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Emotiva UPA-500 Five Channel Power Amplifier Measurements and Analysis


All measurements were conducted per the Audioholics Amplifier Measurement Standard using our Audio Precision APx585 8 Channel HDMI Audio Analyzer. When Emotiva found out we were using this test gear, they went out Nicky Santoro style (played by Joe Pesci) from Casino and bought the very same test gear. This is a considerable investment in test gear that no other home theater publication and only a select few consumer A/V manufacturers make, which shows how serious Emotiva is about amplifier design and testing.

I did some quick spot-checking on the UPA-500 amplifier gain structure to ensure it could be properly driven with a wide assortment of preamps or receivers. My personal criteria for amplifier gain structure is that it should be able to hit full power when driven with 2Vrms. The UPA-500 hits full gain much sooner per my measurements which confirm Emotiva’s claim of 850mV. Seeing how most budget receivers preamp outs cannot deliver a full 2Vrms, this extra sensitivity Emotiva employed makes a lot of sense. I measured 29.7dB voltage gain (8 ohm loaded) which was very close to Emotiva’s 29dB specification.

Signal to Noise Ratio


Emotiva UPA-500 SNR @ 1 watt (A-weighted)

Just like past UPA series amps from Emotiva, the UPA-500 exhibited a commendably low noise floor. At 1 watt, I measured 97dB (A-weighted) which is what Emotiva specs for this amp. If you want the un-weighted noise floor, you can subtract about 10dB from this measurement. At 117 watts, I measured 117dB (A-weighted).

Frequency Response


Emotiva UPA-500 Frequency Response @ Full Rated Power

It was no surprise to me that the Emotiva UPA-500 exhibited ruler flat bandwidth from 10Hz to 50kHz with a gradual roll-off of about -1dB at 80kHz which is the bandwidth limitation of my test equipment. Emotiva claims the -3dB is 70kHz but I suspect it’s a bit higher based on what I measured here. What I found quite remarkable was the very tight channel to channel frequency response deviation of +/-0.081dB at 1 watt and +-0.10dB at full power. This indicates very tight tolerances in parts selection and excellent overall engineering.

Power Measurements

Using our Audio Precision APx585 8-channel HDMI analyzer, we conducted a full barrage of multi-channel amplifier tests on Emotiva UPA-500. We tested power using three methods all of which were taken at < 0.1% THD + N:

  • Continuous Full Power Bandwidth (CFP-BW) from 20Hz to 20Khz into 8 and 4-ohm loads (up to two-channels)

  • 1kHz Power Sweep vs Distortion (1kHz PSweep) - popularized by the print magazines, this is an instantaneous power vs distortion test at 1kHz. The problem with this test is it often masks slew related and or frequency response problems some amplifiers exhibit at the frequency extremes, and thus inflates the measured power results. It does provide an instant gratification # for consumers to argue over on the forums so we are now incorporating this test to please the masses.

  • Dynamic PWR - 1kHz CEA-2006 Burst Method testing. This is a dynamic power measurement adopted from the car industry similar to IHF method only a bit more difficult for an amplifier and more representative of real musical content.

Keep in mind most review publications don't do continuous power measurements and they usually publish power measurements into clipping at 1% THD + N. Our measurements are very conservative as we use a dedicated 20A line with no Variac to regulate line voltage. We constantly monitor the line to ensure it never drops more than 2Vrms from nominal which in our case was 120Vrms.

