The Emotiva Challenge


A few days ago I posted a review of the Emotiva amps after testing a XPA-3 and XPA-2 that my friend had recently bought. I was so impressed that I ordered a XPA-3 for my own home theater and then spent more time evaluating the amp against some other gear

Okay.....here's my continued review of the Emotiva XPA-3 amp......I call it a challenge, but that's a tad dramatic!

Associated gear for use and comparison, some of which is not mine......!

Def Tech BP7004 speakers
Paradigm Studio 20 version4 on Skyland 4 post stands
Rogue Metis preamp-stock tubes
Denon AVR series receiver (standing in as a processor for home theater)
Oppo CD player with upgraded output and a few other mods I can't remember
Sony 360 and Playstation III for Blu-ray playback
SVS PC 16-46 sub (the big water cooler!)
MJ Acoustics 150 MKII sub (10 inch sub that bests REL in the same range)

Gear I had on hand for comparison:

Odyssey Stratos red board version with upgraded caps....1700 dollar amp
Rotel 1090
Manley Stingray II....the latest version of this well respect design costing 3K, but thank god for the remote!

So now the XPA from Emotiva has been running for quite a while. Perhaps it's not fully broken in yet, but then neither is the Manley Stingray.

For Home Theater Use
The XPA-3 let it's power be felt 100% of the time. It produced insane volumes in my large theater room. Surprisingly it also created sensational bass that my other amps did not manage. I AM AT A LOSS AS TO WHY. All 3 front speakers have powered subs, so all other things being equal it would seem that the XPA is sending out bass content that the Rotel & Odyssey are not. In virtually every respect the XPA sounded every bit as good as the Rotel and Odyssey (which only drove two channels for the comparison). But the XPA was simply more fun for it's huge bass display. With the Paradigms driven full range this effect was also apparent. As a home theater amp the XPA seems faultless and if you have a dedicated theater a far more expensive Rotel or Wyred for Sound or Parasound is just going to leave you with less money for your music system.

For Music
Okay, this is where it gets a bit upsetting, since I had spent a lot on some SS amps previously! The Rogue Metis pre is a reasonably nice tube pre-amp. But it's not super high end. I think it's a reasonably priced unit and might be a "expected" pick for those seeking to get some music in two channel mode out of the Emotiva. The Rotel was darker. Much to my surprise it managed to sound brighter, but space around instruments or "air" was less present compared to the XPA. Imaging from both the XPA and Rotel was rather two dimensional. There was left to right coherency, but little depth. I could almost always tell where the speakers were in the room. But once again the XPA seemed to have bass content that was missing from the Rotel. I ended up adjusting the sub controls, but I still got a superior bass presentation from the XPA. Next up was the Odyssey and this was a clear step up in one important respect: Image depth. Now I could not as easily hear the "box effect" and the speakers were harder to locate. Next up was the expensive Manley Stingray II. This integrated amp has less than around 70-80 hours on it, so it's still breaking in. In 18 watt triode mode, with a 30 minute warm-up, the Stingray made the Def Techs and Paradigms vanish. Voices sounded "in the room" and David Bowie's Andy Warhol sounded more life than any of the solid state amps could manage. The Stingray seemed to even catch the room tone on various recordings and easily gave a sense of space around many instruments. In short...18 watts of triode stomped on the big amps big time. I also used the Denon as a pre and got mediocre results with the XPA, which now sounded somewhat dull. It's clear that a good pre is important if you plan to use the XPA for music. That leaves out processors on the whole. The Denon/Rotel combo was more musical in this case and this simply proves that you should only judge a component with YOUR gear in YOUR room in the final analysis.

