Crown amplifiers vs. other amps in the audiophile world

internetmin

internetmin

Audioholic
Guys, the forum on whether or not amps sound the same or different got me seriously wondering about Crown amps. I've never heard Class A or Class I topology-based amps. In audiophile circles, Crown amps are immediately dismissed and then when you ask if the person has actually auditioned a Crown amp, the answer is no. So, I want to get some factual data and information from people who either use or have auditioned Crown amps and I have the following questions:

  1. Have you auditioned Crown amps in a true audiophile setup? If so, what amps did you compare the Crown against?
  2. I've looked at the Crown models and they don't seem to have standard binding posts for speaker wiring. If one were to look at Crown amps, what model or series would be appropriate in an audiophile setup?
  3. Were there any sonic differences (good, bad or ugly) with the Class I topology if you heard those models?
  4. Why does Crown have a stellar reputation in pro circles and get dissed in audiophile circles? Is it ignorance, is it the fact that some have fans? Theories?
I appreciate any feedback and thoughts. I see the likes of Emotiva, Crown, Sherborne, to name but a few that give great bang for the buck in terms of amplification.
 
Pyrrho

Pyrrho

Audioholic Ninja
I am currently using a Crown K2 power amp with Apogee Stage speakers. You can read about each of them:

http://www.crownaudio.com/media/pdf/legacy/136713.pdf

http://www.crownaudio.com/media/pdf/legacy/102010.pdf


Stage

(You may want to read the reviews; they are great speakers.)

The speakers are widely regarded as some of the most "revealing" that one can get. The Crown amp is fine. The K2 also accepts banana connectors, but it does not have any RCA type inputs; I use adapters, which are very cheap to buy.

I very much like my Crown K2, as it has no fans, so there is no fan noise at all, and it is a sealed case, so dirt cannot get inside. I also have never run out of power with it; I should be able to totally trash any speaker I own with undistorted power from it. I am very glad I bought it. (I am even more glad that I bought the Apogee Stage speakers, but you are asking about Crown amplifiers.)
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
In audiophile circles, Crown amps are immediately dismissed and then when you ask if the person has actually auditioned a Crown amp, the answer is no.
Crown amps are not marketed to audiophiles, they are marketed mostly for sound reinforcement and DJ use, and the very idea turns some audiophiles off. :) They have features like level controls and fans that audiophiles are adverse to, not to mention "signal processing" and subharmonic synthesizers on the DJ-oriented models. Frankly, I wish every amp had input level controls.

The MacroTech amps are very interesting, but even the lowest power model has 1250w/ch, which was more than I was shooting for, by about 6db. :) I also admit to perhaps unreasonable wondering about how they would sound at 1-2W, when their target market, even for that model, is sound reinforcement. Their specs aren't bad at all, and they even list 2W specs, but I was a chicken.

I'd bet any Crown amp would sound very good in almost any system, but in the end I couldn't find one I could borrow to try, and I wasn't interested in experimenting. There are a lot of amps on the market.
 
F

fmw

Audioholic Samurai
Crown is a leading manufacturer of pro audio amplifiers. They are located just a few miles from me in Elkhart, Indiana. Back in the early 90's they developed a high end audiophile amplifier - Class A, 250 watts per channel, huge power supplies, slick cosmetics, the whole works. It had stellar measurents with no audible distortion. It was a very strong amplifier capable of pumping current into a one ohm load. Crown went out of its way to design and make something that was as good as anything on the market anywhere. It was panned in Stereophile by some nincompoop reviewer who probably didn't like the concept of a pro audio manufacturer getting into home audio. Crown soon disappeared from the home audio business. It was a shame really. So, on to your question. I heard that amp in a high end audio system (I was an audiophile in those days.) In fact it was one of the units we used in our bias controlled tests. I have owned two crown amps that I've used only for pro audio purposes. They would be fine in a home audio environment as well if I needed 300 watts per channel. Let me just say what I've said over and over. Properly designed solid state amplifiers used wthin their intended operating range all produce the same sonic results. The fact that they are pro audio amps doesn't change that statement in any way. If you like Crown amps you can join literally millions of pro audio engineers in that sentiment and be happy indeed with their performance. Hope that helps.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
The HARMAN Crown engineers wearing MARK LEVINSON shirts will tell you that their Crown amps will sound just as good as any consumer amps on the market. Peter Aczel and The Audio Critic would agree.

I have installed Crown XLS 2500 into my system. They sound great just like any high quality amps.

They look ugly to me, so that's the only reason I sold them. But they sound great and are extremely quiet, cool temperature, and can output copious power.
 
internetmin

internetmin

Audioholic
The HARMAN Crown engineers wearing MARK LEVINSON shirts will tell you that their Crown amps will sound just as good as any consumer amps on the market. Peter Aczel and The Audio Critic would agree.