For more info on amplifier measurements, see: The All Channels Driven (ACD) Test

UPA500_Psweep.jpg       UPA500_Psweep-4ohm.jpg

Emotiva UPA-500 1kHz Power Test
Left Pic: ACD, 8 ohms; Right Pic: 2 Channels driven, 4 ohms

UPA500_dynamicpwr-5ch.jpg       UPA500_dynamicpwr-4ohm.jpg

Emotiva UPA-500 Dynamic Power Test (1kHz)
Left Pic: ACD, 8 ohms; Right Pic: 2 Channels driven, 4 ohms


# of CH Test Type Power Load THD + N
1 CFP-BW 117 watts 8-ohms 1%
1 CFP-BW 225 watts 4-ohms 1%
5 1kHz Psweep 75 watts 8-ohms 0.1%
5 1kHz Psweep 82 watts 8-ohms 1%
2 1kHz Psweep 125 watts 4-ohms 0.1%
2 1kHz Psweep 160 watts 4-ohms 1%
5 Dynamic PWR 125 watts 8-ohms 1%
2 Dynamic PWR 225 watts 4-ohms 1%

                     Emotiva UPA-500 Power Measurement Table

Emotiva rates the UPA-500 as follows:

  • 80 watts x 5 continuous @ 8-ohm (0.01% THD)

  • 120 watts x 5 continuous @ 4-ohm (0.01% THD)

Emotiva doesn't specify at what frequency they rate their power output, but I assume they mean 1kHz which is how most manufacturers specify all channels driven power claims. My measurements in this scenario verified Emotiva’s power claims but mine were higher in distortion which is likely due to the fact that Emotiva does their power tests holding the line voltage constant whereas we don’t. If you compare our power sweep results to the dynamic power results you get about 1.8dB of headroom for all channels driven into an 8 ohm load and 2.5dB of dynamic headroom into 4 ohms for two channels driven. The power supply exhibits good headroom to deliver quick bursts of dynamic power when the program material calls for it.

FFT Distortion Analysis

 UPA500_FFT-1watt.jpg        UPA500_FFT-pwr.jpg

Emotiva UPA-500 FFT Distortion Analysis
(left image @ 1 watt ; right image @ full rated power)

I ran FFT distortion plots at 1 watt (left pic) and full rated power (right pic) to determine how clean this amplifier really is. At 1 watt, the spectral distortion wasn’t exactly stellar with the second order harmonic (9.55 + 66.58)dB being 76.2dB down from the fundamental or 100*alog^-1(-76.2/20) = .016%. At 106 watts, I observed (29.13 + 44.94)dBV being 74.1dB down from the fundamental or 100*alog^-1(-74.1/20) = .0040% The odd order harmonics start dominating as the amp starts hitting the rails and becoming slew rate limited at very high frequencies. These are decent measurements, but certainly not the cleanest distortion spectrum I've seen compared to some much higher priced well-executed designs.



UPA-500 All-to-One Crosstalk at Rated Power

The UPA-500 exhibited very good channel to channel crosstalk performance, much improved over the older and more expensive UPA-7 actually. With all channels acting as the noise source or disturber, I measured each idle channel one at a time to determine the worst case channel to channel crosstalk. At 1kHz the UPA-500 yielded -85dB @ 1kHz and -60dB at 20kHz for its noisiest channel. I consider anything less than -40dB @ 10kHz acceptable so the UPA-500 met that minimum requirement with over 20dB to spare. With only 1 channel acting as the disturber, the adjacent channel produced -95dB at 1kHz and -70dB @ 20kHz, again very good results.


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Recent Forum Posts:

Gmoney posts on April 24, 2021 23:27
gene, post: 899749, member: 4348
The Marantz SR6004 isn't a wimpy department store A/V receiver. I was referring to a typical $400-500 A/V receiver. The UPA-500 would be an upgrade to that.

I only used the SR6004 as a preamp because it was the least expensive receiver/preamp I had at my disposal when testing the UPA-500.

To get a substantial upgrade in power from the SR6004 in the Emotiva line, one would have to look at the Emotiva XPA series of amps.
@gene ( Isn't a Wimpy department store AV receiver) Lolo, Them was some good days back in 2012. To bad I was rehabbing my knee. @PENG ( I know no one can read my mind) Gene, using (Wimpy) lolo Good stuff guys!! lol
Gmoney posts on April 24, 2021 23:17
PENG, post: 908928, member: 6097
Actually there is no disagreement in this regard because when I mention AVRs, in my mind (I know no one can read my mind) I am thinking mid range ones such as the Yamaha RX-A or V 2XXX, Denon AVR-3XXX and up. Also I said I had not seen many, but I have certainly seen some, just not too many, that advertise in ways that people could be misled.. And I always refer to the manufacturer's ads, not resellers.

