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Emotiva XPR-1 Mono Amplifier Review

by May 05, 2013
  • Product Name: XPR-1 Mono-Block Power Amplifier
  • Manufacturer: Emotiva
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarStar
  • Review Date: May 05, 2013 23:00
  • MSRP: $ 1,699/ea
  • Buy Now
  • Topology: Fully discrete, quad differential, fully balanced, high current, short signal path Class A/B Differential Reference power amplifier with Optimized Class-H™ power supply topology.
  • Number of Channels: 1
  • Power Output  (rated power; THD < 0.1%): 1000 watts; into 8 Ohms / 1,750 watts into 4 Ohms.
  • Rated Power Bandwidth (at rated power; 8 Ohm load): 20 Hz to 20 kHz + /- 0.1 dB.
  • Minimum Recommended Load Impedance: 4 Ohms.
  • Frequency Response: 5 Hz to 80 kHz (+ 0 / - 3 dB).
  • THD + noise: < 0.0025%
  • Signal to Noise Ratio (8 Ohm load):  118 dB at rated power (A-weighted). / 93 dB at 1 watt (A-weighted).
  • Damping Factor (8 Ohm load): > 1,000
  • Speaker Output Connections:  Super heavy-duty custom Emotiva speaker binding posts - with clear acrylic insulators and heavy duty gold plated contacts; designed to accept heavy-gauge bare cables, lugs, or banana plugs.
  • Power Supply: 2.5 kVA toroidal power transformer / 240,000 uF low ESR capacitor bank.
  • Input sensitivity (for rated power; 8 Ohm load): 3.5 V
  • Gain: 29 dB
  • Input Connections: RCA; unbalanced (audiophile quality, solid brass, machined, gold plated) / Balanced (XLR); one per channel.
  • Input Impedance: 100k Ohms (unbalanced) / 51k Ohms (balanced).
  • 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 (user selectable).
  • The XPR-1 requires a 20 Amp circuit and standard IEC 20 Amp outlet (which is different than a 15 Amp outlet). If you don’t have a proper circuit and outlet, we recommend you have one installed by a qualified electrician. We recommend that the XPR-1 be plugged into its own dedicated 20 Amp circuit.
  • Protection: The XPR-1 is protected against excessive operating temperature, shorted speaker connections, ground faults, and other common fault conditions. If a fault occurs, the LED above the Standby button, and the Channel Status LED and the LED Bargraph Meter LEDs will flash red. Returning the XPR-1 to Standby or switching off the AC Power will reset the protection circuitry.
  • Dimensions:  unboxed: 17" wide x 9.5" high x 19.5" deep (includes feet and binding posts; requires additional 3-4" of depth clearance to accommodate the power cord). (double) boxed: 27" length x 25" width x 16" height
  • Weight: 99 lbs (net); 113 lbs (boxed)

Pros

  • Unlimited POWAH!
  • Pristine sound quality at all listening levels
  • Runs cool

Cons

  • Big and Heavy
  • Requires 20A line

Emotiva XPR-1 Introduction

Ever dream of owning an exotic sports car with more performance and style on hand than you’d probably know what to do with?  What about owning a power amplifier of that caliber but without the unapproachable price tag?  Emotiva has such a solution with their new 1 kilowatt XPR-1 Mono-block power amplifier.  For those wondering what the term “mono-block” means, it’s quite simply just a way of saying that the product contains only one amplifier channel per chassis.  The advantage of a mono-block over a stereo amplifier is twofold:

1.     The ability to utilize a larger power supply for just the single channel and

2.     Theoretically improved (reduced) crosstalk, since each amplifier channel resides in its own chassis, running off its own power supply and supplementary circuitry. 

You’re probably wondering, “Who would need that much power?”  Well, quite frankly most people don’t.  But when you’re assembling the very best two-channel or multi-channel home theater system with large power-hungry speakers, having too much power on hand is NEVER an issue.  Since I’ve been testing the new Status Acoustics 8T Audioholics reference speakers, I’ve been on a quest to find an amplifier with virtually unlimited power (or as Darth Sidious would say it “Powah!”) to drive them.  Could it be possible that I’ve found such an amplifier in the $1499 Emotiva XPR-1?  You’re going to have to review the review, or at least skip to the measurements section, to find out.

Design Overview

The Emotiva XPR-1 amplifier is chock-full of very cool tech, most worthy of dedicating some real estate in this review to explain how it works.

 xpr1_top_web_1024x1024.jpg

Emotiva XPR-1 Top View with cover removed

You can see the layout is very clean and symmetrical.  It basically takes two amplifier channels and bridges them together to form a fully differential amplifier stage from input to output.  In fact, if you use the balanced input on the XPR-1, the signal remains differential all the way to its output driving the speaker.  Thus the loudspeaker has no ground reference.  All things being equal, differential topologies are superior to single ended designs, because they offer better noise immunity (up to a 6dB improvement) and lower distortion.

