I’ve auditioned CROFT separates (preamp and power amp) at a dealer with the following observations:
Its a bespoke British kit that has its own quirks, strengths and warts,
(1) Speaker matching was comparatively very acute. In my audition, LIVING VOICE Avatar OBX-R2 speakers bested NEATs, FOCAL and all the other contenders on-site. CROFT appeared to be of a higher sensitivity to a proper speaker match.
(2) Cables had a noticeable effect on the synergy alchemy. Curiously again, a higher sensitivity to cables was apparent, with LFD besting the bevy of cable choices. But because of (1) above, it was impossible to emphatically assign a separate distinct factor herein with any great assurance.
(3) The CROFT kit sounded great with a high-end digital source at the top of the system. It was my observation that the CROFT kit is very revealing and will expose any source shortcomings or weak spots graphically.
it can be lovely indeed, it’s a bespoke high-end kit but it is not one that I rank ahead of a better known and more easily seen alternative such as LFD. The latter is every bit the peer to CROFT and IMO a "better" performer via both performance and flexibility in many system builds.
add to this that
-- the CROFT is an esoteric limited appeal and limited popularity brand here
-- but still $$$$ buy on this side of the pond
-- with the potential high component matching sensitivity issues highlighted above,
(1) it’s a high-risk brand choice that I would never buy blind nor lend any credence to mag reviews accordingly because of these real risks:
(2) your exit choices later, if it does not float your boat, will likely be very limited (and expensive) because of its relative popularity and brand obscurity in North America ;
(3) Having heard it, (and it was lovely but in THAT bespoke system) I would only consider it in an evaluation predicated upstream to its source AND downstream to its speaker mates.
In simpler words, it is a unit to be a contender AFTER I was comfortable with the rest of my gear. It is not one that I would parse out separately as a low-risk keeper first building block .....
Thank you! That was an incredibly insightful and helpful post. I especially appreciate the insight of potential difficulties of resale if the unit is not to my liking. Cheers!
I purchased a used Croft Micro 25 preamp last year based on reviews & forums, and could not be happier with it. I would have zero regrets even had I paid full retail price.
However I never initiate conversations about it or the brand, because, I'm pretty certain I would be just as pleased with almost any other highly transparent, handmade tube preamp in my system.
Without denying anything akg said above--I'd suggest searching some of the UK forums for more information on the LS50+Croft pairing.
P.S. Best I ever heard the LS50s was with a PrimaLuna integrated.
I have had Croft Micro phone preamps since 1987 and love them. Currently using a 25R with Telefunkens and 5751 and it’s sublime. I’ve not heard the integrated but heard nothing but praise. I have read a review that suggests some higher order distortion than some amps but it makes music. I’d recommend it as a phono integrated if using a turntable. Roll out the JJ tubes for much improved performance over stock.
Croft makes very high quality audio gear. I have a Croft RIAA phono preamp in which I’m running Shuguang Custom 12AX7 LS Super Tube Special Edition tubes. The Shuguangs are fast becoming my favourite new production 12AX7 tubes (Psvane 12AX7-TII ’s were my previous favourites) .
I chose Croft because I have a London Decca Super Gold cartridge which is the same cartridge that Glenn Croft uses to voice his preamp.
The Croft RIAA performs head and shoulders above my previous phono stage. Although, since the Doge 8 is both a line and phono stage preamp, a direct comparison may not be completely fair.
@nordicnorm I have a Decca Super Gold too. Glenn Croft told me he'd choose it all day every day over any MC. I have had John Wright upgrade it with a paratrace stylus. No issues with tracking. Again, a great amp for phono.
Damn, we should start a Decca Lovers club! I belonged to the Quad Owners club in the 1980’s. Other pre-amps of interest for the cartridge are the K & K and Zesto, the latter having a setting specifically for Londons/Deccas, with resistance and capacitance added.
By the way Ken Kessler of HFN & RR is a Decca/London enthusiast, and also a fan of Croft's work.
I had a Croft Phono Integrated, and sort of wish I had kept it. I had it paired with the KEF LS50s, and it was a very nice combo. I can't imagine you can do better for that budget range. However, keep in mind that the Croft is only 45 wpc into 8 ohms and 50 wpc into 4 ohms, so it's not going to provide extremely high volume with the KEFs. If you're using a turntable, I don't think there's anything in the under 2k price range that's going to get you close to the Croft's quality, considering that it's got a tubed preamp, SS power section, and a high quality tubed phono stage. You only need a power cord, phono cable, and speaker cables.
