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Tech Roundup Power Amplifiers 2020

Amps have risen far above the big, dumb beasts they used to be. In addition to having multi-channel control and DSP features, amplifiers have never been more efficient in their operation. Lighter models are producing more output with less power consumption and heat. The many choices in features and design have made it easier than ever to get the perfect match between amp and installation. The models here illustrate the extent to which the modern power amplifier market has evolved.

Ashly Audio designed the mXa-1502 to operate with Ashly AquaControl software for multizone music distribution, paging, soundmasking and automatic mixing. Users can mix up to 12 inputs into four zones through this unit’s two 150W amplifiers. The amps can drive 2, 4 and 8-ohm loads as well as 25, 70 and 100V outputs. Troubleshooting and reconfiguration can be done remotely using any browser-enabled device. The Ashly hardwired WR-1.1 single-gang remote can also be used. Additional features include ducking, DSP, monitoring, event scheduling and automatic triggering. Eight of the inputs are balanced mic/line and four are stereo line inputs.

The DPA1202 from AtlasIED can be configured for 2-channel 70.7V, 4-channel 4-ohm, single channel 70.7V or 2-channel 4-ohm operation. The networkable amplifier has GUI configurable DSP and a user page with assignable input and output level control. The Site Manager software features network auto-discovery, fault reporting, input and output status, standby status and remote activation on a time schedule. Mute assignments can be triggered by audio signal or contact closure. Four balanced inputs are standard and there is an accessory slot for an optional DPA-DAC4 4-channel Dante receiver card or a DPA-AMIX mic/line, AUX input card, giving the DPA1202 a total of 8 inputs. All of them can be routed to any of the four amp output channels.

The Aurora Multimedia DXE-CAT-RX3 features rear mounted connectors for IR and RS232 control, HDBaseT, HDMI output, stereo sound, audio inputs, LAN and relay ports. The built-in relays can be used for screen control and the audio amplifier versions (2×35W) provide strong sound when used with the Aurora SKR-22T 360-degree sound field ceiling tile speaker. The DXE-CAT-RX3 can be used for rolling carts, podiums, and credenzas. Front panel indicators show power, IR in/out, HDBaseT and signal transmission/ reception. The unit receives HDMI at up to 600ft. and audio functions can be remotely controlled via transmitter unit or optional IP. The DXE-CAT-RX3-A includes an internal audio amplifier.

Biamp Systems has a compact solution for amplification in conferencing systems with the Tesira AMP-450P, an AVB/TSN enabled, four-channel PoE+ conferencing amplifier. In setting up the conferencing system the installer can use software to configure output channels including selectable power vs. channel count. The unit can provide up to 3W of continuous power to all four channels and there is an internal limiter to prevent signal clipping and distortion. It can handle peak signals in a burst mode to allow up to 50W at 4 ohms or 30W at 8 ohms per channel.

The Bogen HTA-250A supplies 250W RMS continuous output with a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz and an input signal of only 500mV is required for full rated output. The output can work with a variety of loads including 4 ohms, 8 ohms, 25VCT and 70 volts. All HTA Series amplifiers are protected from overheating as well as overloads and shorts. In these cases, shutdown occurs and the overload shutdown LED illuminates. When in operation, the power switch lights and the input level control on the rear panel may be used. There is also an internal low-cut filter switch.

Crest Audio released their C1 Series Class D contracting amplifiers at InfoComm 2018 with onboard DSP, Dante protocol networking and for remote monitoring and control they also feature USB/Ethernet connectivity. Equipped with fault relays, full bandwidth PWM modulators and CV (control voltage) inputs, the C1 Series models also have Euro connector inputs and barrier strip outputs. Each unit is protected by a clip/limiter function and overheating sensors. The C1 Series power amps may also be integrated with other DSP/control platforms that support Dante audio networking. The C1 44K model is typical with a prominent front panel LED display and menu navigation knob.

