Best 450-600 watt (4ohm) power amp for $$$?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by YosemiteSam, Jul 14, 2005.

  1. I'm in semi-GAS mode again.

    I've been pretty happy with my current amp rig for years. I'm using a BBE 383 preamp with biamped output, the highs going to a 100w Carvin amp with 1x10", and the lows to a 180w Stewart amp into a G-K 1x15", for a total of about 280 watts. I had originally gone the biamp route so I could add effects to my highs without affecting the lows; As it turns out I rarely use this ability, as I hardly ever use effects outside of screwing around in my practice room. Finally, the Carvin amp serves as my "take-away" practice amp when I leave the rest of the gear at the rehearsal space.

    The band I'm currently playing with does a lot of outdoor gigs and venues with poor PA support, so we often rely on stage volume for everything but vocals. I'm finding myself turning my rig up higher than I have before, though rarely above 3/4 volume.

    I'm thinking of picking up a G-K 2x10 (200w 8 ohm) cab to match the 1x15 (200w 8 ohm) bottom, using them in parallel creating a 4 ohm load, and not bothering with biamping. I would then run the preamp into a single 450-600 watt (at 4 ohm) power amp. My current Carvin combo would stay at home.

    The problem I'm running into is, what power amp to buy? The QSC RMX850 is a good candidate, but it's 830w at 4 ohms, and is pretty darned heavy at 35 pounds. And that's the low end of what I've found. Everything else is even more powerful. (The Carvin HD900 would be another candidate, at 900w/4ohm, 28lbs, and currently on sale for $50 less than the QSC.) Most every other "power amp" I've seen below this level of power is a souped up home stereo amp.

    Does anyone have any other power amp suggestions? I'd like it to be quiet (low or non-existent fan noise), not too heavy, and of course reliable. Oh, and I don't want to break the bank, either (the Stewart World 1.6 would be nice, but it's $600 or so...).

    How about other suggestions for using the components I have, plus or minus other stuff? I want to maximize my sound with a minimum of investment (so what else is new?). For instance, I've considered continuing to biamp and running into a 2x300w (or 400w) at 8 ohm, but that's not going to give me much of an improvement...

    -- Sam
  2. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    qsc plx

    qsc plx series amps (which I use and like) come in up to 3000 watt ratings in a ~23lb package...
  3. Thanks, but I've already done that, and that's how I arrived at the current questions.

    The PLX1202 (the smallest that I'm aware of) is $600, is 1200w into 4 ohms, and only 200wpc (stereo) into 8 ohms. Too expensive, too much mono power, and not enough stereo power should I choose to go that way.

    -- Sam
  4. 7thbass


    Nov 21, 2003
    Houston, Tx
    I found a used stewart 2.1 for 340 shipped.
    400W x 2 @ 8 Ohms
    650W x 2 @ 4 Ohms
    1350W x 1 @ 8 Ohms
    2100W x 1 @ 4 Ohms

  5. TheChariot


    Jul 6, 2004
    Boston, MA
    Definately a good route if you can get that price. I would seek it out, because that seems like it would really give your cabs a good amount of juice.

    If not, I suggest a QSC RMX1450. $400 new, and even cheaper if you go used. Its HEAVY for sure.... but other than that, it'd be perfect for what your looking for. 280Watts stereo seems like it would match your cabs really well. Leaves you a lot of room to possibly upgrade your cabs in the future as well.
  6. Thanks for the replies, but I was actually looking for lower-power amps than those that are being suggested. My plan is to run into a 4ohm load, and keep it around 600 watts max. I suppose I could go higher, but I was also hoping that by keeping the power down I'd also keep the cost down. But it doesn't look like I'm going to get a better $/watt value than the QSC or the Carvin, unless I luck out and find a used one.

    -- Sam
  7. TheChariot


    Jul 6, 2004
    Boston, MA
    Yeah, that's pretty much the jist of it. It'd be cool if they made 400Watt poweramps for like $100 or something like that though. I'm sure someone does, but its probably crap.

    Anyways, running on a higher impedance is also less stressful to the amp... so its probably beneficial anyways.
  8. 7thbass


    Nov 21, 2003
    Houston, Tx
    I would tend to agree. So many low priced amps have made-up power ratings. The QSC is rock solid. Our PA uses a couple of them and we have never had so much as a hiccup. I was planning to buy a RMX before I found a good deal on the Stewart.

  9. thejohnkim


    Sep 30, 2003
    how about the stewart world 600?