Best Power Amplifiers in 2020



Crown XLS1502 Two-channel, 525W at 4Ω Power Amplifier Review:


This is a really excellent little amp. I am using it in place of my receiver's internal amp to run a pair of small but suprisingly demanding speakers (Definitive Technology StudioMonitor 350s - they are listed as "compatible" with 8 ohms but the truth is they need something that will drive 4 ohms). With the internal amp in my receiver the speakers were clearly taxing it when the volume is pushed - not hard clipping but it would lose bass respones and get "screechy" sounding. The Crown simply loafs along with no issue at any volume level I've tried, and clearly has plenty of reserve. My ears will give out long before the amp does. Even with the input gains set at the 3 o'clock position and the preamp volume at noon, I don't feel the need to go any louder and the input level hovers around -30.

So what's the caveat? The amp has a small but audible hiss when powered on. It is not affected by gain level or input (I tried it with my receiver completely off and the hiss remained). It is audible in quiet passages of music and movies. It is not unpleasant and resembles good master tape hiss, but - if you're a little compulsive about your audio it may stick in your craw. I've asked around and it's normal for these amps - just the price of gobs of cheap power I guess. If you use highly sensitive speakers it will definitely make itself heard. I am not deducting a star because the amp is designed to be used at output levels that would mask the noise in the first place. It's just something to consider for home users. I have never heard the fans, but as I stated I have never even pushed the amp that hard.



Crown XLi800 Two-channel, 300W at 4Ω Power Amplifier Review:


This amp is a very good deal for the price in my application. I am utilizing this amp as a power amplifier to drive a pair of really current hungry Magnepan 1.4 speakers. I recently purchased a pair of used Magnepan 1.4 speakers for $250. These are rated at 5 ohm impedance, which is getting on the low end for most general purpose home audio equipment. My current system was being driven by a Marantz SR 7007 receiver which can deliver 125 watts into 8 ohms and up to 195 w into 6 ohms. But it is not rated for the 5 ohm load I'm looking at driving. So, it didn't seem the power supply on the built in power amplifier would be sufficient to meet the current demands if I wanted to turn the volume up and really test out these speakers. I.e., the low resistance speakers would pull more current than the power supply in the receiver could reasonably deliver at higher volumes or peaks which could potentially damage the amplifier or cause it to overheat.

So, I have been looking around for a good power amplifier which was rated down to 4 ohms or less to ensure I would never have any problems. Unfortunately, when you get into home audio amplifiers with this kind of power supply, you really are going to have to pay quite a premium on the amplifier. While, I think these speakers could have benefited from the current that could come from a high end audiophile amplifier and the more sophisticated amplifier design, I just was not looking to spend $1,000++++ to get that kind of power.

Enter the Crown amplifier. I had a friend who does the audiophile hobby on a budget recommend the Crown amps as a good bang for the buck. After spending a week reviewing them and really looking around, I though it was a good investment to at least try this amp out for my needs.... especially using Amazon as I could easily just send it back if I wasn't fully satisfied. So, what could it hurt?

I ordered the amplifier Sunday and with free Prime two day shipping, I received it Tuesday. I hooked this right up to the pre-outs on my Marantz receiver and set the gain on the Crown to maximum output after I tested it low outputs on the receiver and power amp to check for any obvious issues (I'll explain why I turned the gain all the way up on the Crown in a second) and then turned the volume up on the Marantz.... it sounded great! Just very clean sound. I then did a few quick tweaks on subwoofer crossovers and got a full range signal going to the Magnepans for the first time. I would wager that the sound and detail on this low budget system would beat out systems costing MANY times what I've invested.

Now, I have learned a few lessons through this process that I'll try to summarize so that others can learn quicker than I did.

1. You need to take some time to really check and know what the pre-amp output is coming from the device you will be feeding into the Crown power amplifier. The Crown has a switch to allow its sensitivity to be set to 1.4 v or 0.775 v. 1.4 volts is really mostly a characteristic of pro gear. The 0.775v is more representative of home audio equipment. My Marantz puts out 0.4 v therefore the setting of 0.775 v is great for my application (the difference between 0.4 v and 0.775 isn't too large and can be compensated for by getting a higher wattage rated amplifier).

