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Review and Measurements of Crown XLS 1502 Amp

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This is a high power speaker amp not a dac driving a line level signal it makes sense it would have alot more distortion also depending on what subs/speakers this amp is used with it could have some challenging loads to drive vs a dacs line level output.

I don't think this amp will be used at less than 100millwatts , 1-5 watts would probably be average listening level for home use so 0.01- 0.02 THD , which if we look at studies into what level of thd is audible we wouldn't be able to hear this level of distortion even with sine waves let alone music.

I think everyone thinks the measurements are poor because there comparing them with dacs line level outputs.
 
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This thread reminds me of a long ago review in the Audio Critic of the Sunfire amp with a similar power rating to this Crown. Aczel discussed how ultra low distortion wasn't a design priority for Bob Carver and studies that backed Carver that showed humans can only detect so much. It is available via download on biline.ca, issue 23. I do feel there is too much emphasis on the number of zeros after the decimal, seemingly at the expense of other considerations like features. My JDS Labs El Amp has more distortion than the Atom, but still in "transparent" territory. What it also has that the Atom doesn't is aesthetics and ergonomics in a nice aluminum case. I think I can sacrifice some increase in inaudible distortion for pride of ownership and tactlie feel.
 

DonH56

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Not so long ago, 0.1% distortion (at all frequencies, levels and permitted loads) was considered perfectly satisfactory for amplifiers, so I'm surprised at the sniffy attitude to equipment measuring (only) 20dB better. 0.1% (-60dB) was chosen as it was 20dB better than could be normally discerned, so thought to be perfectly innocuous.

We can now do a lot better than 0.1%, but so what? Has there been any serious research done into just how much distortion is audible? I accept that it's difficult to do if the distortion one's trying to measure is swamped by the distortion of the loudspeakers or headphones, but nevertheless, have thresholds changed so much that something with 0.01% (-80dB) distortion is now justifiably thought poor?

S.
We need a double-like. :)

Gobs of previous research has shown 1% is audible to most folk under the right conditions, though 10% in the bass is often inaudible. Many folk, myself included, could pick out 0.1% on a sine-wave ABX test. That's about it. And I strongly suspect most folk would not be able to tell if I added 1% distortion to a lot of music especially at the loudest levels where that level is likely to be reached.

The AES and IHF have published data (no, I don't have it front of me), and at least once every other year there is some new senior or master's study from some college folk who test again using the latest gee-whiz format to see if we can distinguish 0.001% from 0.002% under any circumstances. I have yet to see a positive result, though the explanations for the negative results get pretty durn creative!
 

Ron Texas

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I could not agree more. In my experience it is far more important to have more power rather than lower distortion. And that is where these affordable pro audio amplifiers excell. See here for another example of what can be had for a modest outlay:
Initially, I was stunned by the incredibly low distortion of the NC400 amp. After looking at many noise+distortion vs power I realized only a few were in the class of the NC400, a few were a little better and many having favorable published reviews were worse to much worse. The most frequent flaw was high levels of distortion at low power, often starting at 1% and not reaching .1% until 2 watts. That's where a lot of the listening takes place, unless you want to really shake the place to bits. The XLS 1502 is just a bit over .1% at very low levels and quickly goes below 1%.

There are two other things to consider. The Crown gets to full power at 1.4v, so no preamp is needed. It has a high pass filter which is great for integrating a powered sub with small stand mount speakers like the LS50. Visible LF driver excursions are eliminated allowing the system to play noticeably louder. Hypex amps with 26 db of voltage gain need 2.35 V to reach 200 watts @ 8 ohms according to Nord in the UK. That means one needs a preamp and for me some kind of high pass filter. That's 2 other problems to solve and $$$.
 
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My unscientific experience with using, by now, about half a dozen different inputs for my XLS 1002 is that while it does work alright with relatively low input voltages, it's a lot better with a preamp. I've fed it with kinda whimpy preamp outputs on two different AVRs and I had to really crank everything to get it to play loud, which raised the noise floor quite noticeably. Same thing with a 2V DAC output run through a passive volume control.

As of this week I'm running it from a JDS Atom and it absolutely sings with the gain much lower than I had it before, and significantly more headroom.
 

Ron Texas

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My unscientific experience with using, by now, about half a dozen different inputs for my XLS 1002 is that while it does work alright with relatively low input voltages, it's a lot better with a preamp. I've fed it with kinda whimpy preamp outputs on two different AVRs and I had to really crank everything to get it to play loud, which raised the noise floor quite noticeably. Same thing with a 2V DAC output run through a passive volume control.

