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