The Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System offers surprisingly good movie surround-sound, and some of the individual products represent exceptional value.

My favorites include the Emotiva BASX S-12 subwoofer and the BasX TA-500 5-channel amplifier. Of reasonable value are the Emotiva BasX MC-700 Surround Sound Processor, the Emotiva BasX SAT surround speakers, and the Emotiva BasX LCR speakers. The BasX ensemble offers good overall value and better than average movie sound for an as-tested price of $2,741.

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System

Highlights

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System

  • The MC-700 processor is a fair value with really good sound.
  • The TA-500 5-channel amplifier is a standout, competing with far more expensive gear.
  • The LCR speakers work well for movie sound.
  • The SAT speakers are limited by their size, but perform surprisingly well.
  • The S-12 subwoofers rival far more expensive subwoofers and have amazing performance.
Introduction

The Emotiva Audio Corporation, based in Franklin, Tennessee, has been in business since 2005. Owners Dan and Cathy Laufman have built the company into an Internet juggernaut by offering exceptional performance at factory-direct prices. The “Basic-X,” or BasX series of components are some of the newest products from Emotiva. A three-year warranty is offered on BasX equipment.

EMOTIVA BASX HOME THEATER AUDIO SYSTEM REVIEW SPECIFICATIONS

Emotiva BasX MC-700 Surround Sound Processor

Dimensions:

17” wide x 3.25” tall x 13” deep @ 9 pounds (14 pounds, boxed)

Video Inputs and Outputs:

(6) HDMI compliant video inputs (3 with HDMI 2.0a / HDCP 2.2 / HDR10 support).
(2) HDMI compliant video outputs (1 with HDMI 2.0a / HDCP 2.2 / HDR10 support).

Audio Inputs:

(2) stereo unbalanced analog audio inputs.
(1) S/PDIF coaxial digital audio input.
(1) Toslink (optical) digital audio input.
(1) Bluetooth audio input (requires the optional BTM-1 Emotiva Bluetooth dongle).

Audio Outputs:

(1) set of 7.1 channel unbalanced audio main outputs.
(1) balanced subwoofer output (same as main sub output).

Other Inputs and Outputs:

(1) IR remote control signal input.
(1) IR remote control signal output.
(1) RS-232 serial remote control input.
(1) trigger output (programmable).
(2) USB data inputs (reserved for firmware updates).

Power Requirements:

115 VAC or 230 VAC @ 50/60 Hz (automatically detected).

Audio CODEC support:

Dolby Digital, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, DTS, DTS HD Master Audio, DTS Neo:6, and S/PDIF and multi-channel PCM digital audio

Advanced Emo-Q™ automatic multi-channel room correction:

Adjusts your speakers and the rest of your system to work optimally in your listening room for the best possible listening experience (a calibrated measurement microphone with internal buffer amplifier is included).

Flexible quadruple bass management:

12dB or 24dB per octave crossover filters, configurable in precise 5Hz steps below 80Hz (and 10Hz steps above 80Hz), helps you get the best bass performance from virtually any room and subwoofer.

Powerful manual equalization controls:

User-programmable fully parametric equalizers provide manual control over room acoustics. The MC-700 can store three independent sets of manual EQ parameters, each of which can be assigned to whatever inputs you choose.

Warranty:

Full Emotiva three-year warranty and 30-day return policy.

Emotiva BasX A-500 Five-channel Power Amplifier

Dimensions / Weight:

17” wide x 4” high x 15.5” deep @ 26.5 pounds (35 pounds boxed)

Power Output (all channels driven):

80 watts RMS per channel; 20Hz – 20kHz; THD < 0.1%; into 8 Ohms
Power Bandwidth (at rated power; 8 Ohm load)
20Hz to 20kHz (+ / – 0.07dB)

Power Output (two channels driven):

110 watts RMS per channel; 20Hz-20kHz; THD < 0.1%; into 8 Ohms
190 watts RMS per channel; 1kHz; THD < 1%; into 4 Ohms

Broad Band Frequency Response:

5Hz to 80kHz (+/- 1.8dB).

THD+noise:

< 0.02% (A-weighted); at rated power; 1kHz; 8 Ohms

Signal to Noise Ratio (8 Ohm load):

> 120dB (A-weighted); ref rated power.
> 100dB (A-weighted); ref 1 watt.