But why is this important? The pre-amp signal is sent as a variable voltage with a maximum voltage that the preamp circuit can reasonably produce without clipping. If you push the volume on your preamp too high and ask it to send a signal in excess of the capabilities of the pre-amp circuit you will get a lot of distortion and clipping of the signal which is a very quick way to kill your equipment. You want to avoid this at all costs. If the pre-amp signal going to the power amplifier is much higher than the power amplifier's sensitivity rating, you can be asking the power amplifier to amplify this signal too much and exceed the power rating of the power amp and get signal clipping if you turn the volume too high. So, you really want to understand this mating and get it reasonably close. If you get it way too low, you will never get the full output that the power amplifier is capable of even when all the gains are set to maximum on the power amp and the pre amp. This would be okay if you select an amplifier that is oversized for what you really need for your speakers.

So, my application falls into this category. My receiver only puts out 0.4 v and I have the power amp set to 0.775 v. My speakers are rated up to 200 w RMS I believe. So, I really don't want to be sending around 400w into my speakers anyways, which is probably in the ballpark for what the Crown XLi1500 puts out into a 5 ohm load. Speaking to Crown technical support, I should still reasonably get up close to 300 w into these speakers with my set up.... which is PLENTY of power.

In general, you want to consider purchasing an amplifier which is rated a bit higher than your application anyways so that you always have power reserves in the amplifier when operating to avoid clipping (and just don't go crazy with turning the volume up too high). This helps ensure you have a clean sound and plenty of headroom to not damage your amp. BUT the Crown has separate gain dials which you will likely want to turn down if the amplifier is likely to send a lot higher power into your speakers than the rating of your speakers so that you don't blow those either. Basically, you want to set the gain on the power amplifier for your needs and never touch the gain again. (many installers even lock these knobs or take them off completely so that the end user can't adjust them and damage their equipment). All of your volume control should be coming from the pre-amplifier circuit by adjusting the voltage on this signal. In my case this is the volume knob on the Marantz receiver.

As I noted above, I have turned the gain all the way up on the Crown for my application as this allows me to get up to the 200-300w range for peak signals.... which is going to allow me to really maximize what these speakers are capable of without having to really stress the pre-amp circuit in my receiver and cause clipping. You want to have a nice balanced output on both outputs so no single piece of equipment is overstressed and asked to operate outside of its recommended range.

So, if you keep these basic concepts in mind and do a bit of research for your application upfront, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the results. Happy hunting!!!

Uodate: I have actually revised a bit of what I stated above. I have turned the gain down to about the 2 o'clock position on this amp to try to keep the RMS power loading closer to the rating of the speakers. The amp still has plenty of ability to send higher power to these speakers at peak loads.... I think.

Either way, I have other speakers in my 7.2 system running off the power amp section of the MARANTZ. utilizing the built in Audacity room calibration with the power amp at these levels really seems to give a nice balance between the gain settings at the preamp in the MARANTZ and the output from the MARANTZ and the Crown. So, I now have plenty of power going to the Magnepans and has a nice balance with the klipsch speakers being powered off the MARANTZ. Overall, just a great product!



Crown Power Amplifier (XLi2500) Review:


This amp is a very good deal for the price in my application. I am utilizing this amp as a power amplifier to drive a pair of really current hungry Magnepan 1.4 speakers. I recently purchased a pair of used Magnepan 1.4 speakers for $250. These are rated at 5 ohm impedance, which is getting on the low end for most general purpose home audio equipment. My current system was being driven by a Marantz SR 7007 receiver which can deliver 125 watts into 8 ohms and up to 195 w into 6 ohms. But it is not rated for the 5 ohm load I'm looking at driving. So, it didn't seem the power supply on the built in power amplifier would be sufficient to meet the current demands if I wanted to turn the volume up and really test out these speakers. I.e., the low resistance speakers would pull more current than the power supply in the receiver could reasonably deliver at higher volumes or peaks which could potentially damage the amplifier or cause it to overheat.

So, I have been looking around for a good power amplifier which was rated down to 4 ohms or less to ensure I would never have any problems. Unfortunately, when you get into home audio amplifiers with this kind of power supply, you really are going to have to pay quite a premium on the amplifier. While, I think these speakers could have benefited from the current that could come from a high end audiophile amplifier and the more sophisticated amplifier design, I just was not looking to spend $1,000++++ to get that kind of power.

