Amp for Acoustic Zen Crescendo 2 ?

Hello all,
I have these speakers for 2 months now and want to move on to a tube amp of 50 - 60 wpc or so, or a SS amp that fits the bill..  My current amp is an Ayre V-5xe.  I'm looking for an amp to sweeten up the top end and has a midrange that does vocals full and articulate, even if that means colored.  The Ayre is a great amp but I think there is a better match out there.  I'll have to save up for used, under $5K.  I'm especially interested with what actual owners would say, as well as their system specifics, but all comments welcome.  Acoustics and speaker placement are fixed and substandard.  That's just the way it goes at our house.
I'm using a steel arm VPI TT with Ortofon Cadenza Bronze, ARC PH-7 and REF 3.  Thanks.

I had the upgraded Crescendo 1's for a few years. I loved those speakers. It was difficult to replace them with something I liked even better. I used both a tube and SS amps with them. I preferred the SS with more power but only by a slight margin. I used one McIntosh MC275 v6 in stereo, then two MC275 v6's in mono and then two MC601 SS mono amps. For me the more power I gave them the better I liked the sound but there was not a huge difference. I also used AZ cabling and a VPI TT.
Great speakers. I own them also and have used several amps on them. Please let us know the type of music you listen to, the volume level, and your effective room size.

I owned two different push/pull tube amps putting out 50 and 60 watts and they sounded good for sure. However they both sounded a tad fragile when I turned up the volume on classical piano, low gain recodings, and classical music. These speakers do like power to really open up and sound more effortless. My room is also large, around 33x21 with 10 foot ceilings.

If your room is large and you listen loudly at times, then 50 watts may be cutting it close in terms of headroom. Again, it all depends on how you answer the questions I asked above.

I ended up with a Lyngdorf 2170 unit with room correction, dac, and preamp all in one unit. Best I have heard my Crescendos sound. The room correction assures the speakers sound as the designer intended in your room. The Crescendos sound wonderful in my untreated living room.

Some folks have had good luck with 845 tube amps made by Line Magnetics even though they are rated for under 50 watts. They are reported to have serious drive and sound great with your speakers. Look at their model 518 and 219. I am sure others will chime in on Line Magnetic.

Here are some other amps to consider.


Linear Tube Audio ZOTL 40 - must first answer the questions for ultimate compatibility.

Cary 805 used - must first answer the questions for ultimate compatibility


Electrocompaniet amps used and in budget

Spread Spectrum Technologies Son of Ampzilla MK2

Spread Spectrum Technologies Ampzilla 2000 2nd Edition Mono Power Amplifiers - used

Hybrid ( great option)

Conrad Johnson ET250s
Aesthetix Atlas stereo amp used
Blue Circle audio used monoblock amps used

Audiogon member named "Wig" has these speakers and has driven them with Vac mono blocks and then the solid state Vitus amplifier. He currently uses the Line Magnetic 508ia and finds them the most satisfying thus far. I’d get in touch with him via audiogon email. He’s quite experienced and knowledgeable. As Grannyring astutely wrote musical genre, room size and listening volume all are factors to consider in amplifier selection. I’ve heard these speakers at shows on 4 separate occasions driven by the Triode Corp TRX 845 PSET mono blocks in spacious rooms and they were glorious! Builder Robert Lee has used them for obvious reasons, primarily because they mate brilliantly together.
Best of luck,
Thanks everyone for the responses.  I listen to pop/rock/other in an 15x20x8 room at moderate levels.  Just loud enough to energize the room, not rock the neighbors.  It's a condo.  The Line Magnetic 508ia looks interesting.  Monoblocks are generally too large for my rack and no room on the floor.

The LM 508ia uses the 300b as the driver tube and 805 as the power output tube, 48 watts pure class A with SET topology. I hope you are able to contact Wig as he can share "actual " owner’s impressions of this amplifier with your Crescendos. He's ecstatic with the sound quality. 
Thanks for getting back. Well then yes the Line Magnetic and LTA ZOTL 40 should work great for you. Two great choices. If you dont want to mess with tubes and all that goes with owning a tube amp, then Pass Labs makes some great amps that you could afford used. The 250x for example. The Lyngdorf 2200 is amazing also and runs cool while being light and small. Only $2400 new.