As of this week I'm running it from a JDS Atom and it absolutely sings with the gain much lower than I had it before, and significantly more headroom.
It's possible your AVR's only have a .7V preamp output. My topping D30 can do 2.1V and it is capable of producing high volumes with inefficient speakers. With an NC400 a preamp will be needed with most DAC's as few have more than 2V output. Does the 4.5x gain setting on the Atom produces that boost at the RCA out connection?
 
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My unscientific experience with using, by now, about half a dozen different inputs for my XLS 1002 is that while it does work alright with relatively low input voltages, it's a lot better with a preamp. I've fed it with kinda whimpy preamp outputs on two different AVRs and I had to really crank everything to get it to play loud, which raised the noise floor quite noticeably. Same thing with a 2V DAC output run through a passive volume control.

As of this week I'm running it from a JDS Atom and it absolutely sings with the gain much lower than I had it before, and significantly more headroom.
I would have though 2v would be enough for unbalanced, sinces thats the redbook standard. I've only ever ran mine with 4.0vrms balanced which its fine with.
 
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+1 on low preamp output from the AVR. Pro amps often have low-impedance inputs, which could be difficult thru a passive "preamp." Not sure if that's the case with these Crowns.
 

mitchco

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@mitchco may not have a common setup, but his [email protected] JBLs disagree.
I run the XLS 1502 in my digital triamp setup from 45 Hz to 630 Hz to the double 15" JBL cabs at 4 ohms. It is way overkill, but nice to have the headroom :) Even at temporary ridiculous volumes, the -20 dB below clip light j on the 1502 just barely comes on the drum beats...

But I have run the XLS 1502 full range on the KEF LS50's I reviewed with binaural recordings. In the case of comparing them to the JBL's, the JBL compression drivers from 630 Hz on up were using the Nelson Pass Class A Amp Camp Amp. I am planning on an experiment using the LS50's in more of a near-field setup and drive them with a couple of different amps and use the binaural recording process so that folks can listen to see if there is an audible difference.
 
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Is there another beast like this (bang for the buck) but that has less of the "severely limit both the resolution and potentially bandwidth of upstream sources ". Maybe something that I can use mono or bridged and provide 200-400W per unit (2 units for stereo). Maybe a 600-900 dollar per unit price point
 

amirm

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There are a lot of candidates. The issue is what to do with them after testing. As it is, I am stuck with the Behringer and Crown. If someone wants to buy one or both of these, I can free up funds to buy others to test.
 

Blumlein 88

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Is there another beast like this (bang for the buck) but that has less of the "severely limit both the resolution and potentially bandwidth of upstream sources ". Maybe something that I can use mono or bridged and provide 200-400W per unit (2 units for stereo). Maybe a 600-900 dollar per unit price point
The Wyred4Sound ST1000 mkii should do it. $1849 new. Stereo amp. 460 wpc 8 ohm and 725 wpc 4 ohm.
Or the ST750LE at $1599 new. 325 wpc 8 ohm and 675 wpc 4 ohm.
You might even be fine with the ST500 mkii 250 wpc 8 ohm and 430 4ohm at $1349.

March Audio's P502 stereo amp for $1000 would do it as well.

These are all stereo amps so you only need one. So if I read you right you were looking in the $1200-1800 range for stereo. If you get one of these, be nice if you sent via Amir for testing.
 
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Is there another beast like this (bang for the buck) but that has less of the "severely limit both the resolution and potentially bandwidth of upstream sources ". Maybe something that I can use mono or bridged and provide 200-400W per unit (2 units for stereo). Maybe a 600-900 dollar per unit price point
I don't know how its meant to "potentially bandwidth of upstream sources" when its a speaker amp and the only upstream source will be the speakers/subwoofer with THD anywhere from 0.1-10%. The crown measures good enough to be audibly transparent. There is a thread will possible alternatives here https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...lifiers-which-test-well-under-1-000-usd.6250/ .
 

RayDunzl

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Panelhead

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I could ship a XLS 2002. It has paralleled output devises. Higher output than the 1502, supposedly a sweet spot in that line up.
Mainly used to drive a pair of Thiel speakers. Speakers are gone, amp still here.
I only used it with the crossover bypassed, attenuator all the way open, XLR inputs, and Speak On connector outputs.
It is sensitive to input cable dressing. Tried an RCA cable and heard hum. Moving cable around behind unit changed level hum some. Had to turn input attenuator back to around 1 - 2 o’clock before hum level was not noticible. Never heard hum with balanced cable with attenuator all the way up.
This was the first amp I had purchased with Speak On connectors. Like them.
Since it is really only a higher power 1502, twice the output devices and twice filter capacitance it may not be of interest. Let me know.
 

amirm

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I don't think it is worth the shipping cost to send it back and forth. I getting killed on that front with big and heavy items. Just yesterday spent over $200 on shipping products back to members!
 

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