Emotiva Audio RPA-1 Stereo Amplifier Review

A

admin

Audioholics Robot
Staff member
As a reviewer, I "need" things. Test equipment, a modicum of writing ability, and an opinionated mind. Occasionally, I "need" new equipment. I need it like a Krispy Kreme "needs" to be next door to a Jenny Craig. Well, I had a couple of speakers coming in for review and I noticed that they were a little inefficient and perhaps could have benefited from external amplification. Emotiva decided that what I needed was a good two channel amp to put these speakers through their paces. They were right, I did need that. I needed it bad.


Discuss "Emotiva Audio RPA-1 Stereo Amplifier Review" here. Read the article.
 
Adam

Adam

Audioholic Jedi
Tom (and Gene), thanks for the review. I'm sure that at least a few people will enjoy this, especially because Emotiva's sale started today.

You guys certainly like these products, and that has gotten me interested in them. Their 4th of July sale has me even more interested. My intention is not to start a "which amp is better" discussion here, but I'm wondering if you'd be in a position to compare Emotiva products to Outlaw products. Those are the two companies that I'm considering. For me, Outlaw has an edge because their products are made in America, but I'm looking to get your opinions (if you have any) on how the actual amps compare to each other.

I'd appreciate any input that you'd have. Also, thanks again for the review.

Adam
 
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
For me, Outlaw has an edge because their products are made in America, but I'm looking to get your opinions (if you have any) on how the actual amps compare to each other.
Not sure who fed you this line of BS but I can assure you Outlaw's past products, such as their last processor, was built by East Tech in China. Almost no manufacturer manufacturers their products in America. They are all built overseas and sometimes engineered and/or assembled in the USA. There should be no shame in this as the benefit is a lower priced product to the end user, but its odd when companies either lie about this or try to cover it up.

As for the RPA-1, IMO it sets the benchmark of how a $1k 2CH amp should perform let alone one that sells for $699. Outlaw doesn't make a comparible 2CH only amplifier. Their closest product is the 2200 monoblock. Given the choice between the two, I would get the Emotiva not only b/c I think its a better amp, but because it looks so much nicer.

Some Suggested Reading: Attack of the Clone Processors

PS. The Clone wars continue on with the latest processor platforms shared by many other manufacturers but that goes beyond the scope of this thread which is intended to support the RPA-1 review. Thanks.
 
Adam

Adam

Audioholic Jedi
Thanks, Gene. I appreciate the info and the candor. I enjoy your (and the others here) reviews very much. As an engineer, I appreciate the details. Although I do miss reading about the "chocolaty midrange" (I loved that wording). :)

Regarding Outlaw's manufacturing, photographs on their website of the rear panels of the amps that I'm looking at (7200, 7500, 7700) show a "Made in USA" logo. Hopefully they aren't lying about that. The 2200 monoblocks have a "Made in Taiwan" logo. I didn't look at the other products.

I like the look of the Outlaws because they don't have lights on the front panel, but I agree that the Emotivas are also very nice looking.

Thanks again, Gene.

EDIT: Just realized I probably posted these questions in the wrong place. I'll stick to the review at hand next time.
 
Davemcc

Davemcc

Audioholic Spartan
I noticed this line:
"My personal criteria for amplifier gain structure is that it should be able to hit full power when driven with 2Vrms. The RPA-1 fell well within this criteria. "

How does this interact with components that have 1.2V preouts, like my Denon or certain pre/pros like a Rotel RSP-1068? Will there be enough signal to drive the amp to it's rated power?
 
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gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
How does this interact with components that have 1.2V preouts, like my Denon or certain pre/pros like a Rotel RSP-1068? Will there be enough signal to drive the amp to it's rated power?
Most preamps and receivers can output 2Vrms or greater. The 1.2Vrms # you are referencing is likely not a max figure but a standard output level the manufacturer specs distortion under a specific load. I have never run across a Denon receiver that can't output more than 2Vrms unclipped.
 
jcPanny

jcPanny

Audioholic Ninja
Emotiva review

Gene,
Great review.
I was suprised to read your comments about the bigger power supply in the RSP-1 amp vs the multichannel amps. Isn't the power ratings the same is the 7 channel MPS-1 amp? It sounds like RSP-1 might be rated more conservatively.
 
