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Behringer A800 Stereo Amplifier Review

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Behringer A800 Class D Stereo Amplifier. It is on kind loan from a member. The A800 costs US $299 including free shipping from multiple sites.

The member who loaned it me has done a youtube video of it which you can see by clicking on this link.

Behringer has been in this game for a long time and it shows from high level of optimization of weight, size and robustness of the A800:

Behringer A800 professional Class D stereo amplifier Audio Review.jpg

The unit is quite shallow relative to its width.

Standard gain controls are provided which go up to 30 dB (for balanced input). Nice set of LEDs show the output level including clipping indicators. All amplifiers should come with such displays (with switch to turn them off). I could do without the notches in the volume control though as they are fake (they are fully analog) and made exact setting harder (it would creep into the notch). Not a big deal though.

Back panel shows nice set of connectivity:
Behringer A800 professional Class D stereo amplifier Back Panel Connectors Inputs Audio Review.jpg
For my testing I focused on XLR input only and standard speaker banana connectors.

The amp hardly radiates any heat and has no fan. Given the pro application of these amps, I expect them to be robust and reliable.

During measurements, the A800 provides high level of predictability and assuredness that I sometimes miss when testing switching amplifiers. It only shut down once after fair bit of experimentation at full power.

Amplifier Audio Measurements
As usual we start with our dashboard of 1 kHz tone with a gain of 29 dB to deliver 5 watts into 4 ohm load:

'.png


This performance is very close to the Behringer A500 which I reviewed before. That amp though, generated much worse SINAD because of its non-switching power supply:

1576967707402.png


Its distortion products are capped to -80 dB which is what we see in A800. Eliminating those power supply components sharply improves SINAD which is relative to sum of noise and distortion:
best subwoofer pro amplifier review.png


Signal to noise ratio is "OK:"

Behringer A800 professional stereo amplifier 29 dB Class D SNR Audio Measurements copy.png


Don't use it on sensitive speakers you may hear some hiss (although turning down the gain may help some).

32-tone test signal resembling "music" shows early rise in distortion with frequency:
Behringer A800 professional stereo amplifier 29 dB Multitone Audio Measurements.png


Crosstalk is reasonable:
Behringer A800 professional stereo amplifier 29 dB XLR Crosstalk Audio Measurements.png


Dual, 19+20 kHz tone shows very high level of intermodulation distortion as we saw in multitone test:

Behringer A800 professional stereo amplifier Class D 19 and 20 kHz Intermodulation Distortion ...png


Fortunately your music doesn't have such high amplitude tones and threshold of hearing is high that I don't think this is nearly as much of a problem for the ear as it is for the eye.

Frequency Response Measurements
The necessary low pass filter is causing some peaking at 20 kHz to the tune of 0.5 dB:

Behringer A800 professional stereo amplifier Class D Frequency Response at 5 Watt Audio Measur...png


The above is with a resistive load. I have been asked frequently how the amp performs with a real speaker. Stereophile uses a simulated load of a 2-way speaker that was given to them by NHT. I built a similar load based on schematic from Doug Self:

1576968599561.png


Here is the impedance of my load versus frequency:
Simulated Speaker Impedance.png


My response is more damped in low frequency than what Doug Self and Stereophile show. I will investigate this further but for now, it is close enough. Here is the phase response:
Simulated Speaker Impedance Phase.png


And Stereophile graph of the two:



Using my simulated load this is what I get with A800 amplifier:
Behringer A800 professional stereo amplifier Class D Frequency Response with simulated speaker...png


As you see, there is hardly any difference. Looking at stereophile graphs, they use highly zoomed version to show differences. This is what happens when I do the same:

Behringer A800 professional stereo amplifier Class D Frequency Response with simulated speaker...png


So a bit of ringing becomes apparent but it is so small as to not be of any consequence. Heaven knows your speakers are not anywhere close to this level of variation.

I will test some of the other amplifiers I have with this load and see if it causes more variation. As it is, resistive load is the same as complex one.

Note that neither my load, nor stereophile's are high power ones. So I cannot plot full power graphs and such. Above measurements were at 5 watts.

Amplifier Power Measurements
Going back to our resistive load, we get this output with 4 ohms:
Behringer A800 professional stereo amplifier  Power into 4 Ohm Audio Measurements.png


The show starts well with A800 being much quieter than our premium brand NAD AVR. But then distortion kicks in and we don't do as well. We get however tons of power nearly a quarter of a kilowatt. Similar story holds for 8 ohm load:
Behringer A800 professional stereo amplifier  Power into 8 Ohm Audio Measurements.png


Still, that is a lot of power at 8 ohm leaving our AVR way back in the dust.

Using 1% threshold for THD+N, we get more power naturally than my graphs above indicate:

Behringer A800 professional stereo amplifier Peak and Max Power Audio Measurements.png


Left hand is short-term burst power, right side is long term.

Thermal Stability
Performance improved just a bit after 10 minutes of warm up at 5 watts:

Behringer A800 professional stereo amplifier Warm Up Audio Measurements copy.png


So you don't have to leave it on for good performance.

