How to: Double your home theater receiver's power

Today's receivers are jam-packed with features, the one thing they lack is power. Emotiva Audio's XPA power amplifier can boost your home theater's sound.

The XPA power amp will light up your home theater! Emotiva Audio

Today's receivers are jam-packed with features, but the one thing they lack is power.

In fact, most $500 receivers never come close to delivering their rated power into all channels.

Some can barely manage a third of their claimed wattage. Right now, your 100 watt per channel receiver might be pumping out only 30 something watts.

People ask me about this stuff all the time--"Steve, Denon, Onkyo, Pioneer, Sony and Yamaha receivers all boast up to the nanosecond surround processing modes, connectivity options up the whazoo, and fancy shamncy remotes--so what exactly would a brawny multichannel amplifier get me?" My answer to these queries is always the same: "Just two things, the power and the glory."

The problem: Receivers, even big ticket, $2,000+ models can't spare enough internal real estate to house humongous transformers and hefty power supply capacitors--the compromises inevitably start there. Separate power amplifiers have room for all of that good stuff.

Enter Emotiva Audio's XPA 200 watt, five-channel amplifier ($799), 1,000 watts total. It's actually a lot more powerful than just double your average 100 watt per channel receiver; the XPA amplifier can deliver up to 350 watts to each of its five channels with four-ohm speaker loads . You'll look far and wide to find a receiver that can drive low-impedance speakers like a separate power amp can. And it'll cost a whole lot more than the Emotiva XPA will.

Oh, and please don't worry that the XPA is too powerful for your speakers. Too much power doesn't harm speakers, playing them too loud with an underpowered receiver is far more likely to do your speakers in.

And it's not just power, you're likely to hear an overall improvement in sound quality. Here's how to do it.

Look for the pre-out jacks before you buy a separate power amplifier.

First, make sure your receiver has "pre-out" jacks on its rear panel (if yours doesn't have one, you won't be able to hook up a separate power amp like the XPA). Then it's just a matter of hooking up your speaker wires to the XPA.

After the XPA is hooked up your receiver's internal amplifiers will still be on, but since they're no longer connected to your speakers, they don't contribute to the sound you hear.

Of course, there a many other separate power amplifiers on the market, but most are far more expensive than the Emotiva XPA.

The Emotiva Audio XPA measures 17 inches wide by 7.75 high by 19 deep and it weighs 70 pounds.

Emotiva Audio sells direct from its Web site.

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.

 

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