“Let our rigorous testing and reviews be your guidelines to A/V equipment – not marketing slogans”
Facebook Youtube Twitter instagram pinterest

Recent Audio Amplifier Reviews

Emotiva UPA-500 Five Channel Power Amplifier Review

Emotiva UPA-500 Five Channel Power Amplifier Review

Riddle me this. What's affordable, lightweight, powerful and comes in a little black box? The UPA-500 and it's a new five channel amplifier from Emotiva with a price tag under $400. While it may NOT be a perfect amplifier, it comes as close to perfection for a product beyond its price class. The UPA-500 delivers clean, low noise, meaty amplification that will surely bring new life to a whimpering department store A/V receiver. It’s honestly rated and has no issues driving low impedance loads while remaining cool in operation even under the most strenuous test conditions on the bench. If you’re looking for a step up in sound quality and power on the cheap, I can’t think of a better option on the market. Highly recommended!

The Emotiva UPA-500 is a five channel amplifier that offers solid performance and value. At under $400 it's in a class of its own.

— August 08, 2012 21:00 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

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

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

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. 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).

We dare you to find a sub $400 five channel amplifier with 80 watts per channel like the Emotiva UPA-500 or two channel amp with 125 watts per channel like the Emotiva UPA-200.

— July 25, 2012 19:45 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Emotiva XPR-5 Five-Channel Reference Power Amplifier Preview

Emotiva XPR-5 Five-Channel Reference Power Amplifier Preview

Hardcore Emotiva fans may balk at the $2000 price tag for the XPR-5...but they are the only ones. People have gladly paid a lot more for a lot less with other brands. Sporting 400 watts into 8 ohms and 600 watts into 4 ohms all channels driven, the Emotiva XPR-5 redefines the idea of how much power is enough in an amplifier. With a 3.3kVA toroidal power supply and 180,000 uF of storage capacitance, headroom is not a problem. Emotiva promises that the XPR-5 is fully protected from all common fault conditions and it stable with virtually all real-world speakers. For a limited time, you can pick up the Emotiva XPR-5 for 10% off ($1799.10) during their summer sale.

Sporting 400 watts into 8 ohms and 600 watts into 4 ohms all channels driven, the Emotiva XPR-5 redefines the idea of how much power is enough in an amplifier. Get in on the summer sale now!

— July 08, 2012 18:00 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Bob Carver VTA20S Black Magic 20 Watt Stereo Amplifier Preview

Bob Carver VTA20S Black Magic 20 Watt Stereo Amplifier Preview

A 20 watt stereo tube amp that is bridgeable to 40 watts into a single channel, the $2100 Bob Carver Black Magic 20 is sure to turn heads. We love the look of the amp and the pedigree of the manufacturer can't be denied. While we have to hold our noses as we dig through all the audiophile psuedo-science and marketing speak, we're sure this is a quality offering. Now, if only we could get a review unit.

A 20 watt stereo tube amp that is bridgeable to 40 watts into a single channel, the $2100 Bob Carver Black Magic 20 is sure to turn heads.

— June 19, 2012 21:10 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Rocketfish Rocketboost RF-RBUSB RF-RBREC Wireless Audio Review

Rocketfish Rocketboost RF-RBUSB RF-RBREC Wireless Audio Review

Almost everyone can appreciate having a whole-home audio system, but not everyone has a home that is wired for audio or the ability to wire it. The number of truly wireless multiroom systems is rather limited (SONOS and Aperion’s Zona are the only reliable products that come to mind). Now there is one more contender, and at about 1/5 the price of SONOS to boot! Best Buy has thrown their retail power behind a system called "Rocketboost". Rocketboost is a wireless platform that allows for uncompressed audio (48kHz, 16bit/24bit) distribution around the home. So far, Insignia (Best Buy's house brand), Rocketfish, and Onkyo are supporting Rocketboost technology. They currently offer it in a pair of headphones, an outdoor speaker, soundbar, subwoofer, powered bookshelf speakers, a TV… you get the idea. It is a pretty laudable goal to attempt to unify the audio throughout someone’s home, but many wireless systems have major flaws. Range, sound quality, operability, expansion potential, etc., and these things can make or break a wireless format.

The Rocketfish Rocketboost RF-RBUSB RF-RBREC Wireless Audio is a wireless platform that allows for uncompressed audio (48kHz, 16bit/24bit) distribution around the home.

