The Best Amp for the Price of Dirt

The Berringer a 500 Reference Amp that can be purchased on Musican's Friend web site for 194.00( each) to your house in the US of A w/ a 2 year warranty is a KILLER. I have several amps and these are scarey. Granted they were designed overseas & built in China... However, they are 19lbs GIANTS . Don't take my word go to the "Audio Critic" web site for a full review. This is my one an only give-away . Use it or loose it. Best to 'All
Based on my experience with Behinger DEQ2496, I can believe you. Like the Sonic Impact T amp, maybe someone will stuff it into a fancy box, and sell it for two grand!

I cannot find this site, where is it?

Eldartford : I understand your reaction. I'm a hard core tube guy but Peters review caught my eye so I purchased Two 500-A's that I use as 500W mono blocks . Remember these are Studio Amps . Take a look at Musican's Friend web site look over the specs. They are unbeatable at 10x the price . You get free shipping and a 45 day money back. If you don't need or want 500w mono blocks for under $500 no problem. Stereophile knows of them but apparently refuses to publish based the concern that Berringer reportly has a spotty record for supporting parts. For that reason I purchased and additional warrenty period & that warrenty still keeps the tab under $500. Out of the box cold they are killers but of course its all up to the buyer.
I just purchased one of these and hooked it up to some Paradigm Focus speakers in my office. I liked that it had plenty of power, but even compared to my Denon 3200 receiver it was not as natural. The high end was too bright and lacked in midrange. The bass was great but it was like having the loud button on the entire time.

The amp also was broken right out of the box. Channel 1 is shot. The front panel was loose and every time you moved the amp it would shoot static through that channel.

I heard great things about them, but I am going to pass and look for something entry level for my office so I can take my Denon back home.
I checked the website for a description. Just Google "Behringer".

My personal experience with the DEQ2496 (I have three of them) is problems. I have heard of other people who got very good support from Behringer. I suspect that the bad-mouthing comes from people who use other brands, and feel threatened by the incredible value of Behringer products. And anyway, you could buy another one for less than the cost of repairing your typical high end product!
Tb69396: Sorry to learn of your problem. By chance did you buy from Musicans Friend ? They sent mine Fed Ex no problem. Several years ago I was trucked a CJ 100 that was pretty banged up when I opened the box . I had to drive to N. Va from Towson, MD 3 x to fix the Amp.

Tb , are you awaire that when the 500A is used solo it rating is 130w @ 4ohms. I'm uncertian of the load factor for the focus but possibly the ohm rating was off resulting in thin mids , weak highs and bloated bass. Sometimes a resistor change within the amp or added to one link of the interrconnects can restore balance . Sounds bad but fixable.

The Denon is a good unit . A nice alcohol swabbing of the of the connections , a little fine sand paper on the plug , alcohol soaked cotton balls to clean the prongs of any residue w/ a touch of 3-in-one-oil on the cleaned plug prongs , hook it up and away you go to music-land. You could also crack the case replace the fuse with one of those upscale 24k units ( at approx. $30 ea.) & sapp the connections on the back w/ a little battery dc from a Aq Phono Demager to recalabrate , putting a Eagle socket in the wall($1.49). The re-do will flip you out. Best of luck!
Hi Fi world magazine reviewed these amps recently.They concluded they are excellent value PA type amps but did not measure or sound up to dedicated Hi Fi standards.

If you want cheap amps that do sound fantastic you probably can't beat the Sonic Impacts or kit chip amps.

I agree that the Sonic Impact sounds pretty good but I am packing up my second "audiophile" version amp to return to Parts Express.

I have been trying to use a cheap as dirt amp for my PC setup with Epos ELS3s.

The first was DOA, and the second has loud static in the left channel any time you adjust the volume.

Otherwise, it sounds pretty good, but it is also underpowered and clips quickly.

Therefore, I am wondering if the Behringer amp would sound much better.

I have never had a problem using high powered amps, even with mini monitors.

The other thought was a chinese clone integrated tube amp but it seems like those are more like $700 bucks, rather than $199.

I would like a cheap as dirt amp for each of my 3 computers, so I hope this thread continues.
Jtofish : Have you reviewed the article on The Audio Critic web Site. Peter A. thinks they are a great buy. As for being PA amps well I think studio /stage amp is closer to the facts.

