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Suggestions on seperate amps and where to find.


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#1 of 27 Ben_cee

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Posted July 04 2000 - 06:17 AM

I have been lurking and pouring over all of the diy subwoofer threads to date for the last week and I am now ready to start putting together materials for my project.(Boy am I glad I found this site I just about bought a fsr18 a week ago!) However, there has been little discussion on amplifiers and where to purchase them. I have seen references to plate amps and websites that sell them but not much on external amps. From what I have learned I will need at least 500w minimum. I realize many of you are asking "what are you driving before I recommend a amp and where to buy it?" The truth is I am not certain if it will be 2 shivas or 2 tc15he. Contemplating damage control, structurally that is!

#2 of 27 Vince Maskeeper

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Posted July 04 2000 - 07:25 AM

Ben,

First off, Welcome to the forum. You'll find tons and tons of info from folks more than willing to help!

Amp discussions are pretty common round these parts, actually. Most of the kids building a Shiva Sonosub are doing so as a budget issue, so they purchase a "budget" amplifier to go with it.

Most guys are using "professional" style 2 channel amplifiers: external stereo rack mount variety used in pro sound reinforcement. Again, when making a budget choice, many guys are using the Mackie FR M1400i amplifier (700 watts a channel into 2ohms).


Posted Image


I'm personally not a fan of Mackie stuff (as many on the forum would tell you), but if you have a small budget the Mackie will definately do the job (they cost around $475 new, $375 used).

Do a quick search for Mackie or 1400i.

Searching on Mackie will yield a dozen discussions like these: http://www.hometheat....ML/019909.html http://www.hometheat....ML/020791.html

They might help you. You might also try searching for QSC, Ashly or Crown info here on the forum...

If these threads don't give you all the info you need, just post specifically about your enclosures once you decide and someone will drop you some info!

-Vince

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#3 of 27 Seungsoo Hwang

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Posted July 04 2000 - 08:02 AM

hey Vince, weren't you going to put up a list of amps or something to that effect that were the most cost effective in watts/dollar? Maybe you already did and I missed it?
But anyways, what would you recommend to someone that is looking for at least 500W@4ohms of clean power, but would like to keep costs under $300? under $250?(am i pushing it here?)

#4 of 27 Vince Maskeeper

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Posted July 04 2000 - 08:36 AM

Quote:
hey Vince, weren't you going to put up a list of amps or something to that effect that were the most cost effective in watts/dollar? Maybe you already did and I missed it?

Nope, haven't posted it yet... Although i have gotten a boatload of emails requesting it! The reason is that I am holding off to do some real testing with a Sonosub/Shiva unit of my own. I am currently having one built by a technician in a secret lab near my home: he says it will be completed in a few weeks. When I have my own subs, I figured I would go back and do some additional testings since most people will be using them for Shiva based tubes!

Quote:
But anyways, what would you recommend to someone that is looking for at least 500W@4ohms of clean power, but would like to keep costs under $300? under $250?(am i pushing it here?)

I'm assuming you mean 500 watts PER CHANNEL at 4 ohms?

Well, my classic ANTI-MACKIE suggestion is the Ashly FTX-2001 (Heavy Duty, Reliable, Tolerant, Expandable and THX approved). Although it only runs around 475 watts per channel @ 4 ohms, but it can be had used for $300-$400.


Posted Image


I would honestly say that to exceed 500 watts per channel @ 4 ohms, you won't be able to come in much under $500. The Mackie and Ashly are the major players in the budget class (there are some cheaper mind you, but few I would touch with a 209 foot pole) and their amps are:

Ashly 2001
475w per channel @ 4 ohms
$1000 list price
$649 realistic new price (Dealer cost is around/under $600)
$350-$375 realistic used price

Mackie 1400i
495w per channel @ 4 ohms
$700 list price
$489 realistic new price (Dealer cost is around/under $450)
$350-$375 realistic used price

I don't think you'll get under $300 used price for a decent amp exceeding 500 watts per channel @ 4 ohms unless you go with a serious cheapo brand or maybe if you buy stolen...

(You could consider running bridged at 2 ohms with the Ashly: I've done it and although Ashly wouldn't recommend it, it works and gives you around 1500 watts. I've tried it with Mackies as well but sadly they melted...)

Vince

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#5 of 27 Martin Schmencke

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Posted July 04 2000 - 09:33 AM

Ben,
I'm a little confused about something: two Shivas would run about $250 and two TC's about $500, right ? If the $250 extra for the drivers is a limitting factor, why the need to spend so little on the amp ?

