Few companies challenge the price/performance paradigm quite like Emotiva. The company’s products span the audiophile gamut from amps and pre/pros to speakers and subs. At AXPONA 2016, the company had a wide variety of products on display and available to demo.

Due to the sheer size of the Emotiva exhibit, I split the task of covering it with my cohorts from Home Theater Shack, Dennis Young and Wayne Myers. There were multiple systems to demo including side-by-side comparisons of various Airmotiv and Stealth 8 active speakers, a surround system using Airmotiv passive speakers and subwoofer, a 2-channel system with passive Airmotiv speakers, and a full-on home cinema surround system that used Polk speakers to show off Emotiva’s famous amplifiers.

I was immediately drawn to the active Airmotiv and Stealth 8 ($750/each) speaker demo. I’m a big fan of powered monitors and have often wondered what the Stealth 8 was capable of. My first encounter did not disappoint, I heard eminently competent speakers that did not need a subwoofer to tackle bass-heavy music like Daft Punk's " Doin' It Right ." But the real surprise was how the smaller active Airmotivs kept the exact same sonic signature as the Stealth 8, proving that you can mix-and-match to create an actively-powered surround system.
The Stealth 8 and Airmotiv demo featuring Daft Punk.
As I went through Emotiva’s lineup of electronics with a company rep, I was struck by how broad a selection of product the company offered. The flagship XMC-1 ($2500) was there; I’m still waiting to review it over a year after requesting one. Also on display was the HDMI 2.0 upgrade for current XMC-1 owners. Emotiva reaffirmed that it is also planning to offer a Dolby Atmos upgrade for the XMC-1 after it realized that a 5.x.2 configuration can offer listeners "90 percent" of what a 5.x.4 Atmos system offers.

Emotiva's flagship XMC-1 pre/pro.
I did not have time to check out the full-on XPA Gen 3-powered (7-channels for $1900) home theater surround system found in the back of the room. Dennis checked it out  and reported that he "took a few moments to listen to the theater setup, sans video, playing Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon through an XMC-1 with Dirac Live correcting the sound. The effect was unlike what I have ever heard before. The soundfield was incredibly spacious and the center channel blended perfectly with the left/right speakers leaving no gaps in the soundfield. Dirac Live effectively wiped away the audio equipment and room, seemingly transporting the listener to the event."

The theater setup in Emotiva's room at AXPONA 2016.
Emotiva covered the lifestyle/personal audio category with a compact system consisting of AirMotiv B1 passive speakers ($300/pair), a Stealth DC-1 DAC ($500), SP-1 preamp ($300), and PA-1 amplifier. A Macbook Pro served up the digital music files. Prices and chassis sizes may have been small but the performance offered by the gear was not.

Emotiva's nifty compact system packed a punch.
Since I had already heard Emotiva's gear at CES 2016 and found it sounded great—especially for the price—I was not too concerned with repeating the experience at AXPONA. Nevertheless, I am glad the company was there to expose people to great-sound at affordable prices.

Wayne's comment that "Emotiva has established itself solidly in the high-value and great-sound category for home theater and two-channel audio gear" succinctly sums up my feelings about the brand. You can easily spend a lot more on another brand of speaker, pre/pro, or amplifier and get less performance. On the flip-side, you'd be hard-pressed to spend less on another brand and get more/better audio performance for your dollar than you do with Emotiva.

Click here to check out more reports from AXPONA 2016.