To Seth: The sound to me could be characterized as silky mids , no congestion during complicated musical passages ,lots of detail an deep bass. No solid-state burnout to my ears. Perhaps they are a tad "dry" but listen to the 500's in a reference system changing them out for anything between 5-10K US. Of course they are voiced differently but not that different to justify the expense. Buy them , save as much money as possible buying the best speakers your money can buy. If possible have a dealer hook up the 500s so you can hear them in real time before buying those speakers.

Seth,do you know what's really scary in 2 channel? Buy a Oppo HD 970 via the internet hook that unit straight into two 500's, the 500's into your choice of speakers. Perhaps one of the best buys in audio today for less than $700 w/o speakers.
Readers : From the numbers in a few days(1000+) it seens that some us are searching for true audio bargins. So why not expand the "blog" to The Best Audio for the price of dirt? My intent that we advise of audio bargins , some noted in the audio print community and on the internet, with a flow of contributions by threaders like you. Any objections ?
How about the Norh Amp 3 165 watt monoblock that look very well made for $300 each. or the Belles soloist amp and pre amp
Mbacinello : Thank you for the imput. A posting on the nOrh web site states the Le Amp has been discontinued and replaced with Le Mono Block Amp III @ $ 395 each. The Belles soloist preamp retails for $750. Does anyone have first hand experience with the Belles products , or the nOrh amps to relate to us ? A shoot-out between the 500's and the Le Amp III's might be an eye opener from either side.
Cdc: are you referring to the nOrh Le Mono Block Amp III. If so which distributer so we may purchase. Thanks
Reading the website for the nOrh products was interesting.

Is there anywhere to buy these products?
Eldartford: What was "Like the Sonic Impact T amp, maybe someone will stuff it into a fancy box, and sell it for two grand!" a reference to?

Cwlondon: I was thinking of trying the same thing (with speakers that are probably a bit easier to drive). It's not just a matter of small price and decent sound, but also small size. Are there really any other options with the small footprint of the T? Too bad you couldn't get this to fly.

I think a market exists for a product that combines a "digital" amp with a volume control and a DAC all in one small package for desktop use with unpowered speakers.
Zaikesman...The original Sonic Impact T-Amp came in a simple plastic case which mostly housed eight AA batteries. It cost (if I remember correctly) about $30. Recognizing that its sonic character was excellent enterprising audiophiles began to offer upgraded versions, with better connectors and volume control in a nice enclosure. Sonic Impact came out with their own "Audiophile" edition costing around $150. When Stereophile mag reviewed the Sonic Impact T-Amp, they chose to go with the Audiophile version. They thought it was "good" at the price, but if they had stuck with the unadorned original version they would have to say "fantastic".
Eldee: That's a pretty far cry from your rather hyperbolic first statement. Anyway, as I understand it the costlier version of the T has many parts upgrades and modifications to the IC in addition to the aluminum case. Given that SI won't be able to "make up in volume" what they would lose in margin on this version nearly to the degree of the cheaper plastic original, the price (and margin) increase doesn't seem out of line if the result is worthwhile.

BTW, can anyone tell me what's the deal with the power supply on the Super T? The SI website seems to imply the existence of both a wall-wart and an "optional" power supply, but provides no further elaboration. And what about batteries in this version?
Zaike....Yes I have heard about the "many parts upgrades and modifications to the IC" but no one has actually described them. Extruded aluminum enclosure, decent connectors, a new pot, and a separate power switch strike me as mostly cosmetics. I doubt that the tripath chip is modified. "hyperbolic"...isn't that how audio stuff is priced?

The "owners manual" (and I use the term loosely) talks about 12 volt and 14 volt wall warts. I presume the 14 volt one is better.
The SI website specifically mentions modifications to the IC chip, and shows circuit board photos that seem to indicate increased capacitance among other changes.
Zaike...I checked the website and since I last looked at it they have added the comparative pictures of the circuit boards. They are certainly giving you a lot more capacitors. Interestingly the specs are about the same, eg: THD+D 0.04% at 9 watts into 4 ohms.

