Polk Audio PA880 Mono Amplifier
The Polk PA880 mono amplifier is designed to match Polk Audio’s PA660 4-channel and PA440 2-channel models, allowing you to add serious power for subwoofers and have matching amplifiers in your installation.
- Wednesday 15th December, 2010
A powerful, well built and very well featured mono amplifier that offers Class AB sound quality for bass or even full range duties.
Nothing to report.
If you’re reading this review you’ve likely checked out the review on the PA880’s matching PA660 4-channel already. Actually, you’re probably looking at buying the pair of them, which isn’t a bad idea since they’re quite literally a match made in heaven. The PA880 is an important support act for its 4-channel cousin, since the PA660 really isn’t suited for powering subwoofers. The PA880, meanwhile, is ideally suited to the task. What’s more, it’s a Class AB amplifier, and while this does mean it’s not as power efficient as a Class D design, it shouldn’t thereby suffer the sound quality deficiencies of Class D either. It also means that if you were so inclined you could use two as a stereo pair to power full range speakers, and the PA880 is indeed capable of full range output, but we doubt anyone will attempt this.
Being Class AB means the Polk PA880 can’t match the space efficiency of similarly powered Class D designs, but that not really an issue since the chassis shape and size is still pretty compact given the specific power output. This puppy will give you 300WRMS at 4ohms or 500WRMS at 2ohms – which is ample power for many daily driven vehicles. If that’s not enough for you then the PA880 can be bridged to a second one, allowing 1000WRMS of output power into a 4ohm mono load.
The heat sink design employed by all PA series amplifiers is about as sleek and easy to work with as any I’ve come across. The internal circuit design places the mosfets at right angles to the chassis flanking both sides, and this keeps the footprint reasonably narrow without making the chassis too tall. This means the PA880 will easily slide under a seat out of harm’s way. Each end of the chassis is capped with a plastic trim ring that not only rounds off the edges of the extruded alloy heat sink but covers the unsightly wires and terminals – making a nice tidy appearance for your installation.
Also making installation a breeze are the neat 45-degree angled insert terminals. You’ll get 8-AWG into the power and earth terminals without drama and the speaker outputs will accept nice thick speaker wires for those of you who like to overdo those types of things.
Spinning the amplifier around finds all the input connections as well as the switches for a vast array of signal processing. You couldn’t ask for much better control, with variable input sensitivity allowing up to 5V (not mentioned in the manual, but it does), a variable 12dB per octave LP filter (50Hz to 500Hz), selectable bass boost of 0/6/12dB (frequency not stated), and the reverse phase switch. This latter switch is required primarily for when using the amplifier in bridged mode with a second unit, though in some cases inverting the output phase may assist in blending the bass with that of the front speakers in your sound system. There’s also a small 3.5mm port that connects to a supplied remote level controller to vary the output from your dashboard. Aside from the two small omissions from the specification sheet this is a very well endowed mono amplifier.
I tested the PA880 using two very different speaker loads. First of all I trialed a 4ohm 12-inch subwoofer in a slot ported enclosure tuned to around 40Hz, and secondly I trialed my normal triple 10-inch sealed array offering a lower 2.6ohm nominal load. With 300WRMs on tap the PA880 did a pretty commendable job of powering the lower 4ohm load, but even with the aid of rear loading in my station wagon the limits of sheer output were clear to reach. Pushed into clipping saw the PA880 behave in a controlled manner, simply compressing output without and histrionics. Output levels were still quite decent, but I found clearly better results into the lower impedance load where power shot up a substantial 200WRMS or thereabouts. With the triple 10-inch array, bass was commendably loud and dynamic. I found the control over bass frequencies to be very well resolved, and given the PA880’s Class AB design this could be a clear reason to choose this amplifier over rival Class D designs.
With a genuine 500WRMS on tap for under $500 you’re buying better than ‘1 watt per dollar’ with the Polk PA880, but I think the real hook is the Class AB sound quality that makes this mono amplifier stand out from its rivals. Polk has done a great job with the design, features, decent internal build quality, and easy installation arrangement. It gets a solid two thumbs up from me!
- Monoblock amplifier for subwoofer use.
- 300 Watts x 1 (4 Ohm), 500 watts x 1 (2 Ohm). CEA-2006 compliant specifications for true, accurate power ratings.
- 800 watts x 1 (1 ohm) dynamic power.
- 2 ohm stable design can drive even the most demanding subwoofers.
- Power and ground terminals accept bare wire up to 4 AWG. Terminals use standard #2 Phillips head screwdriver- no more hex wrenches to lose or strip!
- High-speed MOSFET switching power supply and high current Bipolar Output Transistors pump maximum voltage and high current to your speakers or subwoofers.
- Double Layer Fiberglass Epoxy Printed Circuit Boards for more rigidity, less shrinkage and a smaller overall amp footprint.
- 6-Way Smart System Protection (SSP) circuits.
- Switchable 3-position bass boost (0dB, 6dB, 12dB) for extra bass thump.
- Switchable 180° phase inversion for easy sub to main integration.
- RCA outputs for easy daisy chaining of other amplifiers.
- Mounting hardware with rubber isolation grommets and extra fuses included.
- Light bar/fan output-connect an optional LED light bar or cooling fan for custom installations.
- Status LEDs give instant information on amplifier operation.
Polk Audio (Car) is distributed in Australia by:
44 Translink Drive,
Keilor Park. VIC 3042
Phone: (03) 8331 4800
Fax: (03) 8331 4850