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Advanced Member
Username: moonliner

Post Number: 261
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 1:19 am:   Edit Post

Hey everyone,

For years I've been a happy Ashdown user as my main amp.
Lately I've been considering the preamp, poweramp method. I would love a McIntosh, but can't afford the cost, monetary or physical. Do any of you have thoughts on a good, reliable, reasonably priced, not huge poweramp?
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 4226
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 1:57 am:   Edit Post

I used a Mesa boogie walkabout for a few years but after reading a lot on here of the benefits of a pre/poweramp setup I bought myself a used QSC PLX2402 and use it with an Alembic F1-x and it is a superb combination that a number of members here also use.

I think the QSC is a pretty flat in terms of it's frequency response which to me gives me more scope for getting my own sound rather than competing with the voiced sound of an amp head. Plus the headroom in there gives me a really thick clean articulate sound.

Only downside for me is the weight of it in a rack with the pre-amps is no joke.
I've been checking out Class D power amplifiers on-line lately as I want a lightweight pre/power amp setup as a backup. So you might want to check those out as they are apparently very good.


(Message edited by jazzyvee on September 17, 2014)
Advanced Member
Username: moonliner

Post Number: 262
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 2:27 am:   Edit Post

Thanks for the response Jazzyvee.

Many years ago I had an F1X and a Stewart 2.1 (I think). Is that what's called a Class D power amp? The Stewart had massive power, but would shut down sometimes. Never good on a gig! It was also very long/deep which was a bit inconvenient. I went to Ashdown when they gave me an endorsement, which was nice but I miss the F1X
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 3608
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 2:55 am:   Edit Post

What are your weight restrictions in "Not huge " ? A nice used Crest CA6 or CA9 can be found ; it is "good, reliable, reasonably priced".
Somewhere on this site I wrote a list of parameters to consider for power amps . Here are a few links to prior threads on this topic that I have contributed to;



Advanced Member
Username: stout71

Post Number: 222
Registered: 7-2011
Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 3:18 am:   Edit Post

+1 on the QSC. I had a PLX series (1600 watt, I think) at one time and the weight was not a consideration. That thing was light! I believe I bought it around 2006/7. It wasn't cheap then, but you could find a used one and I bet it would be pretty reasonable.
Senior Member
Username: jacko

Post Number: 3583
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 5:43 am:   Edit Post

Another QSC recommendation. I sometimes use a 2402 with my fender TBP-1 pre and it weighs about half the Mesa Mpulse in my other rack.
As jazzy says, the response is pretty flat so you're only going to hear the bass and pre-amp but it puts out a lot of power - 425 watts per channel at 8 ohms, 700watts per channel at 4ohms and it'll go down to 2 ohms where it puts out 1200 watts per channel. Can also be bridged to produce 2400watts into a 4 ohm load. You can also use it in either Parallel or Stereo mode, the latter meaning you can run patch leads from both hi and lo outputs on your pre-amp to drive seperate speaker cabinets (although I found most of the time I'd run a single lead and use parallel mode, sending the same signal to both cabs). All-in-all, it's a pretty versatile piece of equipment

Senior Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 2082
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 7:08 am:   Edit Post

I use QSC PLX and PLX2 power amps for my rig and PA. They are solid and don't color the sound. In the bass rig I use an Eden Navigator with a PLX3002. In the PA I use bridged PLX2 2502's for each sub. Neither have any problems driving the low end and I've never had a thermal shutdown (knock on wood).

What I did to reduce the weight of my rack was split it between 4 high and 3 high cases. I figure an extra trip is worth the reduced weight.

Advanced Member
Username: jcdlc72

Post Number: 382
Registered: 11-2009
Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 7:35 am:   Edit Post

If you´re not needing huge wattage, I would also recommend the GX series from QSC. I own a GX5 which is relatively small for a power amp (I can use it in a preamps/effects mid-depth rack), it´s lightweight and gives me 700w/ch@4Ohm, which is usually enough to drive my 2x15" + 2x10"+Tweeter rig cleanly and evenly. It also accepts XLR, Plug and RCA inputs, and Speakon, Plug, Binding post/banana outputs, so I can hook it up to almost anything - I use it alternatively for a small PA or either the bass rig along with an ol´trusty Yamaha PB-1 preamp, a DBX163x comp and a Digitech RDS1900 DDL set up for the eventual chorus effect-.
Senior Member
Username: hammer

Post Number: 571
Registered: 9-2009
Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 8:56 am:   Edit Post

The QSC power amps are great and so is the Stewart 2.1 though I've always seen it referred to as a Class H design with 2 separate mono amps.

