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Crown XLS1002 Amplifier Teardown

restorer-john

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Class D may sound great at low cost, but the inside looks really cheap crap.

I know sound quality is all it matters, but once you look inside a big heavy AB amp your heart beats faster, like owning an old car that consume too much, but drives and looks great.

Absolutely true. Nothing better than lifting the lid off a big power amplifier and seeing multiple capacitors bigger than soda cans, a transformer that weighs as much as your first girlfriend and a row of output transistors bolted to several kilograms of perfectly extruded and anodized aluminium.

The Class Ds are just a visual disappointment- like a girl unzipping a good looking man's pants and seeing something really tiny.
 

Nebbermind

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Why can’t they just charge extra with more reliable parts...
Coz when it fails, it'll create jobs for a different group of people in the community.
Or you can buy gen/ver3 of the same product
 

restorer-john

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These are almost definitely good enough to get through the warranty period, which realistically is all that Crown/Harman/Samsung cares about.

If that is truly their attitude these days, in a so-called sustainable, woke world, they don't deserve customers.

Harman Kardon products used to be beautifully built, were backed up by great distributors, a stellar parts network and basically lasted forever. So did many of the big Japanese players' gear. Their products were not designed to fail, they were designed to do the polar opposite.
 

Chrispy

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To those complaining about components used, aesthetics of and longevity of.....what comes close for $300-350?
 

digicidal

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If that is truly their attitude these days, in a so-called sustainable, woke world, they don't deserve customers.

Harman Kardon products used to be beautifully built, were backed up by great distributors, a stellar parts network and basically lasted forever. So did many of the big Japanese players' gear. Their products were not designed to fail, they were designed to do the polar opposite.

At the risk of slipping into a "political" topic (albeit tangentially) - most of those woke "sustainability-evangelists" are often the most egregious of conspicuous consumers. So until society at large stops wanting to replace devices the second there's a prettier version with more likes on social media, etc. - the trend is likely to continue. Although I guess as long as you drive a Prius occasionally... having multiple mansions, jet, yacht, motorcade with gas-guzzling SUVs, etc. is completely offset. :facepalm:

It's as much the cultural shift caused by widespread availability of credit as it is the decline in commitment to excellence on the production side I think. Now many companies seem to care little at all about their "reputation" or "craftsmanship" because they are able to reach potentially millions of new consumers all the time - so the idea of keeping your base happy has faded significantly. At least it's not as bad as some companies like Apple where they actively hobble or cause failures in legacy devices (as well as prevent repair and diagnosis by 3rd parties) in order to encourage additional sales.

As far as the Crown amps are concerned... in any consumer setting I'd guess they would last much, much longer than the warranty period (mine certainly have). They're designed to survive a dusty rack in a club or bar and run 24/7 for the warranty duration... so in a home environment with a partial duty-cycle in comparison, I'd figure a decade is likely.
 

restorer-john

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To those complaining about components used, aesthetics of and longevity of.....what comes close for $300-350?

Thousands of properly built, high powered, better performing professional amplifiers on the secondary market. Ones that will outlast this thing even though they may already be 20 years old themselves.

A way better option and considerably more environmentally friendly if you ask me.
 

North_Sky

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I recently reviewed the Crown XLS1002 Amplifier. This is a teardown of the same. Let's get right into it with the overview shot:

View attachment 85008

A single board contains the entire guts of the machine, sans the front panel display. Using one board lowers labor cost and increases reliability due to elimination of cables. Down side is that if you are going to do a board swap, you are basically replacing everything which likely will cost as much as buying a new amp!

Overall layout is quite logical and nice. Right side has beefy noise and EMI filtering. Once past that, the AC voltage is converted to DC, rectified, filters and then switched at high frequencies. The high frequency allows much smaller inductors to be used than the 50/60 Hz Mains transformers. The switched signal is then converted back to lower voltage DC with rectification, filtering and regulation.

The power supply then feeds the amplifier on the left, the heart of which is the TI controller:

View attachment 85009

You can buy the TI SN6112B5 ($7 in quantity) but there is no spec for it. It was a joint development between Harman and TI and likely kept as a proprietary part.

Output duty is performed by a pair of transistors on the diagonal heatsinks. The get decent air flow from the fan but obviously not optimal given the inductors that in the way. Still, they likely do the job.

