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Emotiva XPA-DR2 Review (Stereo Power Amplifier)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Emotiva XPA-DR2 "differential" power amplifier. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $1699 from the company direct.

This thing a beast both in size and weight:

Emotiva XPA-DR2 Review Differential Power Amplifier.jpg


This, despite usage of switchmode power supply to keep the "weight down." Yeh right. :) My back is still complaining....

There is no benefit to having a differential power amplifier but seems like they a pair of amps are used out of phase to double the power per channel:

Emotiva XPA-DR2 Review Differential back panel XLR Power Amplifier.jpg


The switchmode power supply changes supply rail on (power demand) to keep power consumption low at lower power levels ("class H"). In my testing, the DR2 barely got warm so the mechanism is working.

Emotiva XPA-DR2 Measurements
I was expecting good measurements but instead got this:

Emotiva XPA-DR2 Gen 3 Measurements Differential Power Amplifier.png


Wow, look at the harmonic spray starting at third one. SINAD of 64 dB ranks almost at the bottom of nearly 150 amplifiers tested:

Best home theater amplifier review 2021.png


Not good.

Fortunately signal to noise ratio is excellent so this is a quiet amplifier:

Emotiva XPA-DR2 Gen 3 SNR Measurements Differential Power Amplifier.png


Frequency response and crosstalk are fine:

Emotiva XPA-DR2 Gen 3 frequency response Measurements Differential Power Amplifier.png


Emotiva XPA-DR2 Gen 3 Crosstalk Measurements Differential Power Amplifier.png


Multitone test though shows the high distortion across the frequency band:
Emotiva XPA-DR2 Gen 3 Multitone Measurements Differential Power Amplifier.png


The main meal here is power into 4 and 8 ohm loads versus distortion+noise:
Emotiva XPA-DR2 Gen 3 Power into 4 ohm Measurements Differential Power Amplifier.png


That's incredible amount of power. Alas it is delivered with lots of distortion. Back to the power, check out the max and peak power:

Emotiva XPA-DR2 Gen 3 Max and burst Power into 4 ohm Measurements Differential Power Amplifier.png


And this is on a shared 20 amp 120 volt outlet. I don't think we have measured any other amplifier that comes close to this level of output.

Similar story holds (good and bad) for 8 ohm:

Emotiva XPA-DR2 Gen 3 Power into 8 ohm Measurements Differential Power Amplifier.png


As you see the curve looks nothing like other amplifiers where they are first noise limited until clipping sets in. Here, distortion is front and center even at 50 milliwatts!

We get a look at the architecture of this amplifier by sweeping power at different frequencies:

Emotiva XPA-DR2 Gen 3 Frequency vs Distortion vs Power into 4 ohm Measurements Differential Po...png


We have a constant glitch around 20 to 50 watts which I am assuming is the amplifier switching rails to higher voltage. We also have rising distortion as seen in the previous graphs even at low power.

Conclusions
Assuming I don't have to carry it much, I love the build and great value as far as $/watt and maximum amount of power available. SNR is also good so you should be free of speaker hiss. Distortion is high though and there is no getting around it. Will you hear it? At 60 dB it is probably borderline for most people.

I can't recommend the Emotiva XPA-DR2 due to its high distortion. Otherwise, it is a very tempting package.

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

Every night I have dinner, wait for the sun to do down some and go pulling weeds in the garden. It is back breaking work given how large our garden is, and how out of control weeds have become. I get to relax when I come in though. Not tonight. Had to lug this monster up the loft to measure it! If you are feeling a modicum of sympathy for me after hearing this story, appreciate some donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

VintageFlanker

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Oups. That is stunningly poor distorsion performance.

Which is a shame regarding all other areas: Noise, power output and so on.

Here are the measurements by Hi-Fi News: https://www.hifinews.com/content/emotiva-xsp-1xpa-dr2-prepower-amplifier-lab-report

It didn't seem that bad over there, though not as detailed/reliable as AP testing.

