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August 2016
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
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Emotiva BasX A-300 Stereo Amplifier
Emotiva's BasX A-300 brings immersive, and immense, musical enjoyment.

Review By Ron Nagle

 

Emotiva BasX A-300 Stereo Amplifier Review

  Emotiva was a corporate mystery I chased for many years and why I'm greateful to now review their new BasX A-300 amplifier. They make a relatively inexpensive, yet high quality, line of audio components found at most audio shows. Have been curious to answer this question as what can you expect from a 150 Watt per channel amplifier at a $399 bargain basement price with Emotiva's new BasX A-300? Remember, it is far easier to make a good product by dumping a wheelbarrow full of cash into the design process. But try the same thing with your disassembled piggy bank stash or by raiding mom's cookie jar. How close does Emotiva get to the high-end with their great value for the dollar products? Well that's what this investigation is poised to discover.

 

Filling The Gaps
Before going any farther lets add some information about the company. Emotiva is a full line direct source of home theater and audiophile and professional electronics. That includes preamplifier, amplifiers, DAC's, surround sound processors, speakers, and cables. Emotiva was founded in 2003 by its President Dan Laufman. He saw the spiraling prices of audio gear and thought he could offer high-end audio sound quality at a far more affordable price.  According to Lonnie Vaughn, Emotiva's VP and Chief Technology Officer, the Emotiva company's components are designed in Franklin Tennessee, just south of Nashville. The parts are sourced from a global list of vendors. In the past, some of the companyís products were assembled in China. That might be inferred when you look at some of the reasonable prices. However, the Emotiva production has been incrementally shifted exclusively to the United States and their build quality has always been impressive. The Emotiva parent company, Jade Design, is basically an intellectual and proprietary technology holding entity. Five and a half years ago, Jade Design began manufacturing its own products under the Emotiva brand name. As usual this reporter has been scouring web threads trying to put together as big a picture as possible about all things Emotiva. Emotiva has been around for 13 years, so they have been quite successful, plus have a very loyal following online.

 

Out Of The Ordinary
Can you remember ever running across an audio amplifier with a doesnít matter what the line voltage is. The ownerís manual tells us you can plug the Emotiva BASX A-300 into any 115V or 230V @ 50/60 Hz wall outlet and the amplifier will sense the incoming power type and operate normally without you switching anything. On the back panel just above the line cord IEC socket there is an on/off switch and two LEDs. The top LED lights to indicate 115 Volt's and the bottom LED will be on if you are plugged into 230 Volt wall outlet. Additionally, there is a 12 Volt trigger input jack for turn on and a small switch that will turn off the status LEDs. While there is no line fuse on the rear panel, there is an internal fault detection circuit.

 

Emotiva BasX A-300 Stereo Amplifier Review

 

Another surprise is that this Emotiva amplifier pumps out 150 Watts a side into 8 Ohms using a linear power supply with an ample-sized toroidal transformer. The amplifier is specified as being Class A/B linear. To save money I assumed they would cheat and use an off the shelf digital power supply from some other manufacturer. If you think that I do not like digital power supplies, you would be correct. Yes they are cheaper and they can be smaller in size but in an effort to quiet them down and sound more linear some manufactures have increased the switching function frequencies higher, nearer to radio frequencies. And letís not forget that they really don't do anything more than a common solid state linear power supply.

 

Emotiva BasX A-300 Stereo Amplifier Review

 

Emotiva BasX A-300 Stereo Amplifier Review

 

The Matter of The Facts
The product name BASX is a variation of the word basics. There are three power amplifier models within the new BASX lineup. They are the BASX A-300 (as reviewed here), the A-500, and the A-700. All of these amplifiers are housed in identical black painted steel cases that measure 17" wide x 4" high x 16" deep. Interestingly, the model number designations do not refer to the available power per channel but to the number of separate channels. So the specification reads like this: "Power output: two channels driven". (Confusing statement for an uneven number of channels). So the Emotiva  A-300 amplifier has two channels with 150 Watts RMS per side. The A-500 provides power to five amplified channels at 110 Wpc RMS and the A-700 has seven channels also providing 110 Wpc RMS. Obviously the company provides additional amplifier channels for home theater systems. Note: RMS stands for: Root Mean Square, the only sanctioned method of specifying amplifier power. If you do not see it spelled out like that then you need to ask questions. The amplifiers face is simplicity itself it only has two small blue LED lamps illuminated for power at the left and right channels. Directly in the center is a round push button to turn on the amplifier. It will change color to indicate power standby or power on.

A complete listing of the BASX A300 features and specifications are posted at the articles conclusion.

