Before writing off this amp as not powerful enough, keep in mind that this 80wpc amp will pack more powerful than most AVRs that are rated higher, as this is truly 80wpc when all 7 channels are...
Clean sound, truly 80wpc with all 7 channels driven, looks as good as it sounds
No balanced inputs
Before writing off this amp as not powerful enough, keep in mind that this 80wpc amp will pack more powerful than most AVRs that are rated higher, as this is truly 80wpc when all 7 channels are driven. AVRs are generally rated with only 2 channels driven, and they operate with less power when you kick them into surround modes using 5 or 7 channels.
Example, this replaced an AVR that was rated at 130wpc, and this is easily more powerful than what it replaced. It's especially noticeable when you get into the higher volumes, like watching an action movie. The AVR sounded pretty good watching TV, but when I would crank it up for a good, loud flick, it lost its dynamic range. It lacked the impact that it had at average levels.
Not the UMC-700. Watching television shows sounds fantastic, but the first blu-ray I watched through this amp was the new Thor film, and when I cranked it up the difference was night & day. It packs a punch, even when you're driving it pretty hard. I never felt like it couldn't go a little louder on the next explosion. I never felt like "whoa, that's all this thing has". It always seemed to have more gas in the tank, even at reference levels in my theater.
Now, my theater is relatively small...this amp won't drive your 12-seat basement remodel, or an open ended room. But I have a modest 2-row/4-seat theater that is sealed up in my basement, and it does a fantastic job. I'm running this with an Emotiva UMC-200 (which I'll review once I've had a chance to get it fully tweaked, though so far I'm already impressed, but I don't think EmoQ2 did that great eq-ing for my room), and I've not pushed the volume setting on the 200 past 52 (don't know what the max is, but I would guess around 70?).
One thing that would be nice is if the 7-channel indicator lights on the front would only illuminate on the channels that are receiving/outputting a signal - so if you're listening to 5.1, the two outside indicators would not illuminate, or stereo material would only illuminate the L & R indicators. As it is now, the lights are blue when the channel is functioning properly, and red if there is an error on the channel, and they can be turned off altogether via a switch on the rear of the amp.
The amp does not have balanced inputs, but the UMC-200 that it's designed to pair with doesn't have balanced outputs. This may or may not be a deciding factor for you. It wasn't for me. I bought this set as my first separates combo, not intending to keep it forever. But the more I listen, the longer I think it will be around. I've been very pleased in the first 3 weeks. Setup was very simple, and I assume it wouldn't get any more difficult even using a different pre/pro. Connected the 7 inputs, the 12v trigger cable and the power cord and I was in business.
Again, if you're on a budget but still yearn for separates, this is a great entry into the world. Once you're in, it's easier to upgrade down the road, replacing one piece at a time. The Emotiva UMC-200 / UPA-700 combo is definitely worth a look if you're looking at AVRs in the $800 and up range. Highly recommended.