I currently have an RPA-1 powering my front main speakers and I am considering upgrading to a pair of XPA-1's. What does anyone think? Will there be any diference? I think I could probably sell my RPA-1 with no problem.
It's funny you ask this. I've always wondered about going from XPA-1's to an RPA-2. Seems the opinion from those who have owned both is that the RPA is slightly more musical. From what I've read, the sound is very similar though. I'd suggest finding someone with XPA's near you and doing a head to head comparison if possible. If you manage it, let me know what you think.
PBN Scanspeak B741's (The pair from RMAF 2013)
Funk Audio 18.0
Simaudio Moon 340i
Got the RPA-1 and just got my XPA-1s today. It's too early to conclude much. In fact I am currently under the weather with stuffiness so my hearing is not good for critical listening. But 1st impression.... Oh ya. It's got the power and boosted the bass response in my speakers even more. I didn't expect to hear so much more dynamics especially in the low volumes. I know the RPA-1's distortion is immeasurable at 1 watt and that's my main worry, but rest assured the XPA-1, even if you can measure the miniscule distortion, it is sooooooo low I couldn't tell the difference.
Again my ears currently aren't up to par, but the RPA-1 was my 1st experience with hearing things between the speakers. This must be that soundstage thing reviews talk about, it sounds like the XPA-1 brings this out even more. I would make commments about the detail (all good), but again my hearing is not good right now.
Speaking of right now, I am somewhat frustrated. The XPA-1 is an improvement over the RPA-1, except in what the possible future better half has mentioned that it's probably not worth it. However again... this is just my 1st impression for music listening. While I rest and recover, I plan on watching movies LOUD and hopefully this is where I expect the XPA-1 to make more of it's worth . Check my review later in the review threads.
4.1/2.1 Yamaha HTR-6060 (v661) to NHT SuperOnes I sit 8 feet away from the NHTs which are relatively quiet speakers with 86db sensitivity in a typical size 3 full walled living room. Reviews for the receiver test it at ~62 watts with 5 channels, ~100 watts with 2 channels. The combo is very detailed. During music editing I used to use a pair for highly rated Grado headphones to scrutinize and the Yamaha/NHT combo is every bit as revealing.
RPA-1 I enjoyed that system for 7 years this way until I read reviews on the amazing and relatively affordable RPA and gave myself a b-day present. The RPAs didn't just bring out more detail, but instruments sounded real. It smoothed out bass response between the fronts and the subwoofer. High treble from quick percussion instruments also had detail and sounded more real. It was no longer one note. Perhaps it was the 200 watts, allowing the music to be dynamic and allowing more power for the bass to be louder, clearer. Perhaps it's its ability to handle lower impedances, allowing my speakers to sound more flat. Whatever it is, I rediscovered my entire CD collection hearing things I never heard before. I was hearing subtleties in instrument's sustains and all of the minute nuances making it sound real. You can follow individual instruments throughout recordings without trying. I seriously thought I bought my last amplifier.
XPA-1 My primary concern was how quiet it is. Reviews and measurements have shown at you can measure the XPA-1's distortion at 1 watt, but the RPA-1 Audioholics equipment couldn't. Despite being able to measure the XPA-1's distortion, I couldn't tell a difference between the two at lowest nighttime listening volumes. When recordings are dynamic enough, yes, I do hear more bass or higher highs with the XPA-1, but it didn't happen often. What the XPA surprised me with was the dynamics at normal volumes. Quick transients like high hats, audience hand claps had all the nuances from the RPA, but now with dynamic volume.
With movies at loud levels, I certainly am already playing movies plenty loud with the RPA. I was able to push the volume even higher, but it's not the level I normally watch movies at. At these loud volumes, I expected the XPA-1 to improve drastically over the RPA-1, but I'm not kidding, it was so loud I didn't want to bother comparing. So I have no opinion on sound quality with super loud HT levels. I am quite surprised about it, but not disappointed.
Where the XPA-1 didn't disappoint was with music listening. The XPA-1 has so much detail. Where the RPA-1 bought out subtleties in music and the nuances of a sense of space between the speakers, the XPA-1 made it obvious. I remember with the RPA doing near-field listening and LOVED everything about it, but the layout was ridiculous. The XPA-1 allowed me to have that near-field experience without moving my speakers.
MINOR CONCERNS With the RPA-1 and the receiver turned off, the only time I heard hiss was when my ear was touching the face of the speaker. It was dead silent otherwise. The XPA-1 you can hear it inches away, but as you back off, it's dead silent quickly, almost exponentially. This is more likely from it's high gain and is not a knock against the XPA, just a noticable difference.
It runs warmer than the RPA. I have the amps in an enclosed cabinet and the top of the RPA was always cool. Inside is a hint of heat, but the top was always cool. The XPA runs warm. However, once it's warm the temperature seems to stay there. There was little difference between it's temperature after 30 mins vs. 8 hours on varying continuous usage.
