Expertly designed to amplify the sound level of all acoustic instruments (notably acoustic and classical guitars) without altering their natural tone or resonance — Acus presents the One ForStrings Cremona amplifier. Tom Quayle tells us more.
Acus is known for their high-end acoustic instrument amplifiers, built in Recanti, Italy. Their Oneforstrings range of amplifiers was developed to amplify the sound of acoustic instruments without altering their natural tone and resonance, whilst maintaining the principles of minimalist Italian styling, high-quality construction and components.
The Oneforstrings Cremona is part of this range, designed specifically for classical instruments such as violin, viola and classical guitar but works superbly well for steel-string acoustic guitars and even jazz guitar also.
At the heart of the Cremona is Acus’ TSF equipped preamplifier, said to provide the perfect balance of even and odd harmonics required to produce natural acoustic instrument tones. This is coupled with a high fidelity, full-range (40hz-20Khz) speaker system based on a custom-designed 8” woofer, compression tweeter and a pair of bass ports for added low end. The system is housed in superbly constructed Birch Plywood cabinet with a metal front grill, metal carry handle and angled base for tilting the whole unit backwards on stage. Acus has also included a pole mount underneath the Cremona for those requiring a more traditional PA speaker style setup from their amplifier. It’s a wonderful looking, chic design that would look great on stage or even in your living room and would certainly suit the usually more refined look of an acoustic gig.
The top-mounted control panel looks intimidating upon a cursory glance, but it’s very intuitively laid out with three independent input channels sporting Gain, 4 band EQ, an HFS high-frequency filter dial, reverb send and volume controls. The four band EQ offers High, Mid-High, Mid-Low and Low bands for added tonal flexibility, whilst the switchable HFS dial allows you to cut high frequencies in a musical manner if required; very useful for violins that can have harsh upper harmonics or for removing some of the pick/nail attack from nylon strings for example.
All three channels offer both line and XLR/mic inputs (only one input per channel can be used at a time) with switchable phantom power across all three XLR ins for any instruments lacking pickups or DI capabilities. The top control panel row offers up a direct out with -10dB and pre/post switches (for removing any reverb/tone controls from the DI out signal in pre mode), phantom power selection and a reverb toggle switch to select between the four onboard studio-quality reverbs. Alongside the DI out you’ll find a Headphone out with a dedicated volume control and an Aux In for playing to backing tracks, also with its own volume control. A switchable resonance control allows users to dial out problematic low-end frequencies to avoid feedback on stage whilst master reverb and master volume controls complete the design.
In use, the Cremona is a wonderful sounding amplifier that makes you play at your most musical, thanks to its superb dynamic range and tonal capabilities. You really feel like your acoustic instrument is being represented at its best, and there are no barriers to your performance. Setting the preamp EQ flat on our Ibanez Classical guitar’s pickup system, the Cremona’s 4-band EQ allows for enormous tonal flexibility and shaping that will come in incredibly useful in different stage environments. Each element of the frequency spectrum feels well represented and uncluttered with a sense of clarity and assurance in the low, mid and high end.
The onboard reverbs are a great addition, offering longer reverb times as you progress through the four different modes. Combining the master reverb level with the individual channel sends allows you to create the perfect balance of reverb across all three channels, sounding excellent for both live use and for recording via the DI out.
As mentioned earlier, the Cremona not only excels with classical instruments but is superb with steel string acoustic and even jazz guitars, where the immediacy of attack and full-range speaker system allows for a wonderful playing experience. At 200w max power out it’s also plenty loud enough for most gigs and, where you need more power, the DI out will become invaluable.
The lightweight and compact design round out what is already a fantastic acoustic amplifier at a great price point considering the tones and Italian workmanship on offer. Acus certainly produce some wonderful products and the OneforstringsCremona is no exception. If you gig primarily with acoustic instruments or are a jazz guitarist looking for a portable and great sounding/looking amplifier, then look no further – Acus have you covered!
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