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Professional Power Amps

Pedro2

Well-known member
Nov 29, 2010
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Hi all,

I apologise if this topic has been covered in recent years but I've tried Googling and not come up with much for this forum on the subject so here goes.

Has anyone any experience of so-called professional power amps such as those made by Crown in a domestic environment? If so, I would really appreciate your thoughts and opinions. Crown appear to produce a number of meaty power amps at incredible prices (compared to audiophile options). In particular, they have a line in Class D that range from approx £300 to £1500. Why are they so cheap? Is it that they sound harsh or bright or is it that they are just 'no-frills' (like certain very popular supermarkets at the moment!) and are just not considered sexy enough to live in the average domestic environment? Interesting to note that Crown appear to be a division of Harman Kardon which have a very good reputation for quality hi fi kit.
 

Alberich

New member
Mar 15, 2016
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Will keep a close eye on this one.
Its a subject I've been pondering myself for a while now.
If the performance from the pro gear can match or better audiophile brands for the money I wouldn't care what it looks like :)
 

abacus

Well-known member
Sep 24, 2008
379
132
19,070
You have pretty much hit the nail on the head, in that amps designed for professional use are designed for the job in hand, (Just pop down to your local pro music store or online shop to see the range available) and sound as neutral as possible, (Unless it’s a Marshal which requires a particular type of sound for guitarists) whereas a lot of Hi Fi brands tend to have a house sound, (Such as nice and rhythmic, open, solid bass and all manner of other types) hence it is critical to try Hi Fi components with the rest of you equipment before purchase.

While looks do not affect sound, psychologically it can, as you will always have that niggle in the back of your mind about the ugly looks.

Hope this helps

Bill
 

BigH

New member
Dec 29, 2012
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The other reason is pro gear is sold via pro music shops which don't tend to be in prime high street locations and also the mark-up is a lot less than hifi dealers. I imagine also less is spent on advertising than many hifi products. As said above looks are not such a consideration so less money needs to be spent on cosmetics.
 

Alberich

New member
Mar 15, 2016
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What does seem to be the case is you get more power for your money with pro amps for obvious reasons.
If one was to use a audiophile preamp to flavour the sound to their liking then it's possible to have a lot of juice for little money.
Now I'm not sure about the problems of compatibility, it's more of query than a recommendation.
 

BigH

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Dec 29, 2012
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Think this will give you more info. as there are American I don't think many here will use them: https://forums.audioholics.com/forums/threads/crown-amplifiers-vs-other-amps-in-the-audiophile-world.84943/

One problem with pro gear is its not designed for the domestic living room, some of those amps have fans which will be noisy in a living room, so check that out before buying.
 

Gazzip

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Jan 15, 2011
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I had a Behringer A500 (£180) which sounded every bit as good as a Bryston 4BSST2 (£5000) to my ears. Build quality was however horrendous, as were its looks, and I suspect the 20 year warranty was in abeyance...
 

TrevC

Well-known member
Jun 12, 2013
244
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18,870
Gazzip said:
I had a Behringer A500 (£180) which sounded every bit as good as a Bryston 4BSST2 (£5000) to my ears. Build quality was however horrendous, as were its looks, and I suspect the 20 year warranty was in abeyance...
Aesthetically poor, but poor build quality? Nope. Untidy wiring, perhaps.
 

Vladimir

New member
Dec 26, 2013
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TrevC said:
Gazzip said:
I had a Behringer A500 (£180) which sounded every bit as good as a Bryston 4BSST2 (£5000) to my ears. Build quality was however horrendous, as were its looks, and I suspect the 20 year warranty was in abeyance...
Aesthetically poor, but poor build quality? Nope. Untidy wiring, perhaps.
Components are abismal. Soldering as well.
 

Alberich

New member
Mar 15, 2016
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As a rule would pro gear not have a more robust build quality since its more likely to be lugged around between studios and driven harder for longer hours?
 

Vladimir

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Dec 26, 2013
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Alberich said:
As a rule would pro gear not have a more robust build quality since its more likely to be lugged around between studios and driven harder for longer hours?
Behringer A500 is not pro gear, except in loose sense like you would say 'hi-fi' for a table top radio.
 

drummerman

New member
Jan 18, 2008
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Not wanting to put a damper on the 'all pro batched things are not just cheaper but better' ...

