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Tech Roundup: Power Amplifiers 2022

No matter how sophisticated a sound system is when designed and installed, the rubber always meets the road at the power amps. They manage the heavy lifting, as do the AV techs who handle them. Huge strides have been made in power density, DSP features, and user options while channel expansion and remote control/ monitoring allow sound system staffers, newbies and veterans, to do their work with confidence.

Between the company’s twin solutions for compact audio power, the Audac MFA208 is the smaller brother with two 40W channels at 4 ohms and 80W output in 70/100V operation. This class D amp has a switch mode power supply to work across a global base of various power systems. The SourceCon expansion slot allows modules to be inserted to provide more customization. Background music can be overridden with a priority switch while the 2.8in. TFT display and the push rotary dial make configuration and adjustments quick and easy.

At the top of the versatile FA Series line, the Ashly Audio FA250.4 has 250W peak power, low impedance and 70V operation modes, and 20Hz-20kHz frequency response. There is also switchable input sensitivity, standby polarity, and front panel lockout. Audio connections are Euroblock and there is a USB-C for firmware updates. Protections include over-temperature, output DC, output over-power, and AC mains voltage. The FA Series amps class D amplifiers all have high-pass filters in high impedance mode and a clip limiter

For applications requiring plenty of muscle combined with customized configuration, the AtlasIED DNA2404DL amplifier allows Dante digital audio at the input and delivers four channels of 600W amplification at the output. This model can be controlled through network commands for selecting input routing and configuring EQ, delay, and output levels. The amplifier card has 34dB of gain from its analog input to the speaker output and attenuation is handled ahead of the power amplifier by software controlled DSP. With the addition of sensors, the output of each channel can be controlled through measured ambient noise level in the zone.

The Aurora Multimedia AS-AMP1 is the solution for putting EQ, mixing, and an amplifier into the smallest and most unobtrusive spaces. The unit even allows remote RS-232 volume, bass, and treble control with smart feedback in addition to IR remote. The mixing function has the microphone mixed to the line audio output, and is separately controllable. There are two stereo audio inputs, switchable by button, remote, or RS-232 and users can use the bridge connection to have a single 40W 8-ohm output. In two-channel mode the output is 20W per channel.

For somewhat more sophisticated capabilities, the Biamp Systems TesiraXEL 1200.2 provides four channels of digitally networked, AVB/TSN enabled sound with power distribution and selectable speaker impedance. Each of its channel pairs is supported by a 1200W power bank and there is an audible locate function on the front panel to validate connected loudspeaker runs and speed up installation. Operational modes include 4-ohm, 8-ohm, 70V, and 100V outputs. There is also an auto standby mode and port authentication via IEEE 802.1X. The 2RU unit is configurable through the Biamp Tesira software.

Recently introduced, the Bluesound Professional B170S networked streaming stereo amplifier is for music distribution in commercial spaces. Among its features are low-impedance lines out, constant voltage option, energy-efficient amplification technology, and a compact form factor. These make it right at home providing low impedance outputs for speaker distribution as well as the 70/100V constant voltage option for daisy chained speaker arrangements. For reliability there is also thermostatic fan cooling and a standby mode that only uses 6W of power.

The new compact Blustream NPA100DA Dante-enabled networked power amplifier features a 2x 50W digital amplifier (1 x 100W mono) or 70V/100V high-level constant voltage output, dedicated LFE subwoofer output, Dante audio integration, and two-channel balanced/unbalanced audio outputs. It supports a variety of inputs, including two-channel Dante audio, HDMI ARC, MIC audio with 48V phantom power support, optical audio, and two-channel balanced/unbalanced analog audio, giving it many of the features found in larger amplifiers. It can be powered via PoE++ from a compatible network switch for placement in areas where a power outlet is not available, or locally should the switch not support PoE++. Its 70-100V speaker outputs can feed commercial-grade audio over large distances for in-wall/in-ceiling/pendant speakers as typically found in commercial applications.

When no-frills, straight reliability and ease of use are the name of the game, the Bogen BPA60 mono channel amp answers the call with 60 watts RMS output over 50Hz-15 kHz frequency response. Input impedance specs cover high and low interfaces and output capability includes 8-ohm/25V, 16-ohm, 25VCT and 70V. Protections include thermal overload, circuit breaker, and transient protection diodes. An input level control, circuit breaker reset, lo-cut filter switch, and auxiliary receptacle are located on the rear panel. Also available is the rack panel kit (RPK53).

The top model in the CKd Series, the eight-channel Crest Audio CKd 1208 puts 1250W into each channel for a very controllable high powered sound solution. The Crest Audio Nx Dante-8 NexSys control module enables it to be networked using the Crest Audio NexSys 5 and Peavey MediaMatrix NWare software program. The Nx Dante-8 module supports all NexSys functions, DSP functions, and Dante digital audio I/O via 1 Gigabit Ethernet connection. It is easily installed right into the rear bay of CKd Series power amps. This series of amps has ACL (Active Clip Limiting) and IGM (Instantaneous Gain Modulation).

