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Thread: What amplifier(s) can you recommend for my speakers and subwoofer?

  1. #1
    Constant Bitrate doncarbone's Avatar
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    What amplifier(s) can you recommend for my speakers and subwoofer?

    What I'll be installing:

    165A1 - Focal Access 6.5" 2 Way Component Speakers
    - Max. power handling: 120W
    - Nom. power handling: 60W

    165CA1 - Focal 6.5" 2 Way Coaxial Speakers
    - Peak Power Handling: 120 watts
    - RMS Power Handling: 60 watts
    - Impedance (per voice coil): 4 ohms

    25A1 - Focal 10" 400 Watt Subwoofer
    - Power Handling: 200 watts RMS/400 peak
    - Impedance/voice coils: single 4 ohm

    I am looking for a clean-sounding amplifier that can deliver power at the optimal range for the above speaks/sub setup...ideally due to space limitations, a compact 5-channel amplifier is best for my car but I'm not looking to spend over $1000. As you can see its a complete Focal set-up and focal is known for delivering an acoustic/musical sound. I want an amp that's clean/efficient and lets the focals do wat they were made to do!

    So far I've found all of these with their respective prices:

    ZRS-C8 - Cadence 2000W 5-Channel ZRS Type C Series - $450
    - 4-ohm RMS Power: 150W x 4 + 400W x 1
    - 2-ohm RMS Power: 200W x 4 + 600W x 1
    - Max RMS Power: 400W x 2 @ 4-ohm + 600W x 1 @ 2-ohm

    PDX-5 - Alpine 5 Ch 600 Watt Digital Power Amplifier - $439
    - 75 watts RMS x 4 + 300 watts RMS x 1 at 4 or 2 ohms
    - 150 watts RMS x 2 + 300 watts RMS x 1 in bridged mode (4-ohm stable in bridged mode)

    HD900/5 - JL Audio 5 Channel 900 Watt HD Series Amplifier - $899
    - 100 watts RMS x 4 at 4 ohms + 500 watts RMS x 1 (at 1.5-4 ohms)
    - 75 watts RMS x 4 (at 1.5-3 ohms) + 500 watts RMS x 1 (at 1.5-4 ohms)
    - 150 watts RMS x 2 bridged (at 3-6 ohms) + 500 watts RMS x 1 at (1.5-4 ohms)

    LRx 2.4 - Audison 2 Channel 460W Amplifier - $600 X 3 (little over budget)
    - RMS Power @13.8V @4 ohm 2 x 130 watts/ 1 x 460 watts
    - RMS Power @13.8V @2 ohm 2 x 230 watts

    Which of the above amplifier set-ups is highest quality and all-in-all what's the best bang for your buck?

    Can anyone recommend to me another amp/set-up that will work best with my speaks?

    If I'm going to spend between $500-1,000 on an amp, I want to make sure I get something worth the money! I know Alpine, Audison and JL Audio have been around for a while and have a good rep...the only one i'm not 100% sure on is Cadence as they're newer

    Thanks

  2. #2
    MySQL Error soundman98's Avatar
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    cadence has been in the business for a couple of years(their catalog says 17 years). they tend to stay above the mainstream car audio area's, and the stuff i have heard sounds very good-- i would put them in around the same cost/quality of focal, or audison..

    i have heard very mixed reviews of the pdx series-- some say they sound great, some say they lack oomph on the low end.. i can't say i can notice it, just passing along what has been said over at diymobileaudio.com...

    i have not heard anything bad about the hd series yet except the high price-- i was actually considering getting some of them for my own install-- but the fact that i want 2-4ch's and 2-1ch's adds up really quick..

    audison-- same as the hd series, there really isn't much other then the price that can be bad about those amps..

  3. #3
    Constant Bitrate doncarbone's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply -- you've answered some of my questions on past threads so thanks again

    The PDX-5 I have also read mixed reviews so I'll rule that one out.

    In terms of price, its a no brainer that the Cadence is the way to go -- but the thing that gets me is the fact that the JL audio is only 900 watts priced at $900, yet the cadence is half that price and delivers 2000W. Whats the catch here?

    How much crisper/cleaner will my speakers sound with the more expensive unit? How much deeper and more powerful will the sub sound with the Cadence? Or will there really not be too much of a noticeable difference between the two?

    If Cadence is newer to the car audio scene than the others, perhaps they have every reason to sell good equipment at a lower price...?

    going to rule out the audisons too...I think $1,800 is pushing it for my first amp setup

  4. #4
    Constant Bitrate doncarbone's Avatar
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    Should I be delivering the nominal amount of power to my speakers (60W), the max (120W), or somewhere in between?