Enter the Crown amplifier. I had a friend who does the audiophile hobby on a budget recommend the Crown amps as a good bang for the buck. After spending a week reviewing them and really looking around, I though it was a good investment to at least try this amp out for my needs.... especially using Amazon as I could easily just send it back if I wasn't fully satisfied. So, what could it hurt?

I ordered the amplifier Sunday and with free Prime two day shipping, I received it Tuesday. I hooked this right up to the pre-outs on my Marantz receiver and set the gain on the Crown to maximum output after I tested it low outputs on the receiver and power amp to check for any obvious issues (I'll explain why I turned the gain all the way up on the Crown in a second) and then turned the volume up on the Marantz.... it sounded great! Just very clean sound. I then did a few quick tweaks on subwoofer crossovers and got a full range signal going to the Magnepans for the first time. I would wager that the sound and detail on this low budget system would beat out systems costing MANY times what I've invested.

Now, I have learned a few lessons through this process that I'll try to summarize so that others can learn quicker than I did.

1. You need to take some time to really check and know what the pre-amp output is coming from the device you will be feeding into the Crown power amplifier. The Crown has a switch to allow its sensitivity to be set to 1.4 v or 0.775 v. 1.4 volts is really mostly a characteristic of pro gear. The 0.775v is more representative of home audio equipment. My Marantz puts out 0.4 v therefore the setting of 0.775 v is great for my application (the difference between 0.4 v and 0.775 isn't too large and can be compensated for by getting a higher wattage rated amplifier).

But why is this important? The pre-amp signal is sent as a variable voltage with a maximum voltage that the preamp circuit can reasonably produce without clipping. If you push the volume on your preamp too high and ask it to send a signal in excess of the capabilities of the pre-amp circuit you will get a lot of distortion and clipping of the signal which is a very quick way to kill your equipment. You want to avoid this at all costs. If the pre-amp signal going to the power amplifier is much higher than the power amplifier's sensitivity rating, you can be asking the power amplifier to amplify this signal too much and exceed the power rating of the power amp and get signal clipping if you turn the volume too high. So, you really want to understand this mating and get it reasonably close. If you get it way too low, you will never get the full output that the power amplifier is capable of even when all the gains are set to maximum on the power amp and the pre amp. This would be okay if you select an amplifier that is oversized for what you really need for your speakers.

So, my application falls into this category. My receiver only puts out 0.4 v and I have the power amp set to 0.775 v. My speakers are rated up to 200 w RMS I believe. So, I really don't want to be sending around 400w into my speakers anyways, which is probably in the ballpark for what the Crown XLi1500 puts out into a 5 ohm load. Speaking to Crown technical support, I should still reasonably get up close to 300 w into these speakers with my set up.... which is PLENTY of power.

In general, you want to consider purchasing an amplifier which is rated a bit higher than your application anyways so that you always have power reserves in the amplifier when operating to avoid clipping (and just don't go crazy with turning the volume up too high). This helps ensure you have a clean sound and plenty of headroom to not damage your amp. BUT the Crown has separate gain dials which you will likely want to turn down if the amplifier is likely to send a lot higher power into your speakers than the rating of your speakers so that you don't blow those either. Basically, you want to set the gain on the power amplifier for your needs and never touch the gain again. (many installers even lock these knobs or take them off completely so that the end user can't adjust them and damage their equipment). All of your volume control should be coming from the pre-amplifier circuit by adjusting the voltage on this signal. In my case this is the volume knob on the Marantz receiver.

As I noted above, I have turned the gain all the way up on the Crown for my application as this allows me to get up to the 200-300w range for peak signals.... which is going to allow me to really maximize what these speakers are capable of without having to really stress the pre-amp circuit in my receiver and cause clipping. You want to have a nice balanced output on both outputs so no single piece of equipment is overstressed and asked to operate outside of its recommended range.

So, if you keep these basic concepts in mind and do a bit of research for your application upfront, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the results. Happy hunting!!!

Uodate: I have actually revised a bit of what I stated above. I have turned the gain down to about the 2 o'clock position on this amp to try to keep the RMS power loading closer to the rating of the speakers. The amp still has plenty of ability to send higher power to these speakers at peak loads.... I think.

Either way, I have other speakers in my 7.2 system running off the power amp section of the MARANTZ. utilizing the built in Audacity room calibration with the power amp at these levels really seems to give a nice balance between the gain settings at the preamp in the MARANTZ and the output from the MARANTZ and the Crown. So, I now have plenty of power going to the Magnepans and has a nice balance with the klipsch speakers being powered off the MARANTZ. Overall, just a great product!



