Crown amplifiers vs. other amps in the audiophile world

JerryLove

JerryLove

Audioholic Samurai
I think that Yamaha did well by not installing PX3 amps inside their MX-A5000/5200 11ch amps. Those pro amps have quite inferior specs than any of their audiophile power amps.
IMO, the Crown XLS 1502 and the Yamaha PX3 are adequate as Class D subwoofer amplifiers but their high THD figures with either no published frequency range or limited to the frequency of 1 kHz only don't inspire much trust as to their overall performance as high fidelity amplifiers.
Have you ever DBX'd them to see if there's an audible issue? Because I'd wager decent money that there isn't.

Crown's intermodulation distortion figure of <0.3% is not acceptable for hi-fi or studio playback. Yamaha doesn't even publish their IM figures in their specs. Shame on Yamaha!
Low-frequency distortion from a subwoofer or wide-range speaker with music signals is undetectable until it reaches gross levels approaching or exceeding the music playback levels. Only in the midrange does our hearing threshold for distortion detection become more acute. For detecting distortion at levels of less than 10%, the test frequencies had to be greater than 500 Hz. At 40 Hz, listeners accepted 100% distortion before they complained. The noise test tones had to reach 8,000 Hz and above before 1% distortion became audible, such is the masking effect of music. Anecdotal reports of listeners' ability to hear low frequency distortion with music programming are unsupported by tests, at least until the distortion meets or exceeds the actual music playback level. These results indicate that the what frequency it occurs is at least as important as the how much or overall level of distortion.

I'd love to see where you are drawing your "what's an acceptable value" opinion from.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Have you read Amir's conclusions?

Conclusions
It is hard to fathom that a properly engineered and produced mainstream brand amplifier with so much power can be sold for so little money. This is a robust but bargain amplifier designed for heavy punishment in live sound. Can it be used for hi-fi use? Sure but it will severely limit both the resolution and potentially bandwidth of upstream sources. Its best use would be as a subwoofer amplifier. If you need an all in one unit, Hypex NC400/NC500 designs are so far my choice among amplifiers tested.
Yep, read the whole thing. Amir can be full of poop, too. Limit the resolution sounds pretty wack and the bandwidth I'm not worried about. I've been quite happy with mine whether on sub duty or main channels....
 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Samurai
Yep, read the whole thing. Amir can be full of poop, too. Limit the resolution sounds pretty wack and the bandwidth I'm not worried about. I've been quite happy with mine whether on sub duty or main channels....
I know that Amir is somehow an extremist when it comes to spec assessment, but the fact remains that with the way that Crown and Yamaha publish the specs on their pro audio gear, as I said in the previous post, they don't inspire much trust as they are insufficient.

 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
I know that Amir is somehow an extremist when it comes to spec assessment, but the fact remains that with the way that Crown and Yamaha publish the specs on their pro audio gear, as I said in the previous post, they don't inspire much trust as they are insufficient.

They're aimed at their usual market is all. Audiophiles can be so sensitive about spec instead of just figuring it out sometimes.... :)
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
I think that Yamaha did well by not installing PX3 amps inside their MX-A5000/5200 11ch amps. Those pro amps have quite inferior specs than any of their audiophile power amps.
IMO, the Crown XLS 1502 and the Yamaha PX3 are adequate as Class D subwoofer amplifiers but their high THD figures with either no published frequency range or limited to the frequency of 1 kHz only don't inspire much trust as to their overall performance as high fidelity amplifiers.
Crown's intermodulation distortion figure of <0.3% is not acceptable for hi-fi or studio playback. Yamaha doesn't even publish their IM figures in their specs. Shame on Yamaha!
Crown XLS 1502: THD: <0.5% no frequency specified and power output not specified ! That's a totally unacceptable spec which doesn't qualify it as a true modern high-fidelity product.
Yamaha PX-3: THD: 0.1% (1kHZ, 10W), 0.3% (1kHz, Half power) Those are totally unacceptable specs as well.

On the other hand, QSC Audio are not afraid to publish more detailed specs on their Class AB amps:

Live Audio Series Model RMX 1450a: THD: FTC Rating 20 Hz-20 kHz = 0.1% @ 260W (8 Ohms) - IM Distortion (SMPTE): <0.01%

Digital Cinema Series DCA 1622: THD: FTC Rating 20 Hz-20 kHz = 0.03% @ 300W ( 8 Ohms -both ch driven) -IM Distortion (SMPTE): <0.01%
Yeah, can't argue with the specs.