 

Emotiva BasX A-300 Stereo Amplifier Review

 

The Sound
Interestingly a lot of companies will tell you to let a component break in for some hours before you listen to it. Thatís not the case with the Emotiva BASX A300 power amplifier. So is it good to go right out of the box? The answer is no, not really. About an hour after turn on I could detect a very slight, and I do mean subtle, graininess pervading and overlaying the audio presentation. Itís hard to describe yet when you read an audio components review and the writer talks about a quiet dark black background that could be it. Well dear reader, this grainy artifact was just the opposite of that quiet quality. If it wasn't for the 40 kHz extension of my Aurum Cantus speakers ribbon tweeters I don't think it would have been audible. Emotivaís BASX A300 amplifier ran for a few more days just playing background music. But given time, there was a much kinder fate in store. In the following days it underwent a major transformation and became pussy foot quiet. At this juncture I will apologize in advance for talking about a vinyl record album that you probably do not own. But in the process maybe you will go out and buy this wonderfully scored and mixed album. It is from Christopher Cross and titled Another Page [Warner Bros 9-23757-1]. The liner notes list additional guest vocals by Micheal McDonald, Carl Wilson, Art Garfunkel, J. D. Souther, Don Henley, Karla Bonoff and a long list of great guest musicians. This is a studio album but done in such a way that you can look into the mix and pick out the people backing the lead vocal along with layers of accompanying instrumentation. On track two, Baby Says no, the line, "I really think I've got it bad this time". A plaintive baritone voice echoes deep in the background and repeats the words "So Bad".

 

Emotiva BasX A-300 Stereo Amplifier Review

 

Wrap Up
Doing my research I found buyer comments that ranged from tepid to wonderful with only a rare few negative comments in between. If you consider that someone is looking for affordable audio components at this price point. You should not be surprised by the large majority of happy customers. On a strict price and performance basis Emotiva is hard to beat. One comment in particular stands out in my mind. It was a purchaserís comment extolling the Emotiva XPA2 amplifier and its 300 Watt per channel driving his Bose 901 speakers. Like many other things there is a lot to consider. I can fully understand his favorable reaction listening through his Bose 901's. I included this comment just to point out that personal preferences will be all over the place and are factored in when building an audio system. There really is no Ďone size fits allí in audioland. Emotivaís BASX A300 produces a wonderful sound that will not be mistaken for a lush tube amplifier. While it might not project the same dimensional images, the Emotiva sound quality dictates that it can cover a very broad application for music lovers worldwide. That means it could easily work well within some very expensive systems. If a burglar came into into my home and swapped face plates with my four thousand dollar reference Sanders ESL solid-state muscle amplifier it might take me awhile before I caught on. I'll admit that Iím extremely, and pleasantly, surprised for there is very little fault to be found. Emotiva has a primarily direct marketing sales structure and so you can purchase directly from the company online. However, they do have other outlets including Amazon.com.

 

 

For well over 40 years there have been advances, and setbacks, within my audio vocation.  Have spent a bucket-load, nay a barrel-full, of money on my high-end audio system. But at this juncture it makes no sense to look back, and I have no regrets. This evolutionary journey for me was a fun ride. At this exact moment in time my music system with the Emotiva BASX A300 can fill me with immersed enjoyment. All I ask is the comfort and safe haven of my music when life gets a bit rough.

  

Remember to enjoy the music and, from me, Semper Hi-Fi.

 

Tonality

Sub-bass (10Hz - 60Hz)

Mid-bass (80Hz - 200Hz)

Midrange (200Hz - 3,000Hz)

High Frequencies (3,000Hz On Up)

Attack

Decay

Inner Resolution

Soundscape Width Front

Soundscape Width Rear
Soundscape Depth Behind Speakers

Soundscape Extension Into Room

Imaging

Fit And Finish

Self Noise

Value For The Money

 

Specifications
Type: Solid-state stereo amplifier
Power Output (two channels driven)
  150 watts RMS per channel; 20 Hz - 20 kHz; THD < 0.1%; into 8 Ohms
  300 watts RMS per channel; 1 kHz; THD < 1%; into 4 Ohms
Power Band width: 20 Hz to 20 kHz (+ / - 0.07 dB).
Broad Band Frequency Response: 5 Hz to 80 kHz (+ / - 1.8 dB).
THD + noise: < 0.02% (A-weighted); at rated power; 1 kHz; 8 Ohms
Signal to Noise Ratio (8 Ohm load)
 > 120 dB (A-weighted); ref rated power. 
 > 100 dB (A-weighted); ref 1 watt. 
Minimum Recommended Load Impedance:
  4 Ohms; which equals one 4 Ohm load or two paralleled 8 Ohm loads. 
Damping Factor (8 Ohm load): > 500. 
Speaker Output Connections: Audiophile grade, 5-way binding posts.
Power Supply: Linear power supply with heavy duty toroidal transformer.
Input Sensitivity (for rated power; 8Ohm load): 1.2 V.
Gain: 29 dB.
Input Connections; Unbalanced (RCA); one per channel.
Input Impedance: 27 kOhms (unbalanced).
Trigger Input: 5 - 12 V (AC or DC); <10 mA input current required.
Trigger Output: 12 VDC; can drive any load up to 120 mA.
Power Requirements: 115 VAC or 230 VAC @ 50 / 60 Hz (automatically detected).
Front Panel Controls and Indicators:
Standby; push button (halo ring changes color to indicate Standby or On).
Status LEDs; one per channel; blue.
Status LEDs change to red to indicate a fault condition.
Rear Panel Controls:
AC Power switch; rocker switch (switches AC main power).
Status LEDs switch; disables front panel Status LEDs.
Protection: The BasX A-300 is protected against excessive operating temperature, shorted speaker connections, ground faults, and other common fault conditions. 
Dimensions: 17" x 4" x 15.5" (WxHxD not including connectors)
Weight: 25.2 lbs.
Price: $399

 

Company Information
Emotiva
135 SE Parkway Court
Franklin, TN 37064

Voice: (615) 790-6754
Website: www.Emotiva.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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