    The Cadence, for instance, delivers 150W to each speaker (4x150w at 4ohms). I'm a car audio noob and have never had an amp before. Will I be able to adjust it so it only delivers X watts (where X <= 120) to each speaker so I don't ruin them?

  5. #5
    MySQL Error soundman98's Avatar
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    i tried locating where cadence is based out, but it could be the difference between american, and imported parts--i know for sure that jl is designed, and made in America..

    jl also has uses switching power rails to regulate the power--- called the R.I.P.S. system-- so the 100 watt output rating is the same at 2ohms as it is at 8ohms. this is better for consistent power output across a wide range of loads, but it does cost some efficiency..

    some other things to take into account-- the first link i found for the cadence amp stated it was a class d amp(onlinecarstereo.com)-- according to cadence's site, that is wrong, it is a class a/b.

    this can be good and bad
    good:
    class A/B amps are tried and true designs-- they have been around for many, many years, so the designs are pretty good, and at the price range of the cadence, it is very good..

    many attribute a/b amps to have a 'warmer, fuller' sound

    because a/b designs are so old, they are super cheap, and easy to build-- another possible reason for the price difference.

    a/b amps keep the signal in the analog realm during the entire process-- no conversions to degrade the signal..

    bad:
    the heat. a/b amps generate a lot of heat at high volumes-- if you like it loud, in a tight install, this might pose a problem..

    less efficiency-- a/b amps are less efficient-- around 50% of power taken in is actually put to use as music power-- the rest gets put off as heat.

    size: a/b's are generally bigger then d amps..

    the jl class d:

    good:
    extremely efficient-- most of them are around 80-90% efficiency.

    as a side benefit, class d's run cooler..

    switching power rails-- consistent power, even when starting to get hot, or at different loads.

    size: their usually pretty tiny.

    bad:

    COST--class d tech is still pretty expensive..

    if you look into what is required for class d amps, they are a little more technical to build them a/b amps-- most even have microprocessors that resample the audio to make sure what goes in, is what comes out..

    actually the microprocessors could also be considered a technical disadvantage-- because the amp is digital, it resamples the incoming signal as a digital signal, amplifies it, then changes it back to a analog signal-- while this depends on how good the processors are at their job, this can lead to some signal degradation..

    class d used to be very jagged-- some people had a hard time using them even for sub duty. the designs have improved, and the last review of the hd series i read gave them high praise, so this might not even be a issue..

    thats what i know-- maybe you have seen my other car audio posts, but when it comes to something as subjective as car audio, i prefer to give the people the info to make a educated decision instead of just telling them what i would desire, or would do...

    also: a link i found on caraudiomag.com that might interest you on smaller amps:
    http://caraudiomag.com/articles/best...-amp-solutions

  6. #6
    Constant Bitrate doncarbone's Avatar
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    I took a look into the XD series by JL Audio -- for the most part i've read nothing but fantastic reviews and the pricing is definitely reasonable.

    one thing i am concerned about, tho, is whether these amps are powerful enough for my setup...

    the subwoofer, for example has a 200W RMS power rating, and max 400W.

    If my amplifier has a sub channel that throws out only 180W, does this mean my subwoofer will be severely underpowered?

    How much does a difference in 20W really make in car audio? Ideally...what amount of power is required for my amplifier? Should i be buying an amp that throws out enough power just to meet the RMS power handling of the speakers/sub, or is it recommended to find one that meets the requirements for max power handling?

    On average, the output power for 5 channel amps I've looked at are 75W x 4 RMS + 180-250W x 1 RMS. Given the above specs on my focal speakers/sub setup, is this sufficient?? Ideally I'm looking to play these things pretty loud, but nothing that's going to ruin them...i'm hoping to have all my equipment last for many years

    do you recommend bridging multiple amps together, say going with a 2x2 (or 4 channel) setup for the speaks and a monoblock for the sub?

  7. #7
    MySQL Error soundman98's Avatar
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    difference in 20 watts:

    taken from this thread:
    Quote Originally Posted by npdang
    every doubling of power gives you a theoretical 3db gain in spl
    and 3db gain is not always noticable-- esp in a car environment..
    so 20 watts is not much when dealing with 100-200 watts..

    realistically, the more power you give to a speaker, the more control the amp will have over the speaker-- that is why there is a tone difference between a 5watt amp, and a 50 watt amp.. i used to run some kicker comps with a 600 watt sony amp(150x2 rms) the subs had a something like a 100watt max.. (they still work, but got ditched for some other subs) this leads me to the next point:

    under-powering: under-powering is like entering a marathon and only walking the entire race-- you can still get it done, but not as fast as those that ran. under powering any speaker will only damage it when you push the amp past it's distortion point-- that distortion will result in heat, and if the speaker can't get rid of the heat fast enough, it will fail.. keep in mind that the speaker, and amp setup did not cause the failure, but the distortion, and the speaker being ran for too long with a distorted signal...

