I know what you're thinking. Because I was thinking it too...
WTF is a Populus?
Well, Populus Audio is a start up by some guys just like you and me. Regular dudes that want to bring bitchin', high quality amps to market at fair prices. Sounds noble. If they're serious about the amps and the prices, that is. From their Facebook, their motto is "For the People, by the People." Or something like that. And as a matter of fact, the model name of this amp is the "TPA3500". That being, "The People's Amp".
After some digging, it seems I knew one of the guys involved already. That's cool. And, it turns out, I'm pretty darn familiar with the buildhouse they're using. And you probably are too. They're making no secret of the fact that their amps are from the Korean powerhouse Zenon. And how much did you say these were selling for? $630? Oh... we might have something here. Let's see what we the People are getting...
Introducing the Populus Audio TPA3500.1
Rated- 875w @ 4 ohms and 12.8v
1,750w @ 2 ohms and 12.8v
3500w @ 1 ohm and 12.8v
Price - TBD
but the preorder is $650ish
First impressions... holy crap this thing is sexy. I friggin LOVE this sink for some reason. It's so damn clean. After talking with the guys at Populus, I found out that it's just a proto sink. I told them not to change a damn thing. It's polished but not shiny. It has a slight curve to the surface and I believe the logo will be engraved in the aluminum.
The end caps are plastic and double as the mounting feet. Not the first time I've seen this arrangement so I assume it's fine. It's probably also less expensive than other methods and that's cool with me. Overall, this amp isn't as heavy as some other amps in its class, but I still get a good feeling from it. It still *seems* sturdy and well built. It just doesn't have as much heat sink as others since it's not ribbed and not as thick as we're used to.
Pots are plastic. I'm ok with it because if this really is a "people's amp", that's probably what I'd use too. Keep costs down on bells and whistles and use the money where it counts. I assume the "BR" RCA's are for strapping although it lacks a switch we're used to seeing.
Dual power and grounds. Crazy. One set of speaker outs. Ugh. Well, whatever. I guess I can live with it or get some Toolmaker thingys. Set screws are Phillips head. Again... that's ok. They've grown on me by now.
I'm sorry for these pics. They're upside down and rotated. I realize it's very off-putting.
Guts. I'm told that this is Zenon's very latest offering and that this amp doesn't share a board with anything that you're already familiar with. Yet. Holy hell my bench is a mess.
So enough with the window shopping. Let's get to it. Unfortunately due to my schedule, my time with the amp ran out before I could get "clamps" and SPL testing done. So, for now, resistive testing only will have to suffice.
Unloaded. 72v. That's a lot of voltage.
5 ohm resistive. You'll notice that the AC voltage is higher here than in the unloaded pic. That's because I set it at 13.8v and this is at 14.4v. It wasn't until after my testing was done that I found out the amp was rated at 12.8v so I was trying to get the amp at 14.4v.
That's 1,065w @ 5 ohms & 14.4v with 83% efficiency
I went straight to 1 ohm. Sorry, I know y'all were just DYING to see what it did at 2 ohms.
3,550 @ 1 ohm and 12.8v
. Amperage draw measured but not pictured. 73% efficient at 1 ohm and 12.8v
4,225w @ 1 ohm and 14.3v.
Did I mention that it's 18v stable? Bonus. I wasn't set up for 18v, so I ran it up as high as I safely could. The scope looks a little wonky here because it's auto-ranging and it was switching between ranges.
5,270w @ 1 ohm and 15.9v
Rated - 875w @ 4 & 12.8v. Did 1,065 @ 5 and 14.4.
Rated - 3500w @ 1 & 12.8v. Did 3,550w @ 1 & 12.8v
Bonus round - 5,200+ at 15.9v.
That's just lovely. It warms the cockles of my heart when an amp makes rated at 12v. It being 18v stable is just gravy.
Ok. Well, that's my time with the Populus TPA3500. And honestly... I was a bit sad that my time with it was done. I developed a little crush on the amp. Between the price, the performance and the look of it, I really like this amp. A lot. Obviously this isn't a durability test and it takes a lot of time and some serious beatdowns for an amp to really earn my trust, but since I know the buildhouse, I am pretty confident in the durability. Which, as most of you know, is the most important thing to me. When the next batch comes in, one of these amps will definitely be mine.
From what I understand, they offer an 1800w and a 100w x 4 also. I *believe* they are bringing a 6500w to market too, but you'll have to ask them about that. I'm not sure if they have a website, but if you're interested in this amp- and I don't blame you if you are, you can hit them up on FB. Tell 'em ol' T-Fade sent ya.