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Emotiva XPR-1 Mono Amplifier Sound Quality Tests

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All listening tests using vinyl were conducted on my two-channel system along with the 2CH Jienat SACD.  The remaining listening tests were conducted on my multi-channel system for a fully balanced setup.

LP:  Miles Davis: KindMiles.jpg of Blue (180G)

An oldie but classic recording that has stood the test of time, Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue never disappoints.  How could you beat Miles playing with jazz legends Bill Evans on piano and John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, all playing improvised, making it truly a magical recording?  Track #1 “So What” sets the mode for this album, which is just a feel-good laid back experience that is best accompanied by a good glass of red.  Jimmy Cobb’s cymbal brushes were delicate and airy while the back and forth between Miles on trumpet and Coltrane on sax was exhilarating.  It’s hard to believe such an old recording on vinyl could surpass many of today’s modern digital recordings with respect to dynamic range and tonal interest.

The XPR-1’s were just getting warmed up feeding my Status 8T speakers enough power to produce lifelike SPLs with ease.  Closing my eyes, I really felt like I was in a jazz cellar in NYC listening to this sextuplet grace me with their phenomenal performance.  Track #2 “Freddie Freeloader” is my favorite song on the whole album.  It just oozes coolness and if you’re foot isn’t tapping on this tune, someone needs to check your pulse.  Bill Evan tickles the ivories with a surgeon’s precision.  I got instant goose bumps when Miles’ trumpet kicked in.  I just couldn’t get over how lifelike and vivacious it sounded, especially when Coltrane answered Miles in his solo.  I was truly getting that “better than being there” experience found only from properly setting up and pairing the best electronics and loudspeakers in a great sounding room with exceptional source material.  The XPR-1 was doing a convincing job that it could hang with the high dollar amps as it just loved showing off its sonic chops with this album.

LP:  Richard MarxMarx.jpg

I’ve said this before and I will say it again; Richard Marx is kick ass!  I’ve used this LP in several reviews now and I’m still pretty floored, not only by the musical content of this LP, but its sound quality.  Side 2 contains songs rarely (if ever) played on the radio and they were much harder-hitting than his more well-known radio pop songs. Track #5 “Have Mercy” starts out with some great drumming and a catchy hard rock guitar theme.  This song just rocks and begs to be played loudly.  Richard’s voice came through very vibrantly and the band just sounded excellent together.  This is power rock at its finest and something hard to find today from mainstream music.  Although it sounded a bit edgy at high listening levels, it was never fatiguing or overly bright.  Instead, I felt like I was thrust into a live performance with the music enveloping all around me, despite the fact that I was listening in two-channel.  Track #6 “Remember Manhattan” was a big WOW for me.  This album exemplifies just how good vinyl could be at producing bass and a very organic sounding recording.  Dynamic, bold, lifelike, the Emotiva XPR-1 showed no limits in how hard it could drive my reference speakers, which dip down to 2 ohms at bass frequencies.  If you’re not a Richard Marx fan, I can assure you will be after hearing the entire second side of this album.  Check it out!

SACD/ Blu-ray:  Jienat - Mira

Jienat – Mira is a sonic marvel whether you listen to the two-channel or multi-channel recording.  Imagine limitless dynamic range and bass so deep and powerful that Granpda Simpson would be proud of its ability to explode his dentures. I focused my listening on the two-channel recording in hopes I could break the XPR-1’s will to amplify.  I caution anyone to use the volume control sparingly when playing this disc on their systems as it has extreme dynamic range that most speakers (and amplifiers for that matter) are incapable of reproducing at  reference volume levels. 

The vocals were pinned dead center in Track #1 “Sissel” as if I had my center channel engaged.  The bass was thunderous and the stereo separation seemed to extend well beyond the width of the speakers.  Track #6 “Fredrik Albert” showed off the fabulous transient response of the XPR-1.  The immediacy of the percussion and depth of the bass was simply spectacular and it’s not something that can fully be conveyed in writing without actually hearing for yourself.   I was loving it!

Even in the two-channel recording of Track #4 “DanceHall”, you’re enveloped in the middle of the room with singers all around you. The percussion was full of life and vibrancy that you rarely ever hear in any recording.  The XPR-1’s managed to deliver the power necessary for the Status 8T speaker system to accomplish this goal effortlessly.  Towards the end of the recording, the electric bass kicked in which literally blew me away as I was belted with sustained tactile bass that was not only heard but rattled the core of my bones.  Even at ear bleeding levels, I wasn’t able to peg the meters on the XPR-1’s. They reached about 75% and never hit the red.  On other more expensive amps at these sustained listening levels, I hit the rails and it was audible.  This was never the case on the XPR-1’s.  If there were a song to overdrive the Emotiva mono-blocks with my speakers, surely this was the one.  Well it never happened; and I know “don’t call you Shirley”. 

BD_Jienat.jpg  dire-straits-brothers-in-arms.jpg

Jienat Mira Blu-ray (left pic); Dire Straits: Brothers in Arms CD (right pic)

CD: Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms

One of my favorites for both musical content and sound quality, “Brothers in Arms” by Dire Straits was one of the first fully digital recordings.  I like to use this recording to hear how the product under test handles the more delicate nuances of a recording.  Track #4 “You’re Latest Trick” is calming to the nerves.  The saxophone sounded liquidy smooth and the depth of the soundstage seemed to extend well beyond the back wall of my listening room.  Stereo separation was superb; gotta give props to the mono-block isolation here.  Cymbals were free of grain and I felt like the XPR-1 wasn’t missing any tricks (pun intended).  By the time track #5 “Why Worry” began, I was in such a lucid state that I must confess I fell in and out of consciousness.  The electric guitars were forward with great bite and realism that it just felt like a live performance. The bass was snappy and tight like I remember it to be on the other highly regarded and more costly amplifiers I used to power my reference speakers prior to installing a pair of XPR-1’s. 

CD: Various

I ran through a gamut of some of my favorite easy listening CD's to get a feel of the more intimate side of the XPR-1.  Some classics including Michael Franks: Birchfield Nines, Bob James: Ivory Coast and Pat Metheny: Questions & Answers were thoroughly enjoyed with a pair of XPR-1 amplifiers at the helm.  Smooth, silky and detailed with no hint of strain or fatigue would best describe my listening  impressions on these recordings.  From the calming vocals of Michael Franks to the tickling of the Ivory's with Bob James or plucking the acoustic strings with Pat Metheny's guitars,  the Emotiva XPR-1 was right at home extracting low level detail just as it was belting out bone crunching SPL's.    

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

Lvnsnfnatk posts on October 17, 2015 13:23
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 12:10
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 10:47
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 27, 2014 00:30
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 02:40
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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