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  1. #1
    Senior Member Andrew Robinson's Avatar
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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.

    Crown Audio XLS Drivecore Series Amplifier - The OFFICIAL Thread

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    Crown XLS 1000 Amplifiers mounted in my Sanus equipment rack.

    I've been in a bit of a mood lately, not a bad one, just one that's more excited by the idea of going against the grain rather than accept the status quo. This "mood" has lead me to wonderful discoveries such as the Dune-HD Max player, Tekton Design loudspeakers (Hi, my name is Andrew and I am a fan), HTPCs and more. It's been a lot of fun, so much so that I'm looking to push things even further, which brings me to today's crazy experiment -Crown pro amplifiers for consumer, home theater use.

    The idea of using pro gear at home isn't new to me for my first home theater was actually comprised of some professional JBL speakers and parts left over from a decommissioned theater some years ago. I didn't know what I had then and shortly after I fell into the usual audiophile/home theater traps, where by I stopped enjoying many of the components that I had and instead lived to change them out and/or upgrade. Fast forward to a few weeks ago and a trip to Guitar Center where stumbled across their pro audio room and several large professional grade JBL loudspeakers. The JBLs retailed for, I believe, $599/pair and were damn near full-range. Sure they looked like professional speakers but I couldn't help but wonder how three would've sounded across the front of my room behind a large, perforated screen. I almost took the plunge but then my Pendragons showed up and the idea quickly fell out of favor.

    Still, I ran the idea past fellow forum member RayJr. for it's one of the things that has always bugged me about the audiophile/home theater realm -we obsess over gear in order to achieve the artists' or directors' intent and yet we refuse to use the "tools" and methods they employ to achieve their results. For me the Pendragons are a nice mix for they marry professional drivers with audiophile like cabinetry; they also manage to make movies and music sound more like what I've heard during professional mixing sessions than anything I've heard for the consumer realm yet. In Ray and I's conversation we tossed around a lot of ideas and concepts, which came to a head last night when he brought up the idea of using professional PA amplifiers. Ray referenced a Behringer amplifier that possessed 1,000-Watts of power into 4 Ohms when run in bridged mono. That's a lot of juice, especially when you consider the Behringer's retail price was only a mere $299! I like Behringer but I'm also impatient so I began researching Crown, which is a professional division of Harman International (JBL, Lexicon, Mark Levinson etc). What I found was astonishing.

    I focused my attention on Crown's XLS Series of amplifiers for three reasons; 1) they were compatible with speakers ranging from 8 to 2 Ohms, 2) they featured five-way binding posts opposed to professional speaker terminal connections (they have them too) and 3) the price points seemed too good to be true. The XLS Series of amplifiers can be found online or at Guitar Center, which is where I picked up my samples. Retail prices start at $299 for the XLS 1000 (what I bought) and max out at around $599 (I think). The XLS 1000 is a two channel, Class-D amplifier that churns out a staggering 215-Watts per into 8 Ohms, 350-Watts into 4 Ohms and 550-Watts into 2 Ohms. In bridge-Mono the XLS 1000 fires out 700-Watts into 8 Ohms and a blistering 1,100-Watts into 4. That's 700/1,100-Watts mono for less than $300! I searched high and low to find a better deal than that anywhere and I couldn't.

    So this morning I picked up two XLS 1000s for less than $600 total and currently are running them in bridged mono feeding a pair of GoldenEar Triton 3s that are in for review. I'm contemplating picking up another so I can run my rear channel speakers for I've already fallen for the XLS's sound in bridge mono for the front channels versus stereo -not that stereo is bad, mono is just better .

    I'll be sharing my thoughts as the hours and days progress. I must ask, however, if you wish to follow this thread or comment please keep an open mind for it's easy to dismiss something that doesn't carry an audiophile or home theater badge as garbage -but I assure you, so far, the Crown amps are proving anything but. I'm not saying they're the end all be all, I'm not saying anything for I've only spent about an hour with them. I'm just asking that you keep your mind open for this type of experiment is aimed at being both informative and fun, not a test of right or wrong.

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  2. #2
    Senior Member Andrew Robinson's Avatar
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    Crown XLS Specifications

    Specifications (minus power output)

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  3. #3
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    Andrew,

    What adjustments do these crown amps have/

  4. #4
    Senior Member Andrew Robinson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ivanpino View Post
    Andrew,

    What adjustments do these crown amps have/
    Stereo/Bridge Mono
    Digital Crossover selection (you can use them for active bi-amping or subwoofers)
    Clipping protection (think NAD's Soft Clipping feature)
    Variable volume control (front panel) for each channel
    Every imaginable input option

  5. #5
    Senior Member RayJr's Avatar
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    I really have to stop thinking out loud with Andrew around....he seems to take the ideas and run with them.