Summary
The pre-amp and other associated gear will make big differences of course. But I've been listening to a lot of amps in recent months as I upgrade my theater and dedicated music system. I've passed on Wyred for Sound, Rotel, Parasound Halo (which I really like), Outlaw and a few others. I sold my Odyssey, but have a borrowed one which I may buy for another room.
For home theater the XPA is nothing less than amazingly good and I'm not basing that on price. I just spend a lot of cash on 18 watts, so I'm not basing my purchases on "value." If the XPA underperformed it would be sent back and I'd happily pay for a Bryston again. For music this becomes more complicated. I think the Odyssey is more musical than the other SS amps above and there is a great 3 channel version available. That may be the best value if you plan to use your theater setup for music a lot.
ALL of this gear sounds good and good matching can elevate any amp above another these days. High end technology is now commonly found in low cost gear and today's mid-fi is yesterday's high end. If you must consider cost per watt, then the Emotiva amps are the best I've ever heard. It's easily able to keep pace with gear costing 3 times more and may even be better than many for home theater applications.

I am one of "THOSE PEOPLE" who enjoys spending a silly amount of money at times on audio gear. Most human beings consider my purchase of Merlin TSM-XMr speakers extravagant. Some might call them a bargain, but that's a small group! Over the years I've come to realize that the high end is often more about price and individuality. We often express ourselves through researching and finally owning a product which we consider rarefied. Unfortunately in most cases the owners get gear that's not truly superior or they lack the know-how to extract what superior aspects may be present. It's a tricky hobby that is often a difficult balance between perception and performance, with the winds of ego ever threatening to tip the whole affair over. And with that in mind there are people who will dismiss fine efforts from Emotiva, and other companies like them, out of hand. I did the same thing when I first heard of Outlaw and later I smartened up and bought some of their gear. In some sort of bazaar way it seems that the Emotiva does not belong in the same room as the Manley tube amp. But pushing it's cost out of my head and focusing on it's performance for the task at hand I slowly realize that it is just as high end as the Manley. My suggestion to anyone interested in fine audio, either for music or home theater, is to audition amps like these whenever possible and with a wide variety of associated gear. I heard a Wyred for Sound amp sound dreary with a expensive Cary pre and sound lively and musical with a Parasound pre costing far less. Forget cost. Focus on system synergy and keep an open mind!

Bottom line: The XPA-3 is a winner and I plan to add their XPA-2 to my theater next!

You can few my theater room at this link....
http://ghostlight.zenfolio.com/img/v4/p347770642-4.jpg

Thanks for reading...

Rob
robbob
Wow, that's one heck of a home theater you have there!

Thanks for the info about the Emotiva amp. It's interesting to hear that it could perform so much better than the other amps for home theater use, but not perform as well for music. Perhaps the sonic presentation goals really are that different, and explains why the tube amp does so well with the music while the Emotiva does so well with HT.

Several years ago I split off my HT and 2-channel systems, and I'm thinking that this might be further evidence supporting that move.

I love hearing about low-cost components that stand up to some of the big boys, so thanks for your review.

Michael
Keep in mind that the Emotiva did no worse than the Rotel 1090 for music when paired with the same Rogue Metis preamp. I prefer the Rotel 1090 over the Wyred for Sound ST-500. But when I compared to the Manley Stingray, there was no going back to any of the SS amps. Then again you have to consider what the Manley costs and the limitations it will have with it's lower power.

I will soon have a pair of the new Merlin TSM-XMrs and I expect their transparency to bear out more subtle differences in various amps.

Cheers,

Rob
I had a Manley Stingray and replaced it with a W4S ST-500 and a modded Mapletree Line 2A. The Stingray couldn't drive my mains, so I had to switch to a SS amp. If you want the best of both worlds, the sound of tubes with the control and dynamics of SS, I would really recommend this combo. Since you appear to be a fan of Manley's house sound, a Jumbo Shrimp in front of a ST-500 may have better synergy for you.
Actually I find the dynamics of the Manley terrific and lively. A W4S along with a group of tube pre-amps has been on my menu. I drove my Magnepan 1.6's with an Odyssey Stratos and tube pre (The Metis). The Stingray is still better, presenting a holographically dimensional soundstage that I have not heard with any SS amp before regardless of which pre was used.

Rob
I should add however that the Stingray is driving appropriate speakers and was bought to specifically made with new Merlin TSM's, which is a highly regarded amp for the Merlins.