— March 26, 2012 04:45 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Master TVA30 Guitar Amp Review

Master TVA30 Guitar Amp Review

The Master TVA30 is a great option for someone looking for an economical, non-commercial guitar amp that provides great performance and useful options. The amp head appears to be built very well and is fully capable of performing better than anything in its price class. Though I pointed out some mechanical shortcomings, these do not take away from the overall tone and performance of the amp. For the price, it’s nice to see two channels, one for clean and one for over drive, and an effects loop. The system also comes with a two button foot controller to help you switch between channels with ease. When considering that it retails for $869, there are very little options that can compete. Though, if you are an audio fanatic like me, it may be worth springing anywhere some extra coin on a better speaker driver and tubes which I discuss in this review. I’ve found U.S. Masters pricing competitive and their level of technical understanding to be far better than other on-line stores or guitar centers. Even if you perform some upgrades to theTVA30, you’re still only around $1,000 for a great combo that is portable and very well made.

This is a review of the Master TVA30 Guitar Amp featuring detailed measurements and suggestions for product improvements.

Steve DellaSala — March 20, 2012 22:45 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Anthem Statement M1 Class D Monobloc Preview

Anthem Statement M1 Class D Monobloc Preview

While we're not sure how well the Statement M1 will sell, it certainly looks good on paper. Given the 2000 watts of power with a highly efficient Class D design, it certainly will turn heads. Anthem set an impressive list of design goals for themselves and they believe they've achieved them. If so, you may be looking at an amp that will require much less space, can be stacked, outputs more power with less heat, is stable into any load, and sounds as good as any analogue amp. Is that worth $3500 per channel? We're guessing to many high-end users, it is.

Anthem says their Statement M1 monobloc requires much less space, can be stacked, outputs more power, is stable into any load, and sounds as good as any analogue amp. Is that worth $3500 per channel?

— February 17, 2012 21:30 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

ELAN S1616A 16-channel Multi-zone Amplifier/Controller Preview

ELAN S1616A 16-channel Multi-zone Amplifier/Controller Preview

ELAN was at the Hilton today, unveiling its new S1616A, a 16-channel multi-zone amplifier/controller that combines the functionality of the ELAN D16 amplifier and S128P multi-zone controller into one new component. It's pretty cool and should simplify installations and lower the total cost for dealers and their clients. The new ELAN S1616A Amplifier/Controller, which is designed to integrate exclusively with the ELAN g! System, will be available for delivery in the United States this month (January 2012) for $3600. The new ELAN S1616A is available in single- and dual-chassis versions, both of which include high-pass and low-pass crossovers, RCA inputs, speaker level and banana plug outputs, and feature level, bass and treble adjustment for each output channel.

ELAN was at the Hilton today, unveiling its new S1616A, a 16-channel multi-zone amplifier/controller that combines the functionality of the ELAN D16 amplifier and S128P multi-zone controller into one.

— January 11, 2012 11:30 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

McIntosh 50th Anniversary MC275 Tube Amplifier Preview

McIntosh 50th Anniversary MC275 Tube Amplifier Preview

McIntosh popped out a new 50th Anniversary edition of its popular MC275 tube amplifier. This edition features the same great quality of the MC275, but also comes in an elegant gold-toned chassis. As we learned with teh now all-but-extinct 100th Anniversary Edition Denon products, the specially created amp is being offered in a very limited quantity. The amp will come with a commemorative history book and deluxe packaging. But that's not all the 50th Anniversary Edition delivers, there are some other improvements as well. First off, the Limited Edition MC275 comes with a gold-toned chassis and features the classic 1961 tube circuit design of the original, but there are "under-the-hood" improvements as well. The 50th Anniversary Limited Edition McIntosh MC275 tube power amplifier is available from authorized McIntosh dealers for a suggested retail price of $6,500.

The gold-plated reference level 50th Anniversary Limited Edition McIntosh MC275 tube power amplifier is now available from authorized McIntosh dealers for a suggested retail price of $6,500.

— January 11, 2012 08:55 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Bel Canto C7R Integrated Amp Receiver with Tuner Preview

Bel Canto C7R Integrated Amp Receiver with Tuner Preview

Bel Canto asks the question: Why choose different components for your music downloads, computer, CD player, turntables, cable/satellite box or game consoles? Their answer is to "keep things simple" with Bel Canto's compact, powerful C7R Receiver! The C7R, which is more like an integrated amp, tuner, and DAC all rolled into one, is loaded with inputs including two 24/192 SPDIF, two 24/192 TOSLINK, and one 24/96 USB, MM Phono and Analog Line Level inputs. Output connections are via upgraded WBT NEXTGEN Speaker Connectors plus RCA Line Out and a Headphone Output.

