Pro audio power amps

Discussion in 'Power Amps' started by thegunner100, Dec 19, 2015.

  1. thegunner100

    thegunner100 Hentai Master Chief

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    Kinda curious about pro audio power amps and what they offer over commercial amps. I know that they're generally overbuilt, have high power output, and can be found used for cheap prices. It seems like using them would require a pre-amp as well, which may alter their sound. If I wanted to try out a cheap pro power amp, what should I be looking for? @purrin, I know you used to use a crest CA-2 for your speakers before you used the Rag. And I remember @Rex Aeterna using some pro amps as well. Anyone else who has experience using one?
     

  2. atomicbob

    atomicbob Friend

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    Look for Crown, QSC, Bryston. I personally use a Bryston 3B ST for 2 bus speaker work and find the Crown iTech 5000 pretty decent to drive my Bag End D18E subs.
    Avoid Behringer, Alesis, Bose, Samson. I have mixed feelings about Peavey.
     
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  3. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    Crest amps are good. I see a Crest CA2 on eBay for <$300.

    I'm not sure how the latest Class D stuff compares, but it's Class D so....yeah. Depends on you're usage scenario.
     
  4. thegunner100

    thegunner100 Hentai Master Chief

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    There's a CA4 for $200 and free shipping. Really tempted to give it a try. My speaker setup just doesn't give me the warmth and smoothness that my headphone setup offers. I'm thinking it could be my virtue one.3 amp but I dont have anything to compare with except a cheap onkyo receiver.
     
  5. meloman

    meloman Acquaintance

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    Emotiva? Not really pro audio though, but great value.
     
  6. bozebuttons

    bozebuttons Friend

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    soundcraftman pretty decent
     
  7. NoStream

    NoStream Acquaintance

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    I'll go ahead and be controversial and suggest that the Behringer A500 is dirt cheap and pretty competent. It's class A/B and measures pretty well across the board. It also sounds just fine. I debated between that and Emo's 2-channel amp, but speakers are secondary for me, so the Behringer is good enough at 1/3 the price.
     
  8. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    Emotiva 100 watt per side amp got slammed by a 10 watt per channel Trends amp years ago in my office system. There was no contest regarding sound quality preference for me.

    I also had a nice little Samson amp that did a bit better than a number of vintage receivers, an EL-34 tube integrated amp and a hot JVC digital receiver that was the hype of all the forums
     
  9. thegunner100

    thegunner100 Hentai Master Chief

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    Well I guess someone already picked up that CA4. Oh well! Would be cool if I could find someone local with a pro amp. It's hard to justify buying a used one and then spending a ton on shipping it out if I don't keep it.
     
  10. Rex Aeterna

    Rex Aeterna Friend

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    i use nothing but pro audio now. like home stuff you have the bad and the good out there. commercial and pro is basically same. they just use different inputs and outputs for fixed installations[​IMG] for commercial versions where pro stuff just have your typical xlr,1/4'' inputs and binding post/speakon outputs for quick hook ups. crown is usually my first choice for everything cause i had good results with them but, older crest, aragon ,ashly, qsc usa, sound craftsman, peavey cs are good as well.

    i also don't know if amp topology is important to you like some people when it comes to amps or type of power supply matters(to some people it does and it's fine. people have different specific preferences). lot of newer amps went using switch mode power supplies and class d for most of it. qsc and crown still makes some class a/b amps like lower end of the rmx with qsc models is class a/b while the bigger models are class h which is similar to a/b while crown makes class a/b amps for their more expensive line up like the cts/xti2 series,ect....


    also if it's warmth i don't think you're gonna get it with a good quality pro amp in most cases cause they're just meant to reproduce the input signal best as possible with lowest distortion possible. also lot of them have pretty high damping factors which will make them sound colder to you maybe but, it depends i guess. i always had opposite results with amps with good damping factors that gave a greater deep low[​IMG] end slam but, that can also be result of good mount more power with each amp i upgraded from as well. ashly mosfet design or good class d amp like crown xls models will might offer slight warmer tone by giving slight softer upper end.
     
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  11. sphinxvc

    sphinxvc Gear Master East

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    I don't think Emotiva falls under pro audio per say, but I've owned a couple of their lower end amps a few years ago (nothing more than $300). Mostly negligible performance with my Devores. Loud enough with enough headroom for sure, but otherwise dull with particularly weak imaging. That was the stop gap then. A midrange Cambridge Audio amp is the stop gap now (640A, also $300 used). It's smoother and warmer than the Emotivas. It still lacks compared to the Odyssey Stratos or FW F3 I had - those had better dynamics, holography, reso...but it fills the need, and has some cool features to boot; like a/b speakers (say, to switch to a tapped HE-6 on the fly...or to listen to my 30 year old Mordaunt Shorts).

    I know it's not a pro amp, but you're welcome to borrow it when I see you at the Feb meet. I should be waist deep in my first gain clone build by then, but you can borrow it even if I'm not.
     
  12. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Crown, Crest and QSC were the workhorses from years ago. I think Crest is now part of Peavey? In any event, if you're buying any old ones off craiglist/whatever then pay due diligence and ask the history/usage. Stuff that's been sitting in a smoky bar for decades should be avoided.

    One issue with PA amps is their cooling fans. Not a big deal powering a stage, but sometimes too loud in a home environment. Noise floor is also potentially an issue.

