Emotiva UPA-2 Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 13 Old 02-22-11, 07:43 PM Thread Starter
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Emotiva UPA-2 Review

My amazing wife for me the UPA-2 for valentines day (amazing, wonderful woman!)

This is my first separate power amp so I can only compare it to my AVR and others that I have used. This is also my first posted review so forgive me if I miss anything.

First my system:
Martin Logan Vantages (L/R)
Martin Logan Depth I (sub)
Pioneer SC-05 (AVR)
Project Debut III (TT)
Yamaha (SACD/DVD-A)
Sony PS3 (60gig/fat)
Nintendo Wii
Panamax PM-5300

And now
Emotiva UPA-2
---/specs/---
Topology: Fully Discrete, Dual Differential, High Current, Short Signal Path Class A/B
Power output (all channels driven):
185 watts RMS @ 4 ohm (0.1% THD)
125 watts RMS @ 8 ohm (0.1% THD)
Power Band Response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz with less than .05db deviation at rated power
Broadband Frequency Response (‐3db): 5Hz to 150kHz
Size:
Unboxed: 17" wide x 3.875" high x 18" deep
Boxed: 22.25" wide x 8.5" high x 22.5" deep
Weight: 30 lbs (39 lbs boxed)
-------------------------------

When I found out I was getting the amp I knew I would not be able to focus on anything else until it was set up so I set time aside for just that reason.

My first impression of the UPA-2 was that it was big and heavy. I know that's not a good way to gauge the quality of a product but I have to admit it got me excited to see what kind of an improvement I would get compared to my Pioneer SC-05.

Unboxing:
The UPA-2 ships in a labeled emotiva product box. The amp it held safe in very dense foam packaging and sealed in plastic wrap. The silver accent pieces come attached (emo sells replacement black bars.) Emotiva also provides a small allen wrench to remove the bars if you would like. I promptly did so as I feel the bars detract from the esthetics of the amp and clashes with the rest of my equipment.

When looking over the amp I was at first concerned with the build quality. While the amp was sturdy, with a very large bolt protruding from the bottom of the unit holding the power source in place, the binding posts, gain dial, and RCA terminals seemed flimsy.

A little worried I pressed on.

My Depth I has RCA and LFE in/out it so as to set the crossover for the towers separately then the surrounds, since many AVRs require you to have one crossover point for all the speakers. My Pioneer included.

After connecting the amp to my pioneer's pre-out and connecting my Vantages as well as looping the RCA from the amp to the sub. I hooked up the 12v trigger from the pioneer to the amp. Emotiva was kind enough to provide an 12v out so as to chain multiple triggers together. I then set all the power setting on my AVR and started mcacc to bring my levels up to reference.

85db was no problem with this amp. I had to adjust the gain to about 3/4 and then tweak the setting from the AVR from there.

I noticed a hum coming from my speakers when the amp was on but no source was sending signal through. This tested at 30db! A little research showed this was not uncommon for people to experience. Once a source was powered on (even just the AVR with nothing playing) the hum quit. I would be worried about this but I don't leave my equipment on when not in use and the 12v trigger powers the amp on/off as needed.

I started out my comparison listening to some CDs
Pink Floyd -dark side on sacd
Drop Kick Murphies -Meanest of Times
And Yeah Yeah Yeas -Show Your Bones

First I will say that while most people speak to the extended low end that a powerful amp brings to the table this was not the case for me as my Vantages have there own 200w powered sub and electrotats tend to be more power hungry, dipping to 1ohm or less, in the highs. Cymbal crashes and flutes were more accurate and defined. Bagpipes seemed to fill room. Even as I pushed the volume louder and louder I could not find the limit of ether my speakers or the amp. 0 was far too loud to stand for more them a few minutes.

I followed that up with some records
Doors -Morrison Hotel
Grateful Dead -in the dark

I have always liked the way records sound, audiophiles will use terms like warmer or more organic sounding. For me it's the ritual of playing the music. As you remove the record from it's sleeve. Carefully dust the disc before every listening. And physically lower the needle on to the spinning platter. It makes you pay attention to the music and for me makes me appreciate it more. The Doors came to life in my living room.

That night I watched the second Lord of the Rings
I had just gotten the trilogy on bluray and two nights ago had watched disc one. Throughout the second film I was impressed by how detailed the sound was. I could pickup on small sounds that I had not noticed before. The quality was undeniable. At times I found I was paying more attention to the sounds then the storytelling. Needless to say I was impressed.

