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Thread: An Alternative Amplifier Choice - Crown Audio's XLS DriveCore Series

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    Official HDJ Industry Insider AndrewRobinsonOnline's Avatar
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    Default An Alternative Amplifier Choice - Crown Audio's XLS DriveCore Series

    werthliving.com

    I'm a big proponent of getting the job done, whether that means relying on consumer or pro-audio equipment. In my travels I stumbled across a phenomenal (and affordable) amplifier in the Crown XLS DriveCore Series pro amplifier. Here is an excerpt from my review, which I couldn't publish on HTR for political reasons though that doesn't make the product any less valid. Enjoy!

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    Introduction

    The Crown XLS DriveCore Series (XLS Series) of amplifiers represents Crown’s entry into the pro audio amplifier marketplace. Aimed more or less at the independent musician, whether they be an upstart DJ, band or other live act, the Crown XLS Series is but a gateway drug for future Crown purchases down the road. That being said Crown hasn’t pulled any punches with the XLS Series, in fact they’ve done quite the opposite -after all, just because the XLS amps may be entry level doesn’t mean they can’t rock. For example the entire XLS Series features Harman’s (Crown’s parent company) own DriveCore Technology.

    While the XLS Series is in fact Class-D amplifier, DriveCore, a proprietary hybrid analog-digital integrated circuit co-developed with Texas Instruments, is used to drive the Class-D output stage and optimize the relationship between the modulation stage and the power output stage providing the efficiency of Class-D circuitry with the lower distortion and residual noise typical of older Class AB designs. Other advantages to DriveCore include a more streamlined topology, which Crown claims removes up to 500 parts from the signal path resulting in a cleaner, purer sound. DriveCore also improves low-level linearity, power density (more power in a smaller chassis), thermal and electrical efficiency and finally it possesses high AC tolerances. The latter being extremely important for most users will be employing XLS amplifiers while on the road where one can never be too sure as to the quality of the power the amps will have to rely on. On the consumer side if you live in an older house or say in an apartment complex where “dirty” power tends to be more common place, the XLS Series amps should still perform at a more optimal level. As for the XLS’ efficiency claims, Class D amplification is generally pretty efficient so don’t think that you can only achieve these results using DriveCore equipped amplifiers. But are DriveCore amps more efficient than traditional Class D amplifier designs? Crown would like you to think so however I didn’t have any other Class D amplifiers on hand with which to test this so we’ll just have to take it at face value. Regardless, DriveCore is an important innovation for not only Crown but Harman as whole, because it opens up a whole new world of possibilities for Crown and its customers; for no longer do we have to be slaves to large, heavy and cumbersome amplifiers. DriveCore is already seeing use in other Harman brands, specifically the Lexicon DD-8 amplifier.

    The power supply isn’t your usual bulky transformer, instead it’s a Switch-Mode power supply, which like Class D amplification itself, is hugely efficient and extremely lightweight. In comparison to many consumer amplifiers with power ratings similar to the Crown you can expect to have to lug around 100 pounds or more whereby the XLS Series of amplifiers all come in at around or under 10 pounds. Again, a huge benefit to those wanting to take their act on the road.

    The XLS Series also use what is known as a PureBand Crossover System. The PureBand Crossover System is a variable digital crossover ranging from 50Hz to 3kHz in 1/12 octave centers that can be applied to any of the amplifier’s outputs. The amplifiers employ the use of 4th order Linkwitz-Riley filters for seamless transitions between high and low frequencies and/or drivers. This internal flexibility is made even more user friendly thanks impart to its ability to be adjusted from the amplifiers’ front panels. Having built-in crossovers as well as low and high pass filters means that the end user can effectively drive their loudspeakers in the most efficient manner possible without wasting power on aspects of the frequency range that might otherwise be sent elsewhere, say for instance to a subwoofer. No sense asking your amplifier to power your speakers below say 70Hz if you know you’re subwoofer is crossed over at the THX customary 80Hz -you’d just be throwing usable power away at that point.

    With great power comes even greater responsibility, Spider-Man taught me that and the engineers at Crown seem to have picked up a similar mantra along the way, which is no doubt why all XLS Series amps are equipped with Peak x Limiters. A Peak x Limiter, according to Crown, “is an advanced algorithm specifically developed and tuned to work with the amplifier and the power supply to achieve higher SPL with less audible artifacts.” What this means in a nutshell, is the amplifier is designed to take your speakers right to the very limit without damaging them and to ensure no such damage occurs Crown has put a limiter inside the amp itself. Unlike say the limiter in most high performance sports cars the Peak x Limiter inside the Crown XLS Series amplifiers can be defeated -though it’s most likely not recommended.

    Specifications

    The XLS Series of amplifiers consists of four distinct models; the XLS 1000, 1500, 2000 and 2500. Retail prices start at a manageable $499 for the XLS 1000 and top out at $1,099 for the 2500 model -though online and even in store retail prices are often much, much less. All of the XLS Series amps feature the same industrial design; clad in light grey aluminum with black mesh accents that also double as the amplifiers’ cooling vents. The left side of the amplifiers’ facade is where its controls are housed with a small, but legible, display is flanked by two channel output controls followed by two input level meters. Below the display are three hard controls that are used for setting up the amps’ final configuration. The units themselves are only two rack spaces high and come with rack ears as part of their front fascia, a money saving feature. The XLS Series amps measure 19-inches across by 3.5 inches tall and depending on the model can range in depth from 7.7 inches to 10.35 inches. Weight, again depending on the model, varies from 8.6 pounds to 10.75 pounds.

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    Default Re: An Alternative Amplifier Choice - Crown Audio's XLS DriveCore Series


    Nicely done review! Pro amps are one of the A/V enthusiasts best kept secrets. I use a Behringer EP2500 to drive my subs.

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