That said ( Vince, you know what's coming ), if you go with the TC sounds ( which I believe are 8ohms ? ), you could bridge a Crown DC300, which would deliver one channel of power in the range you want ( probably around 600 watts into 4 ohms, although they won't rate it this way. Certainly in excess of 400 watts any way you slice it. I do believe that you will find that two TC's powered this way will give you tons of bass ). OTOH, the Shiva may give you more configuaration problems, since you probably won't get enough power if you configure into 8ohms and may not want to run into 2 ohms ( although I can assure you that the DC300 can handle it ).

#6 of 27 Vince Maskeeper

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Posted July 04 2000 - 09:51 AM

Martin,

You have, once again given me a moment of true, loud, belly laughter! And once again, I am in your debt!

Cheers to my favorite Crown DC300 fan, and one of the best HTF posters around!

[Martin: One note, the original post concerning the driver type and the 3rd post with the budget were made by 2 different people... Just want to make sure you noticed that!]

-Vince

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#7 of 27 Martin Schmencke

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Posted July 04 2000 - 10:23 AM

Oops !!!!! Sorry, Ben.

Better advice: Since it looks like your budget is much higher than I originally thought, I would think about a Crown K2 ( can you say 2,500 watts bridged ? There, I knew you could ! ). Should be able to pick one up for a little over a grand, and they even come in different colors. I really can't imagine an amp that will do better than this for an HT sub application at any price.

#8 of 27 Seungsoo Hwang

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Posted July 04 2000 - 10:26 AM

Vince, actually I was talking about 500W total power, more like 250Wx2. So anywhere from 200Wx2 or 300Wx2 @ 4ohms would be very good and acceptal for me. I am using the Parts Express Dayton 15". This handles like 300W@?ohms each voice coil(DVC) and I am probably going to go parallel so I want to either bridge the amp to around 500W@4ohms, I hope this is all correct? I think it handles 600W for the driver but ive been told that the 12cuft design im going with is going to handle only around 300-500W...?

so there it is, I need a 500W amp for like $300 or less.

#9 of 27 Vince Maskeeper

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Posted July 04 2000 - 10:35 AM

Quote:
I would think about a Crown K2 ( can you say 2,500 watts bridged ? There, I knew you could ! ).

A good piece of advice: the K Series from Crown are a fave within the HT world because they have no cooling fan so they aren't noisy!

But, one small note: many of the newer Crown products (K series included) are somewhat bitchy about bridging at 2 ohms unless spec'd to do so. Running 2 Shivas bridged would be a 2 ohm load (?I think?) and might cause a problem... K2 does 2500 bridged into 4 ohms, but I don't know if I'd try it at 2!

K series are decent amps (Not as good as the Studio or Macro Tech series, IMHO), come in fashion colors, are sealed with no fan noise, and have an impressive damping factor (important when dealing with subs).

On rule about Crown amps: they last forever! This is because when they are abused, they tend to take out components around them to save themselves (When you run a Crown amp heavy to clip, they simply eat speakers!). So, when running at 2 ohms bridged, the amp probably won't die, but it might zap your speakers... I love Crown, but this is their shortcoming.

Just my 2 cents.

Vince

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#10 of 27 Martin Schmencke

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Posted July 04 2000 - 10:35 AM

OOPS !!!!! Sorry, Ben.

better advice: looking at what you had been considering, your budget is MUCH higher. You might consider a Crown K2 ( can you say 2,500 watts ???? There, I knew you could ). I don't think there exists an amp which can considerably out perform the K2 as an HT subwoofer amp. It should cost a little over a grand, so your two TC sound, plus materials, etc should still be less than the fsr18 ( if I remeber that price correcty ). OTOH with two TC15's, a K2, and any sort of proper enclosure, you will have a good deal of structural issues, and probably pretty soon ( as well as regular visits from the local constabulary ).

#11 of 27 Vince Maskeeper

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Posted July 04 2000 - 11:22 AM

Quote:
I was talking about 500W total power, more like 250Wx2. I am using the Parts Express Dayton 15". This handles like 300W@?ohms each voice coil(DVC) and I am probably going to go parallel so I want to either bridge the amp to around 500W@4ohms,

Okay, so you've built an enclosure/2 enclosures using two Dayton drivers? Each driver is 8 ohms, and so 2 wired in parallel will run you around 4 ohms.

