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  1. Anonymous says:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    SQ Amp by a well known Engineer, December 13, 2012
    B. Fertig

    This review is from: Clarion XH7110 850 Watt Mono Amplifier (Electronics)

    Generally speaking, I reckon amplifier design has reached a plateau, and that there are no great leaps in development left to be achieved. Sure, there will be the odd improvement in packaging here and the incremental upping of power output there, but all in all we’ve reached amplifier design perfection. Job done.

    There are a few reasons for this. Primarily, I reckon we’ve already arrived at a balance point where customer expectations of size versus price versus performance have been met or even exceeded by the manufacturers already. Secondly, and this one is a bit left field but in my view largely relevant, but I reckon manufacturers are spending most of their R&D dollars on OEM equipment and not on aftermarket targeted stuff. There’s just not much merit in spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for such a small incremental gains when OEM contracts are so much more important to their balance sheets.

    So, welcome to the Clarion XH7110 mono amplifier, which fundamentally is no different to the previous generation DPX1851 mono from last year. I’ve included a couple of `ampguts’ shots to show you the identical PCB boards shared between the two models. And that’s absolutely fine by me because I’ve used the DPX1851 for about 18 months now and it’s performed absolutely flawlessly for that entire time.

    So, is that the end of the review? Well, no actually it isn’t, because while the XH7110 is indeed somewhat of a proverbial `Grandpa’s Axe’, Clarion have seen fit to apply a vastly different looking heatsink to the circuit board. Besides, while I use the DPX1851 myself I have never actually critically reviewed it. In fact it has been somewhat of a benchmark amplifier against which all MEA mono amplifier reviews have been compared.

    Furthermore, I think someone officially needs to discuss the whole `Robert Zeff / Nicola Engineering Clarion versus Arc Audio’ hoopla that’s been raging for a few years now. Let’s get one thing straight, there is no directly identical model for the XH7110 mono in the Arc Audio range. The closest is the KS500.1, which is 13-inches in length compared to the XH7110 at 13.5-inches. Now, while they look similar when you compare the positions of the controls and connections, since the XH7110 uses all of its 13.5-inches for PCB length the KS500.1 must either be a smaller internal board or Arc Audio have conservative tape measures.

    Either way, the KS500.1 is only rated at 500WRMS and is geared to do so into 2ohm or even 1ohm loads, while the XH7110 is rated to produce a far higher 850WRMS but only into loads down to 2ohms. Lastly, the KS500.1 has two 30-amp fuses whereas the XH7110 has no internal fusing, but given the Arc Audio’s recommendation to drive lower impedance loads yet make no more power it’s hardly a coincidence that fuses are fitted. So, while Mr Zeff and Nicola may indeed be responsible for the engineering behind both series, there is no direct `identical yet more expensive’ version of the Clarion XH7110 on sale.

    Let’s hope that clears up the confusion about this particular model, though that’s not say other models don’t match up more closely. The Clarion XH7110 needs to be considered purely on its merits versus price alone, and if you want to consider it a `poor man’s Arc Audio’ go for your life but there’s not much point.

    Features & Specifications

    All Clarion amplifiers adhere to the CE-2006 specifications, so the XH7110’s rated power outputs of 450WRMS x 1 into 4ohms and 850WRMS x 1 into 2ohms arrive at 1%THD and when it’s supplied with an ideal 14.4V. While there are physically more compact amplifiers that are equally or more powerful, there aren’t many that can claim to make this much grunt for $599RRP. The overall size and shape of the sexy all black heatsink – while a little tall – shouldn’t pose too many problems come installation time either. So if you don’t need any more than 850WRMS there may not be all that much reason to spend any more dollars.

    Certainly this seems to be Clarion’s thinking, since they’re dropped the larger 1550WRMS model from the range and left the XH7110 to fly solo. It makes sense when you consider the XH7110 can be strapped to a second one to achieve 1700WRMS into a 4ohm load. Clarion reasons that if you need more power than 850WRMS just buy two XH7110s – makes sense.

    On the signal processing front the XH7110 certainly wants for nothing. All manner of adjustment can be made and every one of them is variable. The low pass filter offers 24dB per octave slopes variable from 30 to 250Hz, the bass boost is variable from zero to 15dB with a variable centre frequency between 30 and 125Hz, while the subsonic filter is variable between 10 and 60Hz. Only the phase adjustment is fixed at zero or 180-degrees, which is required given the strapping capability.

    For inputs you get the choice of speaker or line level, with a small three position…

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