The Crestron AMP-8150, as part of the 8000 Series, is an advanced class D device using an internal universal power supply with power factor correction. Designed to complement the Crestron Avia family of digital signal processors, these amps have eight channels in a single rack space housing and each channel is individually configurable for Lo-Z or Hi-Z operation as well as stereo or bridged mode. The AMP-8150 is capable of remote monitoring, control, and configuration via network with the Crestron Avia Audio Tool software. Each channel delivers 150W into a 4 or 8-ohm load.

At the high end of the XLC Series of cinema amplifiers is the Crown Audio XLC 21300 with 1300W into each of its two channels at 4 ohms. Parallel, input Y, and bridged-monooutput modes provide plenty of configuration options. Capable of driving high power subwoofers, the XLC 21300 can be connected to the JBL CPi2000 cinema processor through the HD-15 input to allow DSP, room EQ tuning, volume control, and system fault detection. This interconnection enables amplification status and speaker load monitoring through third-party control and theater management systems.

Having just made its appearance at InfoComm, the new Dante-enabled d&b audiotechnik 5D amplifier is a flexible four-channel design that can provide DSP configurations for a range of d&b amplifiers. Working with the 5D Power share calculator, users can determine whether a simulated configuration operates within the limits of the 5D and within the limits of the loudspeakers. DSP features include a user-definable 8-band EQ and a delay capability that covers a range of up to 300ms. The unit enables up to eight input channels and provides four analog inputs on Euroblock connectors. There is also integrated Dante networking. Each input channel can be routed to any of the output channels and the 5D has active Power Factor Correction (PFC) for stable power.

For applications in which there is a need for background music and paging, the Denon Professional DN-280 can assist with summing stereo input signals into a mono output and providing a microphone input. The front panel also includes a 3.5mm aux input which is also summed to mono for the connection of a separate playback device. The amp can handle a 4-ohm load or 70V/100V speaker distribution. The amp provides 100W output with great signal-to-noise specs and it is equipped with short circuit protection and front-panel LED indicators for signal present, clipping status, and thermal interruption.

The Dynacord TGX20 puts pro-level DSP functions into a single 2RU housing and spreads 5200W across four channels at 2 ohms per channel. There are 12 EQ filters per channel selectable as PEQ, Low-Shelving, HighShelving, Low-ShelvQ, High-ShelvQ, Hi-Pass, Low-Pass, and Notch. Delays can be set as high as 2000ms and each channel includes a peak anticipation limiter and RMS/TEMP limiter. These settings and more can be configured and saved into 20 user defined DSP presets. Each input is interfaced through an XLR male/ female connection while the speaker outputs are on Neutrik etherCON/RJ45.

Quiet efficiency and a small footprint are the aces in the Extron XPA 4002 2-channel, single RU amplifier. Offering 400W per channel, the unit manages this using fanless convention cooling so it can be used close to where the action is without causing noise. With its ultralow inrush current this amp does not require a power sequencer for proper use with other gear. There is stable operation through its class D ripple suppression technology and 100dB signal-to-noise ratio. The two inputs are balanced/unbalanced on 3-pole, 3.5 mm captive screw connectors. The XPA 4002-70V version provides 70V outputs.

Capable of delivering high-quality sound over both Low-Z (4/8 Ohm) and High-Z (70/100 V) loudspeaker configurations, the Lab Gruppen CA2402 dual channel, 240W amp has convenient front panel controls for use in a restaurant, retail store, hotel, bar, or other location requiring background music and paging. Energy Star efficiency is assured with direct drive constant power technology and it can be installed on a desk, shelf, or in a standard rack where two can be mounted side by side in a single rack space. This model is convection cooled and uses Euroblock type input and output connections.

Eight channels in a single rack space and Internet of Things- (IoT) capability are just two of the outstanding features of the Lea Professional Connect Series 168D. Add high and low impedance output selection on each channel, built-in WiFi, and FAST Ethernet to have one of the most versatile power amps on the market. Each channel puts out 160W into a 4-ohm load and the Web Browser-based UI works on any device with no software to download. The versatility of this model includes 96kHz Analog Devices DSP with input routing, multiple 48dB/ Oct crossover filters, eight Parametric EQ filters, user configurable speaker limiters, and real time load monitoring.

For super high power jobs, the Martin Audio iKON iK42 with switch mode power supply can output up to 20,000W total Class D power across its four channels as a dedicated amp for Martin Audio Wavefront Precision line arrays and XE Series stage monitors along with other Martin speakers. The two rack space unit autosenses 85V to 240V and it can accommodate analog, AES3, and Dante digital audio network inputs. The Martin Audio VU-NET software enables Ethernet network operation, control, and monitoring. System customization is enhanced through high performance 96kHz DSP on all inputs and outputs.

