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Phonic MAR6

Trevor Cronin looks at the flagship of a new line of power amplifiers from Phonic.

honic Corporation have been manufacturing their

own brand of audio products for the last 25 years.
Throughout this time, they have also been making
numerous products on behalf of other major manufacturers. Based in Irvine, California, with their manufacturing plant in Taiwan, Phonics product range includes
mixing consoles, graphic equalisers, power amplifiers and
associated equipment, mostly aimed at the small PA and
disco market.
Phonics previous amps have been perceived as
belonging in the budget end of the market, though with
the new MAR6 series, Phonic aims to change that
situation. There are three amps in the new series, starting
with the MAR2, offering 200W into four ohms. The one I
have to put through its paces is the top of the range
MAR6, rated at 600W into four ohms.
The amplifier comes in a professional looking steel
housing and is finished in black powder coat. At 3RU
high, its about one rack unit larger than most similarly
powered amplifiers, which could be an important consideration if youre putting together a touring amp rack. The
casing features carrying handles front and rear, which
also offer protection for the controls and connections.
The front panel features two large attenuation knobs,
with status LED indicators for Signal present (green),
Limiter (red), and Protection (amber). Theres also a
power on switch with associated LED (red), and a large
central air cooling intake. Dual-speed fans positioned
front and rear are used for the cooling system. The rear
has the central air cooling exhaust, a fixed 240V power
cable, and the signal input and output connections.
For signal input there are a lot of options. The main
input connectors are the handy Swiss-made Neutrik connectors which can accept either 6.5mm jack (stereo or
mono) or XLR connections. Theres also a barrier strip
for hard wired connection. Output is via binding posts for
use with banana plugs or hard wiring. Also on the rear
panel is a row of three recessed switches, being a ground
lift for the input, a limiter on/off switch, and a mode
switch which selects between stereo, bridged mono and
parallel operation.
The MAR6 weighs 17.5kg, with much of this weight
attributed to the power supply, as with most power
amplifiers. The power supply transformer is mounted on
the right hand side, with the heat sink in the middle for
optimum cooling. This causes the minor problem that
the amp is much heavier on the right side. While this
isnt really a problem for fixed installations, it will
unbalance the flightcase in a touring situation. The

metal housing is not as robust as some power amplifiers,

rating about average.
The large dual speed fans front and rear supply air to
the tunnel heatsink, though as with all fan-cooled
systems, noise may be a problem in critical listening situations such as studio control rooms and other low noise
environments. This design of cooling system can also
cause problems because one end of the heat sink (the
end that the air exits from) is always substantially hotter
than the other end. The 240V power cable felt quite
warm to the touch, as did the transformer, after only a
few minutes of running within its suggested range. As a
test, I reduced the air flow to the unit and ran it for many
hours without any problems. I doubt this amp would have
any trouble
operating in the
hot environment
of many installations, even in a
heatwave. (I
guess it gets
pretty warm in
Taiwan, as well.) It seems that a lot of new electronic
products require serious air flow to operate reliably, so
the cooling fan manufacturers must be doing quite well!
The MAR6s specifications quote a frequency
response within 1dB from 20Hz to 20kHz, harmonic distortion of 0.1%, a signal to noise ratio of 105dB, and
crosstalk of 80dB. On the test bench, we measured
output powers of 450W/channel into eight ohms,
700W/channel into four ohms, and 1000W/channel into
two ohms, all with both channels driven. In bridged
mono mode, the unit delivers 2000W into two ohms.
When pushed beyond its limits, the protection circuitry
stepped in and did its job as expected.
The MAR6 comes with a fairly informative 17 page
owners manual, which describes various hook up scenarios
and operating practices. In use, the amp delivered a clean,
clear sound and performed well within its specifications. It
is competitively priced and is ideally suited to fixed installation contractors for use in discos, nightclubs and live music
venues. It could also be used in live touring applications,
provided it was fitted in a good flight case.


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Distributed by CMC Music Pty Ltd

Phone: +61 (0)2 9905 2511 Fax: +61 (0)2 9905 0189

RRP: MAR6: $1550, MAR4: $1250, MAR2: $995