Minimum Recommended Load Impedance:

4 Ohms; which equals one 4 Ohm load or two paralleled 8 Ohm loads.

Damping Factor (8 Ohm load):

> 500.

Speaker Output Connections:

Audiophile grade, 5-way binding posts.

Power Supply:

Linear power supply with heavy duty toroidal transformer.

Input Sensitivity (for rated power; 8-ohm load):

1.2V

Gain:

29dB

Input Connections:

Unbalanced (RCA); one per channel.

Input Impedance:

27 kOhms (unbalanced)

Trigger:

Trigger Input: 5-12V (AC or DC); <10mA input current required.
Trigger Output: 12V DC; can drive any load up to 120mA.

Power Requirements:

115V AC or 230V AC @ 50/60Hz (automatically detected).

Front Panel Controls and Indicators:

Standby; push button (halo ring changes color to indicate Standby or On).
Status LEDs; one per channel; blue.
Status LEDs change to red to indicate a fault condition.

Rear Panel Controls:

AC Power switch; rocker switch (switches AC main power).
Status LEDs switch; disables front panel Status LEDs.

Protection:

The BasX A-500 is protected against excessive operating temperature, shorted speaker connections, ground faults, and other common fault conditions.

Emotiva BasX LCR Loudspeakers

Dimensions / Weight:

16.5 inches wide x 5.75 inches high x 6.88 inches deep @ 9.65 pounds (12 pounds boxed)

Driver Complement:

High-frequency Driver: 1-inch low resonance coated silk dome tweeter with neodymium rare-earth magnet structure and ferrofluid cooling.
Mid/bass drivers: Dual 4-inch long throw mid-woofers with mineral filled polypropylene cones and rubber surrounds.
Cabinet type: Rear ported (dual ports).

Electrical Specifications:

Efficiency: 87dB (2.83V/1m).
Power handling: 100W continuous / 200W peak.
Nominal impedance: 8 ohms.
Frequency response: 80Hz-25kHz (+/- 3dB).

Emotiva BasX Sat Surround Sound Speakers

Dimensions:

5.75 inches wide x 10.5 inches high x 6.88 inches deep @ 5.65 pounds (15 pounds boxed)

Driver Complement:

High Frequency Driver: 1-inch low resonance coated silk dome tweeter with neodymium rare-earth magnet structure and ferrofluid cooling.
Mid/bass driver: 4-inch long throw mid-woofer with mineral filled polypropylene cone and rubber surround.
Cabinet type: Rear ported.

Electrical Specifications:

Efficiency: 87dB (2.83V/1m).
Power handling: 50W continuous / 100W peak.
Nominal impedance: 4 ohms.
Frequency response: 80Hz-25kHz (+/- 3dB).

Emotiva Basx S12 Subwoofer

Dimensions/Weight:

17.25 inches high (feet add 0.5 inches) x 16.75 inches wide x 18.25 inches deep @ 48.5 lbs. (Boxed: 61 lbs.)

Driver:

12” long throw low frequency driver with injection molded mineral filled polypropylene cone, large rubber half roll surround, 2” copper voice coil on a solid aluminum former with flat spider, vented motor assembly with forced air cooling, woven tinsel leads.

Enclosure Loading:

Tuned cabinet with slot-loaded rear port.

Cabinet:

Heavy, acoustically inert, window braced HDF cabinet with integral rubber feet, removable black fabric grill cloth, and tough attractive black vinyl exterior finish.

Electrical Specifications:

Amplifier type – High-efficiency Class D.
Amplifier power – 300 Watts RMS
Frequency response – 25Hz-150Hz (+3/-3dB).
Inputs – LFE or summed left and right; unbalanced.
Controls – Crossover, Phase, Volume.
AC Power- 100-120V/60Hz (4A fuse); 220-240VAC/50Hz (2A fuse).

Company:

Emotiva

SECRETS Tags:

Emotiva BasX, Surround Sound, Home Theater Audio System, MC-700 Surround Processor, A-500 Power Amplifier, S12 Subwoofer, LCR Speaker, SAT Speaker, Surround Sound Reviews 2017

Links

Emotiva BASX PT-100 Stereo Preamp/DAC/Tuner

Are AV Components getting too hard to use?

