Today's receivers are jam-packed with features, but the one thing they lack is power.
In fact, most $500 receivers never come close to delivering their rated power into all channels.
Some can barely manage a third of their claimed wattage. Right now, your 100 watt per channel receiver might be pumping out only 30 something watts.
People ask me about this stuff all the time--"Steve, Denon, Onkyo, Pioneer, Sony and Yamaha receivers all boast up to the nanosecond surround processing modes, connectivity options up the whazoo, and fancy shamncy remotes--so what exactly would a brawny multichannel amplifier get me?" My answer to these queries is always the same: "Just two things, the power and the glory."
The problem: Receivers, even big ticket, $2,000+ models can't spare enough internal real estate to house humongous transformers and hefty power supply capacitors--the compromises inevitably start there. Separate power amplifiers have room for all of that good stuff.
Enter Emotiva Audio's XPA 200 watt, five-channel amplifier ($799), 1,000 watts total. It's actually a lot more powerful than just double your average 100 watt per channel receiver; the XPA amplifier can deliver up to 350 watts to each of its five channels with four-ohm speaker loads. You'll look far and wide to find a receiver that can drive low-impedance speakers like a separate power amp can. And it'll cost a whole lot more than the Emotiva XPA will.
Oh, and please don't worry that the XPA is too powerful for your speakers. Too much power doesn't harm speakers, playing them too loud with an underpowered receiver is far more likely to do your speakers in. … Read more