Bel Canto asks the question: Why choose different components for your music downloads, CD player, turntables, cable/satellite box or game console? Their answer is the c7r Integrated amp/DAC and tuner.

— January 10, 2012 07:10 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Moon 810LP Phono Preamplifier Preview

Moon 810LP Phono Preamplifier Preview

Simaudio introduced the Moon 810LP Phono Preamplifier at the Venetian, their latest addition to the Evolution Series of audio components. The 810LP features a dual-mono fully balanced differential design, and represents the company's “all out assault” on phono preamplification. They describe the preamp as an "ultra-refined audio circuit" which they have mounted on top of a floating suspension. As with many audiophile products, the Moon 810LP is also highly configurable, with selectable gain, impedance loading, capacitance loading and equalization curves. These can all be tweaked using DIP switches located on the bottom of the device. The goal is to make sure the Moon 810LP works with, and more importantly - sounds good with - virtually any available phono cartridge on the market.

Simaudio introduced the Moon 810LP Phono Preamplifier at the Venetian, their latest addition to the Evolution Series. The 810LP features a dual-mono fully balanced differential design and runs $12k.

— January 09, 2012 18:40 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Pass Labs Xs-300 and Xs–150 Amplifiers Preview

Pass Labs Xs-300 and Xs–150 Amplifiers Preview

Pass Labs busted out their new Xs-300 and Xs–150 Amplifiers at the Venetian to tickle the ears of audiophiles and amateurs alike. These are actually just the first entries in what is slated to be a new generation of Xs Series amplifiers. CES is a great place to do this as it affords, in the Venetian at least, a great place to sit and listen and take in the full experience of what a $65,000 or $85,000 amplifier can, hopefully, do. Made out of billet gold and platinum... just kidding... The new Pass Labs amplifiers are designed to measure well objectively. But they are also designed to perform subjectively as well as they measure. Pass Labs claims their new enhancements further narrow the gap between what scientific measurements report about amplifier performance and what the human ear subjectively hears. That's pretty cool - and for the asking price we'd expect nothing less.

Pass Labs busted out their new Xs-300 and Xs–150 Amplifiers at the Venetian to tickle the ears of audiophiles and amateurs alike. These are the first entries in what is slated to be a new line-up.

— January 09, 2012 14:30 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Denon PMA-A100 Integrated Amplifier Review & Measurements

Denon PMA-A100 Integrated Amplifier Review & Measurements

When the Denon PMA-A100 was announced it would be part of their 100th anniversary product line-up, we asked for it. And we had high expectations. Turns out Denon met our expectations and even blew by them in some areas. The A100 is a stereo amp that weighs nearly 57 pounds and even has cast iron feet. There are also hardly any lights on the front of the unit, making it a truly audiophile product - with nothing wasted on unnecessary displays or LED status lights. The PMA-A100 produced some of the cleanest measurements on our test bench that we've ever seen. Great looks, great performance, its truly a statement piece worthy of the Denon name. It's not often we get the chance to review an integrated amplifier from Denon. This is a high-end product from a company who we've determined in the past REALLY knows how to make good amps.

When the Denon PMA-A100 was announced it would be part of their 100th anniversary product line-up, we asked for it. And we had high expectations. Turns out Denon met our expectations and then some.

— December 06, 2011 09:00 in Audio Amplifier Reviews

Sherbourn PA 7-350 Seven-Channel Amplifier Preview

Sherbourn PA 7-350 Seven-Channel Amplifier Preview

The Sherbourn PA 7-350 is a beast of an amp. With a massive 3.3 kVA toroidal power supply pushing 350 watts into 8 ohms, 4 ohm stability, and seven channels of amplification, the PA 7-350 is a monster. At over 100 pounds and with convection cooling and a high efficiency, “Soft Switch” class H design, this truly is an audiophile-grade amplifier. If you define "audiophile-grade" as "tons of power, every feature you'll need and none you don't." If you define it as "full of silver/platinum/chocolatey bits, marketing speak, and pseudo-science," well, you're looking at the wrong company. This should be an amp that custom installers will love to get their hands on.

The Sherbourn 7-350 is a seven channel 350wpc amplifier that is designed to deliver all of the current from the wall outlet to your speakers. Its massive 3.3kVa transformer and 100lbs+ is impressive.

— December 05, 2011 09:30 in Audio Amplifier Reviews