I have installed Crown XLS 2500 into my system. They sound great just like any high quality amps.

They look ugly to me, so that's the only reason I sold them. But they sound great and are extremely quiet, cool temperature, and can output copious power.
What speakers from your collection did you end up driving the crown amps with?
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
Crown is a leading manufacturer of pro audio amplifiers. They are located just a few miles from me in Elkhart, Indiana. Back in the early 90's they developed a high end audiophile amplifier - Class A, 250 watts per channel, huge power supplies, slick cosmetics, the whole works. It had stellar measurents with no audible distortion. It was a very strong amplifier capable of pumping current into a one ohm load. Crown went out of its way to design and make something that was as good as anything on the market anywhere. It was panned in Stereophile by some nincompoop reviewer who probably didn't like the concept of a pro audio manufacturer getting into home audio. Crown soon disappeared from the home audio business. It was a shame really. So, on to your question. I heard that amp in a high end audio system (I was an audiophile in those days.) In fact it was one of the units we used in our bias controlled tests. I have owned two crown amps that I've used only for pro audio purposes. They would be fine in a home audio environment as well if I needed 300 watts per channel. Let me just say what I've said over and over. Properly designed solid state amplifiers used wthin their intended operating range all produce the same sonic results. The fact that they are pro audio amps doesn't change that statement in any way. If you like Crown amps you can join literally millions of pro audio engineers in that sentiment and be happy indeed with their performance. Hope that helps.
Crown never made a Class A amp. Do you mean Class AB? Obsolete Crown amps are also a different matter than the new ones. ADTG's experience is telling though. He thought even a low-end (new) Crown amp sounded just fine.
 
jinjuku

jinjuku

Moderator
My first Crown setup was in 89:
DC 300A/DC 150A/IC 150. Speakers were AR7's and some Eminence 12" 1/4 length folded horn bass bins. Back then I actually picked up a Carver M400 cube and the Crown stomped it. Hafler was another amp I liked back then. Better than Adcom GFA 555.

So with life getting busy (school etc) I sold one Crown and gifted another as a wedding present. This was due to weight. You get tired of lugging around 100lbs in just two amps.

Recently (past 3 - 4 years) I had Adcom 5503 and two Parasound HCA 1000A. On a lark I picked up a Crown XLS 402D for $179 shipped. First think I noticed hooking it up was no hiss and a lower sound floor than my Parasounds. The next thing I noticed is the Crown had more gas in the tank when at higher SPL. That sealed the deal.

For 2-3 years I offered free Parasound Amps to anyone that wanted to claim the Pro-audio amps were a compromise in SQ. They would have to come over and stone cold pick the the 'phile amp vs the pro-audio amp 9 out of 10 coin flips. Guess how many takers?

You can also check out a few other boards:

Parts Express Tech Talk
Well, based on Jinjuku's contributions here, I went to my local Guitar Center and picked up a Crown XLS 1000 to try.

Using only a 10K Alps pot. between my sources and the power amplifier, I can certainly tell a difference in sound between the Crown vs. the Rotel RB-850 and Adcom GFA-535II amplifiers that I also own.
The Crown sounds way more transparent & open, while the older Class AB amplfiers sound somewhat laid-back and veiled by comparison.
Initially, I was somewhat disappointed as I took the more open sound of the Crown as added brightness(as far as the highs are concerned) to most music...something I hadn't heard in the other amps..
I think the Class AB amps. make bad recordings sound a little more tolerable, while the Crown doesn't do anything to help smooth over poor recordings.


and:

The Crown is definitely a keeper for me. I'll be selling the Rotel and Adcom amplifiers that I've accumulated over the years.

I don't know if he level matched however.


AVSForum:

Check out this AVSforum thread: New Amp is making me grin from ear to ear
 
internetmin

internetmin

Audioholic
For me, what is jumping out at me is that I don't see guys with experience in using Crown amps in an audiophile setup. That doesn't mean that the Crown stuff is no good. I think it means that there's been a bias against using pro gear in audiophile setups. I'm getting more and more curious if there's anyone who has really done a solid review of this? Any way to make that request up the food chain so that we can see an audioholics amp test using Crown pro gear vs. audiophile amps?
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Any way to make that request up the food chain so that we can see an audioholics amp test using Crown pro gear vs. audiophile amps?
We've tried, man. Maybe one of these days. I believe all of us are in support of such a review.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
For me, what is jumping out at me is that I don't see guys with experience in using Crown amps in an audiophile setup.
Well, most people who own $20,000 + speakers usually have at least $4,000 of amps, not $400 amps.

Pro amps just don't look very sexy next to $20,000 speakers and $5000 processors. :eek:
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
Well, most people who own $20,000 + speakers usually have at least $4,000 of amps, not $400 amps.

