Powerful: Crown’s DriveCore 2

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We first reviewed Crown Audio’s popular XLS DriveCore power amplifier series five years ago in this very Sounding Off column. We liked it then, and now we have the XLS DriveCore 2 Series, which has evolved—and all in good ways.

First Look: Checking out each unit in the XLS DriveCore 2 series—XLS 1002, XLS 1502, XLS 2002 and XLS 2502—the LCD display is now larger and more readable in low light (without putting on your reading glasses) and the signal processing for use as a built-in “Pureband” crossover network is more complete.


For anyone who still has an old-style, non-digital power amplifier and who has to set up and tear down their system, the real news is the XLS 1502—the unit we tested—is only 8.6 pounds for 525 watts (x 2) into 4 ohms in only two rack spaces (3.5-inches high and less than 8-inches deep) with a M.A.P. of $399.

The XLS 1502 is an advanced Class D amplifier with Crown’s ultra-efficient DriveCore technology and switching-power supply, the lightest and most efficient combination. Additionally forced-air fans prevent excessive thermal buildup when driven hard.

Refinements: They include increased lighting functionality. DJs running passive speaker systems can turn off the display or any/all LED indicators, except clip and thermal, to reduce distraction in dark venues.

The XLS 1502 has selectable input sensitivity—1.4Vrms and .775Vrms so that amp can be driven at full power from even the cheaper club mixers with their less-than-generous line-output stages.

If you leave your gear at a venue and are concerned about the local talent “re-calibrating” your equipment, there is a security mode that disables menu buttons (menu locked/unlocked). Cool, huh?

The DriveCore 2 Series amplifiers now offer a bandpass filter on each channel, in addition to the previous low- and high-pass filters, enabling more precise DSP crossover tuning, loudspeaker matching and system EQ capability. Also, Crown’s Peakx Limiters provide maximum output, while protecting your speakers.

As to connections, the amps provide balanced XLR, 1/4-inch and RCA inputs, plus touchproof binding post and Speakon speaker outputs.

After checking out the unit, I handed the XLS 1502 to Bay Area DJ Tony “Roxxx” Russell for a proper field test. Here’s Tony:

“Amps just keep getting lighter and more powerful and the new Crown XLS series continues that trend. The XLS is the ‘we’ve- got-an-amp-for-that’ family of amps and will be at home with a DJ or band—or in a small nightclub or bar. The 1502 we tested could be used to power monitors for a band or for DJ gigs, as was the case for this review.

“It was even used it to power 12-inch, 3-way loudspeakers for a house party, and the amplifier provided powerful, clear sound all night without any hiccups at all. Aesthetically, the amps look good and, right away, turning on the amp you get a nice resounding ‘click.’

“Crown Audio has been one of the top names, if not very top name, in professional amplifiers for a while and their latest offerings should keep them nicely in that position for a while to come.”

Obviously, many mobile DJs have migrated from separate power amps and passive speakers to powered, portable speakers. So, if the DriveCore amplifier technology sounds appealing, you should know that it’s also featured in products from other Harman subsidiary companies, namely JBL Pro’s SRX800 Series powered speakers (and some of the JBL powered mixers).

What about the rest of the XLS power-amp family? All units have the same signal processing and are 3.5-inches (2 rack spaces) high. From a power perspective, XLS DriveCore 2 Series models (per channel into 4 ohms) are as follows: XLS 2502, 775W; XLS 2002, 650W; XLS 1502, 525W; and XLS 1002, 350W. All can power 8- 4- or 2-ohm loads and can be bridged for 8- or 4-ohm mono operation.

It should also be noted that all Crown XLS DriveCore 2 amps are covered by a three-year, no-fault, fully transferrable warranty. DJs will love that.

Bottom Line: If you’re rocking a passive loudspeaker system, the Crown XLS Drive-Core 2 should work well for you. Once again—great job, Crown.

If you have any question for Sounding Off, please send them to djtimes@testa.com.