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Emotiva PA-1 Review (Amplifier)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Emotiva PA-1 monoblock class D amplifier. It is on kind loan from a member and unfortunately discontinued. When it was being sold, it cost $299.

There is not much to look at here other than a blue indicator for when the unit is on:

Emotiva PA-1 Review Monoblock Amplifier.jpg


It is a balanced amplifier which is nice:
Emotiva PA-1 Review balanced back panel Monoblock Amplifier.jpg


There is an automatic trigger as you see. I tested it using always-on mode.

I believe this is based on some ICEPower module from B&O (300AS1?). In use the PA-1 didn't even get warm to touch. Protection circuit was very good in that if you overload it, it clips but keeps going. Other amps shut down requiring power cycling and such which an become annoying in my testing.

Emotiva PA-1 Measurements
Our standard dashboard of 5 watts into 4 ohm (1 kHz tone) shows very good performance:

Emotiva PA-1 Measurements Monoblock Amplifier.png


Distortion is at -100 dB which is quite nice making SINAD around 92 dB:

best power amplifier monoblock review 2021.png


This is well above our average of 78 across nearly 140 amplifiers tested to date.

SNR is very good nearly matching my target of 96 dB at 5 watts:
Emotiva PA-1 SNR Measurements Monoblock Amplifier.png


Multitone shows the same good performance:
Emotiva PA-1 Multitone Measurements Monoblock Amplifier.png


Frequency response unfortunately shows dependency on speaker impedance:

Emotiva PA-1 Frequency Response Measurements Monoblock Amplifier.png


Power into 4 ohm shows early rise of distortion:

Emotiva PA-1 power into 4 ohm Measurements Monoblock Amplifier.png


I cut off the power early in that graph. If one allows it to go higher in distortion it produces a lot more power:

Emotiva PA-1 peak and max power into 4 ohm Measurements Monoblock Amplifier.png


Switching to 8 ohm we get:

Emotiva PA-1 power into 8 ohm Measurements Monoblock Amplifier.png


Changing frequency shows what non-state-of-the-art class Ds produce:

Emotiva PA-1 power into 4 ohm vs frequency Measurements Monoblock Amplifier.png


Namely a transfer function that changes with frequency and much higher distortion.

Here is the spectrum of the switching frequency:
Emotiva PA-1 FFT Measurements Monoblock Amplifier.png


Conclusions
It is hard to get perfection at this price point but the Emotiva PA-1 tries hard. It is a small package that runs cool yet produces well above average noise and distortion ratings. It is a shame it is discontinued.

I am going to put the Emotiva PA-1 on my recommended list. Hopefully you can find some in second hand market or something.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Crappy weekend... Been running around with my head cut off between garden chores and reviews and get this citation in the mail. The offence? Going 26 miles an hour in 20 mile speed limit street (camera ticket)! It was a school zone and I remember slamming on my breaks as soon as I approached the blinking light. How the heck does one trust the speedometer that accurately at 20 mph? Try to pay it online and they want an extra $9 if I do it that way versus mailing a check! What losers. They rather process a paper check?

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Thomas_A

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Thanks. Measured spec indicate similar topology as the stereo amp XTZ Edge A2-300, a few dB better on SINAD.
 

VintageFlanker

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Amir is there a reason why the distortion threshold for clipping is not 1%?
Mostly because the 1% point is already under clipping conditions for virtually all amps in the market.

But I agree we should have the two numbers indicated: Before clipping and at 1%.

In that case, we've got ≈320W/4Ohms at 1% which is fine.
 

Jer

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Sweet! Great review as always.
What is the highest rated amp here yet under under $500? Even if it’s just a kit?
 

wwenze

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Clipping point can be identified as the point where the distortion starts to shoot upwards in a straight line.

Because different amplifiers have different SINAD performance, you can see it happen at lower SINADs with better amplifiers, while in bad amplifiers the normal performance is already so bad it prevents you from noticing the waveform is getting distorted further until really bad SINADs.

I find value in both the "amplifier-dependent" % and 1%. For the former, because we are not buying a good amplifier to use it at 1%, we are paying money to get 0.003% for example. So we need to know when it stops being 0.003%. Otherwise I might as well buy a cheaper amplifier that still can do 1%.
As for the usefulness of the latter, there may be situations where you need power and you don't care it is 1%.