Electrocompaniet makes some of the very best sounding SS amps on the planet. Harder to find used. The McIntosh 402 amp is also very special. Finally the Conrad Johnson ET250s is great sounding and will deliver exactly what you are looking for based on your post. It is a hybrid amp that uses small signal tubes on the input section. Sweet sounding, yet is has the power to control and open up the AZ speakers. The signal tubes are not expensive and last for for many years. No problem running the amp for long periods of time. $2999 new from Spearit Sound on sale. Great price.

I have had better luck with more SS watts on the Crescendo as the speaker just sounds more relaxed, in control, and bass powerful with plentiful SS or hybrid watts. Great quality watts as my suggestions are.

The VAC Phi 200 would be worth a strong look given the attributes you're looking for, and it's available used in your price range.  Also, call Acoustic Zen and see what they'd recommend.  Best of luck. 

charles1dad -
I dropped Wig a line in a current thread.  Hopefully he'll show.  
There are a lot of fine amps mentioned here.  The Devil in the Details is synergy.


After hearing about your room size and other preferences,

I would highly recommend the combo of the Linear tube audio MZ2S and the Zotl 40,Great sound and synergy,I also tried my Valvet soul shine preamp with the 40 and it was just ok sounding.
I have paired the MZ2S with several different amps and have always heard really good sound even a parasound a21 sounded better than I've ever heard one.

The line magnetics are highly regarded and they should be,I have heard all of them but I have never owned any of them.
The Crescendo's are excellent speakers and as Granny Ring has mentioned they do need some pwr,but I think you would be fine with the LTA gear.

Best of luck to you,
Hi Kenny,
Have you heard the LM 508ia specifically? Both Wig and Waltersalas described it as a sublime performer. I could see this and the Linear Tube Audio ZOTL 40 as both being terrific yet distinctly different in their sonic presentation.

I could see this and the Linear Tube Audio ZOTL 40 as both being terrific yet distinctly different in their sonic presentation.

Yes I fully agree,I have heard the LM 508ia driving B&W 802 D speakers and I thought it was good.Out of all the LM amps I think the 508 is the best one,my friend that owns it is fairly local to me and I might be able to borrow it for a day or 2 and see how it sounds with my DI's.I know his amp has EML 300b XLS tubes but I can't remember which 805 tubes he has.I could also maybe use the EML's in my Yamamoto A09s which I have never used that tube.


Lots of great responses and insight! Over the past 3 years I have used 4 different amp set-ups to include Herron, Vac, Vitus and now the magnificent LM 508IA which is the best sound I’ve heard in my system at a fraction of the cost of the mentioned components. I could have lived with 3 of those components but didn’t think Vitus was a good match at all; very powerful, good sound-staging and imaging but had a warm sound signature and lacked dynamic impact.

I primarily listen to Classical Guitar, Violin, Cello with some old school Jazz thrown into the mix every once in a while and I can tell you that the LM can boogie too. The LM is so visceral, it produces lifelike images with spooky realism like I’ve never heard before and maybe it’s those 300B drivers creating that magic. The beauty of LM is that you get pin-point imaging, deep and wide expansive layered sound-stage with natural decay and ambiance retrieval that’s unbelievable.

If you like musical involvement, this amp will draw you into the recording with loads of texture, emotions and toe tapping happiness... Also, those of you with AZ Crescendo, bypass your binding post and discover another level of realism... Mod courtesy of Grannyring.

My Tubes:
Psvane 805
Sophia Mesh Plate 300B and EML 300B ( 4 days old)
Tung-Sol Gray Plates 6SUT
Stash of NOS 6SN7s
Synergistic Research Black Fuse

Room: 20Lx25Wx10H with entry ways on both left and right side of speakers; Gik 244s, Echo Busters and ASC Tube
Wig, I will add everyone should bypass their speaker binding posts for better sound. Same goes for the amp’s binding posts. Lastly, don’t use any speaker cable spades or bananas if possible. This, as you are starting to learn, makes the music more real and less electronic or reproduced. Really hear what your gear is possible of! These are free mods that do more for sound improvement than the numerous tweaks we all spend hundreds of dollars and more on. 

I have a few questions on your amp.

- Do you hear any hum/buzz through your speakers a foot away? 3 feet away?

