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Amp/Preamp Asylum: REVIEW: Emotiva XSP-1 Gen 2 Preamplifier (HT) by rkeman

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REVIEW: Emotiva XSP-1 Gen 2 Preamplifier (HT)

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Model: XSP-1 Gen 2
Category: Preamplifier (HT)
Suggested Retail Price: $999
Description: Stereo Preamplifier
Manufacturer URL: Emotiva

Review by rkeman on January 18, 2016 at 18:46:10
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for the XSP-1 Gen 2

The Emotive XSP-1 Gen 2 is a solid state stereo preamplifier with a fully balanced circuit design. There are two sets of balanced inputs, four sets of unbalanced inputs, one set of balanced main outputs, one set of unbalanced main outputs, one phono input (mm and mc with user-configurable cartridge loading), one external processor loop, and support for both stereo subwoofers and a summed mono subwoofer. Full analog bass management and independent, individually configurable, Linkwitz-Riley 12 dB/octave high-pass and low-pass filters for the main outputs are included. A high current headphone amplifier with independent level control and a remote control round out the package. All the bases are covered!

The mechanic and electronic build quality of the XSP-1 is excellent. The vacuum fluorescent display is relatively large, dimmable and easy to read. The front panel controls have a positive feel and the rear connectors are gold plated and of fine quality. The remote works as expected and has a substantial feel. The box, packing, owner's manual, five year warranty and 30 day trial period are typical for Emotiva - very solid.

The sound of the XSP-1 is very, very good. The noise floor with balanced and unbalanced sources is as low as any equipment that I've experienced. Music seems to rise out of total blackness. The phono section is very quiet, clean and has a smooth effortless quality with both the moving magnet and high output moving coil cartridges auditioned. The tonal signature is neutral unless the (!) very effective tone controls are brought into play. These adjustments allow subtle adjustments similar to the "tilt" controls on Quad amplifiers and can add that smidge of heft or sparkle lacking in some source material. Soundstage reproduction is true to the source material and benefits from the very low noise floor.

The inclusion of a subwoofer crossover is an unusual and welcome feature in a stereo preamplifier. It adds much needed flexibility for those audiophiles incorporating subwoofer(s). With stereo and summed mono modes, adjustable crossover frequency and a defeatable high pass filter, the only options missing are adjustable filter slopes and subwoofer gain control. The best feature is that the crossover doesn't appear to degrade the sound in any way. Add in the processor loop and now there is a better way to integrate a home theater and high performance stereo and still have effective bass management.

In sum, the Emotiva XSP-1 is a cost effective analog stereo preamplifier with great performance and versatility. Highly recommended.

Product Weakness: None.
Product Strengths: Outstanding performance and value. Subwoofer crossover and refined phon section.

Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: Emotiva XPA-200
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Emotiva XSP-1
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Emotiva ERC-3, Technics Sl1200 Mk. II with Denon DL-110 and AT ML440
Speakers: Continuum Monitors ad custom subwoofers
Cables/Interconnects: Various DIY Belden and Canare
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Pop, jazz and classical
Room Size (LxWxH): 14 x 12 x 9
Room Comments/Treatments: Bass traps and corner damping panels
Time Period/Length of Audition: One month
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Emotiva XSP-1 Gen 2 Preamplifier (HT) - rkeman 18:46:10 01/18/16 ( 8)