My take is that for $30 it's worth trying just out of curiosity, but at $160 or thereabouts there are many alternatives.
Check out the tnt web site that containes a rave review on the sonic impact ($39 ) and the T- Preamp ( $ 80'ish) for 15w @ 8 ohms w/ high eff speakers of your choice. Appears to be one way to go . Lots of DIY tweeks to ramp-up the amp .

The current issue of TAS has a combo review of a NAD int.amp and CD player for $700. More bread no tweeks. Perhaps another alternative.
Eldee: Are any of these many alternatives at $160 for something with an equally small footprint/portable? And are any of them new, or would they all be 'vintage'?
Zaike...Portable? Not that I know of. But the Behringer a 500 mentioned by the thread starter would compete on price. I have a Panasonic multichannel receiver SA XR-70 that I use for TV and DVD viewing, which includes five amps comparable to the Sonic Impact (but more powerful) that I picked up at Best Buy for 200 and change. It drives three Dynaudio monitors, very well I might add. There is a big difference between $30 and $159.
...$129 to be precise.
This might fit the bill:

avaialbel here with reviews:

can be used w/o a pre.
Zaike...$159 is the price on the website. I think that Parts Express price is the same. But I'll go with $129 if you accept that the original model has been sold for $19.95.
The darned thing is so lightweight that it's hard to find a way to "install" it in a system. One idea that would work would be to remove the tiny circuit board from the plastic enclosure and build it into some speaker wires as a bulge. Now that would truly be "magic" speaker wires. Connect your preamp directly to speakers.
The Sonic T appears to be the value of the decade. The web reviews are amazing and the amp appears to be a tweekers/DIY delight.

What impressed me about the Berringer A 500's (and return to them) was how much in terms of value I got out of the box . Plug an play.

My reference rig is ruthlessly revealing and not for everyone. The Nova Audio Evolution Speakers in the rig are costly, weight a Ton (1,200 lbs.) and so few have been manufactured I have yet to see them offered for resale. It was a shock to me how well a pair 500's worked into my system , particularly on electronic & classical music.

The 500's only seem to get better with age. Don't get me wrong the S-T is a terrific buy and mated well must be something to hear.
Tonight , I checked the price of the Behringer Reference Amplifier A 500 on MusicansFriend.Com. The price has increased to $199.US not including an additional 1 yr. warrenty period for $16.45 US per unit...shipping is free.

The 500's are still a bargin. Check out the web site and download the User's Manual from there or the other mentioned web site to personally read the details. What you get for the money is no slight of hand.

The 500's are but one of many options . $ for $ they are impressive.
Eldee: "There is a big difference between $30 and $159"

$159 - $30 = $129 (to be precise). Now, please stop misundertaking me when I'm trying to poke fun at you!
Earlier, I mentioned a TAS article on NAD . The article "Redefining Value" is in the 2/07 issue , page 26 by Barry Willis regarding the NAD C 325BEE Int.Amp & the C 525BEE CD Player. Excellent read.
In addition , I mentioned in a earlier thread chaining the A500's to a Oppo Cd player ($149US). I purchased the player and it put to shame 5K worth of EAD. For more of a read 1/07 TAS 2006 Product of the Year Awards - Oppo HD 970.
Well let's try and keep this quiet before they raise the price, but I can give another vote for the Behringer which I listen to as I write.

I decided to try one after my second "audiophile" version of the Sonic Impact amp was defective.

The Super T was still a fun idea, but no comparison in terms of value for money as far as I can tell.

Even the fancy version felt like a cheap sweatshop piece of junk and it clips very quickly as it has such little power. It may sound pretty good at 3 watts per channel or whatever, but I have yet to find an amp that sounds good when clipping.

For $75 more, the Behringer feels like a much bigger bargain.

It does have a cheesey plastic face and volume knobs but is otherwise suprisingly chunky, and thoughtfully packaged.

With a complementary pair of monitors, I would put one by every PC and video device in the house.

This is fun - like the good old days.


Has anyone tried their similarly bargain priced EQ's? I have considered them taboo for over 25 years, but for < $200 why not?
The real surprize is when you chain two units as mono blocks. The "volumn knobs" are excellent gain controls.

The "volumn knobs" seem to be "excellent gain controls" in the stereo configuration as well.

