Wheres My Friends Phantom and Mike... Hey can I add my 2 pennies ? can I Can I Please ?
So I just wanted to add my opinion. I'm just a Redneck buisness owner for NY. I am not qualified to do any type of audio test.
Ok So I own a Yamha RX-A3000 AVR, And A Mcintosh MC252 2Ch amp. I Have Jm Labs Focal Cobalt speakers for my 5.1 Ch surround. I borrowed a Emotiva XPA-2 from my Neighbor. ts funny cause after it took along time for him to get it, I got to use it first brand new out of box.
Here are my speaker specs. These are for MY L/R 826S cobalts
Number of Speakers : 4
Impedance : 8
Power admitted (W) : 150
Tweeter : 25 mm
Medium : 165 mm
Boomer : 2 x 165 mm
Bandwith : 40 - 22 kHz
Sensibility (dB/W/m) : 92.0
Ok gonna keep it simple.
I first tested to see if the mcintosh MC252 amp Vs no amp made any difference when Watching 5 Different 5.1 DTS-HD Bluray movies. Simple answer is NO I could not tell a difference. Because to MY EARS there was no difference. I listen at about -30db on Yamaha A3000.
Ok so another Simple test with the Emotiva XPA-2. Using the same 5 Bluray movies with 5.1 Ch DTS-HD. The Yamaha A3000 on -30db. Guess what? simple answer NO DIFFERENCE.
So I Did a A/B Blind test Between the Emotiva and mcintosh using it as a HT amp to drive front speakers, and also with the help of neighbor. Neither one sounded better then the other.
Ok so now we get into the 2ch Musical Test.
I used my itunes library off my HTPC using a HDMI cable from the PC to the Yamaha A3000. The Mcintosh MC252 was up first. I used the same 10 songs to do Amp on Vs Amp Off. This is where it gets interesting. With the amp off I could not get my music to sound good Past -15db's on Yamha A3000. But at that level it was to loud to enjoy. So With the Mcintosh MC252 on I decided to push it. I went to -10db's On Yamaha A3000 and the music was clean and LOUD too LOUD. But sounded really good with amp inline. The funny thing is according to my watt meter I was only driving my fronts with 25 watts at -10db's. I started thinking thats got to be wrong. So I measured the Mcintosh amp Draw and it was only 1.3 amps which would make it correct. Hmm only driving speakers with 25 Watts amazing.
So Now the Emotiva XPA-2 was up. Using same 10 Songs from itunes and doing a Amp on Vs amp off. The XPA-2 was very nice. It was alittle louder at -10db's on yamaha then Mcintosh but was very clean. The Amp draw on the XPA-2 Was about 1.5 amps.
So here it is very simple. I'm just a redneck. It was very hard to tell the differences between the Mcintosh and Emotiva when using for 2ch music. But there is a Difference. The Mcintosh has a very smooth and warm sound pretty close to an old tube amp and picks up alot of detail on classical music.
The emotiva is a IN your face kinda amp. When it came time for some rock music and 80's pop, boy it sounded awesome !!! It made everything thump. It has its Own sound and it shows.
Do I have a Favorite ? of course I do. and Its the one that sounds good to my ears regardless of the name on it. if I threw a pillow case over both amps it be to hard to tell which was on. And If I was to throw some music on, it still be pretty hard to tell, but there are some differences. Depending on the music you like.
I'm still amazed 25 watts of amp power made a difference in 2ch music. That leaves me with 225 watts of head room.