Sotosound

Croft and Russell K. Struggling at higher volumes. Please can you help?

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My system has some nice (to my ears) pieces of kit in it, including an Audio Note DAC 0.1x, a Croft Micro 25 preamp, a modified Croft Series 7 power amp producing around 90W/channel, and a pair of Russell K Red 150 loudspeakers.

 

In between are a Chord Shawline digital coax cable, some Atlas Navigator interconnects,  and some single-wired Atlas Hyper 3.0 speaker cable.

 

At “normal” listening levels, I really enjoy the sound produced – it’s well-timed, neutral, musical, detailed without being too analytical, impactful, full of emotion, rock'n'roll and boogie factor etc. etc. 

 

The newly acquired AN DAC has added an extra something and I just sit and listen to the music without pondering whether the source is my Thorens turntable or my Bluesound Vault 2 etc. It’s that good.

 

However, last weekend we had some friends round and I got an opportunity to turn the volume up. What I worked out is that, when playing loud, the sound just isn’t as good. It loses detail and is just a bit less enjoyable.

 

What I’m aware of is that, with an 87db 1 watt 1 Metre sensitivity, my Red 150 speakers aren’t as efficient as some and that, therefore, they might not be the best match for my Croft power amp and vice versa.

 

However, since I spent so much time choosing the Red 150s, and since they sound gorgeous at more relaxed volumes, I’m pondering whether or not the right thing to do would be to change my power amp for something more powerful.

 

The challenges that cross my mind are whether or not the blame does lie with the power amp, and whether or not I’ll be able to find a power amp that’s a good match for my Croft Micro 25.

 

I’m reluctant to consider replacing the Micro 25 because it’s a great sounding pre with a fabulous phono stage and also because it’s been modified to have a mono switch plus a remote control driving a single, motorised volume control.

 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

 

For instance, is the Croft Series 7 clipping?

 

Is there anyone who uses a Croft preamp with a non-Croft power amp?

 

Would something like a Chord SPM 1000B 200w power amplifier (there’s one on ebay right now) be a good match?

 

Has anyone gotten a more potent power amp modification from Glenn Croft?

 

Could it be the speakers?

 

Am I expecting too much?

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Super Dealer

Can you borrow a more powerful amp?

Keith

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Many thanks. Great suggestion.

My local dealer is a valve specialist, however, which complicates things.

I bought my Red 150s from them but, to be honest, they don't seem a good match for most of the amps that they sell, e.g. 12W/channel Audion Sterling, or 18W/channel Audio Note Conquest etc.

I'll ask, however, just in case they've received a suitable trade-in from a customer going in the opposite power direction to me.

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Super Dealer

Can you borrow a more powerful amp?

Keith

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I agree that a more powerful amplifier is most likely the answer. I increased my power output considerably last year and am reliably informed by Mrs.B that some of the levels I occasionally listen at now are slightly scary...

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Moderator

My experience of Croft is that they can really struggle with less efficient speakers. Organise a bake-off so that you have an opportunity to listen to other amps with your speakers.

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1 hour ago, oldius said:

My experience of Croft is that they can really struggle with less efficient speakers. Organise a bake-off so that you have an opportunity to listen to other amps with your speakers.

I've seen bake-offs mentioned on here before. What do they entail?

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8 minutes ago, Sotosound said:

I've seen bake-offs mentioned on here before. What do they entail?

Hi Sotosound,

 there is a section on the forum covering bake off's and this thread within it will shed some light on what a bake off is.

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Having your house invaded by a bunch of wammers, they will come, in your case bearing amplifiers, speakers, cake and biscuits, and normally a sense of fun and enjoyment. In return you offer hospitality, and tea, coffee, even food. You get to hear stuff in your system, music that in many cases is just unbelievable, and the piss royaly extracted.

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Super Dealer
2 hours ago, awkwardbydesign said:

If the problem is only at high levels, could it be room interaction?  I can't believe Keith didn't ask this!

The most obvious and usual expression of room mode problems is ‘boomy’ bass ,the OP didn’t mention boom but a loss of resolution.

Trying a more powerful amplifier would at least rule out one potential cause, it could possibly be the loudspeakers themselves, at what sort of  SPL does the distortion start ?

Keith

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Super Wammer

Probably way off the mark here...

I auditioned some RK Red 100’s, a couple of years ago. I thought that they were superb with acoustic/ vocal based tunes, but as soon as the music got more complicated (multi-instrument), to my ears it became quite muddled, comparatively speaking.  I can’t remember which model amp was used, just that it was a large Musical Fidelity.

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2 hours ago, dudywoxer said:

Having your house invaded by a bunch of wammers, they will come, in your case bearing amplifiers, speakers, cake and biscuits, and normally a sense of fun and enjoyment. In return you offer hospitality, and tea, coffee, even food. You get to hear stuff in your system, music that in many cases is just unbelievable, and the piss royaly extracted.

Many thanks to everyone for bake-off explanations. Not sure if I’ve got scope for one at present but it sounds like fun. 

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An update.

Today I had a chat with my local dealer (Peter at Deco Audio), and he suggested that I should have an amp that serves me 99% of the time rather than 1% of the time. (Wise words.) He also talked about some people who have a "party amp" that they wheel out when volume is more important than quality.

Whilst chatting with him I also worked out that perhaps my amp is playing louder than I think it is due to lower distortion than one might expect when playing really loud. This might be true.

What I therefore need to do is to play it as loud as it will go without appearing to lose quality and then try to talk to my wife and see if she can hear me without me shouting.

Additionally, I need to step out of the lounge and see how loud it sounds around the rest of the house which, fortunately, is detached.Then I might have something solid to think about. :)

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Super Wammer

I agree about not necessarily worrying if you rarely play very loudly.  However, there is sometimes merit in a bigger amp ‘coasting’, rather like driving a 3-litre rather than a 1.2 litre car.  The counter-argument is that lower powered devices can sound more delicate.

Anyway, what I haven’t seen is the size is of your listening room.  For example, if it’s 40 feet by 30 feet I’d not be surprised if the amp is struggling.  But if it’s 12 x 10 feet then that’s not the issue. 

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