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Emotiva UPA-500 & UPA-200 Ultra Series Amps Preview

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Emotiva UPA-500 Ultra Series Amp

Emotiva UPA-500 Ultra Series Amp

Summary

  • Product Name: UPA-500 & UPA-200
  • Manufacturer: Emotiva Audio
  • Review Date: July 25, 2012 19:45
  • MSRP: $399 (UPA-500); $349 (UPA-200)
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!
  • Buy Now

UPA-500

  • Topology: Fully discrete, dual differential, high current, short signal path Class A/B
  • Number of Channels: 5
  • Power Output (rated power; THD < 0.01%):
    120 watts / channel (4 ohms; all channels driven)
    80 watts / channel (8 ohms; all channels driven)
  • Rated Power Bandwidth (at rated power; 8 Ohm load): 10 Hz to 20 kHz + /- 0.06 dB
  • Minimum Recommended Load Impedance (each channel): 4 ohms (which equals one 4 ohm load or two paralleled 8 ohm loads per channel)
  • Frequency Response: 10 Hz to 70 kHz (+ 0 / - 3 dB)
  • THD + noise: < 0.01%
  • Signal to Noise Ratio (8 Ohm load):
    > 96 dB at 1 watt (A-weighted)
    > 117 dB at rated power (A-weighted)
  • Damping Factor (8 Ohm load): > 500
  • Speaker Output Connections:
    Full-sized 5-way binding posts; one pair per channel x 5
  • Power Supply:
    40,000 uF of storage capacitance
  • Input sensitivity (for rated power; 8 Ohm load): 850 mV
  • Gain: 29 dB
  • Input Connections: Unbalanced (RCA); one per channel
  • Input Impedance: 47 kOhms
  • Trigger:
    Trigger Input: 5 - 20 V (AC or DC); <10 mA input current required
    Trigger Output: 12 VDC; can drive any load up to 50 mA
  • Power Requirements: 115 VAC or 230 VAC +/- 10% @ 50 / 60 Hz (automatically detected and switched)
  • Front Panel Controls and Indicators:
    Standby; push button (changes color to indicate Standby or On)
    Status LEDs (one per channel); illuminate blue for normal operation or red to indicate a fault (may be disabled by rear panel Status LED switch)
  • Rear Panel Controls:
    AC Power switch; rocker switch (switches AC mains power)
    Status LEDs switch; small slide switch on left rear (disables front panel Status LEDs and dims Standby button halo lighting)
  • Protection: The UPA-500 is protected against excessive operating temperature, shorted speaker connections, ground faults, and other common fault conditions. If a fault occurs, the UPA-500 will return to Standby mode, the Standby push button will light amber, and the Status LEDs will flash red.
  • Size:
    unboxed: 17" wide x 4 1/16" high x 16 5/16" deep
    boxed: 22 1/2" wide x 8 1/2" high x 22 1/4" deep
  • Weight: 22.9 lbs (29.4 lbs boxed)

UPA-200

  • Topology: Fully discrete, dual differential, high current, short signal path Class A/B.
  • Number of Channels: 2
  • Power Output (rated power; THD < 0.05%):
    125 watts / channel (8 ohms; all channels driven).
    200 watts / channel (4 ohms; all channels driven).
  • Rated Power Bandwidth (at rated power; 8 Ohm load): 10 Hz to 20 kHz + / - 0.1 dB.
  • Minimum Recommended Load Impedance: 4 ohms (which equals one 4 ohm load or two paralleled 8 ohm loads per channel).
  • Frequency Response: 5 Hz to 80 kHz + 0 / - 2 dB.
  • THD + N: < 0.03%
  • Signal to Noise Ratio (8 Ohm load):
    > 92 dB at 1 watt (A-weighted).
    > 106 dB at rated power (A-weighted).
  • Damping Factor (8 Ohm load): > 500
  • Speaker Output Connections:
    Full-sized 5-way binding posts; one pair per channel x 2.
  • Power Supply:
    350 VA high current ultra-low noise toroidal power transformer.
    40,000 uF of storage capacitance.
  • Input sensitivity (for rated power; 8 Ohm load): 1.1 V (for full output; 8 ohms).
  • Gain: 29 dB
  • Input Connections: Unbalanced (RCA); one per channel.
  • Input Impedance: 47 kOhms
  • Trigger:
    Trigger Input: 5 - 20 V (AC or DC); < 10 mA input current required.
    Trigger Output: 12 VDC; can drive any load up to 50 mA.
  • Power Requirements: 115 VAC or 230 VAC +/- 10% @ 50 / 60 Hz (automatically detected and switched).
  • Front Panel Controls and Indicators:
    Standby; push button (changes color to indicate Standby or On).
    Status LEDs (one per channel); illuminate blue for normal operation or red to indicate a fault (may be disabled by rear panel Status LED switch).
  • Rear Panel Controls:
    AC Power switch; rocker switch (switches AC mains power).
    Status LEDs switch; small slide switch on left rear (disables front panel Status LEDs).
  • Protection: The UPA-200 is protected against excessive operating temperature, shorted speaker connections, ground faults, and other common fault conditions. If a fault occurs, the UPA-200 will return to Standby mode, the Standby push button will light amber, and the Status LEDs will flash red.
  • Size:
    unboxed: 17" wide x 3.375" high x 16.5" deep
  • Weight: 24 lbs (net); 32 lbs (boxed)