If you're coming from the Peachtree, I would expect that you find the Croft to be much warmer, more organic and dimensional, and overall more relaxing. You may find that you lose some detail and have a lower ultimate volume level.
Just my two cents,Scott
I run my Croft phono integrated in to a pr of Harbeth P3 esr’s. Currently I’m running a Sony PS 1 with Furutech PC in to this system for bedroom tunes. It’s very enjoyable. I have tried this setup in my main room downstairs with my Amadeus, EMT cart and SUT. This sounded pretty darned great, and showed me the Croft and Harbeths can truly sing.
A note on @smrex13 comment. I agree but must add that you can alter the sound of the amp by changing the tubes. The stock are warm and a little rolled off. Swap in cheap Electro Harmonix will add detail if not a tiny bit brash. Gold Lions will remove that harshness. Telefunkens will bring the amp to a new level. Also look at 5157 tubes. Consider Croft separates too as an upgrade route.
I use the Croft 7R power amp and it sounds great. Better than my Audio Research VS60. But not nearly as great as my 300b SET monoblocks built to a WE91 schematic.
@nordicnorm I bought a pair of the LS Shuguangs from Grant and love them in my 25R. Thanks for the head's-up.
I have listened to the phono integrated, a really nice sounding little integrated. The stock JJ tubes Glenn sends with the amp are very good, but as others say, one can tube roll and get different sonic characteristics. But mainly, you just have a very good, musical amp in the Croft.
I own the Micro 25 preamp and Series 7 amps, just love them. Simple, very spartan looks, and wonderful sonics. That the phono stages sound so good too in the Crofts can just be an added bonus, even if it is only MM.
I think some may dismiss the Crofts on looks alone, or maybe even due to the Stereophool review damning the measurements, but who cares, they sound great. Give them a listen, well worth the time!
I bought a Croft Phono Integrated last year and have been generally happy with it - mostly playing Vinyl. It's loud enough and has a nice broad tone - neither too bassey nor too trebley - a bit like baby bear's porridge!
Croft's mimimilism really is at play with this amp as the first thing I noticed was I couldn't connect a line-out from it whilst using the phono-amp ... because the phono amp doesn't have a voltage follower (buffer). The result was the line-out sucked the voltage out of the signal and everything went quiet in the speakers.
I had a voltage-follower (valve) stage fitted by a very capable man here in the UK and that solved that problem. However there are one or two other things to bear in mind about this amp.
Firstly, Glenn Croft has stripped this amp back to the bare essentials, so it has just 4 amplification stages; phono, pre-amp, pre-amp follower (single mosfet in class A) and power stage (mosfet pair in class AB).
A typical integrated amp contains 7 to 9 stages. Having recently started building my own integrated amp incorporating valves and mosfets, I can see and hear the significance of the decisions Glenn has made to simplify the Phono Integrated. Most of these were reflected in Sterophile's review in 2013: https://www.stereophile.com/content/croft-acoustics-phono-integrated-integrated-amplifier
- Total harmonic distortion is a little high - though this isn't always a bad thing, but it is a reflection of a very simple pre-amp that doesn't incorporate any negative feedback. The preamp goes straight into the AB mosfet stage i.e. there is no separate gain-driver after the pre-amp.
- The RIAA curve on the phono-amp has notable treble roll-off. Again, not a bad thing, but the Croft phono-stage doesn't sound as detailed as the DIY amp I have built which has a more 'conventional' RIAA profile.
I'm not saying the RIAA curve is related to the differences in detail; I'm not an expert in these matters. However I have found the experience of building something myself enormously insightful and I would recommend it - as I would the Croft Phono Integrated.
Anyone know if I can use the tape outs while using the built-in phono input on a Croft 25R pre? Seems like I read you couldn’t on the less expensive phono integrated.
I can use the tape outs with the phono input on the 25R. Woohooo
Magic is back with 25R/7R and P3ESR speakers. Went full circle. World class and I think I just have stock tubes in this set.
@zek4u My 25R is dedicated to phono only. It was always verboten back in the day to hang a cable on the tape out unless necessary. You might try it with/without late at night to see if it affects SQ.
@autre Sorry, I’ve only had the Croft seperates. First round 25RLS and 7RS. I now have a 25R and 7R and I’m astounded. With a high end source it is just KILLER! I use mine with Harbeth P3ESRs and might have had the first Croft combo with the Kef LS50s or maybe it was Naim. I preferred the Harbeths. More tonally accurate and wasn’t boomy. If i wouldn’t have compared it the P3s, I would have been happy forever with the LS50s.