I'm going to the dark side. At the last gig I ran, I evaluated a built in amp, installed in a titan 39. I've had it about a year, puchased just for evaluation. I always seemed reluctant to finish setting it up and actually run it. The versatility and confidence factor of an amp rack was just too comforting. If one dies, you can always rejigger your setup and still run.
But, no 70lb rack to carry. No big mess of cables running around. 1 power cord running 1 amp instead of 3 amps and a crossover. No potential wiring breaks in the mess inside the amp box. 3 cables daisy chaining the cabs. (It was in mono). Setup/teardown was stupid fast. I did not realize how much time I spent double checking the amp rack, making sure nothing got changed in hauling, stringing wire from it to speakers, not trusting anybody else to get it right. Did I say no 70lb amp box to carry already?
I am using the Digmoda DDC520. 500w lf, 250w hf, into 4 ohms, although the dsp doesn't care which side you use for which, the only difference is the power. The dsp capabilities of this thing are astounding. 16 selectable channels, including parametrics, allpass, low pass, high pass, limiting, compression, treble shelf and bass shelf. I preset the lp/hp accordingly, then used paratmetrics to flatten the response of my DR250's and t39's. Took a couple of hours, I could do it now much faster. Hell, you can do it on the fly with the cab running, which is my next step to tweak for quality.
So I setup in about 1/2 the time and fired it up for the first time. Outside show, no need to eq for room troubles. I never touched the dsp in my DEQ2496, it was unnecessary. Channel strips were all I needed. No dickin' around getting stuff right, no wondering if I'd selected right presets, it was fabulous. The sound? Well, I'm not big on sound differences between amps. If they're quality amps, the differences are so marginal that nobody can tell. We used to switch amps around when I sold high end home audio years ago, and maybe after a few hours you could hear it. Maybe. But blind switching back and forth a couple of times even after a few hours of listening to 1 particular amp rendered that difference inaudible. So they sound good, as they should.
It's not cheap. It weighs about 10 lbs. It installs in a titan easily. Perfect cab for the geometry of the amp. The dsp is not user configurable, it's designed for OEM's (that would be me ;-) ) to preset their cabs for optimum performance. Just like the big boys do with their high end self powered stuff. They're working on an end user interface now. The current model is just too complex to be run on the fly at a show. Here's the pertinent data on the amp I'm running.
Is it better than the Crown's I'm also carrying? Probably not in terms of quality. But the dsp capabilities are superior. The Crown has the advantage of user configuration. The new XLS models are comparable in weight, but with lesser dsp capability.
So different strokes and all that. Standalone, Crown. System Architect is very good, though not as powerful as the Digmoda. User configurable. Digmoda, powerful dsp, ease of use, installed in the cab, be like the big boys.
Me, I'm going built in. I'm old, one less thing to carry, several less things to check.