XPA-1 Differential Reference™ Mono-block Power Amplifier
500 watts RMS x 1 into 8 ohms, 1,000 watts RMS x 1 into 4 ohms.
It's all about control, and the XPA-1 is a control freak. 500 watts RMS into 8 ohms, 1,000 watts RMS into 4 ohms. All the performance you'd expect to see from an audiophile reference level amplifier. But what about the sound? Big...expansive...powerful...and yet very refined...and defined. This is what you get when you have control.
Mono-block amplifiers have typically been company flagships. They define the ultimate expression of a company's approach to design and construction. The XPA-1 amplifier puts our ultimate expression within your reach at market-shattering prices.
What to say? These are fantastic monoblocks. Seemingly limitless power, pretty darn clean and clear sound, but certainly not the best I have heard - nor should they be, considering the share of the market they were meant to serve; this is not a critique - these are purpose-built amplifiers, after all - they are meant to give people a taste of separates, Emotiva says as much.
I have had separates for home theater and stereo now for well over two decades (surprising, now I say it). I've had the Sherbourn 7/2100a (class H - had a bit of a low-level hum, but a good amp!), upgraded BGW (kind of a joke if you know these amps) and a recapped Hafler (lovely sound), a Sonic Frontiers SFS-80 tube amp (this is an enjoyable amplifier!), as well as the full line of Emotiva products, but I have landed on and will remain with McIntosh. Before you say they are different price categories all together and should not be compared, allow me to first explain because I believe this is only partially true and will explain why.
Since we're discussing Emotiva here, allow me to share my experience with their products. I enjoy trading pieces in and out of my system on a regular basis for no other reason than to hear the differences in sound, and I did this with particular intention when it came to purchasing Emotiva products. I started with the UPA (entry-level) line and worked my way up to the XPA-1's.
I first played with the UPA-5. I would not recommend it for critical stereo listening - no surprise there, I would hope. It produced a cleaner but less clear sound than the Sherbourn did - I think I may just not have been a fan of the class H sound, but the Sherbourn offered considerably more power output. The UPA-5 did a fine job for home theater - a good entry-level amplifier if you're getting into separates. If you listened to no other mult-channel amps and this was your first foray into separates, you'd likely be very happy.
I next purchased an XPA-5. This was a different level of performance from both the Sherbourn and UPA-5; it combined the power of the Sherbourn and the slightly enhanced clarity of the UPA-5 - a great balance. It is a more than serviceable multi-channel amplifier and a difficult-to-beat value for home theater. It did all right with stereo - not to be used for critical listening I would say, but you certainly wouldn't receive complaints if you're listening to it with friends. I enjoyed the XPA-5 immensely and had it for four years, which was a long time for me.
Next I purchased the XPA-1's. I'll say out front, I really enjoyed these. They are extremely clear and offer way more power than the average buyer will ever need (it was far more than I needed, to be sure). I never thought I would give these up, to be honest. The connections are solid, the build is solid, they are relatively flexible in that they offer two sets of binding posts. They were the first time I really felt like I was able to listen to music a bit more closely without having to wonder how much I was really missing, which was a neat feeling. Honestly, all would have been well with the world and I would have kept the XPA-1's and XPA-5 for a home theater - stereo hybrid system, but then I purchased a serviced McIntosh MC2125 and my mind exploded. I have since, and over a short period, purchased two additional McIntosh amplifiers (MC7106 and MC58) and continue to be blown away.
So to my justification as to why these amplifiers should be rated within the same class. To be fair, you can purchase a pair of XPA-1's in the $1100 range used. I purchased all three of my McIntosh amplifiers for barely over or well under that price ($1240, $1100 and $950 - all shipped to my door). The used prices of these pieces all reside within the same neighborhood.
I can say without reservation, all three McIntosh amplifiers create cleaner, more robust, clearer, surprisingly more transparent sound than the XPA-1's and with less power - at the same or lower price. They are bottomless - I hear things in music I never even knew were there with the XPA-1's, which was shocking... because I loved their sound. To be honest, I teared up a little when I first listened to the MC2125. It's just that good.
All this is to say, I gave the XPA-1's a 4 for value and a 5 for performance. They sound really good for the money, but the money's pretty similar to what you'd have to lay out for a used McIntosh amplifier, and at the end of the day there's little or no comparison between them when it comes to quality. The McIntosh play clearer at volume lower levels, offer better build quality (this is a virtually irrebuttable presumption), far better resale value (again - irrebuttable), you gain the 'wow' and pedigree of McIntosh with them in your rack, and they're made in the United States from tip to tail. I just don't see how you could go wrong.
Before you assail me with hate mail because you love Emotiva, please keep in mind I have very little to complain about with the Emotiva products - if you insist on buying new, there's no comparison. McIntosh is way more expensive and Emotiva represents an attractive value. If you're willing to buy used however, the difference in price evaporates and the quality remains, so there's little to discuss from that point forward - McIntosh is the clear standard.
