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Like all PHY-based designs the Grand Crescendo is an easy amplifier load. Its 16Ω impedance and roughly 97dB sensitivity are beautifully suited to SET amplifiers of 5wpc and higher output. During the review period we had on hand the Tron Discovery 300B SET power amp to augment our own WE-equipped Audio Note Meishu for two different approaches and qualities to the single-ended 300B concept. Devialet’s D-Premier was another candidate to represent more power by way of 120wpc into this 16-ohm load.

First the Grand Crescendo was put to work on our familiar Meishu. With the speakers’ open backs, placement was no simple task. Reflections out the back against the wall initially smeared the sound and it took quite some rearranging to get the sound to ‘snap in’ and have the speakers and room work together rather than struggle about who was boss. It proved that these speakers are really fussy about proper placement before they start to sing. A few millimeters too many out into the room was sufficient to kill the balance; a single degree of toe-in more or less killed the virtual image. Speaker cable choice was another mission of trial and error. Crystal Cable’s high silver content made the reworked Motorola piezo tweeter overly present. Bernard Salabert exploited the fact that where the piezo high-pass kicks in is also where the widebander’s impedance rises sharply.

A piezo tweeter without a voice coil has an impedance of around 100 ohms which nicely complements the high impedance at the 11kHz crossover point. A voice-coiled tweeter would have definitely shorted out the widebander. We had to look for a more synergistic cable and found one in the Nanotec GS#79 nano3 Limited. Less silver in the speaker cables better matched the internal silver hookup wiring and silver voice coil of the KM30 SAG. The next setup factor to dial in was tilt. At the back of the Grand Crescendo the closely placed footers can be turned in and out to allow for more or less back tilt. This adjustment too took a considerable amount of iterations to get right. Finally it was time for the music.

Playing vinyl, 16/44.1 CDs and high-rez releases from M.A. Recordings all confirmed that the Grand Crescendo was most happy in smaller settings of preferably all acoustic music. Chamber music was a personal favorite followed by tango. Another simpatico match was gypsy swing. With the likes of Django Reinhardt or Romane sitting down to show off their inimitable handicraft the PHY drivers tracked the fast pace and dynamics without breakup. The sound was on the lightweight side of the scale as the cabinet construction had the lower frequencies present only as their overtones. In the specifications of the Grand Crescendo, Musical Affairs claims a frequency response of 30Hz to 20kHz but in our space a slightly rolled-off 60Hz of extension was more factual. Not a problem—the human hearing magically ‘interpolates’ the missing fundamentals—but the real thing which excites the chair you sit in or in more extreme cases flaps your trousers was clearly absent. With a 30cm/12-inch driver we honestly would have expected a little more.