Are Crown Amps worth considering?

Hello there,

I want to know what you guys think of Crown XLS speaker amps, since they are PA-Amps, many audiophiles just don’t care about them.
The definietly have much power with quite low distortion, but I heard some people say, they sound a bit harsh for hifi use. Is that true? Could this be fixed with a smooth tube preamp like the Schiit Saga+ or Freya+ ?

How well to they stack up against integrated amps in the same price range or even power amps which are ofter in the 1000+ range?

I’m currently using an Onkyo 9110 integrated with Kef R100 and want to find out what I could upgrade to and the Crown might be a good option. Other Options I considered were Iotavx SA3 or trying to find a used Yamaha A-S1100.

What is your optinion on that topic? Are PA Amps like the Crown ‘Hifi’ enough?

1 Like

In my limited experience, Studio and PA gear is quality wise not even one notch below Hifi.
The advantages are the ruggardization and “dumb down” on the equipment (less gimicks to break). Only downside is the stuff is mostly 19" and not as opticaly refined.

Honestly I don’t think the sound quality is there though comparing crown and a higher end amp

It’s just good, clean, and cheap, but compared to the higher end amp it doesn’t sound as good

For @juliangst 's use case it should be just fine, but for higher end equipment I don’t think crown is the best choice

I think that a lot of it comes down to what you’re looking to get out of it, and how much you are willing to spend.

While I don’t have a ton of experience with “high-end” or state-of-the-art amplifiers (of which I have heard a handful in demos and peoples’ setups), I run an XLS1002 on my primary PC setup and used to run one on my main HT/2.1 setup. The only amplifiers that I have on hand to compare it with are the SMSL AD18 (which measures considerably worse), the Elac DS-A101-G (which doesn’t have third-party measurements that I have found anywhere online) and my Ghent Audio GP-S250P (which out-measures the Crown pretty handily on paper, but again, I have yet to find third-party measurements for). While we have seen measurements, such as Audio Science Review’s, the Crown XLS line is a known quantity. It measures “well enough” for a low-cost, high-output amplifier with single-ended and balanced inputs and outputs. With the DSP filters and Analog-to-Digital converter inside, we know that it effectively will not output a higher signal than 44.1khz. The real question in my mind is…can you actually hear the difference? I haven’t done a setup to do a true, double-blind A/B test but to my ears, no, I can’t. It does audibly perform better than my AD18 and Elac DS-A101-G, but I think that a degree of that can be chalked up to the fact that the SMSL and Elac have much lower output and that I do run fairly inefficient speakers. I personally have not heard a difference between higher bitrate samples and 44.1, so for me, the Crown is good enough. Personally speaking, the XLS series is a price-to-performance monster and I don’t think that I will ever upgrade from them until something like THX AAA tech trickles down to a <$1000 pricepoint. Right now, I’m not even sure that I could hear the difference if I get to that point, but I would need something of that drastic leap in quality, that can be measurably quantified as such, which I could also hear, to justify paying more than what the Crown nets me now. Hell, my Ghent GP-S250P was almost triple the cost and I can’t hear a difference when hooked up to the same chain (both sound clean as hell to my ears).

So, to recap (in my opinion), the Crown XLS line is absolutely worth it unless:

  • You find it aesthetically displeasing
  • You need an integrated amplifier
  • You feel that you need a better-measuring amplifier
  • You run a source at a sampling rate >44.1Khz
  • You don’t need nearly as much headroom or juice as they provide
    Otherwise, unless you get the chance to Blind A/B one with another comparable amplifier, I think that they’re one of the best things going today, certainly for the money.
1 Like

Not crown related specifically… but my experience… going from one of the cheaper SMSL tiny Class-D amp to the Emotiva Class AB… was positive and noticeable improvement. Less overall power output… but it’s alot cleaner sounding at higher volumes driving the RB42s.

what a coincidence, I was just starting to look for info about the Crown amps and Emotiva amps… Reviews for both are positive from what I can find. For the price point I can not see anything wrong with either of them. but I have not listened to either of them in person.

Well, I think that’s more you are just taking a better quality amp rather than class a/b vs class d. I just think when you step above 500 dollars a pair speakers, you might want to consider an amp with more finesse than crown

yeah… for sure.
My speaker experience is pretty limited overall. I don’t know that I’ll ever buy a nice high-end pair of speakers anytime soon. I don’t like bothering neighbors with loud music.
I just ended up accidentally breaking the volume knob on the SMSL amp recently trying to clean it out… (It was crackling with volume changes)… and just ended up upgrading to the Emotiva and feeling a nice overall improvement.

I have amps of varying quality, and you can tell the higher end amps from the lower end ones on a good pair of speakers

And then I have the amps that came with my main monitors and those are a different league lol

1 Like

Has anyone heard the hypex DIY kit? It’s more expensive that basic crown amps, but for the cost of a little assembly required they offer great measured performance.

I want a couple(/3*) of XLS2002/2505 crown amps to power my passive subwoofers eventually. Then I can transfer my emotiva monoblocks to my LCRs and still maintain a power output difference of them.