My experiance with a Crown XLS power amp

S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
I know this thread is about the Crown amps, but thanks to @Pogre I am reliving some terrible memories (of the 1st World Problems variety). Around '02 or so, I purchased a pair of Axiom Audio M22 V2s based on a plethora of online reviews (Soundstage's being the most prominent).
View attachment 34736
The big takeaway from the reviewers was their "neutrality". If their collective idea of "neutrality" meant "boring" then they got it right. Gosh, I hated those speakers! Maybe things have improved in Axiom country (and no offense to any Axiom owners - that's just my experience YMMV [greatly]) but I am not in a hurry to find out.

On a positive note, I guess, is that they manufacture for Bryston - Bryston then slaps their name on 'em and charges accordingly:
View attachment 34737
That's each.
That double tweeter on the tower speaker probably doesn't present that audible of a problem, but it is still so dumb. It's just there for effect, not any useful purpose. If you want more dynamic range from a tweeter, just install a more powerful tweeter rather than adding another one which causes all kinds of interference issues on the vertical axis. That also allows you to build a smaller enclosure which saves money. What an enforced error. It just irks me so much.
 
NINaudio

NINaudio

Audioholic General
I know this thread is about the Crown amps, but thanks to @Pogre I am reliving some terrible memories (of the 1st World Problems variety). Around '02 or so, I purchased a pair of Axiom Audio M22 V2s based on a plethora of online reviews (Soundstage's being the most prominent).
View attachment 34736
The big takeaway from the reviewers was their "neutrality". If their collective idea of "neutrality" meant "boring" then they got it right. Gosh, I hated those speakers! Maybe things have improved in Axiom country (and no offense to any Axiom owners - that's just my experience YMMV [greatly]) but I am not in a hurry to find out.

On a positive note, I guess, is that they manufacture for Bryston - Bryston then slaps their name on 'em and charges accordingly:
View attachment 34737
That's each.
Except it looks like Bryston removed the port and added another driver.
 
John Parks

John Parks

Audioholic Chief
Except it looks like Bryston removed the port and added another driver.
That's Bryston's take n the Axiom M100:
1584557402901.png

Don't know where the bottom port is on the Bryston, but funny aside: one reviewer regarded the Axiom's port as resembling "a gorilla's anus"! :D
1584557526132.png
 
B

Boomzilla

Audioholic Intern
Axioms, like Magneplanars, are pickier than many (most?) about amplifier matching. Find a synergistic amp, and both Axioms and Magneplanars can sound stunning. Pick the wrong amp, and yes - they are boring. So what features make an amp "right" for Axioms or Maggies?

high current delivery - 4 ohm (or less) speakers DO like current.
plenty of wattage - No power = no jump factor
class-A circuitry if you can get it - my amigo uses Emotiva XPA-1 amps with his Axiom M80s and the rig sounds stellar. The XPA-1s do about 60 watts before sliding into class AB.

@lovinthehd apparently doesn't care for my test methods or my opinions. I'm just so ashamed for having not met his "standards"...
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Axioms, like Magneplanars, are pickier than many (most?) about amplifier matching. Find a synergistic amp, and both Axioms and Magneplanars can sound stunning. Pick the wrong amp, and yes - they are boring. So what features make an amp "right" for Axioms or Maggies?

high current delivery - 4 ohm (or less) speakers DO like current.
plenty of wattage - No power = no jump factor
class-A circuitry if you can get it - my amigo uses Emotiva XPA-1 amps with his Axiom M80s and the rig sounds stellar. The XPA-1s do about 60 watts before sliding into class AB.

@lovinthehd apparently doesn't care for my test methods or my opinions. I'm just so ashamed for having not met his "standards"...
LOL we just don't do anecdotal personal experience much around here in general. Especially when it sounds a bit wacko. Synergy, really?

ps What happened to the explanation of your measuring the amp with REW?
 