The XPR-1 features a massive centralized power supply to feed this baby all of the power your wall outlet can deliver.  There is a preamp stage consisting of high quality op-amp amps that gets bypassed when using the amplifier’s differential (balanced) input.

The Power Supply

The Emotiva XPR-1 is quite an innovative amplifier design.  It is a class A/B amplifier topology with a Class H modulating power supply.  Unlike many of the high-efficiency Class H pro amps that utilize SMPS power supplies, Emotiva spared no expense and instead employed a much cleaner traditional linear power supply with a 30lb 2.5kVA transformer and 24 10,000 uF capacitor bank.  Unlike their original MPS-1 amplifier that employed a Class H topology where only one high voltage rail was used while the output modulated above the input signal, the XPR-1 employs two rails.  The low rail is set for +-36V allowing the amp to operate as pure Class A/B up until about 200 watts or so. Once the power levels go higher, the output rail modulates above the incoming input signal to achieve over 1 kilowatt of power into an 8 ohm load off of +-72V rails.  I’m sure some forum sharpie will note that +-72V isn’t a high enough supply rail to reach the 1000 watt power level but they would be mistaken once they considered the fact that the output stage of the XPR-1 amplifier is differential, essentially bridging two channels together.  Thus the output stage feeding the loudspeaker sees no ground reference allowing the amp to swing virtually the fully difference between the +- rails (144V – minus losses).  This effectively doubles the total voltage swing which has the potential of increasing the power output fourfold in the process.  You never really achieve a 4x increase in power for bridged amplifiers, else it would either burn out the output devices or be current-limited by the power supply or wall voltage.  In reality, the bridged configuration doubles the power in this case.  As you can see, there is plenty of rail voltage to do well over 1 kilowatt of power in this configuration. 

XPR1-PS.jpg 

Emotiva XPR-1 Power Supply

Another trick feature of the XPR-1 is how the capacitors are distributed on the power supply.  First let me point out that the capacitors are actually manufactured by Emotiva for the XPR series of amplifiers.  They are designed to be extremely low ESR and low ripple.  The 24 10,000uF caps are only rated at only 50V but there is method to their madness here.  The low rail actually sees a bank of 6 of these caps in parallel for a total power supply capacitance of 60,000uF or 120,000uf between the +- 36V rails.  The high rails see a series-parallel combo for an effective capacitance of 30,000uF per rail or 60,0000uF between the +- 72V rails.  Using multiple smaller caps lowers the profile of this already beastly amplifier and also reduces ESR, especially for the low rail to minimize ripple for the lower power levels where the most control is needed to keep things sounding crystal clean.  The resistors on the output of the power supply are used for discharging the caps once the power supply is shut down.

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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:

Lvnsnfnatk posts on October 17, 2015 12:23
I'm grateful to have found this website! You guys review great gear that is priced resonably. These Emotiva Monoblocks appear to be well made and have good sound. They also make a pure class A amp. Is there a dealer where I can hear this gear A/B'd ?

I'm a power junkie for sure and am so relieved I changed out the 15A crap that was there prior. My room is wired by 3 separate 20A recepticles with my amp getting its own line. I just assumed these lines are 220V as you recommend, but i'm not sure. How can I tell?

Can I somehow wire in a 30A line for the amp? I realize the recepticle and plug is different as on a clothes dryer, but the temptation to get more power has me contemplating it. I wonder if it's possible? Just a thought.
AUTOBOT posts on April 18, 2015 11:10
Please do a youtube video on this amp.
I have a pair of these with dedicated 20 amp circuits for each amp hospital grade isolated ground receptacles.
Love them.
sharkman posts on July 27, 2014 09:47
I stand corrected on McIntosh amps, I didn't realize they made a 2000 watt mono. I think that's way beyond the needs of 99.9% of audio owners as well, and I'd wager they don't sell as well as their 600 watt mono.
gene posts on July 26, 2014 23:30
Macintosh amps are more realistic in the power department. 99.9% of audio owners don't need 1000 watts per channel, and no house is built with 20 amp dedicated lines,

Maybe the meaning of your message was lost in cyberspace but I fail to see how Mcintosh amps are more “realistic” in the power department. Last time I checked McIntosh also builds 2kwatt Monobloc amplifiers.

McIntosh MC2KW Amplifier, 1 Channel 2000 Watts McIntosh MC2KW Amplifier

You're not getting that kind of power from 120Vac/15A circuit.

Need that much power, get a dedicated 20A line or 220V or both. Don't need it? Get a smaller amp.
sharkman posts on July 26, 2014 01:40
Where did I fault Emotiva? I simply said most owners don't need 1000 watts per channel. You characterize something I said wrongly, then attack me for it. Weird.
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