The original Crown DC 300 power amplifier was introduced to the marketplace in 1967. Crown International (now Crown Audio), has been a leader in manufacturing high quality power amplifiers and new technology in audio amplification since the 1960’s. Prior to manufacturing amplifiers Crown’s product line consisted of high quality reel to reel tape decks for audiophiles and commercial applications. Being a teenage baby boomer at the time I was very interested in music, sound and electronics. I remember seeing the DC 300 amplifier for the first time on display in a hi fi stereo showroom. The amp was large(40lbs) having a modern hi-tech look, the faceplate was bright anodized brushed aluminum with two black volume control knobs and the sides and back were black aluminum finned with 2 large exposed silver capacitors. I visited the showroom regularly and listened to music through this amplifier many times and that is how I decided this amp was for me. I already had a pair of Altec Lansing Voice of the Theater speakers so I knew the sound would even be better on my own speakers at home.
The DC 300 captured the interest of many audiophiles with its power output capacity and impressive clean specifications. With every pair of eyes that saw it there was a pair of ears that wanted to listen to this new Crown amplifier to witness its power and sound quality. The suggested retail price for the DC 300 was $685.00 including a three year warranty on parts and labor. At the time, fair trade pricing prevailed, which meant authorized dealers had to sell for list price to discourage dealers from discounting crown products. The DC 300 became popular among audiophiles and commercially in radio/broadcast use, installed sound and the live performance industry. This was the world’s first high powered commercial duty solid state audio power amplifier that was reliable and road worthy.
Crown DC 300 Enters Hall of Fame
In December of 2007 the Crown International DC 300 power amplifier was inducted into the TECnology Hall of Fame at the 123rd AES Convention in New York. Gerald Stanley, senior vice president of research and development at Crown International and the original designer of the amp accepted the award. Little did they know over 40 years ago that this design would make amplifier history. Musicians and performers alike can attest to a career with this worthy electronics companion as they spent many long nights together and this amplifier worked as hard at the show as the performers.
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The DC 300’s minimum output was 150watts@8ohms and 300watts@4ohms per channel and typically produced 190watts@8ohms and 340watts@4ohms per channel. Total of both channels typically would reach 420watts @8ohms and 800watts@4ohms. The amplifier design allowed the heat to dissipate thru its aluminum front faceplate and the aluminum finned back plate which acted as a heat sink. If only one DC 300 was used freestanding no cooling fan was required, for multiple amps in a rack, cooling fans were suggested. For home use and the audiophile Crown offered real wood cases to hold the amp to be visually appealing as a separate component. Owning a few of these I can tell you first hand this amplifier was very impressive and yes expensive but the price validated Crown’s dependability, high power and sound quality for years to come. Today 40 years later there are many of the original DC 300 amplifiers still in service and working fine. Many audiophiles will not replace their mint condition DC 300 as it was one of the first solid state amplifiers of this size that produced a sound that is unique to this era of transformation from tube amplifiers.
Some Specifications for the Crown DC 300
Frequency Response- 0-20KHz at 1watt
Distortion- less than0.1% to 150watts, typically below 0.05
Input Sensitivity- 1.75 for 150watts
Input Impedance- nominal 100k
Power Supply- 1kw transformer with high current diodes. Total of four regulated supplies- 2 per channel
Chassis- an all aluminum construction for maximum heat conduction and dissipation
Controls- heavy duty independent input level controls on front with power switch
Dimensions- 19″ standard rack mount x 9 ¾” deep x 7″ height. Weight 40lbs
The DC 300 had a distinctive sound much different than other brands of amplifiers. The sound was excellent no matter how many hours the amplifier would be under load. It delivered bright highs and clean bass having a natural transparency to program music and live sound that passed through it. Altec Lansing and JBL made power amplifiers that were used in fixed sound locations and some were used for touring sound systems. Another brand that was introduced in the 70’s was Phase Linear. These amplifiers were primarily a home use audiophile stereo amplifier with large blue VU meters on the brushed aluminum front face. The amps were less expensive than Crown and attempted to be of equal a product. Some of the solid state stereo amplifier models included- Phase Linear 700B, 200, 300, series 400, 1000, 2000, 2200, 1200, and 200 mk2.They were designed to be used in a home stereo environment and not reliable for live sound or on the road use. The Phase Linear amplifiers had overheating problems under heavy use and required l cooling fans.
I have taken DC 300, DC 300A along with the other older models of power amps out my system. Even though all of the vintage amplifiers are still great sounding, I continue to upgrade with new current models of Crown Audio products. Here is a list of Crown models I have owned and used throughout the years in live sound systems, home stereos and home theaters- D-150a, D60, D75, FM Two, IC150A, PS 200, PS400, Powerline Series, Powertech Series, Power Base, XLS, Macro Tech, Studio Reference 2, K2, K1, and ITech Series amplifiers. Crown Audio has stopped manufacturing dedicated audiophile quality power amplifiers and continues to produce amplifiers for live sound and installed sound applications. Crown Audio is a subsidiary of Harman International which owns Mark Levinson and Lexicon who do manufacture audiophile quality products.