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Discussion Starter #1
I searched the forum, and I didn't find a lot of information about Emotiva. I'd never heard of them until I noticed their ads coming up on this forum. They seem like a lot of bang for the buck, but I'm wondering if anyone has experience with them.

Unless I've overlooked something, it appears that coupling the XPA-5 amp with the UMC-1 audio/video processor would yield the basis of a fairly full-featured 5.1 HT system. Just add speakers and monitor. Or am I missing a component?

The XPA-5 seems like a monster amp at 200W per channel at 8 ohms. And that's with all channels driven, continuous power. 1000W total continuous power according to the Emotiva web site. The THD is .1%, which is not as low as I'd like. SNR is 111db.

The UMC-1 audio/video processor is a brand new product. Reading off the web site, there are five HDMI 1.3a inputs and one output. There are three composite, S-video, and component inputs, and one component video out. It also has one 7.1 analog (RCA) input set and one 7.1 analog output set; can someone tell me what those are for? I don't see anything labeled "pre-out". It's got four coax (RCA) and three digital (TOSLINK) inputs and one each output. It's got an AM/FM tuner. It has DVD, CD, Cable, and Aux RCA inputs too. I don't see a headphone jack. And then it has some other outputs that I don't know the purpose of.

The UMC-1 processor has "Decoding support for Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital True HD, Dolby PLIIx, DTS, DTSES, DTS HD, DTS Master Audio, DTS Neo 6, SPDIF, PCM 8 channel (note: some audio formats are only supported via HDMI)" according to the web site. Are there any significant ones missing from that lineup?

Eventually I'm sure I'll catch on to all the connection requirements and components needed for a system, but for now it is still all a bit fuzzy to me. Can someone tell me if the UMC-1 is also a pre-amp? Or would a separate pre-amp need to be positioned between it and the XPA-5 power amplifier?

Now I'm off to go look at some Yamaha, Denon, and Onkyo AVRs. Having everything in one unit is easier to understand, although I think it also obfuscates understanding how all the discrete parts of the unit relate to each other. Before I buy anything I want to understand where equipment like these Emotiva units fits in with those other A/V receivers and how they compare.

five
 

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There are a couple of Emotiva owners here. Unfortunately I am not one of them. I'm sure they'll be along soon with some comments.
 

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Well formatted post with easy to understand questions:

No experience, but their equipment is generally well regarded as good performers and great value.

No you're not missing anything, and .1% distortion is usually the figure used for maximum acceptable value (no perceptible distortion), so don't sweat it.

7.1 ins used for sources that externally decode audio, such as a blu-ray player with analog outs. You likely won't use them but they do insure that, regardless of what new audio formats come down the pipe, you'll always be able to take advantage of them.

7.1 outs are what you connect to your amp.

No missing audio formats.

UMC-1 is a pre-amp. Does all processing, but no amplifying.

If you do buy from Emotiva, make sure they know that you first came upon them here at the shack. It helps keep the forums running.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks Mark and Marshall. I do hope some of the Emotiva owners will chime in. I'd like to know if anyone has heard and can compare the Emotiva XPA-5 plus UMC-1 (or the now-discontinued LMC-1) with the Rotel 1560. The Rotel lacks some features found in the Emotiva UMC-1, which lacks some features found in the Yamaha/Denon/Onkyo receivers in the $1500 to $1900 price range. The Rotel is the most expensive offering among those I've listed, and is a class D design, which has pluses and minues. I also understand from reviews that the Rotel is not the easiest unit to set up and configure. But sound quality is the most important thing, so hearing from someone who has experienced both Emotiva and Rotel would be helpful.
 

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The Emotiva UMC1 is getting a lot of interest around forums lately and at $699 it seems to be a bargain, lots of features for a very good price, Rotel have always been good for solid products and excellent SQ but lacking in the bells and whistles that others throw in, the new 15 series amps are extremely good and based on ICEpower, I have had a 1575 for a few months now and am completely satisfied with its performance and quite a few manufacturers are using this power amp technology, IIRC Pioneer are now using it also in there AV amp range...
 

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There are a variety of ways to interpret power ratings.