You are so right about it is not the manufacturer who does this, not in this case but again I have seen some who does though.

The following is copied from yamaha.ca for the RX-V373:

Amplifier Section

Channel 5.1
Rated Output Power (1kHz, 1ch driven)
100W (8ohms, 0.9% THD)

Rated Output Power (1kHz, 2ch driven)
85W (8ohms, 0.9% THD)

Dynamic Power per Channel (8/6/4/2 ohms)

Never said anything about ACD.
@PENG (I know no one can read my mind) that right there some funny Sh$t! after all these year's lolo. Still slamming them.
PENG posts on August 07, 2017 16:28
nickwin, post: 1202703, member: 76936
PENG, to me its pretty clear that all those quotes on THX spec are saying IF you calibrate an individual channel to 85db @ -20DBSF, that channel will be asked to produce up to 105db (peak, whatever that means in this case) in playback. I certainly don't see anything to the contrary. We may have to agree to disagree on this one. I say again though, if you make the assumption your making, and your wrong, your in for a world of hurt because that makes a massive difference on wattage needs.

As far as being derailed I just mean that this thread has gone far from being about the UPA500. ill start a more general thread and send you a link

Seriously, last post this time haha.

Before you leave, let me try to make my point clear one more time.

I am saying, in fact have been saying, that during calibration setup (Audyssey, YPAO, MCACC or manually for that matter), each speaker/channel will be set up to produce 85 dB average and 105 dB peak at the main mic position.

THX will likely, and logic tells me they do, test each individual channel during the certification process for the same reason that the calibration/set up does. So what exactly are we to agree to disagree?

I am also saying that just because calibration and testing are done on each channel, does not mean in real world movie playback each individual channel has to produce 105 dB peak on their own. I own quite a few movies, and watch a lot on Netflix. I just don't recall a single movie that has contents demanding 105 dB peak all produced by one single channel. In fact, during such high peak spl moments, not only more than one channel would be peaking, the LFE channel does too, and often contribute the lion's share of those peaks. So I suppose this is the point, and probably the only point, that we can agree to disagree.

Even if I am wrong, I won't be in a world of hurt because I run separates and have much more power reserve than I would ever need in my 2000 cu ft room. I also can't stand reference level as I find it much too loud for enjoyment. Even if I can tolerate the level, I won't because I don't want to risk hearing loss but that's just me.
Steve81 posts on August 07, 2017 10:57
nickwin, post: 1202710, member: 76936
So your saying the 105db is peak as in the peak of the waveform? This would be equivalent to 102db RMS, right?

That's my understanding of it. THX doesn't exactly go out of their way to release technical documentation, but looking at how AH does its room rating protocol for subwoofers, that also ties into 105dB (or 115dB for LFE as the case may be) being an instantaneous peak figure, as opposed to a short term RMS number.
nickwin posts on August 07, 2017 10:48
Steve81, post: 1202707, member: 61173
AFAIK, that's the commonly accepted understanding of how it works, i.e. 0dBFS = 105dB peak, not RMS. Indeed, the example given here:
lines up almost perfectly with a simple mix and match of other THX Ultra 2 hardware:
90dB sensitive, 6 ohm nominal
155W into 2 ch @ 8 ohms w/ 0.1% THD+N / 230W into 2 ch @ 4 ohms w/ 0.1% THD+N

Even if you bump up to the 1% numbers for the amp, you're not getting another 3dB worth of headroom out of it.

Just when I think I'm out… They pull me right back in hahaha

So your saying the 105db is peak as in the peak of the waveform? This would be equivalent to 102db RMS, right?
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