I’ve been a fan of Emotiva products for many years, and have spent my own money on them more than once; but my bias is toward stereo listening, not home theater. I have been very impressed with other Emotiva BasX components including specifically, the PT-100 stereo preamplifier and A-300 stereo power amplifier, which I found to be exceptional values with great performance.

This home theater audio system uses components that are ALL from the BasX (or “Basic-X”) line. It’s the first time Emotiva has offered a complete entry-level surround system. I was very curious to see if the same exceptional performance that I found in the BasX stereo components would also be available in the surround-sound line.

Design
Design of the Emotiva BasX MC-700 Surround Sound Processor

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - MC-700 Front

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - MC-700 Back

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - MC-700 Mic and Remote

Emotiva’s BasX MC-700 Surround Sound Processor is an interesting component for several reasons. Before I get to those reasons, let’s answer the big question right up front, “Why would I want to buy separates rather than an audio-video receiver (AVR)?

Here are three reasons:

  1. The processor part of an AVR is prone to obsolescence due to the rapidly changing standards in the home theater industry. The common quip is that “by the time you get it home, your AVR is already obsolete.” And due to this rapid obsolescence, today’s $750 AVR is tomorrow’s $25 yard-sale discard. By separating the processor from the power amplifier, you don’t have to discard your multi-channel power amps (which may still be fine) along with the (now obsolete) processor. So, by buying separates, you may save some money in the long run.
  2. AVRs are built to a very strict price point. The easiest place to cut costs is in the power amplifier section. This means that your 150 watt-per-channel AVR probably puts out that much power into only one or two channels at a time, and then perhaps only into 6-ohm (or higher) speakers. By separating the processor from the power amplifiers, you can buy better quality power amps and keep them through multiple processor upgrades.
  3. Separates generally sound significantly better than AVRs. Yes, you can buy premium receivers at prices of $2,000 and up that can sound as good as entry-to-mid-level separates, but keep in mind that obsolescence factor…

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - MC-700 Remote

Now back to the BasX MC700. This is a capable 7.1 processor that plays almost all the current surround sound codecs. Emotiva has a good program of downloadable firmware upgrades that fix bugs and add new functions. The processor also has a compact profile and sounds exceptionally good.

The processor works well using the “Audio-Return-Channel” (ARC) from the TV. That way, if you’re streaming Netflix, Amazon-Prime video, or even YouTube directly to your TV, the audio can be routed to your MC-700 processor so you get good sound through your surround system along with your streamed video. No additional cables are needed for this – the same HDMI cable used to send video to the TV from the MC-700 is also used for ARC service. On top of all that, it passes 4K/HDR video without issue.

Design of the Emotiva BasX A-500 Five-Channel Power Amplifier

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - A-500 Front

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - A-500 Back

The Emotiva BasX A-500 five-channel power amplifier is a much easier component to evaluate. This is a muscular and great-sounding power amp that is more than sufficient for most home theaters. And I can just hear some of you asking, “Why is 80 watts considered “muscular?” It’s because the A-500’s 80-watt rating is with all-channels driven and from 20-20kHz, not just at 1,000Hz as many AVRs are rated. Unlike most AVRs, the Emotiva BasX A-500 is also rated for 4-ohm loads.

But beyond its great specs and robust construction, the Emotiva BasX A-500 five-channel power amplifier simply sounds great. It has imaging and soundstage dimensionality like I’ve not heard from many AVRs. I briefly hooked the amp up to my reference Tekton Pendragon speakers, and the amplifier again showed its quality.

Design of the Emotiva BasX LCR Loudspeakers

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - LCR Front

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - LCR No Grill

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - LCR Back

The compact Emotiva BasX LCR speakers contain two 4” woofers and a dome tweeter in a d’Appolito configuration. They do a fine job with movie sound thanks to matching timbres that make for a coherent sound-field all about the listeners. There is no discontinuity as sounds move from speaker to speaker – it sounds as if you’re “in the movie.” This is how home theater sound is supposed to be. For stereo use, the LCR speakers fared slightly less well, but not too badly. See the On The Bench section of this review for details.

