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Gear Review




 Crest CA-9 Power Amplifier

For many years, Mike (my partner at Music In Motion) and I have used nothing but Yamaha amps. We loved them, but we felt it was time to move on to something better- something with more wattage, close to the same or less current draw, less rackspace, less weight, more headroom, allowance for tougher impedance loads, and the same or better sonic excellence! We auditioned several amps. We thought about the Qsc Powerlights, the Crown K2s, and finally the Crest CA-series. All are very good respectable amps and I would be happy to use any of them. Once we were decided on what brand and series, we had to choose the model- we chose the CA-9. The CA-9 weighs only 47 lbs. and is 2 rackspaces high - It is a very deep amp, however. It puts out 600 watts per channel @ 8 ohms stereo, 900 wpc @ 4 ohms stereo, & 1000 wpc @ 2 ohms stereo! In bridged mono modes, it puts out 1800 watts x 1 @ 8 ohms mono and 2000 watts x 1 @ 4 ohms mono! This amp is a monster! Special features on this amp are: The AC power switch on the amp face that doubles as a circuit breaker- No fuses!; Active Clip Limiting;

AutoRamp Protection; IGM Impedance Sensing; Thermal Protection; DC Voltage Protection; and Subsonic Frequency Protection. The Active Clip Limiting feature (or ACL) is activated by steady or excessive clipping - like uncontrolled feedback, oscillations, improper gain settings, or equipment malfunctions upstream from the amplifier. The ACL circuit is virtually unnoticeable when in operation.

The IGM Impedance Sensing allows the amp to operate safely into loads as low as 2 ohms. The IGM circuit adjusts the channel gain to a safe level when a load that overstresses the output stage is sensed. Like the ACL, the IGM is inaudible in normal use. Thermal Protection protects the amp from abnormally high heat sink temperatures, while the Short Circuit and DC Voltage Protection protect the amp and speakers from damage. The Subsonic Frequency Protection activates if excessive subsonic energy appears at the amp's output. In my evaluation of these amps, I put them through several different situations- from single amp to BI-amp; 8 ohms stereo to 4 ohms; and from weddings to huge high school proms. A single CA-9 was mounted into the rack of our #2 sound system replacing a 250 watt per channel Yamaha P2500 amp. The first test in this system was an 8-ohm stereo test using 2 EV Sx500 Speakers. I performed in a mid-sized gymnasium, for a teen dance, with this setup. There was more than enough power to handle this gym even while pumping out bass heavy rap and club music. The amp made the Sx500 sound fiercer than was previously heard. The sound was very clean, never piercing, and never did the clip indicators illuminate (outside of my sound check ­ where I purposely brought the amp to just under clip level to see what it was really made of)!

Next, we used a similar setup at a wedding, but at 4 ohm loading. We are considerably more critical of our sound at a wedding. Everything must be perfect. We found that in this particular setup, this system had close to the same realism and impact that our main biamped sound system had previously. The sound quality was definitely there, sounding as clean, if not cleaner, than my reference amp the P2500. This amp also noticeably handled the 4 ohm impedance better than my reference amp, as well as having a much stronger low-end. O.K. Now the BIG Tests! We installed 2 Ca-9s into the rack of our #1 sound system, replacing 2 350 watt per channel Yamaha P3500s. The First time out with these, we did not take it easy on them. We were performing at the Stamford Tara for a rather large prom. This evening, the speaker section would consist of 4 EV 1202ER 2-way 12" speakers running at 4 ohms stereo on the high-end and 4 EV S-181 18" subwoofers handling the low-bass, also running at 4 ohms stereo. We were a little worried about what our power situation would be, but it seemed as if these 2 amps at 4 ohms drew the same or less current than the Yamahas at 8 ohms stereo. That was a relief! Well, we fired up the system, and my partner, Mike was waiting to hear the sound check from the floor. We were both caught off guard by what we heard. We expected the system to have considerably more power than before, as these amps were double the power of our reference P3500 amps, BUT we didn't expect the raw power and the incredible fidelity that we heard at the same time. We actually ran the system a lot lower than we expected to...;..our Rane Mp24 was still registering in the negative readings. It sounded like one of the best Nightclub sound systems I had ever heard...;...;But, it was our mobile DJ system! Probably, the most amazing aspect about this amp was that no matter what configuration we used and no matter how hard we drove the amp(s), they stayed cool to the touch! Our reference amps put out quite a lot of heat, so this was a shocker! Twice the power, less size, weight, and current draw, and very little heat...;...;Hey!, I think I found my new reference amp! ­ The Crest Audio CA-9!

To make a long story short (TOO LATE!!!- Hey at least I am Thorough!) The CA-9 is a very versatile amp. This is the ultimate amp for any situation that you'll ever run into as a mobile DJ. It has audiophile sound quality, but also can pump out mind-numbing raw power! It can do huge rooms with ease, while still being able to do medium and smaller size rooms fine at the ­3db and ­6db settings. This amp handles not only 8 ohms fine, but also 4 ohms with ease!...;from what I hear this amp goes as low as 2 ohms without breaking a sweat...;...;.(We will find out when we get 2 more S-181 subwoofers!) It accomplishes all this while being very small in size and very reasonable in weight! At a suggested retail price of $ 1,790.00, this amp does not come cheap...;But it is worth every penny...;and then some. Forget Godzilla! ­ This amp is the Real Monster!

Power Ratings: 20Hz-20kHz, 0.1% THD / 1kHz, .05% THD


8 Ohms Stereo

4 Ohms Stereo

2 Ohms  Stereo

8 Ohms Bridged

4 Ohms Bridged


Rack Space


550/600 W

800/900 W

900/1000 W

1600/1800 W

1800/2000 W



Steven M. Fernino
Music In Motion Disc Jockey Entertainment, CT
C. P. D. A. Member



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