    Behringer has severe reliability issues, but are potentially cheap enough to just buy spares and not care. Personally I choose not to support Behringer due to their history of ripping off other company's designs. Alesis is supposedly similar, but I have no experience with them.

    Some of the old Bose amps were actually made by Carver who has a sort of weird reputation and oddball topology/power supply. Personally I think my Carver amp is one of my better sounding ones, but I've heard servicing is an issue if it ever comes up.

    I have a lot of Brystons. Great stuff, and my favourite is actually the smallest: the 2B.

    Newer Yamaha stuff I like on subs, but feels boring on tops.
     
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  13. firev1

    firev1 Friend

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    Amcron/ Crown are still being used in many high studios today from what I can see in the Japanese scene(Crown Studio Ref 1, DC300). Others also use Mcintosh amps.

    Besides the usual choices and older amps, I see Hypex Ncore getting mention to be used in a couple of really high end studios on Gearslutz as well. Imo the gap between pro and audiophool amps is very thin when we talk about the high end reference stuff since they tend now to lean towards class D.

    Whereas I feel the gap in speaker design is kinda huge between pro and home.
     
  14. Rex Aeterna

    Rex Aeterna Friend

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    speaker design is not really huge gap as much as amps. lot of top end multi thousand dollar audiophile speakers use pro drivers especially woofers for their stuff. people say speaker design advance but, it never has and was already perfected during the 60's basically but, that's another subject.

    crown studio reference amps are very hard to come by and if you find them perper to pay really big coin for them. expect them going for same price as brand new macrotech i 12000 or itech 12000 atleast. even the old legendary workhorse like the older macrotech 5002vz is poperly used and never let go of.

    for fans it depends on amp. i know qsc is consistent but, they're tolerable and like any other amp can simply replace the fan if want. easy to do. crown is temperture control.

    class is not an issue either. the concept people still believe something is better base on topology amp design to actual real performance is kinda silly too since i heard amazing and horrible sounding crap[​IMG] with all type amps i ever used through the years. i use class d crown as main amp for home and for events i do and never had complaints on sound of them.
     
  15. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Cheap/older class D amps from Behringer/Peavey don't sound so great. On subs it's harder to pick out because they can make with the bang when needed, but on tops they have a somewhat flaccid sound to them. All the notes are there, and it's competent enough I guess, but not enough to bring you home. Then again, the venue is probably crap anyways and you're fighting against crowd noise, so who the hell cares. I'm highly considering picking a couple up because my back likes the idea of reducing my road case weight by 60 lbs.

    Better/newer class D amps are pretty good, but just as expensive as regular A/B amps. In a PA market, low heat/weight wins unless you're a doof like me who extends his audiophile habit into his PA gear.

    Some other old school but lesser known workhorses to look for are BGW and AB International amps.
     
  16. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    I know along the US east coast there was a big influx of Crown D45/75 amps a couple months back. I think there was a contract expiry/renewal with a bunch of movie theatres, so all these amps rushed in and could be picked up for <$100. I highly recommend seeing if some are still kicking around, but they were getting snatched up pretty fast. It's a great amp for a hundred bucks, class A/B, 1U rack space, no fan. The Bryston 2B is easily better sound with the same form factor, but you're paying 4x the price.
     
  17. thegunner100

    thegunner100 Hentai Master Chief

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    Cool! I'll see if I can snag a D75 for cheap on ebay one of these days.
     
  18. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Check the guitar centers too.
     
  19. Rex Aeterna

    Rex Aeterna Friend

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    that is true. they aren't exactly cheap but the older silver xls class d amps can be had for pretty good price since they were discontinued for the xls series 2 during the summer which is basically same but, new look and features for the home crowd with input selectivity and a 12v trigger to remotely turn off the amp and has front led shut off... peavey i heard bout their class d model amps and same with carver they they can be rough around the edges in sound. people tend to prefer crown,lab gruppen or higher end qsc power light models for class d but, they did recently release a new class d gx model to compete with crown xls models but, never had chance to personally use them.

    yea, lot of stuff was requested from crown a lot in high depend. it was mostly studios who wanted the dc300,d45 and d75 for use and for touring and big theaters people demanded the big macrotech 5002 models cause how freakeshly powerful they are and near impossible to kill even under a consistent 1ohm load. the macrotech is what earned and made crown's reputation besides the early all in one mobile reel to reel.

    lift with the legs man. the legs...i do though feel the same here. while class d is light i don't might using brute force carrying heavier stuff if it sounds better. same with speakers and so forth.
     
  20. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    I'm a short guy; a 6U wooden road case is verging on too big for me to comfortably carry. I stuck a pair of Brystons in there once and just couldn't get the leverage to lift, nevermind get it in the car.

    I found a local guy selling a Peavey IPR amp. I heard it once and wasn't terribly impressed, but it's something ridiculous like 8 lbs !! I've got one venue that's up on a 3rd floor with no elevator, so those IPRs are very tempting.

    I hadn't heard of the QSC GX series. Sadly, qsc is harder to come by in my town so my only pickings are on the used market which mostly seems to be RMX amps.

    A newcomer amp that I've been really curious about is the Benchmark AHB2. The way they describe the topology sounds vaguely like the Yamaha EEEngine amps.
     

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