WHERE THEY GO
Probably the most popular use multi-channel amps to this point is for commercial installed systems, where more channels in the same package are great for multizoned background music and paging systems, such as those common to restaurants, clubs, churches and commercial buildings.
The power requirements for these installs are generally less demanding, while the number of channels required is higher than for mobile use.
These applications lend themselves to the lower-powered, conventionally designed units that have been available for decades and have been accepted over the years.
This has also spawned the 70-volt versions with limited low-frequency capability and optional isolation transformers available on the market today.
But the newer technologies now allow full-range high-power channels in very small, light, and efficient packages. Where once only large, heavy, 2-channel amps were the only choice, now 4-plus channels of equal or more power can occupy the same rack real estate and weigh less.
Multichannel amps are here to stay, and will likely see more proliferate use in larger, dynamic sound reinforcement systems as we move forward. More and more monitor mixes, as well as the multiple amp channels needed for line arrays are applications that cry out for multi-channel amps.
These units simply bring too much to the table to be ignored.
Take our Photo Gallery Tour of the latest multichannel power amplifiers on the market.
Jeff Kuells is an audio engineer and audio manufacturing consultant and was previously director of engineering for a major amplifier manufacturer.