Here are the ratings for the Emotiva XPA-5:
All Channels Driven at 1Khz, 250 watts RMS per channel into 8 Ohms (0.04% THD)
All Channels Driven at 20Hz-20kHz, 200 watts RMS per channel into 8 Ohms (0.1% THD)

You'll just have to accept that the Emotiva XPA-5 provides something under 200 watts per channel with all channels driven at 20Hz-20kHz into 8 Ohms with 0.04% THD. That "something under" is likely at least 150 watts.

The Emotiva UMC-1 and XPA-5 I listened to driving PSB Imagine T towers, center and bookshelves with a PSB SubSeries 500 subwoofer accounted themselves very well. One of the best home theaters I have listened to and watched (60" Sharp Aquos LCD and Samsung Blu-ray) to date.
 

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Hello,
Emotiva really has made a name for themselves for offering stupendous values. Especially in the realm of amplifiers.
Here are a couple of reviews of XPA Series Amplifiers: http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/power-amplifiers/496.html?showall=1
http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/amplifiers/emotiva-xpa-2-stereo-power-amplifier

They offer plenty of power and heavy duty transformers and capacitors to back it up. All at prices that seem too good to be true. There are many Emotiva fans all over the internet with some almost seeming fanatical about the company.

I really like the XPA Series. I am a fan of Class A/AB power amplifiers with large transformers and a goodly amount of capacitance. Emotiva also offers amplifiers that are not A/AB with much of their lineup being Class H. Class H is similar to Class G and is cooler running and more efficient than Class A or A/AB.
Cheers,
JJ
 

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As JJ said, Emotiva's products are stupendous values. They really compete, performance-wise, with higher priced models without being high priced themselves. I really enjoyed my Emotiva MPS-2 when I had it and now my brother is enjoying it. The reason I eventually moved away from them is to get more power. I wanted lots more power for my front speakers and the Emo was limited in overall power.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Since I've been auditioning various amps and speakers lately, I've learned to appreciate the value of auditioning. Being unlearned and largely ignorant of audio specifications, I find myself unable to relate what I read on paper to what I hear when I listen to the equipment. I have found that I can't judge whether or not I'll like the sound based on the specs.

I continue to be interested in the Emotiva products, especially at the price, but I'm ruling them out for now since I can't audition them. Right now I have no HT or stereo system at all since my amp died, so getting some quality sight and sound back into my home is my number one priority. I am approaching it cautiously, so as to avoid ending up with something I'm not totally pleased with.

I'm leaning toward Rotel RSX-1550 and B&W 804S fronts with HTM3S or 4S center. I have auditioned several combinations of A/V receiver amp and speakers, and these, at least within my budget, seem best to my ears so far. I'm going to audition again this evening, in fact.

Emotiva does have a great 30 day return policy. I may try them at some point. I'll compare them with whatever I decide to buy first, and the loser will go up on Audiogon.
 

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Hello,
I greatly respect the desire to audition a piece of equipment prior to making a purchase. Have you listened to the Rotel with the 804's? Why I am asking is that in my experience, B&W 800 Series sound their best with at least 200 WPC. Given that Rotel and B&W are almost always sold at the same stores, I would guess that you have.

That would be an excellent system. If possible, try to audition an Onkyo TX-SR876 if there is a dealer in your area. The 876 weighs 15 more pounds than the 1550 with almost all of that weight being in the amplifier section. Furthermore, the 876 features Reon video processing which is excellent.
Cheers,
JJ
 

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I'm currently using two of their amplifiers and think they are some of the best bang for the buck pieces I've ever used. The sound quality for HT is on par with anything else I've ever heard and better than some - far superior to anything I've ever heard from a receiver. Overall I say give them a try.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hi JJ. Yes, I've listened to older 10xx series amps and the 1550 with the 804S speakers. They all seemed like they had plenty of power to drive the speakers, but being a novice with high quality gear, I could be missing something. I'm going to another store to listen to the class D Rotel amp (1560) this evening.

I'm also a little concerned about whether the Rotel amps have the power to drive the 804S, but mainly just based on comments like yours. The salesman at the audio store where I auditioned the 804S opined that the Rotel could drive them, but he said the Denon 3310ci I was also looking at might be hard pressed, even if bi-amping the main speakers.

