Tag Archives: home theatre

Emotiva XPA-5 Review

Background

I’ve been using three amplifiers to power all speakers since getting support for a 7.1 speaker setup by upgrading from my old Sony AVR to my Emotiva LMC-1 processor. Well ok, four amplifiers if you include the SVS sub’s built-in amplifier.

I was thinking that it seems rather pointless to take up valuable rack space and power plugs with two amplifiers when I could get one five channel amplifier to replace both my Lexicon 312 power amplifier and a Teac A-H500 integrated stereo amplifier. Not to mention less hassle, as I would not have to set the integrated amplifier at the right volume point to match the power amplifier and make sure it was on the right input if it was switched off from the wall (it forgets the settings).

Happy with my experience with the Emotiva LMC-1, I was hoping to order a next generation processor and a five channel amplifier from them this year. Unfortunately there have been long delays in releasing the next generation processors due to the lack of availability of some critical integrated circuits.

A couple of other forum members at Xtremeplace.com were also eyeing some Emotiva gear, so three of us combined forces in the hope of saving on the shipping. I picked up mine yesterday (Dec 28, 2008) from DanDon’s place at Jurong West. Thanks to Dan for organising the order!

Out with the old then and in with the new!

The Old Amps

The Old Amps: My Lexicon 312 and TEAC A-H500

The combined box and amplifier weight is nearly 40kg, so I took a trolley to Dan’s place to pick it up. A very worthwhile investment!

Emotiva XPA-5 Box

Emotiva XPA-5 Box

The amplifier is double boxed and well insulated from shocks with snugly fitting foam packaging.

Emotiva XPA-5 Double Boxed

Emotiva XPA-5 Double Boxed

Emotiva XPA-5 Packaging

Emotiva XPA-5 Packaging

Emotiva XPA-5 in standby mode

Emotiva XPA-5 - Top View

Emotiva XPA-5 - Top View

Bryston 14B ST on the left and Emotiva XPA-5 on the right

Bryston 14B ST and Emotiva XPA-5

Bryston 14B ST and Emotiva XPA-5

Emotiva XPA-5 powered on.

Emotiva XPA-5 Powered On

Emotiva XPA-5 Powered On

Watch the power on sequence on YouTube. You can watch it in HD on YouTube too.

As you can see from the photos above I have another power amplifier, my Bryston 14B ST, to power my main LR speakers while the Emotiva XPA-5 powers the remaining five speakers in my 7.1 setup.

I’m a bit lazy so I have not labelled my cables and in the excitement didn’t bother remembering the colours of the cables when I disconnected the other amplifiers. That meant it would be hit or miss when I reconnected everything. Of course I got it wrong. I noticed the bullets flying in weird directions on my favourite test scene, The Matrix lobby shoot out. I was a bit too keen to hear how it sounded and suffered the consequences. I grudgingly went off to get my sound meter and played the test tones from the Emotiva processor for a quick confirmation that everything was in order. I had both the side surround and rears around the wrong way!

Home Theatre Test

Now let’s be honest here – the time it took me to unplug everything, assess how many AMPs were going to be drawn from each socket/power board and moved the amplifiers in and out was far too long for a reliable comparison. The Lexicon amp is no slouch (it’s really a re-badged Bryston), and the Teac was only doing the rears anyway. However, I did feel that there was better integration in the sound, which is strange given the Lexicon is a Bryston. I also felt that there was more detail and clarity in the scene. I do not think there is a light and day difference, but that was not my intention anyway. I just wanted to clean things up and make sure I got a decent amplifier to replace my other two amplifiers and the Emotiva has performed that task easily.

Stereo Test

Both the Bryston 14B ST and the Emotiva XPA-5 have RCA and balanced inputs which can be set with a simple flick of a switch on the rear of the amplifier for each channel. I decided to use my Benchmark DAC-1, with the balanced outputs, to test the stereo performance of both amplifiers.

Again, it is not a straight forward task to switch bare wire connections and the balanced cables from one amplifier to another, so in the time it takes I’m sure my “sound memory” fades. Combining this with construction noise and a howling wind probably didn’t make for the best listening environment either. Hopefully DanDon and Quest from Xtremeplace can come over soon and we can have more ears and brains to make an assessment.

I played some tracks that I’m familiar with and found both amplifiers to perform similarly, which is a feat in itself for the Emotiva to compare favourable with the Bryston. Like both DanDon and Quest I found the Emotiva to be a little more harsh than I would have preferred. I would even say in one part of a song with some thumping bass that the Emotiva seemed to deliver a more defined bass note than the 500W+ per channel Bryston. However, It is the kind of track where you need to go back and forth to compare a few times and I just didn’t have the time with a guest coming for dinner.

Conclusion

I will have to wait for a quieter evening with some fellow Xtremeplace forumers to compare the Bryston and Emotiva amplifiers in more detail. For now I can say that for the price the Emotiva XPA-5 is an excellent amplifier for home theatre and will do a very good job in stereo too.

I now have seven channels of high power amplification with unbalanced and balanced connections ready to go into action. All I need is the new processor from Emotiva with balanced outputs and I’ll be a very happy man for a few years at least. In the meantime I’ve cleaned up my setup while at least maintaining, if not improving, the overall sound quality of my home theatre experience.

Now I just need to fix this horrible room!



Home Theatre System from 2001!

Well I’ve finally got my home cinema system sorted out and it’s fantastic :-).

Front Including Sub

Front Including Sub

Here is what I bought:

Sony 28″ Wide Screen TV
Marantz DV3100 DVD  Player
Sony STRDB940 Amp/Receiver
Front Speakers – Tannoy MX2
Rear Speakers – Tannoy MX1
Centre Speaker – Tannoy M (I think)
Subwoofer – Tannoy MX 10
Four stands
Cables, otherwise nothing much would happen :-)

Front Close Up

Front Close Up

The TV is not a digital one as I thought that the digital standards are still settling in and the digital boxes cost quite a bit more, so I went with an analogue wide screen TV.  When I was looking at the TV sets the Sony stood out as having the better picture, so I bought that even though it was more expensive than the other brands, as Sony always is!

I went for the Marantz DVD player, as it was on special and had all the features that I needed, plus I wanted to use the DVD player as a CD player too.  Since Marantz make good quality hi-fi equipment I decided to get this over some other brands that might not have paid too much attention to the CD playback.  That said, I’m sure it’s not as good as my CD player back home!

The Sony Receiver has won praise as the best in its price range, so I decided to go with this component for the value for money reason.  It also came with a learning remote which allows me to work the TV, DVD player and Receiver from the one remote control.  I’m still working out a few of the commands, but it does the job most of the time.  This was the most expensive component.

The Tannoy speakers are again in the value for money segment, at the budget end of town.  Good enough to do the job :-).

The stands and cables are really there to make it all work, so I wont go into detail there.

I’ve joined the local video store and have hired out a couple of movies.  I also bought Blade Runner and Batman and Robin with Arnold as Mr. Freeze.  The Matrix and The Fifth Element are very good on the home cinema system :-).

You can see one of the rear speakers below, which kind of blends in with the surround, which is good, but I’m going to get the black ones in any case.  They are on order.

Rear Speakers

Rear Speakers

Sorry about all the sun in the pics, but it was the only time I remembered to take them :-).