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H

HipSonic

Audioholic Intern
I've owned and listened critically to the original Crown XLS series amplifiers, from the XLS-1000 to the 2500. Yes, they put out a lot of power. No, they definitely were NOT ready for home audio prime-time. They had a glassy-sounding upper midrange & treble, and the lacked the delicacy of most of the amps that were intended for good home audio. Yes, the original XLS series WAS better than the amps in an AVR, but that isn't saying much. In short, I thought Andrew Robinson was deaf, on Crown's advertising staff, or else just plain nuts.

Now the series 2 XLS amps are supposed to be much better, from what I've read. As I'd expect from any "modern" class-D amp, the glassiness is reduced, and the strengths of the original XLS line (rabid-dog bass and enough power to challenge Thor) are still there. Are "true hi-fi" amps still better sounding? I think that some are, but the XLS series 2 has narrowed the gap. Compared to any AVR on the market, the Crowns still kick booty, but if you're willing to spend more money, you can do audibly better than the XLS line.

So it depends on what you want. If you have a pair of speakers that need the Crown's power to sing (I'm thinking of Magneplanars here or maybe some of the low-sensitivity British brands), then the XLS-2 line is going to be competitive with anything in its price range. But the VAST majority of "cone in box" speakers these days are designed to be close to or above 90 dB sensitivity (1W/1M) and can easily be driven by less powerful amps than the Crowns. Can you find equivalently priced amps that sound better (although with less watts)? I think you can.

But it's your money and your choice. My "advice" and a buck will get you a cup of McCoffee. Just for fun, I was gifted recently with an old amplifier from a movie theater. It was a "pro" brand from a company called "Ashly." It sports all class-A voltage gain stages and a MOSFET output. Weighs 60 lbs. but it kicks for home audio. Its only flaw is its cooling fan that is always on and sounds like a taxiing jet on the runway. Despite its age, I think it sounds better than the Crowns but that's just to my ears and in my room.

Boomzilla
Very interesting take, and one which I appreciate. I never heard the first series of XLS amps and only have the 2502's in my system, along with an Emotiva XP5, XPA5 GEN2, and a SunFire 7401, and I can say that in my room and to my ears, the 2502's just open everything up. The other thing that I notice is that they scale well with better gear. I had them connected to my Marantz 8805 and they sounded very good, a definite upgrade over my Pioneer SC-71 receiver, however when I connected them to either of Oppo's 105 or the 205, it makes me weep that Oppo opted to stop making Blue-ray players focus on cell phones. It got better feeding the 205 Tidal from my Mac mini via HDMI and we jumped over 6db and never touched the volume control, with even more clarity, impact, and soundstage. No glassy sound, no sheen, seemingly no coloration to the sound at all, which, if I'm not mistaken, I thought was supposed to be the point of an amplifier. to get out of the way and amplify what is present. It almost seems like amplifiers are the new tone controls, but I digress. Anyway, that's been my experience with the Crowns, I really enjoy getting the different perspectives. Keep'em coming.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Very interesting take, and one which I appreciate. I never heard the first series of XLS amps and only have the 2502's in my system, along with an Emotiva XP5, XPA5 GEN2, and a SunFire 7401, and I can say that in my room and to my ears, the 2502's just open everything up.
Not sure what "open everything up" really mean, but from the specs and measurements of the XLX 2502 I see nothing that could explain why it might offer better sound quality that the other amps you mentioned.

No glassy sound, no sheen, seemingly no coloration to the sound at all, which, if I'm not mistaken, I thought was supposed to be the point of an amplifier. to get out of the way and amplify what is present. It almost seems like amplifiers are the new tone controls, but I digress. Anyway, that's been my experience with the Crowns, I really enjoy getting the different perspectives. Keep'em coming.
Yes, good amplifiers should just amplify the signal without coloring/changing it. Any deviations from that role would mean distortions, that is unavoidable but the better amps should have less distortions.

