Amplifiers: seven of the best install options29 June 2017
The amplifier has become more than a means of powering loudspeakers and now offers greater capabilities for networking and control. Kevin Hilton rounds up seven new and current amps or amp series from leading manufacturers.
LD Systems’ slimline option
A brand of the Adam Hall group, LD produces a range of products for live and installation work, including loudspeakers, IEMs and mixers as well as amps. The CURV 500 iAMP is a slimline, rackmount, four-channel Class D amp designed to work with the CURV500 line array. It offers a number of presets for different configurations, including satellite and subwoofer units, in addition to channel DSP settings for room adjustment, master control level and password protection.
Delay and parametric EQ are also included, with each channel capable of 240W RMS at 4 ohms. LD’s aim is to make building distributed CURV500 systems easy, while retaining the sound familiar from the portable version. The concept behind the CURV 500 iAMP is similar to that of the portable version but it is claimed to deliver more flexibility for the installation sector.
QSC’s eight-channel models
The latest from QSC, an early adopter of networked technologies for amplification, is the CXD-Q Series of network processing amplifiers.
This comprises the CXD-QW and CXD-Qn eight-channel models, which are designed to work with the Q-SYS IT-based audio, video and control platform. The concept is one of ‘whole system’ design, so that the amps can be set-up and controlled in the same way as any other device in a Q-SYS installation. CXD-Q units are 2U in size and intended for rack-mounting.
They replace amps that QSC says took up considerably more real estate. Both models are capable of producing a maximum 8000W peak and 5000W continuous, with features including eight bi-directional GPIO connectors for both analogue and digital connectivity to Q-SYS.
The Q version offers eight mic/line input channels on its rear panel, described as a “Q-SYS on-ramp for additional amplification”. The Qn does not feature analogue inputs, which was done to reduce system costs, making it purely a networked amp. A key feature is FAST (Flexible Amplifier Summing Technology), allowing four channels to be combined for greater output power.
Class D power from AUDAC
AUDAC, a PVS brand, manufactures loudspeakers, microphones, digital matrices and cables and connectors. Its amplifier portfolio covers power amps, PA and 100V units. The SMA and SMQ Series are in the first category, more specifically Class D models, and are aimed at both fixed installation and portable applications.
The joint range comprises the dual-channel 2x350W SMA350, the dual-channel 2x500W SMA500, the dual-channel 2x750W SMA750, the quad-channel 4x350W SMQ350, the quad-channel 4x500W SMQ500 and the quad-channel 4x750W SMQ750. All feature WaveDynamics DSP processing, offering a range of operational features that can be accessed through a 2.5in LCD display.
Among the functions available are sound optimisation using low-high and band pass filters and seven-band equalisation, plus delay and dynamic bass boost. All settings can be configured to match requirements using the front panel controls, with security set for either user or administrator. Files can be loaded from USB for further customisation. RS232 control connectivity is standard, with options for Dante expansion or adding an APC100 configuration and control unit.
Crestron provides full networkability
Introduced in 2016, the AMP-8000 range of amps was launched to work with Crestron’s Avia digital signal processors.
The main model in the series right now is the AMP-8150, which comes in two versions: the ‘namesake’, running at 4/8-ohms and 70V output on 100-120V AC; and the ‘international’, also 4/8-ohm but with 100V output and 220-240V AC line power capability. Both are eight-channel units in 1RU of rack-mounting space. All channels can be set up for Lo-Z (low impedance) or Hi-Z (high impedance) output in either stereo or bridged mode.
The amps are fully networkable, with set-up, monitoring and control carried out using the Avia Audio Tool program, a Crestron controller or the Crestron Fusion integrated management software. The amp produces 150W per channel into 4 or 8-ohm Lo-Z loads, with the capability to configure the channels to work with Hi-Z distributed loudspeaker installations at either 70V or 100V.
Yamaha’s streamline install series
Part of Yamaha’s Commercial Installation Solutions (CIS) range, the XMV Series comprises multi-channel amps for installation in theatres, cinemas, hotels, bars and general leisure centres.
The XMV Series is made up of eight models, each with a different output power and a selection of input and output connections to match specific installation location needs. The amps run in both high impedance, for 70V-100V line situations, and low impedance at the same time. This is said to ‘streamline’ the installation process and obviate the need for a large amount of equipment. Networking is via either Yamaha’s own YDIF digital audio format or the Dante Ethernet/audio over IP system. The former is aimed at easy set-up of smaller installations using Ethernet while the latter can be used for larger venues where long cable runs are involved.
Other features include power factor correction, which switches power supplies and is able to reduce the amount of current being used. The XMV Series integrates with CIS loudspeakers, controllers and other power amps over Dante to create large-scale systems.
DSP models from d&b
Designed to be part of a full d&b loudspeaker system, the four-channel 10D and 30D amps are fitted with digital signal processing for setting both operational features and acoustic performance. They feature full equalisation, up to 10s delay per channel and a range of functions designed to optimise loudspeaker performance. There is monitoring of inputs and outputs, plus input fallback and the ability to prioritise inputs and create redundancy.
Some of these features can be further monitored for errors and linked to a basic system controller through the integrated GPIO (general purpose input-output) connections. Further connectivity is provided through the AES70 open source control protocol, the agreed standard for OCA (open control architecture).
A range of OCA plug-ins enables the amps, and d&b systems in general, to work with a number of other manufacturers’ controllers, including QSC Q-SYS, Peavey MediaMatrix, Crestron, AMX and Beckhoff. Of the two models, the 10D is aimed at low SPL environments, such as bars and lounges. The 30D produces higher power outputs, suitable for medium to large venues, from town halls to stadia.
Powersoft offers four channels
The Quattrocanali Series is a range of 1U rack, four-channel amps designed for small to medium venues, including bars, restaurants, shops and fitness centres. It comprises three models: the 4804, delivering 1,200W per channel at 8 ohms, 1,500W per channel at 2 ohms or 3,000W bridged at 4 ohms; the 2404, 600W per channel at 8 ohms, 800W per channel at 2 ohms, 1,200W bridged at 4 ohms; and the 1204, 300W per channel at 8 ohms, 500W per channel at 2 ohms, 1,000W bridged at 4 ohms.
All amps are available in standard or DSP formats, with full remote control capability through GPIO connections, Powersoft’s Armonìa software or third party systems. The DSP+Dante versions of the amps offer four Dante input channels. Among the other features of the Quattrocanali Series is remote operation using a web app and the ability to configure the amps off-line to save time using presets.