Emotiva XPA-11 Gen3 11-channel power amplifier Page 2

Additionally, Emotiva's 'Soft-Switch' Class H power supply topology works to boost overall efficiency. A lower supply voltage is deployed at low power levels, but when more power is demanded, the XPA-11 switches to a higher voltage rail. This is a similar method to the Class G amplification Arcam uses on its amplifiers and AVRs.

The chassis itself is extremely well made, with a heavy steel construction and a brushed aluminium faceplate; the XPA-11 is ruggedly good-looking for a power amp. The status LEDs, if found distracting, can be turned off by a button on the rear, but not the illuminated power button.

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Also on the rear are all connections, with eleven sets of unbalanced phono and balanced XLR inputs. There are also independent switches for each of the seven modules, allowing you to choose between the phono and XLR hookups, plus remote input and output triggers, allowing the XPA-11 to control and be controlled by other trigger-enabled equipment.

Magic Numbers
If you've been raised on a steady diet of misleading power numbers from amp manufacturers, the XPA-11's specs might seem underwhelming. However, in use it's apparent Emotiva is likely conservative (or honest) in its measurements, and the switching power supply provides plentiful grunt to drive my 4 ohm/8 ohm combi setup.

My previous system was based around the seven-channel Arcam AVR850 receiver and P429 four-channel power amp, so I was able to compare Emotiva's Class H to Arcam's Class G. The two are closely related, and share the same levels of power and transparency. However the XPA-11 seemed more exciting in its delivery, with a greater sense of dynamism and attack.

I popped on the Blu-ray of Amused to Death by Roger Waters. This reissue of the 1992 album includes a 24-bit/96kHz stereo version with exceptional detail and dynamics. The XPA-11 loved the complex mix, with the sounds of monkeys erupting at the start of What God Wants, before the driving drum beat kicks in and Jeff Beck's guitar dances its way across the front of the room.

The same Blu-ray includes a high-resolution 5.1 version of the album, allowing the amplifier to stretch its muscles and fill the soundstage with a fantastically immersive lossless surround mix. The XPA-11 delivers tight bass and a treble that's clean and free of congestion. The dynamic range is remarkable, with the explosion in Late Home Tonight helping to clear my eardrums. The amp also turns on a dime, as evidenced by the sudden silence that follows the blast.

This dynamic and exciting performance led me to the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundmix of Edge of Tomorrow (Blu-ray). The (initial) beach landing sequence uses every available channel to cocoon you in the chaos of the assault, and the XPA-11 rises to the challenge. The fuselage of the dropship buckles and creaks, and missiles shriek from speaker to speaker with power and accuracy. The delivery is effortless, and the added headroom means you can push the volume without it ever sounding strained.

It can also retrieve every detail in a sound design so overblown it could easily collapse into a painful cacophony. Edge of Tomorrow's different types of ordinance are clearly defined, as are voices and dialogue despite the fog of war.

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Skilful handling of two-, five- and seven-channel soundtracks is great news, but isn't the main reason for buying the XPA-11. Its potential to drive a full 7.1.4 system is what marks it out from the competition, so I turned to the 4K disc and Atmos soundtrack of Le Mans '66; a mix about as subtle as a Ford GT40 and one that fits the Emotiva's muscular performance. Racing sequences are dominated by the sounds of roaring engines, which the XPA-11 reproduces with a driving intensity. As race cars tear across the room, from side-to-side and front-to-back, the sounds move from speaker-to-speaker the a forceful precision.

In the interests of being format agnostic, I also watched Jumanji: The Next Level, with its freshly minted DTS:X soundtrack. Once again the XPA-11 sets out its stall from the beginning, with the pounding drums that announce a new challenge in the game reverberating around my cinema. At one point a charging herd of ostriches surround our heroes, and the noise of their jostling bodies sounds so big in the side and rear speakers, you'll feel you're about to get crushed.

Power Trip
The beauty of the XPA-11 is that it produces the power where it's needed, rising to the demands of a soundtrack without missing a beat – or explosion. It's perhaps not the most refined amplifier ever made, but, like customised American muscle cars, that's rather missing the point.

The Emotiva has power in spades, and can drive the most demanding of systems, but in amongst all that brawn is a balanced sound that's tight and responsive and really impresses. The fact it's also well engineered, solidly built and competitively priced is the icing on a perfectly machined aluminium cake. You simply won't get better multichannel bang for your hard-earned buck n

HCC Verdict

Emotiva XPA-11 Gen3

Price: £2,400
www.emotiva.com

We say: This affordable and upgradable amplifier delivers the goods in terms of sheer power and headroom, but also impresses with a balanced and detailed sound.

Overall: 5/5

Specification

POWER OUTPUT (CLAIMED): 3 x 300W (8 ohm, each channel, <0.1% THD); 8 x 65W (8 ohm, each channel, <0.1% THD)
CONNECTIONS: 11 x phono inputs; 11 x balanced XLR inputs; 11 x speaker terminals; 12V input; 12V output
DIMENSIONS: 432(w) x 483(d) x 203(h)mm
WEIGHT: 24kg

FEATURES: Fully modular design; high-efficiency switch mode power supply (SMPS); Class AB output; binding posts accept 4mm banana plugs/heavy gauge speaker cables; status LEDs on/off

COMPANY INFO
Emotiva
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