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
I was suprised to read your comments about the bigger power supply in the RSP-1 amp vs the multichannel amps. Isn't the power ratings the same is the 7 channel MPS-1 amp? It sounds like RSP-1 might be rated more conservatively.
The power xformer in the RPA1 is 2x that of the MPS-1. I think the caps are the same on both. The RPA-1 definately handles low impedance loads better than their other amps.
 
P

pbarach1

Audioholic
Snr

Isn't the signal-to-noise ratio a little disappointing, given the 100 dB that you can get from digital sources and many preamps?
 
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
Isn't the signal-to-noise ratio a little disappointing, given the 100 dB that you can get from digital sources and many preamps?
SNR is all relative. Most manufacturers rate SNR at full power. I scale it back to 1 watt where the amp spends most of its time to level the playing field. An amp that does 80dB or better at 1 watt is excellent. The quietest amp I ever measured did around 90dB at 1 watt. SNR was never an issue with the RPA-1. This amp is very quiet.
 
Rex

Rex

Audioholic
This off the RPA-1 point, but does the DMC-1 off HDMI 1.3a? Also, would that pre/pro and amp combo be comparable to the new denon 4308?
 
avaserfi

avaserfi

Audioholic Ninja
This off the RPA-1 point, but does the DMC-1 off HDMI 1.3a? Also, would that pre/pro and amp combo be comparable to the new denon 4308?
Emotiva does not currently have a pre/pro capable of handling hdmi 1.3. Last time I spoke to them they said they would probably be rolling out around the end of the year.
 
H

HDaddict!

Audiophyte
Unless things have changed at ATI, their amplifiers are built in the USA. Outlaw Audio uses ATI to OEM them their beefy amplifiers.

Of course, like all things these days, some of the parts may be made overseas.

As to the "benefits" of having things built in China... I say BS to that. Unfortunately, in their governments ever growing quest to be the new economic superpower, they have totally and completely ignored workers' rights, environmental protection to the extreme (they have some of the most polluted land and waterways in the world, and their 3 Rivers dam is an abomination to nature), and have done "one-upmanship" with the U.S. (we're no saints either) in growing relations with tyrranical governments (like in the Sudan and Central/South America) because of their voracious need for raw resources that are then wrecking the rest of the planet and leading to mass slaughter.

And they get rewarded with the Olympics and more and more and more business from our multinational companies. Fewer jobs with lower pay or stagnant pay here, not really cheaper goods (and actually dangerous goods), and rich CEO's getting fatter and fatter wallets by the millisecond.
 
Gimpy Ric

Gimpy Ric

Moderator
Unless things have changed at ATI, their amplifiers are built in the USA. Outlaw Audio uses ATI to OEM them their beefy amplifiers.

Of course, like all things these days, some of the parts may be made overseas.

As to the "benefits" of having things built in China... I say BS to that. Unfortunately, in their governments ever growing quest to be the new economic superpower, they have totally and completely ignored workers' rights, environmental protection to the extreme (they have some of the most polluted land and waterways in the world, and their 3 Rivers dam is an abomination to nature), and have done "one-upmanship" with the U.S. (we're no saints either) in growing relations with tyrranical governments (like in the Sudan and Central/South America) because of their voracious need for raw resources that are then wrecking the rest of the planet and leading to mass slaughter.

And they get rewarded with the Olympics and more and more and more business from our multinational companies. Fewer jobs with lower pay or stagnant pay here, not really cheaper goods (and actually dangerous goods), and rich CEO's getting fatter and fatter wallets by the millisecond.
Boycott Wally World :eek: Every chance I get I do. Walmart is white trash heaven and they don't care anything about an RPA-1, or the way China treats mother earth.

Anyways, what will the RPA-1 do into 2 ohms?
 
Adam

Adam

Audioholic Jedi
Gimpy, I think that HDaddict was talking about the RPA-1 being made in China. That's one of the reasons that I was balking at buying it, although I have ordered one to try out. The Outlaw multichannel amps are made in the USA (I confirmed this with Outlaw). I'll probably buy an Outlaw amp at some point, but they were unwilling to budge on price, and Emotiva's sale is a good one.

