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JL Audio 500/1 Car Amplifier Reviews

JL Audio 500/1 Car Amplifier

56 ratings (10 Epinions reviews)
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$31.95
58.99
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$31.99
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$208.99
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Great amplifier for intermediate to advanced users!!

Sep 10, 2003
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Sound Quality:
  • Ease of Use:
  • Durability:

Pros:RIPS, infrasonic filter, balanced inputs, low THD, crossover

Cons:Pricey, Bass EQ poorly designed, built in alan screws, warranty

The Bottom Line: Buy it if you can get it for anything in the $300 range, but at $549 it is not worth it.


After all the years of talk and speculation JL Audio finally comes through on their promise to introduce an amplifier line to their customers. The 500/1 is their second best subwoofer amplifier next to the 1000/1. This amplifier was designed to put out 500 watts of clean power without putting a lot of stress on your car's electrical system. To do that it employs a class D circuit design versus a class AB design. While class D circuits are more efficient they often tend to produce more distortion. Jl Audio took care of this problem by lowering the efficiency of the class D circuit allowing more power to run through high quality electrical components. All of this translates to a total harmonic distortion rating of 0.05% which is outstanding.

Features:
This amplifier is packed with a lot of features, however, the most unique feauture is its Regulated Internal Power Supply also known as RIPS. The advantage of this feature is that the amplifier will produce 500 watts from 14.4 volts all the way down to 11.5 volts. All other amplifiers will actually lose power when voltage drops often giving you half the power you paid for. They also took this a step further by designing RIPS to produce at least 500 watts for any impedance from 4 ohms all the way down to 1.5 ohms. This is a relief for anyone that is worried about how to wire their subwoofers, because as long as it is that range it will see the same power. An example would be having a 4 ohm subwoofer and another class D amplifier from another company that makes all of its power at 2 ohms. To get two ohms you either need to get another 4 ohm woofer and run them in paralell or scrap the 4 ohm woofer and buy a 2 ohm version. If you have the JL Audio 500/1 it won't matter if you have one or two, you will still be getting 500 watts. It can be a little confusing sometimes, but hang in there.

The JL 500/1 also has a built in crossover like many other amplifiers out there. The nice thing about it is that you can switch between 12db and 24 db slopes. 24db slopes are very steep and will allow far less "bleed through" to occur. What "bleed through" is when you want frequencies below a certain crossover point and get a little bit of the unwanted frequencies playing from your speakers. So if you wanted your subwoofer to play nothing but low bass then you would set it at 24 db or else you would hear a little bit of midrange through your subwoofer. The only use for this feature is if you are running 8,9, or 10 inch midbass drivers and you need to have them blend in seemlessly with other component speakers that are near by.

Another nice feature is the adjustable infrasonic filter. What it does is a high pass crossover that will take out really low frequencies that can not be heard by subs and or can possibly blow them out. It is also cool if you want to go for max sound pressure levels. If you have a custom made bandpass box you can set the crossover slightly above the tuning frequency and set the infrasonic filter slightly below the frequency leaving you with nothing but boom, if you are after that. It can also be used to clean up smaller subwoofers or midbass drivers that can't play really low for sound quality.

The built in bass eq is another feature that was thrown into this package, however it is questionable. It takes an advanced user to be able to tweak it right and it tends to add a lot of unwanted distortion to the over all sound. I doubt that this feature was even active when the total harmonic distortion tests were done because it produces peaks that can not be classified as musical. The other downside to this feature is that you can only boost and not cut frequencies out. What if you are going for a flat sound and you have a peak caused by the type of vehicle you drive at let us say 40 hz. Everytime something with 40 hz plays in your system it will sound way louder than the rest of the music. With this feature you can only boost it even more. This feature is a poorly designed version of Phoenix Gold's Bass Cubed where you select a frequency and are able to boost it. It works but does not work as well as the Bass Cubed. With the Bass Cubed when you turn the nob it doesn't distort as easily.

The last feature I am going to talk about is the balanced inputs. Both inputs must hooked up on any amplifier to achieve full potential as stated in their literature. A balance input means that both left and right signals are matched giving you accurate sound. What is nice about this feature is that JL actually designed it work with high voltage head units all the way down to your stock stereo.
This will promote more sales because a lot of consumers are happy with their factory systems or can't take them out because of the car's computer system being built in.

Installation and in car Testing:
I installed the 500/1 into my 1998 Mercedes.
I drove the amplifier from an Eclipse 8 volt CD player, and I wired its speaker outputs to a single 12-inch JL Audio W7 mounted in a custom vented enclosure that I built. Just to let you know how well I design and build boxes, I built a box for a Phoenix Gold Titanium Elite 12 in a vented enclosure to fit underneath the bench seat of a tow truck. We went to an IASCA competition at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California where he was interviewed and will be featured along with myself in 12 volt magazine.
Anyways, back to the installation. Another thing I noticed about this amplifier is that you slide your cables into small holes and tighten the built-in alan screws. It looks nicer, however if you strip the screws you will have to give JL a call and beg them to repair it because they are "built in". After everything was all hooked and ready to go I began playing various types of music. The first thing I noticed is that while this amplifier is efficient, it still draws a decent amount of power. I noticed this when my lights began dimming with the factory electricla system. So I went out and bough an Optima Deep Cycle battery and a BatCap 40 farad cap, problem solved.
When I am testing for performance and sound I simply go through a number of tunes at really fast rate and listen for flaws. The amplifier made the power that it promised, and definately sounded cleaner than most other class D amplifiers I have ever played around with. The subwoofer on the other hand was a disappointment and I sold it and went with two 10w6s in a sealled enclosure at 1.5 ohms and readjusted everthing. The sound that resulted wasn't very loud, but was a good clean sound that almost anyone could enjoy for normal listening. While it didn't sound as clean or powerful as Phoenix Gold's Titanium line of amplifiers it did sound a lot better than Alpines fairly new Digital line.

A final thought:
This is a good clean amplifier that will make most intermediate and advanced audiophiles satisfied. I still don't think it is worth the $549 list price you find in stores but if you can get it for $300 on line, go for it.
As far as being concerned with not having a warranty through JL Audio if purchased through unauthorized dealers, don't be too concerned. As a certified JL sales and installation rep I can tell you that they won't do that much anyways. They will either fix your product, deny service because of "abuse", or simply send you a refurbished item. They believe that their products are "bulletproof" and that their workmanship/qualtiy controll is superior. I am not trying to put down JL Audio for their beliefs in any way, I am simply trying to tell consumers that you can save money buying it online. Ultimately, it is up to you to decided if you want to pay the extra money for the security blanket. In my opinion, if this is hooked up properly it will last you for many years to come.




Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 300

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