Crown CDi1000 Power Amp Review and Measurements - Stream of Consciousness

Discussion in 'Power Amps' started by purr1n, Jan 12, 2020.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Some context here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...solid-state-power-amp-adventures.3789/page-29

    IMG_20200112_110010.jpg

    I picked one of these up for cheap, thinking it would be be Class D based on its light weight. (I'm still looking for a class D amp that I find satisfying). Looks like I could have gotten fooled (explains why I actually thought this thing sounded too damn good for class D?). I realized that only the Crown DriveCore stuff or DSi series are officially stated to be class D. Crown's lineup is extremely confusing. I'm not sure that even their reps can explain. I don't know if the CDi (non DriveCore) is class AB? Crown is very coy about a lot of shit these days.

    The light weight of the CDi1000 is actually from the switching power supply. The CDi1000 puts out 275W into 8-ohms and 500W into 4-ohms. There would a giant transformer and more heatsinking if an LPS were used. Well, even though it's not class D, at least I'm now beginning to be a believe that SMPS can sound good. Maybe by 2030, I will like class D amplification. (And yes, I've heard the Hypex ncore stuff, including a $10k one - I still think they sounds like ass, insipid - or maybe it's just bad synergy with the speakers I happen like, which tend to have simple xovers and be highly efficient).

    What I'm trying to figure out are the differences between the CDi1000 and XTi1002. The specs and functionality seem to be same, but the CDi series is twice the price. The CDi does supposedly have better digital goodies (this is 2020 now, so these amps have DSP capabilities such as xover, EQ, delay, protection, etc.), but I have not tried them out yet. The most evident differences are on the back of the chassis where the CDi series, being meant for fixed installation, uses Phoenix and screw terminals for input and speaker outputs. The XTi series, being for portable sound reinforcement, offers XLR inputs and Speakon and binding posts. I do wonder if the XTi from a pure sonics (not DSP functionality) point of view sounds any worse than the CDi.

    IMG_20200112_110047.jpg

    For those who are concerned about the Phoenix 3 terminals, adapters can be found for cheap. We will need the female XLR. https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B003D83OWC/ref=dp_olp_0?ie=UTF8&condition=all
    IMG_20200112_110103.jpg

    For my evaluation of the amp thus far, I've switched the DSP off. I'm curious as to how much of a sonic penalty there is with its functions switched on. What makes the Crown CDi series super appealing is that I might be able to build active systems with ease, i.e., without the use of say a MiniDSP and 8-gang pots if I wanted to do something like a crazy four way.

    By the way, the one fan in the back is actually quiet. Nothing at all like the old school power amps. The fan does appear to speed up when more power is demanded.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020 at 9:59 AM
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  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    So how does the CDi1000 sound?

    Surprisingly fantastic! I put this to war against the Schiit Aegir (Stereophile Class A or whatever) and it holds its own! It's actually more a matter of different than better. I've struggled with a lot of high power amps because of the kinds of speakers I run (e.g, Lowthers in a Oris horn + OB woofers in the other room, Fostex BLHs, Altec, etc.). The commonality between these types of designs is simple or no crossover and high-efficiency. I was thinking I simply just wasn't getting "synergy" because I was typically asking for well under one watt of power. The JBL 4698b are pictured below. JBL fudged on the efficiency spec, mainly because the woofers are 4-ohms, but realistically, we are probably talking about 98db per W at 1m.

    IMG_20200112_103525.jpg

    I'll just get to the point. If the Schiit Aegir is a Toyota GT86, then the Crown CDi1000 is a Camaro SS 1LE.

    The Schiit Aegir is refined, responsive, midcentric, nuanced, plenty poised in the mids, and resolves a lot of information. Its transients are more rounded. I won't delve deep into the Aegir, but I suggest that readers start here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/schiit-aegir-power-amp-impressions.6953/

    The CDi1000 is a beast. While it's not quite there in terms of microdynamic nuance, microdetail, and refinement of the Aegir, it carries these qualities more than sufficiently well, but with an incredible dose of raw power. It's not a boat like a Dodge Challenger which is just pure horsepower. The thing that came to mind is that this amp will "slay Slayer" per @Psalmanazar desires. The Aegir not quite so, because 20W, despite the efficiency of the JBL 4698s, will just not do. I had Aegir monoblocks which were cleaner sounding, but I eventually decided on just a single Aegir because of its warmer and sweeter sound, despite being softer. I guess we have to wait until a 200W monoblock version of the Aegir comes out.

    Comparatively, the CDi1000 has more heft in the lows and more air up top (hence my saying that Aegir is more mid-centric, which it is to many other amps). The tactility and palpability of sound waves is much more so. If there is a downside, and if we can even call it a downside. The CDi1000 won't take the bite out of trumpets, the sibilants out of vocals, or the crunch out of guitars when the recording calls for them. This is not to say that the CDi1000 has the bad kind solid-state of quality. It's just saying that if you want an amp that will slay Slayer without reservation, than this is it. There is no pervasive solid-state glare or nasties at all. The amp's not going to hiding sibilants in recordings were a lot of this exists (Alanis Unplugged for instance). Also, I think speakers that might already have issues in the upper mids might not be a good match.