The Class D Nexo NXAMP4X2MK2 applies 2500W into each of its four channels and it combines 24-bit/96KHz converters and 64-bit signal processing in a 2RU housing. Capable of running on a mains voltage range of 100 to 240V, the amp can run on available power anywhere. There are four analog inputs using cascaded converters for low output noise and digital inputs are accessed through the rear panel expansion card slot. These inputs can optionally be AES/EBU, EtherSound, Dante, or AES67 and each has fall-back to analog functionality. The rear panel also provides RS232 serial and GPIO ports along with Speakon outputs for each of the four channels.

Low impedance or 70V distribution are an easy choice with the Powersoft Quattrocanali 8804 DSP+D, and it offers control and monitoring through ArmoníaPlus system design software. The amp is protected with automatic shutdown if powering voltage is outside of its limits and the defeatable clip limiters keep clipped signals away from the outputs. There is also short circuit and thermal protection. The single rack space housing exhibits low heat dissipation so there is little if any need for external fans while its low AC inrush frees the user from power sequencer requirements.

The QSC CX-Q Series amplifiers include four and eight channel versions, pushing up to 8000W total maximum power to low impedance, 70V or 100V on each channel. Among the special features are drag and drop integration with Q-SYS, FlexAmp and FAST Technology for asymmetric channel loading, eight bi-directional GPIO connections accessible anywhere on the Q-SYS network, and built-in energy saving modes. On the front panel are output level meters, clipping indicators, graphical channel configuration display, and a level control knob. Routable inputs have line/mic level capability with 12V phantom power.

One of the primary modern amp trends is more power in a smaller space. The RCF DMA 82 is a dual channel matrix amp with the ability to manage inputs and outputs in routing and equalization. Additional features are a proprietary bass enhancer algorithm, FIR filters, and environmental equalization. The DMA series amplifiers are Class D units and the DMA 82 puts 80W into each channel with an added stereo line out on RCA connectors. These share the rear panel with two stereo input RCAs. On the front are an aux input, rotary encoder and pushbutton, menu and back buttons, an OLED display, and channel status indicators. The unit is RDNet ready.

An amp in a single gang wall switch space, the RDL D-TPA1A accepts input and 24VDC power on a rear mounted RJ45 connected to a Format-A Sender using twisted-pair cable. It sends its speaker output on a detachable terminal block connected to a 4 or 8-ohm load. The power output is 6.5W RMS into 4 Ohms and 3.5W RMS into 8 Ohms. On the front is a single volume knob with no distracting illumination or indicator lights. This feature arrangement is suitable for classrooms, meeting spaces, and hospitality environments.

The Renkus-Heinz SA Series amplifier modules work with the company’s speakers to provide a unified system with network connectivity, RHAON II control and monitoring, and a selection of Analog, AES/EBU, or Dante signal input. Available in three versions, the modules feature native DSP with up to 340ms delay, equalization, and nine available preset memories. The SA-625, SA-1250, and the SA-2000 offer a wide range of power. Panel controls include input select, preset select, and volume. For safety there is multiband thermal and peak protection. If there is any pause in program audio, proprietary amplifier mute is triggered.

Multi-zone sound environments are ground zero for the Speco Technologies PL260A which can deliver its 250W RMS power into any of seven front-selectable 70/25V speaker zones and for each there is a selectable 70/25V switch. The amp also features microphone and high level source mixing with four dedicated XLR mic inputs, one switchable XLR mic/aux input, and two dedicated aux inputs. Each of the mic inputs has a phantom power toggle and there is a 24VDC input for backup power. Mic one has selectable priority paging. Each zone is individually controlled on the front panel. Non-zoned operation can use low impedance speaker output.

Another amp with multi-source input capability is the TOA Electronics A-9240SHM2 CU amplifier witch can be configured with optional 9000 Series or 900 Series input modules to mix up to eight inputs. The mixed output is powered at 240W with sophisticated signal processing. Two keys on the front panel can be used to store and recall settings data. Speakers connect on 4-pin removable terminal blocks and there are also pre-amp outputs on terminal block and RCA connections. A remote volume control can be connected as well as remote control on a 9-pin D-sub RS-232 terminal.

The Yamaha XM Series amplifiers represent a big step forward in multi-channel power control and versatility. Each of the four channels has separate level control with clear dB level markings, signal presence light, clipping LED, and protect/warning indicator. The stereo operation mode separates the four channels while the parallel mode allows two mono sources, each driving dual amplifiers and in bridged mode the individual two-channel pairs operate as single high-power mono amps. Input pairs are on XLR and Euroblock terminals with individual highpass and stereo/parallel/bridge switch. Up to 500W output is available in 8-ohm bridge mode.

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