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Such thing as superior wattage or a 'better' power amp?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Grahams Groove, Aug 20, 2004.

  1. Grahams Groove

    Grahams Groove Can we please just groove for a while? Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    Boulder, CO
    I'm looking at getting a rack setup with seperate pre-amp and power amp, and I was curious if there's such thing as better power in terms of sound. I know some amps have different sources for generating wattage, and weigh different amounts, etc....but is there going to be a tonal difference between different solid state power amps?

    I am looking for anywhere between 1000-2000 watts....preferably on the lower/middle end of that range. Can anyone give reccomendations that are pretty fair in price range without sacrificing tone (if that can be a factor?)...

    Any help or reccomendations would be greatly appreciated.

    I should add that I'm looking at a GK 2001RBP pre-amp, BBE sonic maximizer, and eden 2x10 (most likely an XST) with the intent to add a 1x15 later when funds open up. The two power amps I had my eye on were the QSC PLX 1602 and the Carvin DCM1500....but again, I would like some insite on what to look for in 'good power'.

  2. notanaggie

    notanaggie Guest

    Sep 30, 2003
    Yes there are tonal diffrences.....but for bass instrument useage, I very much doubt they will be important.

    I am partial to QSC, they work and sound good. Warranty is good but unlikely to come up as an issue.

    Carvin is also a bit of a pariah service-wise, seems like they have no independent warranty outfits other than them. At least I don't know of one.
  3. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    for me, its all about reliability and customer service. and sure, a great transparent sound that isnt overly colored doesnt hurt either. so with that said, Stewart and QSC have stood up for me.
  4. ADuck5150


    Jul 31, 2004
    I'm looking into getting a very similar set-up; QSC Plx 1602, with an Eden 210 xst. I'm planning on going 4-ohm, but down the road i'd also like to add a 115, and i'm kinda skeptical about running things at less than a 4-ohm load.
  5. Grahams Groove

    Grahams Groove Can we please just groove for a while? Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    Boulder, CO
    if you go with the 8 ohm 210 XST, you'll still get plenty of juice form the QSC power amp...

    What kind of pre-amp are you planning on going with? And what's your main bass?
  6. ADuck5150


    Jul 31, 2004
    Most likely a BBE Bmax (solid state). I play with an Ibanez and a Fender P, both have passive pickups.
  7. As long as your pre has enough juice to meet the power amp's input specs, blind listening tests have shown that any good quality power amp is going to basically sound the same: transparent.

    So the recommendation is to buy by price point, features and customer service. I bought my Carvin DCM1000 when I was kind of tight for money and don't regret it. It's been a fine amp, clean and powerful with good features. These days I would probably go with twice the power and either a QSC PLX or Stewart in order to keep the weight down.
  8. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    another vote for a stewart 2.1 or a qsc plx
    crown macro techs sound wonderful and are LOUD, but they are expensive and heavy, like you go hungry and die expensive and you get a hernia and die heavy
  9. hyperlitem

    hyperlitem Guest

    Jul 25, 2001
    Indianapolis, IN
    k not to jack this thread but i was thinking going a simliar route but all ampeg. I know i can get an ampeg tube pre, but what about ampegs tube power amps? would this improve your tone...or at least change it in a way that would be noticeable against a solid state amp?
  10. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Yes. Power amps have tonal variety. Nothing that can't be tweaked out with a little EQ, but it's there.

    QSC amps are the flattest sounding power amps I have messed around with.

    Carvin amps are fine, but it is my opinion that they are either using a very generous power rating method or the better quality makers are underrating their stuff. Simply put, a 1000 watt Carvin doesn't seem to make the same power as a 1000 watt QSC. That's my opinion based on experience.

    I have also has very good experience using Crown amps. They have always been rugged workhorses for me, but then again, it's been a while since I used one. They do tend to color the sound a bit more than some others.

    These days the whole idea of a rack system is a bust fo me. I did it for a lot of years, and in the end, I just don't think it's worth it. It seems to me that when I was using a rack, I was always tweaking, turning and fighting my tone.

