Croft's Epoch is a valve preamplifier with four inputs; three line and one MM phono stage.

There are separate volume controls for left and right channels, echoing the dual-mono construction inside. Component quality is high throughout, with the pair of ECC83's, ECC82 and ECL85 valves surrounded by custom made polypropylene capacitors, silver-plated switches and supplied by a 85A2 valve regulated power supply.

The Series V is a 30watt per channel power amplifier using four EL84's per channel in parallel push-pull operation. Again component quality is high. Small signal valves comprise three ECC83's and an ECC82. Both have front panels finished in chrome with gold plated fixings matching the control knobs on the preamp

Attached to the Crofts I had a pair of Mission 752s and an Audiolab 8000CDM transport feeding a Pink Triangle Da Capo CD convertor.
Playing through some of my standard run of test CDs, Prince's ( I have it on good authority that we can call him that again now) explosively dynamic 'Max' off the Symbol album expressed width and depth with an open and easy quality.

Lisa Loeb's slower 'It's Over' off her Tails CD was very sweet sounding across the whole range with a cleanly plucked guitar sound that sent tingles down my spine.

'Starman' off the same album revealed a dryness in the amplifier's sound that made it almost transistor - like its grip and control. Jonie Mitchell's Blue CD had some good acoustic tests waiting for the Crofts, particularly with the third track 'Little Green'. Joni sang intimately to me and the sparse instrumental was smooth at the top end and laid back and open in the mid to low registers.

"Together the Epoch and Series V don't do a bad job at all. Against similarly priced competition, valve or solid state, the Crofts will takes some beating. I am sure that the lovers of both idioms, who are often poles apart will come together on this one."

Mozart's piano concerto No.17 in G major was next. Strings, the piano on the Andante, in fact the whole thing was absolutely engaging. The staging allowed me to pick out the position of each instrument in the orchestra with ease. It's reproduction wasn't wholly truthful, but musically the slight richness of the Croft's midrange was wonderful.

The phono stage was a slightly different matter. First on the platter was Fleetwood Mac's Rumours LP. Stevie Nicks' voice was sumptuous on 'Dreams' though leaving the instrumental with some brightness at the top end. Bass was well controlled, but economical. On the Texas' LP Ricks Road problems at the top end and bottom end were more obvious, but so were the wonderful happenings in between.

World Verdict:

Epoch - OOO
A fine sounding preamp, but phono stage weak in the bass

Series V - OOOO
Fast, clear and detailed sound will win friends in both the transistor and valve

Haider Bahrani


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