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By Phil Bourdain
It's great to have a bigger amp than you need to get by. A bigger amp doesn't have to work as hard, doesn't get as hot, and therefore lives longer. Having reserve power also means more headroom, better-sounding lows, and better response to dynamic peaks. The only hitch is that watts cost bucks and if you don't have the bucks to spend, you have to compromise and go for fewer watts or choose an amp of dubious quality.
This was the situation our band was facing when our main amp died a smoldering death in the middle of a gig. We needed a replacement and wanted an amp with more power. We were checking out our options and wondering how we could scrape up enough cash when we came across Behringer's EP1500 and EP2500. These amps were ones we could afford, they had plenty of power, they had great-looking specs, and they got a good share of raves from people who were using them. We could get one from Musician's Friend, which guaranteed our satisfaction for a 45-day stretch. It seemed like we couldn't lose so we sprang for the EP2500.
We've used it through a few gigs now and it has worked flawlessly. The EP2500 has given us twice the power we had before, uses less rack space, and weighs less. It has improved our sound noticeably. It has a sound comparable to that of the more expensive big-name amps and it cost so little we covered its price with one gig. I'm writing about the Behringer EP amps now to spread the word because I think musicians should know about a good thing.
The EP1500 and EP2500 are basically the same—same design, same construction, same features. The 1500 delivers 700W per channel into a two-ohm load and 400W at four ohms. It's an amp with some oomph for sure, but its big brother EP2500 delivers 1,200W per side at two ohms and 750 per at four ohms. It's a powerhouse! Bridge it and you get a whopping 2,400W at four ohms. The two-ohm figure isn't just for show as is the case with some amps. It gives them a big wattage number, but they can't be run safely with low-impedance loads. The EP amps are designed to run at two-ohms continuously without overheating.
Behringer didn't try to gussy up the EP amps on the outside. They are plain and simple with a casing that looks strong enough to survive when the rack gets jarred hard. The inside is where Behringer focused its attention. The circuit boards aren't the thin, flimsy kind you find in most amps in this price range. These are military-grade fiberglass PCBs soldered on both sides, so each solder joint is doubled—a feature that is a must for long-term reliability.
Nor did Behringer use cheap components. At the heart of the EuroPower amp sits a beefy toroidal transformer—the real thing, made by Toroid. This type of transformer has several advantages over conventional transformers. Primarily its electromagnetic field is more contained so it causes less EMI noise and runs quieter. Toroidals add less weight and take up less room, allowing a heftier transformer to fit in a given space. The EP transformers are oversized so deliver more headroom, better dynamic response, and low-frequency performance.
The transistors are also key components, and the EP amps use Toshiba/Fairchild transistors. These—according to my buddy who repairs this stuff for money—are the kind you find in better amps. The Toshiba/Fairchilds, he said, will last longer and sound more musical than cheapies.
You'd expect an amp in this price range to be short on the niceties that pro touring amps offer, but the EP amps have a number of significant special features. Each channel is equipped with an independent limiter to prevent distortion. You don't have to set it. The circuitry automatically senses impending clips and activates to prevent them. It has a variable-speed fan and precise signal and clip LED indicators to keep the amp cool and you informed.