It would be nice if the pro amps have similar specs to most AVRs, like SNR of 110-120dBA, Crosstalk of 80-90dB at 1kHz, THD of 0.01% at 2V, etc.
 
everettT

everettT

Audioholic Ninja
I'll abx the crown 25
Yeah, can't argue with the specs.

It would be nice if the pro amps have similar specs to most AVRs, like SNR of 110-120dBA, Crosstalk of 80-90dB at 1kHz, THD of 0.01% at 2V, etc.
Is noise and hum the same as SNR? If so some well regarded classic amplifiers fall in the 80 to 90db range....
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
I'll abx the crown 25

Is noise and hum the same as SNR? If so some well regarded classic amplifiers fall in the 80 to 90db range....
You mean "hissing noise" and hum noise? Probably not. :D
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
They used to advise audiophiles that 90 dB snr was sufficient, didn't they? Audiophile hearing just keeps improving apparently. :) Here's what Rane has to say about SNR:

"
S/N or SNR. Signal-To-Noise Ratio

What is tested? This specification indirectly tells you how noisy a unit is. S/N is calculated by measuring a unit's output noise, with no signal present, and all controls set to a prescribed manner. This figure is used to calculate a ratio between it and a fixed output reference signal, with the result expressed in dB.

How is it measured? No input signal is used, however the input is not left open, or unterminated. The usual practice is to leave the unit connected to the signal generator (with its low output impedance) set for zero volts. Alternatively, a resistor equal to the expected driving impedance is connected between the inputs. The magnitude of the output noise is measured using an rms-detecting voltmeter. Noise voltage is a function of bandwidth-- wider the bandwidth, the greater the noise. This is an inescapable physical fact. Thus, a bandwidth is selected for the measuring voltmeter. If this is not done, the noise voltage measures extremely high, but does not correlate well with what is heard. The most common bandwidth seen is 22 kHz (the extra 2 kHz allows the bandwidth-limiting filter to take affect without reducing the response at 20 kHz). This is called a "flat" measurement, since all frequencies are measured equally.

Alternatively, noise filters, or weighting filters, are used when measuring noise. Most often seen is A-weighting, but a more accurate one is called the ITU-R (old CCIR) 468 filter. This filter is preferred because it shapes the measured noise in a way that relates well with what's heard.

Pro audio equipment often lists an A-weighted noise spec -- not because it correlates well with our hearing -- but because it can "hide" nasty hum components that make for bad noise specs. Always wonder if a manufacturer is hiding something when you see A-weighting specs. While noise filters are entirely appropriate and even desired when measuring other types of noise, it is an abuse to use them to disguise equipment hum problems. A-weighting rolls off the low-end, thus reducing the most annoying 2nd and 3rd line harmonics by about 20 dB and 12 dB respectively. Sometimes A-weighting can "improve" a noise spec by 10 dB.

The argument used to justify this is that the ear is not sensitive to low frequencies at low levels (à la Fletcher-Munson equal loudness curves), but that argument is false. Fletcher-Munson curves document equal loudness of single tones. Their curve tells us nothing of the ear's astonishing ability to sync in and lock onto repetitive tones -- like hum components -- even when these tones lie beneath the noise floor. This is what A-weighting can hide. For this reason most manufacturers shy from using it; instead they spec S/N figures "flat" or use the ITU-R 468 curve (which actually makes their numbers look worse, but correlate better with the real world).

However, an exception has arisen: Digital products using A/D and D/A converters regularly spec S/N and dynamic range using A-weighting. This follows the semiconductor industry's practice of spec'ing delta-sigma data converters A-weighted. They do this because they use clever noise shaping tricks to create 24-bit converters with acceptable noise behavior. All these tricks squeeze the noise out of the audio bandwidth and push it up into the higher inaudible frequencies. The noise may be inaudible, but it is still measurable and can give misleading results unless limited. When used this way, the A-weighting filter rolls off the high frequency noise better than the flat 22 kHz filter and compares better with the listening experience. The fact that the low-end also rolls off is irrelevant in this application. (See Digital Dharma of Audio A/D Converters)

Required Conditions. In order for the published figure to have any meaning, it must include the measurement bandwidth, including any weighting filters and the reference signal level. Stating that a unit has a "S/N = 90 dB" is meaningless without knowing what the signal level is, and over what bandwidth the noise was measured. For example if one product references S/N to their maximum output level of, say, +20 dBu, and another product has the same stated 90 dB S/N, but their reference level is + 4 dBu, then the second product is, in fact, 16 dB quieter. Likewise, you cannot accurately compare numbers if one unit is measured over a BW of 80 kHz and another uses 20 kHz, or if one is measured flat and the other uses A-weighting. By far however, the most common problem is not stating any conditions.

