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Emotiva XPA-DR2 Review (Stereo Power Amplifier)

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amirm

amirm

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@amirm is no news, bad news?
They asked for my project file which I provided a week ago. I also explained the test. That was that unfortunately. I just shipped the unit back to its owner.
 

Rick Sykora

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They asked for my project file which I provided a week ago. I also explained the test. That was that unfortunately. I just shipped the unit back to its owner.

Thanks for update!

Always better when the company cares enough to respond even if just to confirm the status quo. I never had any trouble with their products and resale was pretty good too, but have heard complaints that their service is subpar. Do not own any anymore and, given this, not looking like I will ever again. :(
 
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jdhiro

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I own the same amp, and I have to say that my subjective experience matches the test results. I've recently been comparing it back-to-back with an Apollon Purifi Stereo Mini, and they couldn't be more different.

The DR-2s power gives so much body, SLAM, and really helps you feel things like bass strings.
Switching over to the Purifi instantly sounds cleaner and more separated, but the lack of power is obvious.

I've also compared the DR-2 to my friends XPA-1 (Gen 2 based) mono blocks, and those things are just on a different level from the DR-2.
 

hyfynut

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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)_/¯
The Sinad
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)_/¯
The Sinad is quite a bit worse than the majority of receivers in the list so it I'd say there must be something wrong with the amplifier design.
 

DonH56

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One thing I have run into now and then are folk who buy the highest-power amplifier they can get then discover the hiss is (too) high. I then have to explain a bit about noise floor and gain structure... That might be a good topic for a post but I'm done for today.
 

jdhiro

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You notice these differences even when the two amplifiers are played at exactly the same volume level, a level that both amplifiers can easily handle?

Thanks for asking. I've done some more back-to-backs before responding to this.

First off, here is my comparison equipment:
- Bowers & Wilkins 804 D3
- Emotiva RMC-1L source, in Reference Stereo Mode
- Emotiva DR-2 vs Apollon 1ET400A Mini (Purifi stereo setup)
- AppleTV w/ Apple Music running lossless audio (I believe this is capped at 48/24 lossless right now)

I set the Apollon to max gain, which should match the gain of the Emotiva amp, set my processor to -20db and did several back-to-backs. I then did a few more and -10db (loud). This comparison was purely subjective, and involved only my own listening with no measurements.

--

At -20db, you'd have to back-to-back these two amps to really appreciate the difference between them, but they are "voiced" quite differently. I think that the Apollon Purifi continues to impress with the spacious sound, clarity, and "sparkle". However, the Emotiva carries a lot more weigh to the instruments into the presentation. For example, given a guitar chord, it sounds great with the Apollon amp, but you can feel the vibration of the cord more in the Emotiva. However, the absolute resolution is not quite there with the Emotiva.

At -10db, the difference becomes quite a lot more pronounced. The Emotiva easily projects the loudness, and brings a lot more bass slam into the room, but it also gets a bit more busy and muddy in it's presentation. On the flip side, the Apollon maintains it's clarity but the sound is weaker. Bass strings don't hit that hard, it sounds like you're listening from across they room, not RIGHT THERE feeling the instrument.

--

Once again, from a subjective standpoint, it's difficult to say which one is better in all situations. It is also difficult to appreciate the difference between them without doing a detailed back to back. I think it would be easy to enjoy both of these amps in isolation, and I kind of want to hold on to both of them for now just to experience the different presentations for a while.

I feel that the Apollon/Purifi is the superior amp at low levels, but that I really enjoy the power "headroom" that the Emotiva has to offer. That effortless power and soundstage makes up for a lot of the accuracy difference.

I'm looking forward to more powerful Purifi modules, and I'd really love to hear the Hypex 2KW.
 

jdhiro

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One thing I have run into now and then are folk who buy the highest-power amplifier they can get then discover the hiss is (too) high. I then have to explain a bit about noise floor and gain structure... That might be a good topic for a post but I'm done for today.

I experience some hiss with my old Emotiva XPA-5 Gen1, but this XPA DR-2 is almost dead silent.
 

MasterApex

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AHB2 in stereo or bridged mode? I have the AHB2 and have been debating whether it has the headroom for less efficient bookshelf speakers (84 dB), but I'm only 5 feet away .

Unlike Class D Purifi Amp (my other Amp) which has noticeable peak dynamic sound compression.
I had AHB2 in stereo mode and was able to get 95dB on 802D3 without clipping.

It is a very good Class H design.
If thermal not an issue avoid Class D.
If size/weight/thermal not an issue get the full power supply (has built-in regulator) Class AB amp like Levinson , Pass Lab X350, Krell FPB series.
 

HSamwel

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Thanks for asking. I've done some more back-to-backs before responding to this.