Pro amps just don't look very sexy next to $20,000 speakers and $5000 processors. :eek:
Huh? The cheapest Crown MacroTech amp is about $4600.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
Well, based on Jinjuku's contributions here, I went to my local Guitar Center and picked up a Crown XLS 1000 to try.

Using only a 10K Alps pot. between my sources and the power amplifier, I can certainly tell a difference in sound between the Crown vs. the Rotel RB-850 and Adcom GFA-535II amplifiers that I also own.
The Crown sounds way more transparent & open, while the older Class AB amplfiers sound somewhat laid-back and veiled by comparison.
Interesting that you'd quote that one. Putting an unbuffered potentiometer in the signal path can alter the frequency response of the system depending on the input characteristics of the amp being tested. This isn't a very good comparative test environment.
 
internetmin

internetmin

Audioholic
We've tried, man. Maybe one of these days. I believe all of us are in support of such a review.
Ok, I'm game! JinJuku, what do we need to do to request this? I'm game to do a review at my house if need be!
 
Pyrrho

Pyrrho

Audioholic Ninja
... In audiophile circles, Crown amps are immediately dismissed and then when you ask if the person has actually auditioned a Crown amp, the answer is no. ...
Although you likely did not intend to say it, you have just pointed out the fact that most audiophiles do not let their ears decide, but decide based on other things instead of what the thing actually sounds like. The funny thing is, some of the worst offenders in bigotry against various products (like Crown amps) go on and on about how you should let your ears decide things! In other words, many are total hypocrites.
 
M Code

M Code

Audioholic General
My first Crown setup was in 89:
DC 300A/DC 150A/IC 150. Speakers were AR7's and some Eminence 12" 1/4 length folded horn bass bins. Back then I actually picked up a Carver M400 cube and the Crown stomped it. Hafler was another amp I liked back then. Better than Adcom GFA 555.

So with life getting busy (school etc) I sold one Crown and gifted another as a wedding present. This was due to weight. You get tired of lugging around 100lbs in just two amps.

Recently (past 3 - 4 years) I had Adcom 5503 and two Parasound HCA 1000A. On a lark I picked up a Crown XLS 402D for $179 shipped. First think I noticed hooking it up was no hiss and a lower sound floor than my Parasounds. The next thing I noticed is the Crown had more gas in the tank when at higher SPL. That sealed the deal.

For 2-3 years I offered free Parasound Amps to anyone that wanted to claim the Pro-audio amps were a compromise in SQ. They would have to come over and stone cold pick the the 'phile amp vs the pro-audio amp 9 out of 10 coin flips. Guess how many takers?

You can also check out a few other boards:

Parts Express Tech Talk
Well, based on Jinjuku's contributions here, I went to my local Guitar Center and picked up a Crown XLS 1000 to try.

Using only a 10K Alps pot. between my sources and the power amplifier, I can certainly tell a difference in sound between the Crown vs. the Rotel RB-850 and Adcom GFA-535II amplifiers that I also own.
The Crown sounds way more transparent & open, while the older Class AB amplfiers sound somewhat laid-back and veiled by comparison.
Initially, I was somewhat disappointed as I took the more open sound of the Crown as added brightness(as far as the highs are concerned) to most music...something I hadn't heard in the other amps..
I think the Class AB amps. make bad recordings sound a little more tolerable, while the Crown doesn't do anything to help smooth over poor recordings.


and:

The Crown is definitely a keeper for me. I'll be selling the Rotel and Adcom amplifiers that I've accumulated over the years.

I don't know if he level matched however.


AVSForum:

Check out this AVSforum thread: New Amp is making me grin from ear to ear
Crown is owned by Harman International and their latest Drive Core amplifiers is using a proprietary DSP developed by TI, these Class D amplifiers sound very, very good. In our consulting support business with Harman, we have been involved in several listening tests of the Drive Core amplifiers vs. the competition they do very, very well. In the 1990s' Crown sold the DC300A which was a very reliable pro sound amplifier, however its sonic performance was sub-par as it used a quasi-complimentary output topology and had audible, higher IM distortion...

Just my $0.02...
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Pyrrho

Pyrrho

Audioholic Ninja
...
Recently (past 3 - 4 years) I had Adcom 5503 and two Parasound HCA 1000A. On a lark I picked up a Crown XLS 402D for $179 shipped. First think I noticed hooking it up was no hiss and a lower sound floor than my Parasounds. The next thing I noticed is the Crown had more gas in the tank when at higher SPL. That sealed the deal.

For 2-3 years I offered free Parasound Amps to anyone that wanted to claim the Pro-audio amps were a compromise in SQ. They would have to come over and stone cold pick the the 'phile amp vs the pro-audio amp 9 out of 10 coin flips. Guess how many takers?

...
If you were still doing that offer, and were not so far away, I would like a shot at it. Not that I would expect to actually succeed, but even a tiny chance for free amplifiers would be fun.
 

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