Does it also sound better in mono?
As mono blocks they have few contenders . For me I alternate between my Paoli SOB mono's in winter & the A 500's in summer chained to a Sp 10 MK II with mods. Yes, Yes they are transformed as mono blocks.
Is the Behringer a linear class-A/B amp or a switching amp? Their website doesn't seem to say.
The specifications page of the User's manual states the output circuitry is Push-Pull Class AB.

Just opened the second Behringer last night which I now have running in bridged mode.

So far it seems much punchier and more effortless.

However, I have noticed some tizziness in my tweeters. For this system I am using monitors which supposedly can handle a lot of power.

Is it possible these amps clip before you expect them to? and well before the clipping LED lights up?

(I sure hope I didnt damage the tweeters?!)

Also, have you found that these amps sound best with the dials in a particular position?
Cwlondon : I have never had a problem . I do use the vol. controls as gain controls @ 1/2 or so . The Amps meters should denote clipping. I have never used the Amps to clipping range. What kind of monitors are you using?

I am experimenting with several at the moment, as I seek to replace my Genelec active monitors, the 1029s with the Behringers and a passive monitor.

I have a pair of Radio Shack Presidians, Epos M12's, Epos ELS3's, and ATC SCM7s.

The ATC's are very transparent without sounding too sterile, but I am wondering if the SCM12's with slightly larger cabinets would have much better bass and worth the difference in price.

Also, they are not so efficient and work well with lots of power so I am hoping the monoblock configuration will yield good results while keeping the cost of the whole system down to a reasonable level.
The Hi Fi World magazine review showed that these amps do have unusually high distortion.Which is probably the main reason they said they were not really suited to serious hi fi use.
This may or may not cause speaker damage but it is probably a good thing to use them carefully and why they could not recommend them despite their apparent excellent value.
They should be safe for driving woofers though.
Jtgofish : Which edition of HI FI World contained the review of the 500A 's ? Have you read the review on Audio Critic ?

Are you the head of US amplifier builders union?
Jtgoish: You have got to be kidding! Who are US Amplifers Builders Union? I have NEVER been a member of a union. The answer is NO . If that means I'am excluded from some extra-special group --SO ...I love the experience of recorded playback.
The A500 was reviewed in Hi Fi World December 2006.

To quote-
"Unlike hi fi amps the A500 suffers considerable crossover distortion even in the midband...whilst it measured 0.14% at 1 watt1kHz this figure rose to an unacceptable level of 1% at 1 watt 10kHz....this is classic crossover distortion in large quantities and it will be clearly audible as a roughening of the treble."

Their Verdict-
"Versatile and very powerful amplifier for next to no money,but needs careful matching to assuage distortion.

I am no Behringer knocker.I own a DCX 2496 myself.

For the little the amps cost,and their power output,expecting them to be near perfect is probably expecting just too much.Doesn't mean in the right system they can't produce pleasant sounds though.
I have no idea what Crem1 is talking about anymore (never been a member of a union?), but taking the totality of his comments into account -- including his repeated references to the Audio Critic, where they don't even believe in listening to amps for sound quality -- sorry but I just can't place a lot of stock in his recommendations. I do however take something from Cwlondon's less than positive experience with the reliability and power of the Sonic Impact. Bottom line is I guess we're still waiting for someone to come out with a decently-built, usefully powerful, compact, lightweight and portable (maybe even battery-powerable), class-"D" design control amplifier at a relatively modest price (with or without a DAC built in). I'm hopeful it will happen sooner or later.
I guess we're still waiting for someone to come out with a decently-built, usefully powerful, compact, lightweight ... class-"D" ... amplifier
How about a kit: hypex sells them (.nl I think).
Jtgofish: Thanks for the information & verdict.

I try to read as much as possible & listen to audio gear whenever time allows. I make the attempt to educate myself by reading various magazines and online. Just because read a lot of opinions doesn't mean I agree, but I do read them. Lately, I have also taken to meeting some analog designers in homes of friends , something a bit different . Audio has been my hobby for 30+ years.

I agree with your conclusion -- the Behringer's need careful matching and common sence. So far I have not experienced the distortion issue , perhaps because I use them as mono blocks at lesser wattage . For me they were a surprize, sweet beautiful music. For next to no money (out of the box) they are a value. Enjoy the Music. PS what's the US Amp.Union all about?
It's about a J-O-K-E that Cwlondon made.