Traynor K4 vs. Yamaha STAGEPAS 300
I also have a Yamaha STAGEPAS 300. The K4 obviously serves the same function as the STAGEPAS (as full-range flat-response amplification for a modeler), so here are the pros and cons of each:
- Size and weight: Point to the STAGEPAS, which is 40 pounds vs the K4's 50 pounds. The pair of STAGEPAS speakers (with the powered mixer tucked into the back of one) is smaller than the K4.
- Volume: Point to K4. This was my motivation for buying the K4. The STAGEPAS is on the quiet side: fine for low-key gigs in small rooms, but it's not going to keep up with rockers. The K4 will. (NOTE: Both amps are rated at 300 watts, but the drivers in the K4 apparently have a higher efficiency. Either that or Yamaha's power rating is optimistic...)
- I/Os: This one's a toss-up, depending upon how you're using the unit. The K4 has more stereo line-level inputs. The STAGEPAS has more mic inputs. (NOTE: On both units the mic inputs are mono and sum to both channels. There are no pan pots.) The STAGEPAS has RCA outputs that you can send to a consumer-grade recorder as well as a pair of 1/4" outputs that you can use with a separate amp for monitor send. (Note: There's no separate monitor bus. The mixer is very simple.) If you intend to send a feed to the house when using the STAGEPAS, you'll need to use a stereo DI box (or a pair of DIs). The K4 has XLR outputs with a ground lift. The XLRs are before the master volume control.
- EQ: Point to the K4, which has treble/middle/bass EQ on two channels plus a five-position voicing switch which applies four additional fixed EQ contours to the first channel. The remaining K4 channels have no EQ. The STAGEPAS has treble/bass EQ on each channel.
- FX: Another toss-up. The K4 has a tube warming stage (switchable) on the first channel, plus a switchable distortion circuit. (No, the distortion is not usable by itself for guitar. Presumably it sounds OK with keyboards...) The STAGEPAS has reverb on all channels. Not a great reverb, but fine for adding a bit of ambience to vocals and acoustic instruments. Reverb sends are either on or off, not variable.
- Metering: The K4 has a single "clip" LED for each channel. There's no indication of how hard you're driving the power amp, but I get the impression that one's ears are likely to give up before you can push the power amp hard enough to cause problems. The STAGEPAS has an LED meter indicating the level at the input to the power amp.
- Cooling: Point to the K4, which has a pair of variable-speed fans that turn faster when the amp is generating more heat. The fans are inaudible when running at low speed. The STAGEPAS has a single small fan which runs at a constant speed and is plainly audible in a quiet room.
- Stereo separation: No contest on this one. You can put the STAGEPAS speakers up to thirty feet apart using the provided cables. The K4's stereo speakers are about twenty inches apart; it's better than running mono, but not at all dramatic. If you think about the stereo effect that you get from a JC-120 or a Fender Acoustasonic, the K4 is in the same league.
- Cabinets: All cabinets can be placed on end, on their side, or tipped back. The STAGEPAS cabinets, although intended for PA use, do not have pole-mount sockets.
- Power: Both units use a detachable IEC power cord. You can stash the power cord and included speaker cables in the back of one of the STAGEPAS cabs. You'll have to toss the K4 power cord into your gig bag.
- Other features: The K4 has a fourth input channel that's routed to the speakers but not the XLR outputs. This would be handy if you were to use the K4 as your stage monitor and need to hear a click/cue track without sending it to the FOH. The K4 has a headphone jack on the back panel. The K4 has a summed mono line-level output - you can used this to drive an active subwoofer or with a DI box for a mono feed to the house board.
- Serviceability: Yorkville/Traynor publishes a service manual for the K4 online. Most of the parts (with the obvious exceptions of the drivers, the tranformer and some mechanical parts) are readily available from multiple sources. The power amplifiers are old-school class A/B designs. Any competent tech who's comfortable working on solid-state circuits should be able to fix your K4 in a hurry. Yamaha publishes no technical information for STAGEPAS, and the power amplifier is a Class D switching amp. Service for the STAGEPAS will probably require a stay at a Yamaha-approved service depot.
- Origin: The STAGEPAS is made in China. The K4 is made in Canada.
- Cost: Roughly $540 for the STAGEPAS and $700 to $750 for the K4.
So, which one is better? As with most things, it depends...
If you need to hang with a bunch of rockers, go with the K4. If you're going to do quieter gigs where the audience will appreciate your stereo effects (or if you're doing a solo gig where you also sing and could use reverb on your vocals) use the STAGEPAS.
One more thing... If you Google the K4 you'll find some threads about how Yorkville/Traynor once (during early production) packaged these units inadequately for shipping, resulting in units that were frequently damaged upon arrival. This is no longer a problem. I special-ordered my K4 last week. It arrived at the dealer yesterday in an oversized box with foam and carboard inserts to properly support the amp.