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Emotiva spec confusion

I'm still in the process of determining what sort of components I'd like to go with. I currently am running Infinity Beta 40's and a Beta C250 as the LCR (the beta 40's are like 90 or 91db sensitivity). I was thinking about buying a receiver with pre-outs (looking aventage line) and using an Emotiva amp to power my front sound stage.

Here's where the confusion comes in, the UPA500/700 have 80 wpc and THD <.01% which seems fine...but looking at a higher-end XPA-3, it has considerably more power at 200wpc, but now has a much higher THD (<.1%). Why would an amp in a higher-end model have more distortion? Would I even notice that?

XPA-3: http://emotiva.com/products/amplifiers/xpa-3

UPA700: http://emotiva.com/products/amplifiers/upa-700

*edit: links

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level 1

You can't hear the difference. The higher amp has a tiny bit more because it generates a ton more power. Don't worry about that number unless it's over 1%. Even then good luck hearing that 1% THD at full power. lol.

level 2
Original Poster1 point · 4 years ago

so it's much more of a theoretical spec vs a real-world difference then?

level 3
Cyberpunk, Audiophile Heathen, and Supporter of Ambiophonics2 points · 4 years ago

Basically, the odds you'd perceive .1% THD is negligible - and unless you're using a real power sucker in a large room with a crap ton of dynamics you probably won't even get close to that power usage anyway.

I'm a fan of this power calculator that will give you an idea of max SPL to be expected in room. You need to know your speaker sensitivity, average power output, and listening distance. For example I can hit 108dB at 9' away - it's way more than enough for headroom.

level 4
Original Poster1 point · 4 years ago

oh that's an awesome calculator - thanks! Guess I was getting sucked into a numbers game.

level 5
Cyberpunk, Audiophile Heathen, and Supporter of Ambiophonics3 points · 4 years ago

Pretty much - remember for every 3dB increase you must double power, for every doubling of distance you lose 6dB in comparison. So the [email protected] rating will lose 6dB when listening at 2m, 12dB at 4m, and so on. Line sources minimize this (magneplanar/ribbon, full panel ESL, line array) to 3dB per doubling but don't apply to your speakers.

Distance hurts power and drives cost up early on then loses relevance in home settings, amplifier power is cheap until you start climbing into higher ranges. As such you want to find a spot that intersects with what you need to maximize performance and minimize cost.

The THX reference spec is 105dB peak at listening distance. With the UPA series you can listen from the Beta 40's at ~11' and still be within their spec. Music is usually less demanding (except classical which is arguably more demanding). Crown for example recommends 15dB over average listening distance for most music at onset of clipping. If you listened at 85dB average and had 100dB peaks you could actually listen at 22'.

If the dynamic range peak is higher though and average listening is around the same level you will start paying dearly for power. Let's say another 10dB for 115dB peak . . . you're looking at 750W peak. Even depending on dynamic power ratings as a crutch it's going to be hard to hit this. You now need to look towards class D, pro amps, or very expensive audiophile amps to even get close to this. In the "audiphile" class you're at least talking $2-3K to get close in monoblock form - roughly $5K+. This is why Magnepan owners love their Crowns (affordable pro amp + lots of power power). The other argument is more sensitive speakers (why venues have high sensitivity horns in arrays).

Hopefully that gives you a bit of understanding as to the relationship of distance/power/sensitivity. All of these are related and in many ways fighting against you.

level 6
Original Poster1 point · 4 years ago

that was a great explanation - thank you very much for taking the time to write that

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