Hands-On Review:Nady XA Series Amplifiers
Nady XA Series Amplifiers
Rewriting the book on the cost of amplificationBy Jim Jameson
News of Nady's move into pro audio a few years back I'm sure was met with snide remarks, hoots, and scoffs by the big-name audio companies. "These upstart makers of wireless systems will never compete in our league," they told themselves and went back to making excellent and costly sound gear, giving Nady no more thought.
Nady had its own ideas and set about developing a full range of professional audio tools. Before the big-name guys realized it, Nady was offering well-made audio system components with pro features and proven designs-stuff that really worked-for prices way under everyone else's. This approach has proved to be a working formula. More and more musicians are discovering that Nady offers solutions for bands low on the bucks. Nady gear is getting used by working musicians, making Nady a legitimate player in professional sound. The XA series
amplifiers are a perfect case in point.
A simple solution
The problem is money. A sound system big enough for a band playing clubs and dance halls is costly, especially these days when subwoofers have practically become required equipment. The people want to feel the floor shake. So you need an amp to drive mains, an amp to drive subwoofers, and yet another to drive the monitors. It all adds up to a hefty wattage expenditure.
Nady has changed all that with the XA series amps. For years the price of pro-quality amplification has been around a buck a watt. Now Nady's XA amps, at least at Musician's Friend prices, have dropped the price-per-watt down to around 29 cents. This is a phenomenal reduction and great for musicians. That is, of course, if the gear is for real. My hands-on experience with the XAs has convinced me that they are for real.
The XA series
There are a number of XA power amps: a 900W, 1,100W, 1,600W, and a monster 2,100W. All are available from Musician's Friend, and the 900, 1,600, and 2,100 exclusively so. I was impressed when I first saw them by their heft ( indicating a stout transformer) and by their rugged build. All are two rackspace units encased in heavy-gauge steel. They look tough, like they could fall out of the truck, get run over by a semi or two, and still keep ticking. They also look businesslike. Nothing cute or flashy, just a flat black finish. They are designed for rackmounting, and the vents are located on the front and back rather than top or bottom, so they can be stacked. They are heavy and rather deep so they need to be fastened front and back in the rack.
On the front are gain knobs and indicator LEDs for power on, protection, signal present, and clipping. On the back are XLR and 1/4" inputs; banana clip outputs; mode switches for stereo, parallel, and bridged operation; and ground lift and dip switches for setting the A/C when your band tours the world.
Hearing is believing
They look serious and have the right visible features, but will they perform? I racked up three of them, the 900
for driving a set of monitors, the 1,100 for two-way mains, and the 2,100 mega amp to push a set of 18" subwoofers. This was my regular system except for the amps so I would get a pretty good idea of how well the XAs performed by comparing the sound to what I was used to. The only difference was that the XAs provided substantially more wattage than my usual amps, so I wouldn't have to run them as hard.
To get right to the point, my system sounded great with the XAs doing the driving... even better than with my own which are respectable, name-brand amps. Partially, at least, this had to do with the wattage, because the XAs weren't having to work as hard. I tested them with recorded material, vocals, lots of screaming, and numerous instruments. The sound for all was fine. I didn't have to make adjustments on the board or EQs.
The highs, where you hear distortion first, were clear and defined. And I especially liked what the XA-2100 did with the subwoofers. It made them pump. The more I ran them, the more I liked the XA amps. I especially liked having the big wattage and all the headroom that comes with it. When you can run amps lower, overheating is less a problem, and you still have the headroom when you do need to bump up the volume. These amps have dual fans so they probably won't overheat easily anyway. I wasn't able to run them hot enough to stress them without endangering my speakers, so I can't tell you how they perform when wide open.
As far as noise is concerned. I didn't even think about it. The amps were quiet enough that they never reached my threshold for noise. I only thought about noise as I was writing this review.
Nor did I have a chance to test them for reliability over the long term which is important. I'll have to get back to you on that one after I've sold one of my other amps, bought an XA-2100, and used it for a year or so. I am convinced that the XAs are pro-quality power amps and the low prices make having that much wattage irresistible. Check them out. They are truly a good deal.
Features & Specs