Driving the big Def Techs with the Manley is only notable because it still managed to out-perform the well regarded Rotel 1090, which I find on par or slightly better than the ST-500. In my case I'm building up two systems, one for theater and the other for music. Like the Emotiva I find these budget SS amps (W4S, Rotel, Outlaw) more at home in home theater applications than for music only systems.

Rob
I was considering purchasing a Berensford 2-way Amp switcher to jump amps between my "Music" system ( Prima Luna Prologue 8 tube based CD player into Prima Luna Dialogue Premium integrated tube amp into Martin Logan Electro Motion ESL hybrids) and my "Home Theater " (Oppo 105D into Emotive UMC200 pre-pro into Emotiva XPA3 three channel 200 watt amp into mentioned Martin Logans / 2 Genelec active surrounds - SVS 13"Ultra Sub. Does anyone know if the Berensford is a good choice to use as a passive A/B Amp Switcher? Any alternatives?
Bob Carver proved he could voice an amplifier to match the presentation any other amplifier including exaggerated bass output. I think its fair to say that we all have our own sonic priorities when it comes to amplification and speaker selection.

I purchased an XPA-2 and subjectively found the mid-bass region to be overly voiced compared to my Hypex switching amplifiers and my 200 watt push pull tube mono's. Driving my 87dB 3.75 ohm dynamic three way speakers at realistic listening levels the XPA provided an undeniable fatiguing and closed in presentation compared to the other mono block pairs.

During the second week of normal use the right channel failed. An inspection under the hood revealed the stunningly thin wire boards and many other laughably economical components used to keep part of their manufacturing costs down.

Considering their lack of response to a potential customers question in the link below I leave it to you to imagine what methods are used during their offshore manufacture, assembly, and the possibility of an unregulated and staggering carbon footprint caused by their manufacturing process.

http://emotivalounge.proboards.com/thread/33613/emotiva-manufacturing-practices

After reading the refusal to answer Archie's understandable question by the companies representative, the immature fanboi attacks, along with my personal experience with their product, I realized I now have idealistic as well as sonic priorities with this hobby.

I returned the amplifier.
That doesn't sound very good. Sorry you had to go through that. Anyway, I'm not surprised at the quality (or lack of quality) of the Emotiva stuff. Let 'em say "better or as good as Bryston, Pass Labs, McIntosh, etc." I really don't care anymore. I'm not buying into that notion, and I never will. Emotiva is a just a flash in the pan as far as I'm concerned. Their 15 minutes of fame will soon end. That's what I predict.
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Emotiva will probably be around for a while. They have a powerful niche...low prices. There will always be a place in audio for low prices...even if it only serves as an entry point for higher end stuff later on. Those that truly love the hobby will move up to better gear as their pocketbook allows.

Emotiva is lowering the price of admission to the hobby. That's a good thing.
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Mitch,
What you've stated is correct in the sense Emotiva provides an avenue for start up Audiophiles.
I've done that journey, and I have no regrets...
My thoughts on gear such as this... If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Maybe, but I doubt it. Eventually, the cheap quality and poor reliability will catch up to them. There's a lot of smoke and mirrors going on here with this company, and other ones to be fair. If you look using the power of google, there's better stuff than Emotiva at the same prices or prices not that much more, imo.
I couldn't agree more, Abrew19.
In the 80's Adcom was the go to budget amp. AHC praised these amps to a sickening level, I hope Mr. Cordesman was well compensated for selling his soul! I fell for the trap(was only 19) and purchased a GFA-545 and realized that my Toshiba receiver was the Adcom equivalent, just with less power. It wasn't until I heard Tandberg amps/preamp that I learned Adcom was just marketing hyperbole. I have never demoed an Emotiva amp but my take is they use the cheapest parts/labor and still make a solid profit, not a good recipe for sound quality. If I was looking for a new budget amp Audio gd would be my choice over Emotiva due to using better quality parts. Emotiva will be around for a while since they have established themselves as the "giant killer!" I'm betting when the Emotiva fan boys are in the "lounge" they prefer White Zin over an aged Bordeaux since all wines taste the same!
No, the Emotiva fanboys drink Kool-Aid, if you know what I mean! ;)
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Dayglow, young college boys don't start off drinking aged Bourdeaux. They drink the cheap stuff. They get out of college and get jobs and start to sample the good stuff. A lot of them will develop a taste for the good stuff, and keep moving up the wine chain and eventually become a full-fledged oenophile. While some of them will never move up the chain, and white zin will suit them just fine. A lot more white zin is sold than aged Bourdeax. Just as Emotiva sells a lot more amps than Pass Labs or Krell. (I own Pass Labs amps)