For relative comparaison, @John Atkinson measured the non-differential model (XPA Gen 3), which also showed some flaws: https://www.stereophile.com/content/emotiva-xpa-gen3-two-channel-power-amplifier-measurements
 
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martijn86

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Ample headroom to power the Dali's you've reviewed earlier. But Emotiva is aiming more for the AV crowd right? So this is likely to become a power upgrade for the front channels of someone's home theater. The distortion is unfortunate but not unseen in AVR's. So I think it will be o.k. for the target audience. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 

beatelund

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From Emo website

Audio Specifications (Two Differential Reference Amplifier Modules):
  • Power Output (both channels driven):
    550 watts RMS, per channel, into 8 Ohms, at <0.1% THD.
    800 watts RMS, per channel, into 4 Ohms, at <0.1% THD.
  • Power Bandwidth (at rated power; 8 Ohm load): 20 Hz to 20 kHz (+ / – 0.1 dB).
  • Broad Band Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 50 kHz +0/-2 dB.
  • THD + noise: < 0.008%; at 100 watts RMS; 1 kHz; 8 Ohms.
  • Signal to Noise Ratio (8 Ohm load):
    > 120 dB; ref FTC rated power; unbalanced input (A-weighted).
    > 96 dB; ref 1 watt; unbalanced input (A-weighted).
 

Koeitje

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Just get a class D PA amplifier?
 

Mindcool

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I once had the emotiva xpa gen 3 version (less power than the reviewed DR version). Before I discovered ASR I was tempted to buy the DR. Now I have the nord Ice1200as/2 instead: lots of power within reasonable amount of distortion. From this review it seems I made the right choice. :)
 

Matias

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abdo123

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Matias

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or Hypex NC1200 or NC2000.
Absolutely, I was just searching for something with the same price as the high powered NCores are significantly more expensive.
 

abdo123

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Absolutely, I was just searching for something with the same price as the high powered NCores are significantly more expensive.

the ICE power model will provide similar distortion and more noise so they're a step down in my opinion, unless power efficiency is crucial to you.
 

PeteL

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Beast of an amplifier. Distortion looks very neat and intentional. Thanks for the review Amir.
Why Intentional? I'd say an acceptable compromise in their views, It may sound quite alright for most, These THD would have been alright 40 years ago but an amp that powerful would have been the cost of a car, would heat your whole house in the winter and would need 4 people to lift. So some of these design decision make sense but you gain in some area, you lose elsewhere. Not saying I would purchase something that performs like that, but it may make sense to some, I guess some are allergic to the D word, and maybe some even like some more distortion as a sonic signature, but I believe if they could have done better they would have.
 

MZKM

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From Emo website

Audio Specifications (Two Differential Reference Amplifier Modules):
  • Power Output (both channels driven):
    550 watts RMS, per channel, into 8 Ohms, at <0.1% THD.
    800 watts RMS, per channel, into 4 Ohms, at <0.1% THD.
  • Power Bandwidth (at rated power; 8 Ohm load): 20 Hz to 20 kHz (+ / – 0.1 dB).
  • Broad Band Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 50 kHz +0/-2 dB.
  • THD + noise: < 0.008%; at 100 watts RMS; 1 kHz; 8 Ohms.
  • Signal to Noise Ratio (8 Ohm load):
    > 120 dB; ref FTC rated power; unbalanced input (A-weighted).
    > 96 dB; ref 1 watt; unbalanced input (A-weighted).
Addressing the bold specs:

Looks like ~750W 4ohm at 0.1% THD (we don’t know the bandwidth or frequency)

Looks like ~0.018% THD, 8ohm, 1kHz, 100W; but again we don’t know the bandwidth

Looks like with A-weight the SNR values would be achieved.
 

Dennis_FL

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I once had the emotiva xpa gen 3 version (less power than the reviewed DR version). Before I discovered ASR I was tempted to buy the DR. Now I have the nord Ice1200as/2 instead: lots of power within reasonable amount of distortion. From this review it seems I made the right choice. :)
I have the same XPA 3 channel. I had a major issue as the RCA connection came out of the chassis when I disconnected a high end, tight fitting cable. They'd fix it under warranty but shipping costs in both directions was a gazillion dollars.
 
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