The LEDs off both XPAs goofed up on me once, but I blame myself and my jerryrig trigger. The Yamaha doesn't have a trigger out, but it does have a switched outlet. I sacrificed a cell phone charger @ 5v as a trigger out. One time when I turned the amps off, one LED light stayed on the right XPA. I turned it on then back off and the LED light stayed on the left XPA. I turned it on and back off again and all is well in the world. It doesn't appear to have happened again since.
PURCHASE ANALYSIS The RPA-1 was $660 shipped, XPA-1s $1660. With higher sensitivity speakers, it's not worth the $1000 difference. However the XPA-1s will retire my 15" subwoofer. The bass it brought out from the 6 1/2" woofers on the NHT is plenty 98% of the time. That 2% is the rare times during movies when the 15" rumble, move or shake me. I also have major bass smoothness issues in the room that I couldn't correct with placement, so I ended up spending money on a bass EQ to solve it.
By selling those, the XPA-1s can find a home. It improves on the RPA-1 on every respect that I find important. However, this isn't to diminish the enjoyment I had with the RPA. I actually thought of upgrading my speakers to the NHT 4 with its separate chamber for 10" woofers that can be run active. My beloved RPA can continue to live comfortably running woofers and tweeters as main L/R while one XPA1 can run the LFE and lower frequencies to both woofers direct minus the passive crossover. We'll see what happens, but if anyone is interested in my beloved RPA and a real Velodyne subwoofer plus an EQ, check the for sale emporium thread sometime soon.
Nice review. I enjoyed reading it. I believe this is the first review I've read of a direct comparison between the XPA-1's and RPA-1. I've been waiting a long time for such a comparison to happen. Thank you.
This is not the first time I read that the XPA-1's are more dynamic than the RPA amps. This doesn't really surprise me considering the significant difference in power ratings and design differences between the two models. The XPA-1 is the new reference amplifier that replaced the reference RPA series. Emotiva topped themselves again. Bravo to Lonnie and everyone involved in the design and development of the XPA-1.
I'm very happy that you are enjoying the XPA-1's. Maybe they will be your last amplifier purchase. Nah!! Emotiva will out do themselves again don't you worry. This hobby is a viscous cycle.
It's not easy for me to let the RPA go. That review was actually typed up days ago, but I lost it. Since then, my buddies and I did a blind test between the RPA and XPA, but as I was typing that a few mins ago, I lost it too. In summary, the increase in detail is like sitting closer to your speakers and the lower, prodigious BASS was noticed by EVERYONE. We ended up redoing a smaller blind test with a crossover at 80HZ. I'll retype the details later, but pretty much, the RPA hits the bang for your buck mark and moving up from it will cost you ALOT more. As proof, the XPAs cost 2.5x more and frankly I'm not even getting 1.5x the difference, but they're staying.
For the blind test, I wanted to compare music/movie passages quickly while someone else switches between the two amps. We minimized being able to differentiate between the two amps by anything other than their sonic signatures. For example, by powering the amps on and off, you can identify them just by the relay clicks. So all 3 amps are always powered on and off. When my friend did the switch, I would stay in place, but keep my eyes closed. I could not see the cables or hear the difference of his actions unplugging/plugging. It was a fast 10-15 second switch of RCA and speaker cables set the volume to a preset level. We had a normal and lower preset volume level measured to be the same voltage output off the speaker output from both amps. The volume number display from the receiver was also covered after setting.
Despite all the precautions on the very 1st switch myself, the future beautiful half and my buddy can easily tell the difference in bass. So we reset and put a crossover at 80HZ. Then it was extremely difficult at the lower volumes to differentiate. I only felt differences in dynamics, but mostly I was guessing. At the normal volumes, the dynamics are easier to tell, but only if the material has dynamics which didn't happen often enough. After only 10 minutes of testing we stopped and all agreed that they're so similar we'd be splitting hairs or confusing ourselves going further. Everyone said that the XPA is not worth it if I plan on keeping my subwoofer.
I lived with the XPA for about a month using it as I normally would and it is the same conclusion that it's more similar to the RPA than different. The wonder and excitement of having new gear is gone. The XPA has some dust on it now, so I'm more realistic and have learned much.
Technology is useful and is (one of) the male adult's toy. Sonically it is difficult to figure out what issue you have or what you can improve from you audio gear. It more complicated considering that the sound can change depending on where you sit, where your ears are aimed, how you feel, if you cleaned your ears or moved furniture. That's probably why there are so many magic tweaks out there. You can try all those things which work for some but not all. It's intricate.
