You’d think the term itself would sufficiently imply what amplifiers should be made to do, yet for many people (and many companies) the amplifier ‘needs’ to be so much more than just that. We have amplifiers with processors builtin, we have amplifiers with speakers built into them (think active subwoofers). We even have one or two amplifiers with source units built into them! So why is it that many companies are so hell-bent on adding more features than Bill Gates has dollars? Ask and their answer is usually along the lines of “because that’s where the market is headed” but that’s not necessarily true. I’ll put them on the line right here and say I think many manufacturers are of this mindset because they simply find it too hard to design a basic, good quality power amplifier.
Luckily for us though, Orion one of the founding legends of the car audio industry, is still around to show the newcomers how it’s done. While the XTR range of speakers and subwoofers might not be the pinnacle of Orion’s stable, they’re pretty close. So you’d want a pretty serious power amplifier to do these components proud wouldn’t you? Well Orion decided to develop one for them to save you looking elsewhere at possibly inferior products.
The XTR range of amplifiers, as their name suggests, were designed and built to supplement the range of XTR and XTRPRO speakers and subwoofers. There are seven amplifiers in the range all up, being three monoblocks, two twin channels and two 4-channel variants to choose from. I’m happy to say I have the larger of the four channel amplifiers here to test – the XTR5004. The entire XTR range of amplifiers produce abundant amounts of clean power with minimal distortion and are all CES2006 power rating certified. The XTR5004 is rated at 80 watts continuous into each of its four channels with the power output rising over 150 watts per channel when loaded down to 2-ohms and pushed hard. Each and every XTR series amplifier comes with its own birth certificate and this one was rated at 164.25 watts per channel. Upon my bench testing the unit on the rig, I discovered the measurement was pretty close to the mark – it’s certainly powerful and the distortion isn’t too bad either at under 0.05%.
As stated at the top of the article; it’s actually what the XTR5004 doesn’t do which makes a refreshing change. There’s no built in titanic-sized parametric EQ, no abundance of digital read outs and dials, nothing like that – rather; it’s just a basic power amplifier (although it does have 0dB – 18dB bass boost). Despite it not bursting with technologically extravagant features it does still retain the absolute vitals of any power amplifier; those being adjustable crossovers (50Hz - 2000Hz) and adjustable level gain (with high or low level input voltage switch). The RCA setup is also well thought through and includes both inputs and outputs. Say you’re running a one amplifier system, configuration is easy – you either have the four channels running all four corners of the car or you have channels one and two running the front while three and four are bridged to run the subwoofer.