You should also check out Yamaha. I'm currently using a Yamaha XP7000 which I purchased used for less than $400. It puts out a bit less than 650 watts per channel at 8 ohms, can also be bridged, and is extremely clean/neutral. It does weigh 30 lbs which is about twice the weight of their Class D amps but is a tad (as in $$$$$$$$) more affordable. Paired with an F-1X and SF-2 it provides me with just about any tone I desire.
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 2244
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, September 18, 2014 - 5:54 pm:   Edit Post

Come on, just skip that Fred Flintstone stuff:


And just think, the plutonium core only needs to be refueled every 50 years.

J o e y
Senior Member
Username: slawie

Post Number: 661
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Thursday, September 18, 2014 - 6:12 pm:   Edit Post

I don't know Joey, there's no Flux Capacitor :-(

I use a QSC PLX1804 (2RU) with a F-2B.
The fan noise bothers me a little and it will cannot bi-amp, apart from that light and loud.

Senior Member
Username: jacko

Post Number: 3585
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Friday, September 19, 2014 - 1:34 am:   Edit Post

That's some price though Joey. You could buy 3 QSC amps for that.

Advanced Member
Username: moonliner

Post Number: 263
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Saturday, September 20, 2014 - 2:25 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks everyone. Looks like QSC is the favorite.
Something with some head room would be nice. Maybe 700-ish to start. You've all given me some great stuff to think on. I appreciate it.
Senior Member
Username: bassman10096

Post Number: 1321
Registered: 7-2003
Posted on Saturday, September 20, 2014 - 4:13 pm:   Edit Post

QSCs are hard to beat. I've been running my PA off a PLX2402 and a 3002 for years with great sound and no problems. Before that, I used the 2402 with various preamps with great success.
Advanced Member
Username: smokin_dave

Post Number: 389
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Saturday, September 20, 2014 - 10:21 pm:   Edit Post

I'm having great success with a Carvin 1500 HD power amp.9 lbs,1400 watts bridged at 4 ohm and a very reasonable price.
Senior Member
Username: edwin

Post Number: 1834
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Sunday, September 21, 2014 - 9:24 pm:   Edit Post

I have a QSC CX1202v that I got on Craigslist for $175. It's the install version of the Powerlight 2.0 and 700 real watts per channel at 8 ohms (i.e., at full bandwidth and low distortion. Many of the figures quoted above come from specs that are at 1% THD at 4 ohms, if you look at the published material). Bridged it does 2200 watts into 8 ohms, full bandwidth. It's a beast. I did have to rewire the inputs and outputs from barrier strips to 1/4" (along with the XLRs) and Speakons, but I was able to do that with factory replacement parts for the Powerlight.

But, it's also 25lbs, so it is the backup to my Peavey IPR 3000. I totally don't trust the published specs, so I have no idea what the actual power rating is, but it's pretty decent and weighs only 7 lbs. I got it used for $275 shipped. When it arrived, it felt like an empty box. Crest (which is owned by Peavey), makes a version that's a bit heavier duty and bridges with the push of a button. I never thought I'd say it, but I do recommend the Peavey. It seems to have better bottom and a clearer, punchier tone than I got from my old QSC PLX2402. Somehow that amp never really delivered the goods on the very low end.

YMMV, etc.
Advanced Member
Username: moonliner

Post Number: 264
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Monday, September 22, 2014 - 2:22 am:   Edit Post

Edwin, I'm curious about the Crest you mentioned was heavier duty and bridges via push button. The low end description caught my ear. Would that be the CA6 or CA9 Sonicus was recommending?

