Below are my thoughts and observations after some time with my new AVR and Amp.
The system includes:
- Yamaha RX-A820 AVR
- Emotiva XPA-3 (200w/ch, 3 channels)
- Sony DVD/SACD player
- Paradigm Studio 100v4
- Paradigm Active CC (center channel with active bi-amp in the speaker)
- Paradigm ADP rear surround
- Definitive Technology 12" sub (forget the model, but its 12 years or so old)
- Room is 17x22x9
I first set up the system using only the Yamaha RX-A820 to drive all of the speakers. It sounded great, but when I raised the volume to fairly loud levels it started to sound a bit 'weak' in the mid-bass response. Using Room EQ the software reporting clipping on one of my test runs. The Studio 100v4 speakers have a dip to 3.5ohms and have the reputation for being fairly power hungry to drive, so thanks to research on this site, it led me to Evotiva and the purchase of an XPA-3 to power the fronts. My system does not need amplification for the center, but the XPA-3 's third amp will be ready when I replace my Active CC center in the future.Yamaha Observations
The build quality is very nice. Setup was easy, and I found the YPAO automatic speaker setup and equalization to be very beneficial. The YPAO discovered all of my speakers and set the distances nearly perfectly. I used the multi-position option setting the mic near ear level at three positions on the main couch and one position on the other couch. My room lacks acustical wall treatments, but that is an upcoming project. For now I accepted the YPAO equalization settings and they did improve the sound to what seems to be a more 'balanced' sound.
The newly included Airplay feature works perfectly with both our Mac and PC-based iTunes libraries. Once connected to our secured home wireless network with a bridge, the Yamaha connected to the Internet without an issue.
I connected the SACD/Blu-ray player to the Yamaha with both a digital optical cable as well as via HDMI. Unfortunately my TV is still a rear projection model and does not support HDMI. Fortunately the Yamaha also have support for component video input and output. The HDMI connection is there because the Yamaha AVR and Sony player pass SACD playback via HDMI. There is a menu option that must be set in the Yamaha setup to enable this, but it worked like a charm once set.Emotiva Observations
The Emotiva XPA-3 is solid, and heavy. It arrived double boxed and in perfect condition via FedEx. It is well built and seems to be made of high quality materials and components. Hooking it up to the pre-outs from the Yamaha was easy, and the XPA-3 also came with a 12v trigger cable which when connected to the RX-A820, powers the unit on when the Yamaha is powered on.Listening Observations
I have always loved my Paradigm Studio 100s. Now I love them even more. Listening to Steely Dan's Gaucho at fairly loud listening levels brought out the full body of the speakers. The mid-bass and low bass of the Studio 100's seemed to have more punch than when powered by only the AVR. Even when listening at fairly loud levels I did not experience any listening fatigue. When listening to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon in SACD, in a word, wow. Smooth, crystal clear sound. Rapid punch in the bass. During the track Time, it sounded like there was a Grandfather clock in my room. The movie Armagedden was also impressive. Overall, I'm thrilled with Yamaha and Emotiva.
Of course there are always things to improve. I plan to put in front presence speakers (Paradigm Atom Monitor v7). The sub also needs to be replaced. The old DefTech sub just doesn't cut it. The deep bass is a bit sloppy and can be too loud during certain passages. There is a mean room resonance around 35hz which adds to the sometimes muddy deep bass. Also, a projector needs to replace that monster TV.... in time.
Bottom line: The new Yamaha RX-A820 is a winner paired with the Emotiva XPA-3. Great combination. My room has never sounded better.Pictures!
Emotiva box: http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/834/imag0420wn.jpg/
Emotiva outer layers open: http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/7/imag0421jv.jpg/
Emotiva top of the amp visible: http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/267/imag0422a.jpg/
Emotiva out of the box: http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/72/imag0423d.jpg/