    These days, I just plug the bass into the head (ampeg SVT 200T) and the head into the cabinet (ampeg svt 115 and/or svt 210) and I'm good to go.
  11. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Yep. Carvin amps are a bit over-rated power wise, but they're clean, and they're cheap. Used ones are a good bargain. Just this week I saw a thousand watt Carvin on eBay going for a hundred bucks. Can't beat that. I have several Carvin power amps, and never had a bad experience with them. Once some doofus plugged the output back into the input, and the amp just gracefully shut itself down, and came right back up next time the power was applied. The only problem with Carvins is that they tend to be heavy. Not as heavy as some, but not as light either.

    Recently I've been very enamored with the Stewart 2.1. That's a kickin' amp, and it's very light (17 pounds) and powerful. It's been powering my subs for several years now, and it's been very reliable. It has some nice features too, like the ability to power up one channel by itself, and the ability to control the fan. The QSC amps are very nice too, and they have some of the same features. These amps are often in a slightly higher price class though, and they fetch more value on the secondary market too.

    To my ear, most of the decent power amps on the market today sound pretty much the same. There are small variations, but they can be easily compensated out. I look for the other features, like weight is one of the most important ones. My back isn't what it used to be, and I can't be hauling around tube amps all over the place. Heck, the transformer alone in my SVT probably weighs more than two whole Stewarts put together. Plus then there's the risk associated with moving tubes around, and so on. For me, the difference in the sound isn't worth all the other downsides. But, YMMV and all that.

    These days my primary amp head is a WW (7 pounds), and the subs get driven by the Stewart 2.1. I can lift both of those at the same time under one arm, and carry the bass with my other hand. That helps a lot when you're out gigging several times a week.
  12. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Peavey makes a pretty interesting D class power amp that's 1400 watts in a single rack space, and runs about $1 per watt. If I were to ever get away from using tube power amps, I might look into something like that.
  13. Fred Labbidie

    Fred Labbidie Guest

    Apr 22, 2004
    Determining the value of an amplifier by watts per dollar is silly. This would only make sense if every amplifier was operationally equal.
  14. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Yes, there is "better" wattage.

    Can the amp deliver full power across the ENTIRE frequency range you are interested in without too much distortion?

    Can the amp deliver full power when the signal is a series of short peaks (kick drum, slap bass, etc.) or does it "sag" if the peaks come too close together?

    If the amp is stereo, will running one channel really hard cause the other channel to be affected (i.e. power supply is overtaxed).

    Can the amp deliver full power into your speakers for a long outdoor show in summer heat without blowing fuses or overheating?

    Standard FTC and EIA testing does not reveal any of this stuff, but your ears can hear it.
  15. TheChariot


    Jul 6, 2004
    Boston, MA
    I cant see you going wrong with QSC... especially if its power ratings fit you and your cabs well. The other big names to look into are Stewart, Crown, and Crest.
  16. bogart


    Dec 11, 2003
    big bear, ca
    FWIW, I've never used a carvin stand alone power amp. I have used the Carvin R100 head. It's power amp would clip at 12 o'clock. Needed service twice (in a six mo. period) and was the most quiet 1000 watts you've ever heard. I'm playing 300 watts of Ashdown now and it is louder. By far. I would recommend going any direction but there. Hell, Behringer is a lot better IMHO. Also Let me know how you like that Eden. I've been lookin at one for a min.
  17. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Or if a watt is a watt is a watt, which they are.

  18. Word
  19. Fred Labbidie

    Fred Labbidie Guest

    Apr 22, 2004
    Originally Posted by Fred Labbidie

    Determining the value of an amplifier by watts per dollar is silly. This would only make sense if every amplifier was operationally equal.


    Yes, if you only need to know how many watts you have, you are all set.
    Don't you work in design for Boogie or somone? If people tried to figure out how many watts they got for their dollar they would not buy a Boogie. Granted, the amp has to be big enough to do the job; but there are plenty of bad sounding amps for you to buy if you are shopping by " "watts per dollar".

    The preceeding posts explain very well what is generally accepted to be the qualities to look for in an amp that will perform well.
  20. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    I have been led to believe that different amplifier classes do not perform the same where producing lower frequencies is concerned. Correct me if I'm wrong...