    BTW, I cranked up Rage Against The Machine last night to 110db (at the couch location). I needed earplugs to get that close. It was glorious! My wife was screaming at me, and the kids and I were being stupid doing the dumb dance moves like the floss in the adjoined kitchen.. The sound was damn clean. The JBLs will take 400W pink noise and 500W Program (live music) continuous. Maybe I should look into the CDi2000.

    Anyway, check out used priced on the CDi series. This isn't audiophile gear, it's pro gear that will last forever and take a beating. Scratches on pro audio gear is a sign of honor. Definitely super highly recommended for entry level audiophiles or advanced audiophiles who aren't wimps.

    P.S.

    The gain is super high at 30db. Super high efficiency speakers like the JBLs here will have just barely noticeable hiss at about 7 feet away. Depending upon your preamp or passive pot, you may find yourself not turning up the volume knob past 10 o'clock. As I said, namby-pamby audiophiles need not apply. (I don't think these issues should present themselves for speakers up to 94db W m, and we can always turn down the sensitivity knobs at the front of the amp.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2020
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  3. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

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    How would you compare the CDi1000 against something like an old Hafler or Pass amp?

    Only reason I ask is that I have a pair of JBL LSR32's that are also 4 ohm and require lots of juice. I have an Adcom 5800, but wondering if a pro audio amp like and old Crown or QSC would best the 5800.

    Also, does the CDi1000 have switchable 70V for distributed audio? I know that feature alone ups the price of those commercial install amps.
     
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    No idea how the CDi1000 compares against that stuff. It is an improvement over the Crest CA2 (which I have had sitting around) for sure. The Adcom 5800 is old-school, LPS, big power transformer, and I'm not sure would it be any worse than the old pro audio stuff. You go used pro gear to be cheap and not pay the audiophile tax while getting great class AB performance.

    The CDi1000 does have a 70V / high Z mode.
     
  5. MrTie

    MrTie Friend

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    I do believe the only differences between the XTi and the CDi is the 70v operation and the phoenix connector inputs. Like rtaylor76 said Crown charges an arm and a leg for the "Installer' versions. I'm curious if they have evolved the design a lot, I used to have a pair of the first generation XTi1000's and they did not sound good , at all. Harsh, noisy, and hashy, kinda the worst elements of early Class D/H.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020 at 7:46 AM
  6. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar was: dingleberry; now: chill + interesting

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    I love how JBL tweeters don’t fold up and die when cranked. I’ve seen blown woofers but even their soft domes live.

    People need to just look the thd over power and frequency graphs or not be stupid. Most of these modern pro class d amps sound decent when used at half power or so. Better than Bryston. They are just overlisted for clean power like all class D and most class AB amps. Even those 300ish watt Ti chip amps are good to 150-200 or so in super small, half rack enclosures given adequate cooling.

    The only amp that wasn’t overrated I’ve tried was the ATC amp were 300W actually meant 300ish watts clean but that’s marked up to 4000 bucks for audiophile idiots who refuse to buy the actives and “want to roll amps later on.”
     
  7. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Not a terribly relevant comparison, but I have a pair of QSC PLD4.3 amps. It's class d all the way through from what I know, and they have built-in dsp/xo functions like the Crown.

    Using one to bi-amp my ATC SCM20, I did not like the built-in DSP very much. Funny enough, the top crossover portion was ok. I felt like I simultaneously gained clarity yet sluggishness at the same time, so it kinda evened out. It was the high pass that I did not like, where the sluggishness outpaced the gain in clarity.

    On my PA system, the effects were overall barely noticeable in my basement. In real application I most likely would not be able to tell. Ultimately I just switched over to a dedicated analog crossover, in the event that one of the amps blows up then I can swap in the spare amp and not be out of commission (and if the crossover blows, then I'll reconfigure for non-bi-amping on the fly).

    By that same token, of the couple crossovers that I tried: dedicated analog > DBX something > Behringer DCX2496
     
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  8. RobS

    RobS The Friend formerly known as treboR

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    So what's the use case for an Aegir then if someone can just pick up this Crown used or other pro amplifiers for similar performance? Your JBLs are super high efficient yet it seems having the Aegir in your chain your speakers are more power starved when compared to that Crown. More power available on tap, better dynamics?

    At what point is the audiophile gear better than pro gear? Cuz from my perspective as a poor music lover, pro gear represents a much greater value than a lot of the ridiculously priced audiophile gear.
     
  9. mkozlows

    mkozlows Friend

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    The Aegir is $800. This is $1200. If the Aegir would work well for you, then save $400 and call it a day.
     
  10. RobS

    RobS The Friend formerly known as treboR

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    Yeah that's why I said to pick it up used since it's the similar price of an Aegir new. I've always thought more power is better as it allows for greater dynamic swings. Aegir's low power has far more limited use unless you have high sensitivity speakers.
     
  11. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

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    Key word here is "used". These can be had for around $200-$250 on the used market. Far less than a used Aegir. Especially considering Marv was taking about using two Aegirs.

