Post by ledboots on Mar 29, 2014 12:18:18 GMT -5
I received my XPR 1 mono blocks two weeks ago to the date and thought I would share my initial impressions on the product and the company.
Initially I was skeptical of the company because it sells direct, I could not audition the product and. with apologies to the "Emoites", but I was concerned because of the fervor of the "believers" and the "wars" between them and other converts to other manufacturers. In some cases it is just too personal and causes me concern over the accuracy and impartiality of the product assessments.
Also, I am not a videophile but an audiophile. I listen to two channel music using a Linn LP12, Lingo, Keel, Ittok, Miyajima Sahlibe cartridge, Bob's Devices SUT, Audible Illusions Modulus MA 3 preamp connected with NBS and Shunyata cables and NBS speaker cable to Von Schweikert VR4 Jrs version 2 in a dedicated listening room. I also use a Marantz SA 15 S1 CD/SACD player for digital. I have owned systmes from fully active Linn quad amped DMS, to Naim to most recently tubed amplification consisting of modified Shanling SP 80 mono blocks. My preferences in musical reproduction in no particular order is first and foremost, musicality which to me means that it conveys a realistic reproduction of a musical event. Tone, timbre, timing, balance, imaging, power, etc., those qualities that allow one to believe "I am listening to a real performance by real people in my house" is the "holy grail" I seek. My music preferences include everything except hip hop and rap. Rock, jazz, classical, blues, punk, garage, R &B, techno, etc. If I enjoy it, it is good in my book. I am not a fan of surround sound so you know my preferences and biases in reading what I have to say in describing my subjective experience with the XPR 1s.
So with the disclaimer that I was a reluctant skeptic when I decided to take a leap of faith based on the few reviews, the description of the product and the return policy, I decided to order the amps. To jump to the conclusion, call me a believer. These amps are not only an unbelievable value, they are incredibly synergistic with my system and produce music realistically in a believable performance space with speed, finesse, power, timing and with accurate timbre and tone.
First, unlike something I read, my amps arrived completely undamaged and banded and film wrapped to a really cool pallet. With my brother's help, the boxes were carried in and opened. The packaging is first class with double boxing, molded Styrofoam packing inserts (which are a *bleep* to get out because they fit so tightly they form a vacuum), and then the amps are wrapped in a fabric (paper composite possibly?) to prevent scratching. The amps were perfect in appearance and are very heavy.
I connect the amps to the preamp and turned them on allowing them to reach thermal balance and burn in for about an hour before I threw a record on., I was surprised because the sound was not thin and sterile as my experiences with new SS gear has been. There was wooly, undefined bass, deep extension, clear bands of tonality so the sound was no where near what it should have been. What was most surprising was the quality of the treble. It was delicate and detailed beyond what I expected initially. I placed the CD player on repeat when I went to bed and continued switching out CDs during the next few days. Sound continued to improve and so it was not so much discrete parts of the audio spectrum but a more organic whole. Bass, while deep, was not as detailed or defined and still was on the fuzzy or wooly side. None of this was unexpected and as I said, my brother, a died in the wool tube guy, thought it was way better than he expected.
So cutting this short, it is now two weeks later with probably 120-150 hours of being on or playing music at various volume levels. In the last few days the sound has transformed from being very good to incredible. Bass is deep, powerful and defined, mid range is palpable and real and treble is extended, detailed and clean. SPLs? Well, let's just say that I used my RadioShack SPL meter and found that the SPL's were basically the same as before, it was the transients that were incredible. Compression is GONE, dynamic range is incredible to the point that details in recordings I have loved for decades are new to my ears. Lifelike is the short way of describing what I am hearing.
Time Out by the Brubeck Quartet is an excellent album for material and recording of drums, cymbals, the sax and Dave's piano. I saw them perform in 74 in a high school auditorium and this is as close to that experience as ever. They were in my room that night. Starting with the drums in Take 5, you could actually hear the initial strike on the SKINS, clearly differentiate the drum or tom or cymbal being struck, how it was struck or brushed, whether Morello was playing on the beat, leading it slightly or on the trailing edge. His technique is so clearly resolved yet musical and real. The way sound builds when a cymbal is struck and how it decays is incredibly realistically reproduced. Separate lines within Take 5 during other solos are all there confirming the ability to reproduce separate musical lines at the same time and not losing them in noise or tonal imbalance. Palpable images in clear space. Awesome.
Ravel, Mozart, Resphigi, the Russians, (to hard to spell) etc., all beautifully reproduced, each section of the orchestra in its own space and sounding, well, real. The dynamic range really shines here together with tonal and timbre accuracy. It is simply beautiful, never strident, even the violins and small ensembles, string quartets for example, are extraordinary. Each and every instrument is clearly defined yet integrated in the whole. Wow.
Vocal music is also beautifully portrayed. Linda Ronstadt's album with Nelson Riddle's orchestra is a great album that I use as a standard for setting up my system when needed. I heard things on this album I have never heard before. The orchestra is laid out in a semi circle with each section right there. Brass is full and uncolored, without the silver sheen or compression imposed by many systems, woodwinds are, well, woody in the right way, guitar is full and rich, I can literally hear the body of the guitar and LInda's singing, phrasing, power and dynamic range are so lifelike it is scary.
Return to Forever's Romantic Warrior album contains, if not the best solo recorded by Stanley Clark, then one of the best. Acoustic, electric, throbbing, bowed, plucked, slapped, its all there without any exaggeration but with power, detail. Chick's piano, Al's guitar, Lenny's drums, what can I say that I haven't? Real, powerful, dynamic, I can only describe things so many ways.
The best compliment is that the music coming from my system sounds so real. It was excellent before now it is awesome. This is not an AV amp alone which was my concern. Is it the best, heck I cannot say that because I do not have its competitors to compare. I can say it is ever so slightly on the warm side of amps (my preference and I was concerned Emotiva products might be "on the cool side" with so many on this board with the amps in AV systems which presents a different set of requirements and preferences in MO). Never strident and faithful to the signal being fed to it so you should not use this with inferior source or pre-amplification equipment.
It continues to get better. Highly recommended for 2 channel sound reproduction.