- Do the transformers make a mechanical buzz noise you can hear when the room is quiet? Not through the speakers, but simply emanating from the physical amp.

- How loudly do you listen when you go loud? Did you ever capture with a db meter?

- How many hours are those 805 tubes good for in that amp before they need replacing?

- Do you know if the amp is circuit board built or hard wired/tag strip. I could not find internal pics of your amp. Other LM amps are a combo of point to point wiring with only a two or three very small circuit boards.

- Finally, can you bypass the volume control with a direct input option on the back of the amp?


Thanks for posting.  
Thanks for the battery of pertinent questions.  I'm all ears! 
I’m glad you responded to thread as you’ve used multiple amplifiers with your Crescendos and in truth you have much valued experience in general. To the best of my knowledge the 508ia is hard wired and can used as strictly a power amplifier via bypassing the preamplifier section.From what I’ve read by numerous Line Magnetic owners the amplifiers are "very" quiet. I’m sure wig can address all of Grannyring’s inquiries.
You’ve had the EML 300b tubes for 4 days, let me know how they perform as driver stage tubes. I’ve used the EML XLS for over 3 years in my amplifier as output tubes and they are stellar! Wig, you're as impressed with the 508ia as waltersalas. I completely trust both of you,  no doubt that this is a superb sounding amplifier. 
@ Grannyring

- Do you hear any hum/buzz through your speakers a foot away? 3 feet away?

Slight hum with ear on speaker but can't hear it a foot from speaker

- Do the transformers make a mechanical buzz noise you can hear when the room is quiet? Not through the speakers, but simply emanating from the physical amp.


- How loudly do you listen when you go loud? Did you ever capture with a db meter?

Will capture my normal listening levels tonight when kids are in bed.

- How many hours are those 805 tubes good for in that amp before they need replacing?

They say up to 5,000 hrs. I have about 2,600 hrs. on mine with no issues; solid bias with no drifting

- Do you know if the amp is circuit board built or hard wired/tag strip. I could not find internal pics of your amp. Other LM amps are a combo of point to point wiring with only a two or three very small circuit boards.

All hand-wired point-to-point connections but there is a PCB with about 15 small Caps

- Finally, can you bypass the volume control with a direct input option on the back of the amp?

Yes; Pre-Amp in to bypass LM Line-Stage


Thanks Wig. Enjoy listening tonight. I am doing the same! 

Do do you get your Duelund wire as yet to try as jumpers? 

With only 12 hours on the EMLs, they're a little more transparent but it took my Sophia's 56 hours for them to wake-up.  Looking forward to more hours but the XLS are not recommeneded with the 508 circuitry.

@ Grannyring

Should have the Duelund DCA 16 ga in two weeks when back orders are in stock. Read a reviewer saying to single and run Deulund up both binding posts; bought enough to try as speaker cables.


Yes I assumed you’re using the EML standard 300b. This is a premium brand and all of their various tubes are held in high regard. Another asset is their reputation for reliability and longevity. Wig I find it interesting that the powerful Vitus amplifier seem to lack dynamic impact with your Crescendos. . As I’ve often written, there’s no substitute for actually listening to an audio product.
Wig, I also run a single wire up the bass to the high frequencies with no jumpers. Simply strip some 5 inches of the Duelund wire and wrap around each post in a continuous run. No connectors needed for best sound. Now I liked the 16 gauge a lot, but found the 12 gauge had a tad more body and weight. The 12ga is a tad less lively than the 16 ga. For me that was a good thing.

Now the Western Electric 10 gauge is also,very, very special and the warmest of the three. It happens to be what I am using right now. Here is a link to the wire I am now using.

I did aother mod to my Crescendos. Ha! Pretty soon they need to be called another speaker! I used Soundcoat constrained layer damping to damp each of the woofer frame baskets. I like the result thus far.
Hello all,

Bill are you considering the 508ia for your system,If you get one let us know how you like it.

Wig,thank you for all the good info on the 508ia,I'm glad to hear that you are enjoying it.


As I’ve often written, there’s no substitute for actually listening to an audio product.

I have always found it to be just priceless and really no better way than to try out different products in my own system,room,and music.

