Although most modern studio monitors are active, meaning they have built-in amplifiers, their passive brothers still exist and, surprisingly, have a pretty decent target audience too. If you are also a fan of good ol’ passive studio monitors, you would know that they need to be connected to amplifiers for better sound quality. In fact, an amplifier is one of the essential items for music producers who use passive speakers.
While there is plenty of advice available on studio monitors and almost everyone in the music industry knows what makes a good studio monitor, a lot of people (beginners, in particular) don’t know what to look for in a studio amplifier.
The article aims to help them by providing information about the key factors they should consider before buying an amplifier as well as some of the best studio power amplifiers available out there. This is to save you from the extensive research that is typically required to find the right product and also to help you make informed decisions.
Read on to get all the essential information you need about studio power amplifiers!
Buyer’s Guide – Things to Consider before Buying a Studio Power Amplifier
Here are some of the most important amplifier features you should consider to make sure you are making the right decision:
The number of channels in a power amplifier determines how many monitors can be connected to it. There are varieties of amplifiers available that can support up to four speakers. The one you choose depends on the number of passive studio monitors you have; it’s as simple as that.
Apart from ruining the sound quality, underpowering studio monitors is one of the most common causes of speaker damage. To avoid this, make sure that the wattage of the power amplifier is high enough to support your speaker(s).
The rule of thumb is that the power of the amplifier should be at least 30% more than the power of the studio monitor(s) you are going to connect it with. This is to ensure extra headroom and better dynamic range.
This may be a bit technical for the beginners, but you don’t have to be a genius to get this right. For those who don’t know, impedance is the measure of the electrical resistance of a device. Measured in ohms, it is used in the spec sheet of both speakers and amplifiers and helps determine the coordination between them. Speakers typically have specified impedance rating between 4 and 8 ohms, whereas amplifiers generally have an impedance range; for example, 4 to 16 ohms.
What you need to make sure when buying an amplifier is that it is right for the impedance of your speaker. While there is no harm in connecting an amplifier to a high impedance speaker, you should not use a low impedance speaker with a high impedance amplifier. For example, a speaker that has an impedance of 4 ohms should never be connected to an amplifier with the minimum impedance limit exceeding 6 or 8 ohms.
While modern amplifiers have brought the distortion level down to the minimum, it is always good to check out how much distortion an amplifier produces with flat frequency response before buying. Obviously, the lesser the distortion, the better the amplifier.
Since most DAW units have balanced monitor outputs, power amplifiers should ideally have balanced inputs too. But, this is not the case in reality. Most hi-fi power amplifiers do not meet this requirement. So, either you can give up on the desire to use a hi-fi power amplifier or look out for ways to hook up an amplifier with unbalanced input to a balanced output monitor (there are ways to do that).
3 Best Studio Power Amplifiers
By providing a crystal-clear representation of your music, a good quality studio power amplifier can make the music production process a breeze. It is also essential for passive studio monitor users to get the desired results.
With a wide range of power amplifiers available in the market today and each making big claims, it can be challenging for many people to decide which one they should buy. To help you make the right choice, we have picked some of the best studio power amplifiers that are also recommended by many professionals:
1. Behringer A500 Professional
Behringer A500 is heavy-duty power amplifier has earned great reviews from professional audio engineers because it gives amazing results and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
With the servo-controlled design, high headroom, and the capability of delivering power output in two ways (2×300 Watts at 4 ohms or 600 watts at 8 ohms bridged), the amplifier can be used with almost all passive monitors and in a variety of settings. Its highly precise level clip and meter indicators guarantee accurate performance monitoring, whereas the advanced cooling technology ensures stable and noise-free operation.
With all these amazing features, it is no surprise that Behringer A500 power amplifier is one of the foremost choices of music producers.
- Capable of delivering 8 ohms in mono operation (bridged)
- Can be used with almost all types of passive speakers
- Balanced XLR, RCA, and ¼” TRS input connections
- ¼” TS and touch-proof binding posts
2. Crown XLi1500 Two-channel
Rugged, powerful, good quality, reliable, and affordable – this is how the pros define Crown’s XLi Series of power amplifiers. The Crown XLi1500 model features two channels, parallel/bridge/stereo mono mode, and user-selectable input sensitivity of 0.775V and 1.4V. It also has a system of forced-air cooling that prevents thermal buildup.
With a power output of 450 watts at 4 ohms, the Xli1500 power amplifier includes XLR and RCA inputs, binding post and Speakon outputs, and protection against radio frequencies’ interference from the environment, no-loads, and shorts.
- Power output: 450 watts at 4 ohms
- Balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA inputs
- Binding post and Speakon outputs
- User selectable input sensitivity: 0.775V and 1.4V
- Two-level control
- Six LEDs for indication of signal presence
- Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
3. Pyle Pro PTA 1000 Professional Audio Bluetooth Power Amplifier
With the amazing 1000 watt power output, bridge option, and input gain controls, this Pyle Pro power amplifier is perfect for a variety of studio applications. It also has automatic cooling fans that prevent overheating by pushing cool air into the system.
While these features are enough to make PTA 1000 power amplifier an ideal choice for professional musicians, it is the built-in Bluetooth feature that makes it stand out from most other available options. This gives music producers the liberty to connect it with a number of computing devices.
To prevent overload, the amplifier is fitted with a safety-conscious power switch that causes a 3-second delay whenever the amplifier is turned on. This significantly reduces (if not eliminates) the chances of turn-on transients that are common in systems connected with amplifiers.
- Bluetooth Compatible
- Two-channel (A/B) power amplifier
- XLR and ¼” TRS input connectors
- Shockproof binding posts and banana plugs to terminate speaker connection cables
- Advanced safety features, such as overload protection indicator, cooling fans, aluminum heat sink, and safety-conscious power switch
- Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
While power amplifiers are a popular choice for all types of audio systems, they are essential for music producers that use passive studio monitors. By significantly improving the quality and clarity of sound, they help you create good music.
Whether you have a home studio or a professional one, if you are creating music, you either need to have active studio monitors or a good-quality power amplifier. In this article, we have discussed the three best studio power amplifiers as per user reviews and professional opinions. Buy the one that best suits your needs and budget to create your best music.