In my case it was whether I can improve clarity during loud movie watching volumes and improve on the sound quality of the RPA. With non-critical listening (movies/TV/gaming/background music) if the XPA were normalized to 100 the RPA would be 95 at loud volumes, 99 at soft volumes. It is what the RPA sounds like but there was always something that felt different, but never worse with the XPA. Perhaps it was that additional soundstage or a few more dbs of dynamics or perhaps I was still able to feel the bass. During music listening the RPA would be 90 at loud volumes, 95 at soft volumes. Again they sound alike, but the XPA seemed more real. Is it those few more dbs of dynamics again?
My journey hasn't ended. The XPA has kicked my subwoofer to the curb and will be on sale. I have other ideas for bass and free up space. I'd love to toy around with a bi-amped RPA/XPA on the NHT 4. Or I can go back and keep RPAing my Super1s and XPA a DIY under couch subwoofer enclosure. So that means, I'll probably keep my RPA for a while longer. Yes I know it's a waste of the XPA's finesse to reduce it to a subwoofer amp. Behringer DJ amps can put out twice as much power for a less than half the cost but high powered ones have fans. Who knows what turn I take next. Hopefully I won't get lost much longer. This hobby is too addictive and as I've been reminded (nagged , too expensive.
Main theater: Pan 54 G10, Onkyo PR SC886, PS3, Carver TFM 45, Emo UPA 7, Polk SDA 2, Polk CSi A6, Polk RTi4 X 4, Velo CHT 10 X 2, APC H15. Bedroom: Sony 40 XBR 4, Onkyo 805, Oppo 980, Emo XDA 1, Emo RPA 2, Polk RTi 10, Polk CSi5, Polk monitor 30 X 4, eD A5s-300 X 2, Belkin PF60. Matrix M stage, AH D2000, HD 650, ATH-M50, ER-6i MY GEAR@ s572.photobucket.com/albums/ss165/a1adjz/Gear
You and, me both. I love my RPA 2. ;D One of the best sounding amps I've heard. BTW, nice write up razel!
The RPA-1/2 may not have quite the dynamics of the XPA-1 but there is something special about the sound.
I can't imagine the RPA's having less detail than the XPA-1. If this is true, the XPA-1 must really be something extra special. I've always found the RPA-1 to have an extraordinary amount of detail in it's presentation. It's just one of the reasons I can't get enough of it.
Last Edit: Dec 1, 2010 19:39:50 GMT -5 by RPA-1 man
I continue to swap out my RPA-2 and XPA-2 in the media room to see if I can hear any differences and if so, what... ;D
I love both amps and they both provide a high level of detail. The RPA-2 is a bit more mellow sounding although I'm not quite sure I could explain that difference very well. The only reason I can tell any difference is because I have heard them both over and over.
I just moved the XPA-2 back and have the RPA sitting on the floor, taking a sabbatical!!
More to follow....
Those who are deceived don't know they are deceived because they are deceived!!
Post by wattmeworry on Dec 29, 2010 19:21:48 GMT -5
I acutally have both these amps in two seperate two channel set ups, with the same pre rsp2 and the same speakers polk rti12.Not only that the two rooms are side by side,so I can take a few steps and hear the difference between the two.I have had this setup for a year now and notice a difference in sound even at low volumes.The rpa2 to me seems to have a blending of the lower end, and smooths out the upper end.The xpa1 has more definiton, more seperation of instruments more defined bass.The xpa1 to some may sound a little bright in the upper end compared to the rpa2,but that could be the better seperation of instruments.The details you get from both amps is amazing,the xpa1 seems to have a darker backround to it,some would say a flatter.The rpa2 a little colored,blended.This could be the difference between a class H amp and a class A/B.That being said both amps have made me very happy.
Just when you guys have me scared to A/B my RPA-1 to the XPA series for fear I may actually think about selling my RPA-1, you come back and state that you get great enjoyment out of both amps. You also state that the price difference is larger than the difference in sound quality. That restores my confidence in the RPA. You guys are pulling at my heart strings. Cut it out!! LOL!!
Razel, it sounds like you used a preset volume to do the testing with. Did you ever use an SPL meter to verify that the same setting was in fact giving the same spl. If you didn't, then it isn't a true blind test. It sure sounds to me like your XPA-1 amps has a touch more gain at the same receiver setting. I need to be able to switch from 1 amp to another in a split second. I can never tell the difference in any decent amps when doing this.
Perhaps it's just my horrible summary of 'preset volume'. I wanted low and high volume. We measured voltage at speaker output at a low volume using the RPA. We noted the volume decibel on the receiver and voltage from the multimeter. We then connected the receiver to the XPA and fiddled the volume until we found a matching voltage. That became the 'preset volume' for low. We actually got smarter and did a volume sweep +/-.5db and noted the voltages on a table, since it was faster and smarter, but you get the idea.