Voice Amplifier with Microphone Headset, Anti-howling, 13 Watt Mini Portable Rechargeable Megaphone Speaker Amplifier, Recording, FM Radio, USB, TF Card Play, for Teacher, Tour Guides, Fitness Review:


My sister is a teacher and needed a device to help increase her voice in her classrooms. Surprised her with this cool tool and she loves it! It also has FM radio option but that's not something my sister uses anyways.

I like how it has a USB that charges the device so you never have to worry about changing batteries out. What's cool is that the volume option helps to increase/decrease your voice on the device depending on the distance.

Also, cool thing is when I tried it out it was basically like a microphone to me except without 'speakers' but this device basically has the mini speakers in there which helps elevate your voice. I would say since my sister is impressed with this device I will give it a 5 star review.

I think older people would benefit from this if they have hearing problems. You can purchase one and increase the volume so you're heard better. Overall, very simple and easy to use so can't complain there!



BEHRINGER POWERPLAY P2 Review:


I bought this little headphone amp to boost the signal from my Samsung Chromebook (which is excellent, BTW), as the headphone output is rather wimpy. I don't use earbuds (hate 'em!), I use a pair of AKG K240 phones. I'm a bit hard of hearing (60 years in the audio industry, as a tech, FOH mixdude, musician, etc.) and this Behringer gizmo turned out to be exactly what I needed. It's built like a tank, and the connectors seem to be fairly robust (so far). More level than I need, which is useful if you're on YouTube listening to something which was uploaded by someone who is clueless about audio levels...you can easily correct for less-than-optimum levels with this gizmo. It runs on two AAA cells; the manual specifies the battery life as 12 hours. I'm running mine on some Tenergy Li-MH 1000 mAh cells and I'm getting about 18 hours on a charge. Input to the device is via one of those snazzy male XLR/1/4" TRS connectors, output via a standard 3.5mm TRS female. Signal is clean and pristine, plenty of headroom. Nice feel on the output level pot, too, although the detent for the power switch at the bottom of the pot's rotation doesn't click much. The green pilot LED turns red when the batteries are crapping out. Unit has a belt clip (in my application I'd rather it didn't, but short of a hacksaw, there's no way to remove it) and the steel case slides apart with just one push of a button for super-easy battery access. Inside, a stereo-mono switch, which I set to stereo (it comes set to mono) and haven't messed with since. It's made in China, but unlike many Chinese products it's built by people who evidently give a damn whether it's any good or not. I may buy a few more and give them to my friends.



BEHRINGER power-amplifiers, Black (CONTROL2USB) Review:


Very attractive, functional and practical if you are looking for an efficient way to access and tune multiple monitors. I have nine speakers in various configurations wired through this thing and love the convenience, flexibility and control of being able to navigate the lot in one central location on a single device.

The quality appears to be quite solid and robust. This thing is built like a tank (...Don't drop it on your foot!). Easy to install and easy to use (user intuitive) The price, relative to competitors, makes this an attractive buy.

The only downside is it is extremely large. If you have a very small desk/setup, this (by virtue of size) will probably make this an impractical piece of gear to use. If Behringer is able to produce a similar product with a smaller footprint, I think it would be a better hit.



Giecy Voice Amplifier Portable 15W Rechargeable Wired Headset Microphone Personal Voice Amplifiers for Teachers Singing Coaches Training Presentation Tour Guide Review:


Edit: I got to use this last night at our Girl Scouts setting and let me tell you, this kept me from having to talk so loud and everyone could actually hear me!! This worked great during singing too, because everyone could hear the instructions! Parents loved it too come pick up time. The kids all played with it and took turns amplifying their voices. Lol it was a fun time.

This is seriously the coolest little toy!! I mean, I know it’s not a toy, but my kids and I have had the most fun with it!! It can get really loud, and I love we can play music on it and sing along. We’ve used it outside and indoors. It works great!! I can’t wait to use it at parties too. The headset is nice and there is no back noise either. Simon Says is a lot more fun now.