... cheap 'Pro' products usually have as much to do with Professionals using them as I have with the queen on a daily basis (or at any other time) ... nothing but you probably already guessed that.

Cheaply produced to price in the far east, fit for the 'home recordist'.

Spend more and you get serious Pro products but it'll cost you. Bryston, Classe etc to name two.

I think personally I'd forgoe a little power and buy something better 'non pro' instead.

If you really need a substation, Nord sell 400w/ch Hypex based power amplifiers for under a grand.

Thats about £2.50/watt/channel for hifi worthy sound. It looks even better if you do the calculation in stereo.
 

TrevC

Well-known member
Jun 12, 2013
244
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18,870
Vladimir said:
TrevC said:
Gazzip said:
I had a Behringer A500 (£180) which sounded every bit as good as a Bryston 4BSST2 (£5000) to my ears. Build quality was however horrendous, as were its looks, and I suspect the 20 year warranty was in abeyance...
Aesthetically poor, but poor build quality? Nope. Untidy wiring, perhaps.
Components are abismal. Soldering as well.
They are Chinese, Xunda capacitors for example, but Cambridge use those too. They are no worse than many i've seen.
 

Pedro2

Well-known member
Nov 29, 2010
42
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18,540
BigH said:
Think this will give you more info. as there are American I don't think many here will use them: https://forums.audioholics.com/forums/threads/crown-amplifiers-vs-other-amps-in-the-audiophile-world.84943/

One problem with pro gear is its not designed for the domestic living room, some of those amps have fans which will be noisy in a living room, so check that out before buying.
Thanks BigH. I'd seen this one but it isn't very enlightening. There doesn't seem to be any kind of 'bake off' between brands (hi-fi v pro) to draw conclusions. I'm looking for something meaty to drive my ATCs that are sourced by a Linn streamer/pre which tends to have a somewhat 'refined' sound. Just wondering if the pairing would be a good one. The point about fans is worth noting; a noisy fan kicking in would certainly be an unwanted distraction in a living room. Crown apppear to produce fanless power amps, however. Interestingly, they also take RCA inputs as well as XLR. Maybe a cheap 2nd hand purchase on Fleabay to test the theory may be worth a go?
 

lindsayt

New member
Apr 8, 2011
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For Crown amps I'd be more attracted to classics like the dc300a than the modern class D stuff.

I have a small collection of JBL / Urei pro amps, including two 6290's that I bought for £150 each. I would love to compare them directly against Naim NAP500's, as they seem to be good enough to beat that level of Naim amps.

The bass is their strong point, especially with awkward speakers like Linn Saras and Isobariks. Midrange isn't quite as good as my SET's, but then I've not come across any solid stat amps that are. The 6290's also have an addictive ease when turning the volume up. They stay clean and clear and totally unclipped with all my speakers - none of which could take the full power that they can output continuously.

What also helps is that all my sources are professional kit with balanced outputs. I don't bother with pre-amps when using my pro-amps. Just use the built in volume controls.

Build quality is first class with the JBL / Urei amps. The 6290's are a two man lift. They were expensive to very expensive when new.

The biggest downside of the 6290's is that they have noisy fans and (huge) noisy transformers. Which makes them totally unsuitable for being in the same room as domestic speakers - unless you're having a party!

The JBL / Urei 6230 doesn't have fans and my one doesn't have a noisy transformer (some examples do). It doesn't sound quite as good as the 6290, but it's still a good amp for the £80 I paid for it.

And then there's the 4 channel Urei amp I bought for £26...

I think there are a number of other less widely known high end pro amp manufacturers from the 1970's to the 1990's apart from Crown, JBL, Urei that are waiting to be "discovered" that have a very good chance of offering fantastic sound quality for the price you can buy them for today.
 

TrevC

Well-known member
Jun 12, 2013
244
83
18,870
drummerman said:
Not wanting to put a damper on the 'all pro batched things are not just cheaper but better' ...

... cheap 'Pro' products usually have as much to do with Professionals using them as I have with the queen on a daily basis (or at any other time) ... nothing but you probably already guessed that.

Cheaply produced to price in the far east, fit for the 'home recordist'.

Spend more and you get serious Pro products but it'll cost you. Bryston, Classe etc to name two.

