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What elements makes a good power amp?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by mettec, Apr 5, 2006.

  1. mettec


    Aug 22, 2005
    I have been searching different forums about power amps like Crest, Crown, Stewart, QSC, and others. Not really being able to try a lot these amps out on stage, is there certain specs that one should look for in finding an amp that is cleaner, less-colored, and able to produce powerful low-end response then other amps? What are some of the differences between manufactures or differences in the same manufactures other models?
  2. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    For the brands you mention, sonically they're going to be identical.
    You can look at reliability, efficiency (line power to output power), weight, connectors, features - like if you need a DSP to better match your cabinets, and types of connectors.

    Also check out Powersoft and Carvin.
  3. mettec


    Aug 22, 2005
    I understand the part of features, weight, connectors, etc... What I am getting at is some people say that a Crest is better for low-end then a QSC or Stewarts are cleaner then a Crown. I have heard that Mackie power amps are not good for instrument setups but are still clean and powerful. What makes these elements true? Is it just be experience or certain amps are just plain different sounding. Some people will urgue with you that they are sonically identical.
  4. Bob Lee (QSC)

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

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    Stuff like that doesn't have to be true to be perceived.

    The TV show Candid Camera once put several wine glasses on a table, each with a different bottle of wine behind it. Then they filled all the glasses with wine from another bottle. Then they brought in a "wine taster," who assumed that each glass represented wine from the bottle behind it. The wine taster described the flavor of each one differently, even though they were the same. They repeated this with several more people. When told that the glasses actually all contained the same wine, one "taster" replied, "Then why do they all taste different?"

    So if you go into it thinking you're supposed to hear more bass or presence or whatever in one brand or model than another, you're inclined to perceive that even if you don't actually hear it.

    The bottom line is that a power amp is supposed to be, metaphorically, a "straight wire with gain." That means its job is objective; it's supposed to just produce a bigger, amplified version of the input signal, and not add or subtract anything audible. Most amps from reputable brands do a pretty good job of that.

    Don't look for bigger bass from a power amp. That's an EQ issue. Of course, the amp and loudspeaker have to be able to keep up with what you want to do with EQ, but keep in mind that boost will increase the power requirements of your cabinet and amp. Don't look for "punch" from a power amp. That's got to be in the input signal for it to be in the output, and it starts with your own playing. Don't look for "authority" or "quickness"; that's in your setup and playing, too.

    Another thing about power amps is that they should be well behaved. They should be reliable, of course, and should also be able to protect themselves from operator screwups like short circuits in the speaker cabling. And if they develop a problem, they should protect the loudspeaker and anything else connected to them, including the user holding the instrument.

    Choose what you like, and unless you have problems with it, don't worry about whether another amp would've sounded better.
  5. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC

    In terms of elements, both Silicon and Copper are to be found in some of the better amps ;)

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