First off, here is my comparison equipment:
- Bowers & Wilkins 804 D3
- Emotiva RMC-1L source, in Reference Stereo Mode
- Emotiva DR-2 vs Apollon 1ET400A Mini (Purifi stereo setup)
- AppleTV w/ Apple Music running lossless audio (I believe this is capped at 48/24 lossless right now)

I set the Apollon to max gain, which should match the gain of the Emotiva amp, set my processor to -20db and did several back-to-backs. I then did a few more and -10db (loud). This comparison was purely subjective, and involved only my own listening with no measurements.

--

At -20db, you'd have to back-to-back these two amps to really appreciate the difference between them, but they are "voiced" quite differently. I think that the Apollon Purifi continues to impress with the spacious sound, clarity, and "sparkle". However, the Emotiva carries a lot more weigh to the instruments into the presentation. For example, given a guitar chord, it sounds great with the Apollon amp, but you can feel the vibration of the cord more in the Emotiva. However, the absolute resolution is not quite there with the Emotiva.

At -10db, the difference becomes quite a lot more pronounced. The Emotiva easily projects the loudness, and brings a lot more bass slam into the room, but it also gets a bit more busy and muddy in it's presentation. On the flip side, the Apollon maintains it's clarity but the sound is weaker. Bass strings don't hit that hard, it sounds like you're listening from across they room, not RIGHT THERE feeling the instrument.

--

Once again, from a subjective standpoint, it's difficult to say which one is better in all situations. It is also difficult to appreciate the difference between them without doing a detailed back to back. I think it would be easy to enjoy both of these amps in isolation, and I kind of want to hold on to both of them for now just to experience the different presentations for a while.

I feel that the Apollon/Purifi is the superior amp at low levels, but that I really enjoy the power "headroom" that the Emotiva has to offer. That effortless power and soundstage makes up for a lot of the accuracy difference.

I'm looking forward to more powerful Purifi modules, and I'd really love to hear the Hypex 2KW.

Even worse.. It’s locked at 48khz. Anything lower or higher will be resampled.
Through Airplay everything is scaled down to 16bits as well.

For movies this isn’t really an issue as most movies are 48khz at either 16, 20 or 24bits.
But for music it really sucks, even normal CD quality music is always resampled.
The majority of music will be resampled.
 

jdhiro

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Even worse.. It’s locked at 48khz. Anything lower or higher will be resampled.
Through Airplay everything is scaled down to 16bits as well.

I’ll try this again later running off my laptop.
 

jdhiro

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One more thing to add about the Emotive XPA-DR2. This thing is $1,700, and if you hold out for sales/incentives you can get a few hundred dollars off that. For a fully assembled, high quality, full-fat, class A/B amp... this thing is an unbeatable bargain.

Even though I'm critically comparing this to my Apollon Purifi amp, the Emotive was quite a bit less expensive. I also have an RMC-1L, and when I had issues on the forum, they called me repeatedly until they were resolved. I know Emo gets some slack, but they are delivering really good value IMO.
 

nick-v

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One more thing to add about the Emotive XPA-DR2. This thing is $1,700, and if you hold out for sales/incentives you can get a few hundred dollars off that. For a fully assembled, high quality, full-fat, class A/B amp... this thing is an unbeatable bargain.

Even though I'm critically comparing this to my Apollon Purifi amp, the Emotive was quite a bit less expensive. I also have an RMC-1L, and when I had issues on the forum, they called me repeatedly until they were resolved. I know Emo gets some slack, but they are delivering really good value IMO.
It's at a very attractive price point, and it appears to have good build quality, but you can't really call it an unbeatable bargain with such demonstrably poor measured performance.
 

Rottmannash

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One more thing to add about the Emotive XPA-DR2. This thing is $1,700, and if you hold out for sales/incentives you can get a few hundred dollars off that. For a fully assembled, high quality, full-fat, class A/B amp... this thing is an unbeatable bargain.

Even though I'm critically comparing this to my Apollon Purifi amp, the Emotive was quite a bit less expensive. I also have an RMC-1L, and when I had issues on the forum, they called me repeatedly until they were resolved. I know Emo gets some slack, but they are delivering really good value IMO.
What did you pay for the Apollon amp?? More than $1700?
 