Design of the Emotiva BasX SAT Loudspeakers

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - SAT Front

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - SAT No Grill

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - SAT Back

The Emotiva BasX SAT speakers, like their “big brother” LCRs don’t go very deeply in the bass. However, since they’re used as “effects” speakers in the side and rear channels, their shortcomings are less noticeable. In fact, when surround effects did occur, the little SAT speakers stepped up to the plate and sounded MUCH larger than they were. Make sure your amplifier can handle their 4 Ohm impedance.

Design of the Emotiva BasX S12 Subwoofer

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - S12 Front

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - S12 No Grill

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - S12 Back

If there’s a shining star of the Emotiva BasX surround sound system, this is it. As much as I like some of the other components, the Emotiva BasX S12 subwoofers stole the show. I own some far more expensive 15” vented subwoofers, and the mighty BasX S12s rivaled their sonics in almost every way.

The Emotiva BasX S12 subs use an unusual slot-loaded vent configuration, and sport:

  • Variable phase dials (zero to 180°), most economy subs have only a 0-180° switch, or nothing
  • Unusually robust and inert cabinets

Had I been asked to review the Emotiva BasX S12 subwoofers without knowing their price, I’d have guessed somewhere in the $1,000 range. The fact that Emotiva can sell these for only $399 each is flat out crazy.

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - S12 Controls

Setup

Despite the large number of cables needed, setup of the Emotiva BasX surround system is straightforward. First, I connected my OPPO’s audio/video HDMI cable directly to the MC-700 processor and the MC-700’s HDMI-1 output to the TV. This worked perfectly fine and 4K/HDR content was unaltered by the processor.

I then tried connecting my OPPO’s AV-HDMI cable directly to my TV, and the OPPO’s “audio only” HDMI cable to the MC-700. That also worked fine. This arrangement required an extra cable from the MC-700’s HDMI output to the TV, so that the processor’s OSD menu could be seen when needed.

Note that you need “high-speed certified” HDMI cables to play 4K content! This is true with any AVR or processor, but I mention it just to save you some potential frustration. Emotiva sells these HDMI cables, as do Monoprice.com and others.

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For stereo music, I used the OPPO’s HDMI output to the MC-700. This arrangement kept the signal in the all-digital domain. In this configuration, the MC-700’s digital-to-analog-converter (DAC) was used, rather than the DAC in the OPPO. This is desirable because if I had fed analog audio from the OPPO to the MC-700, the signal would have had to be digitized again to perform bass management in the processor. The fewer A/D-D/A conversions, the better the sound.

A word, also, about the Emotiva BasX MC-700 surround-sound processor’s room correction. A microphone is supplied with the processor, and it worked well. The room correction algorithm supplied with the Emotiva BasX MC-700 is called “Emo-Q.” It is easily on par with Yamaha’s YPAO, and with the Audyssey room correction found in some other brands. The test tones are loud (startling my wife), but the setup correctly identified the size and distance of all speakers in the system. This is an automated setup and anyone could easily run it by following the instructions in either the OSD or on the front panel of the MC-700.

But more important than the ease of calibration is the excellent effect that Emo-Q has on the sound. For movie sound, particularly, the Emo-Q system improved the presentation every time.

The associated equipment used with this review included:

  • Apple MacBook Pro running jRiver Media Center 22 software
  • Ethernet music streaming via DLNA from the MacBook to the OPPO
  • OPPO UDP-205 4K disc player
  • Monoprice High-Speed, Certified HDMI cables
  • Radio-Shack Premium High-Speed 4K-Cerfified HDMI cables
  • Emotiva BasX MC-700 Surround Sound Processor
  • BlueJeans cable RCA interconnects
  • Audioquest Jade RCA interconnects
  • Emotiva BasX A-500 five-channel power amplifier
  • Emotiva BasX A-300 stereo amplifier
  • Monoprice 12-guage speaker wires (surrounds)
  • Zu Audio 10-guage speaker wires (center)
  • StraightWire Symphony SC wires (front R/L)
  • Emotiva BasX LCR center and front speakers (3)
  • Emotiva BasX SAT side and rear surround speakers (4)
  • Emotiva BasX S12 subwoofers (2)
In Use
Movies

Several movies were used in evaluating the Emotiva BasX surround system including:

Planet Earth 2

Planet Earth 2

This disc is Ultra-HD and HDR. Produced by the BBC in 2017, it features a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The video clarity is superb, and the surround audio puts the viewer in the middle of the action on screen. Birds and other animals seem as if they’re all around you. Stores frequently use it as a demo disc to attract customers to high-definition TV sets, and it certainly works!

