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Tech Roundup: Power Amplifiers 2021

Among the intricate features of modern power amplifiers are sophisticated controls and vastly improved operational efficiency. Amps are the AV system’s crossroads of brain and muscle. They endure constant heat in installations and they take a beating on the road while driving out high-energy sound to all parts of the performance venue, control room or theme park. The latest models unite DSP, load balancing, fault detection and automatic backup capability, expanding reliability and shrinking the space and power they require. The models shown here are typical of this remarkable evolution.

Using its proprietary D-MAX technology for unprecedented operational efficiency, the Ashly CA Series amps, the CA 1.52 and CA 1.54, also apply the SailFlow architecture for unimpeded airflow resulting in much better cooling. Up to 16 8-ohm speakers can run on a single CA 1.54 and the CA amps can also connect to 70V and 100V systems. There is adjustable front panel input gain per channel with lockout, Euroblock and XLR combo connectors, switchable HPF and clip limiter on each channel, and a solid metal front panel for road proven durability. With all its output power, the CA 1.54 only draws 22W in standby mode.

DSP control, multiple channels, and a choice of three different amplification arrangements are just some of the features of the AtlasIED DPA2402 amplifier. It can be configured to provide four channels of low impedance power or the unit can connect to a 70/100V system on one channel with two others delivering 4 or 8-ohm output. There are four balanced mic/line inputs and an accessory slot. This fits an optional DPA-DAC4 4-channel Dante receiver card or a DPA-AMIX two mic/line, two AUX input card, allowing the DPA2402 to have a total of eight inputs. Add to this a wired remote control, GUI-based input/output level metering, and triggered mute functions.

An all-in-one performer, the Audac Multifunctional SourceCon amplifier was a 2020 InfoComm Connected best of show special edition award winner. The MFA216 is based on a two-channel Class D amp design and it can output up to 80W per channel on low impedance sound systems. On 70V or 100V systems it provides up to 180W while its versatile switch mode power supply operates across a global range of main voltages. This amp also offers a stereo line input and its SourceCon module slot can accept internet radio or audio streaming modules. Other features include a balanced mic/line input, integrated phantom power, and a priority switch for background music override.

The Aurora Multimedia AS-AMP1 Class D digital amplifier offers a unique blend of features in a very compact design. There is a microphone mixer, bridge connection, EQ control, and a dual-mono output selection. The two stereo inputs can be switched by local button, remote or via RS-232 and these control methods can be used to adjust bass and treble as well. Its default output is dual 20W channels at 4 ohms but it can be switched to a single 40W 8-ohm connection. The mic input can also be mixed with a stereo line input with separate level controls. Take it anywhere because its international power supply is compatible worldwide and it is small enough to be mounted even under a table.

An AVB/TSN enabled, digital networked, four channel amplifier, the Biamp Systems TesiraXEL 1200.1 applies a versatile mix of capabilities including power distribution (1-100% of available power to any channel), selectable speaker impedance, and delay equalization. There is also a very useful audible locate function on the front panel that allows quick and easy validation of speaker runs. So that users can specify the network topology, the unit includes a software configurable media interface that supports daisy chain, network redundancy, and single cable configurations. The rack-mountable design also features an auto standby mode.

Flexibility and reliability to suit any installation scenario is the idea behind the Bogen M600 modular power amplifier at the top of their M-Class line. These amps have three modes of operation; Stereo, 70V Mono or Dual Mono. They also provide two modular input bays that accept a range of input modules, one of which is already supplied with the amplifier. This series also features three selectable low-frequency roll-off choices, post and pre-EQ output feeds, DC, overload, and thermal protection along with clip detection and limiting circuits. The 14-gauge steel chassis and cast aluminum front panel allow professional-level durability. The M600 delivers 600W per channel at 4 ohms and 400W per channel at 8 ohms.

Remote-controlled operation, active clip limiting, and overcurrent protection are all part of the Crest Audio CLh 6000C Class-D power amp. CLh Series amplifiers automatically reduce gain at the onset of clipping and they all include a switchable, built-in low-cut filter. The CLh 6000C produces 3745 Watts per channel continuous power at 100V and it runs efficiently on its light-weight switchmode power supply. The speaker outputs are located on screw terminals on the rear panel along with the input limiting adjustment controls. The CLh Series amps also feature three temperature-dependent variable speed fans and heavy gauge aluminum cases.