ZOWEETEK Voice Amplifier with UHF Wireless Microphone Headset, 10W 1800mAh Portable Rechargeable PA system Speaker for Multiple Locations such as Classroom, Meetings, Promotions and Outdoors Review:


Great little unit! Used it during holidays as a strolling guitarist. The wireless headset worked great and I used the mic input to plug the guitar into. Although no separate volume control you just use the volume control on the guitar to balance the sound. Don’t get me wrong this is not a full fidelity system but it’s sound range gets the sound out there and provides an extra umph for your voice. I have used bigger bulkier systems costing hundreds of dollars but for the price and small size this is a hands down winner! Also I love the analog volume control so I can easily adjust the volume for the situation. (I have another compact unit that has digital volume and it’s extremely difficult to adjust volume on the fly.) Just purchase a 1/8 to 1/4 cable for the guitar. YOU CANNOT BEAT IT FOR THE PRICE!



Professional Audio Bluetooth Power Amplifier - 2-Channel Rack Mount Bridgeable, LED Indicators, Shockproof Binding Posts, Cooling Fans 1000 Watt - Pyle Pro PTA1000 Review:


This is a June 2014 review.

Me: I am an avid audiophile. I know what good speakers driven by a class A vacuum tube amp can produce. That's the gold standard for this review.

I went into it on a budget and with eyes wide open, didn't have $500 or more to spend on an amp, especially an amp that would promise ridiculous wattage and not deliver.

This replaced an expensive name brand home theater amp that was supposed to be a 750 watt unit but really only delivered a tiny fraction of that per channel.

I believe from the other reviews complaining about fan noise and such that I might have got a new and improved model of this amp...

I have a Pyle 40 and another 15 watt per channel stereo amp that cost peanuts and have stood the test of time.

First - my purpose was to drive a couple good speakers from the 70's rated at 160 REAL watts continuous and 500 peak, to comfortable room filling volume - both for musical use and as a public address system on occasion at our business. I wanted clean sound and a lot of it, but for me a clean REAL 100 watts per channel would be plenty.

Next - this pup's a commercial unit - so it has NO RCA connectors. You'll need an adapter cable to hook up to a source. Either phono or XLR to RCA.

Next - there's only really one input and no mixing. So for one source, one set of speakers, you're good. Otherwise you'll need a mixer or some similar device to select inputs.

The results: I got a clean two channel stereo output feeding it with a clean input.

I'm using 8 ohm speakers with success, and I can't relate experience on 4 ohm - but I'd probably not try running 4 ohm speakers with this thing based on my sense of what it is, and the other reviews.

As for power output, 1000 Chinese watts is equal to a claim of 500x2 watts at 4 ohms is equal to 250x2 at 8 ohms, says the ad.

Reality: with speakers rated at 8 ohms, and half rated power, the thing will probably be longer lived.

Sound wise, at full clean output (clipping light on the amp flickers maybe once in 10 seconds) it sounds and feels like a good clean 75-100 watts should with those speakers. In years gone by I've driven them with 500 watt per channel vacuum tube amplifiers, and the feel is about right for 75-100 watts.

Provided you don't plan to use the 4 ohm speakers, provided you don't plan to hook it up and let it rip full power regardless of the distortion, provided you don't plan to treat it like a crazed teenager - and provided it doesn't commit suicide all by itself - it works fine.

The amp I got is clean sounding, the fans only come on at higher power levels, are they are inaudible against any reasonable musical material except for something with periods of dead silence. Even then, not all that bad. Those listening to the system have said "what fan?"

Out of the box, no hum, no surprises. Do plan to turn it down before turning it on or off.

Upshot: Good as anything I've heard since the early 90's, if your intention is to run real speakers at decent volume with enough headroom to sound right.

If taking your chances for under $100 in the hopes of hitting the jackpot appeals to you, you have come to the right place.

Oh, and it has no UL approval or any other approvals I can see. Caveat emptor!



Sound Town Class-D UPDM 5000W Peak Output, Ultra-Lightweight, DJ PA Pro Audio 2-Channel Power Amplifier, 2x 750W at 8-ohm (ST-UPDM5000) Review:


I am beyond impressed with this little amp. I had to back it down to 11-12 o'clock on the gain for fear of pushing my monitors too hard. Ditto on the previous comment about labeling the knobs "volume", but that can be overlooked. Ya, the knobs are small, but harder for some ding-a-ling to touch it when you're not looking. This is what I've always wanted in an amp; simple, just gain, no other BS, just gain, xlr input, speakon output, small, light, powerful, clean. The fan can be heard in a quiet room, but in a live setting it's lost in the background. I expect to buy more of these.