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Crown 4|300N Amplifier Review

Rate this amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 13 7.1%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 68 37.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 92 50.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 9 4.9%

  • Total voters
    182

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Crown DCI 4 | 300N four channel DSP and networked professional amplifier. It was kindly purchased (used) and sent to me for testing and costs US $3,511.
Crown DCi 4 300N Four Channel Pro amplifier Review.jpg

There is only a power on/off on the front. I wish there was a processing bypass as well. The full capability is visible on the back:
Crown DCi 4 300N Four Channel Pro amplifier back panel hqnet DSP Review.jpg

I wouldn't be able to scratch the surfaces of all that this amplifier can do. Suffice it to say you can do full processing (speaker and to some extent room EQ), environment/remote control, and transmission of digital audio over Ethernet type cabling. Configuration is available using Audio Architect software. Typical of these Pro applications, it takes a bit of effort to get used to its operation but after that, it seemed easy enough to use.

A rather loud fan turns on during power on testing and then goes off. Alas, during my testing it came back on. Unless the amplifier is way away from your listening spot, better plan to put it in another room/dedicate closet.

Connections are all through screw terminals. Not so bad for speakers but for balanced/unbalanced input, you are going to need to have bare wires (upper right phoenix terminals). Not the end of the world but don't expect to buy and power on the same day if you don't have these bits.

I was disappointed with the trim controls in the back. They are very coarse and hard to adjust to an exact value. And being on the rear makes it harder to manipulate. For its intended application of professional installation is not a big deal but for one-off testing/use, is more work.

I chose to test channels 3 & 4 as my standard setup is stereo. During use, the amplifier case did not rise above ambient but again, the fan was running the whole time.

Note: our company, Madrona Digital is a dealer for Harman and we move probably more Crown amplifier than any system integrated on the west coast. So feel free to read bias into my subjective remarks.

Crown 4|300N Amplifier Measurements

Upon power on, output noise+distortion was quite stable which is nice:
Crown DCi 4 300N Four Channel Pro amplifier Warm Up Measurements.png


So on to our 1 kHz dashboard @ 5 watts into 4 ohm load:
Crown DCi 4 300N Four Channel Pro amplifier  Measurements.png


I must say, I expected much worse performance! Distortion is below -100 dB and SINAD as a result, is dominated by noise. As is, performance is a bit above average of many amplifiers tested to date:
Best pro multichannel amplifier review 2023.png


As noted, noise floor is somewhat high causing SNR at 5 watt to be below desirable level (90+ dB):

Crown DCi 4 300N Four Channel Pro amplifier SNR Measurements.png


Using default settings (which is how I conducted all of these tests), this is our frequency response:
Crown DCi 4 300N Four Channel Pro amplifier frequency response Measurements.png


I was surprised to see the response not being flatter at 4 ohm. Still, we are talking about less than 0.5 dB. Importantly, there is slight change with load change to 8 ohm, indicating small amount of load dependency (which you could correct using DSP subsystem).

Multitone yet again displays the low levels of distortion:
Crown DCi 4 300N Four Channel Pro amplifier Multitone Measurements.png


Crosstalk is better than most amplifiers I measure:
Crown DCi 4 300N Four Channel Pro amplifier Crosstalk  Measurements.png


We have healthy amount of power into 4 ohm:
Crown DCi 4 300N Four Channel Pro amplifier Power 4 ohm Measurements.png


And get even more when we allow 1% THD+N:
Crown DCi 4 300N Four Channel Pro amplifier Max and Peak Power 4 ohm Measurements.png


Switching to 8 ohm load, we naturally get less but there is still good bit of power on tap:

Crown DCi 4 300N Four Channel Pro amplifier Power 8 ohm Measurements.png


I was disappointed to see distortion rise though above 1 kHz as power increased:
Crown DCi 4 300N Four Channel Pro amplifier frequency vs distortion vs Power 4 ohm Measurements.png


On the positive front, there is not much impact at 20 Hz so you can comfortably use the amp to power subs and such.

Finally, turn on and off behavior is very good:

Crown DCi 4 300N Four Channel Pro amplifier Pop On and Off Measurements.png


Do notice the long time to turn on though (nearly 20 seconds).

Conclusions
Nice to see that as we go up in price performance of a pro amplifier improves as well. No, it is not state of the art but this combination of four channels with sophisticated DSP and audio streaming is not easy to find in consumer domain.

I am going to put Crown 4 | 300N amplifier on my recommended list.

------------
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Doodski

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It's a pretty cool amp. The power supply runs fairly tight and it has lotsaaa power.
 

