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Emotiva BasX System -- Perspectives

KellenVancouver

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Nov 16, 2021
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As I indicated a couple weeks ago, I had an Emotiva BasX system on order and would report back to ASR when received and had a chance to experience it. Mine is one of their lower-end systems including a BasX PT1 preamp, BasX A2 amplifier, SE12 flex subwoofer, and pair of Airmotiv B1+ bookshelf speakers.

The Emotiva equipment arrived a few days ago via UPS without any damage. Not surprising since each item was boxed, double-boxed, secured in foam, and “clothed” with a rather attractive black cloth. Good on both UPS and especially Emotiva for doing a great job of protecting equipment in transit. Setting it up was not much of a challenge (including trigger out from PT1 to A2, which worked fine) until I failed to get the SE12 subwoofer to work.

With a single-end RCA audio cable, I was attempting to connect the Mono out from the PT1 to the LFE input on the subwoofer. The Emotiva manual describes the PT1 Mono out as follows: “This outlet allows you to connect a powered subwoofer to the PT1 via the 90Hz low-pass filter portion of the internal bass management crossover.” Didn’t work. Dead silent. I tried various tweaks, bought a new cable, still no sound. Okay, so either my connection pattern was faulty, the subwoofer was faulty, or the PT1 Mono out was faulty.

My first concern was whether the subwoofer was faulty, so I carried it over to my “main” system which is Benchmark, plugged it into the LA4 analog out, and the SE12 worked fine. That was a relief, but note that the LA4 does not have a mono out, so instead of feeding into the LFE on the subwoofer I connected it to the left and right “stereo line level inputs” on the SE12. I subsequently carried the SE12 back to the room where the Emotiva is set-up, connected those inputs to the PT1 Crossover Outputs, and it worked. Double relieved. The manual’s description for the PT1 Crossover Outputs is: “These Main Outputs provide a signal that has been routed through the 90Hz active high-pass filter portion of the internal active bass management crossover.” I sent an e-mail to Grayson Harper with Emotiva support to let him know how I’d configured the subwoofer connection in case he had a better solution, especially since the LFE connection would seemingly be preferred (awaiting response, if any).

I like that the PT1 includes a tuner for FM radio, configurable for US or Europe and provides Autotune. Autotune rapidly scans the spectrum and assigns stations to presets. However, the PT1 provides just 15 presets and in my region Autotune maxed all 15 at 97.1 FM, so I opted to do presets manually. That must be done with the included remote, which for each preset begins at 87.5 on the spectrum, thus skipping through every station until reaching the desired station for preset became a bit tiresome. FM reception had generally excellent clarity, although there are a couple local stations clearly received in a car which the PT1 did not pick-up well; that brought back distant memories of the last tuner I bought more than 30 plus years ago, endlessly jinking around with the antenna wire; this time around I got better reception with minimal FM wire movement. There is an option to switch tuner selection to monaural (when a signal is weak) and help eliminate background noise from FM encoding.

The PT1 includes Bluetooth AptX HD that supports 24-bit quality. I connected with my android phone and played some 24 bit songs via Qobuz, and it worked both easily and well. After delinking the phone I tried a Kindle Fire, and it connected just as easily. The BT antenna on the back of the PT1 is relatively unobtrusive, but may not have the greatest reach. It did not reach from downstairs to upstairs and at the opposite end of this 3,300 sq. ft. house, which by comparison is a reach that does connect between my phone and a Como Audio Amico. Other digital source inputs include coax, optical, and USB (type B), and analog source inputs are available for CD player, phono (including a gain selector), and auxiliary.

The display on the PT1 has three things I really like. First the blue display color is pleasant, second it is dimmable, and I especially like that the display automatically shuts off after about 5 seconds (who likes a display that is constantly trying to call attention to itself?). The A2 has just a couple tiny blue lights on its front panel to show it is on, and those stay on during use (for both the A2 and PT1, a single pinpoint amber light remains lit when in standby mode). At 160 watts per channel (8Ω) and 250 watts/channel 4Ω, the A2 amplifier provides more than sufficient power to the B1+ speakers. While playing in Bluetooth I paused the music and turned the volume to its maximum level (volume control goes up to 80 in .5 increments), pressed my ear against the speakers and heard… nada. If there was any hum or other noise then it was not discernible by me. I tried the other source selections (except tuner) the same way, and the only one that made noise at max volume was phono which had an audible hissing sound. Someone with more technical audio knowledge than me can probably explain that difference.