The Denon 3310ci is rated at 120 WPC, but they don't describe on their web site how they test. The conservative assumption is that it is based on a 1kHz test for one channel at a time, which tends to overstate the real world power.

According to Rotel, the 1550 has 75 watts x 5/ch (20-20kHz, <0.05% THD, 8 ohms), and is a class A/B design. The 1560 has 100 watts x 7/ch (20-20kHz, <0.03% THD, 8 ohms).

It's hard to directly compare the Onkyo amp that you mentioned, the TX-SR876, because they don't list the specs in the same way. They are listed for 2 channels at a time, like this:

Front L/R - 140 W + 140 W (8 ohms, 20 Hz–20 kHz, 0.05%, 2 channels driven, FTC)
Center - 140 W + 140 W (8 ohms, 20 Hz–20 kHz, 0.05%, 2 channels driven, FTC)
Surround - 140 W + 140 W (8 ohms, 20 Hz–20 kHz, 0.05%, 2 channels driven, FTC)
Surround Back - 140 W + 140 W (8 ohms, 20 Hz–20 kHz, 0.05%, 2 channels driven, FTC)

The difficulty in comparing specs from one vendor to the next is one reason why I'm auditioning. One problem with that approach though, is that if I go to another dealer to listen to amps that the B&W dealer doesn't carry, I probably won't be able to compare the sound on the same 804S speakers. It's a bit frustrating, an apples and oranges scenario.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I'm currently using two of their amplifiers and think they are some of the best bang for the buck pieces I've ever used. The sound quality for HT is on par with anything else I've ever heard and better than some - far superior to anything I've ever heard from a receiver. Overall I say give them a try.
What speakers are you using? Which Emotiva amps?
 

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Hi JJ. Yes, I've listened to older 10xx series amps and the 1550 with the 804S speakers. They all seemed like they had plenty of power to drive the speakers, but being a novice with high quality gear, I could be missing something. I'm going to another store to listen to the class D Rotel amp (1560) this evening.

I'm also a little concerned about whether the Rotel amps have the power to drive the 804S, but mainly just based on comments like yours. The salesman at the audio store where I auditioned the 804S opined that the Rotel could drive them, but he said the Denon 3310ci I was also looking at might be hard pressed, even if bi-amping the main speakers.

The Denon 3310ci is rated at 120 WPC, but they don't describe on their web site how they test. The conservative assumption is that it is based on a 1kHz test for one channel at a time, which tends to overstate the real world power.

According to Rotel, the 1550 has 75 watts x 5/ch (20-20kHz, <0.05% THD, 8 ohms), and is a class A/B design. The 1560 has 100 watts x 7/ch (20-20kHz, <0.03% THD, 8 ohms).

It's hard to directly compare the Onkyo amp that you mentioned, the TX-SR876, because they don't list the specs in the same way. They are listed for 2 channels at a time, like this:

Front L/R - 140 W + 140 W (8 ohms, 20 Hz–20 kHz, 0.05%, 2 channels driven, FTC)
Center - 140 W + 140 W (8 ohms, 20 Hz–20 kHz, 0.05%, 2 channels driven, FTC)
Surround - 140 W + 140 W (8 ohms, 20 Hz–20 kHz, 0.05%, 2 channels driven, FTC)
Surround Back - 140 W + 140 W (8 ohms, 20 Hz–20 kHz, 0.05%, 2 channels driven, FTC)

The difficulty in comparing specs from one vendor to the next is one reason why I'm auditioning. One problem with that approach though, is that if I go to another dealer to listen to amps that the B&W dealer doesn't carry, I probably won't be able to compare the sound on the same 804S speakers. It's a bit frustrating, an apples and oranges scenario.
Number 5,
Actually looking at the specific specs of your speakers, 90db efficient, 8 ohm nominal load, you really might be alright with the Rotel driving them. Your room size and listening habits will have a huge say in how happy you will be with the Rotel driving the 804S. Looking at this review :http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_12_3/b&w-804s-htm3s-speakers-8-2005-part-1.html
it does show the 804 does dip down to 4 ohms, but not through the entire frequency range.