Correct: S/N = 90 dB re +4 dBu, 22 kHz BW, unity gain

Wrong: S/N = 90 dB
 
RichB

RichB

Audioholic Field Marshall
They used to advise audiophiles that 90 dB snr was sufficient, didn't they? Audiophile hearing just keeps improving apparently. :) Here's what Rane has to say about SNR:

"
S/N or SNR. Signal-To-Noise Ratio

What is tested? This specification indirectly tells you how noisy a unit is. S/N is calculated by measuring a unit's output noise, with no signal present, and all controls set to a prescribed manner. This figure is used to calculate a ratio between it and a fixed output reference signal, with the result expressed in dB.

How is it measured? No input signal is used, however the input is not left open, or unterminated. The usual practice is to leave the unit connected to the signal generator (with its low output impedance) set for zero volts. Alternatively, a resistor equal to the expected driving impedance is connected between the inputs. The magnitude of the output noise is measured using an rms-detecting voltmeter. Noise voltage is a function of bandwidth-- wider the bandwidth, the greater the noise. This is an inescapable physical fact. Thus, a bandwidth is selected for the measuring voltmeter. If this is not done, the noise voltage measures extremely high, but does not correlate well with what is heard. The most common bandwidth seen is 22 kHz (the extra 2 kHz allows the bandwidth-limiting filter to take affect without reducing the response at 20 kHz). This is called a "flat" measurement, since all frequencies are measured equally.

Alternatively, noise filters, or weighting filters, are used when measuring noise. Most often seen is A-weighting, but a more accurate one is called the ITU-R (old CCIR) 468 filter. This filter is preferred because it shapes the measured noise in a way that relates well with what's heard.

Pro audio equipment often lists an A-weighted noise spec -- not because it correlates well with our hearing -- but because it can "hide" nasty hum components that make for bad noise specs. Always wonder if a manufacturer is hiding something when you see A-weighting specs. While noise filters are entirely appropriate and even desired when measuring other types of noise, it is an abuse to use them to disguise equipment hum problems. A-weighting rolls off the low-end, thus reducing the most annoying 2nd and 3rd line harmonics by about 20 dB and 12 dB respectively. Sometimes A-weighting can "improve" a noise spec by 10 dB.

The argument used to justify this is that the ear is not sensitive to low frequencies at low levels (à la Fletcher-Munson equal loudness curves), but that argument is false. Fletcher-Munson curves document equal loudness of single tones. Their curve tells us nothing of the ear's astonishing ability to sync in and lock onto repetitive tones -- like hum components -- even when these tones lie beneath the noise floor. This is what A-weighting can hide. For this reason most manufacturers shy from using it; instead they spec S/N figures "flat" or use the ITU-R 468 curve (which actually makes their numbers look worse, but correlate better with the real world).

However, an exception has arisen: Digital products using A/D and D/A converters regularly spec S/N and dynamic range using A-weighting. This follows the semiconductor industry's practice of spec'ing delta-sigma data converters A-weighted. They do this because they use clever noise shaping tricks to create 24-bit converters with acceptable noise behavior. All these tricks squeeze the noise out of the audio bandwidth and push it up into the higher inaudible frequencies. The noise may be inaudible, but it is still measurable and can give misleading results unless limited. When used this way, the A-weighting filter rolls off the high frequency noise better than the flat 22 kHz filter and compares better with the listening experience. The fact that the low-end also rolls off is irrelevant in this application. (See Digital Dharma of Audio A/D Converters)

Required Conditions. In order for the published figure to have any meaning, it must include the measurement bandwidth, including any weighting filters and the reference signal level. Stating that a unit has a "S/N = 90 dB" is meaningless without knowing what the signal level is, and over what bandwidth the noise was measured. For example if one product references S/N to their maximum output level of, say, +20 dBu, and another product has the same stated 90 dB S/N, but their reference level is + 4 dBu, then the second product is, in fact, 16 dB quieter. Likewise, you cannot accurately compare numbers if one unit is measured over a BW of 80 kHz and another uses 20 kHz, or if one is measured flat and the other uses A-weighting. By far however, the most common problem is not stating any conditions.

