While professional-grade choices abound in the realm of amplification for live sound and installed audio, an elite half-dozen — listed here — are especially notable, deserving a special look from pro audio shoppers this summer.
Ashly NE8250: Eight Channels For Networked Systems
The NE8250 ($1,890 list) offers comparably simple setup and control for installed sound amplification. It features standard 10/100 Ethernet protocol connectivity and runs on Protea NE software. Eight 8-channel models are available with 250W output power for 25V, 70V, and 100V performance or constant voltage applications. Two standard configurations are available: standard input with Euroblock connectors or Protea Enabled (PE) with Euroblock inputs and Protea DSP. Input options include a 4-channel microphone preamp, AES/EBU, and CobraNet. This signal processing library utilizes two SHARC 32-bit/96 kHz processors with the following processing categories: Graphic, Parametric, Notch, and Shelving Equalization, High-, Low-, and All-Pass Filters (HPF/LPF/APF) with up to 48 dB/Octave slopes, Delay, Compressor/Limiter, Gate, Ducking, Auto-leveler, Gain, and Signal Generators (sine wave, white and pink noise).
Watch for an upcoming full review of the NE8250.
Ashly | www.ashly.com
Crown I-Tech HD: The Next Step In I-Technology
Reviewed in this very issue (on page 36), the new I-Tech HD Series of live sound amps represents the remarkable innovation that continuously takes place at Crown HQ in Elkhart, Indiana. The series — I-T5000HD, the I-T9000HD, and the I-T12000HD (priced $5,675, $6,855, and $8,510, respectively) — is comprised of Class I amplifiers, a.k.a. balanced current amps, with loads of power; an OmniDriveHD DSP engine; LevelMax limiter technology; a front-panel USB slot; and CobraNet, AES/EBU, and analog XLR input options.
According to PAR contributor Karl Bader, the features of the new I-Tech HD make it extremely easy to use. "Case in point is the USB port on the front panel of the amplifier. Simply insert a thumb drive with your processor settings, upload 'em, and use 'em. That's it — it's that easy and that userfriendly."
Crown Audio | www.crownaudio.com
Electro-Voice TG-7: It's In The Name
The "TG" in TG-7 ($4,890 list) stands for "Tour Grade," and deservedly so. Providing a maximum-bridged output at 4 ohms of 7,000W, 2,500W per channel at 4 ohms, this 2-channel, 31-pound touring sound amp also offers a microprocessor-controlled operation management system with features including compound thermal management, automatic mains voltage detection, and circuit-breaker control. It uses grounded-bridge, three-step Class H topology. System supervision comes via IRIS-Net (Intelligent Remote and Integrated Supervision Network), a Windows-based application.
Electro-Voice | www.electrovoice.com
Peavey IPR Series: A Featherweight (But No Lightweight) Performer
The new IPR Series from Peavey (ranging from $499 to $1,099 list) brings new meaning to "lightweight" — its lightest model is under seven pounds, yet offers two channels of 530W RMS at 4 ohms. The IPR Series is comprised of high-speed Class D amps featuring Peavey's own DDT speaker protection with multi-point clip sampling, two 100 Hz independent crossovers, combination 1/4-inch/XLR inputs, combination Neutrik Speakon/1/4-inch outputs, and — on four models, 32-bit DSP with program-specific EQ, delays, crossover settings, and lockable security settings. A front-panel LCD allows users access to the IPR DSP amps' presets.
Watch for a full review of the IPR Series in an upcoming issue of PAR.
Peavey | www.peavey.com
Powersoft K10: High-Power Packed In 1U
Originally reviewed in 2007 by PAR contributor Dave Rittenhouse, the Powersoft K10 ($8,395 list) is considered a high-performance must for many pro tour sound engineers and takes up little space in their rack. "If you are in the market for a powerful, sleek, chest-pounding amp that is fully loaded with all the latest features and runs more efficiently than anything else, the K10 is your amp," declared Rittenhouse. "The fact that it sits in a single rack space and provides more power than the amps each of us have and use (and does with greater ease and full DSP) means it is truly the top breed, exotic race car we have all dreamt of."
The 2-channel K10 delivers 6,000 watts at 2 ohms per channel at a weight of 26.4 lbs and provides two XLR inputs with two Neutrik Speakon outputs. An RS485 interface is provided for working with the provided Powersoft remote control software, or all functions can be controlled from the amp's front-panel menu screen.
Powersoft | www.powersoft.it
QSC GX Series: Affordable Amp Serves Many Masters
Originally reviewed in 2008 by PAR's Will James and Strother Bullins, the QSC GX Series bring pro-grade performance to a wide range of potential customers. The GX Series offers Class H power supplies; a built-in crossover; XLR, TRS 1/4-inch, and RCA Left and Right inputs; and Neutrik Speakon NL4/1/4-inch and standard binding post outputs.
"I expected great achievements from this power amp given the reputation of QSC Audio, coupled with my own prior QSC experience," tells James of his review of the GX5 ($499 list), the 2-channel, 500W RMS (at 8 ohms) GX model. "I was not let down. The GX5 performed without issue. It is a stout little power amp; it is light in weight but not a lightweight in the general power amp world. The QSC Audio GX5 earns my full respect as a good quality amp that will, I believe, deliver many years of power at a most reasonable price."
"It is not only a good choice for the full-time live sound professional," adds Bullins. "It is an ideal choice for the budget-restricted gigging musician who often runs his own sound, and/or lugs his own monitoring rig to clubs, and much more. Thus, it's totally worth its 'under $500' list price."
QSC Audio | www.qscaudio.com