    Exactly! While not all pro audio gear will fall into this category, but there are many where they blend together, but many audiophiles will dismiss this stuff as "not meant for us" basically. Some pro audio feel that consumer gear is not good enough because once again, "not meant for us." But I think an audio amp or monitor is an audio amp. But you still have to consider the use intended when evaluating, so it could be good or bad.
     
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  12. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar was: dingleberry; now: chill + interesting

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    Qsc RMX class ab is even better than crown if you need less power. They can be had cheap used in many markets. Swap the fan and recap. Rock out like a cheap Irishman.

    A lot of hifi poweramps can be a lot better than most pro ones when modded and not pushed. Active monitors have taken over the pro world. Most home, project, and smaller studios won’t have big passive mains monitors. The most sought after mains and midfields... are active anyway. Bryston and Benchmark are crap in both markets.
     
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  13. RobS

    RobS The Friend formerly known as treboR

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    Yeah there's a refurbished one on Amazon for $379. I avoided checking out pro gear last year when I wanted to get into two-channel as I just assumed they were just tools for the recording engineers to obtain accuracy while not caring about reproducing music in an euphonious way (IOW gear that sounds sterile and clinical but useful in a studio setting). The Convert-2 was the only expensive pro gear I've ever purchased and that surprised me by how musical it was. Now that I know pro gear can sound awesome, I would like to check more stuff out in that realm. And you can get some great used deals too. Now I'm starting from scratch again on getting a speaker setup going...
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    What's the point of a Lotus Elise with an Celica motor compared to a Camaro SS 1LE with a OHV V8? Ultimately they are different. Now of course would be best to combine the best of both. That would be a McLaren 600.

    The Aegir most definitely is a specialist amp. The CDi1000 is doing especially well in the lows in my particular system discussed here because the E155-4 woofers are nominal 4-ohm, but dip down to 2.5-ohms in spots if I remember correctly. Probably too much to ask from Aegir to get such explosive and tight bass.

    I would have a hard time believing of major changes, but given that I think the CDi could be class D (and not AB), I can see significant changes to sound because of tweaks. What components did you use with your XTi1000s? The CDi1000 I can see being a bad match with brighter speakers or speakers with weirdo exotic drivers which are badly integrated. Top it off with sigma-delta DACs of the early 2000s, and I'm pretty sure we can get an nightmare sound. The big JBLs I have are kind of on the laid-back sounding side of things (confirmed via measurements here on SBAF).

    --

    Yup, looks like class D. It's funny how Crown is being super opaque about this. I first thought it may have been class AB because of its power and current spec at the wall, at least compared to the DriveCore stuff. I think the DriveCore is simply their newer class D with more integrated parts which is more efficient.

    IMG_20200113_101646.jpg

    If it is class D, it's the first one that didn't sound insipid to me... is it snowing outside in SoCal today?
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020 at 11:31 AM
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  15. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

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    I think Crown made their own version of class D called like Class H.
     
  16. drgumbybrain

    drgumbybrain Science Nut

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    LOL we needed a 4K vídeo of this!!
     
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  17. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Please read this before delving into measurements: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...ically-incorrect-audio-blog.7261/#post-249242

    Do not be a measurement extremist!

    51.5Vrms or 331W into 8-ohms
    upload_2020-1-13_14-29-58.png

    At very high levels of output, we start to see the even harmonics come into play.

    5Vrms or 3.13W into 8-ohms
    upload_2020-1-13_14-31-29.png

    At lower levels, we just see odd harmonics, with a tiny bit of second order, but nothing in terms of the rest of even order, i.e.g 4th, 6th, etc.

    In theory, this amp shouldn't sound good with all its odd order distortions, particularly the higher order odd order. But the CDi1000 doesn't like the stereotypical bad etchy glarely solid state amp at all.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020 at 3:19 PM
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Quick note: That little rise between 5k and 7k appears to be an artifact from this cheap Micsig differential probe that I am using. I need to use the probe on x50 to avoid high voltage accidents on my AverLAB, which isn't cheap. I may need to evaluate other probes for future measurements.
    upload_2020-1-13_14-35-50.png
     
  19. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The CDi1000 actually hits a bit past 500W before clipping into 8-ohms. Keep in that Crown's 275W spec is for continuous sustained loads. I double checked voltages with DMM, so I am fairly sure I did the calculations right. I got scared because the parts inside the amp actually start to sing the signal once I started to hit the higher power levels. I was also afraid that the wirewound resistor would start smoking or explode.

    upload_2020-1-13_14-56-7.png

    There's the big resistor and diff probe. A maybe 10 seconds at 500W got that thing freaking hot. It's only rated to 250W.
    IMG_20200113_145300.jpg
     
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  20. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Here is the last one I will post. Distortion across frequencies for three levels, 1, 5 and 10Vrms into 8-ohms. Bandwidth was set to 48kHz. THD+N is fairly consistent; however, there is a slight rise toward the mid treble when then subsides.
    upload_2020-1-13_15-11-54.png
     
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