I might do the weird thing! Crown amp for my L/R speakers.

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JonFo

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Oh, a huge shout out to JonFO as he turned me on to a great Iphone spectrum analyzer. Worth its weight in gold. That was the one serious piece I have been missing to do some room tuning from my listening position. I like the fact that he can do both high dollar recommendations and also inexpensive recommendations on how to get things done. Well done JonFo!
Welcome, glad you found the tool useful. And be aware it also has a 'Generator' function, so no need for other apps to create pink or white noise for testing.

For the others, here's the app vendors site: The AudioTools Platform | Studio Six Digital
 
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Rob83

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@spkrdctr
Ok, so you got me curious and I finally ordered one. Mine arrived today. The Crown XLS 1502 instead of the XLI as it’s 2 ohm stable. And well, I must say I’m positively surprised. Even so much that this is going to be a keeper. It’s like a veil is lifted. A much wider sound stage than my Icepower 125ASX2 modules. I even decided to put my ESL-X’s closer together.
I’ve been playing with it for a few hours and it’s a match made in heaven with my DIY tube pre-amp. Very clean and bright sounding with a tightly controlled bass. The tube amp making it a bit more smooth so it’s absolutely perfect. This amp is unbelievably good for the money. I’m sure it could even compete with much more expensive amplifiers. Next is rerunning the Audyssey room correction with my Marantz SR7015.

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Rob83

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I'd highly recommend and at the price point it's hard to go wrong.
From the research I did on Audio Science Review the XLS 1502 is the one with the lowest distortion and lowest noise floor of the whole series. Power wise there's no reason to go any bigger as the 1502 is already overkill. Those little VU like meters on the sides indicate the power budget used. At moderate listening levels only one bar would flash every now and then. At ear hurting levels it occasionally show 2 bars out of a total of 5. It's almost as if its driving a couple of small bookshelf speakers instead of a pair of ESL-X's.
I'm running it at an input sensitivity of 1.4 volts with the gains set at 3 ó clock. That way it's dead quiet. No hum or hiss at all and both the tube preamp and the Marantz produce plenty of voltage to drive it to very high levels.

Having done some more experimentation by now I think I understand why some people dislike these amps;
- Using my SMSL SU-9 DAC in pre-amp mode voices will be a tiny bit on the dry side.
- Using it through my DIY tube amp makes it sound buttery smooth.
- Using my Marantz SR7015 clearly produces the typical Marantz sound.

So I think it all comes down to the transparency of these things and as a result the pre-amp you put in front of it. I don't know if the same would apply to the XLI series as the XLS series being class D and the XLI series being class AB.

Another downside might be the aesthetics as it has a bit of an outspoken design. Having said that. I’ve discovered that the blue LED’s, the display and even de VU bars can be disabled through the menu making it less of an issue.
 

spkrdctr

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You guys are making me want to try one out. Might be nice to have a bunch of them to drive a home theater setup. 4 of them could drive all of my in wall and in ceiling speakers. 4 of these would do it :

XLS 1502 | Crown Audio - Professional Power Amplifiers
The XLS is so much lighter than the XLI that it would be a clear winner in handling it. Rob83 is right, these have loads of power at 4 ohms so you will not even begin to stress it at all. I don't think the XLS even has a fan. On my XLI it never turns on. Home audio people do not drive them hard enough to heat up. If it was being used as a subwoofer amp then I'm sure a fan would probably kick on with an energetic movie. Good Luck and enjoy! Oh and everything bought this year has a 6 year warranty.
 

Rob83

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@spkrdctr It actually has a fan. But same as with yours, it doesn’t turn on as my ears (and probably my speakers too) won’t allow me to drive it even remotely hard enough to make it anything more than warm to the touch.
 

JonFo

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Rob83 congrats on the new amp, and thanks for the review, especially the contrasts between the various pre-amps. That does help point that the XLS is quite transparent.
I have some old Sunfires (20, 22, 25 years) nearing retirement, and I might replace at least one of them (driving the JBL Atmos speakers) with XLS units. They would also be fine driving woofers. But for ESL panels, I'll add more Sanders ESL amps.

One unrelated observation from your picture: You can dramatically improve the sound from your system with two simple changes.
Put a rug on the floor in front of the speakers, have come right up to the base of the units.
Yes, the panel dispersion does not hit the floor but reflected energy and lower frequencies do bounce, so some minor absorption from the rug can help smooth things out and allow more direct energy to reach the listeners.

Place two absorbers behind the panels and the front wall. These can be DIY to look really nice, or you can buy commercial. They even sell ones with custom prints, just send them a pic of whatever design you'd like on them.
They should be >2" thick, with no reflective elements (no limp-mass sheet in them) and mounted so they are offset from the wall by 2 to 3" to improve low-end absorption.
 
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