- Written by Chris Heinonen
- Published on 17 May 2010
After getting the UPA-5 setup, I really wasn't in the mood for any critical listening for a few days, so I just put on an album to listen to while I read the news. Belle & Sebastian are a band that I love and their third album, The Boy with The Arab Strap, was the album that got me hooked on them. I was just semi-listening for a while, but started to pay more attention as the album went along, and stopped reading completely once we got to "Dirty Dream Number Two". This was always a song that had a lot going on, but now instead of just hearing a large arrangement of instruments, I was hearing the individual instruments. The soundstage had grown massively as well, both in width and depth. I hadn't been looking for the changes that the Emotiva would make, but they were impossible to ignore as it really opened up my speakers and made a huge difference over the stock receiver.
Now that I wanted to really push the Emotiva to see what it could do, I fired up the Blu-ray of Fight Club. I've seen Fight Club many times before, and so I skipped right ahead to the scene were our narrator visualizes a mid-air plane crash. Driving the speakers as loud as I wanted to, I was enveloped all around by the DTS-HD MA track, but it still had a stunning amount of detail despite the large amount of low bass energy. Loud, dynamic scenes like these are where you can really notice the power of an amplifier: Since it doesn't have to strain nearly as hard when doing those lower notes, it has plenty of power left to drive the midrange and tweeter to their potential. Instead of getting slightly muddled midbass and treble, you get clear and distinct sounds to go along with the bass. When you hear other people describe a fog being lifted from the speakers, this is the effect they are talking about.
I don't really like the Dave Matthews Band. My roommate in college played them continuously and shifted me from finding them OK, to being sick of them (In his defense, he probably never wants to hear Radiohead or Belle & Sebastian again). However, the Blu-ray of Dave Matthews with Tim Reynolds at Radio City Music Hall sounds so fantastic that I find myself listening to it again and again, never growing tired of it. With the UPA-5 this disc sounded far better on my system than it previously did. I would sit and listen to the individual guitar strings being plucked, all distinct instead of jumbled together. I was able to drive the volume up to reference levels without losing any of the dynamics or details as the UPA-5 didn't strain under the load and let me just experience the concert as if I was in the audience.
Overall, the UPA-5 was simple to add into my system, required no upkeep at all, and brought out a whole new level of detail and depth in movies and music. My speakers suddenly sounded like I had paid far more for them than I had, and no matter how much I turned up the volume I never had to worry about clipping or the amp straining under the load.