Product PointsApplications: Live sound reinforcement
Key Features: High output power, modular design, built-in limiter, soft turn on
Contact: Carvin at 800-854-2235, Web Site.
+ High power reserves
+ Rugged build
+ Economically priced
+ Made in the USA
– Heavy (45 pounds)
– Inaccessible fuse
The Score: Rugged, high power amp at a great price. Carvin Corporation, the California-based musical instrument/pro audio dealer-direct phenomenon has been in business since the middle of the last century, defying the prevailing philosophy that the market needs a typical consumer style distribution chain. The company circulates a slick catalog to the gear-starved masses and sells straight out of the factory, eliminating the middleman and therefore serving up low prices. What I have seen lately from Carvin has peaked my interest. When the DCM2500 arrived on my doorstep, I decided a closer inspection was in order.
The DCM2500 ($599) is a three rack-space dual channel amplifier, which is claimed to deliver 500 watts RMS continuous power per channel into an 8 ohm load on up to 2,500 watts RMS bridged mono at 2 ohms. The amplifier features internal opto-isolator peak limiting circuitry to increase useable headroom before clipping. The outputs are five-way binding posts, 1/4-inch phone and Speakon connectors. Inputs are balanced XLR and 1/4-inch phone jacks, with through XLRs to daisy-chain units. A high-input impedance (20 kohms) facilitates good impedance matching with most source equipment. Rear panel switches include ground lift, parallel (for combining inputs), low-cut, bridge, and limiter. Front panel gain controls accompany input signal presence and clip LEDs for each channel, along with the power switch and its power and thermal protect indicators. Soft start relays prevent in-rush currents from blowing circuit breakers.
After popping the lid, internal inspection revealed a massive toroidal power supply transformer to the left, input/output PC board behind it, and the conjoined fan/power transistor/heatsink unit at the back. The various sections (power supply, input/output PC, front panel control PC and power transistor) are connected with Molex terminated ribbon wire harnesses facilitating quick replacement, if need be. Everything about the internal architecture is secure and solid, and the 16-gauge steel chassis should be able to take a solid helping of road abuse.
I applied the DCM2500 to subwoofer duty at a local benefit concert with acts varying from acoustic folk to power trio rock, and the amp performed well under some pretty sweltering (mid 90s) outdoor venue conditions. Driving a system encompassing a Mackie 1604 VLZ console and Rane AC24 crossover with JBL SRX series speakers, the Carvin amplifier provided tight, punchy interpretations of varied low-frequency source signals. From a 22-inch kick drum miked with an AKG D12 to a Countryman DIed Fender Jazz bass, it had no problem with quick transients or throbbing continuous drop D-tuned strings. This amp definitely has the power reserves to deliver those long sine waves.
Over the long haul, though, I might consider adding a filter to the cooling fan, those tightly spaced heatsink fins might be a dust magnet. And the internally accessible-only fuse could be a problem: its holder is facing the rear chassis lip and could be a bear to change. At 45 pounds, it is not a light mount.
I liked what I heard from the DCM2500. At $599, and with a three-year warranty, it is a solid performer and a solid bargain that should find favor with the MI crowd. After all, who does not love the convenience of ordering out of a catalog?