Doodski

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Does it do that same power into 4 channels simultaneously?
The Crown web page indicates, "Four-channel, 300W @ 4Ω Power." That power supply is not so tight. Shame because this unit would be a power house if it could run 4ch at 400W+.
 

xaxxon

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The Crown web page indicates, "Four-channel, 300W @ 4Ω Power." That power supply is not so tight. Shame because this unit would be a power house if it could run 4ch at 400W+.
Sorry, I don't understand what you mean "That power supply is not so tight."

I also don't get why @amirm would test 2 channel unbridged on a 4 channel amp. Would anyone buy it to use 2 channel - non bridged?
 

Doodski

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Sorry, I don't understand what you mean "That power supply is not so tight."
The power supply when the amp is idling has a voltage of let's pretend say 10V and as the amplifier power output increases the voltage of the power supply sags or reduces due to being loaded down. The sag can be in the range of maybe 10% to 20% from what I have seen in my experience. This can be seen here in the test review when running 2 speakers compared to the 4 speaker specification.
 

Koeitje

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Sorry, I don't understand what you mean "That power supply is not so tight."

I also don't get why @amirm would test 2 channel unbridged on a 4 channel amp. Would anyone buy it to use 2 channel - non bridged?
He is saying the power supply is the limiting factor.
 

Cars-N-Cans

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The Crown web page indicates, "Four-channel, 300W @ 4Ω Power." That power supply is not so tight. Shame because this unit would be a power house if it could run 4ch at 400W+.
It looks like it folds back to 150W for the 2Ω loads per their specs so there is some form of electronic limiting instead of the power supply itself, I would assume. If so, it may make more than 300W rated into a 4Ω load with all channels going and they are just giving themselves some wiggle-room. Per their site they state this below the specs for all the amps in the line: "Minimum Guaranteed Power (20Hz - 20kHz)"
 

Cars-N-Cans

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Just a thought: If (which I assume) the DSP can work as an active crossover for 2-way speakers, maybe it's better not to have a bypass at the front plate? One false key press and bye bye tweeters...
That's what I was wondering as well. That and if there is any possibility of the DSP taking a dump or something? Never really hear that discussed much but I would assume they have some form of safeguards in place within the processor. I assume... But then there's really only one way to find out, and you only get to do it once.
 

Sokel

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That's what I was wondering as well. That and if there is any possibility of the DSP taking a dump or something? Never really hear that discussed much but I would assume they have some form of safeguards in place within the processor. I assume... But then there's really only one way to find out, and you only get to do it once.
If it's a push button the same can happen with a folded cable for example.Except is like one that I remember that did nothing when playing and was only functioning when it was in setup mode.
 

Doodski

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Probably because he does not have 4 dummy loads.
Would be a pain to fry this one with all those hard to get parts. Identification of fried parts would be next to impossible without a schematic. Maybe it's better that there are only 2 load resisters. :D
 

respice finem

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That's what I was wondering as well. That and if there is any possibility of the DSP taking a dump or something? Never really hear that discussed much but I would assume they have some form of safeguards in place within the processor. I assume... But then there's really only one way to find out, and you only get to do it once.
The DSP should disable any "quick bypass", when working as a crossover, but does it "know"?
 

Cars-N-Cans

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If it's a push button the same can happen with a folded cable for example.Except is like one that I remember that did nothing when playing and was only functioning when it was in setup mode.
I would assume as well that its locked out under most circumstances that would damage the speakers. The other possibility would be if it had a partial power failure from a brownout and the processor went into some unknown state. Don't know if they go as far as high reliability systems like automotive ECUs that have external dedicated monitoring ICs that require a preset pattern of data to be sent continuously or they perform an automatic reset. But since those can be considered to be along the same lines as life-safety systems they have quite a lot of liability to bear. Not to get too far off on a tangent, but its something maybe to consider. I've never been that comfortable with an external processor being the only thing acting as the crossover for the drivers since it has to be more general purpose as opposed to dedicated DSP inside an active speaker.
 

Sokel

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I've never been that comfortable with an external processor being the only thing acting as the crossover for the drivers since it has to be more general purpose as opposed to dedicated DSP inside an active speaker.
I'm on the paranoid side -the more I read about external DSP acting as xover failures,the more I stick to analog for the time being.
Suits my careless temperament as well :).
 

Geert

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Didn't check for this model but the display of other Crown amps can be locked (password protected). If the DSP fails there will be no more sound, it's not that the DSP gets bypassed at that point.
 

Sokel

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Didn't check for this model but the display of other Crown amps can be locked (password protected). If the DSP fails there will be no more sound, it's not that the DSP gets bypassed at that point.
That's what I remember too only the model I reffer to was a 2000(?) watts little monster.
 
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