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Emotiva Airmotiv B1+ Review (Bookshelf Speaker)

Matt0305

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This is an excellent solution. A bit costly at almost three times the cost of the speaker to drive but nevertheless it is a solution.

Thank you!

You're welcome. For the price the feature list is rather impressive.
 

richard12511

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I sympathise that the meaning of "over-kill" is different in America where it is perfectly normal to use a truck to do grocery shopping or school drop offs :)

I can somewhat understand, that, though the weird thing is that even with all those overkill features, they're still usually cheaper and sound identical to the dedicated 2 channel devices. There could perhaps be concern that they limit longevity, though.

Are you actually looking to purchase these speakers and use them in a 2.1 setup? or are you asking on behalf of others in the UK?

If it's the former, I think it would help if you clearly laid out all of your requirements in a single post. That would make it easier for us to find something that meets all your needs(though I think you've mentioned that some of them already have?).

ex:
"No video circuitry", "no extra channels", "stereo pre-outs", "adjustable crossover frequency", "adjustable crossover slope", "remote control", "physical buttons/knobs on the device", "no phone app", etc.


If it's the latter(asking on behalf of others), then I think it's important to point out that not everyone will have as strict of requirements as you. I, for example(if I lived in the UK), would be happy with any AVR that has at least 2 pre-outs. I personally don't mind extra features, as long as they don't degrade the sound, as they come for free(or better really). Who knows, maybe I'll even plug it into a TV someday :). Some others may not even need pre-outs, in which case the options are even cheaper.

Speaking specifically for these speakers, you really don't need a great stereo device to improve the performance. Even if it's a fixed slope crossover, or even fixed frequency crossover, it will still sound much better than running 2.0.
 

nathan

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Fair point. In terms of cost effective, full featured, and readily available, it is hard to beat an AVR for this use case.
 

sarumbear

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Sorry, I dont get it.

What features exactly do you seek?

Two channel integrated amp with an adjustable crossover for subwoofer output? Didn't see the requirement to have an adjustable crossover until now.

No remote control? Or only a remote that is NOT a phone app? Didn't see the issue with using a phone app for control until now.

What is your budget? Didn't see any mention of price until now.

There are tons of options but which one you will like is tough to guess.

Note that the Parasound, the Anthem, from my list offer variable crossover choices. I am not sure about the others.

But for the Anthem, for example, you will want to use a computer to set it up. Is that a deal breaker? I dunno. You haven't specified either way.
Let me start again then:

In order to use the THX promoted, 2.1 system that will be used to listen music from any source, in a domestic environment where the units are not specifically designed to work together, i.e. they are sold as a matching set you need the following:

  1. A stereo amplifier with a volume control (no app requiring to change the volume, but yes to a remote to support it). I thinkj it is only fair to want a physical volume control on a stereo amplifier.
  2. That is equipped with an adjustable subwoofer xover that allows you to match the stereo speaker's (satellites) high frequency response to the subwoofer of your choice. In other words bass management. I don't have to tell in a forum where +/1 1dB deemed to require EQ correction that you cannot match a subwoofer to satellites with out at least adjusting the xover frequency.
  3. It should also not require a computer to set up.
  4. That costs about US$1000 so that it justifies using it with small speakers that are below US$500. I personally cannot see the logic of using a US$5000 amplifier with these Emotivas for instance.

None of the units other than the Elac DS-A101-G satisfies THX promoted, 2.1 system. I didn't know it existed. I thanked @Matt0305 already but I thank here again for letting me know.

https://www.elac.com/home-theater-amplifiers/discovery-series-dsa101-g/
 

nathan

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Fair enough. Sounds like given your specific requirements there may be few solutions. Sorry to hear that.

Personally, I haven't used a volume control on a device in at least a decade, have found very few situations where 80hz is not a useful / acceptable crossover, don't mind using a computer for setup (in fact I prefer it versus an interface on the device itself since it is more ergonomic for me and allows for more upgradability), and regarding cost: There are solutions from about the $250 level up to ten times that amount, if price is a key feature. And there are units that don't have all those limitations (and some have almost none of them) and even in the situations where some of the limitations exist, they offer useful solutions.
 
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sarumbear

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"No video circuitry", "no extra channels", "stereo pre-outs", "adjustable crossover frequency", "adjustable crossover slope", "remote control", "physical buttons/knobs on the device", "no phone app", etc.

It never occurred to me to state "no video circuitry" on stereo amplifier , or "physical buttons/knobs on the device" on a Hi-Fi amplifier. That was common sense to me but I was proved wrong.

However, you simply cannot have a THX 2.1 setup with at least having "adjustable crossover frequency" - period. When the filter slope is 12dB/octave or more and a xover frequency fixed at 80Hz any satellite speakers that cuts off at above 80Hz will have response dips around 80-120Hz no matter what you do. Why should I have stated this as a requirement? This is the forum where even 1dB deviation is equalised, isn't it?
 