You want to run these 2 drivers off of one amplifier, in bridged mono mode, and achieve around 500 watts max output.


Two notes to readers:

1) When you bridge an amplifier, you use both channels to drive a single output, dedicating all the amp's power to one channel. One side effect that happens is that you increase your THD (total harmonic distortion) percentage 3-5 fold. THD is a prime factor in the destruction of speakers, so in some cases bridging an amplifier is not recommended and can cause speaker damage.

2) Most of the amps I recommended exceed the 500 watts requested. This is because I recommend HEADROOM. The truth is WATTAGE RARELY DAMAGES SPEAKERS. I've worked in live audio for about 7 years now, and on a daily basis put 2500+ watt amplifiers to drivers rated at 800 watts or so. In 7 years I have never blown a speaker from excessive wattage. The thing that actually damages speakers in most cases is distortion. The closer an amplifier gets to its maximum output, the larger percentage of signal is distorted. The more distortion, the more likely you are to fry a voice coil. I have fried a handful of drivers by overdriving amps. As a result of this fact, it is usually better to put an amplifier rated WELL in excess of the speakers maximum abilities. Chances are, if you do this, the amplifier will be able to spend most of the time operating well below its maximum, thus providing a cleaner (less distorted) signal. This is called having "headroom". See also: http://www.hometheat....ML/019766.html ]





You are looking for 500 watts bridged for under $300. Since I usually deal with a bit higher priced product, I will start with my favorites a little on the HIGH side of your budget (Just in case) and work my way down.

Normally, my first advice in lower power applications would be Carver. I personally like Carver amps (some folks don't), and they actually manuafacture quite a few smaller wattage amps: which would allow you a bit more variety to choose from BUT most Carver professional products will not bridge at 4 ohms (and believe me, they're not lying!). They will do bridging at 8 ohms only, so these guys are eliminated.

My second suggestion would be to look at the little brother of my previous suggestion: Ashly. Within the FTX series, they also have an FTX-1501. The 1501 does 550 watts bridged at 4: and like the 2001 it is Heavy Duty, Reliable, Tolerant, Expandable and THX approved.


Posted Image


The biggest downfall of the 1501 is that it isn't as easy to find used. The new price is right around $525, which would probably come in at your budget point if you could find a used unit.

A third suggestion would be to consider the CE series from Crown. The CE 1000 will well exceed your wattage requirements (I think it does 1100 watts bridged at 4) and it costs around $450 new, $300 used.

The CE series is the crown budget model, and I don't have extensive hands-on experience with them. BUT, I do have to say that I prefer CROWN's approach to budget amplification as oppose to MACKIE's. Crown seems to have decided to forget the bells and whistles and attempt to build a solid amplifier that was good enough to wear the CROWN name.

So, given the theory in the approach to CROWN budget amplifiers, given the opinions of the handful of folks I know who have used the CE series and given the quality of the crown brand name: I would have little trouble recommending the CE series as a good HT solution- especially for subwoofers.

The only Crown product I have had serious problems with is the Power Base series: they are junk. I have had some small issues with K series, but I think they'll be fine for HT subs!

My fourth suggestion is to look into the QSC budget series: the RMX. The RMX-850 does 800 watts into 4 ohms bridged. I haven't been too impressed with pro applications of QSC's flagship amp, the Powerlight, but I have to admit to being suprised with the RMX-850. I would say as long as you treat this amp right, it should do well for you. $350 new, I'd bet under $290 used.

My fifth suggestion is the Mackie FR M800. Although I don't love Mackie, as long as you are gentle, it'll be okay until the warranty runs out (5 years). The M800 is the little brother to the HTF favorite, the M1400i. The 800 does 800 watts bridged at 4 ohms. Probably be had for $389 new, under $300 used.

My final suggestion is considering Fidek. I haven't used their products, but know that Tom V spent some time with them and chose them to bundle with the SVS woofers.

My only major advice when getting into cheap "pro" gear is to avoid companies like Pyle, Gemini, GLI, Pyramid, American DJ, Realistic. These products are marketed as "professional" but are actually DJ gear- which, to be honest, usually sucks. The CE Crown stuff is also considered DJ quality, but feel it is bordering on pro.

-Vince

(PS: My used prices are based upon pro audio classifieds. I would recommend to anyone looking for a good pro amp to search out some pro contractor classified sites and browse within!)

