Power Amps: What should I consider?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by GillesUnchained, Nov 11, 2005.

  1. I have decided to split my amp in two. I've got my pre-amp, and I need to shop for a power-amp.

    I've never purchased a power-amp before. I've decided I'd like to run about 1000w at 4 ohms bridged. Is it safe to look for the least expensive amp with the most watts? Will the power-amp effect my tone in any way? Why do some amps with similar power have such different price tags? Are the only benefits to buying more expensive amps reliability, construction and features?

    I've been looking at the Crown XLS 402 and Carvin DCM 1000 as possible choices. Does anyone have any other brands or models to recommend?
  2. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    Solid state power amps don't alter your tone to a measurable degree.

    Sameless plug, but I have a PV900 (900 watts bridged at 4 ohms) for sale.
  3. QSC, Stewart...
  4. SnoMan

    SnoMan Words Words Words Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2001
    Charleston, WV
    I own the Carvin DCM1000

    I don't have a lot of experience with other types of power amps, not on my bass rig at least, but this has fulfulled my needs completely.

    light, compact, more power than I need

    can't wait till I get the proper speakon to run it bridged....the 350 I'm running right now is plenty for practice....but man....whew

    I like having a kilowatt

    (note: I was improperly running it bridged with the incorrect speakon cable and the sound was MASSIVE, it was just clipping....and thats not good, the correct speakon will fix that though)
  5. Do you HAVE to have a speakon to run it bridged? Can you run it bridged with just a 1/4 inch? My cab does not have speakon inputs.
  6. SnoMan

    SnoMan Words Words Words Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2001
    Charleston, WV
    you can run bridged from the speakon out or the binding posts

    Just get a cable with your choice of one of those on one end and 1/4th on the other

    (by my knowledge this should work fine, though I'm not personally aware of anyone doing this...if this is incorrect please feel free to correct me)
  7. I play modern rock, I guess you would call it. I play through an Ampeg 8x10. I'd like to spend no more than $400. $300 to $350 would make me very happy. I just want to make sure that if I buy one of these power-amps made for a PA for $300, I won't be kicking myself later, wishing I'd spent the extra $100. But I would also not like to spend $400 for something if the only thing I'm getting for my extra money is features that I'll never use any way.
  8. Yep, I run my amp bridged using a speakon to 1/4" cable. You can do it no problem.
  9. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    QSC is what I use.
    PLX series are lighter, and a little more expensive.
    RMX series are tanks, and heavier, but cheaper.
    Northern Sound and Light, and Lord Valve here on the board have great prices that are not out of line for what you want to spend...
  10. jsbarber

    jsbarber Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2005
    San Diego

    Here is a quote from another thread, which is an example of what I was trying to explain above. The thread poster was asking about two different power amps lines made by Crest. The response is from MudBass


    Originally Posted by wolfbass1025
    Can anyone make any comparisons between the Crest VS and CA series?

    Reply by Mudbass:
    I sure can. I have one of each, a CA9 and a V1100 which is identical your VS series cept on the V the attenuators are on the front where they belong.

    I was running the V1100 with a F-1X and an Eden 210T and a 215XLT. Sounded great, lots of headroom and power but I got horny to try out a CA9 since I had heard so much about them. I pulled out the V1100 and slipped in the CA9, Okay...the CA9 weights 53lbs so I didn't slip it in exactly, more like grunted it in. Anyway, the difference was quite remarkable. Even my guitar player noticed the difference immediately and he's the most hopelessly tone deaf human being I've ever met. Same preamp, same cabs, same band, same practice room, same volume levels and the CA9 stomped the V1100 tone wise. You could just tell that CA9 had my 15's by the throat and they were going to do whatever the CA9 said with no arguments. The sound was tighter, fuller and could smack you in the chest like the V1100 couldn't do. It also, I don't know, feels different in your hands when you play through it. I don't know quite how to describe it. The V1100 is like driving a Chevy dualie and the CA9 is like driving a Freightliner.


    So, there's a lot more to it than just the number of watts.


  11. e.maynard


    Nov 11, 2004
    Afton, Virginia
    A Bridged QSC PLX has served me very well for many years. Carvin.......Now that is funny.
  12. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    The Republic of Texas
    How so?
  13. e.maynard


    Nov 11, 2004
    Afton, Virginia

    I have owned two Carvin products. In the late '80's I bought a Bass 500, Blew up after one week. Was replaced (not repaired), blew up again, was returned and full price was refunded.

    Then about a year ago, (memory must have failed me), I bought a Carvin H400 Headphone amp. After 3 months of use, it blew up mid session. I returned it, asked the sales guy for a replacement......no go......they repaired it (took 3 weeks) in the mean time (I run a studio, you need a headphone amp), I bought another unit. Oz Audio. Neither the Oz unit, any QSC, nor any other amplification product I have ever bought has performed worse than a Carvin product.

    Now, your mileage may vary, but to call Carvin "professional" is a joke from where I'm sitting. It makes Peavey look good.
  14. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Another vote for the CA9. If you are looking for a ss amp, I can't think of a better use of two rack spaces...

  15. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    The Republic of Texas
    I doubt those units got comparable QC to what a DCM power amp would.

    Is that wrong?

    You pretty much can't get away from getting what you pay for.

    Are Carvin's power amps in the same league as the upper level Crown or Crest amps?

    On the other hand, a lot of people have used Carvin DCM amps and gotten good service and sound.

    The poster was looking for a $300 - $400 power amp:
    Used? Maybe a smaller Stewart World or Crest CA6.
    New? QSC RMX850 or RMX1450 or Carvin DCM1000 or DCM1500.
  16. I don't see them mentioned much, but I'm loving my Yamaha P 2500. I can't say I have a lot of experience with power amps, so I don't know how it compares to QSC or Crown, but I know it's really loud, not too too heavy, and has neat features like high and low pass filters.
  17. So, if I understand correctly, the power-amp is NOT the place I would want to cut corners. Power-amps DO effect the quality of tone and I would be smart to spend as much as I can reasonably afford on a reputable, quality piece of equipment.

    Thank you. This has been very helpful.
  18. e.maynard


    Nov 11, 2004
    Afton, Virginia
    And who says we don't learn anything on these forums.
  19. kelbrihan

    kelbrihan Banned [Deceiving users with multiple usernames] Banned

    Dec 2, 2004
    Stay away from lower end amp from any manufacturer whether it be Crown, Crest, QSC... they all have lower end and higher end series. I would go with Crest CA6 or CA9, Crown Micrtech/Macrotech 600 or 1200, Stewart 1.2, 1.6, or 2.1s. I have had great results from any of the above, it just depends on what you need/ can afford.
  20. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I have a question...why do bassists like to split the pre and power amps and use PA power amps? Is it strictly to add volume and headroom, or is there a tonal reason? The reason I ask is because I've never heard a bass sound that was improved by using PA amps. Nor have I thought they were particularly louder than most bass heads. And they certainly aren't easier to lug around (unless you lug around an SVT).