Passengers

Passengers

This disc is also Ultra-HD, and HDR, released by Columbia/Sony in 2016. The Emotiva BasX MC-700 played this soundtrack in 7.1 format, since it doesn’t support Dolby Atmos. I never missed the height information that the disc was capable of. The sound was immersive, and as always, the subs brought slam to the proceedings.

Arrival

Arrival

Produced by Paramount in 2016, this Blu-ray features a DTS-HD Master Audio encode. More than any other disc, it took advantage of the coherent sound-field produced by the Emotiva BasX system. Helicopter fly-overs in particular sounded as if one were actually in the room. There was no change in sound signature as the choppers moved from side to side and then landed. This movie also demonstrated the subwoofers to their best advantage. From the low-frequency groans of the aliens to the explosions and vehicle noises, the low-end was clear, articulate, and convincing.

Columbiana

Columbiana

Produced by Tristar/Europa in 2011, Columbiana’s soundtrack is a masterful DTS-HD Master Audio mix. There are many scenes with gunfire and explosions and the Emotiva BasX system handled them all easily. In one scene, a rocket-propelled grenade flies from left to right, and the transition from speaker to speaker was completely seamless.

Movie Summary

In every case, 4K/HDR video passed through the Emotiva MC-700 to my display in full resolution and with HDR intact. I detected no visible differences between the MC-700’s pass-through and the direct-to-TV connection. The Emotiva MC-700 handles 4K/HDR video pass-through without issue.

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I’ve used surround systems before with mismatched speakers from different manufacturers, but I have never heard such a coherent sound-field as the one provided by the BasX LCR and SAT speakers. Apparently, identical voicing for center and surround speakers IS important. I can say that every movie I watched had amazing surround effects that were very well handled by the MC-700 processor. Overall, I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with the movie-sound of the system.

Stereo

Material used for stereo auditioning included:

Huey Lewis

Huey Lewis and the News “The Best of Huey Lewis and the News”

The Power of Love – Treble was clean and sounded great on this cut. But the solidity and slam of the horn section wasn’t totally convincing due to a slight mid-bass dip. Vocals sounded slightly recessed as well. Switching to “All-Stereo” mode activated the center and surround speakers in addition to the R/L fronts. This made the vocals and horns both seem fuller.

Cowboy Mouth

Cowboy Mouth “Word of Mouth”

Another Cup of Coffee & Running Into You – These simply-played songs came out well on the Emotiva BasX system. The music was engaging and sounded as if the band were in the room with you. The mid-bass dip and slight treble emphasis were still audible, but seemed less noticeable with this material.

I couldn’t say whether it was the recording or the playback system that made the difference, but with these songs, the system sounded significantly better in stereo than it did on most two-channel material.

The Tedeschi-Trucks Band

The Tedeschi-Trucks Band “Bound for Glory”

Bound for Glory – The slide guitar work sounded other-worldly, as it is intended to. The mid-bass dip, however, interfered slightly with the bass guitar and drums’ solidity. Also, cymbals and other treble sounds sounded a bit too loud for the mix, as though a bright spotlight were trained on that part of the frequency spectrum.

Boots Randolph

Boots Randolph “The Fantastich”

King of the Road – This is a song that exhibits a LOT of dynamic range. It starts out softly, and builds in volume all the way through. If you turn up the beginning of the song (to hear the bass guitar intro), then the end of the song can be deafeningly loud. But the fact that the Emotiva BasX system can follow the song all the way to the end with clean and articulate phrasing, and without distortion, indicates that there are no worries about the BasX system playing loudly enough – it WILL!

Stereo Summary

I am particular about my stereo sound. The slightly lightweight presentation of the BasX system was unnoticeable for movies, but was sometimes distracting during stereo listening. My main issue with two-channel music (even after moving the speakers closer to the back wall – and after they were fully broken-in) was the slightly audible dip in the mid-bass between the two front LCR speakers and the subwoofers.