I used basic 14-gauge speaker wires to connect the A2 to the B1+ speakers. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting perfection from bookshelf speakers that cost $249/pair, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well they sound – in fact, more than pleasantly surprised. Clarity and detail were excellent for these small 10-inch speakers, especially on the high end since they use folded ribbon tweeters. Coupled with the SE12 subwoofer the sound easily fills the family room space where they are located. Your mileage may vary, but my perception is that $249 for the B1+ speakers was an excellent value.

Hopefully I won’t have any issues with these components. I know in the past there have been some spotty customer service issues with Emotiva, and that kind of bad rap can stick with a company. Just look, for instance, at some of the ASR comments about IOTAVX. But ever since IOTAVX hired Sarah Taylor six months ago to take charge of customer service they have been completely turning that ship around, and I just have to hope that Emotiva has similarly learned that customer service matters to the bottom line.

Conclusion: There is always bias towards positivity when it comes to a subjective review of products because, at least subconsciously, few of us want to crow about how stupid we were buying inferior equipment. That’s why the objectivity derived from ASR technical reviews is such a valuable resource for all of us. Though I made a conscious attempt to be genuine I’m just another human being so no doubt my biases show, thus take my views with that big grain of salt. From a user’s perspective I have no hesitation recommending the Emotiva equipment. My intent was to create a secondary system for the family room with a $1,500 budget. Mission accomplished and I am very satisfied with the outcome because it sounds great with several source options. Last step is to get a CD transport to complete the set-up. At $249 the best value seemed to be the B1+ speakers. The PT1 ($399) and A2 ($449) also provide great bang for the buck. I wasn’t as value-impressed by the SE12 subwoofer ($399), but that’s not a dig against it – my other sub is RSL Speedwoofer 10S and it just seem to sound better (albeit on a higher-end system). Would I make this same purchase again? Yes I would, although from a do-over perspective I might get another RSL 10S subwoofer in lieu of the SE12. Likewise, I could have expanded the budget $500 or so to get the Topping D90SE ($899) and PA5 ($349) for their higher performance in lieu of the PT1 and A2 (though sans tuner). But similar to a marriage, at some point you just have to decide whether you are happy enough to move forward in peace and let go of striving for more. In this case I’m happy enough.
 

acro

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Dec 15, 2021
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HI i am presently looking to get the pt1 and the a2 amp to pair with mini lore speakers and a svs sb 1000 sub.
The electronics would replace my pioneer vsx 820. Do you think this will be a significant upgrade or it wont make a difference?
 
OP
KellenVancouver

KellenVancouver

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Hi Acro. I hope others with ASR will provide their opinions in response to your question because I can't really answer it, namely because I'm unfamiliar with the Pioneer VSX 820, so can't compare. I've never owned a Pioneer product, although my best friend is rather a Pioneer fanboy so that's the one plus I can give to that brand (of course, others might have differing opinions). My other caveat is that I did not buy Emotiva's high-end products since I was setting-up a secondary, not primary, audio system and consequently wanted to keep costs on the lower side of the spectrum. I also was not angling to have it integrated with video, and that may or may not be important to you, but wasn't to me, so didn't worry about lack of HDMI in/out etc. That's why the A2, just a two-channel amp, was good enough for me because I liked its power (plenty for its place), and thankfully in use it sounds quite good to my ears with Emotiva's B1+ speakers. Of course that is one of those subjective comments that doesn't pass muster with the ASR community and can invite contempt and criticism, so take my perspective for what it's worth (i.e., 2¢). Emotiva's TX1 is more of a traditional integrated amp as opposed to a preamp, so PT1 is perhaps the one preamp choice you get with Emotiva. That said, it's working quite well (again, subjective comment). Like I said in the OP, I would have no hesitation buying the same set-up again, very happy with it and performing well for my limited needs in that room. I live only about 170 miles south of Amir so I'd be perfectly willing to drive these items (as well as a couple other items) to him for testing so that a more objective evaluation could be done with his equipment for the good of the ASR community, but I get that for privacy reasons he may not want a drop-off and for my part I don't want to risk a delivery. I feel a bit badly that I couldn't directly answer your question, so if you have any follow-up questions please advise. And again, hopefully there are better comparative/objective responses from other ASR members that go beyond my experience.
 

acro

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Dec 15, 2021
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I am happy for your detailed response and i am new to the forum so even though i am a numbers guy i appreciate the subjective component greatly. Video is important but to be honest i have been running two channel audio for some time (toslink from the tv to the receiver) and i will not be going to multichannel audio anytime in the foreseeable future. I would love to have some measurements for sure but until then i will listen to members like yourself who actually own the devices i am interested in.

What i am interested in is the combo that you have now if music sounds punchy alive and clean?

I may pose my question in the main group and see if i get any responses as well. But much thanks
 
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