Emotiva is one of those American companies best known for its outstanding price to performance ratio designs. Take their BasX TA-100 stereo integrated amplifier. This handsome low profile design houses a Class AB power section rated at 50 watts per channel for 8 ohm speakers, and 90 watts per for harder to drive 4 ohm speakers. Class A/B amplifier circuitry is rarely seen in today’s affordable amps, but the TA-100 has it. The TA-100 retails for $399, £519, AU$849.
The TA-100’s feature set also includes an FM tuner, a turntable input for moving-magnet and moving-coil cartridges, bass and treble controls, AptX Bluetooth, two stereo line-level RCA inputs, dual subwoofer outputs, one each optical and coaxial USB digital inputs, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The TA-100 sports high-resolution 24-bit/192 kHz PCM digital converters, and 12 volt trigger outputs to turn on external components.
The TA-100’s milled aluminum faceplate is a step up from the plastic ones I see on most receivers in the TA-100’s price class. I love that the little remote doesn’t have too many buttons, just power, volume up/down, input selectors, setup menu, and mute. The TA-100’s all metal chassis measures a trim 17 x 2.6 x 12.5 inches (432x66x318mm).
I listened to the TA-100 first with a pair ofbookshelf speakers that continue to amaze me. First, these little guys sound a lot bigger than they really are, and they are pretty decent in terms of overall clarity. They played loud with ease, stereo imaging was room filling, the TA-100/B1s make for a sweet little system.
Next I brought out harder to drive speakers, namely my Ferrari red KEF LS50 bookshelf monitors. The TA-100 sounded fine, so I compared it with PS Audio’s newly revised Sprout integrated amp, which is now called the Sprout 100, it’s $599. With David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, the Sprout 100 was clearer, and the sound of each instrument was more fully formed than what I heard from the TA-100. That amp sounded somewhat flatter and more two-dimensional than the more expensive Sprout 100, I’ll review it soon.
Emotiva also set along their BasX A-300 stereo power amp that pumps out a healthy 150 watts per channel into 8 ohm speakers, and 300 watts per channel into 4 ohm speakers! Measuring just 17 x 4 x 15.5 inches (432x102x394mm) It’s surprisingly compact for a high power Class AB design. The extra watts came in handy with the 4 ohm when I played them nice and loud with Neil Young’s harder rocking tunes. The A-300 retails for $399, £529, AU$799.
The A-300 isn’t just about power, its refined and sophisticated sound shines with audiophile grade recordings, so it’s something of a chameleon. That’s what the best gear is supposed to do, let the music shine though au naturel.
Teamed with the TA-100 (used as a preamp) the A-300 and LS50 speakers the system strutted its stuff with one of the very best sounding Rolling Stones concert Blu-rays, Hampton Coliseum, Live in 1981. One of the things I love about this Blu-ray’s sound is the concert’s ambience, even listening to the stereo mix over the LS50s the sound was you-are-there present. Bill Wyman’s nimble bass was a treat, and Charlie Watts drums never sounded better. Mick Jagger’s vocals and Keith Richard’s guitar on top of the mix were positively vivid. Tuned up nice and loud the sound belied the modest price of the Emotiva electronics.
Emotiva has done it again, the TA-100 and A-300 sound and look great, and the prices are very reasonable.