Big performance in a small space is the secret to success for the new Crestron AMPX300 with its capability to fit on a wall, shelf, under a table or in a rack. It’s a 4-channel amp that can also be configured as a bridged mode 3-channel unit. Each of its 4 channels output 75W and in bridged mode it produces 150W on the bridged channel. Single-channel bridged operation takes it up to 300W. The amp can connect to low impedance loads or 70/100V systems and it has balanced and unbalanced inputs on RCA connectors or detachable terminal blocks.

The Crown Audio DCi 8|300DA features network control and monitoring, EN 54-16 compliance, independent Dante/AES67 ports, 48kHz processing, 20 presets along with an input router and it uses DriveCore amplifier technology. There is also support for Dante 4.0 firmware for integration with Dante Domain Manager. This model’s DSP capability includes LevelMAX limiters, input/output EQ, crossover, delay, and speaker line monitoring. The European Union EN54 compliance allows the DCi 8|300DA to function as part of an emergency notification system. Its versatility is complete with GPIO ports that can be configured for a variety of functions.

Expanded installation options are provided by dual impedance capability of the Denon Professional DN-474A with two channels operating on a 70/100V system while the other two going on low impedance output. Operators are kept informed through front panel LED indicators that show signal presence, clipping status and thermal interruption. Equipped with short and open circuit protection, the DN-474A is designed for connection to multiple 70/100V speaker systems on long cable runs as well as shorter runs to low impedance speakers. The 4-channel Class-D amp has separate volume controls for each channel and it is fitted with Euroblock input and output connectors.

Also in the Class-D amp realm, the Dynacord IPX10:8 was developed specifically for fixed install applications with its eight 1250W channels, digitally controlled PFC power supply, and fully integrated DSP. Control and monitoring can be done via front panel OLED display and over fully integrated IRISNet capability. The input signals interface on 6-pin Euroblock terminals and the maximum input level is +21DBu. The unit’s 1300W power consumption drops to less than 18W in standby mode. DSP control is extensive with a wide range of parameter adjustments including one factory preset and 20 user defined presets.

The new Extron XPA U 2002 SB two channel bridgeable output amplifier is small, quiet, and versatile. Among its selectable output modes are two 200W channels into 4 or 8 ohms, one 400W bridged channel into 70/100V, and one 400W bridged channel into 8 or 16 ohms. Efficient fanless, convection-cooled operation allows multiple units to be stacked in close proximity within racks. Other features include a defeatable auto-standby with fast wake up, remote volume and mute control, automatic clip limiter, and multiple protection circuits. There are also recessed detented level controls on the rear panel.

Take all of the most valued features in an installation power amplifier, add tamperproof gain controls for each channel and you have the Lab Gruppen FA2402. With 240W per channel output, this one can connect to 70/100V speakers systems or low impedance loads independently on each channel. The RJ45 GPI connection allows remote control while its Auto Ramp circuitry provides fast power up. The 1RU half-rack width enclosure is convection cooled for very quiet operation and it’s an easy fit for shelves as well as on or under tables. The unit’s efficient operation has earned Energy Star certification.

Lea Professional Connect Series IoT-enabled professional Class-D amplifiers can handle small or medium scale installations with their selectable impedance outputs on each channel, builtin WiFi access point, and fast wired network connections. The web-based user interface works on any device with no software download required. DSP functions include input routing, multiple 48dB/Oct crossover filters, 8 Parametric EQ filters, configurable speaker limiters and real time load monitoring. The universal power supply can be connected anywhere and there is an external I/O port for remote power control and fault monitoring.

The Martin Audio VIA5004 Class-D amp is a 4-channel unit with 1250 watts into 2 ohms for each of the four or two bridged channels of 2500W into 4 ohm loads. This model is a 2RU rack mount design with a global auto-sensing, switch mode power supply. The front panel provides level controls for each channel along with signal level and clipping LED indicators. Cooling is accomplished with front-to-back air flow through variable speed fans. All inputs are on female and male Neutrik XLRs while the outputs are Neutrik speakON terminals. The unit weighs 22lbs.

There are four 2500W power amps in one unit with 64-bit signal processing, four analog audio inputs, and an expansion card slot that can provide four digital inputs in the NEXO NXAMP4X2MK2. All of this is operated with a big color touch screen on the front panel and remote controlled through an extensively detailed networking interface on the rear panel. Multi-core DSP allows the amp to stay at the top of performance with future firmware updates. Also on the rear panel are RS232 serial and GPIO ports. The universal 100-240 mains voltage range perfectly handles power anywhere. Optional Dante, EtherSound and AES network cards are available.