Since then I have been playing COD4:2 a lot. I'm still running stereo 2.1 with no center or surrounds. Still I'm getting very good imaging and get enough auditory ques to know what sounds are behind me.

To sum it up. My setup was great before but now it's truly amazing. I understand what people mean by headroom now. The UPA-2 will stay in my home setup for many moons.
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post #2 of 13 Old 02-23-11, 10:59 AM
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post #3 of 13 Old 02-23-11, 01:06 PM
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Re: Emotiva UPA-2 Review

Great review, thanks for taking the time to share it. However, I guess I'm not understanding how an Emotiva UPA-2 is more powerful than the Pioneer SC-05 AV Receiver for two channel reproduction. The SC-05 is rated for two-channel, both channels driven at 140 watts per channel, 20 Hz to 20 kHz, 8 Ω, 0.09 % THD whereas the Emotiva UPA-2 is rated at 125 watts per channel both channels driven, 20 Hz to 20 kHz, 8 Ω, 0.1 % THD. The Pioneer SC-05 uses Class D amplifiers while the Emotiva UPA-2 is of A/B topology. Perhaps the Emotiva is better able to handle the impedance dips than the Pioneer. What am I missing here and are we dealing with a psychoacoustic response?

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post #4 of 13 Old 02-23-11, 04:53 PM Thread Starter
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UPA-2 is 4ohm stable and can push into lower impedance.

My pioneer is stable to 6ohm. It's getting about half as hot. Which suppressed me as the pioneer is using an ice amp vs a/b on the emo. Go figure.

Yes it may be in my head. I can tell you it's much louder and does seem faster.

Last edited by rab-byte; 02-23-11 at 05:03 PM.
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post #5 of 13 Old 02-23-11, 11:38 PM
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Re: Emotiva UPA-2 Review

I definitely bet there was something going on. Electrostats present not only low impedance dips but inductive phase angles. In fact even though I`m someone who normally doesn`t believe in cables sounding different, I would be the first to tell you to look carefully at the DC resistance and inductance of the cable if you`re running electrostats. They`re just fickle like that :P
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post #6 of 13 Old 02-24-11, 10:55 AM
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Re: Emotiva UPA-2 Review

I think the SC-05 running two-channel should not have any difficulty with a 4 Ohm load as it is likely faced with potential 3 Ohm loads when running 6 Ohm speakers in 7 speakers plus a B zone.

13.3" MacBook Air, 4GB RAM, 256GB SSD, iTunes/BitPerfect
MacBook Air SuperDrive
Western Digital My Book Essential 2TB USB HD
Schiit Bifrost USB DAC
Emotiva ERC-1, USP-1 and 2 x UPA-1
Pro-Ject Xpression III and AT440MLa
Grado SR80i
Magnepan MMG Magnestand
Rythmik Audio F12
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post #7 of 13 Old 09-02-11, 10:04 PM
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Re: Emotiva UPA-2 Review

Ordered one of these today. With a clearance price of $299 and my Marantz 8002 having zone 2 preouts it was impossible to pass up for my pair of p162s in that zone. I curse your quality gear and rock-bottom prices Emotiva!
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post #8 of 13 Old 09-04-11, 09:05 PM
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Re: Emotiva UPA-2 Review

Emotiva has serious bang for the buck on amps. I am not sure what I could possibly replace mine with... if ever I did.

Hey rab... can I borrow your wife for a while? I wouldn't mind a few new pieces of equipment.

Cedar Creek Cinema

PremierHomeAudio: Denon, Marantz, Onkyo, Yamaha, Sony, Pioneer, Def Tech and more. Shoot me a PM!
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post #9 of 13 Old 09-04-11, 09:12 PM
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Re: Emotiva UPA-2 Review

I've really been wanting some Emo amps like nobody's business! Something that's really lacking in my system is power. Thanks for the review.

Last edited by flyng_fool; 09-04-11 at 09:28 PM.
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post #10 of 13 Old 09-05-11, 06:44 AM Thread Starter
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No a chance you know how long it took me to find her!!!

It's a good amp, runs very cool.

BTW
You can remove the silver rails on the sides of the face. Giving what I think is much cooler look. All back
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