Apr 15, 2014 10:31 AM, By Bennett Liles
Modern TVs aren’t just TVs, phones aren’t just phones, and power amplifiers aren’t just amps anymore. Crammed with sophisticated features including DSP, multi-channel signal routing, and networked control, power amplifiers have become much more complex and challenge their designers to keep operation as simple as possible. Our present roundup includes powerful models for large-venue installation, as well as small devices for tight places, and it spans commercial and residential applications.
The nX3.04 4-channel power amplifier from Ashly Audio provides 3000W per channel at 2Ω, but the speaker outputs can be individually DIP-switch configured for 70V/100V operation, as well. The DIP switches can also be used for high-pass filter, limiter, and input gain. The front panel includes power switch and level controls along with LEDs for temperature, current, signal, clip, mute, bridge mode, protect, sleep, and disable. Inputs are combo XLR-1/4in. TRS jack plus Euroblock input connectors and the outputs are Neutrik speakON. The 28lb. chassis has extensive protection circuitry and continuously variable cooling fans. Each channel also has remote DC level control, and the unit features a <1W defeatable sleep mode, SMPS (switch-mode power supply), and automatic 120V/240V detection.
For a solution to multi-zone scenarios, Audio Authority offers the SF-16M with 16 channels of 50W power, 16 matrixed RCA input channels, and additional two stereo (four mono) Flexport inputs. The optional Flexport modules connect to the SF-16M through Cat-5 cable, allowing input of a variety of audio sources. The Flexport modules can be located up to 500ft. from the amplifier. Up to 10 audio overrides can be programmed and triggered by switch closure, IR, and serial commands. Ten preset sound scenes can be used and 10 groups can be set up for any number of the outputs to share volume ramping, muting, and source selection.
For use in Biamp’s Vocia systems, the modular CobraNet-enabled, 8-channel VA-8600 features channel-to-channel or device-to-device automatic failover. Each amplifier card is individually software configurable from 100 to 600W and for either low impedance or 70/100V output. Onboard DSP includes volume, ducking, EQ, compressor/limiter, speaker crossover, delay, and output gain. Two RJ-45 connectors provide redundant network connections for control of data and audio. Multiple units are identified in the system through the use of a rotary ID switch on each one. Speaker connections are made through heavy-duty removable terminal block connectors and the front panel has LED indicators for amp failure, clipping, stuck fan, heat sink temperature fault, signal peak, and signal presence. Outwardly identical to the VA-8600, the VA-8600c meets EN 54-16 certification for facilities of all sizes.
Primarily for contractor installations, the CKi 2400V 2-channel 70V output amplifier from Crest Audio can combine CobraNET audio and control on a single Cat-5 cable while providing rear-mounted level controls with removable knobs. In addition to the Euro-style input and output connection terminals, the front panel offers a labeling area and indicators on the front and back are for signal presence, active, protect, and ACL (automatic clip limiting). This model also features sequential turn off, fault I/O for connection to external monitoring systems, and PowerSave to reduce current draw and thermal emission while the amp is at idle.
Crown Audio has widened installation options with its DriverCore Install Network Series amplifiers including network monitoring and control using the HiQnet protocol over TCP/IP. This enables Crown’s Audio Architect and the Powered by Crown app to work with the amps. With digital BLU-Link and balanced analog inputs, the input priority router can set the normal input source and automatically switch to the other input if the source signal is lost. DSP includes LevelMAX limiters, input/output EQ, delay, matrix mixer, and speaker line monitoring. About the size a postage stamp, the DriveCore chip combines the amplifier driver stage into the power output stage along with the additional audio-signal functions. It also replaces up to 500 parts, significantly reducing part count and increasing reliability, all while maintaining Crown’s legendary performance.
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