I don't like the pair of capacitors next to it which are part of the power supply. They are only rated at 85 degree C and close proximity to those heatsinks:

View attachment 85010

If there was no fan, I would say this amp/capacitor would not last long. But seeing how the fan did not even come on and the unit ran very cool, it should be OK. In a commercial install though with uncontrolled environment, it will likely die.

For completeness, there is another pair of caps from another low tier manufacturer in the power supply:

View attachment 85011

This one is well away from heat sources and the brand seems OK so should be fine.

I was impressed with the design of these beefy binding post connectors:

View attachment 85012

These things are designed to a) stay connected and b) carry a ton of current.

Conclusions
The Crown XLS1002 has a clean design which obviously has gone through proper design and certification reviews. While I wish better grad capacitor was used in the power supply and from a better brand, given the incredibly low price of this amplifier it is fine.

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

I know what some of you are thinking. "Amir doesn't really have a garden. He must be buying a bit of fruit here and there and pretend he does." Well, feast your eyes on the harvest from early in the week in pouring rain:

View attachment 85013

And there was a box of apple on the seat of the Quad! Had just picked the Zucchini a week ago but of course they grow like mad. Those huge ones have been sliced and are drying in the dehydrator as I type this. 14 jars of pear were preserved yesterday in syrup. I make everything from smoothies to sorbet with them.

As usual, I could use all the money I can pocket from you all so please donate using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/

The last photo is the nicest ... good collect.
 

Chrispy

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Thousands of properly built, high powered, better performing professional amplifiers on the secondary market. Ones that will outlast this thing even though they may already be 20 years old themselves.

A way better option and considerably more environmentally friendly if you ask me.

I don't particularly disagree, but I was speaking of a new amp.

Time will tell how long they last, particularly with in-home use; my oldest XLS are only 8 years old....and I have some more traditional consumer amps that are 35 years old, that recently cost a couple hundred just to have a tech go thru them (and a verdict they didn't need any particular service, just thought it was due a look at 35 years as a slightly older one I had of the same type had gone up in smoke, literally). That tech has now retired (which is part of the reason I did take them in---before that was not locally available any longer, and this was a town 45 minutes away) and I have no real interest in dealing with old gear that may need service these days.

Newer gear isn't intended for service which is just a part of our modern take on consumer items....but would be nice if corporations and the consumers didn't make that work out that way, but it generally has.
 

Universal Cereal Bus

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Absolutely true. Nothing better than lifting the lid off a big power amplifier and seeing multiple capacitors bigger than soda cans, a transformer that weighs as much as your first girlfriend and a row of output transistors bolted to several kilograms of perfectly extruded and anodized aluminium.

The Class Ds are just a visual disappointment- like a girl unzipping a good looking man's pants and seeing something really tiny.
Sounds like big, heavy class A/AB amps are the ones filling the "overcompensation" role, no? Kinda like with those people who drive lifted bro trucks.
 

Doodski

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I don't particularly disagree, but I was speaking of a new amp.

Time will tell how long they last, particularly with in-home use; my oldest XLS are only 8 years old....and I have some more traditional consumer amps that are 35 years old, that recently cost a couple hundred just to have a tech go thru them (and a verdict they didn't need any particular service, just thought it was due a look at 35 years as a slightly older one I had of the same type had gone up in smoke, literally). That tech has now retired (which is part of the reason I did take them in---before that was not locally available any longer, and this was a town 45 minutes away) and I have no real interest in dealing with old gear that may need service these days.

Newer gear isn't intended for service which is just a part of our modern take on consumer items....but would be nice if corporations and the consumers didn't make that work out that way, but it generally has.
Good point. Not everybody has a @restorer-john locally that will service a vintage piece. I won't. Too much stuff getting parts and finding people that are serious and understanding that they are building a vintage piece.
 

restorer-john

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Good point. Not everybody has a @restorer-john locally that will service a vintage piece. I won't. Too much stuff getting parts and finding people that are serious and understanding that they are building a vintage piece.

It is a good point. I forget that there are normal people out there that don't have their own laboratory to repair the good vintage gear.

And yes, technicians aren't interested in quality vintage restoration. We are a dying breed.
 

Doodski

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It is a good point. I forget that there are normal people out there that don't have their own laboratory to repair the good vintage gear.