Steve D

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I purchased this Emotiva amplifier last year. I have since purchased GR research NXOtica speakers. The amplifier sounded powerful and added bass slam to my KEF R3 speakers but I felt the imaging to be flat and I detected some midrange smear and upper midrange glare. With the change to the GRs, the imaging got better but not as good as I have heard them. Also, the two other issues actually became more apparent. I started sampling amplifiers. I even took the DR2 to a 'high-end "store and compared it to a $60000 Boulder 2160 on $39000 Kharma speakers. Not surprisingly, the Boulder was better. What was surprising was how much better it was. The Boulder/Kharma combo was the best I have ever heard in 35 years in this hobby. That started my quest for a better amplifier. Every amplifier I tried was better than the Emotiva in imaging, detail, and clarity. Just differing degrees. The Emotiva was just more powerful but above 85db it sounded glaring and fatiguing. Then I saw Amir's review...now I know why. I reached out to Emotiva and informed them that ASR's review showed their amplifier has 10 times the measured distortion than they specify in my owner's manual! I told them I felt cheated and that they misrepresented their product. I am thinking about posting the email thread (it is damning) but needless to say, their response was condescending, arrogant, and flat out incorrect. They even went as far as providing me their own test results of a 'production' amplifier which showed that it still had twice the THD @ 100w compared to the published spec. Subsequently, they changed the spec on their website from .008% to .0015. I have the screenshots.

Long story short, I purchased a Benchmark ABH2 and traded the XPA-DR2. I didn't get as much as I wanted for it and I asked Emotiva for $300 compensation for their misrepresentation. They haven't replied! LOL The ABH2 is amazing and anyone that plays music at less than 105db peaks in a medium size room need not worry about its dynamic capability. The ABH2/GR combo is endgame good and in my room sounds as good as I recall the $100000 set up (same reference tracks). The ABH2 handily was better in every way than all the class D amplifiers I tried. I tried most if not all the best reviewed amplifiers within the $1500 to $5000 range. The ABH2 has all the same qualities I recall from the Boulder at 5% the price. It is a giant killer. Those of you who think THD doesn't matter below .01%, think again. It all adds up and definitely makes a difference.

I hope Emotiva gets their just desserts and people stop buying this amplifier or at least they have to discount them heavily to sell them. I just feel bad for everyone that purchased them based on false advertising. Shame on you Emotiva!
 

beefkabob

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I purchased this Emotiva amplifier last year. I have since purchased GR research NXOtica speakers. The amplifier sounded powerful and added bass slam to my KEF R3 speakers but I felt the imaging to be flat and I detected some midrange smear and upper midrange glare. With the change to the GRs, the imaging got better but not as good as I have heard them. Also, the two other issues actually became more apparent. I started sampling amplifiers. I even took the DR2 to a 'high-end "store and compared it to a $60000 Boulder 2160 on $39000 Kharma speakers. Not surprisingly, the Boulder was better. What was surprising was how much better it was. The Boulder/Kharma combo was the best I have ever heard in 35 years in this hobby. That started my quest for a better amplifier. Every amplifier I tried was better than the Emotiva in imaging, detail, and clarity. Just differing degrees. The Emotiva was just more powerful but above 85db it sounded glaring and fatiguing. Then I saw Amir's review...now I know why. I reached out to Emotiva and informed them that ASR's review showed their amplifier has 10 times the measured distortion than they specify in my owner's manual! I told them I felt cheated and that they misrepresented their product. I am thinking about posting the email thread (it is damning) but needless to say, their response was condescending, arrogant, and flat out incorrect. They even went as far as providing me their own test results of a 'production' amplifier which showed that it still had twice the THD @ 100w compared to the published spec. Subsequently, they changed the spec on their website from .008% to .0015. I have the screenshots.

Long story short, I purchased a Benchmark ABH2 and traded the XPA-DR2. I didn't get as much as I wanted for it and I asked Emotiva for $300 compensation for their misrepresentation. They haven't replied! LOL The ABH2 is amazing and anyone that plays music at less than 105db peaks in a medium size room need not worry about its dynamic capability. The ABH2/GR combo is endgame good and in my room sounds as good as I recall the $100000 set up (same reference tracks). The ABH2 handily was better in every way than all the class D amplifiers I tried. I tried most if not all the best reviewed amplifiers within the $1500 to $5000 range. The ABH2 has all the same qualities I recall from the Boulder at 5% the price. It is a giant killer. Those of you who think THD doesn't matter below .01%, think again. It all adds up and definitely makes a difference.

I hope Emotiva gets their just desserts and people stop buying this amplifier or at least they have to discount them heavily to sell them. I just feel bad for everyone that purchased them based on false advertising. Shame on you Emotiva!
It's cool that you love the ABH2. You ended up in a great place. That Boulder/Kharma stereo is essentially a scam at that price, even if it performs well, which it likely does not. Look at all that bling! Even if it does deliver a clean, high-power signal, the price is stupidly awful.

I don't think people here generally think .01% THD is fine. We're the kind of nerds who think that .0001 might be a nice target to shoot for. Some devices even get there, at least some of the time. At the same time, I don't think people here put much stock in sighted observations and vague descriptions of sound.
 

Steve D

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As an engineer nerd, until 6 months ago, I only took stock in measured performance. But that said, I am going to believe my ears and I could expand on my experience in detail track by track. Harmonic distortion matters. It can add or subtract to the amplitude/phase of the musical signal. This can collapse or smear a soundstage and obscure fine detail.
 
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