There also remained a very slight brightness in the treble. It was only obvious on some tracks, though. To the benefit of the BasX system, the treble was clear and nicely extended, without any “gimmickry” that so many speakers resort to in order to sound “airy.”

The following stereo listening comments apply with the LCR speakers on stands, as close to the wall behind them as possible, and with the tweeters NOT toed-in toward the listening position.

The Emotiva BasX LCR speakers image exceptionally well, with such a solid center “phantom image” that I got up several times to make sure that the center-channel speaker wasn’t also on. The speakers also throw a wide sound stage beyond the plane of their width, although without a great deal of image depth.

For more detail about the sound of the BasX system’s stereo performance, see the “On the Bench” section below.

On The Bench

MC-700 Surround Sound Processor:

A few minor quirks that I encountered during the review included:

  • Sometimes the On-Screen Display (OSD) menu wouldn’t come up. Powering down the MC-700 & powering it up again usually (but not always) seemed to restore the OSD. When did appear, it was usually when I first turned on the MC-700, but if I then played a movie or music and then tried to return to the OSD, it refused to display more often than not.
  • Sometimes the "mode" button on the remote would cycle the processor through the available modes (stereo, all-stereo, direct, Dolby-whatever, etc.), but sometimes it wouldn’t. This was a random issue, and the mode button did work properly about 75% of the time.

To me, these are minor and intermittent issues. Emotiva is aware of them and periodically fixes bugs and adds features through firmware updates. If you’re the type of person who expects everything to work perfectly, then maybe you’ll need to weigh the amazing sound quality of this processor against its minor quirks. Some can’t live with them, some can. However, with Emotiva’s 30-day return period, you can certainly try it before deciding.

The Emotiva BasX LCR speakers:

My center channel speaker was placed horizontally on my equipment rack, while I initially placed the right and left front speakers vertically on stands about two and a half feet from the back wall, toed in toward the listening position. This is where most speakers in my room have imaged best. In this location, the LCR speakers sounded as if they had a dip in the mid-bass and an excessively bright treble. These combined to make stereo music sound thin and insubstantial.

Two things improved the LCR speakers’ sound:

  1. After about a week of break-in, the 4” woofers began to limber up and provide a bit more bass. Break in the LCRs by playing bass-heavy music for a minimum of 24-48 hours with the speakers set to “large” in the processor’s menu. The slight treble brightness also seemed to smooth out, but didn’t completely disappear. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the “just out of the box” sound of these speakers is the true measure of their worth. After the break-in period, they do sound somewhat better!
  2. I moved the speakers back towards the wall. The LCRs image amazingly well in that position. This surprised me since most loudspeakers image better with more breathing room. Either Emotiva has anticipated wall-mounting and compensated in the design or else it’s just fortuitous circumstance.

But even with both break-in and wall-mounting, the speakers still had slightly audible issues in stereo, despite sounding fine with surround movie tracks. As stated previously, those issues included a slight bass dip between the satellites and the subwoofer, and a slight brightness in the treble.

To troubleshoot, I measured the frequency response of the LCR speakers. I initially measured the Emotiva BasX LCR speakers on stands about 2.5 feet from the wall behind them. The microphone was three feet from the front baffle. The MC-700 was in direct mode, using a white-noise signal from the Stereophile test CD, with the subwoofers turned off manually, and without Emo-Q engaged. This is the curve that resulted:

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - LCR Frequency Response

It appears that in this free-space measurement, the LCR speakers have a bass roll-off that the subwoofer just can’t compensate for. The subwoofer doesn’t play above 250 Hz., and the dip between the subwoofers and LCR speakers was audible.

Compare my curve above with the curve that Emotiva publishes for these speakers:

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - Emotiva LCR Graph

About their curve, Emotiva says:

“Here are the BasX…LCR graphs we publish. Below 500 Hz, the graph data is derived from a ground plane measurement of each speaker, which emulates a free field environment for low frequency measurements. The ground plane data is scaled to the full range gated measurement, and is spliced using a linear weighted average of the two curves between 500 Hz and 1000 Hz.