Amazing when I think about my college buddies, we all had a receiver, turntable and a cassette deck. A few of us moved on and got reel-to-reels. A few of us moved on to separates. Now I look at all of them...I'm the only one that moved on to audiophile equipment. All of them now have a rudimentary receiver and a cd player. I'd be too embarrassed to tell any of them that I paid $9k for my cd player or $10k for my preamp. Without 'starter' companies like Emotiva, because of the high cost first-rate separates, a lot of people wouldn't even venture into audio.

I believe the journey through audio has to be financially incremental to make sense. I also believe that it takes time and trial & error. I've had pretty good luck, but I've also had my share of lemons in audio.

I don't own any of their stuff, but Emotiva has a place in audio.
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It's comical reading the criticisms of Emotiva based on "cheap quality".

I'm willing to bet these people have never opened the hood on these $50k amplifiers and noted parts that are no better (or marginally better to the tune of maybe an extra $1k in parts.)

What's also comical is reading reviews with measurements and seeing these $50k amps performing no better than Emotiva.

What's REALLY comical is seeing an over-priced piece reviewed with bad measurements and almost 100% of the time the manufacturer comments say the sample was "defective"...lol

At least you're not overpaying with Emotiva and getting a product that almost always measures well on a test bench.

Personally, I use upgraded McCormack and McIntosh amps because I know the high-end parts included and the designs last forever.

However, I have a couple Emotiva's for a separate HT and they are perfectly fine for application in dedicated 2 channel high-end too.

One sign of pseudo audiophiles is the ones who think the price of the equipment determines the quality. I've gone to the "shows" for many years and met countless manufacturers/reps/etc. If you only knew how they set the prices for some of these pieces, then the LAST company you would be mad at would be Emotiva.
Well said mitch4t.
Labtec-Why are you so defensive regarding your Emotiva gear? First of all you exaggerate when trying to make a point, were not talking about $50k new amps. There are many used under $2k power amps that would be a better choice then Emotiva for any audio/HT set up. I also mentioned Audio gd as a new(bargain) amp alternative with better parts and build quality. Since they don't advertise like Emotiva you probably were unaware...it pays to do your homework! When have measurements been a direct correlation to sound quality? My guess is you have never heard a conrad-johnson Premier 350. In closing I doubt anyone on Agon is mad at Emotiva, there just is very little interest in what they offer.
Yeah, Labtec, cool your jets there. And sure, there's *some* high priced stuff that isn't much better than Emotiva...that's the stuff I stay away from, personally.

I agree with Dayglow in that measurements are not a direct correlation to sound quality.

I'm not mad at Emotiva either, they have a right to do business as does any other company...I'm stating that in my opinion, the stuff's not what it's cracked up to be. That's basically it...
Mitch4t-Yes there is a place for Emotiva, just not on my audio rack. Not all Emotiva "fanboys" are college aged or financially challenged. Many Emotiva buyers have a tendency to believe everything is snake oil after a certain price point without having any validation.
Dayglow - I have heard Conrad Johnson's and even owned several of their preamps. Their stuff is well-engineered and another brand I would put in the class with my McIntosh and upgraded McCormacks.

It would be fine to buy a USED one, but where are you going to get one for less than $1k to compete with the similarly powered Emotiva that comes brand new and with a warranty???

Let's flip the coin and I'm willing to bet you've never owned or listened to Emotiva and done an A/B comparison.

If you can find a used Halcro, Audio Research Reference, VTL Siegried, or Atma-Sphere 300 watt range amp for $1k, then by all means continue making fun of Emotiva's products. You got something that sounds better than the Emotiva at the same price.

If not, then the joke is really on you.

