Class D Amplifier(s) for SWARM Subwoofer System

Hi All.  I've got a SWARM subwoofer system (4 8ohm passive subs powered by two Class A/B Dayton Audio sub amps, each amp powering a pair in series).  I've recently purchased a JL Audio CR-1 crossover, which is a true swiss army knife for integrating satellites and subs.  I am considering using the settings on the CR-1 to control the subs and using Class D amplification for the subwoofers. I'm looking for recommendations and advice on questions such as:

1) Would it be better to wire two subs in series (effective impedance 4 ohms) and drive with a single Class D channel or using four separate Class D channels and powering each sub individually?

2) The passive subs themselves do not seem to be all that efficient. So how much power should I shoot for?  (Sorry, I don't have a spec)

3) Looking for suggestions on manufactured products.  I can envision anything from a four-channel design, two stereo amps.... OR if I keep the subs in series - a single stereo amp or two monoblocks.  I know that I can get a custom 4-channel amp from D-sonic (for instance) - but I'm not up on other reasonably priced options. 

4) Am I better off building my own?  It seems like hypex is as simple as buying the components and stuffing them in a case.  (But I'm pretty busy these days, so......)

BTW - I don't want to go wild spending $$$ on subwoofer amps!  Preferably I'd like to keep the expense b/t $1k and $3k.

Thanks in advance for helpful thoughts.


I was gonna recommend D-Sonic but you beat me to it.  That’s definitely what I’d do.  Best of luck.

Crown XLS 1502. You can drive 2 subs in parallel off of each channel for ~$300 used.

The xls 1502 is 300 watts/channel at 8ohms, 525 watts /channel at 4 ohms. Likely more than enough power, but if you want more you can go to the xls 2002, or 2502 (375 watts and 440 watts @ 8 ohms) for a little more money. You’ll want to drive the subs in parallel, not series.

I misrepresented the impedance of the subwoofers. They are each four ohms. So, running them in parallel would present a two ohm load. That will not work. Running them in series presents an eight ohm load.  

@bdgregory See the new information above.


So what is so special about these crown amplifiers for running subwoofers? I have only heard a crown integrated amplifier, and I was not impressed. But I am guessing this is a different class. What I need to be worried about the age of the amplifiers, and aging capacitors?

The crown is a pro amp, designed for driving PA systems. The XLS series is class d. They will drive 2 ohms no problem. I’d still run the subs in parallel. The power at 2 ohms is 775 watts/channel. The likely reason they’re popular for subs is the also have a built in crossover. I use one in my Jam studio to drive the monitors, sounds great, I also use one to drive the speakers in my living room tv system driving Totem Sttafs. Sounds great there too. They aren’t my choice for my main system, but I use one to drive my subwoofer in my home theater and it’s excellent.


if you’re worried about age, buy a new one ($550 I think). The used ones aren’t that old though, so it’s not an issue so long as it wasn’t abused (which some are if they are used in a pro/gigging system.

@peter_s Why not get the sub amp that Duke recommends? It works quite well (I use one in my system at home) and has the crossover built in and its far less money.

@atmasphere  Hi Ralph. Good to hear from you. I actually do have two of those Dayton amplifiers that Duke recommends. Each amplifier runs two subwoofers in series, so the effective impedance is 4 ohms. But the output is way too low to balance my 87 db efficient mains, which are driven by VAC Phi 200 monoblocks. The JL Audio CR-1 subwoofer offer has much more flexibility… Allowing me to mix RCA and balanced inputs, and outputs, allows me more flexibility for the signal balance between the mains and the subs, and has all the controls on the Dayton amplifiers as well. This will help me greatly as I try different equipment, its universality.  it will also allow me to use some more powerful amp, and hopefully get a better SPL balance between the two, so I think it is a win all around. I have the CR-1 on the way.  Make sense?

@peter_s I'm puzzled why the sub output is so low. My main speakers are 98dB and the Daytons with the Swarms have no troubles keeping up. With the limited power you have with the VAC and the 87dB of your speakers, this should be a walk in the park for the subs and amps. So I think you have a setup problem or an outright malfunction.

BTW I don't think the Dayton puts the subs in series- they are parallel for a load of 4 Ohms. I use a set of Jensen subwoofer transformers to convert from the balanced output of my preamp to the single-ended input of the sub amp. Works a treat.

@atmasphere HI Ralph.  I am puzzled too!  I agree that the volume matching SHOULD be a walk in the park.  I am also using Jensen transformers to convert the balanced output from my preamp to the SE input of the Dayton amps. It is the ISO-MAX PC-2XR.  Perhaps this is the issue, from the spec sheet: "Converts +4 dB balanced signals to -10 dB unbalanced".  Maybe the Jensen is removing too many dB???

