JL Audio 500/1 Car Amplifier Reviews

JL Audio 500/1 Car Amplifier

58 ratings (10 Epinions reviews)
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Phenomenal Amp for SubWoofer Use

Jan 13, 2004 (Updated Jan 20, 2004)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Sound Quality:
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Pros:Powerful, flexible configuration, small, clean and clear

Cons:Not quite enough for super-power-hungry subs- also, doesn't like 2 ohm loads

The Bottom Line: For the price, I couldn't ask for more- this thing SLAMS my boston pro 12.5LF *(4ohm) and fits in the smallest spaces. Clean, clear and slammin. Well done JL

JL talked about introducing an amp line to the market for years before finally following through just a few years back. Since this introduction JL's line has expanded from the "Slash" series (to which the 500/1 or 500 SLASH 1 belongs) to the lower "E" series amps, which share alot of the same good stuff inside, less some of the more advanced bells and whistles on the slashes.

JL's 500/1 is a shining example of how well JL has done with this amplfier line. Many great ideas went into the design, however at the top of the list has to be the RIPS architecture- Without going into an electronics-geek tangent, the RIPS design simply offers the end user a way to provide solid and COTINUOUS/CONTIGUOUS power without worrying about voltage levels or impedance levels for wattage. Example: Most amp specs provide TWO seperate wattage figures, 1 for 12.6 volt usage and 1 for 14.4 volt usage. This is because in terms of usable voltage, most cars yield about 12.6 or just under 13- NOT 14.4!~! On a test-bench, yeah, you can get 14.4 volts and THIS is what the amp's over-stated wattage figure is based on, but in reality in the context of your vehicle's system, you get far less. JL has taken a different approach- through clever circuitry design, and very forward thinking, they've given a FIXED wattage regardless of voltage or speaker impedence- provided you keep the voltage above a voltage floor of 11.5 volts (FAR less than any car will provide, meaning you'll easily achieve wattage at spec provided!)

In terms of sound quality (SQ from here on in for the rest of this review) the JL is well ahead of most of the pack. While the paper means nothing comapred to what your ears say, the JL's paper spec is impressive, boasting 108.5 s/n ratio with .05% THD at rated power. This is VERY low for a class D amp- which is usually much higher in distortion to acheive higher wattage (class D's tend to be subwoofer amps- designed for high wattage where SQ isn't usually important- most people try to get more SPL (sound pressure level) but for me, I consider SQ a much higher priority. The damping factor is also a very important figure, especially in terms of a sub amp, where subwoofers require much more power (or actual WORK) to move their large cones to move more air, which produces more BASS! Damping factor is a way of demonstrating the amp's ability to provide consistent power and work for each bass hit regardless of if one bass hit comes right after another large one- alot of amps can't recover so quickly, and thus damping factor is a sort of way to quantify this. Most people don't consider or care about this figure- but when you wonder why your friend's JL 500/1 is SLAMMING a single 12 sub harder WITHOUT a capacitor than your 800 watt is hitting your 12 WITH a Cap, you can be sure it is damping factor!! Mine is driving a single Boston Pro 12.5lf and it is SLAMMIN' - see review here:


JL's amps do it all- on paper they are killer, however in practice and in real life, they really do a wonderful job- and the 500/1 is a stunning example of a mighty-mouse amp, because despite it's small chassis (which is great because it fits virtaully ANYWHERE) the amp still pounds subs. Rated at a fixed 500 watts (no matter where between 3 and 8 ohms you are) the amp will pump just about ANY sub - the only shortcoming is running at 2 ohms is a bit taxing on the amp- which means if you want to run 2 4 ohm subs in parralel, you could be asking for alot- however because the RIPS circuitry, you can runs the 2 subs in SERIES and still get the same wattage, despite doubling your ohmage effectively- so it becomes a non issue- the amp just draws more current to achieve this. Again, the RIPS architecture is really ingenious!

In terms of setup, the amp has a low-pass crossover built in as well as a sub-sonic filter to remove super super lows to avoid your sub from doing work that won't be audible anyway. The cross-over is super flexible, and can be set to either a 12 or a 24 dB curve. The amp accepts both speaker level and RCA inputs, it also takes up to 8 volts input- so this makes it VERY difficult to clip the input stage- ideal for applications like in a BMW, where if you keep your factory head unit, you use a convereter to make the signal usable to the amp, BUT sometimes clip the amp's input stage because of the super high voltage yield. This is immaterial for the slash amps because their input stage has a ceiling at 8 volts- it can handle a REALLY hot input load.

In terms of power, the 500/1 is quite capable of powering just about anything. With the exception of only the power-hungriest of subs (like W7's- WHICH still sound good with 500/1) the amp does a great job. Take my Boston Pro 12.5lf for isntance- this amp easily handled a grand watt-wise- however the 500 out of the 500/1 is plenty, and the single sub SLAMS- I can flip a quarter in my well deadend bimmer- which is ALOT. THis is with just 1!!! And with a single a/d/s/ Rs12 I get beautiful articulation and bass this is simply ACCURATE to a T- though I prefer the boston for the extended lows. I've also gotten great results from W6v2's on 500/1 power- they sound SLAMMIN- a bit more extention than the boston perhaps are just a bit of SQ loss-- again, the Boston is my choice of sub right now. The 500/1 easily powers it and fits just about anywhere- I have it hidden in my bimmer's stock amp location where you can't even see it- it stays cool, pounds the balls off my boston sub and runs for hours without thermal shut down or interuption- not to mention the signal is clean, clear and unaffected by voltage changes- I don't even use a capacitor (*yet) and because it runs so damn well, I may not bother to install my cap from my past car (which used a Kicker ZR amp)!!!

JL has done a great job- street price on this amp is at or about 300 bucks- I've seen em for 250. WELL WORTH IT. I suggest NOT paying retail - you can do much better. the amps are reliable, powerful and worth every penny- at street price of 325 (figure after tax or shipping) dollars-for-watt you're well ahead of alot of the competition and you get real power- not overstated bogus numbers, but true reliable clean/clear watts. An excellent choice- the 500/1 is a champ of a little amp!

Recommend this product? Yes

Amount Paid (US$): 310

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