BTW, you asked "When have measurements been a direct correlation to sound quality?"...It's ALWAYS been a direct correlation to sound quality.

Unfortunately, it's ALWAYS been a convenient excuse for others who want to believe in voodoo versus science.
Many Emotiva buyers have a tendency to believe everything is snake oil after a certain price point without having any validation.

Exactly.
I admit I've never had access to a $50K amplifier to look under the hood but I have looked at my share of others to know it doesn't take an experienced designer to know when you see a printed wire board attached to an amplifiers heat sink thats so thin that its warped into shape, its design goal is obviously low cost.

As I said earlier I compared the XAP-2 to my $1100. pr. Hypex nCore mono blocks which bettered them handily throughout the bandwidth. This comparison was very revealing of the XPA's slightly exaggerated and much less defined bass. As well as the XPA's congestion when pushed which left me questioning their companies rated output. With less revealing speakers results may vary greatly and may be acceptable for some.

When one sees component brands such as Antenka, Zhejiang Lema, Salecom, Buondi, and the seemingly high quality appearance of Dongguan City Kaihua switches, one shouldn't take note?

There is know qualification to being an audiophile. If one spends ten cents more on anything that may sound better, then he/she is in the mob with the rest of us, period.

Stereophile provides what they title, "Measured performance," and has mentioned countless times that a products measured performance may not be indicative of the products actual sonic performance. In some cases the reviewers impressions can correlate with some aspect of its measured performance. Many find this simple and straight forward and understand the relationship with their advertisers. Regardless, most appreciate the effort taken.

The point of forums and threads like this is to share experiences, not to hold back information one may be privy to and then criticize some poor chump who felt so strongly about an expensive product or simply got sold, is hardly comical just truly lame.

I stand by my experience and have no qualms about sharing my impressions, after all I paid for the inconvenience. The great majority of manufactures who provide inexpensive good preforming audio products are not so ashamed of their manufacturing as to decline discussing their process under the guise of, "we do not share such information with the general public or our customers for a multitude of reasons. Sorry."

The company in question is the only one I've had experience with that finds such complete secrecy regarding their manufacturing a prudent action and I have to wonder why.

If one has no concerns and feels their practice is acceptable then drill baby drill, it's a free country.
I've done that route of starting out with Emotiva.owned CD player they've made, several of their amplifiers, etc.
After curiosity and affordability kicked in, I've gone PS Audio on the front end and now looking for an amp to complete my lust.

The thing is, without an affordable starting point , I wouldn't be where I am now.

Well, different strokes for different folks.......
Labtec-You give ridiculous examples of amps that would never sell for around $1k you could have added Gryphon, Soulution or DartZeel to the list to get a bigger laugh! If Emotiva is that great you don't need to exaggerate. I don't want to list all the($1k) amps or int/amps that could sound better then the XPA-2, the list would be to numerous! As I have stated in several posts the Yamaha MX-1 is the best(high powered) budget amp I have ever heard. You could probably find a mint one for $600-$700. The one caveat is the MX-1 has a captive power cord. I wonder what the potential of the MX-1 is with an aftermarket pc? If your happy with your Emotiva gear that's all that matters!
Emotiva makes a budget amp and it sounds like it. I've owned 3 of their products and once I tried a decent brand I could easily tell the difference. But not everybody can, so for them Emotiva is king. For the rest of us the king has no clothes.
It's ALWAYS been a direct correlation to sound quality.

*sigh* You know, I used to be an objectivist. I read 'The Audio Critic' with a zeal, and felt the same way you do.

Anyway, that's hogwash. Measurements are important, but they only tell part of the story. The demo is where it's really at!

Do you believe the earth is flat too? lol.
I admit I've never had access to a $50K amplifier to look under the hood but I have looked at my share of others to know it doesn't take an experienced designer to know when you see a printed wire board attached to an amplifiers heat sink thats so thin that its warped into shape, the design goal is obviously low cost.

As I said earlier I compared the XAP-2 to my $1100. pr. Hypex nCore mono blocks which bettered them handily throughout the bandwidth. This comparison was very revealing of the XPA's slightly exaggerated and much less defined bass. As well as the XPA's congestion when pushed which left me questioning their companies rated output. With less revealing speakers results may vary greatly and may be acceptable for some.