I received a text from my friend that has the 508ia and he said that they are going on vacation in 2 weeks and I could borrow his amp while they are gone but only if I promise him that I will not do any mods to it.Lol.When he comes back from vacation I will loan him my LTA gear for a weekend.


I would now call your speakers the "Billcendos" 😁😁.

Can you provide a link to the soundcoat product that you used.

Hi Kenny. 

No I am not, but I wanted to know more facts for the poster. If the poster wants a tube amp it seems like a solid choice. I simply have my system on far too much to run a tube amp. My Lyngdorf unit is just spectacular with my mods and the simplicity is hard to adbandon.

 I owned a very special set of tube monoblock amps made and customized by Von Gaylord (Legend Triode) that competes with any tube amp costing up to $12,000 that I have heard. I have heard many.  I paired it with my Super Hot Rod version of the TRL Dude preamp and a superb Luxman DA06 dac.

The Lyngdorf simply gave up nothing and actually improved some areas.  Few know about it or will even try it, but I am the lucky one:)
No, it is going nowhere. Now I do have the ability to use it as a preamp, dac, and room correction unit with a separate amp if I choose. I have tried several amps with it, both tube and SS, but always come back to the Lyndorf on its own. It just draws me into the music more. 

I am am considering trying a First Watt amp and comparing just to see. Not sure it has enough power however. 40 watts into 4 ohms? My experience has been the AZ Crescendo can play with 30 watts, but plays better with over 100 watts. 
Kenny, mod that 508! Bypass those poor sounding binding posts! I know you have skills. Modifying that amp is not for the timid as I am sure you will find 700-1000 Vdc, not 375-500. Ouch! 
Kenny you can use pretty much any decent damping material with adhesive backing. Auto parts stores have all kinds like the brand Dynamat.

Soundcoat sells a nice product that you can buy from Sonic Craft. Here is a link.

It is very expensive however. I needed a bunch to use in my server, amp, audio rack, and speakers. I used the stuff below, and while technically it may not meet the definition of constrained layer damping, it worked well for me. It is used by the military to damp vechiles etc... The price is right for the huge quantity of it. I used two or three layers depending on placement. Careful as it is conductive!

Billcendos. Well I need to,have a nice decal made to place on the back of the speaker. Great idea!


Thank You for the info,the military surplus stuff looks like it would work just fine in most applications.Dynamat is the only one that I have ever used on driver baskets and inside chassis of components.

Kenny I like the Soundcoat product that Sonic Craft sells for the inside of electronics. Not conductive and works just great. Just to pricey for the bottom of Audio rack shelving and woofer baskets. 
Here are my typical listening sessions with one of my favorite Acoustic Guitarist, Julian Bream.

- How loudly do you listen when you go loud? Did you ever capture with a db meter?

Measurement taken on my Tablet ranging from 73-83 db at my listening position.


Thanks Wig. Very modest listening levels for sure. I am going to listen to Julian today. 
If you have reasonably normal hearing acuity and listen in a relatively quiet room, wig’s listening levels seem quite typical in my opinion. I’m assuming that this is C-weighted (as opposed to A-weighted) scale. Bill, are your listening levels typically in the 90 db and higher range?

Certainly we’re all different in regard to our comfortable and satisfying volume levels. Mine are in the same range of wig’s the majority of the time. Occasionally I’ll listen at higher levels but not for long periods of time. If someone has some degree of hearing deficiency I could understand the need to crank up the volume level to compensate.
Wig probably has such a high degree of resolution and transparency in his system that it provides much involvement without having to turn it up louder.

This has been my experience as my system has improved over the years. Nuances, inner detail and dynamic ebb and flow are apparent at lower listening volumes compared to prior systems I’ve owned.
I do not listen at 90db as that is simply too loud for me most of the time, I do listen at levels over 73-78 db at times for sure. I think many aphiles do. We would all be surprised at how loudly we play our music at times.

I find the better a system is the more likely you are to turn it up a tad more and enjoy. Why? Because a well put together stereo system will not sound too loud (noisy) at 83-90 db or so. Noise does indeed play a role here. The music and scale of the performance swells and surrounds you without sounding "loud". This only happens in a system with this capability. This is why leaving enough headroom in your speaker/amp combo is so vitally important.

