I am a very busy weekend warrior and long time reader of this forum, although I just recently became a member and this is actually my first post. I was in the market for a 4 channel 2U amplifier to use for monitors in an attempt to cut back on both weight and space to help me with remaining portable. I took a chance and chose the Carvin DCM 2004L amp over the Peavey CS800x4, and the QSC CX-404 based mostly on power output and cost.
This is my first piece of Carvin gear I have ever used, however, I have heard and seen others use Carvin LS series speakers before. I have heard my share of not always positive feedback about Carvin gear as well. As a company so far my experiences with Carvin has been that they have incredibly fast shipping and it was easy to use their online registration for my amps warranty.
First and foremost the Carvin DCM 2004L is incredibly light at only 10 pounds which is a big plus for me because all of my other amps are QSC RMX series amps and are already quite heavy. Just looking at the amp right of the box, it looks nice, but you can immediately tell it is build to a price point. This is based on comparison with my multiple QSC RMX 2450's and 1850HD's. On the outside the potentiometer gain knobs seem flimsy and they are awkward to operate even with my skinny fingers. The power switch seems pretty heavy duty though. The inputs and outputs on the back seem decent enough quality. There is very limited space for external features with all of the open vents. It seems for saving space Carvin came up with the idea of having quarter inch outputs built into the speakon plugs, although I would rather have banana and speakon and no quarter inch like all of my other amps it’s nice to have at least two speaker hookup options if ever need them. I love the 300w/500w x 4 spec’d amp power as well as the ability to link the inputs for amp 1&2 and 3&4.
Before I got a chance to use the amp I cracked it open to see and to share what's inside. See pictures. I figured more people would want to see the insides of this thing so sharing these pictures is the main reason of this review. I took these pictures on my phone so sorry for the lower quality.
Once I opened the amp the first things I noticed there were excessive amounts of hot glue used to secure parts on the board. I also noticed the outpourings of some thermal goop from under one of the cooling fins. None of these things are bad to me they just signify less precise craftsmanship. As mentioned earlier the case fan doesn’t seem to be as high quality or even as high in output as I would expect from an amp, however, the cooling fins are thick and tall compared to the rows of transistors and because it is class D this amp may not need that much airflow to remain cool. I was glad to see some nice big capacitors inside. I must also mention that the fan shroud between the cooling fins and the fan is pretty much construction paper, but does serve its purpose. I do not like that in order to change the fuse I have to pull the case open as it is mounted to the circuit board instead of integrated into a socket or plug accessible from the outside of the amp. The last thing I noticed of cost savings or lower quality is how the cooling fan wires are punched down into the plug instead of using a standardized cooling fan adapter plug permanently attached to the fan's wires. Pretty much all of the things I have mentioned are just obvious signs of reduced cost building in order to meet a price point.
I have used this amp a total of two times. In both cases I only used three of the four amp channels for a 3 monitor mix setup in a smaller 250 - 300 person bar. So two amp channels ran a single 12 inch Yamaha monitor (8ohm load), and the third mix/amp channel was two more of these monitors daisy chained. The first gig was running sound for a high energy 4 piece country band and the second gig was for a 4 piece 80's and 90's cover band. The amp worked out very well at both gigs. No problems were encountered and everything got plenty loud enough for the performers on stage. The amp worked constantly from 3 to 4 hours each night. Just FYI this amp replaced a single QSC RMX 1850HD and only 2 monitor mixes. I wanted to be capable of 4 monitor mixes but didn’t want the added weight and lost space of another RMX. Only time will tell the true lasting build quality of this amp, but thus far I am very happy with this amplifier and so long as it operates trouble free for the long run I think it will pay for itself many times over. I hope to get a more high demanding rock gig soon to see how this amp reacts when being pushed to the max to produce the volumes necessary. If this amp can run all night with no problems I am sold that it is a great amp in its category (4 channel amps) despite the fact that it was obviously built to a specific price point. I also think that if this amp holds up the other DCM Class D amp models should as well.
For me this four channel amp capable of at least 300w at 8 ohms is exactly what I needed for my weekend warrior rig in order to expand my monitor mix capabilities without breaking the bank or my back and I hope this amp proves to be a worthy investment as I continue to use it. I will follow up after a bit more use. I hope this review was helpful for anyone curious about this amplifier.
Link in case pictures do not work: http://picasaweb.google.com/111492270231434067346/CarvinDCM2
edit: (fixed broken pictures)