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#12 of 27 Ben_cee

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Posted July 04 2000 - 11:43 AM

First, Thanks for the warm welcome guys, it is appreciated.
I suspect that I am falling into another hole that has a warning posted in front of it stating "Speed cost $ how fast do you want to go?" Well Vince and Martin have certainly pointed me in the right direction, Crown looks interesting. I will post again when I have aquired enough tools for some mayhem but then again we all know the ugly truth dont we! Once you get over the exhiliration of 170-180 mph you start eyeballing the next barrier.....oh well some things never change.

#13 of 27 Craig Woodhall

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Posted July 04 2000 - 01:11 PM

Seungsoo,

I have a Mackie FR-1400 and love it. It's rated at 500 watts 4ohm stereo. I have one powering my PE 15" and it is incredible. It also has a high pass filter built in as an extra bonus. I would also look at a Mackie 1200, you should be able to get 1 for around $300, TV uses them to power his tube. I agree with Vince on almost everything, maybe I fluked out on the Mackie cus it is great. I also would look at Carver, I rented a PM1.5 that puts out 475w 4ohm stereo, and it was almost as good as the Mackie. I can get one used locally for $450 CDN, tax in. That's around $300 USD so that would be in your price range. Crown, and Crest are obviously 2 of the best amps you can buy, give them a look. One thing about choosing an amp for DIY, look ahead you may want another PE 15" (or Shiva 15") in the future. If you got say a nice Carver stereo amp (500wx2), you could use 1 channel of it now with the PE, and down the road, you could add another sub(s). You could hang 4 drivers off one of those amps and keep every driver within xmax, and they would rock. That is why you should buy a used amp in the $300 range that puts out 3-500 watts stereo. IMHO, I would forget bridging if you can.

Craig



#14 of 27 Martin Schmencke

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Posted July 04 2000 - 03:02 PM

Vince,
I absolutely agre with you ( as most times ) about what you said re: the K2's. However, given this particular situation, and most HT situations ( note my sneaky "for an HT sub application" ), I don't think too many have to worry about trying to get 2,500 watts out of a K2 at 2 ohms. For most HT apps, I think you could come up with a load configuration for the K2 to drive where the impedance is over 4 ohms and the amp is still putting out in excess of the combined driver's rated power.

#15 of 27 Vince Maskeeper

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Posted July 04 2000 - 04:52 PM

Quote:
"Speed cost $ how fast do you want to go?"

Of course, this rule applies all over the place. In fact, my father [who was a gear head] once said to me "Speed costs money, look in your pocket and see how fast you want to go." This is one of the only pieces of advice from Pops that I've held onto over the years!

Quote:
I also would look at Carver, I rented a PM1.5 that puts out 475w 4ohm stereo, and it was almost as good as the Mackie.

Yeah, my personal favorite in the Carver PM series is the 2.0 (the older PM amps are the better). Carvers sound neato and have a nice clip elimination (one of the better sounding ones available). When I get to request amplifiers for monitor systems, I request the Carver 2.0. They don't have the balls of a Crown or a Crest: but they sound very smooth.
The major problems with Carver are:
1) Most don't bridge at 4 ohms, only at 8. This lack of flexibility makes this amp a bit disliked in the pro world...
2) Carvers are considered "warm". There is an odd smearing of the midrange sounds, which some folks dig (myself included). Folks seeking a dead flat amp should look elsewhere (Crest baby, Crest): if you're unsure, make sure to demo first an see what you think.
3) The Cravers (not a typo, old timers call 'em CRAVERS) require a bit more juice to power low end. Many people frown upon them: they lose their abilities and efficiency in the lower registers when powering full range, but I think that it would be fine as a dedicated sub amplifier in a controlled environment in the home.
4) Carvers [or more specifically, the nice older PM amps] are, for some odd reason, somewhat hard to find used. I've come across racks of them at pro auctions: but don't see them too often sold one at a time online (except maybe ebay).

Quote:
For most HT apps, I think you could come up with a load configuration for the K2 to drive where the impedance is over 4 ohms and the amp is still putting out in excess of the combined driver's rated power.

(This stuff gets complex because we have 2 different situations: Ben's and Seungsoo's. Ben's being a possible 2 ohm load if done parallel, and Seungsoo's being a 4 ohm load that Seungsoo wishes to drive bridged... I personally wouldn't advise doing either: but originally answered the questions as posed...)