I have put together many systems that sound wonderful at lower volumes, but show signs of noise and strain when turned up. Many of the mods and tweaks I do address this very issue. Well executed power supplies are so important etc... I don’t want my music to sound more reproduced and forced as I turn it up. I want it to remain engaging with a sense of ease that does not force me to turn it down. This is a particularly difficult thing for a system to do right. Particularly difficult for my ears as I have a touch of tinnitus.

It is also true that a nicely resolved system will sound very satisfying at lower volumes for the reasons you point out. Many want both opportunities in their systems.

I agree that as an audio system mproves resolution,  purity and transparency, performance does increase in both lower and higher listening level scenarios. I find that excelling at the lower volume levels is a greater challenge for most systems as many can sound flat or lifeless at subdued levels.  This is more elusive in my opinion. I suspect that Wig obtains satisfaction in either direction of the volume control as desired. 
Charles,Granny Ring,

I listen at the same levels that you guys do with the occasional louder listening session but usually not for very long.

I also have found as my system has gotten better and better it's much more resolving,engaging and has better dynamics at lwr levels below 78 db.

Charles, I am confident Wig’s system scales both ends of the db spectrum to his satisfaction. It does as I have spoken and emailed him directly. I am saying one needs to know what one wants in a system, understand the limitations of a given system combo, and go from there. No system is perfect and tradeoffs are enevitable. Just understand them upfront.

There are several roads to the same set of sonic priorities and not all of those roads must include a certain kind of amplifier or preamp. We play systems, not amplifiers, and the audio landscape is serving up some exciting new ways to sonic bliss. Buckle up as we are in for a ride and tomorrow’s gear, close proximity tommorrow that is, will bust up some of our current conventional wisdom. Frankly, it is happening right now.


Very well said,+1 on all of your statements.

I tell lots of newer people in our hobby that a great system is put together with a set of priorities in mind and at the end of the day we listen to a system as a whole and not the individual components.And Offcourse each one of us has our own list of priorities that are unique to us individually.

I will boldly predict that in 10 yrs or less class d amps and all in one components such as the Lyngdorf will turn the audio industry upside down.A higher percentage of audiophiles will buy them for the convenience,simplicity, potential overall value,and great sound.

You are definitely one of the early adopters and I can tell from your words and statements that you truly love the sound you are hearing with your system and I think that is just totally awesome.

Kenny you just wrote exactly what I am thinking and chose not to share🙂

One box solutions without all the ICs, power cords, digital cables, longer signal paths, additional noise and complexity are indeed the future. No doubt about it. What is coming, and here now for room correction, will be and is so impressive! Our walls and rooms will be invisible to our future systems! This alone will and has brought sonic improvements impossible not that long ago. We will be able to use software and small chips (something like this) to taylor the sound if you want. Want that DHT SET sound, then you can have it without the additional noise. Want that 100 watts of Class A SS sound, then you can have it without all the heat. Want absolute neutrality, you can have it. So much more than I can think of on my own.

I am an innovation professional and sense we are in the midst of historic sonic improvement. These are special times and unique in all of audio history. The technology is more disruptive in nature than even the tubes to SS thing that happened decades ago.

Anyway, now is the time to have an open mind and explore the possibilities. I am very attracted to tubes on so many levels, but the reality is I must be open to a future which will bring many wonderful options.

I will end my little "excitable boy" post with one word......noise. Until you hear a system/electronics that has all but eliminated it, you just don't understand all the noise you are living with in your system. Noise is sonic bliss's enemy #1.  It obscures detail, nuance, tone, ebb & flow, and emotion at all volumes. Innovation will incarcerate this sonic criminal. 

For the OP. The Lyngdorf 2170 I own with my Crescendo speakers does not sound like a 50 watt PP tube amp, or 845, or 805 amp. There are tradeoffs. There are two main benifits this unit brings to your system. First, It removes noise you had no idea was mixed in with your favorite music. It is uncanny and arresting at first. Noise always sounds louder and even impressive at first. However, it is robbing your system and ears of fidelity. I hear more of the music and all that was intended in the recording. Yes, I can turn it up and want to because the noise is greatly reduced . I am sure the future will bring even more improvement.