(Message edited by Moonliner on September 22, 2014)
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 4231
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Monday, September 22, 2014 - 3:19 am:   Edit Post

Edwin, I never had any problems with the bottom end on the QSC and most of my gigs are reggae. I rarely use my sf-2 but when I add that the QSC still deals well with it. if anything it is usually the cabs that can't deal with the signal.
Senior Member
Username: edwin

Post Number: 1836
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Monday, September 22, 2014 - 10:09 am:   Edit Post

Yeah, maybe it was something else, but when I swapped out the power amp to something else, the bottom kicked in like I expected it. Maybe my amp wasn't working right?

Here's the Crest line. I'd choose at least the 3.0

Senior Member
Username: cozmik_cowboy

Post Number: 1773
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Monday, September 22, 2014 - 11:01 pm:   Edit Post

Yamaha. I wouldn't spend my money on any other power amp - or yours, either, unless you insisted.

Come to think of it, I actually made the jump from lurker to member about 8 years ago just because I couldn't let another power amp thread go by in silence, and what I said then (and more than once since, IIRC) holds true now:
As a former full-time soundman, I used Crown, Crest, QSC, BGW, Peavy, Traynor, and probably a few that have slipped my mind. Every amp I used by every one of the above brands quit mid-gig more than once.
There is also one brand that has always taken what I put in and given it back to me loud - no color, no distortion; that happens to also be the one brand that has never broken down on me - or anyone I know - and that is Yamaha.
Best sound* + best reliablity = no brainer.

*I will stipulate that my thoughts on the matter are formed from a SR point of view, and that some may prefer the color that one or another of the lesser amps adds to the sound for instrument rig use. But they'll still let you down.
IME, reliability goes:
1. Yamaha
(big gap)
2. BGW
(little gap)
3. QSC
4. Crest
5. Crown
6. Any I may have forgotten
(bigger gap)
7. Traynor
8. Peavy

Sound goes about the same.

Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 3626
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 - 7:14 am:   Edit Post

Hi Peter ,
I still have a few of these Yamaha P2200 amps ! Built to last ___!
& Convection Cooling !___ Sometimes known as a poor mans Bryston___ in studio circles.

Senior Member
Username: edwin

Post Number: 1839
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 - 9:44 am:   Edit Post

The Yamahas are great amps, no doubt. I've been casually looking for one for my home studio. Despite their robustness, I don't know that I want to lug one around.

There are also a couple of monster Sansuis that are intriguing, but rare and expensive. They used to be called the poor man's McIntosh but their prices are competitive with MC2300s.

I have to say that no one is more surprised than me that I'd recommend Peavey. I see it's at the bottom of your list, but I think the world of power amps has changed a lot in the last few years. If I were still touring most of the year, I might consider investing in a different amp, but given that I only do 3-10 gigs a month, I'm happy with a 7 lb amp that can fill a substantial space (I played an outdoor gig in front of a couple hundred people and the Peavey with a fEARful 15/6/1 easily covered the gig).

I think what this thread shows is that there are lots of viable options. We really do have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to gear options compared to when I came up. It all comes down to what your needs are. Do you need reliability for 200 shows a year on the road (in the past 30 years, I can only think of 1 amplifier failure I've had and it was a used Crest 5001. It's pretty much the same failure rate I've had for my F2B. Just once in decades. To be fair, the PLX 2402 I sold did eventually fail spectacularly, but it was no longer under my care.)? Do you need to cover the whole room or will a PA do the heavy lifting? Do you haul your own gear or do you have a crew? Are you on a budget or can you afford something really nice just because? Do you gig or mostly play at home?
Advanced Member
Username: moonliner

Post Number: 267
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Saturday, September 27, 2014 - 1:46 am:   Edit Post

I borrowed a friends PLX 2402 to test out my recently acquired F2B, and wow…. what incredible tone! My drummer friend was raving that even the high notes have low end.
The only thing I found lacking was the tone when I hit my distortion pedal. It was way to clean sounding. My Ashdown had this great, dark, crunchy furriness to it that I can't seem to get with the pre/power setup. Maybe it will just take some more tweaking and gigging with it.
Thanks again for all the advice on power amps. I've still yet to decide on one… unless my friend will sell me the 2402 for a decent price. :-)

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