According to the owner's manual, the RPA-1 is designed for a four ohm minimum load, and it specifically states that two-ohm single channel loads are not recommended for the RPA-1.
 
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
The Outlaw multichannel amps are made in the USA (I confirmed this with Outlaw).
Outlaw amps are assembled in USA but most of the parts are from China just like other amps. Its really a matter of semantics as to where they are assembled. Outlaw makes some great amps, or should I say the guy that designs ATI amps makes great amps for Outlaw. LOL.
 
Doug917

Doug917

Full Audioholic
I received my RPA-1 yesterday and got it hooked up to my Anthem-AVM30 driving my front L/R channels. These channels were driven by the MPS-1 previously. The sound and detail are very similar between the RPA-1 and the MPS-1. I have an Onkyo DX-C390 hooked to the AVM-30 via coax, optical, and analogue connections. Giving things a good llisten, I have decided the optical connection provides the best sound through the Anthem's DACs. The DACs in the Onkyo are not bad, but the analogue connection provides nowhere near the refinement of the Anthem.

Differences I noticed with the RPA-1 was the soundstage seemed to be a little more upfront where the image from the MPS-1 driving the L/R channels in stereo seems a foot or two further back in the front of the room. I could swear I heard a little more detail at times am not sure with the differences in the soundstage image location. The RPA-1 also had a little more gain (to be expected as it provides more watts/channel than the MPS-1). It was ~2db louder when I measured with my SPL meter.

Both amps are DEAD quiet even when there is a void in a muscial track. I really cranked things to get the needles to move a bit on the RPA-1 (hard to do with Klipsch speakers with a 95db sensitivity rating but I wanted to make sure they worked) and I heard no hissing or any other noise between tracks. This was incredibly loud yet showed no sign of strain or distortion. I have never had the MPS-1 this loud and don't actually listen to anything nearly as loud so am not sure how it would compare at insane levels.

This baby's a keeper! :D
 
Adam

Adam

Audioholic Jedi
My RPA-1 arrived yesterday, and I got it hooked up. These are just a few quick remarks and first impressions. Mostly these are things that I noticed while unpacking it and placing it into my entertainment center, but there are some remarks about operation.

According to the manual, the weight of the unit is 51 pounds and not 60 pounds as stated on the website. 60 pounds is the shipping weight. Doesn't matter to me, but some of you care about amp weight (you know who you are, Seth=L :)). I'm actually glad that it weighed less - it was easier (not easy, but easier) to place into my entertainment center.

For those of you looking at if it will fit in your furniture, it is a little deeper than listed on the website and in the manual. Both state that it is 16.4375" deep, which is the depth of the top plate. However, once you include the binding posts on the back and the front aluminum panels, it's roughly 17.5" deep. For me, that means that I'm going to have to cut holes in the back panel of my entertainment center to get this to fit in far enough. Just a heads up if that's a consideration for you.

Build quality is good. There were a couple of minor cosmetic issues with mine, but nothing that will make me want to pack a 50-pound amp back into a box. As the review stated, the side panels are really nice looking. The one thing that surprised me is that the main power button is plastic and very loose fitting (wobbly, really). My $450 Pioneer has a power button that is tight and rock solid. Given the other quality materials used on this for aesthetics only (piano black wood side panels, milled aluminum front panels), I expected better for the one button that I'll probably be pushing more than any other. Other than that, it's a nicely built unit. The looks are really growing on me, too.

I don't have a 12V trigger, so I use the input signal to power it up. As stated in the review, the response time of the unit to power up once given an input signal is excellent. I was very pleased.

I'm using the RPA-1 to power my front speakers, and I feed it signals from my Pioneer. I use to power all of my speakers with my Pioneer, and now it's just powering the center and rear speakers. Sound-wise, I do think that it sounds better when I turn up the volume compared to when the Pioneer was powering all of the speakers. I won't bother trying to explain it, because I'd be unable to and it's totally subjective. I just think that it sounds better. It's not a night-and-day difference, and maybe not even a night-and-dusk difference, but it's just more pleasant to me.

All in all, I'm glad that I got it.
 

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