SF Cremona Auditors - Recommend new Amp/CD

Greeting Agon!

Relatively new to the hobby, but after going to a Sumiko dealer, I came home with a pair of Sonus Faber Cremona Auditors, Primare CD31, Primare integrated I30, Rel B2 sub, Audioquest Volcano speaker cables and Cheetah Interconnect cables. Picked up 3 Shunyata Taipan Power chords to help system.

Obviously, this is a "Sumiko" sponsored system, and overall I'm happy with it, but I think the electronics can be improved.

Room is 14x14 with a ceiling that goes from 10 to 15 feet high with the speakers on the 10 foot side. The room is open to other parts of the house, so not completely closed off. DIY room treatments have been made, but improments are greatly needed in this area. Echo busters (bass traps, corner traps, and first reflections, rear reflections will be in the mix soon).

My musical preferences vary from rock to classical and jazz. Acoustic rock, live rock, even some spacy, ambient rock is the preference (Pink Floyd, Jack Johnson, Incubus, Thievery Corp, Beck). Powerful classical is fun, don't really enjoy the piano/violin solos, prefer a full orchestra pieces by Mendelssohn or Berlioz for example. Miles Davis or John Coltrane are also enjoyed. Female vocals are a favorite, Zero 7, Norah Jones, etc.


Primare is pretty good, but not very clean. Sound is "edgy" sometimes. Soundstage could be more refined and intimate. Enjoy the "warmth" but doesn't seem "real" enough.

Really enjoy the Sonus Faber sound, sound was real and soulfull at the dealer. So I think would like to stay with that Sonus Faber sound, but looking for a CD and integrated amp combo or even a Preamp and power amp recommendation.

Auditioned a Wilson Audio Sophia 2 with all VTL and really enjoyed the spacing (quickness), soundstage, power and realism of the system. The sound was extended but not bright or overbearing (bright and "in your face" is something I don't like). Obviously two different systems, but again, I'm new and still learning what I like and what I don't.

Thanks for the help!
Very nice speakers, I have the Cremona floorstanders and find that they match very well with tube amplification.

I use 2 different systems. One is ARC pre and power VT130SE/LS15, blooming midrange, great for jazz/vocals/small classical ensembles. The other one is CJ Premier 17LS pre and VTL MB450 mono power amps, much faster and more dynamic, tighter bass, great for reproducing symphonies.

But I would not describe those systems as efficient for playing rock music... if you want a more versatile amp maybe you should consider SS with a tubey signature like Plinius 9200 or YBA Passion or McIntosh 6900 for the integrated ones. You may also consider SS amp with tube preamp (or the other way round), many combinations are possible... it's all about system matching

If you go for tube amplification then I would recommend that you stick to a pretty neutral/transparent source but with authoritatve bass such as Wadia (I use the 830). If you go for SS amp then you may want to consider a smoother/warmer sounding player like the Audio Aero or Electrocompaniet or YBA

Accuphase also makes great equipment that could fit your requirement...

Keep us posted!
Anybody try the Cremona Auditors and VTL 5.5 preamp? How about a VTL 5.5 paired with a Mccormack 225 SS power amp?

How about a Plinius 9100?

Open to any suggestions (searched the site, not much with direct comparisions to Primare...)
Hi Joel,

Thanks for the recommendations! Funny we are thinking the same things, I posted before I saw your post! Plinius 9200 has been at the top of my list for a while, and VTL captivated me. I will definately look into Accuphase and see if it'll fit the bill =)

Leaning towards a Plinius 9200 for integrated, or a VTL 5.5 pre and 250 monos or perhaps a solid state Mccormack 225. Possibilities are endless, love this new hobby...
Hi Mlauner,

Care to give a generalization of the sound signature when Naim is paired with Sonus Faber?

Thanks for the suggestion!
If you consider SS McCormack 225 you may as well pair it with a Conrad Johnson tube preamp (sister companies...). You can find a used Premier 17LS on AudiogoN for 2.5k, sweet sounding, good value for money. For the same price you may also look at the more recent CT6, although I have not auditioned this last one I would tend to think that it is more on the neutral side. One more alternative would be CJ tube preamp with CJ SS amp... as you said the possibilites are endless...
I use mine with a Pathos Classic One. Very good synergy! Mids and treble very clear and very real-life. For bass i dont know whether a more powerful amp could add anything but I really like this combo. Read also review at Stereophille where Sam Tellin tried this combo and found it nice.
Thanks again for the suggestions. Dzervas, I have a Rel B2 sub integrated into the system, so that should help somewhat if I were to elect Pathos (cool looking hybrid!)

I will try to find dealers for Naim, CJ, Pathos, VTL, Accuphase, Plinius and YBA. I am familiar with Mcintosh, but will try to audition their integrated. When I have done more listening I will report back.

Does anyone have a direct comparison between Primare and any of these brands? That would be the most helpful to me now. Comments like "Primare sounds like this, Brand X sounds like this, and going from Primare to Brand X should yeild you these results with the Cremona Auditors"...
Just to update:

I've scored a killer deal on the floor standing Cremonas, so I jumped on them. A Cremona Auditor with Rel sub versus the Cremonas is close, but not really. Spend your money on the floor standers if you want a full, coherent sound.

I've since moved to Plinius 9200 for amplification and a Plinius CD101. The Plinius 9200 bested the Primare I30 in all departments, and especially in resolution. The Plinius CD101 just took that resolution to another level. To Primare's fairness, I think they have a remarkable midrange tone, very close to the Plinius, just not as transparent.

So, now the system entails:

SF Cremonas
Plinius 9200
Plinius CD101
Audioquest Cheetah and Volcano
Rel B2

Honestly, Primare is not good enough for SF Cremona series, and while there may be better combos out there than Plinius/Cremonas, this combo is quite synergistic.

Areas to improve in Plinius which I think Cremonas would benefit from are in dynamics, transparency, inner details, and an even more holistic, three dimensional soundstage. The Cremonas are capable of these qualities and the Plinius combo does not give the ultimate in these areas. However, for the money, this combo is very synergistic and gives you probably 95% of what you'd want with ultimate transparency, soundstaging and extension only slightly lacking.

Before Plinius I checked out Classe and Mcintosh, hard to find much more in my area. Classe was excellent and so was Mcintosh but too much $. Mcintosh was a little flat with the 402s but that might change if you jump to the 501s, while I only heard Classe's big monoblocks which were very nice but felt separated through the frequencies. I kept thinking, nice highs, good lows, but had a hard time focusing on a coherent whole. I think the Cremonas benefit from big power, so maybe big Pass Labs, VTL's or Mcintosh 501/1201s would be good. Ayre might be a good match because of their resolving abilities matched with the Cremona's emotional abilities.

Any comments welcome...