I have been constantly upgrading my system for about 30 years now. For the longest time I used various high end integrated AVRs (100-150 wpc), For most people those would suffice. At the time I was running various KEF Reference speakers (104/2 and 105/3). They always sounded good but I always felt that the AVR amp was just holding them back a little. I should note that the KEFs are 4 ohm speakers and are VERY power hungry. And I also have a large home theater room, so I realyl do "need" a lot of power.
I acquired an Emotiva XPA-3 (Gen 1) which definitely improved the experience. SO much so that I then purchased 2 XPA-1 (Gen 1) monoblocks. These helped even more. The final step was to do a bi-amp set up and that has been the best so far.
I have recently upgraded my speakers to some newer KEF Reference 4 models. With the bi-amp set up I am just blown away and how good these amps sound.
I am sure you can spend many thousands of $$$ on high end tube amps which may sound different (Not saying better) but for the money you can not bear the Emotiva XPA series amps. They are powerful and will provide every nuance of sound. There is nothing lacking in these amps.
OK, Here it is. I have been in this game longer than most, Played, Recorded, Produced and analysed recordings and every instrument in a recording all my life. I like many styles of music and in the styles of music I listen to, it covers every nuance of virtually instrument. I have read opinionated clueless numpties comments on how other amps sounds much better than Emotivas equipment. I can only speak for XPA1 Monos MK1. I have owned more amps than I would like to admit and even more speakers in my 30 years listening to hifi equipment. Are the xpa 1's the last amps I will own ? Probably not, I'm addicted to every aspect of audio and hifi, and love listening to new gear and it doesn't go away. The xpa1's however are totally outstanding in every way. They produce every last tiny detail and dynamic in the most musical sounding way you will hear at any price. I don't care what anyone else says, your just plain wrong and want to justify your expenditure. Other amps may sound different, but the XPA1's will even produce the grain on a recoding (if it's there) with its full resolution. They score top marks in every imaginable area of sound reproduction. Transparency, Stereo imaging, depth, Focus, Image stability, Speed, Resolution, Dynamics, Micro-dynamics, Bass Control, Bass weight, Warmth (if its there). Image size, Focus, Extension at both frequency extremes and finally delicacy and accuracy throughout the range. I'm fed up reading about folk saying they don't do this or that, and your better spending you money on a Musical Fidelity, Krell, Levinson, Moon or Bryston, It's not true and your just def or stupid or both. I've owned many models from all these manufacturers. These are great amps at any price and definitely worth considering a listening to. They are precise in every aspect of the audio spectrum, in absolute control and a complete bargain. They can produce a sound so realistic you could easily believe you are there and that's what it's all about.
review is actually of a 2014 pair but this site would not let me into anything past 2010 probably because this is the Gen 2 model...well well well gotta understand I have 1/4 million dollars plus of audio equipment and upgraded up to the this model from the XPA2 stereo for my highly modded Maggie 1.7's just to see if that Class A feature was for real and see if it was really gonna be an upgrade as I loved the 2 model very much(read my review) but I was not prepared for this significant of an upgrade it was like night and day. I HATE anything Solid State but this EMOTIVA stuff is the real deal I have had time with $10,000.00 Krell this stuff actually blows away!!!!!! Can you believe they actually traded my 2 in after owning it for a year and I paid 800 for it and they gave me 500+ on trade in!!!! Are you kidding...look out every other high end solid state company in the USA EMOTIVA is taking over big time....Rumor has it they are even going to start making a tube amp in the good ol' USA in the future
Anyway the low end is incredible the mids and highs are smmmmmoth the amps run warm not hot even in Class A and are dead dead dead silent. Cost me 1411.00 to my doorstep + my 2 and I only paid 25 to ship it back to them as they issued the tag for return these weigh 73lbs each so be prepared !!!!!!!!! Cannot say enough about this company except they blow the doors off of any solid state amps made regardless of price ...just like Positive Feedback review says............if you do not like them you have 30 days ARE YOU KIDDING!!!!!!!!
You can tell from the vocabulary and the experience from the previous writers that they know what they are talking about. The comments are consistent...all superlative...so take heed. I have five XPA1 with two of the 350w Emo amps to round out my 7.2 Klipsch Palladium system and the results are crazy good top to bottom, left to right. Service? I broke one of my amps through my own obvious fault and they fixed it pronto for no charge. Performance again, as others have noted, your ears will bleed way before you hear a hint of distortion and these are capable of 1000w at 4 ohms which is how I'm running them. Emotiva ran two sales this year and I think I got the five for about $4300.00 if my foggy memory is not fooling me...regardless, I saved a hunk of cash. These are a bargain and a giant killer.