does brand of power amp make a difference in the sound?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Bjazzman, Dec 10, 2007.

  1. Bjazzman


    Dec 7, 2004
    Madison WI
    im looking into future power amps. i have an epifani ul410 series 2. i want something that has speakon jacks and is a good power handling for the cab. also does it matter what brand of power amp?
  2. neatobassman

    neatobassman Guest

    Jul 16, 2005
    Antelope CA
    brand matters with poweramps as much as it does with any other product. Some people will say it doesn't matter as long as it does the job, others will say brand is everything. Just test stuff out. But to give you an answer, you most likely wont be able to tell the difference if you're not seasoned in the poweramp thing.
  3. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Mount Prospect, IL
    I compared side to side a QSC PLX 1804 and a Crown XTI 4000. The QSC was much more transparent sounding - what you put in is what you get out. The Crown imparted it's own tone - the lows were boosted, the midrange lost clarity and punch, and the high end was rounded off. I could not believe the results myself! I think I figured out why Crown is regarded as a great bass power amp - it boosts the bass!

    My philiosphy on power amps - they should add nothing tone wise to the sound, and just make the tone louder. I think that is what most of us want, isn't it?
  4. bassbrock

    bassbrock Guest

    Feb 20, 2007
    Callahan, FL
    It is difficult to do a proper A/B test with power amps because of the differing input voltages. All things considered and assuming proper gain structure when comparing power amps, you should not be able to tell a difference. Consider a power amp as a straight wire with gain.
  5. Once you get up to the big names and away from "DJ" brands , Crown, QSC, Crest, Carvin, ... there's really no difference if you stay within their rated power.
    Except - the volume/gain knobs are not calibrated from brand to brand. And some like Crown XTi may have a build in DSP, which is just fancy EQ, and a delay line if needed. The XTi also has a subharmonic synth - I guess for "DJ" use. :)

    If can here some difference in the big brands, then it's just a slight tweak of the gain, or possibly EQ knob on the preamp even things out. I would be surprised if there were any real world measurable differences, or differences that could be detected in blind tests.
  6. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Mount Prospect, IL
    Let me clarify on my finding, I compared the power amps to the Trace Elliot head I am using as a Pre-amp. AH7-500. I compared the sound of the Trace Elliot head by itself through my rig, then the Trace Elliot head feeding each power amp a signal and I made sure everything had the same settings. The Trace Elliot head by itself sounded just like the Trace Elliot tone fed straight into the QSC amp - so I came to the conclusion that the QSC power amps are mouch more transparent sounding when compared to Crown Amps.
  7. some power amps like the eden ones (and ones built by other bass companies) are built to have a certain coloration for bass, while most of the PA brand power amps are theoretically supposed to be transparent.

    If there is a sound difference between some of them, it is really subtle IMO. your tone is in Your fingers, guitar and preamp don't worry about power amp coloration, thats the least of your worries...
  8. suraci


    Apr 11, 2005
    I will never forget my A B C testing of THREE famous power amps.

    You can talk all day long to me about gain structure and all that jazz

    These three amps couldn't have sounded more differently. I was all at once delighted, in shock, and pissed off. This was thirty years ago.
    But the mantra ( LIE ) then was the same as now.

    Read my lips, BS. THEY ARE very different, unless of course music is a secondary fun kind of thing for you!

    The fact that pre's, EQ's, Amps, cabs, even cables and of course basses are all different makes this a rough journey for some of us.

    But of all things, power amps, I am STILL in shock about it. I had an old colleague swear up and down that I was essentially mistaken.

    So be aware of ppl selling you jive; even if they are sincere.

    These were all name brand solid state amps. Not that it matters one bit, but for the curious - Yamaha, Crest, Crown, all into the same speakers, and same spot in room and same pre. Yup!
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I think the power amp matters a great deal. There is nobody on earth who can tell me that an SVP preamp into any old power amp sounds like an all-tube SVT.
  10. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    Ever try some Theta or Parasound amps?

    Yes, there is a difference.

    In my experience, it doesn't matter much live. The audience hears what the soundman gives them, and that depends on the PA speakers and poweramps much more than your rigs'. Your live rig is basically your stage monitor anyway.

    A decent Crown, Crest, etc will do the trick. I like my Crown K2, although I loved my old Crown I-Tech, also. Powersoft makes some great light-weight, single-rack-space amps, also.

    What's your budget?
  11. Well obviously the difference between tube and SS power amps is not part of this equation... it is a known fact that Tube and SS power amps sound different
  12. I've heard differences when we would change out a power amp in the PA system. Sound re-inforcment amps are not the same as home audio stuff. The differences are not as big as they were 20 yrs ago but there are still some differences.
  13. Bjazzman


    Dec 7, 2004
    Madison WI
    im looking at spending no more than $500. i might try to find a used qsc. from what people have said on here they seem to be very transparent. thats the tone im after. also the lighter the better when i comes to weight. i have an epifani ul 410 series 2 so the power is 1000 watts rms at 4 ohms. most of the power amps are 8 ohms though. what kind of power amp should i be on the lookout for then?
  14. A9X

    A9X Inactive

    Dec 27, 2003
    + a very large number.
    A properly set up null test is ideal; then you only hear the differences.

    Edit: comments above apply only to Pro style SS amps that aren't clipping. Bass specific MI amps may have inbuilt EQ to give them a voice. Tube amps are a whole 'nother thing.
  15. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio!

    Jul 3, 2001
    Chester, Connecticut
    Former Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    Pro power amps are designed to be transparent and not add or take away any coloration to the audio. And most of those from reputable manufacturers do an excellent job of this. Such amps will tend to sound very much alike unless they are driven into non-linearity, or clipping.
  16. +1.

    If you have a (non-tube) power amp that's imparting a lot of EQ or color to the tone then it's time to get a new power amp.
  17. SERPENT865


    Jan 1, 2007
    Wichita , KS
    I like Carvin amps even better than my Mackie or Crown.