When one sees component brands such as Antenka, Zhejiang Lema, Salecom, Buondi, and the seemingly high quality appearance of Dongguan City Kaihua switches, one shouldn't take note?

There is know qualification to being an audiophile. If one spends ten cents more on anything that may sound better, then he/she is in the mob with the rest of us, period.

Stereophile provides what they title, "Measured performance," and has mentioned countless times that a products measured performance may not be indicative of the products actual sonic performance. In some cases the reviewers impressions can correlate with some aspect of its measured performance. Many find this simple and straight forward and understand the relationship with their advertisers. Regardless, most appreciate the effort taken.

The point of forums and threads like this is to share experiences, not to hold back information one may be privy to and then criticize some poor chump who felt so strongly about an expensive product or simply got sold, is hardly comical just truly lame.

I stand by my experience and have no qualms about sharing my impressions, after all I paid for the inconvenience. The great majority of manufactures who provide inexpensive good preforming audio products are not so ashamed of their manufacturing as to decline discussing their process under the guise of, "we do not share such information with the general public or our customers for a multitude of reasons. Sorry."

The company in question is the only one I've had experience with that finds such complete secrecy regarding their manufacturing a prudent action and I have to wonder why.

If one has no concerns and feels their practice is acceptable then drill baby drill, it's a free country.
Dayglow - I noticed you didn't mention whether you have ever heard or A/B'd an Emotiva product, which I pretty much knew you would avoid answering.

It's pointless to use logic and rational arguments on someone who is talking with ZERO experience in what they are saying and thinks measurements have no correlation to sound...YET price does.

Nevertheless, please call whatever company you are proud to say is on the chassis of your amplifier and ask them if they use measurements. Tell them you think measurements have no correlation to sound quality and listen closely for the giggling they will try to mute to avoid offending you.

Here's another question to ask...Are they using a circuit that is 100% invented by them or just tweaking one that was patented long ago and no longer protected.

It's funny that I've mentioned numerous examples of amps that I know sound better than the Emotiva. Thus, I've never implied that they make the best amps made. However, you claimed their are "many under $2k", but only given one example and it has to be "used".

Since you finally mentioned ONE example, I can now look at the parts and laugh even further. Is your best example a 20 year old amp made by Yamaha?...lol

It's a decently built amp, but would you SERIOUSLY advise someone to buy this amp with 20 year old parts over a brand new Emotiva at the same price...SERIOUSLY!?!

I know you don't like specs, but that amp isn't really passive preamp/direct drive friendly. Plus, I hope you know that the most important part of an amp is the transformer and the generally accepted advantage of toroids over iron cores like the one in the Yamaha.

(Caveat- There are some manufacturers who can make amps with iron core transformers sound just as good if not better than toroids, but I can guarantee that Yamaha wasn't choosing iron core transformers for that amp due to better performance.)

Oh...and if the stock, hard-wired power cord on the Yamaha is so bad that an after-market expensive one would make a huge difference, what does that say about the quality of the piece you are recommending? What were you implying about Emotiva again???

As an aside...If you want a really good story behind how important just one part can be like toroid transformers, go back 10 years or so ago and remember a company called Equitech? It was all the rage because they had an exclusive contract with Plitron who generally made the best toroid transformers. As a result, they made quite a splash with their balanced power conditioners performing and measuring better than almost anything out there. Almost everyone was using them at the shows. Then, Plitron stopped honoring their exclusive contract and others like BPT started using them to great success. In a balanced power conditioner, there really isn't any other "technology" other than the transformer...so the EXACT SAME PERFORMANCE was now available from other manufacturers at lower prices. Equitech had to outsource transformers from China and how much have you heard of them since?

An amplifier is a little more complicated than a balanced power conditioner, but the story above is meant to show that measurements and superior parts play a larger role in performance than the name on the chassis or price.

