I bought a pair of UPA-1s for a dual mono set up for listening to music. I have to admit that I used them only for two days. The amps look nice, seem to be well built. They can produce strong bass.
However, from the point of view of sound quality, I did not have any excitements described by those on the Emotiva's own forum at all. The problem is the congested/veiled mid and high frequency, lack inner dynamics. The music produced on these amps sounded dry and lack of elasticity. My pair of Rotel 980s configured in dual mono can produce music obviously more lively, much more enjoyable. The comparison was made with the same source: a Sony NS999ES CD/SACD player, the same preamps: a DIY passive preamp with 27 step pot or a Parasound 850 active preamp, the same speakers: NHT 2.9.
I did try the UPA-1s in my second sound system. There, my two Rotel 960s in dual mono set up also performed obviously better. In this setup, the source is from a PC ->Monarch 24/96 DIP jitter reducer->A Nelson Link DAC->Rotel 960 preamp->NHT Classic 3 with NH sub one.
I was disappointed because I wanted to upgrade my Rotel 980s by these UPA-1. But for music, I definitely have to keep my Rotels. UPA-1s might be very suitable for home theater because they can produce stronger/puncher bass than the Rotels. Also, I might have made my conclusion too early, I should have waited a longer to the UPA-1s some time to break-in. But I decide not to wait because the difference was too obvious.
I was wondering why I did not have the same positive experience as those posted on Emotiva's forum. By reading the posts there, I found that some of the posts are for HT setups and some are for upgrading from receivers. I wish to read feed-backs by comparing the UPA-1 with other well-known amps in a pure music set up.
After this experience, I did read the descriptions of some Emotiva's amps on its web more carefully. I found that the UPA-1 is a much simpler amp than XPA-1 and XPA-2, and I realized I was expecting too much from UPA-1. My plan now is to save more for Emotiva's biggest amp: the mono XPA-1.
No flame please, I just would like to share my experience. Hope this post can balance those posts on Emotiva's web and help people to choose Emotiva's amps, especially those looking for new amps mainly for music.
I got a pair of these used from a guy on Audiogon. I am using them to drive a pair of Magnepan 1.6's in a system in the family room. I replaced a 200w/ch Rotel with these, and the improvement I got on my Maggies eventually lead to the purchase of more Emotiva product.
I'm a multi-instrumentalist who has been listening to (and kit-building) audio components and speakers since the tender age of 9 years. That gives me nearly 40 years of playing/building/listening experience. It's fair to say I have a really good idea of what music sounds like, as I'm playing it, no less.
Regarding this amp specifically, I noticed a wider, deeper soundstage on the 1.6's as compared to the Rotel. The mids were slightly less forward in their presentation, and sound quite smooth. The images are fairly precise sounding, and placed well, according and subject to the mix, of course.
Overall highly recommended and a steal at the new price: I got mine used, so the deal was even better, considering a couple emails between, Emo, the seller and myself was all it took to transfer the remainder of the transferrable 5 year warranty to me. Excellent!!!