The Powersoft Ottocanali 1204 DSP is an 8-channel unit that can deal with operating power up to 400V using Power Factor Correction in its switch mode power supply. Controlled and monitored with the ArmoníaPlus app, the amp puts 80W into each channel at 8 ohms and 150W per channel with a 4-ohm load. There are thermal and DC current alarms as well as general purpose alarm interfaces. The DSP provides input/ output independent EQ in each channel, time delays up to 16ms, peak and RMS limiters, and Active DampingControl for cable length compensation. Remote control includes switching between each channel’s main and aux inputs.

Offering top performance for monitoring and control within the Q-SYS Ecosystem, the QSC DPA-8K8Q has eight channels of power addressable from the network. System safety features include protection for short circuit, open circuit, over current, over voltage as well as thermal, RF, DC fault shutdown, and active inrush limiting. All of the Q models offer mic/ line inputs into the Q-SYS network and this one pushes 8000W into the speaker outputs. There are also eight bi-directional GPIO connections and Flexible Amplifier Summing Technology that optimizes for either higher voltage loads (up to 200Vrms output) or high current loads (up to 35A). The front panel LCD screen is easy to read and provides all local control information needed.

Two primary features of the RCF DMA 162P 2-channel amp are extensive DSP and a compact form factor that allows it to be mounted just about anywhere such as in a rack for a multi-room system or on a table top as a single stand-alone unit. With the addition of the optional RDNet board, DSP functions and specific RCF speaker presets can be set up. The ClassD amp puts 160W into each channel. Also available in it are a proprietary bass enhancer algorithm, FIR filters, and environmental EQ. Even with its compact size, there is room for a front panel display that allows fine adjustments of input and output parameters.

The RDL SF-NP35E has the smaller end of the venue spectrum covered for conference rooms or classrooms with a 35W RMS constant voltage amplifier for 70/100V sound systems and it requires no software for configuration. This unit converts one Dante network audio output to the constant voltage output using selectable Dante sample rates of 44.1, 48, 88.2 and 96kHz. It can be powered from a PoE++ capable network switch or from an external 24VDC power supply. Output level can be externally controlled via the VCA port on a detachable terminal block. By connecting a 10K Ohm resistor across the VCA terminals the output can be adjusted. It also features thermal and output short-circuit protection.

Designed to unify all Renkus-Heinz speakers across connectivity and control platforms, the Renkus-Heinz SA Series amplifiers have full networking capabilities, RHAON II control and monitoring, and a choice of connections between analog, AES/EBU, or Dante inputs. The series includes the SA-625 with 500W + 125W output and the SA-1250 with 1000W + 250W in two-way configuration and 500W + 500W + 250W in three-way mode. There is also the SA-2000 amp which can be set up for a single channel of 2000W into 4 ohms, 2 channels of 1000W each into 8 ohms or 3 channels with 1000W, 500W and 250W. All have built-in DSP that features delay, EQ and nine preset memories.

For multi-room applications such as restaurants and bars, the Speco Technologies PL260A 260W amplifier offers seven front panel selectable speaker zones with a 70V/25V switch and it adds a connection for a 24V external backup power supply. There is also a low impedance speaker output with 4, 8, and 16-ohm terminals. Users have a choice of five balanced mic inputs on XLRs and each of these can independently provide phantom power selectable from a DIP switch. The unit has a music on hold feature and Mic 1 has a priority switch for paging. In addition to speaker outputs there is also a stereo aux output on RCA connectors.

The new TOA Electronics A-848D digital mixer amp has a wide range of features that deliver plenty of installation versatility. Its two module slots accept 900 Series modules to custom tailor the amp’s capability to the specific job. There are four control triggers that can be activated. Two of the six inputs are mic/line with switchable phantom power, another two are mic inputs and all of these connect on terminal blocks. Another two inputs are RCA line level aux with adjustable ducking levels. This unit also features remote volume control, a separate recording output, preamp output and a complete web interface for remote parameter monitoring and setup.

At the top of the XMV Series amplifiers, the Yamaha XMV8280-D has all of the XMV features while applying 280W into each of its eight channels at 4/8 ohms, 250W at 70/100V or four channels of 560W in double power mode. The preferred mode can be selected on a rear panel DIP switch. It is also furnished with the YDIF digital input format as well as Dante network ports through which Dante Domain Manager and Dante Device Lock can be used. The amp is compatible with control systems such as those from Crestron and AMX. It is also possible to mix digital connections and analog connections for each input channel of an XMV Series amp.

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