Long story short...If you would have offered up a name like Parasound as a good alternative to Emotiva for budget prices, then I would have easily agreed with you and said that would be a good alternative for better performance at slightly higher price point. However, my intuition and your subsequent posts proved that you were just spouting opinions on something you had little to no experience.

As for Dave72 - Instead of reading The Audio Critic, maybe you should read marketing books that explain the theory of "anchoring". That's exactly what 80% of audiophile manufacturers rely on to sell their products at outrageous prices.

You could also read Ethan Winer's page and watch his videos.

Maybe you have better ears and more credentials than he has in recording live performances and comparing it to recordings. If so, please reference your website and credentials so that we know you're not just the typical audiophile forum superhero with golden ears just waiting on a contract from Marvel.
I admit I've never had access to a $50K amplifier to look under the hood but I have looked at my share of others to know it doesn't take an experienced designer to know when you see a printed wire board attached to an amplifiers heat sink thats so thin that its warped into shape, the design goal is obviously low cost. Non-labeled components are always suspicious to me.

As I said earlier I compared the XPA-2 to my equally priced and powered Hypex nCore mono blocks which bettered them handily throughout the bandwidth. The XPA's exaggerated and much less defined bass and congestion when pushed left me questioning the companies rated output. With less revealing speakers results may vary greatly and may be acceptable for some.

Is there a qualification to become an audiophile? If one spends ten cents more on anything that may sound better, then he/she is in the mob with the rest of us, period.

The point of forums and threads like this is to share experiences, not to hold back information one may be privy to and then criticize some poor chump who felt so strongly about an expensive product or simply got sold, is hardly comical just truly lame.

I stand by my experience and have no qualms about sharing my impressions, after all I paid for the inconvenience. The great majority of manufactures who provide inexpensive good preforming audio products are not so ashamed of their manufacturing as to decline discussing their process under the guise of, "we do not share such information with the general public or our customers for a multitude of reasons. Sorry."
Sorry for the double post.

After two days I assumed my second response on this subject didn't pass Moderation so I edited my third response then, boom, they both appear.
Labtec-You get an A for effort defending Emotiva. No I have not demoed an Emotiva(stated in previous post) but many reliable sources(not reviewers) claim-grain/harshness in the treble, a bloated mid bass and congestion when pushed hard. I read the XPA-2 clips or even shuts down when pushed, not something that's typical of a well designed 200w/ch+ high current amp. IMO the specs(power/current) of the Emotiva are exaggerated. I have heard several Parasound amps/pre(not the JC-1/2/3) not my preference, would rather have a Marantz 11s1/2/3 int/amp. I mentioned the Yamaha MX-1 because I never heard the typical SS flaws of a bargain amp. Other bargain amps that better Emotiva in sound/design... PS Audio/PSE/Forte/Proceed/VSP/B&K/Amber/Classe/Coda or even the Krell KSA-50/80 can be had for around $2k. My point is Emotiva would NOT be my starting point when building a modest system due to many other superior choices at basically similar cost. I better let you get back to the "Lounge" where a lot of Kool Aid and brainwashing is being served!
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Lots of audio snobs on this forum.
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Day Glow,
Can you perhaps point out to a link of your reliable sources? Since you seem to follow Emotiva so closely and have done a lot of reading about Emotiva gear, I think we are all very curious about your irrefutable sources.

Can you also tell us how you can say for sure that X amp is better than Emotiva? This is considering the fact, as stated by you, that you have never listened to any Emotiva gear.
Labtech, I no longer read 'The Audio Critic.' It's very hardcore objectivism, and it's not fair and balanced. Same old crap; "all amps sound the same," "a wire hanger is good enough for cabling," and "measurements tell the whole story." Maybe you should read it as it falls in line to what you subscribe to.

I never said high end is not overpriced. It certainly is, and the resale value is not the greatest for most brands. However, having said that, you get what you pay for. The key is to get the right equipment that suits your needs and tastes, and something you can and will keep for a long time instead of staying on the merry go round of buying and selling equipment. Also, finding a sympathetic dealer that'll give you a nice discount of say at least 30 percent is key as well. For example, I got my high end speakers (JBL S4700s) for almost half off of retail.
Isanchez-If your so curious about Emotiva buy the amp! My opinion regarding Emotiva was made a long time ago. If circumstantial evidence is enough to send a man to prison, it's enough to avoid wasting time on a poorly made and designed amplifier!
Glow,
Can you explain in technical terms how the Emotiva amps are poorly designed? Judging from your posts, it seems you have a Phd in Electrical Engineering. This is not my major, but I'm sure I can follow.