Oh, I agree about the K2! The original question revolved specifically around 2 shivas: which would be a 2 ohm load parallel, so I wanted to make clear that newer Crown probably wouldn't do that very happily (although the older DC300 would have been fine!). If using SHIVA's I would personally run them stereo (one driver per channel of the amp) and that puts you at a stereo 4 ohm load: the K2 would rock the living shit out of your room. I would honestly say that the K2 could pump reference level in a room 4-5 times the size of a large HT.

My only issue with the K series amplifiers is the same issue I have with Mackie and Crown CE: they get a bit brittle in the high mid area: similar to the sound of some Yamaha receivers. Of course, this doesn't come into play at all if you only plan to use them as a sub amp: but if you plan to go with a pre/pro and a matching set of amps, I would opt for the Crown Macrotech if you have some bucks to spen, and the Ashly 2001s if you don't!

My amplifier pref from their "professional" lines, in order:
Crest, Crown, Carver, Ashly, QSC, Mackie.

Vincent

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#16 of 27 chris hunigan

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Posted July 12 2000 - 05:55 PM

Vince,
This is some great info! I am currently window shopping until I can find that great price on a great performing amp.

Now the brand I don't hear much is Carvin. I really want to hear more about the DCM-2000. I know they are a direct mail order company, but based on their amp design it looks very good and well constructed. But I take their specs with a grain of salt. The DCM-2000 seems like a favorable amp to the Mackie M2600/1400i.

So what is your take on this amp and company?

cree

#17 of 27 Mark Seaton

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Posted July 13 2000 - 04:39 AM

This is more a suggestion to all out there looking for amps for their subs. First, no question, the Crown K1 and K2 amps are some awesome amps. Deciding between the 2 will really be a matter of design, budget, and load configuration. For those looking for a non-fan sub amp for most Shiva and other type DIY subs, one great option is to check Ebay for used Adcom amps. The 555, 5500 & 5800 amps all will do very well powering either one channel on each coil of a DVC sub, or driving a pair of subs. For the money, the 555 & 5500 amps are hard to beat. Not to mention they are easy to sell if you want to change later.

As a last option which is not quite finalized yet, Stryke Audio will soon be offering a 1kW (@6 ohm I believe) class D plate amp WITH adjustable crossover for a very modest price. They should sell for well under $500, and possibly as low as $350. The final details are still being worked out, so specs and prices my change a bit. I will be sure that either myself or others post here as soon as more details are known.

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#18 of 27 Andrew Pratt

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Posted July 13 2000 - 07:13 AM

how do Hafler amps rank in the grand scale of amps? I've got a little DH220 that seems okay but it con't be bridged into 4 ohm only 8 (400 watts bridged)...

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#19 of 27 KenA

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Posted July 13 2000 - 07:49 AM

Okay, now I'm confused. I just bought a Swan 305 for a DIY sub and I need an amp. The Swan is rated 200 Watts at 8 ohms. I'm on a tight budget (hence the Swan), so would somebody please tell me what I should look for? How do I know if I want to bridge, and at what impedence?

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#20 of 27 Andrew Pratt

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Posted July 13 2000 - 08:07 AM

Ken bridging an amp increases the power it outputs but not all amps can be bridged. If you're using a plate amp bridging is not an option since those are all mono amps so that makes that simple Posted Image A lot of the popular sub drivers have dual voice coils so you can wire them up in a variety of ways. Lets say we have a dual 8 ohm voice coiled driver and a 100 watt stereo amp that can be bridged. Now we could wire the two voice coils together in such a way to get either a single 16 or 4 ohms load or leave it as dual 8 ohm. If we leave it as dual 8 then the driver will get the 100 watts to each coil. Now lets say we run only one channel of the stereo amp into the 4 ohm load. That will likely give us around 130-175 watts into the driver and you still have a free channel on the amp to power an other driver or ? the other option is to bridge the stereo amp and run that into the 4 ohm load. This will give you the most power into the driver but at the expense of noise or distortion...which option is best all depends on how many drivers you need to power, what thier coils are rated at and the amp you choose to go with. If the Swan is a simple single coiled 8 ohm speaker then all you need to be concerned with is finding an amp that will provide you enough power at 8 ohm's. There's lots of good budget plate amps that should power that driver very well. Do a search for Swan and plate amp as there was some talk about just this very thing not that long ago. Apex jr is one that I know of thats a good unit but I know there are others that all fall into the $100-200 range.

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