theory,” Paper 

presented at the Audio Engineering Society 115th 

Convention - Paper 5890 (2005, Oct.) 

Daveedooh's picture

I've just started taking my pension, and as such, have decided to re-vamp my system for the last time, hopefully! I'd sort of decided on one of two choices for a new amp - Naim Nait or a Croft. I've heard both makers equipment at various shows and dealers showrooms down the years, and have always enjoyed both. I've plumped for the Croft, in Micro 25 Basic Plus Phono Pre-Amp and Series 7 Power Amp form. They are scheduled to arrive in two days time. It's like waiting for Christmas Day when your five years old. I shall report back!