Worth noting is that whether you are looking at 1% or 0.01%, the difference in max output volume is small in terms of dB.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Amir is there a reason why the distortion threshold for clipping is not 1%?
The power graphs don't have the resolution to determine 1%.
 

abdo123

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The power graphs don't have the resolution to determine 1%.

Oh i just noticed that there is a seperate graph for power at 1% THD+N.

it was just strange to see the power vs THD+N to 'stop' at 80 SINAD, which is quite high imo.
 

Matias

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Inside is a single ICEpower 300AS1 board.

images (6).jpeg


Unfortunately the 6.67 kHz curve does not behave as well as the others...

300AS1.jpg


It is a shame it is discontinued.

An amplifier based on Hypex NCore NC252MP is more or less equivalent, but cheaper and measures better. There are manufacturers in the US and Europe, so no problem.
 
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Francis Vaughan

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It is an odd thing for Emotiva to sell. They add no value after the box and connectors. Maybe that is one reason they have moved on and no longer offer it.
At the high performance end I have a feeling we will be waiting for the nCore patents to expire before we see real competition in class D. They nailed how to do it right, and there hasn’t been much since.
 

digicidal

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It is an odd thing for Emotiva to sell. They add no value after the box and connectors. Maybe that is one reason they have moved on and no longer offer it.
At the high performance end I have a feeling we will be waiting for the nCore patents to expire before we see real competition in class D. They nailed how to do it right, and there hasn’t been much since.

Actually the reason they sold it in the first place was (IIRC at least) they got a warehouse liquidation of the ICEPower boards - and it happened at a time when they were pursuing an option for the preamp and DAC which were in that product line. I think there wasn't really any intention of keeping the product alive after they'd worked through that inventory... after all, it's competitive with their in-house "budget" line but a nicer form-factor (at least IMO) and at a lower price-per-watt.
 

restorer-john

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The offence? Going 26 miles an hour in 20 mile speed limit street (camera ticket)! It was a school zone and I remember slamming on my breaks as soon as I approached the blinking light. How the heck does one trust the speedometer that accurately at 20 mph? Try to pay it online and they want an extra $9 if I do it that way versus mailing a check! What losers. They rather process a paper check?

They got you. Fair and square. Just pay the fine and move on, unless you have GPS linked dashcam of the offense (alleged offense) showing inch by inch speed.

I have one where I went through a fixed speed camera and it was only my dashcam GPS data/video that showed when I crossed the measurement lines, frame by frame, I was under the speed limit. Prior to it, I was well above for sure. No fine. Phew.
 

Rottmannash

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This is my amp that I bought used from a fellow in Colorado. Bought a pair. Noticed the high frequencies could get rather grating at high volumes and bought the VTV Eval 1 Purifi amp and immediately noticed improvement, but only at high volumes. Thank you Amir for measuring its performance. I was also bemused when running it a high power how cool it was-couldn't feel it get even a little warm. I will probably use them for surround duty.
 

Billy Budapest

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It is an odd thing for Emotiva to sell. They add no value after the box and connectors. Maybe that is one reason they have moved on and no longer offer it.
At the high performance end I have a feeling we will be waiting for the nCore patents to expire before we see real competition in class D. They nailed how to do it right, and there hasn’t been much since.
Purifi and IceEdge are real competition to nCore, although Purifi is more an evolution of nCore than a completely different technology.
 

sejarzo

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I picked up a couple of these last year when they had a rebate deal going on. I think I got 30% discount after buying one, then immediately applied that to another order for the second, and then 30% of the second order covered balanced cables and their unbalanced/balanced adapters.

Given that I was on the fence about these versus a used Schiit Aegir, I am happy to see that the SINAD is virtually the same.

I can't comment much on the performance myself as we had to move an elderly parent in with us and ummmm...there are issues with even a sane listening volume now.


EDIT: I originally added something here about Emotiva getting a deal on these before I saw that @digicidal previously posted that same info.
 
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pma

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@amirm Looks like this Emotiva could make a decent long wave radio beacon on 450kc. Just run a bit of speaker wire out the window as an antenna ;)

Yeah. About 1Vrms of nice 450kHz sub AM-MW frequency. What a shame the designers cannot make anything better than a dumb simple LC. And this goes to the speaker wire.
 
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