Executive Overview

upa200_frontWhen we first got interested in home theater and high end audio, there were no options like Emotiva Audio. There were no companies out there that were shattering the myth that external amplification had to cost as much as a used car. If you wanted to step up to an external amplifier, you had to be prepared to pay for it. And it wasn't cheap. Some of us scrimped and saved and (at time) begged and cajoled our significant other. Anything to have the pleasure of owning what is pretty much a hallmark in high end audio. Verily (we've been reading too much LOTR lately), you couldn't claim to have any sort of high end system without an external amp.

And then came Emotiva. They showed us that not only could amps be accessible for those of us that also have to pay for little league, taxes, and food, but that these lower cost amps could perform as well if not better than those that cost much more. When they started offering amps at the $700 price point, we were shocked. They were huge, they had tons of power, and they were cheap. We were in love.

But we are not the average consumer. Most consumers look at a box the size of a receiver and think, "What, it just powers the speakers? What about the rest?" Or, more likely, "And WHERE exactly am I supposed to put that?"

Emotiva has heard these consumers and have risen to the occasion. Their new Ultra Series of amplifiers sport smaller boxes, lower power, and much lower prices. First, some amplifier porn:

UPA-200 UPA-500
upa200_back upa500_rear
upa200_top UPA500_TOP
 

Usually, we would start with features and specifications when talking about a new product. But with Emotiva, let's start with price. These new Ultra Series amps will run you less that $400. The five channel UPA-500 has a MSRP of $399 but it is currently on sale for $359.10. The two channel UPA-200 will cost $349 but is currently on sale for $314.10. These are amazing prices for entry level amplifiers. The second selling point is their size. Rather than the receiver-sized boxes of their larger brethren, the Ultra Series enclosures are 17" wide by 4 1/16" high by 16 5/16" deep (the UPA-200 is only 3.375" tall). Oddly, the UPA-200 is specified as weighing in a 24 pounds while the UPA-500 comes in at 22.9 pounds. We think this might be a misprint on the Emotiva website.

Of course, with lower cost and smaller boxes comes smaller power supplies and less power. Luckily, this is Emotiva we are talking about so the downsides have been minimized. The UPA-500 sports 80 watts per channel, all channels driven into 8 ohms while the UPA-200 has 125 watts into both channels at 8 ohms. Both have high quality components including toroidal transformers and precision film capacitors. While the power supplies look identical from the pictures, we can't confirm that. The UPA-200 has a 350 VA high current ultra-low noise toroidal power transformer and they both sport 40,000 uF of storage capacitance. Of course, the amps feature fully discrete, dual differential, high current, short signal path Class A/B typologies and are rated stable into 4 ohms.

Glancing at the backs, we see five way blinding posts and unbalanced (RCA-style) inputs for each channel. There is a removable power cord, power button, status LED light defeat switch, 12 volt in and output, and a power button. At this price point, we would expect that this is all a consumer might need. While we might have liked to see unbalanced inputs, it really is probably a waste that will be accrue a cost increase that would only be used by a few buyers. The front of the amps sport a 15mm solid milled aluminum faceplate and a solid steel chassis. The channel status LEDs are in the traditional blue with a central standby button with the stylized Emotiva "E".