More Dynamics Please

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When searching for a product with a unique set of specific features and limitations for which there is almost no market demand then we need to accept that it's unlikely any profit-making company has invested in bringing such a product to market. As consumers the best we can do is research everything that's available and compromise on what comes closest to meeting our ideal.
 

sarumbear

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Personally, I haven't used a volume control on a device in at least a decade, have found very few situations where 80hz is not a useful / acceptable crossover, don't mind using a computer for setup (in fact I prefer it versus an interface on the device itself since it is more ergonomic for me and allows for more upgradability)

I think you will realise that you are not a standard Hi-Fi user that Hi-Fi shops and magazines cater for. I am, but I am also an engineer who want to know the quality of what is available on the market, hence I am here. An analogy will be the car fan that reads every spec and analyse every feature of a car but not interested getting hands dirty and re-build or modify a car.

There are solutions from about the $250 level up to ten times that amount, if price is a key feature.

For the car mechanic yes for, for the car enthusiast that just wants to the experience the best drive, there isn't.

You have solutions in the niche market. I am looking for solutions in the general market.
 

sarumbear

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When searching for a product with a unique set of specific features and limitations for which there is almost no market demand then we need to accept that it's unlikely any profit-making company has invested in bringing such a product to market. As consumers the best we can do is research everything that's available and compromise on what comes closest to meeting our ideal.

I agree 100% and that has been what I am doing since I read the following two posts.
Good point. And it's not just THX. It's Toole, Geddes, Olive, Devantier, Welti, etc etc that present science the supports this approach. It is super effective for two channel, and luckily there are a handful of devices that can manage the signal path well for very little money (eg, miniDSP).

It turned out to be that those "handful of devices" had limitations that either what is deemed to be my personal preferences (physical volume control) or what I see as bad system engineering (fixed Xover frequency).
 

Bear123

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I sympathise that the meaning of "over-kill" is different in America where it is perfectly normal to use a truck to do grocery shopping or school drop offs :)
Are you refusing to consider a Denon AVR as a matter of principle rather than considering if it may be the best solution despite having more features and functionality than you need?

When I cancelled my cable subscription, my cable company offered me internet only for $90/month. They also offered me a package with the same internet, PLUS some cable TV channels(that I don't want or need), for $70/month. Using your criteria, I should have excluded internet plus TV as the solution. Just food for thought.

If I was looking for a 2 channel only solution for music only and wanted objectively good performance that included bass management, eq, modern connectivity etc etc, it would definitely irritate me that a 7 channel AVR with tons of stuff I don't need might actually be the best solution available for the price. Why buy all that stuff if I don't need it? I think part of the problem is that to get only the stuff you want, it would cost more, not perform better, be less user friendly etc etc.

For a similar example, I use an old, re-purposed base model Yamaha RXV-375 AVR in my workout room, that is used only for music with two speakers and a cheap little sub. No center channel. No surround etc. I could buy a 2 channel only Yamaha WXA-50 for $500....but why? No bass management, no eq. If I wanted room correction/sub eq in that system, I'd add a miniDSP for $100-$200. I don't need any of the extra features of the Yamaha AVR, but I would have to pay a lot more to get the same thing that I get from an old cheap AVR.

I think in terms of the average public who wants good sound, solutions like Sonos have things covered. Lifestyle sized speakers and subs, no big AVR, no extra wires running everywhere, room correction, and pretty good sound quality. A convenient cell phone app that allows whole home audio.

For the more avid enthusiasts who want bookshelf or tower speakers and the freedom to purchase any powered sub of their choice, or a pair, there does seem to be a lack of 2 channel only equipment that offers good performance along with modern connectivity, room eq, sub eq, bass management etc. Again, I think the market here is just way too small. There just aren't many who want music only and don't ever watch Tv or movies. It makes more sense to develop/market/sell a product that does both, as the cost doesn't seem to be much different?
 
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sarumbear

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Are you refusing to consider a Denon AVR as a matter of principle rather than considering if if may be the best solution despite having more features and functionality than you need?

Please answer me this: Why do you consider a small stereo speaker set, instead of two large floor standers that has the potential to sound better?
 

richard12511

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It never occurred to me to state "no video circuitry" on stereo amplifier ,
Many stereo amplifiers come with video circuitry these days.

or "physical buttons/knobs on the device" on a Hi-Fi amplifier. That was common sense to me but I was proved wrong.

Unfortunately(imo) there are stereo amps these days that operate solely via remote control, and sometimes via phone app. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of this, as it's frustrating when I lose the remote.


However, you simply cannot have a THX 2.1 setup with at least having "adjustable crossover frequency" - period. When the filter slope is 12dB/octave or more and a xover frequency fixed at 80Hz any satellite speakers that cuts off at above 80Hz will have response dips around 80-120Hz no matter what you do.