It can be seen that neither speaker is a bass monster, but they do not fall off until their rated LF cutoff frequency of 80 Hz. If the reviewer is seeing something different then room acoustics or auto-EQ effects are likely to blame, not the speakers themselves. There is no reason why the speaker would be greater than 3dB down at 300 Hz…”

Upon examining the owner’s manual, I found that the LCR speakers can also be placed either in close proximity to, or hung on the wall. I then moved my stands as close as possible to the wall behind the speakers and ended up with the following curve (same measurement conditions but for speaker placement):

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - LCR On-Wall Response

My pseudo on-wall response is far closer to the Emotiva-supplied curve, and the LCR speakers were almost (but not quite) able to achieve a seamless blend with the subwoofers. A small dip was still audible, but it manifested itself primarily in stereo listening and not so much on movie sound.

I’d also say that the LCR speakers might work better in smaller rooms. In my 3,510 cubic-foot living room, near-wall-mounting is absolutely essential. But regardless of room size, I’d consider wall-mounting or near-wall-placement to be beneficial for the LCR speakers.

The Emotiva BasX SAT surround-sound speakers:

Emotiva supplies this frequency response graph for their SAT speakers:

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System - SAT Frequency Response

Being surround-sound effects speakers only, the subwoofers successfully made the little SAT speakers sound much larger than they physically are. My sole reservation about the Emotiva BasX SAT speakers is their nominal 4-ohm impedance rating. If you’re running the great Emotiva BasX A-500 amplifier, which is rated for 4-ohm loads, then no problem. But if you’re trying to drive the little SATs with an AVR, the lower impedance may stress your receiver.

Conclusions

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System

THE EMOTIVA BASX HOME THEATER AUDIO SYSTEM is a great deal and sounds far better than a Home Theater-In-A-Box system or a cheap AVR.

Likes
  • Low-frequency-extension, tone, and pitch-control of the BasX S12 subwoofers is amazing
  • Imaging, soundstage, and tonality of the BasX A-500 amplifier is exceptional
  • Convenience and functionality of the Emo-Q room correction is great
  • For movies, the SAT and LCR speakers blend well to provide a holographic sound-stage
  • The variable controls on the BasX S12 subs are welcome
Would Like To See
  • A backlit remote for the BasX MC-700
  • Fixes for the MC-700’s intermittent issues
  • A little bit more bass extension for the LCR speakers
  • Higher impedance rating for the SAT speakers
  • More emphasis in the owner’s manual on the benefits of wall-mounting the LCR and SAT speakers
  • More detailed owner’s manual for the MC-700

The Emotiva BasX MC-700 Surround Sound Processor is an inexpensive way to get started in better-sounding separates.

The Emotiva BasX A-500 Five-Channel Power Amplifier is an absolute standout and would be even at twice its price – highly recommended.

The Emotiva BasX LCR Loudspeakers are successful for movie-sound once broken in, and especially if you can wall-mount them.

The Emotiva BasX SAT Loudspeakers are great if your amplifier is rated for 4-ohm loads.

The Emotiva BasX S12 Subwoofers are an amazing value and should be considered equal to far more expensive subs.

Some parts of the Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System are standouts by any criteria and should be strongly considered by anyone in the market for an entry-level or even a high-end HT system. These include:

Emotiva BasX S12 subwoofer

Emotiva BasX A-500 five-channel power amplifier

Other parts of the Emotiva BasX system are good values for their price, and are recommended as great starter components despite minor issues. These include:

Emotiva BasX MC-700 surround sound processor

Emotiva BasX LCR speakers

Emotiva BasX SAT speakers

Now if it seems that I’m critical of the BasX series system, this isn’t really the case. Compared to other systems I know of in this price range (including AVR-based systems and Home-Theater-In-A-Box products), the BasX components and speakers are exceptionally durable and well made. The BasX system would provide better movie sound than most potential purchasers have ever heard.

But if you’re used to high-end stereo sound (my usual speakers alone cost almost as much as the entire BasX surround sound system), then you may not be totally pleased with the BasX system for critical stereo listening, despite its finesse with movies.

Have I held the BasX system to unreasonably high expectations? Perhaps. But I expect great things from Emotiva. It should also be mentioned that they offer an Airmotiv line of speakers that cost only a little more than the BasX products. And in general, I can say that Emotiva has again succeeded. The BasX surround-sound system IS an exceptional value!