Okay, let’s get real here… the main purpose of this amplifier is not really to listen to music at the normal 90-110db listening volumes us reviewer types use. This amp is designed to play extremely loud, and it makes no excuses for that. But sonically, it’s still a very listenable amplifier, providing you have enough woofers to dissipate the huge amounts of power that can be generated by simply turning up the volume. Or, you can just be very, very careful, which was my approach. In terms of living with this amplifier as a daily driver, while it’s certainly possible, you are going to need a beefed up electrical system to handle the current demands that this type of amp simply must have. I’d suggest a high output alternator, and a matched pair of high current batteries at minimum. While normal musical signals certainly do not draw the huge current test tones do, it is still possible for this amp to look for 500-600 amp bursts of current if you’re working it at all.
Without final specs available, I simply connected the amp to my test bench and ran the numbers. To be fair to the design, in addition to the usual 12.6V and 14.4V tests, I also measured power at 16.0V since that is a big part of the design. And man, this thing has power to spare, at any impedance! It makes more power into a 4 ohm load than most amplifiers do at 1 ohm, and it’s because of amplifiers like this that I had to spend 20 grand on an 900 ampere power supply and 16 kilowatt load bank. Maximum power at 1 ohm at 16 volts was a ridiculous 9419 watts! If you do the math, that means the amps output to the speaker load was over 90 amperes, and over 90 volts. Be careful kids, this thing can hurt you if you’re not careful! And, if you haven’t figured it out yet, wiring your woofers with 16 gauge cable isn’t gonna cut it this time!
All of the controls and functions performed as intended, and the crossovers and subsonic filters worked as advertised. The bass boost is a little unusual, with a low “Q” curve that allows a significant amount of boost across a fairly wide band of frequencies. As I expected, signal to noise wasn’t exactly spectacular, but really, with an amp like this, who cares?
“The One” is made for those of us who simply want enormous amounts of power, whether you are a serious SPL competitor or you simply want to be the loudest guy in your town. This level of performance doesn’t come cheap however, as this amp will set you back a cool $5999.99, and that’s before you buy the charging system upgrades and heavy duty cables. But, if this prototype is any indication of where the new Phoenix Gold is heading, car audio enthusiasts could be in for some very interesting times. With promises of several “surprise products” coming from Phoenix Gold in early 2010, I’m definitely going to be keeping my eye on what’s going on over there!