Crestron has the new AMP Series Class D amplifiers with eight channels in a single rack space. Any channel can be configured for high impedance or low impedance operation and standard or bridged mode. Remote configuration, control and monitoring are done through the network connection using either the Crestron Avia Audio Tool software, a Crestron control system, or Crestron Fusion. The internal power supply with power factor correction allows the amp to operate with varying line voltages. The AMPI-8150 is the 100/120V model and it has 4/8-ohm or 70V output. Its balanced inputs can handle signals up to +24 dBu while on the rear panel there are attenuation controls for signal matching. Included is protection against overheating, shorted or overloaded speaker lines, excessive signal levels, and other faults.

The DCi DA Series amplifiers such as the DCi 4|600DA from Crown Audio include network control/monitoring through the Audio Architect software, high-powered DSP with JBL speaker tuning and the capability of driving 2/4/8/16 ohm, 70V and 100V speaker loads. These all give the user the perfect combination of output power, channel count and speaker load flexibility. These models have 20 presets, input delay up to 2 seconds, input and output EQ, output delay up to 100ms, LevelMAX limiter and channel auto-standby. Each unit’s programmable general purpose input/ output port can be configured to control volume, recall presets, or to report errors to third-party control system.

Denon Professional’s very compact DN-280 zone amplifier is the perfect solution for covering multiple sound areas while maintaining a low half-rack profile. Fitted with a microphone for paging, a front panel mini TRS aux input jack and stereo analog inputs summed to mono, the DN-280 can output to 4-ohm or 70V loads. Its class D amp provides 100W of power for wide area coverage without distortion. The unit is protected against short circuits and there are front panel indicators for signal present, clipping status and thermal interruption.

For bigger applications, Dynacord has the four-channel 1250W IPX5:4 with fully integrated DSP along with parallel, bridged and parallel-bridged drive modes. Inputs include Dante and OCA via OMNEO network. Individual channels can be configured for low impedance operation or 70V/100V Direct Drive mode and the digitally controlled interleaved PFC power supply assures stable running in varying power conditions. Control can be achieved using either the front panel OLED display or via IRISNet. Analog inputs and outputs are made on Euroblock connectors and in standby mode the IPX5:4 consumes less than 15W.

The XPA U 358 from Extron packs a lot of versatility into a tiny half rack sized unit with eight channels and 35W RMS power per channel. The Energy Star qualified amp uses convection cooling for super quiet operation and its stackable capability saves installation space. It’s always ready with fast wakeup and a defeatable auto-standby. Located on the rear panel to prevent tampering are recessed detented level controls with laser etched markings. There is also an automatic clip limiter and protection circuits for shorts, thermal overload and DC faults.

JBL Commercial designed the DSi 2.0 Series amps to work with their JBL Cinema speakers and they can directly interface with Dolby Atmos. Within a 2RU rack space, there are four channels with bridgeable outputs. In high power density 2-ohm power mode a single channel can power up to four JBL surround speakers. Crown DriveCore technology simplifies internal processing circuitry while SNMP connectivity allows networked audio distribution and Ethernet provides networking and third party control. Built-in JBL Cinema Speaker presets match all JBL Cinema loudspeakers. Presets can be recalled and the amp may be monitored and power turned on or off through a combined GPIO/ AUX port.

The Lab Gruppen D 10:4L gets a lot of features and power into a single rack space unit with four channels and 1000W output. Lake digital signal processing allows thorough control and loudspeaker management. Among the unit’s features are configurable auto power down, Adaptive Rail Control and under-voltage limiting to provide continued operation if the mains voltage drops. There are redundant audio inputs and on-board system surveillance for voice alarm systems. The balanced analog and digital audio inputs and amp outputs are on plug-in Phoenix connectors. The dust filter grille may be removed for cleaning and maintenance.

One of the best solutions for installation, portable sound and stage monitoring is the two-channel Class D Martin Audio VIA5002 with its 5000W power rating. Weighing in at only 22lbs. in a two rack unit space, the amp can auto-sense 115V or 230V power and it has two input level controls with LED metering to show signal level, clip and protection status. The rear panel has two male and two female XLR connectors for audio input and pass-through. The speaker outputs are on Neutrik Speakon NL4 connectors and those ports can each deliver 2500W into 4 ohms or 1600W into 8-ohm loads.