Conclusion

While some might eschew the lower power ratings of the Emotiva Ultra Series, we dare you to find a sub $400 five channel amplifier with 80 watts per channel or two channel amp with 125 watts per channel that are stable into 4 ohms. Put behind these power claims the pedigree of the Emotiva name, their history of making affordable yet powerful amps, and it is a nigh impossible task. With chassis no taller than 4 1/16", these are amps that are begging for installation just about anywhere. With most consumers having 8 ohm nominal speakers anyhow, the Emotiva Ultra UPA-500 and UPA-200 amps will be more than they need. Pair the two channel UPA-200 with the Emotiva USP-1 Stereo Preamp and you've got a dedicated two channel system for less than $800 (priced during the current sale).

For more information, please visit www.emotiva.com.

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About the author:

As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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Recent Forum Posts:

gp4Jesus posts on August 01, 2012 09:17
I would love to hear how either would stack up against…

…my Hafler XL-280, Belles One, or Rotel RB-985 all circa mid-eighties hardware.

I find the Haf & Rotel imaging & sound/tonal quality quite similar. The Belles seems to image better, w/noticably warmer, more solid bottom, though not as clean in the upper mids & lower treble.

I used a Rotel RSP-1068 in 2 ch mode; a Sony DVD player to play the numerous GRP & Sheffield titles.

Hardly a reference front end but it fills the bill.

My $.02. Tony
heroesunplugged posts on August 01, 2012 00:07
The UPA-200 is slightly heavier so it may be more than an illusion. I would have thought exactly the opposite given the extra parts that have to go into the 5 channel UPA-500. The 500 is also rated @ 450 watts Max & the 200 is @ 350 for the ps when viewing the back panel. Although after looking into the manual the 500 is rated at 350 instead of the 450 as pictured and the weight is also showing a difference from the info provided on the site vs the manual. Site states 22.9 lbs and manual 24 lbs. Not sure what to make of it. The difference we are noticing could be due to a difference in aspect ratio/distance from the amp when the pics were taken too.

One note is that the Input Sensitivity on the 200 is 1.1 V vs 850 mV for the 500. Will/could this give the 200 a slight advantage for perceived loudness/dynamics with the same amount of input from the source? The gain structure for the amp section are both stated as 29 dB (3 dB less than their more expensive/more powerful X-series and can't find the input sensitivity for Xs either). How much can 250 mV make? Possibly an off-topic issue so I will apologize in advance if this is unacceptable.
Gordonj posts on July 29, 2012 16:40
PENG, post: 897594
I did not say you said “all” so no apology. I am sorry, however, for not being clear. Instead of saying “as you have done…” meaning as you have removed the word ‘all’ from the often quoted “all amps sound the same…” statement, I should have said something like "as you have avoided, or skipped, or not used the word “all”. Wow, doesn't seem like I am making it any clearer, but WTH.. Suffice to say you and I have absolutely no quarel in this topic.

And heres to another Corona and lime on the beach!!!

Gordon
Gordonj posts on July 29, 2012 16:38
PENG, post: 897595
I didn't read it that way but now that you mentioned it, yeah one could read into it that way though as he indicated he didn't mean it that way. That is, I understood him correctly in the first place.

Bottom line is, some amps can sound different than others while many amps (including the Emos, I think) designed to accurately amplify the input signal (those I would aim for) will sound alike under certain stated/defined conditions. I am going to stop right here before digging a deeper hole for myself.

I love you guys!!

And it is hard to beat the “bang-for-the-buck” of he EMO amps. They have really done a great job getting a great product for less money without sacrifcing Hifi. It is hard to beat the UPA amp and preamp for under $800!

Gordon
PENG posts on July 28, 2012 20:07
KEW, post: 897588
What do you believe is the source of this coloration?
I don't know, when you say “ everything, including amps” that sounds a lot like “all amps”.

I didn't read it that way but now that you mentioned it, yeah one could read into it that way though as he indicated he didn't mean it that way. That is, I understood him correctly in the first place.

Bottom line is, some amps can sound different than others while many amps (including the Emos, I think) designed to accurately amplify the input signal (those I would aim for) will sound alike under certain stated/defined conditions. I am going to stop right here before digging a deeper hole for myself.
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