Correct: S/N = 90 dB re +4 dBu, 22 kHz BW, unity gain

Wrong: S/N = 90 dB
Published S/N specifications without proper reference are not useful measurements for anyone regardless of their perceived audiophilia.
The proper pursuit is transparency and freedom from distortion and noise.
Since S/N is not a measurement that includes distortion, it is one of many interesting metrics.

If amplifiers were measured with driving reactive loads and amplitude variance included in distortion measurements we would be closer to determining the transparency of components. Amplifier specifications are usually stated near maximum power at the distortion level determined to be marketable. At these levels, amplifiers tend to have the best distortion specifications and highest signal to noise. It is important to have sufficient power to drive ones speaker to desired levels in the room but distortion, noise, and amplitude variance, if detectable, will be at 1 watt and below for most. There is no standard or consistence in measuring real world performance. There are, however, measurements, including those performed here, that should correlate well with transparency.

Transformer hum and other mechanical noises (fans and such) are not includes in amplifier specifications but some may find them intolerable.
S/N is of particular interest to those with highly efficient speakers, horns for example.

In my experience, well designed Class-A/B linear power amplifiers sound alike, or similarly good. They have only been diminished when connected through a power conditioners.

The ATI AT4002 (Class A/B with linear power supply), ATI AT522NC (Class D with linear power supply) and AHB2 (Class A/B with SMPS and feed-forward error correction) were all distinguishable in SBT's driving my Revel M20's. So, in my experience, amplifiers with different architectures can and do sound differently driven by SOTA (state of the art) source components in at home, controlled listening sessions.

- Rich
 
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Alex2507

Alex2507

Audioholic Slumlord
well designed Class-A/B linear power amplifiers sound alike, or similarly good. They have only been diminished when connected through a power conditioners.
Oh boy ... if you don't mind, please elaborate. Of course I'm using the Monster units as power switches for amps and peripherals. This is the first real knock I'm hearing against them.

amplifiers with different architectures can and do sound differently driven by SOA source components
SOA? Single Output Amp? It's a guessing game, right? How'd I do? :D
I am interested in your thoughts on the differences and your preference.

distortion, noise, and amplitude variance, if detectable, will be at 1 watt and below for most.
Based on something PENG posted earlier, that's in the 75db range. That's still loud enough to be able to hear clearly. Maybe it's my ears but I only know to listen for distortion/speaker break-up when a system gets maxed out. At 75 db, the only thing I've ever been able to fault is Anthem's room correction based on familiar music.

When it comes to rabbit holes, you guys sure know how to pick 'em.
 
RichB

RichB

Audioholic Field Marshall
Oh boy ... if you don't mind, please elaborate. Of course I'm using the Monster units as power switches for amps and peripherals. This is the first real knock I'm hearing against them.
I had a Powermax M5400 that has a dedicated amplifier output. I had my original Sunfire plugged into it and listened to my friends Outlaw M2200's and was impressed. I later discovered that my Sunfire sounded much the same when I plugged it directly into the wall. I installed a Leviton whole house surge protector.
All amps are plugged into the wall. Others may live in lightning strike areas and may require more robust protection.
Nothing will save you from a direct strike.

[QUOTE="Alex2507, post: 1357385, member: 22358"
SOA? Single Output Amp? It's a guessing game, right? How'd I do? :D
I am interested in your thoughts on the differences and your preference.
[/QUOTE]

Missed a T, SOTA - state of the art - transparent components.

[QUOTE="Alex2507, post: 1357385, member: 22358"
Based on something PENG posted earlier, that's in the 75db range. That's still loud enough to be able to hear clearly. Maybe it's my ears but I only know to listen for distortion/speaker break-up when a system gets maxed out. At 75 db, the only thing I've ever been able to fault is Anthem's room correction based on familiar music.

When it comes to rabbit holes, you guys sure know how to pick 'em.
[/QUOTE]

I just replaced my carbon dioxide detector that had a lifetime expired high-frequency chirp at 85 dB. I heard this through the floor boards from the basement.
I don't think some folks appreciate how loud that is at 1K and above.