A new addition to the Nexo NXAMP series and at the top of the line in output power, the NXAMP4x4MK2 controller/ amplifier features 4,500 watts per channel into a 2-ohm load. A 3RU frame houses a color LCD touch screen with a single adjustment knob, four analog inputs, four digital inputs with a rear-panel expansion card and a native dual Ethernet port for use with NEXO’s NeMo system management software. Multiple amps can be operated remotely and daisy chained using a remote control card. Compatible with worldwide power specs, the model is perfect for touring or installation.

Powersoft’s versatile Mezzo Series amps can fit a range of installation specifics in a half rack width so that two may be mounted side by side in a single rack space. In the series there is a choice of two power supply sizes, two or four channels and some versions provide audio networking capabilities with DanteTM/AES67 along with an internal Gibabit Ethernet switch. The Mezzo models can be mounted on walls and under tables. Those with sealed designs can be hidden in ceilings and all include DSP. The front panel features signal presence, status and network indicator LEDs.

In the top ranks of the QSC CX-Q Series of network amplifiers, the CX-Q 8K8 allows the user to customize up to 8000W of power output among its eight channels to loads including low impedance, 70V or 100V. Within a Q-SYS network the unit can be easily dragged and dropped into place in software with its eight mic/line inputs. The amp also features eight bi-directional GPIO terminals for third party integration and control. Each channel has its level displayed on the front panel including signal presence and clip indicators. All inputs have 12V phantom power on 3-pin Euro-style connectors.

The QPS 9600 high power amplifier from RCF is a two rack unit model with four channels that can be configured in mono, stereo and bridge modes. Providing power up to 2400W RMS on each of its channels, the amp’s switched mode power supply, high-efficiency heat sinks and variable speed DC fans keep it running smoothly. The unit has XLR inputs, XLR signal outputs, SpeakOn NL4 speaker output terminals and voltage clip switchable limiters. The versatile array of configuration options is set up with DIP switches on the rear panel. The front panel has individual channel level controls and indicators.

At the other end of the size and power scale the RDL SF-NP50A is a network to 50W RMS plenum rated amplifier package that can be hidden away just about anywhere while providing its 70V or 100V output. Featuring an analog balanced mono input and an unbalanced stereo mini jack input, the amp has automatic ducking and a balanced line output from the network audio source. It can be controlled through a VCA terminal on a detachable terminal block by using a 10k potentiometer or 1-10VDC. LED indicators show network sync, amp mute, analog input level and ducking threshold.

Designed by Renkus-Heinz to unify all Renkus-Heinz loudspeakers across connectivity and control platforms, the SA Series amplifier modules simplify setup and provide networking, RHAON II control and monitoring and a selection of analog and digital audio input formats including optional Dante. Among the three module variants there is a wide variety of output power ratings. All have native DSP, XLR looping and multi-band thermal and peak protection. Any pause in the audio signal activates the proprietary amplifier mute. There are also nine user presets configurable on the rear panel.

Built for sustained use and high reliability, the Speco Technologies PMM120A mixer/ power amp has mic level inputs on XLR or screw terminals, mic/aux inputs, an EQ mic input on RCA terminals and a telephone paging connection. In addition to the low impedance speaker output there is a 70/100V out as well as tape, booster and pre-amp outputs on RCAs. There are volume controls for each source as well as a master level control. The front panel has power and level indicators and a large illuminated rocker switch for power control.

The P-924MK2 amplifier from TOA Electronics is a single channel 240W unit in the P900 Series that can be customized for specific paging and music/messaging-on-hold applications through selection of a TOA input module. It has 25V, 70V and 8-ohm transformer isolated speaker outputs with screw terminal connectors and these are protected by a cover plate. Versatility is enhanced through its direct input for connecting a mixer or other external source. Also available is selectable input sensitivity, a low-cut switch and a turn on delay that disconnects the output during power-up.

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