    RayJr
    Certified THX Video Calibrator
    Certified Audyssey Installer

    My Media Room

  6. #6
    Senior Member Andrew Robinson's Avatar
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    So I spent some time critically listening to the Crown amps last night running in bridged mono (600+ Watts in 8 Ohms) to my Tekton Pendragons. Here are a few observations.

    1. At one point I felt as if the Crown's top end was a bit harsh and grainy and not at particularly loud levels, however upon checking with my SPL meter I was listening at around 100+ DB and wasn't wholly aware of it! It wasn't as if the sound was blasting me out of my chair like I've had happen with other amps at these levels, or that it was harsh or even fatiguing -it's just the Crown's top end was quite as refined as some at the extreme. Note: this did seem to vary considerably from recording to recording, which brings me to point 2.

    2. The Crown amps are surprisingly revealing in that they impart seemingly no sound of their own. All you're going to hear is the music and nothing more, so if the signal sucks -you'll know. If your preamp sucks -you'll know. If your speakers suck -you'll know. Synergy is key and while they possess more power than Zeus the Crown amps need to be mated to the right speakers, preferably one with a stable 8 Ohm to 4 Ohm load. They didn't do the GoldenEar Triton 3s any favors yet sound positively brilliant with the Pendragons. The Pendragons at 8 Ohms, 98dB efficiency (and pro drivers) mate well where as the Triton 3's somewhat variable Ohm load and lower impedance didn't seem to be as good a match. Doable, but not as ideal as I found with the 'Dragons. Also, you'll find the noise floor will change from speaker to speaker, however not in the way you'd imagine for the Pendragons, despite their higher efficiency, had a lower noise floor than the Triton 3s via the Crown amps.

    3. Despite having an internal fan I can't get the sucker to turn on even after prolonged spirited listening sessions. They run cool to the touch after a full day's worth of use.

    4. The amps are fast and extremely articulate. They're actually not lively or forward, instead, again, very neutral. Those seeking a bit of romanticism or "voicing" (think tubes or house sound) need not apply. I'm hearing subtle cues, textures and details presented with renewed precision and focus.

    5. With this much power on tap the Crown amps are seemingly unflappable.

    6. With movies you can hear the Crown's pedigree as movie soundtracks are presented with cinema like sound quality.

    Verdict so far: Very positive

  7. #7
    Owner-Publisher Jerry Del Colliano's Avatar
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    I'd love to hear how an amp that powers live shows compares to one like an Emotiva - but wait... they won't send one will they....

    Can we compare this to Outlaw, NAD others?

  8. #8
    Administrator Tracy Rainwater's Avatar
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    When I first saw this post title, I was thinking you were using it as a sub amp. Apparently not.

    I experimented many years ago with an Audio Centron Pro amp, I forget the exact model. It belonged to a buddy of mine who DJ's weddings. While that amp was powerful, it was also noisy, and had a hum that I could not get rid of.

    Sounds like these Crown amps are much more refined.

  9. #9
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    Crown has been around for a LONG time and has been a workhorse for the pro world. I have owned some of their amps and they are always extremely powerful, sometimes a little thin and can get a bit edgy up top but not too bad. Could have been the Cerwin Vega's horn tweeters I had back then too! (Yes, I too owned a pair of them!)

    They look really nice Andrew! Can't wait to hear what you think once they get burned in, and for the price? You cannot touch the power in the AV world!

  10. #10
    Senior Member pbc's Avatar
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    Better hope the fans don't turn on. As your opinion will change and you'll be looking for a fan mod. My QSC RMX-5050, even with a modded fan, is just too darn loud and the drone drives me nuts (so I've been researching fanless amps to drive my subs and may in fact have one custom made using some 2400 watt Pascal modules). The other potential issue one runs into with pro gear is the much higher potential for a) system hum and b) gain structure issues resulting in a much higher noise floor, and in my case the damn amp weighs 75 lbs and doesn't quite fit properly into my Salamander rack so is a chore if I need to move it without damaging the rack itself.

    Outside of the above, pro amps are designed to take a lot of punishment and to deliver a ton of watts to equipment from 20/30hz on up, very little reason not to use them with an HT. Well, the above and the fact that they typically look really ugly.

    I think if we all did proper blind listening tests of amplifiers where we had no idea of the cost, brand name or aesthetics, I'm willing to bet no one here would be able to discern the difference between say the Crown amp and any $2k/$5k/$10k/$20k HT amplifier, at least not consistently (i.e. more than 50/60% of the time anyhow). Assuming the fan doesn't turn on of course .... then all bets are off.

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