And yes, technicians aren't interested in quality vintage restoration. We are a dying breed.
I'm still waiting for the time you get a quality Japanese cassette mechanism in and give it a build. With your W&F meter and scope you should be able to align and dial it in to spec. Are belts available? idlers? I think you can calibrate with your Kenwood W&F meter to 0.01%? Do you have DAT stuff? and mini-disC?
 

restorer-john

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Are belts available? idlers? I think you can calibrate with your Kenwood W&F meter to 0.01%? Do you have DAT stuff?

Do you want to see a rebuild/repair thread on a decent deck? I have quite a few in the line up of personal repairs I have been putting off. :facepalm: There's a very nice Pioneer CT-91a and some Quartz locked DD closed loop dual capstand 3 head Sony decks I have to do.

CT-91a internals (internet pic)
1601615050146.png


TCK-333esr internals (internet pic)
1601615277279.png

Belts are becoming harder to source- good ones that is. Idlers virtually non-existant. The Kenwood will give accurate readings down to 0.003% on the 0.03% FSD scale. I have DAT gear, and it is getting flaky- just had one of my Sony decks go down after not using it for a few years. Last repair on that machine was a RF amp rebuild and it was perfect, but I think the SMD electrolytics had done more damage to the board than I had hoped.
 
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EJ3

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At the risk of slipping into a "political" topic (albeit tangentially) - most of those woke "sustainability-evangelists" are often the most egregious of conspicuous consumers. So until society at large stops wanting to replace devices the second there's a prettier version with more likes on social media, etc. - the trend is likely to continue. Although I guess as long as you drive a Prius occasionally... having multiple mansions, jet, yacht, motorcade with gas-guzzling SUVs, etc. is completely offset. :facepalm:

It's as much the cultural shift caused by widespread availability of credit as it is the decline in commitment to excellence on the production side I think. Now many companies seem to care little at all about their "reputation" or "craftsmanship" because they are able to reach potentially millions of new consumers all the time - so the idea of keeping your base happy has faded significantly. At least it's not as bad as some companies like Apple where they actively hobble or cause failures in legacy devices (as well as prevent repair and diagnosis by 3rd parties) in order to encourage additional sales.

As far as the Crown amps are concerned... in any consumer setting I'd guess they would last much, much longer than the warranty period (mine certainly have). They're designed to survive a dusty rack in a club or bar and run 24/7 for the warranty duration... so in a home environment with a partial duty-cycle in comparison, I'd figure a decade is likely.

And if you think that the consumerist society is bad in the USA, try living in Japan for a while.
 

BAMCIS

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Why can’t they just charge extra with more reliable parts...
amps like this are purchased more for reliability than for top tier premium parts. They've been abused for years in the field and are very reliable. I've had a few for years and they sound good, stout bass. For the money I think they sound great and so do lots of others
 

EJ3

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Thousands of properly built, high powered, better performing professional amplifiers on the secondary market. Ones that will outlast this thing even though they may already be 20 years old themselves.

A way better option and considerably more environmentally friendly if you ask me.

Why the NAD 2200 that Amir tested is one of a set of triplets, it lasted a long time, I had Peter at Quirk Audio refurbish it and now expect it to out last me. And I have other equipment that has been resto-modded & will likely do the same. If it ain't broke but is getting rough around the edges, don't dispose of it, resto-mod it for the next 30 years.
 

Doodski

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Do you want to see a rebuild/repair thread on a decent deck? I have quite a few in the line up of personal repairs I have been putting off. :facepalm: There's a very nice Pioneer CT-91a and some Quartz locked DD closed loop dual capstand 3 head Sony decks I have to do.

CT-91a internals (internet pic)
View attachment 85803

TCK-333esr internals (internet pic)
View attachment 85804
Belts are becoming harder to source- good ones that is. Idlers virtually non-existant. The Kenwood will give accurate readings down to 0.003% on the 0.03% FSD scale. I have DAT gear, and it is getting flaky- just had one of my Sony decks go down after not using it for a few years. Last repair on that machine was a RF amp rebuild and it was perfect, but I think the SMD electrolytics had done more damage to the board than I had hoped.
Are you into PLL or VCO alignment gear with those tape/head alignment units you show?
 

Chrispy

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The current 2220 three-fer deal isn't horrible, that's true. Comparing to a 5 ch Emotiva amp not so much, the A-300 would be closer and not quite as powerful/useful as the Crown. Then there's the lack of support from Emotiva service-wise post-warranty.....
 
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