Emotiva UPA-700 Seven-Channel Power Amplifier
One of the best thing about producing this podcast each week is knowing that our listeners go on the same journey that we do. Our current journey is that of separates. A few weeks ago we reviewed the NuForce AVP-18 processor and MCA-20 Amplifier (Podcast #631). This week we continue the journey by reviewing the Emotiva UPA-700 Seven-Channel Power Amplifier (Buy Now $499).
The UPA-700 is ideal for those wanting to move into separates without breaking the bank. When you consider there are single channel amplifiers that sell for more than $1500, you may ask, how good can a seven channel amp that costs one third the price actually sound? Well we’re here to tell you pretty darn good!
Setting up an amp is truly trivial. You connect the speakers, power, pre-outs, and the 12V trigger from the receiver. If you have your speaker wires on banana plugs the whole thing takes three minutes! At that point you can power on the receiver and go. But you know its never really that easy.
The UPA-700 was connected to a Pioneer Elite VSX-94TXH receiver. The Elite is 125 watt beast that has served Ara well for a few years. He has been quite happy with the sound but now that we are exploring separates he was willing to try the $500 amp that has been highly recommended to him by Ray Coronado (SoCal HT Audio/Video Calibration and Consulting).
With the 12 volt trigger connected to the Elite the 700 is supposed to turn on when the Elite is turned on. This was not the case. It turns out that the Elite must be told to trigger the 12 volts per input. Once the settings were updated all was good. The UPA-700 was glowing Blue which let us know everything was good to go. By the way, if you don’t want to see the Blue power light or channel LEDs you can turn them off with a manual switch on the back panel. The last thing to do was to rerun the auto calibration and then we were off to the races!
As stated earlier the VSX-94THX already sounded quite good and we were not expecting a big improvement in audio quality but we were hoping for something. What we found was crystal clear audio that brought a smile to our faces. We listened to intricate classical pieces that spanned as much of the frequency range that we could find. Lows and mids sounded incredible. the highs were a bit bright but that could be the EQ. Ara’s go to classical piece is Beethoven’s 9th Symphony “Ode to Joy”. The triangles are what he keys on and they sounded like they were right in the room with you. We listened to Rock and Roll from CD and Blu-ray. You could hear each instrument clearly regardless of how loud we were playing it. Movies were another place where the amp shined. Dialog was crystal clear and effects seemed to come alive.
In all its not like we could say that the UPA-700 was x% better than the Elite. It was more like we had a better listening experience overall. The Elite is a very good receiver and the UPA-700 is at the lower end of Emotiva’s line so the fact that we heard any perceived improvement speaks to how good Emotiva’s amplifiers are. If you were going from a lower end to mid tier receiver our opinion is that you would hear a bigger improvement in audio quality.
Another area that has concerned a few readers/listeners is that the UPA-700 is only 80 Watts. Understand that Emotiva rates their amplifier with all channels running simultaneously. Some manufacturers only rate their system with two channels. For Ara’s room which measures 16 feet by 20 feet the UPA-700 could overpower the room. Sometimes people feel more is better and in many cases that is the truth but in this case more is just wasted. For the record the 125 watt 94THX will produce less than 3dB more sound than the UPA-700 and the human ear will barely be able to hear a difference. If you have a larger room Emotive also has a three channel amp (XPA-3 Buy Now $799) that puts out 200 watts. you can run your surrounds off your current receiver and put the front wall on the XPA-3. That way the speakers that get the most use with the most important material have the best amplification.
There is no doubt in our minds that a good AV receiver is a great way to listen to your music and watch your movies. But when you are ready to take your experience to the next level, separates are the way to go. If you are in that in-between stage, mating the Emotiva UPA-700 to your receiver with pre-outs will get you the best of both worlds. The UPA-700 provides the biggest bang for your buck upgrade to your typical AV receiver.
Posted by The HT Guys, May 23, 2014 2:12 AM
About The HT GuysThe HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.
Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.
ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.
Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.