- Written by John E. Johnson, Jr.
- Published on 15 December 2008
I auditioned the XPA-2 with a Yamaha S2900 Blu-ray player, Integra 9.8 processor and JBL Studio L speakers.
Listening was performed in two channels and I mostly put this amp through its paces with Jazz and Rock styles of music. What I noticed most was, having this much power reserve brought out the full potential of my speakers and allowed them to produce a full range that was rich with dynamics both in low and high frequencies. I was pleased that the bass output from my tower speakers began to rival that of my subwoofer. There was a point where I couldn't withstand the sonic pressure of turning the volume up anymore so it's needless to say that this amp will allow you to play your music as loud as you possibly could want. The nice thing is that when the volume goes up, the balance in the frequency ranges remains intact as a result of having enough power reserve to handle it.
I began my listening with Hiromi's Beyond Standards Telarc release. This album contains elements of classic jazz supplemented by electronic instruments that give it a truly galactic sound. Here with the XPA-2, the nice thing was, the electronic bass work had great energy and definition andwas separated from the other instruments which made it easy to follow and enjoy. Hiromi is an incredibly fast pianist and the sound on this album was very responsive in this setup. The XPA-2 gave my speakers enough power to keep the piano both percussive and melodic which makes this disc incredibly lively and fun to listen to.
I continued my listening with David Gilmour's On an Island release. The album is full of ethereal sounds and lively guitar solos accompanied by David Gilmour's vocal style which many people are familiar with from his work with Pink Floyd.
The first thing I noticed, was that the XPA-2 had dramatically improved the bass output from my usual integrated amplifier setup. The low frequencies never wavered in strength of output and all the kick drum notes had a powerful impact that reached me at my listening spot. What a treat.
I could tell that having all this power not only allowed the speakers to output powerful bass but also gave the midrange an exceptional extension into the soundfield. In this case, all of the albums' guitar work had significant weight in the presentation and vocals also took on a full bodied presentation.
Treble isn't very bright on the On an Island album so I switched gears to David Matthew's Some Devil release. The track entitled "Dodo" has a lot of bright percussive sounds from instruments such as cymbals, tambourine, and shakers so it's a good test to see how the upper range is being presented. The sound was rich with a lot of detail and was lacking any unpleasant sibilance or harshness.
When using the XPA-2, I also noticed a big improvement with imaging compared to my integrated amplifier setup. Vocals were dead center and other instruments were spread out across the whole sound stage. In general this setup really made everything feel more like a sound environment. I practically forgot that I was listening to only two speakers.
Emotiva describes this amp as neutral and I'd have to agree with them. I didn't hear any colorations that I would complain about. The main thing I enjoyed with the XPA-2 was that it gave each and every instrument a full delivery.