Conclusions
The Behringer A800 does what pro amps try to do: provide solid, middle-of-the-road distortion and noise with tons of power in quiet and light package for little money. The design is stable and better than the A500. As such, I can recommend the A800 as an everyday amplifier.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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NTomokawa

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#3
One volume control per channel? Changing volume is going to be fun!
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #8
Crosstalk plot is from A500 !?
No, it is a typo. I kept typing A500 instead of A800. Caught some and fixed them but must have missed that one....
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #9
@amirm why does this get a recommended rating while the similar performing XLS 1502 gets written off as limiting and for subwoofer use only?
I am starting to grade more on a curve than I used to. :)
 
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One volume control per channel? Changing volume is going to be fun!
You're not supposed to change the volume of a power amp. Pro units offer you the ability too but many installers set it once and then pull the buttons off so nobody can mess with them by accident. You change the volume on the pre-amp.
 

cistercian

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I am starting to grade more on a curve than I used to. :)
I don't have a problem with it. I really enjoy my XLS 2502 driving my JBL SRX 835 passive 3 ways. Everyone
has their preferences and requirements. I can achieve high SPL and at the same time enjoy my setup at much more
normal levels. I think it is epic. Lots and lots of people would disagree with my choices...and I don't care. I know what
I like and am happy with what I use.
I continue to be appalled at how much better these speakers work than my Sennheiser HD600 phones. Better bass...much
better highs...comically so. I keep hearing new details on old CDs...just ridiculous.

The XLS 2502 is perfect for me. Inexpensive, powerful, great damping, stable to 2 ohms....I am in heaven.

It is fine with me if others think I am a cretin. But I can't imagine a better system for what I want. Ultimately, it is all that matters.
Being 58 years old I can say...my opinions would be different if my ears were 8 years old again. But they aren't.
 

NTomokawa

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#12
You're not supposed to change the volume of a power amp.
Right, then why does this thing have volume controls?

If one uses a control amplifier (preamp) with this thing, then what level are you supposed to leave this unit's volume controls at?

I had the exact same problem with my studio monitors. Eventually I set the volume control on my monitors to a level where I could get a decently usable range with the volume knob of my USB interface (essentially a control amplifier).

Not sure if that's the "optimal" way to go, though.
 
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Ron Texas

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I am starting to grade more on a curve than I used to. :)
That's OK, but a certain ex member of this forum took your comments and "weaponized" them. Coincidently, he got banned around that time.
I might add the DSP in the XLS 1502 is very useful for bass management. It can be used with or without a sub to protect small stand mounts from high amplitude low frequencies.

I appreciate the thoroughness of this review. It sets a new standard.
 

Ron Texas

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Right, then why does this thing have volume controls?

If one uses a control amplifier (preamp) with this thing, then what level are you supposed to leave this unit's volume controls at?

I had the exact same problem with my studio monitors. Eventually I set the volume control on my monitors to a level where I could get a decently usable range with the volume knob of my USB interface (essentially a control amplifier).

Not sure if that's the "optimal" way to go., though.
Amps like this are often used in racks of many and must be adjusted to deal with the location and efficiency of multiple speakers.
 
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@amirm why does this get a recommended rating while the similar performing XLS 1502 gets written off as limiting and for subwoofer use only?
On at least one retailer the A800 is half the price of the XLS 1502. Though to be fair Amir did do the review on the basis of it being a similar price.
 

Ron Texas

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On at least one retailer the A800 is half the price of the XLS 1502. Though to be fair Amir did do the review on the basis of it being a similar price.
I paid $360 for my 1502 at Guitar Center. The A800 is a deal if you don't want the DSP in the Crown. It could become a cult favorite.
 

cistercian

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#18
Seen. Haven't thought of that...
When using a pro amp at home the mixer is the volume control. XLS amps can be switched between
pro 1.4 volts or consumer .775 volt sensitivity. I use the higher level input. The amp gain in a home setup
is set and forget. In my setup, the mixer does all the work. The included digital filters are handy too.
You can set lower or upper bandpass filters. This is great for subs or biamping or even triamping.

My setup is very vanilla using stereo 8 ohms full range. For home theater users the selectable input
sensitivity is a serious plus. But...high sensitivity input reduces S/N ratio a bit.
 

cistercian

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I paid $360 for my 1502 at Guitar Center. The A800 is a deal if you don't want the DSP in the Crown. It could become a cult favorite.
@299 dollars it is 142 watts per channel VS 400+ watts per channel in my 585 dollar XLS 2502.
I am using an 8 ohm system and I also need lots of power for bass....even so, not a huge bargain.
@598 dollars for 2 of them yielding 284 WPC...that is not a great value.

Of course lots of people don't need 400 WPC. For them it will be fine.
 
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#20
I don't have a problem with it. I really enjoy my XLS 2502 driving my JBL SRX 835 passive 3 ways. Everyone
has their preferences and requirements. I can achieve high SPL and at the same time enjoy my setup at much more
normal levels. I think it is epic. Lots and lots of people would disagree with my choices...and I don't care. I know what
I like and am happy with what I use.
I continue to be appalled at how much better these speakers work than my Sennheiser HD600 phones. Better bass...much
better highs...comically so. I keep hearing new details on old CDs...just ridiculous.

The XLS 2502 is perfect for me. Inexpensive, powerful, great damping, stable to 2 ohms....I am in heaven.

It is fine with me if others think I am a cretin. But I can't imagine a better system for what I want. Ultimately, it is all that matters.
Being 58 years old I can say...my opinions would be different if my ears were 8 years old again. But they aren't.
I, for one, don’t think you are a cretin at all! Your taste is just different than that of some others. I think we all should realize that reproduced sound, so far, does not perfectly replicate the real live experience, particularly of unamplified acoustic instruments in a great venue. So we prioritize that aspect of our chosen sound experience when building a system.

Personally, my reference is a system built of components that happen (happily for me) to have been very well reviewed here and even in subjective publications. But I also have other components acquired over the years that would not measure particularly well but I find interesting and enjoyable to listen to from time to time on various music.

I’m good with everyone making their own choices as long as they accept others tastes are different and do not get obnoxious about their own way being the only way to enjoy music. I can certainly see how your system would reproduce the feel and energy of a live rock concert far better than my reference!

That said, this forum is invaluable in helping us get to the system WE want with real data!
 
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