Also, can you explain what constitute a good amp design? Perhaps you can share which amp you own so we know which one is the best.

Please don't be afraid about getting technical with your answers.
haha good one!
I generally read these threads with a chuckle, but I think I can add some real world experience to the discussion. I replaced a B&K ex442 about a year ago with an Emotiva XPA2. I was trying to find something to match to newly purchased Gallo Ref3.5 speakers. I bought the amp on a fluke. Emotiva is only an hour from my house so I made the trip up there for their big annual bash. I was able to pick up the newest generation XPA2 for a bit less than retail. Not to mention part of the proceeds went to a worthy cause, but I digress.

The B&K was dual mono and 200w/ ch. The Emotiva 300w/ch. I had researched the B&K years ago when I first got into the audio hobby because I had couldn't stand the Adcom 5400 that I initially purchased. It was too bright and the B&K was recommended to tame things a bit. It did. I enjoyed that B&K for more than a dozen years.

There was a big difference in sound when I inserted the XPA2. The Emotiva was like lifting a veil off of the speakers. The difference was truly amazing. Fwiw the B&K is around 400 used and the XPA2 can be had for about 5-600.00 used. Basically apples to apples in my book.

Now, here's where things go a little south. The Emotiva reminds me very much of a Krell. Please don't question me on which Krell. I listened 10 years ago to three different Krell amps pushing through three different Martin Logan Speakers at a store that no longer exists. My experience was that the Krell was hyper-detailed. Everything was slightly exaggerated. The Emotiva had the same effect. I was hearing details I'd never heard from my CD's. But, it was just somehow unnatural.

I have decided that there are some who genuinely prefer the hyper sound. I believe that some manufacturers voice their amps to satisfy this group of listeners. It's just fatiguing to me. Initially I was super excited by what I was hearing, but for critical listening it became bright to my ears. I find I prefer the sound of the triode tube amps that I'm now using. But, that is my preference. It is not a criticism of the XPA2. The Emotiva seemed to offer a similar sound to what I remember from the Krells and to my untrained ear, was superior to the Adcoms, B&K and Parasound equipment that I had experience with over the years.

Compared to the old Adcom and B&K gear the Emotiva was much better. It had much better control with tighter less wooly bass than the B&K and presented a bigger sound stage with less brightness on the top-end than the Adcom. It also never sounded stressed or closed in. It seemed to have never ending reserves. I even had a chance to a/b the Emotiva to a Jolida 502b, which is an integrated, but tubed and 50% more than the Emotiva. It was a trade-off. If you err on the side of warmth and fatigue-free the Jolida would be the choice b/w the two. If you prefer that hyper detailed, exaggerated sound then the Emotiva gave you more "sound." Of course the Emotiva wins hands down if SPLs are what you're after.

So there you go. I'm a lowly audiophile with limited real world experience. However, I do have direct experience with the amp in question in relation to other similarly priced amplifiers of various vintages.

While I don't have the XPA2 in a system right now, I'm not going to sell it. I plan on using it in another system later. It's a good deal and to my ears swings far above it's price point.
Cool, glad you enjoy it. What we're getting at, or least what I'm getting at, is the ridiculous notion that Emotiva is equal or better than the creme de la creme of high end amps. To me, that is ludicrous. And don't get started with the objectivist propaganda. That crap doesn't fly around here.
The Emotiva house sound is overly detailed, bright sounding. After owning 3 of their products, and being subjected to delays and excuses from them, it's not worth it. If one has warm speakers and doesn't like the sound, Emotiva may strike a balance. But newbies with Klipsch speakers and no knowledge of what excellent neutral SQ is crank it up and brag on their forum about how "detailed" it is. Ignorance is bliss I guess.