Emotiva make a wide range of stereo and home cinema amps, ranging from the budget BasX A-100 at only £350 through a massively flexible multi-channel amps, to the XPA Gen2 differential reference Monoblocks at £1700 each.
They're all what you'd expect from Emotiva. Solid, no-nonsense, great value, high-performing bits of kit.
But depending on whether you're a stereo purist, a movie fan, or you love streaming live concerts, and, of course, depending on your budget, Emotiva might be just what you're looking for, or might not really be the right option.Let's step through the range.
The Emotiva BasX RangeThe clue is in the title. This is a basic range. But don't be mislead - although the pricing is keen, the performance is exceptional.
The £600 integrated is a solid performer, and with an FM radio, phono stage, headphone amp, on-board DAC and optional Bluetooth receiver, it's got plenty of features.
As a feature-rich, entry level amp, it's hard to beat.
The preamp is basically the integrated without the output stage. It's a solid performer. The DAC is pretty decent for the money, and is the only real weakness in what is otherwise a very capable preamp.
The A-100 Stereo Flex amplifier is an interesting beast. It only has a single input, and no DAC, no phono stage. So in that respect it's not actually very flexible at all. Where it does get its flexibility is it's potential as a zone amplifier. It can be daisy-chained, and also switch on when it senses a signal. However what it is is a ridiculously good piece of amplification for the money - it'll wipe the floor with the competition, if all you have is a single line-level input. The headphone amplifier is also exceptionally good - being driven directly from the main output stage, like the integrated amplifiers of the 70s ad 80s.
The stereo power amplifiers - the A150 and A300 are not, in our view, alike. The A150 is adequate. Like all Emotiva kit, it does offer good value for money, and if all you need is a bit of two-channel amplification for a zone, or to go with some other existing pre-amp, or add two more channels to a 5.1 setup, it's a worth a look, but frankly the Parasound Zamp v.3 may well be a better bet. The PT-100/A-150 combo isn't sufficiently better than the integrated to merit the extra spend. The A-300, however, is terrific, and the PT-100/A-300 is giant killer, at just over £1000.
The multi-channel BASX amps are great - the 8 channel in particular is useful for running a bunch of stereo zones, and the 5 and 7 channel amps are perfect for multi-channel music, when combined with a processor
Stealth PA1Another odd one - this is a balanced monoblock class D amplifier, for £350 - £700 for a pair. Sounds like a bargain, but you'll need a balance preamp to go with it, and fine though the XSP-1 Gen2 is, you're now in territory where, frankly, there are compelling alternatives in both valve and solid state. You might also prefer a class A or A/B amplifier design in a system at this level. Our verdict: consider, but probably pass.
XPA Gen3 Fully Modular Amplifier PlatformWhen you get to the XPA platform, you're in the territory of really great performance for multi-channel music and home theater.
The concept of the platform is to add amplificaton modules to taste - the chassis accepts up to 7 modules, and can be added to as needed.
If you want a pure two-channel stereo system, I'd probably look elsewhere - Primare, Parasound, or Ming Da might provide a more compelling story at this price point, although the venerable Herb Reichert in Stereophile disagrees with me, but once you're thinking about home cinema, or multi-channel music, unless your budget is very very generous, Emotiva really hits the sweet spot.
In addition to the modular option, there's the XPA-11 and 9 - great for 7.1.2, 712.4, 5.1.4 or 5.1.6 syetems
XPA Gen3 Differential Reference Amps
This brings us at last to the flagship stereo amplifiers - the DR-1 monoblock, DR-2 stereo power amp, and DR-3 three channel amp.
Honestly, again, for a dedicated two channel system, I'm not convinced the top-of-the range Emotiva ampliifcaton is the place to look. However, for a high quality multi channel music or movie setup, these are as good as you'll get for the money.
ConclusionSo - are Emotiva amplifiers good? Well - as usual, the honest answer is "it depends". At the budget end of the spectrum, no, they're not just good, they're very good indeed. Not uniformly so, but at this price point, an unquestionable thumbs up.
The next level up is offers an attractive bang for buck for home cinema and multi-channel music. If you're a stereo purist, we'd advise you to look elsewhere, but for live concerts, sports events, and movies, they pack a hell of a punch, and have a degree of flexibility, and just sheer number of options for channels makes them our go-to choice.The Class D monoblock is worth passing on, and the A-100 could either be great or just not quite right, depending on your needs.Of course, we're always happy to chat through your needs and options, or arrange a demo - just give us a call, or drop us a note.