One thing you may or may not know about the XLS 2502 is that, the signal will go through its build in ADC and DAC. So if you connect it to the AV8805, no matter how good its preamp vol control IC and DACs are, the bottleneck will be the internal ADC/DAC of the XLS 2502 that has much lower specs. Specifically, if you look at ASR's measurements of the XLS 1502/2502, it is not even as good as some AVRs measured by the same person, likely because of the very average quality ADC/DAC.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Not sure what "open everything up" really mean, but from the specs and measurements of the XLX 2502 I see nothing that could explain why it might offer better sound quality that the other amps you mentioned.



Yes, good amplifiers should just amplify the signal without coloring/changing it. Any deviations from that role would mean distortions, that is unavoidable but the better amps should have less distortions.

One thing you may or may not know about the XLS 2502 is that, the signal will go through its build in ADC and DAC. So if you connect it to the AV8805, no matter how good its preamp vol control IC and DACs are, the bottleneck will be the internal ADC/DAC of the XLS 2502 that has much lower specs. Specifically, if you look at ASR's measurements of the XLS 1502/2502, it is not even as good as some AVRs measured by the same person, likely because of the very average quality ADC/DAC.
Not that people could tell the difference if a signal has been run thru an adc/dac loop a coupla times....
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Not that people could tell the difference if a signal has been run thru an adc/dac loop a coupla times....
Indeed, you and I know that very well. I assume you might have guessed what I was hinting though..
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Indeed, you and I know that very well. I assume you might have guessed what I was hinting though..
I thought you were channeling Amir :)

I am curious what "opened" via use of the amp, tho. Maybe different gain structure....
 
B

Boomzilla

Audioholic Intern
OK - Takes all kinds to make a world and I'll admit that I can understand how some folks would just love the Crown XLS series. I'm not one of them, and may never be, although I have found some class-D amps that I think sound amazing.

Should I buy a pair of really, really power hungry speakers (and I'm thinking about some Thiel 5i ones), then I'd try the Crown again before selling my firstborn to buy a big Krell. I wouldn't expect the Crown XLS-2502 to work well, but I'd certainly be happy to be surprised. And the price and specs demand that it at least be auditioned...
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
OK - Takes all kinds to make a world and I'll admit that I can understand how some folks would just love the Crown XLS series. I'm not one of them, and may never be, although I have found some class-D amps that I think sound amazing.

Should I buy a pair of really, really power hungry speakers (and I'm thinking about some Thiel 5i ones), then I'd try the Crown again before selling my firstborn to buy a big Krell. I wouldn't expect the Crown XLS-2502 to work well, but I'd certainly be happy to be surprised. And the price and specs demand that it at least be auditioned...
Some hear far more in an amp than I do I suppose. I have several amps/avrs in the house currently, and I feel they're all fairly interchangeable, including the XLSs. I certainly don't want an amp that purposely colors the sound. I guess I am not an "ampli-phile" :) I'd never pay as much as a Krell costs either, just don't see the value.
 
B

Boomzilla

Audioholic Intern
Well how interesting, @PENG - I hadn't even thought about having an extra A-D / D-A conversion in the Crown XLS amps, but it certainly makes sense - how else could they offer all the DSP functions that they do! As to their converters (both of them) having "lower specs than an AVR," that makes sense also - how else could Crown price their amps as low as they do? Good sound quality is never a requirement for "pro" amps - only good reliability, good stability into all loads, and cheap price.

The dual dirt-cheap A-D and D-A converters in the Crown XLS amps also explain the poor sound quality of the Crown XLS line in credible technical terms and give lie to the amp's defenders' claims that this is a top-notch, home-audio-quality amplifier. It isn't. It never has been. It never will be.

As to subjective listening, once again the technical data backs up what I've heard. How do I measure amplifiers? By listening to them, as should everyone. The "measurers" claim that if you can't put repeatable measurements on something, then it doesn't exist. This is stupidity at its most intransigent. The human brain is far more competent and subtle. An example I use is that you're walking down a crowded city street and hear music from a couple of blocks over. Despite the traffic noise and the multiple other noises distracting you, your brain knows instantly whether the music is live or recorded. No question, no hesitation, your brain knows. Measure THAT for me!

