Having a sound reinforcement business, I am always interested in the latest, greatest and lightest (in reverse order actually) power amps on the market. That’s why the fP2600, a new amp from Lab Gruppen (distributed in the US by TC Electronic), piqued my curiosity. Apparently, these Swedish amps are very popular in Europe and you can find them powering line array systems by L’Acoustic, Adamson and Martin Audio.
Product PointsApplications: Live sound, sound reinforcement, installation
Key Features: Two-channel; Adaptive Limiting System; MLS load matching; Neutrik Combo, Speakon connectors; dust filters.
Contact: Lab Gruppen/TC Electronic at 805-373-1828, Web Site.
– Noisy fan
– Short AC cable
The Score: A beautifully made amp that is targeted toward the touring professional.
The fP2600 ($2,295) consumes two rack-spaces, is 11.3 inches deep, and weighs a scant 18 pounds. What makes that weight stat so impressive is that this amp churns out a very robust 840 watts per side at 4 ohms and 1200 watts per side at 2 ohms (EIA at 1 kHz and 1% THD). Other specs for the fP2600 are impressive too. THD is listed as 0.04% (20 Hz-20 kHz, 1W to full power) while hum and noise is <-110dB. Lab Gruppen claims that this amp incorporates current semiconductor technology into the unit’s ferrite power (fP) engine. This, coupled with the amp’s copper cooling system “Intercooler,” translates to comfortable 2-ohm operation. In addition, LG claims that the amp’s new biphase wiring scheme increases the capacity of the switch mode power supply, extending the power bandwidth in the low end.
While there are many switch-mode amplifiers on the market today, LG claims that the fP2600 has some distinct advantages over the competition. The amp is apparently more forgiving in terms of AC mains voltage. In fact, LG claims that the fP2600 can tolerate a 20 percent voltage drop without problems. The company also purports that the fP2600 is extremely efficient too, meaning it can comfortably operate on a single 20-Amp circuit. The fP2600 also has a sophisticated group of protection features including an Adaptive Limiting System (ALS) that permits high peak currents while keeping the amp within its safe operation zone. In addition, the amp protects against infrasonic signals, non-musical VHF signals above the audible range, thermal overload, AC voltage drop, and clipping.
Controls and I/O on the fP2600 are conservatively apportioned. The front panel has a power switch, 31-position gain controls, an LED ladder, and removable dust filters. The rear panel has Neutrik Combo inputs (XLR and 1/4-inch), XLR links, Speakon outputs, and switches for clip limiting, link and MLS (power matching for different loads).
Upon initial examination, without even hearing it in action, I quickly determined that this amp is all business. The workmanship is superb ? the chassis is flawlessly machined and assembled with all the parts matching perfectly. The pots feel firm, smooth and tight. The AC cable and connector are very beefy, though a tad short for my taste.
I used the fP2600 over the course of two weekends at an outdoor festival. I was providing sound reinforcement for a unique group from England called the Mediaeval Baebes. The Baebes are nine talented women who sing and play traditional instruments, accompanied by a male percussionist and mixed by their own engineer, Jamie Harley (also from the UK). I used the fP to power two separate monitor mixes with each channel working a 4-ohm load. The first weekend I used the amp to run a vocal mix on one side and the percussionist’s mix on the other. Throughout the four shows that weekend, the fp2600 was spot on. It had gobs of power ? far more than was needed in this scenario ? and it delivered powerful bass to the drum fill. The signal ladder was easy to read, even in direct sunlight, and the dust filters proved very useful, as there were lots of airborne particles floating about. In fact, looking inside the amps showed just how much those filters work ? the other amps all had internal dust residue that was plainly visible while the Lab Gruppen did not.
Since we had to strike the system between weekends, I brought the amp out on a midweek job at a black tie corporate event. This time I used it to power some 4 ohm FOH cabinets that were more of a match for the amp’s power output. Drums, bass, horns and vocals were all reproduced in excellent fashion with powerful mids and crisp highs (subs were powered alternatively). I still cannot get over the fact that this amp weighs only 18 pounds ? it is quite powerful.
Back at the festival the following weekend, I used the fP to run the vocal monitor mixes for the eight Baebes who front the group. They do some superb harmony and unison work that features loads of falsetto, and round-type delivery. Jamie and all of the ladies were very pleased with the monitors, making their performances all the more superb for the standing room only crowds.
My only gripes with the fP2600 were minimal. The fan is louder than most of my other switch mode type amps. In a live sound setting that is very inconsequential but in a studio setting (which I would not rule out) it should be considered. Also, it would be nice to have a switchable high-pass filter at 30 or 50 Hz to prevent excessive excursion, when needed. The manual, and even the website is full of Asian- style, English translation gaffs. When you make an amp this nice, who has time to hire an editor?
Wow, this is a really nice amplifier. You should know that I already own quite a few switch mode type amps and I am very impressed with the fP2600. The power to weight ratio is remarkable and the price of $2,295 seems well worth it. The amp screams touring professional ? I can see why they have had such good sales in Europe. This is definitely one of those products that will be hard to send back to the manufacturer!
Midas Venice 320 console; Rane EQ; Community 525 FOH speakers; custom wedges (12-inch with horn); Shure Beta 87, Beta 58, AKG D112, Audio-Technica ATM25, ATM23HE microphones.