Sunday, October 2, 2011

Soundstream Reference 300 Power Output Test

Soundstream Reference 300 on the Test Bench

I recall back in the early 90's patiently awaiting my monthly Car Audio magazines so I could see amp tests. It was very rare to come across a test I actually cared about, but maybe once a year or so. I drooled over the Phoenix Gold MS series, Rockford Fosgate HD series, Soundstream Reference series, just to mention a few. Well, these days, I spend some of my free time bench testing some of these amps I always wanted back in the day.

I recently picked up a Soundstream Reference 300 and couldn't wait to add it to my old school 150 watt (75x2 RMS) amp tests. If you've missed it, I've already done an overview and RMS watt output test of the Phoenix Gold MS-275 and Rockford Fosgate Punch 150HD.

The Reference 300 is a no-frills old school amp. It has no internal crossover and as with earlier Soundstream amps, all connections are made on one side. There are also two openings on the bottom of the amp with switches. One switch controls high power or high current mode, while the other allows switching between mono / coherent stereo / mixed-mono modes. The Reference 300 is rated to handle 1/2 ohm loads in stereo or 1ohm modes in mono, while in the high-current mode. High power modes are designed for loads down to 1 ohm stereo or 2 ohms mono.

See power output specs from the manual below:

Soundstream Reference 200/300/500 Power Ratings at 12v

Also, here are some of the design specs of the Soundstream Reference Series amplifiers:

Soundstream Reference Series Design Features

The ability to drive 1/2 ohm loads was a rarity back in the early 90's. Only a handful of amps were rated to handle these loads. Orion HCCA models come to mind, but there were others from US Amps and Phoenix Gold, to mention a few.

As for the power output test, I was anticipating Soundstream to rate the Reference 300 conservatively. As you may have seen already, the Rockford Fosgate Punch 150HD was rated at the same 75x2 at 4 ohms and delivered nearly 120x2 at 4 ohms on the test bench. Many manufacturers during this time rated their amps based on 12v, not the 14.4v you see today.

150 Watt Old School Amps from Phoenix Gold, Rockford Fosgate, Orion & Soundstream

So, enough talk already, how did the Soundstream Reference 300 perform on the bench? Well, now that you asked, here are the measurements (All taken based on 100Hz test tone and 13.8v input).

Continuous RMS Wattage Output: 
  • 4 ohms Stereo - 105.6 watts/ch (both channels driven)
  • 2 ohms Stereo - 134.1 watts/ch (both channels driven)
  • 4 ohms Mono - 267.3* watts (in high-power mode)
  • 2 ohms Mono - 224.7 watts (in high-current mode**)
*See the update video below for the updated 4 ohm mono test
**The Reference 300 popped it's 30A fuse when I attempted 2 ohm mono testing in the high-power mode.

See the power output test in in 720p HD or embedded below:


UPDATE: One more demo to see if the 4 ohm bridged mono mode would yield the rated 300 watts:



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Markus Aurelius said...

I was an installer from the early 90's up until 2005. I worked at a shop that carried Soundstream and Orion. I love how clean the Reference series amps were, but I also remember them being less forgiving when running subs. It would take an awful lot to blow Orion amp fuses, but I would have customers in all of the time replacing fuses for their Soundstreams.

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