    speaker power handling:

    if you correctly setup your crossovers and amps, you should never have a speaker fail- even if it is getting 75watts rms instead of the recommended 60..

    this was one of the reasons i got into carpc-ing. my old pioneer rev series 5 1/4"'s passive x-overs had too low of a x-over point, so i got distortion at the volume that my convertible 'needed' . i estimate that the original x-over point was about 1k, to 1.5k-- i needed to step it up to 2k to get rid of the distortion.

    i have never had a speaker fail--barring the ones i blew on purpose(1 watt speaker, 50 watt amp, 3/4 volume-- it lasted about 5 seconds)

    something else-- most tweeters are rated for around 18-20watts rms-- very rarely are they rate for amp power-- like 50, or75w rms. i run my tweeters off channels 1+2 on my alpine mrp-f300 amp-- so they are getting a full 50w rms-- but my active crossover limits them to 2khz-20kz. speakers only take what they need...


    different amps: i have also thrown this around for my own setup. if a 5 ch amp has approximately enough power for what you want to do, then it will def. save space.

    it is kind of up to you-- i use to prefer multiple amps because they were a smaller then a single 5ch version, and could be placed better, though the class d amps are starting to take care of that.

    some of the individual amps have features that the 5ch amps don't have, so it might be more beneficial to your setup to use multiple amps..

  8. #8
    Constant Bitrate doncarbone's Avatar
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    Thanks for your detailed response -- has helped me a lot.

    Having taken your advice and looked around for a few other options, i'm still tied to both the JL HD900/5 and Cadence ZRS-C8. I have to choose one.

    http://www.woofersetc.com/p8321/HD90...-Amplifier.htm

    http://www.woofersetc.com/p8764/ZRSC...-Amplifier.htm

    although the 900/5 approaches the high-end of my budget range, I'm willing to take the hit if its by fair the best option. I can see that its important to buy a good amp, and that even good speakers can sound bad with an unpowered/overpowered/low quality amplifier. The JL HD900/5 definitely meets all requirements and has great reviews. That being said, something still tells me the Cadence is not a crappy amp (but I'm open to be corrected on that if anyone has heard anything negative)

    Given that Focal is a musical/acoustic sounding speaker, I want an amplifier that delivers clean, efficient power to my speaks, but at the same time doesn't add too much strain on my single yellowtop.

    Having asked a few so called experts, I've heard that it's not even a competition between these two. The JL beats the Cadence hands down, they say. That aside, I'm still a cheap bastard and I really have to wonder...HOW MUCH BETTER is the HD900/5 for the extra $450? For me, $450 is a fairly significant amount of dough to save on this project...$450 gets me a yellow-top plus some wiring, maybe a few sheets of dynamat etc...

    JL HD900/5:
    - $899.99
    - Class D
    - 100W RMS X 4
    - 500W RMS X 1

    Cadence ZRS-C8
    - $449.99
    - Type C Series (assuming this is A/B)
    - 4-ohm RMS Power: 150W x 4 + 400W x 1

    One thing on i did notice on the Cadence, however, is it lists "Power Supply: 16V". Does this mean it will work up to a 16V power supply, meaning it will still work with the standard 11-14.5V, or is it an amplifier designed specifically for a 16V??

    Just so I know where Cadence stands, would you guys say the Cadence ZRS-C8 is a superior amplifier to the Kicker 5 Channel 750 Watt ZX? (http://www.woofersetc.com/p8510/10ZX...-Amplifier.htm) or the Kicker ZX700.5 (http://www.woofersetc.com/p3961/ZX70...-Amplifier.htm).

    Specs are one thing, having seen or heard an amplifier in action is another...so if anyone has an idea of where all these amps stand relative to one another, i'd appreciate it.

  9. #9
    MySQL Error soundman98's Avatar
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    16volt:

    on cadence's site, it later says that it is a 16v capable power supply.

    i have never been near a audio competition, so it is only a guess, but this could be part of the 'competition' part. boosting the input voltage will boost the output wattage-- very useful when you need a slight edge over the competition..(the jl uses switching power rails, so output is consistent, regardless of input voltage)

    also: as i said before, jl is designed, and built in america-- so american labor also costs more...

  10. #10
    Constant Bitrate doncarbone's Avatar
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    One other thing...

    The JL's 500W x 1 sub channel...can this be used for two subwoofers, each being given 250W...or is it only going to work with one?

    Thanks

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