Our Guide to Harman's Crown Audio Install Amplifier Range
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Our Guide to Harman's Crown Audio Install Amplifier Range

What’s a Ferrari without its engine…? Well, what’s a speaker without its amplifier?

It's tempting to see an amplifier as just a necessity to make a speaker work. And years ago, that's exactly what it was. Small signal in, big signal out. But advances in technology, efficiency & design, the widespread adoption of digital audio transports, as well as changes to safety and environmental legislation mean that modern amplifiers are sophisticated beasts, and nowhere more so than those found in installed audio applications.

As one of the the world's oldest and most respected players in power amplification it will come as no surprise that Crown has an illustrious history in installation amplifiers, spanning back to 1988 when it introduced its first dedicated install amps, the C1000 & CE2000.

Numerous advances in technology appeared soon after. Also that year, the IQ-2000 System introduced computer monitoring and control of up to 200 remote power amps.  1989's ComTech was the first Crown amp with direct 70V operation, and in 1996 Crown made an industry first integrating DSP into a production amplifier with the PIP DSP card. 

(For a full timeline of Crown technology innovations see www.crownaudio.com/en/technology)

In 2013 Crown took another major leap forward with DriveCore technology. This collaboration with Texas Instruments takes over 500 components of a traditional amplifier and replaces it with a single chip.  Few components means fewer potential points of failure, significantly less power consumption, and an amplifier greatly reduced in size and weight - all vital considerations in an installation amplifier which may be expected to operate 24 hours a day and be part of a safety-critical Voice Alarm system.

The current Crown catalogue includes several ranges designed specifically for install applications as well as multi-purpose amps which are frequently used in this area.

Let's have a look at them.

XLS DriveCore 2 

The XLS DriveCore 2 series are multi-purpose amplifiers which are frequently specified in smaller installations. As the name suggests, they are powered by Crown's DriveCore technology which makes them light, efficient and cheap to run. They have built-in DSP includes Crown's excellent PeakX limiters and PureBand crossover system. Control is via a front panel LCD display which can be locked to prevent unwanted or accidental changes.

They can drive up to 2400W at 4Ω bridged with tons of headroom guaranteeing a clean, undistorted signal straight to your speakers.

XLi Series

XLi is an affordable, reliable, no-nonsense range of multi-purpose power amplifiers. Installers typically use these for powering PA speakers - think pubs, bars and clubs - but also in houses of worship. The four models are identical apart from output power, and while they have no DSP or remote control functions, they do have essential protection against no-load, RF interference and short circuits.

XTi2 Series

Another range of multi-purpose amps, the XTi2 Series are the next level up from XLi and XLS DriveCore series, with a bigger power output and more features.

The in-built DSP is a step up from the XLS DriveCore series and includes input and output EQs, crossover, delay, PeakX Plus limiter and SubHarmonic Synth. DSP can be controlled from the front panel LED screen (which can also be locked for security) or via the rear panel USB port which allows the amp to join a HARMAN HiQnet network. This USB port also allows remote monitoring of the power supply voltage, and temperature.

The XTi6002 excels powering subwoofers thanks to the high power output, excellent damping and the SubHarmonic Synth feature.

ComTech DriveCore 

Now we get into the dedicated installation amplifiers.  

ComTech (CT) DriveCore is ideal when you need multichannel configurations with premium sound in a compact design. The DriveCore technology means these amps are only 1U high and are convection cooled which means they are totally silent, yet are still over 90% efficient; ideal for commercial installations where noise is unacceptable.

They come as a 4 or 8 channel amplifier with options for 75W or 125W per channel at 8Ω and 4Ω. The amps are also stable at 2Ω and 16Ω. If 70V/100V application is required the optional XFMR4 or XFMR8 transformer can be added. While there is no in-built DSP on these amps, an AUX port allows remote amp status monitoring (which makes them suitable for EN54 applications) and deep sleep mode activation.

CDi DriveCore 

The CDi DriveCore is the most recent of Crown's installed amplifier ranges and has been designed specifically for small to medium sized installations.

They come in 2ch or 4ch variants with 300, 600 or 1200W per channel and can drive 100V lines without an external transformer.

There are options to have solely analogue inputs, or HARMAN's BLUlink interface. BLU-LINK is Harman’s proprietary high-bandwidth, low-latency 256 channel audio bus, it can be used as a standalone technology to interface directly to BSS Soundweb processors, or alongside AVB, AES67, Dante, and CobraNet networks.

All the amplifiers in the range include high-level DSP including, input routing, input delay up to 1000ms, an 8-band input parametric EQ, crossover, 8-band output parametric EQ, output delay and LevelMAX limiter. The range CDi DriveCore also comes pre-loaded with JBL speaker tunings to help make installations quicker and easier.

Control is either by the front panel colour LED screen, or via HARMAN's HiQnet Audio Architect software through standard TCP/IP network.

DCi DriveCore

The DCi ranges are Crown's flagship installation amplifiers. Like other Crown amps they use patented DriveCore technology for extreme efficiency and low running costs without comprising audio quality. They also have an advanced Power Factor Correction power supply, which Crown believe is the most advanced power supply in an installation amplifier delivers power more efficiently in almost any condition than anyone else.

Within the DCi range there are analogue-only, and several networked options.

DCi Analogue - analogue only inputs, AUX port for remote monitoring
DCi Network - HARMAN's BLU link audio interface, ethernet for control and monitoring via Audio Architect, GPIO & AUX ports, and built-in DSP
DCi DA - Dante/AES67 interface, ethernet, GPIO & AUX ports and built-in DSP
DCi ND - AVB interface, ethernet, GPIO & AUX ports, built-in DSP and front panel display.

No matter which version you need, all DCi amplifiers are available with 2, 4, or 8 channels, with 300, 600, 1250 or 2400 watts per channel. All amplifiers support low-Z (2/4/8/16Ω) and high-Z (70/100/140/200V) operation, individually selectable by channel. 

Please check our Blog on 'Drivecore Technology' for more detailed information on all things Drivecore.

Also, watch this space for the upcoming blog on the smaller install amplifiers in the JBL commercial range.