Here are the measurements for the TX-SR875 which has the identical amplifier section:http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/receivers/2463/test-bench-onkyo-tx-sr875-av-receiver.html
Given how inexpensive the XPA-2 is, I would still advocate picking up one of them to drive your 804's.
The XPA-2 puts out a solid 400 watts into 4 ohms and will better harness your speaker.

If not the Emotiva as an add on, the Onkyo has far greater drive capability. While looking at the RSX-1550 at Rotel's website, I noticed it was rated at 75 WPC ACD. And in reading the reviews provided by Rotel on its website for the 1550, one review described the difficulties when driving Von Schweikert speakers when under review. Here is the link for the review: http://www.rotel.com/content/reviews/15 series/rsx1550-equip_rotel_cm.pdf

If it was not for the fact that you are using B&W's 800 Series, I would not even think twice about using the Rotel. Having much experience listening to them, I just honestly believe truly shine when given lots of current.
Cheers,
JJ
 

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You can audition Emotiva stuff, with your speakers, in your room. All it will cost you is the return shipping if you make a return.

From the Emotiva website: "Emotiva offers a 30 day, no questions asked and hassle-free, return policy. Simply call 1-877-EMO-TECH for an RMA number. Once we have received your unit(s), checking to make sure they are intact, we will issue a refund for the full purchase amount. It’s that simple!"
 

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Discussion Starter #16
So if I "auditioned" the Emotiva amps, what would likely make a better setup for providing plenty of power to the speakers? The XPA-2 at 250 watts per channel (2 channels) plus the XPA-3 at 200 watts per channel (3 channels), or the XPA-5 at 200 watts per channel (5 channels). I'm going for a 5.1 setup, not 7.1. Of course, in this case I'd probably team up the amp choices with the UMC-1 pre/pro.

By the way, isn't the .1% THD on these amps fairly marginal when you compare it with .05% or .08% that is common on many other mid-range choices (Rotel, Onkyo, Denon, Yamaha)?
 

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Well, at the risk of stating the obvious, the 2/3 combo would give you more rated power. If you're asking if that extra 50watts is warranted, if you have the money and space in your rack, sure, why not. However, IMHO, unless you have a very large room or inefficient speakers, the 5 would probably suit you just fine.

If you're on a budget, but still think you want the most power, start with the 3 and get an AVR with 7.1 outs. Run the front 3 off your amp and the surrounds off the AVR. Like what you hear? Buy the 2nd amp when you have the scratch.
 

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Hello,
I would go with the XPA-2 and XPA-3 combo over the XPA-5. Here's why, believe it or not the XPA-2 shares the same toroidal transformer (1.2 kVA) as the XPA-5 and only 6000u less capacitance than the XPA-5. That is the XPA-2 has virtually the same power supply as the XPA-5.

While the XPA-3 is not nearly as impressive as the XPA-2, when the two are combined you would have a 2 kVA toroidal transformer (almost twice as large a transformer as the XPA-5) and more capacitance with the XPA-2/XPA-3 over the XPA-5. And, if two channel stereo performance is important to you, you will have an awesome two channel amplifier and a very capable three channel amplifier for the Center and Surround Channels.

While the more expensive solution, the XPA-2/XPA-3 combo would offer much more power and far, far greater power reserves. And if you are still planning on going with B&W 804S's, it really is a no brainer as those are awesome speakers and well deserving of the much higher current reserves of the XPA-2.
Cheers,
JJ
 

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Discussion Starter #19
JJ, it makes sense. I thank you and everyone else who is helping to contribute to my education in this thread. I very well may go with Emotiva as a result.

Can someone explain what the significance of higher capacitance is?

five
 

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As I understand it, stored power for highly dynamic sound. Your levels may bounce along just fine, but when there's a big dB increase, you need the stored power.

Re-reading that, it was a pretty horrible explanation, but I can think of a good analogy right now. How about this...the capacitors are the town water tower. If everyone flushes the toilet at once, you'll need more water than just the water pump can provide.
 
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