I think personally I'd forgoe a little power and buy something better 'non pro' instead.

If you really need a substation, Nord sell 400w/ch Hypex based power amplifiers for under a grand.

Thats about £2.50/watt/channel for hifi worthy sound. It looks even better if you do the calculation in stereo.
The BK electronics amps are well made. Classe are made in China now.
 

Vladimir

New member
Dec 26, 2013
220
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0
TrevC said:
Vladimir said:
TrevC said:
Gazzip said:
I had a Behringer A500 (£180) which sounded every bit as good as a Bryston 4BSST2 (£5000) to my ears. Build quality was however horrendous, as were its looks, and I suspect the 20 year warranty was in abeyance...
Aesthetically poor, but poor build quality? Nope. Untidy wiring, perhaps.
Components are abismal. Soldering as well.
They are Chinese, Xunda capacitors for example, but Cambridge use those too. They are no worse than many i've seen.
Big caps may do semi-decent job. But the small caps are the weakpoints. Do you think a Cambridge or Behringer amp will survive 20 years without any need of servicing like it would with Japanese branded caps? They are good enough to push past the warranty but not much further.
 

chelstondave

New member
May 23, 2010
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A while back got married and decided to do the disco myself. Bought a Behringer A500 and thought I could use it at home afterwards as plenty of good reviews in the net. It certainly filled the hall with sound but when I got home it was, meh, uninvolving and bland. Swapped it for an audiolab m-pwr, about the same price now and much less wattage but music is far more organic and enjoyable.
 

NSA_watch_my_toilet

New member
Aug 24, 2013
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In Germany, using professionnal power amps for Hifi is actually a normal thing. They are groups under different forums, that are speaking about their lovely monsters.

I must insert me in the discussions above. But you could have pro amps made with valuable components, but you can have hifi amps made with not so amazing components too. Quality component is mandatory of the status.



 

Andrewjvt

New member
Jun 18, 2014
99
1
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NSA_watch_my_toilet said:
In Germany, using professionnal power amps for Hifi is actually a normal thing. They are groups under different forums, that are speaking about their lovely monsters.

I must insert me in the discussions above. But you could have pro amps made with valuable components, but you can have hifi amps made with not so amazing components too. Quality component is mandatory of the status.
The bottom picture looks a little like my amp also
 

Vladimir

New member
Dec 26, 2013
220
4
0
Andrewjvt said:
NSA_watch_my_toilet said:
In Germany, using professionnal power amps for Hifi is actually a normal thing. They are groups under different forums, that are speaking about their lovely monsters.

I must insert me in the discussions above. But you could have pro amps made with valuable components, but you can have hifi amps made with not so amazing components too. Quality component is mandatory of the status.
The bottom picture looks a little like my amp also
The more you pay for higher end amps, the more they start to look like PA touring amps.
 

Pedro2

Well-known member
Nov 29, 2010
42
0
18,540
Thanks for the info so far. Consensus seems to be that you still get what you pay for and anything super cheap is still not going to sound great (although it might sound loud and bad!).

Drummerman, my leanings are still towards the Nord Hypex but I hope that the waiting times don't start to grow beyond the limits of my patience level.

Dipping my toe into the 2nd hand pro amp market is also tempting as a stop gap (just to actually hear one in my system) and there may be some real bargains lurking out there!
 

busb

New member
Jun 14, 2011
58
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0
Pedro2 said:
Thanks for the info so far. Consensus seems to be that you still get what you pay for and anything super cheap is still not going to sound great (although it might sound loud and bad!).

Drummerman, my leanings are still towards the Nord Hypex but I hope that the waiting times don't start to grow beyond the limits of my patience level.

Dipping my toe into the 2nd hand pro amp market is also tempting as a stop gap (just to actually hear one in my system) and there may be some real bargains lurking out there!
Don't know Nord but the Hypex N Core class D modules have a very good reputation for sound quality. Avoid amps with fans - I've replaced 100s in pro test gear & if lucky, they just gone noisy, if unlucky, they've seized, causing overheating.
 

ellisdj

New member
Dec 11, 2008
377
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Only heard one through jbl pa gear and pa speakers I built which were better than the jbl but a crown macro tech sounded real nice

Michael better than a qsc plx amp that i owned.

The plx were better for mobile though at a lot less weight
 

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