Since I love my little PPi Phantom so much, when these little iON's came out, I was looking forward to trying one. One finally made its way to the shop and I had a chance to get it on the bench. It's rare to see highs amps on the bench because we usually just take them for granted, but at this price point, it's nice to know if you're getting your money's worth.
PPi iON i520.4
Rated - 100 x 4 @ 4 ohms
130 x 4 @ 2 ohms
I assume these are at 14.4v
Price - ~ $120
First impressions... this thing is much smaller than I thought. It's f'n tiny. And I mean that in the best way possible. I thought the Phantoms were small. Sheesh. It's also kinda beefy. More than one person commented on its heft for being so small.
Before I really looked into the matter, I had heard that they were active capable like the Phantoms; sorry to disappoint you... they're not. They do have LPF, HPF and "full", but no bandpass and the frequency is set at 80hz. Which is fine for the very large majority. Even if you think it's not, it probably is. High level inputs for OEM integration is handy, I suppose. I don't know why I associate this with low end amps, but I do. Weird. Good news is that there isn't much to confuse you here.
It's kinda cool having all of this on one side. Should make for clean installs. Strange seeing power/ground the same size as the speaker terminals though. I was like, "Uhhh... 8awg? Let me grab some speaker wire off a sub real quick." Remote out is always handy. I wonder if they tossed that in there to fill that spot. That 40A fuse is a little shady because I was drawing more than that. I wouldn't be surprised if it pops on someone running 2 ohms on all channels.
Dem guts (stock photo)
If voltage isnt pictured, you can assume it's 13.8v. This little amp didn't get past my power supply.
Setting up unloaded. If you used the SQRT method to set your gains... this is right at what you'd be looking for. No worries.
First up is one channel at 5 ohms. I kinda wanted to see how the power supply reacted to adding one channel at a time.
That's 73w @ 5 ohms and 13.8v. One channel driven.
To test (2) channels, I just bridged the rears. It's safe to assume the stereo numbers here since 2.5ohm stereo is the same load as 5 ohms bridged. It's just like strapping.
This is where I spit some Mountain Dew out. Lol. That's 260w bridged at 5 ohms or 130w x 2 @ 2.5ohms per channel. Two channels driven. I had to do the math a couple times because that's awesome from this little thing.
I loaded the other two channels down and also measured DC amperage draw because this is likely as hard as anyone will ever run this amp.
This pic is just to show that all channels are making the same power.
I had to steal one of the meters to do the amperage draw. But this is the same deal as above.
That's 205w x 2 bridged at 5ohms. ALL CHANNELS DRIVEN. So, 103w x 4 channels at 2.5ohms per channel
. You can see here the power supply sagged pretty good loading the other side down. From 260w to 205w. Still though...
You see there that the amp is drawing 43 amps. Hence why I said the 40A fuse is a little suspect. That makes the little amp ~ 70% efficient at full power
. That's really not bad at all!
In conclusion... this thing is doing rated clean. It's probably rated at 14.4v and I'm at 13.8v. It's rated for 4 ohms and 2 ohms. I'm at 5 and 2.5. Give it those little concessions and that 103w @ 2.5 & 13.8 surely becomes 130 @ 2 and 14.4. And even if it didn't, for $120... it's friggin close enough!
I heard that these amps are Korean whereas the Phantoms are Chinese (if that means anything to you). The iON gives up a little power to the Phantom and the crossovers, but it also gives up some real estate and few bucks.
Overall... sweet ass little amp. I like it.