- Rich
 
JerryLove

JerryLove

Audioholic Samurai
I had a Powermax M5400 that has a dedicated amplifier output. I had my original Sunfire plugged into it and listened to my friends Outlaw M2200's and was impressed. I later discovered that my Sunfire sounded much the same when I plugged it directly into the wall. I installed a Leviton whole house surge protector.
All amps are plugged into the wall. Others may live in lightning strike areas and may require more robust protection.
How so. Have you measured this difference?

Nothing will save you from a direct strike.
Yes. When the lightning comes in through the window and strikes directly into your speaker wire terminal, nothing will save you.

For everything else: There are several things that work (but primarily type 1 surge suppressors).
The big trick for *direct* strikes is to creating a lightning shadow that protects your house using lightning rods.

I just replaced my carbon dioxide detector that had a lifetime expired high-frequency chirp at 85 dB. I heard this through the floor boards from the basement.
Hrm. That chirp in mine means that the backup battery in the device has died and needs replacing. They should really standardize this (actually: english announcements would be appropriate in this day-and-age)
 
A

awdio

Audioholic Intern
Yo
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.
You details of the amp that Stereophile reviewed is severely lacking. You've got the power rating wrong, don't know the name and frankly it wasn't panned. One of several reviewers hated it and the others thought it okay. You've obviously never heard it (I have) yet you go about endorsing it and trashing the reviewers.Typical.
 
B

Beave

Senior Audioholic
You just replied to a post from 2013.

So, congrats on just returning from your trip to Mars. How does it feel to be back on earth? Do you think we'll ever be able to develop a colony on Mars? How was the weather?
 
d3adf1sh

d3adf1sh

Audiophyte
can i just add that prob the best speakers in the world, the JBL M2 master reference monitors are designed to work with Crown iTech5000HD amplifiers and each speaker gets it's own amp. and they're prob bi amped so that's 2500w per speaker. The amps are rated to go up to 5000W but even at 2500w you are prob not cranking them up full blast and at the lower volume levels the distortion is most likely not even measurable.

But that's what mastering engineers are using in the studio to master audio for the music and movie industry so if those amps/speakers aren't accurate and audiophile quality then i don't know what is?

and just to let you guys know. I have a friend that's a DJ and he had some Mackie heavy duty speakers that were like a 15" woofer and a horn and he was powering them with a Pioneer Elite home receiver and called me up asking me about amps and stuff. So we ended up going to guitar center and picking up a Crown XTI 1002 which is the low end model with only 275w @8 ohm but there was just no comparison. The crown sounded WAY better and we loaded the software on his laptop which included an EQ and got those speakers sounding REALLY nice. Only thing they don't tell you with the XTI's is that the subharmonic synthesizer is only able to be used when you are using it as a sub amp and not in full range mode. So that kinda sucked but, but he was still happy in the end and the EQ was able to put some extra bass in the speakers and if he gets 2 more speakers he can just daisy chain them and double the output.

and if you're worried about fan noise just get one that's overpowered for your needs and keep the gain low and you won't have to worry about it heating up. That will also keep distortion low too while you're at it but most home speakers can't handle the type of power these things can push even at the low end so that's most likely not even an issue.
 
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O

Out-Of-Phase

Audioholic Chief
Has anyone here had any experience with the Avantone Pro CLA-200 power amp?

It retails for $799.00, it is a Class A/B design and it looks rather interesting.

 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Samurai
Has anyone here had any experience with the Avantone Pro CLA-200 power amp?

It retails for $799.00, it is a Class A/B design and it looks rather interesting.

I haven't heard about it but the QSC DCA 1222 which you can get for less has way better specs, with THD of less than 0.03% from 20-20 kHz at full rated output, and IM of less than 0.01% compared to 0.1% and, on top of that it comes with a 3 year warranty. You won't be able to kill it:

 
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O

Out-Of-Phase

Audioholic Chief
Interesting. Looks good. I see it is a Class A/B design as well. It's only down side is that constant noisy fan.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
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.
That's a common thing, especially with the internet- "I don't need proof, I read __________, so I know it's true". They don't want to find that their beloved audiopile stuff is less than they have been led to think which is understandable, considering the price of so much of that crap.

I made a comment about high end component parts and someone I worked with said "Yeah, they were hand picked and p%ssed on by an expert".
 

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