All that said, I again point out that some people, including the audio journalist who champions them, actually like the sound of the Crown XLS series. If you're in that group, then I congratulate you on having found an amplifier that you like at a bargain price. I don't share your enthusiasm, but everyone's ears are different. Even based on the published specifications, there ARE much better amplifiers on the market than the Crown XLS line. And to my ears, regardless of published specs, those other amplifiers sound not just better, but in many cases, far better than the Crowns. YMMV.

Boomzilla
 
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D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Samurai
Some hear far more in an amp than I do I suppose. I have several amps/avrs in the house currently, and I feel they're all fairly interchangeable, including the XLSs. I certainly don't want an amp that purposely colors the sound. I guess I am not an "ampli-phile" :) I'd never pay as much as a Krell costs either, just don't see the value.
Hey lovin I'm really thinking of buying the passive versions of the RBH 1212 subs I like the one I bought that has the active amplifier so much I plan on hooking each one up to its own 2502 crown amp.

RBH told me that with DSP I can make sure the active and passive subwoofers have the same extension and frequency response they have the data I would need to do this

Do you know if the crown amplifiers have that type of DSP control in them? Or would I need to use a mini dsp?

Also if matched the RBH extends to 17hz but do the crowns have a frequency response below 20hz? Just curious could use some help learning about this
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Hey lovin I'm really thinking of buying the passive versions of the RBH 1212 subs I like the one I bought that has the active amplifier so much I plan on hooking each one up to its own 2502 crown amp.

RBH told me that with DSP I can make sure the active and passive subwoofers have the same extension and frequency response they have the data I would need to do this

Do you know if the crown amplifiers have that type of DSP control in them? Or would I need to use a mini dsp?

Also if matched the RBH extends to 17hz but do the crowns have a frequency response below 20hz? Just curious could use some help learning about this
No, the dsp in the Crown XLS is supporting crossover functions, not eq or delay. Crown does make such drivecore amps but they cost more than the XLS series. Minidsp would do the trick, tho.
 
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Danzilla31

Audioholic Samurai
No, the dsp in the Crown XLS is supporting crossover functions, not eq or delay. Crown does make such drivecore amps but they cost more than the XLS series. Minidsp would do the trick, tho.
Ok thanks so could I hook the reciever into the mini apply the settings and then hook the mini into the amplifier to drive the sub?

Also would the crowns frequency range be an issue? What I mean by this is the subs will have extension past 20hz will the frequency range be covered by the mini dsp and the crowns supplies the power or will I need to buy an amp that has a frequency range below 20 Hz?

Sorry this will be new to me so I'm just trying to learn appreciate your help and input

I just really want to go the route of having all my amps not inside my speakers ultimately I think it's more practical plus I LOVE the look of those RBH they look amazing and since I don't conceal my speakers appearance and aesthetics does help in that room

Thanks for your time
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Ok thanks so could I hook the reciever into the mini apply the settings and then hook the mini into the amplifier to drive the sub?

Also would the crowns frequency range be an issue? What I mean by this is the subs will have extension past 20hz will the frequency range be covered by the mini dsp and the crowns supplies the power or will I need to buy an amp that has a frequency range below 20 Hz?

Sorry this will be new to me so I'm just trying to learn appreciate your help and input

I just really want to go the route of having all my amps not inside my speakers ultimately I think it's more practical plus I LOVE the look of those RBH they look amazing and since I don't conceal my speakers appearance and aesthetics does help in that room

Thanks for your time
You'd insert the minidsp between the avr pre-outs and the sub's amp inputs. The minidsp exceeds the sub's capabilities generally. If for subs only the upper frequency response isn't really part of the conversation.
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Samurai
You'd insert the minidsp between the avr pre-outs and the sub's amp inputs. The minidsp exceeds the sub's capabilities generally. If for subs only the upper frequency response isn't really part of the conversation.
Ok thanks I think I got it it'll be awhile before I do this need to wait till things calm down but when they do Ill start a thread where you guys can walk me through it so new guys can learn at the same time I do

Appreciate you
 

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