The softer high frequencies don’t give the full height that some alternatives can, but the soft-edged presentation can work wonders for strong piano recordings such as Brendel’s The Complete Beethoven Sonatas [Philips]. Possibly because this is a digital recording it can sound hard, but here you get the remarkable fluidity of the playing, and your attention is drawn to the tremendous dynamics that Brendel delivers; it’s a totally engrossing performance. With more contemporary material such as Lorde’s ‘Royals’ [Pure Heroine, Universal], which is very much an in-the-box production, the whole thing sounds strained and small scale, as the compression used is rather too obvious. Exposing the shortcomings of commercial studio techniques is often, but not always, the price you pay for great results with good recordings.
An example of the latter would be Patricia Barber’s ‘A Touch of Trash’ [Modern Cool, Premonition]. On that track the bass playing could be tauter as it’s both slower and thicker than I am used to, which is hard to ignore. The drama of the piece is well served, however, and the trumpet remains rounded and distinct without getting too bright up at volume.
I decided to give the phono stage a go, which meant digging out a vintage Audio Innovations step-up transformer and finding somewhere to site it that didn’t induce hum. Not an easy exercise, but a fruitful one as the results achieved with a Rega RP8 and Apheta MC cartridge were very appealing. Vinyl is generally more open than digital and that proved to be the case here; the Rogue phono stage also had more life and vibrancy if perhaps less precision than the line inputs. However, I was impressed with how quiet the phono stage is and how powerful and engaging it makes vinyl sound. Moving over to a Dynavector P75 Mk3 phono stage produced an increase in detail if not in pace, which is clearly good with the onboard stage. The external stage does, however, deliver more of the atmosphere in recordings by virtue of greater transparency. That said, if you are into vinyl for its sheer musicality (and this is no small reason for its revival), then the Cronus Magnum’s phono stage is easily up to the job (and all the more so if you have a moving magnet cartridge).
The Rogue Cronus Magnum is a great amp for the money. It eschews fancy casework in favour of solid engineering and great sonic results. You pay a small levy for having it built where it’s built but, as British motorcycle fans realise, in the long term these things do matter.
Type: Tube, two-channel integrated amplifier with built-in phono stage.
Tube complement: (2) 12AX7, (3) 12AU7, (4) KT120 output tubes
Analogue inputs: One MM phono input (via RCA jacks) , three single-ended line-level inputs (via RCA jacks).
Input impedance: High-level: not specified; Phono: 47kOhms
Power Output: 100Wpc @ 8 Ohms
Bandwidth: 20Hz – 30kHz
Distortion: Not specified.
Signal to Noise Ratio: Not specified
Dimensions (HxWxD): 140 x 457 x 432mm
Accessories included: 1.5m KEMP Lo Power Cord
Manufacturer: Rogue Audio
UK Distributor: Divine Audio
Tel: +44(0)1536 762211