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New Carvin HD-series power amps--what's the catch?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Peter McFerrin, May 14, 2006.

  1. OK, so we all know that Carvin overstates the output of its power amps. The HD-series doesn't include Speakons, either. But other than that, is there any reason that $229.99 isn't an incredible deal for the "900-watt" HD900?
  2. no.
  3. No, we don't really know that.

    Even if they did, that's still a good deal. One thing, though: I believe that in addition to not having Speakons, the HD amps also don't have the sitchable limiters. I could be wrong, though.
  4. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    Actually, if you look closely at the specs, then tend to UNDERrate their power. However, the damping factor is far short of impressive, which is probably the 2nd most important factor for bass amplification behind headroom. I've been through several power amps, including a Carvin, and now use a Crown I-Tech 4000. There is a lot more to sound quality from a power amp than the number of watts. For good, clean, thumpy bass, get a well-built amp with a high damping factor (over 1000 is good, but the higher the better - the I-Tech has about 5300 at 20 hz), with a good cooling system, and a good reputation. Don't skimp on your power amp - it's a very audible factor.
  5. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    Forgot to mention, Carvin and other more cheaply build amps are not as efficient, even if they're rated with lots of power. It's will sound better to use a very nice, well-built 300 watt power amp like an Alesis (which is what my guitar player uses) than a cheaper Carvin with 3x the power.

    Here's one I recommend for that price range:
  6. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    Having done this AB, I disagree. My guitarist used an Alesis 300-watt amp, and I used a DCM1000 for a while. I thought the Carvin sounded better, and had a lot more to give than the Alesis. I ran both through the same cabs a few times, and the Carvin sounded better.

    I don't think Carvin overrates their power, either. 700 watts of Carvin amp always sounded like 700 watts period to me.
  7. Name Changed

    Name Changed Banned

    Apr 22, 2006
    Yo Dave, whats damping factor?
  8. I have always been suspcious of the Alesis power amps. I won't say that an effects company *can't* do good power, as good power is fairly easy to design. I'll just say that I don't trust the execution.

    My opinion: For more than two or thee hundred watts, my coin will inevitably go to Crown. The extra quality and reliability built into the units are worth the extra coin going that direction, esp if you need big power. Generally, if you need big power (more than 500watts total), I'd hope you're getting paid, and that it'd be more than a one or two time deal.
  9. Plain Old Me

    Plain Old Me

    Dec 14, 2004
    Nothing wrong with Carvin amps, but having used them they just don't seem as loud as other power amps of the same ratings (from QSC, Crown). But they are very competitive anyway, as a Carvin power amp that competes with a QSC or Crown (with fewer watts) is still a bit less in price.
  10. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
    My DCM1000 has done well. I thought the amp was crapping out this past week, but it turned out to be the speaker cord. Replaced that and all is well.
  11. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    I agree, my vote definitely goes to Crown. They are a bit more expensive than Carvins, though. I own a K2 and an I-Tech 4000 and love them both. I used to have a 1000 watt Carvin head, and there is no question that the Crowns (either of them) sound better.
  12. I have never thought Carvin equipment was cheaply built, FWIW. I don't know who makes their cables, for example, but I find those to be low-noise and properly soldered, unlike CBI or Hosa.
  13. MakiSupaStar

    MakiSupaStar The Lowdown Diggler

    Apr 12, 2006
    Huntington Beach, CA
    I have nothing but good things to say about Carvin. Their power amps are excellent, and IMSHO, WELL BUILT. They are quiet, and crank. I'm also a fan of their cabinets, bass heads, and I own two Carvin Bass guitars LB70 and LB75 with Bert p/u's. Love them both. I think they are a real steal for an AMERICAN MADE guitar. Personally, I found their power amps to drive and behave exactly like their stated wattage. In fact, I might even say that they are slightly understated. I have a 350 watt practice amp that is almost as loud as my 600W amp. Almost. Anyway. That's my two cents.
  14. jz0h4d


    Apr 26, 2005
    And there's nothing overstated about Carvin power ratings.
    How do these stupid rumors get started?
  15. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    In at least some cases, the "rumors" are based upon opinion after having compared outputs to similarly-rated units.

    For example, at one time, I owned a Carvin R600 (rated at 600 watts) head and a Trace Elliot AH200 (rated at 200 watts) head. I was very surprised at how much "consistently" louder (i.e., not just louder when set at 2, but also when set at 5, etc.) the Trace was than the Carvin.

    I also found that my Trace Elliot 500-watt power amps were EACH at least as "loud" as my 1000-watt Carvin power amp.

    These are a couple of examples and they may suggest a proclivity toward underrating wattage on the part of Trace moreso than they point to an overrating by Carvin. I am not prepared to categorically state that Carvin overstates its wattage because i do not have conclusive evidence with which to do so.

    I can only go by my own experiences in isolated instances. Perhaps others might be able to chime in with their experiences.
  16. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    That doesn't mean the Trace actually had more power, just that the gain structure of the preamp was different.
  17. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    Understood, so perhaps Carvin's gain structure is perceptively "weak", by comparison to the aforementioned Trace and to GK, to use another example?

    In the end, I was able to coax more perceived "volume" out of the Trace. Whether it was a "power" or "gain structure" issue, the end result was the same.
  18. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    I think I have had my DCM1000 longer than any other piece of equipment I currently own. It really should have died a few years ago with all the abuse it endures, but it's still going strong. It just won't die. I'd love to replace it with a DB728 on the heavy end, or a switching amp on the light end, but it just will not die.
  19. this is a common complaint about SWR heads, too.

    many people run into this issue using very high power amps, but not fully driving them. they buy a 2400W amplifier for their two 700W 410s, but don't have enough output from the preamp to drive the power amp to full power and wonder why their 2400W are not as loud as someone else's 500W head.

  20. I think that what Bill was suggesting was that the end result is *not* the same. The power rating of an amp is for its *maximum* power under specified conditions. The speed with with it appears to approach that maximum does not determine what the maximum actually is, only the shape of the loudness curve. If you're talking about an amp's power, the end result of relevance is maximum power, not the rate of incremental volume increase. So saying that one amp is louder than another at 2 or 5 means nothing in terms of whether an amp actually is in the end more powerful than another. What determines whether an amp is louder is whether it is capable of higher *maximum* volume. Suppose, for example, a smaller amp sounds louder than another at 6 ... but the smaller amp doesn't have another volume "gear" after that, whereas the larger amp has a couple more "gears"? Or, to make the comparison more literal, suppose car A can go faster than car B in 4th gear ... but car B has a 5th and a 6th gear, whereas car A has no more gears beyond 4? Which car can go faster?

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