Secondly, What the room correction did for my system’s sound was also arresting. Both these things outweigh the lack of "tubes" reality in my system. Again, there are always tradeoffs. At least for now, the future will bring far less☺️
Many great attributes about the LM is that it sounds wonderful at low listening level, I turned it up a notch or two to simulate an average volume level but I listen typically lower and probably peaking at 75 db.

One of the most fascinating things I have discovered with output tube amplifiers even though they don't have the low end grip of the best solid-states, they make up for it with better mid-bass, sonic presentation with clean and taught bass; you actually hear more bass.

Definitely try as many of combos as possible to see which one suites your listening environment and taste.

I listened to both Vitus and LM side-by-side with the music I listen to the most and LM was head and shoulders above in every category and the LM has gotten much better with burn-in and tube upgrades; it's amazing how punchy this 48 Watt unit competes with a 350+ Watt power-house...

That’s quite a soapbox you’re perched upon 😊
Seriously I know we’re both after the best sound quality and music reproduction we can realistically obtain in our respective homes. I am not sure of you references to an "open mind " . Are you perhaps suggesting that your decision to purchase an all in one digital component equates to this status?

I’m open minded in the true sense of the term and this is why I would never question your audio system decisions, Absolutely not. To each their own. We all determine through trial and error what works out best for us sonically. The Lyngdorf could be all that you claim. If an opportunity arose for me to hear one I’d happily try it.

I’ve heard the lower noise arguement in reference to tubes ad nauseum. All audio devices have some forms of coloration and character, no exceptions. I’ve listen to many audio components over many years (as you have as well) I judge simply on what I hear.

New and innovative is inevitable but doesn’t imply better, there are always hits and also misses, success and failure. I sincerely appreciate your energetic enthusiasm for the Lyngdorf. I may share your enthusiasm if I ever hear one, who knows?

Admittedly I harbor some level of skepticism when something is touted as the latest and greatest and will make all that came before it obsolete. Time and exposure will tell. Bill I enjoy the discussion and I hope the Lyngdorf brings you many years of sonic joy.


Several other Vitus owners said the same thing and they were using 98 db high efficiency speakers; maybe that's why we see this amp matched up with Magico or YG Acoustics in reviews, a very dynamic speaker with aluminum type drivers.

After speaking with them, it peaked my curiosity since they were totally satisfied with their LM 219 IA 22 Watt SET and the 508 IA was recently released. Triode from Japan was on my list as well and is what Robert uses during shows (Mono Block) but the 22 Watt Integrated was over $9K and LM has the same build quality with twice the power solidified my decision... Not sure if there is a sound difference between 845 or 805 tubes? 

It's very interesting to me how tubes are often chastised as yesterday's technology and their "noise" issues yet they continue to survive  (and sound superb when done properly). Surely on technical grounds the Vitus trounces the 1930s technology of the Line Magnetic's SET topology.  You owned both and let the ears decide. I'll concede the Vitus may just mate better with a different speaker. I've no doubt that your LM 508ia is fabulous with the Crescendos. 
I'd love to hear a direct comparison of the Lyngdorf and the LM 508ia.  This is the epitome of old school  versus New school 😊😊
Post removed 
Not sad IMO if the modern all in digital  one box solution actually sounds better, that’s the question.I will buy a one box component if it has superior sound quality compared to what I currently have. Best sound wins.
Charles, my noise comment goes for all other system combinations I have experienced ranging from all tube to all SS and a mix of the two. Noise is a result of many things beyond a tube. I am not saying, did not say, the Lyngdorf is the latest and greatest. I am not saying, did not say, it is as good as the LM508. It is different and does some things better for sure. Cannot compare the two as the Lyndorf unit should be used on its own with no separate dac or preamp. It's greatness in found when utalizing all it does as a complete system. However, I am saying it represents what is coming - gives a taste of it. What is coming in the digital domain with all in one units will in fact render today’s tube and other non-tube gear a distant second. The Lyndorf unit is not some sort of holy grail unit in my opinion, but it does address areas that innovation will continue to refine and improve. Innovation, in this regard, will indeed be most positive for every flavor of aphile.

Being open minded is a reference to all aphiles and our individual biases and experiences. Innovation will transcend this limited perspective.

Post removed 
Let's build this unit Charles. A DHT 300b tube output amp with SOTA room correction and built in dac. We can address further noise reduction with a cutting edge hybrid pre and amp section.