Dave’s Faves – Emotiva XSP-1

Emotiva XSP-1 Stereo Preamp, $1200


Emotiva power amps have always earned respect in the market place. They have delivered the most power for a given buck. More power helps literally every speaker.

Specifically, the Emo monoblocks (XPA-1 and XPA-1L) cut new territory because they are BALANCED, DIFFERNTIAL designs. Emo’s stereo preamp in the early days was not balanced/differential. That changed in 2013. Now it is!

XSP-1 was introduced in 2013. It was a completely new animal and broke the mold for a stereo preamp for a grand. The first thing that separates it from its forerunners is that it is a TRUE BALANCED, DIFFERENTIAL preamp. What that means, in a nutshell, is that parts wise, it needs two of virtually everything instead of one. No wonder nobody else provides a true balanced preamp for $1.2k! The canceling properties of the true balanced design provide a dead quiet noise floor. Fine musical detail is heard more clearly- because the background is black, instead of gray.

Before we worry about this feature or that, this button or that, the number one reason to lust after the XSP-1 is its gorgeous detail. It’s within spitting distance of its $5k competition and comes with a 5 year warranty. Literally everyone else for a grand offers a non balanced, non differential preamp. In fact, they’re virtually all chip based at this price point, not discrete. In short, it’s not even close. Just cuz a preamp has XLR ins doesn’t mean it’s a balanced design! XSP-1 is the real deal.

To be able to appreciate the skill of speedy fingers on a piano or guitar, or the spacious breath around a vocal, we need electronics with a dead quiet background that are fast enough to get out of the way of the music. It allows vocals to peel back your speakers’ grill cloths. It’s uncanny how XSP-1 lets you “see” into the music while most $1k preamps are a bit cloudy. The bass is tight and controlled. Short of going to a Bryston for about $4k, XSP-1 is as good as a preamp gets.

XSP-1 has:
Input 1: XLR and RCA
Input 2: XLR and RCA
Input 3: RCA
Input 4: RCA
Phono: Supports MM and MC

The Main output runs XLR and RCA
XSP-1 has a subwoofer crossover ON BOARD
It features three outputs, L, R and Summed
You can adjust low and high pass points.

We have many customers that use subwoofers with their R&L speakers. To have this flexible crossover built in- is more than clever. It’s a powerful tool!
XSP-1 has high and low frequency trim-tone controls.
XSP-1 has a Home Theater Bypass feature.



Emotiva XPS-1 back