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Emotiva XPA-2 Two Channel Amplifier Review

by October 15, 2008
Emotiva XPA-2 Stereo Amplifier

Emotiva XPA-2 Stereo Amplifier

  • Product Name: Emotiva XPA-2 Stereo Amplifier
  • Manufacturer: Emotiva
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarStar
  • Review Date: October 15, 2008 18:25
  • MSRP: $ 799
  • Buy Now
  • Number of channels: 2

  • Amplifier Class: Short signal path A/B

  • Output design: Triple Darlington with ON semiconductor output stages

  • Differential Drive: Dual Differential input

  • Types of inputs: Both Balanced (XLR) and Un-balanced (RCA)

  • Type of outputs: 5 way binding post

  • Display type: Digital VU meters

  • Metering: 14) Blue LEDS and 1) red per channel

  • Power output: 250 watts RMS/ channel into 8 ohms, 500 watts RMS/ channel into 4 ohms and 1,000 watts RMS bridged.

  • THD+N at rated power output: 0.007%

  • S/N ratio: >100db

  • Frequency response: 10 to 120Khz (-3db) and 20 to 20 (with less than .15db deviation)

  • Gain structure: 32db

  • Transformer size: 1600va mounted in a super structure

  • Secondary capacitance: 120,000uF

  • Massive aluminum heat sinks running the length of the amp ensure cool operation and amp longevity

  • Weight: Approximately 75 pounds

  • Retail price: $799.00

  • 17” W x 7.75” H x 19” D

Pros

  • Ungodly power reserves (beats published specs)
  • Bridgeable at this price?
  • Runs extremely cool
  • Superb value

Cons

  • Retro 1980’s Era LED’s
  • Makes it hard to justify more expensive amplifier purchases

 

front.jpgEmotiva XPA-2 Introduction

A little over a year ago I spoke to the Dan Laufman, President of Emotiva, about making a balls to the walls two channel power amplifier for under $1k that would utilize a single massive power supply instead of mono block construction like the RPA-1. His reply was “no I can’t do it for $1k, but I can do it for around $800.” I dared him to make it happen and thus the XPA-2 was born.

When the preliminary specs were leaked to me, I scratched my head in wonder of how they could make such a high power amplifier that bellies its asking price. If this thing measured well, it would redefine the budget amplifier market and bruise the ego of pricey and more prestigious brands. When the 80+ lb XPA-2 arrived at my door, I was eager to hoist it up the flight of steps in my reference room, despite a battered back with five bulging discs. The show must go on, no matter the personal sacrifice, as my curiosity far outweighed my common sense of asking for assistance. I was determined to find out what level of quality one could expect from this monster budget amplifier. But, if you wanna know the scoop, you’re gonna have to read the entire review. No instant gratification will be awarded in a one sentence summary here.

Set-Up

xpa2_LEDs.jpgThe XPA-2 is one hefty amplifier to lug around. When moving it between my rack and test gear, I found it easier to turn it upside down and slide it across my carpet for which my back thanked me. The ergonomics of this amp is quite excellent. The front panel has the classic Emotiva illuminating power switch which glows amber when in standby mode and blue once powered on. The power LED’s illuminate blue when the channels are on and the power meter illuminates blue up until the last couple of dots which illuminate red indicating possible amplifier clipping. The built in fault projection, designed for short circuit conditions or amplifier overload will make all of the LED’s of the respected fault channel blink red which can be reset by simply power cycling the front power button. I only ran into this situation on the bench and NEVER during real world listening tests.

Everything on the back panel was clearly labeled, especially with respect on how to bridge the amplifier. The bridged input and + and – speaker terminals were clearly labeled, a lesson Denon could learn in their POA-A1HDCI 10CH amplifier. There is a 5-12V trigger and toggle switches to turn on/off the LED indicators and power meters as well as switching between bridged and balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA input connections.

XPA2-back.jpg

XPA-2 back panel view

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About the author:

Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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Recent Forum Posts:

flemingg posts on September 24, 2013 04:10
Contacted renting it right now.



Darkwing_duck posts on September 24, 2013 02:30
Irvrobinson, post: 857390
Just out of curiosity I read this review recently, since I'm in the amplifier market right now. The quote above fascinated me. Gene, do you believe that there are audible differences between well-designed amplifiers performing within their specifications?

Good question Im curious to know as well
Irvrobinson posts on January 13, 2012 14:29
No, the XPA-2 doesn’t treat my music with the kid gloves that my much more expensive $7k Denon POA-A1HDCI amplifier is able to do, but it shares many of its sonic virtues while also besting it in sheer output power.

Just out of curiosity I read this review recently, since I'm in the amplifier market right now. The quote above fascinated me. Gene, do you believe that there are audible differences between well-designed amplifiers performing within their specifications?
scott911 posts on March 20, 2010 16:00
I'd like to see an option of a plexi or lexon type replacement cover… a very nice interior design. It's nice to see that level of attention to detail and pride.
PaulF posts on May 16, 2009 15:48
Gene, I noticed you used the unbalanced inputs for your review. What would be the resultant noise floor if balanced inputs were used?

I agree that an input sensitivity switch would make sense, I see no value in reaching 100% amplifier output with the volume at 50% when using a decent pre/pro. In fact I would prefer the more precise control the volume would allow with a lower gain amp.
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