This is why it's important to state our personal requirements. Personally I don't about THX compliance. All I care about is whether or not it improves the sound. You're correct that a 12dB/octave slope with a fixed 80Hz will almost always lead to dips in the 80-120Hz range(I've never seen a system where that is not true), but a system that plays down to 20Hz with 4 well placed subs and has response dips between 80Hz and 120Hz still sounds much better than a 2.0 system that only plays down to 40Hz and has even more response dips due to having less bass sources and less optimal placement of those sources to smooth the response. So, is it THX compliant? Maybe not, but that doesn't matter to me, and is not one of my requirements. My only requirement is that it sounds better than a 2.0 B1+ system, and that requirement is easily met.

Why should I have stated this as a requirement? This is the forum where even 1dB deviation is equalised, isn't it?

Just to be clear, I'm not saying you should have stated that requirement. Likewise, my examples were just examples of requirements that "people" might say, not examples of what "you" said.
 

Bear123

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Please answer me this: Why do you consider a small stereo speaker set, instead of two large floor standers that has the potential to sound better?
Do you mean in general, as in what could the possible reasons be for anyone? Or in my specific example in my workout room? If you mean me specifically, for my workout room, I'll assume you are genuinely interested, so:
1)My budget was really low for the workout room. I got a pair of what I *think* are decent bookshelf speakers brand new for $80 off a guy on e-bay who seems to have bought up all the remaining inventory of a discontinued speaker line. So this was the first reason....it was a bargain. I blow $80 on dinner at times so it was something worth trying. They sounded better to me than the more expensive re-purposed speakers that I was using previously, which I was able to sell along with the matching center channel I no longer needed for several hundred dollars( I forget the exact amount).
2) My basement very occasionally floods...its happened 2-3x in the years I've lived here. Really don't want tower speakers on the floor primarily for this reason.
3) I got a decent little JBL550P subwoofer kind of for free added in as part of the deal from the guy I sold a pair of really good subwoofers to. I'll *generally* take bookshelves plus sub over towers and no sub.
 
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sarumbear

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Many stereo amplifiers come with video circuitry these days.
It's that word again: "many", with no qualification.

...a system that plays down to 20Hz with 4 well placed subs and has response dips between 80Hz and 120Hz still sounds much better than a 2.0 system that only plays down to 40Hz
I disagree totally! Otherwise why would you do eq in the mid frequency range?

So, is it THX compliant?
I am not looking for THX qualification. I am only looking for an affordable stereo audio amplifier with bass management that will match these Emotivas. How much more I can make myself clear!!!

PS. I personally do not agree with THX and what they do. They are simply a branding company these days who use tech as an USB.
 

sarumbear

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Do you mean in general, as in what could the possible reasons be for anyone? Or in my specific example in my workout room?
In general and in order to stay in topic. After all this is the thread about a small speaker.
 

Matt0305

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My personal opinion is you could spend less on well measured bookshelf speakers, a quality sub, and a nice Nad integrated amp with Dirac, than the alternative "full range" floor standing speakers, amp, ect and probably have similar or better results. Users going that route are more likely purchasing much more expensive bookshelf speakers than the budget oriented Emotiva or JBL. I think the ideal use for the Emotiva is home theater/media and not necessarily "HiFi".
 

richard12511

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I think you will realise that you are not a standard Hi-Fi user that Hi-Fi shops and magazines cater for.

Can you expand on this a little more? I think the "standard Hi-Fi" has changed drastically in the past 40-50 years or so. I also think we, as humans, tend to overestimate how "normal" we are. How are you so sure that most others share your strict requirements for stereo gear? I think you might be thinking your own requirements/beliefs are more common than they actually are. I doubt most standard Hifi users care about crossover slopes, or response dips. Most don't even measure at all.

If I had to guess, I would guess that AVRs are actually the most common stereo solution in use today, as dedicated stereo rooms are very rare. Most stereo rooms today are likely multi-purpose. 40 years ago, I might agree with you, but I do think standards have changed. In my experience, the younger generations (say younger than 50) are very rarely building dedicated audio rooms with no visual display component.
 

Bear123

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In general and in order to stay in topic. After all this is the thread about a small speaker.
For me personally, in general, I would consider bookshelf speakers over towers if it were very important to be able to place the speakers on furniture or in a bookshelf. Otherwise, if they are going on stands, I strongly prefer towers. I would pair them with subs in either scenario. A good pair of subs is more important to me than whether I use bookshelf speakers or tower speakers, in case it is implied that the choice is between bookshelf+subs or towers/no subs.
 

sarumbear

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My personal opinion is you could spend less on well measured bookshelf speakers, a quality sub, and a nice Nad integrated amp with Dirac, than the alternative "full range" floor standing speakers, amp, ect and probably have similar or better results.
NAD M10 and M33 are US$3000 and US$5000 respectively and here we are on the review of a US$229 speaker. Your point is lost on me.
 

Matt0305

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NAD M10 and M33 are US$3000 and US$5000 respectively and here we are on the review of a US$229 speaker. Your point is lost on me.

My point is the speakers that can actually produce "full range" are generally much more expensive than the combined cost. This isn't really on topic, but the towers I would consider full range generally sell in the thousands each and require significant amplification to run.
 
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