When I was young my back was intact enough to be able to lug around racks of BGW 750 and 250 series amplifiers. The amps weighed a ton, but their clean, dynamic sound and ability to shrug off whatever the road threw in their way endeared them to me.
I’m pretty sure the ones I traded in still exist, still out there somewhere, clip lights blazing, pumping out low-frequency waveforms to the frenzied masses. Power vs. weight was an issue, and yielding to the switching power supply faction (and my chiropractor), I changed horses.
For an install, however, weight concerns are not a factor. BGW got its start, after all, with theater Sensurround systems (remember the prototypical disaster movie, Earthquake?). These films required amplifiers that could execute quick transients, deliver back-shivering power and do it reliably on an ongoing basis, night after night.
The Millennium Series 3 TMC-2 ($1,450) amplifier (aptly named for this point in time; also TMC stands for The Millennium Crossover 2-way) was designed primarily for theater sound reinforcement, with a plethora of features built-in to crossover, delay and equalize speaker systems for this particular use.
The BGW is a two-channel amplifier aimed at biamping a two-way speaker system. One input drives both channels simultaneously, and a series of DIP switches can select filter settings, delay and EQ options (low-frequency drivers Channel A, high-frequency drivers Channel B).
The filter and delay settings selected by BGW cater to most popular speaker systems used in theaters (Altec Lansing, Electro-Voice and JBL). These features can also be used with great effectiveness for standard sound reinforcement applications.
The Series 3 TMC-2 is a Class AB amplifier, rated at more than 300 W/channel at 8 ohms and 550 W/channel at 4 ohms. It is three rack-spaces high and weighs in at more than 40 lb. The front panel has two detented level controls, amber signal presence LEDs, and red LED clip indicators. The on/off switch, with green power indicator LED, is centrally located. The rear panel has high-frequency and low-frequency output, five-way heavy-duty binding posts, ground-lift switch, 12 amp fuse receptacle, and 1/4″ TRS input paralleled with a female XLR input jack.
A 5″ by 1″ removable protective panel covers a high-frequency level attenuator, selectable from -20 to 0 dB, and a high-frequency EQ adjustable from 0 to +9 dB. The matrix DIP-switches reside here, along with a master level control and limiter on/off switch.
Internal inspection revealed one of the largest power supply transformers I’ve ever seen in a 300 W amp, glass epoxy PC boards and a large aluminum heatsink transversely mounted (left to right) with a hefty centrally located fan. There were no filters, although the heatsink fins were spaced far enough apart that dust buildup should not be an immediate concern.
Copious use of metal film resistors, low-profile power supply capacitors and a combination of through-hole and hand-inserted componentry bolster the impression of a symmetry not often found – all workmanship is of exemplary quality. The steel chassis, even without the lid, was rock solid.
I used the Millennium amp to full effectiveness in a sound reinforcement setting. I needed a side-fill for a live performance to take care of stage monitoring for a keyboard player and backing vocalists, stage left. I used a JBL 2446H 2″ midhigh compression driver with 45 degree Community horn and a dual 15″ JBL front-loaded low-frequency enclosure, each separately boxed. I selected the DIP-switch settings recommended in the manual to cross over the midhigh horn at 500 Hz with a Linkwitz-Riley filter. Since the acoustic centers of the drivers in the two boxes were offset similar to a JBL 4675C system, I selected a delay setting for the low-frequency enclosure.
The response and clarity of the side-fill was much improved compared to other applications where I had used a conventional crossover without delay. The time alignment worked well and brought point source into focus in lieu of physical re-alignment of the speaker, which would have demanded the horn to exorbitantly overhang the woofer. The performers remarked at how smooth and clear the side-fill sounded, and I agreed. The amp had no problems with quick low-frequency transients generated from an audacious synthesizer and no perceivable distortion artifacts when combining various percussion, synth and vocal sources. My only reservations were the fan noise – not a problem in live sound reinforcement applications but for studio or theater use you might want to use a remote location (separate room). Otherwise, this amp met or exceeded all my expectations.
The BGW Millennium 3 TMC-2 comes with a five-year warranty, a very thorough individual hand-checked performance test report and one of the most comprehensive manuals I have ever seen for a power amplifier. I would recommend this amplifier wholeheartedly for any number of sound reinforcement applications where weight is not a factor and superlative sound, above-and-beyond features, and bulletproof performance capability is required.
Contact: BGW Systems at 800-468-2677.