Regarding series/parallel - Duke told me that there are two versions of the Swarm subwoofers.  In one version, each sub has an impedance of ~6 ohms.  In the other, ~4 ohms.  I believe the four ohm model is meant to be set up as two "pairs" wired in series. For each pair, the "intermediate" sub has two pairs of speaker terminals, and the only resistance (3.7 ohms on mine) is b/t the two positive terminals. The other sub has just one pair of speaker terminals, also with ~4 ohms across the pair.  So the signal "passes through" the  2x-terminated sub (energizing that speaker), then passes through the 1x-terminated sub, and then back via the negative terminals of the 2x-terminated sub (which are simply strapped together)..  The two 4 ohm subs in series provide 8 ohms effective.

Regarding the Dayton amps, I had previously asked Duke why one would use two amps rather than one, particularly since you are only using one channel on each amp and the presented load is a benign 8 ohms.  His answer is below:

"There is a worthwhile spatial-quality benefit from using two amps. You can drive the two speakers on the left-hand-ish side of the room with one amp, and the two on the right-hand-ish side with the other amp, and then use the phase controls on the amps to put them 90 degrees apart in phase.  This simulates the sort of phase differential you would get at your two ears in a large acoustic space.  So in effect the playback room's inherent "small room signature" is suppressed.  This "unmasks" the low-frequency acoustic space information on the recording, so you have more of a sense of the venue acoustics on the recording (whether they be real or engineered or both)."  

The only flexibility I lose with the CR-1 is adjustable phase. I'm not sure which will be better - using the two Dayton amps with 90 degree phase  offset, or using the CR-1 with it's better flexibility paired with a pair of Hypex NC400 amps I just bought to power the subs.  I think the flexibility of the CR-1 could be fairly valuable.




I dunno, if the designer recommends two Dayton amps I’d be hard pressed to go another way and really liked Duke’s explanation of the benefits of phase adjustment — thanks for sharing that.  I understand all situations are different though.

The Swarm with Dayton amps "not being able to keep up with" your 87 dB speakers puzzles me.  I've use the Swarm with an Edgarhorn system, claimed efficiency 107 dB.  The Dayton amps easily had enough gain. 
How are you getting the signal to the Dayton amps?  The symptoms sound to me like the signal going into the Dayton amps is too weak for some reason. 
As far as how much power the amp(s) should have available for the individual subs, from 250 watts to 500 watts is the range I suggest.  The Dayton amp puts out 500 watts into 8-ohm load presented by two 4-ohm subs wired in series.  So that would be 250 watts per sub. 
I have nothing against your using the JL Audio CR-1!  As an interim step before you buy new amps, you could bypass the crossover circuitry on the Dayton amps by using the "LFE" inputs. 

@audiokinesis Hi Duke. I’ll reach out to you offline to discuss troubleshooting on the Daytons. I should have reached out earlier to you about this concern. I am running two balanced outputs from my VAC Signature 2se preamp, one to a pair of VAC Phi200 monoblocks and the other to the Jensen ISO-MAX PC-2XR, which converts the balanced to SE signal (and +4 to -10 db conversion). I am guessing that Ralph is doing the same, but require confirmation. I will report back on this thread as more is known. I can definitely try the LFE inputs on the Daytons.

It looks like there is no way to bridge the Daytons to get more power (since I am only using one channel per amp) - but another option would be to use both channels and run one sub per channel.

@peter_s , it's not apparent to me where the lack of gain is coming from.

With the JL Audio CR-1, do you have plenty of gain?

The Dayton amp just has a single channel.  The two sets of output terminals on the back are both connected in parallel to that single channel. 


@audiokinesis Thanks for clearing that up about the Daytons!  I will get back when I set up the CR-1. 

Jensen ISO-MAX PC-2XR, which converts the balanced to SE signal (and +4 to -10 db conversion). I am guessing that Ralph is doing the same, but require confirmation.

@peter_s I run the same configuration and it works fine. You might test your balanced input cables for continuity and also that they are wired exactly the same. If they are out of phase you would get really low output since all that would pass would be out of phase bass information.

@atmasphere For continuity testing, you are just saying make sure that there is continuity for each of the three pin/socket pairs, correct?  If not, I have a broken cable.  I can test, but I would be surprised to have two broken cables (2 Dayton amps, 2 XLR cable runs).  How about the possibility of a different pin layout b/t my VAC preamp and the Jensen PC-2XR?  I see there are dip switches on the Jensen for grounding.....?  Thanks!

@peter_s As I mentioned before, if one of your cables is wired out of phase with the other then the sub amp will only play out of phase bass information. IOW it would sound weak. So check your interconnect cables to see if they are both wired correctly- pin 1 to pin1, pin 2 to pin 2 and pin 3 to pin 3.

I think the drivers are damaged.  I am in touch with @audiokinesis and hope to resolve promptly.