Emotiva BasX TA-100 Amplifier/DAC Page 2

As well as the phono inputs, which have their own ground post above the little slider to select MM or MC, the TA-100 has just two analogue line-ins. Naturally, this little amp also supports digital audio and offers coaxial, optical and asynchronous USB-B digital inputs, all feeding a legacy Analog Devices AD1955 192kHz/24-bit DAC. The USB facility is limited to 96kHz/24-bit files to enable it to work with both Macs and Windows-based PCs without the need for a third-party driver. There's also a USB-A port, to which an optional Bluetooth adapter can be attached if required.

A single set of 4mm speaker outputs is provided, and the TA-100 also has preamp outputs controlled by the main volume setting (and muted when headphones are plugged in); there's a standard stereo pair, and two summed mono outputs, to which one or more subwoofers can be connected. Add in a terminal for an FM aerial, and a 12V trigger out so the amp can fire-up an external power amp, or maybe a subwoofer, and we're just about done. Our review sample also came with an AC mains lead, 'get you started' interconnects, a wire FM antenna and a 12V trigger cable.

sqnote Right On Target
Despite having read a lot about Emotiva products in the past, including some rave reviews, I was still unsure what to expect from the TA-100, so it was gratifying to be almost as surprised by the performance as the generous specification. Yes, the sound is perhaps a bit on the 'commercial' side, arguably somewhat over-enthusiastic at times, but then that's just where this product is aimed, and there's certainly enough of a sniff of 'special' about it to ensure anyone buying one after an audition is unlikely to be disappointed.

619emo.remPlaying a set such as Paddy McAloon's recently remastered first solo outing, I Trawl The Megahertz [Sony Music 889854110628; 44.1kHz/24-bit], the TA-100 lacks a little of the lush, grandiose sound available on a more upscale system even when sandwiched between two unlikely bedfellows such as Naim's ND555 flagship streamer/DAC and Neat's Iota Xplorer speakers [HFN Jul '18]. Sure enough there's occasionally a bit too much sting on percussion, and a slight thinness to the massed violins on the opening epic title track, but what is delivered offers a pleasing insight into the dense mix, and there's clearly plenty of power on hand to drive and control the speakers.

Back to earth with more appropriate partners, including Naim's ND5 XS 2 [HFN Jan '19] and Fyne Audio's F301 speakers, there's still no shortage of bass weight here, for this is no budget amp with biscuit-tin casework and a sound to match. And while the top-end may occasionally get a little wayward, as it does with Paul Oakenfold's fairly chilled Sunset At Stonehenge [New State Music NEW 9318CD], the strong bass ensures the album's tracks – or in this case Oakenfold's 79-minute continuous mix – are kept moving along smartly, and with decent punch. I doubt anyone in the target market for this amp is going to have much to complain about with music like this.

Power And Drama
The attractive, if up-front balance is maintained whether you use the digital inputs or the analogue, with only the MM phono input sounding a shade lacklustre when compared to some of the good budget stages out there. Bass lacks some conviction from vinyl, and the treble is softened to an extent, but considering the price of the whole thing, this is no real hardship. Indeed, the phono input will be more than good enough for entry-level turntables.


In fact the only real niggle here is with the tuner section. In truth there's nothing wrong with the way it sounds, as a couple of afternoons spent listening to the BBC's output showed, but using the thing is something of a faff, as you must be in the TA-100's 'menu' mode to do so. I can't help thinking a bit of ease of use has been sacrificed for the sleek and minimalist look of the front panel, and that a few more buttons on the fascia and remote would be good.

Stick to the basics of the TA-100 and it remains an attractive prospect, albeit one best used with speakers with a somewhat restrained nature. Driving either the Fyne Audio or Neat Acoustics speakers it proved overall an enjoyable listen with everything from the subtle piano and subdued synths of Vangelis's Nocturne album [Decca; 96kHz/24-bit download] to the power and drama of the recent Budapest Festival Orchestra/Iván Fischer Mahler 7th [Channel Classics CCS SA 38019; DSD128].

The strings can sound a shade papery, and the brass has a bit too much blare in absolute terms, but it's hard not to like the verve with which the TA-100 attacks the music, backed by an impressive ability to convey dynamic contrasts.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
You certainly get a lot of stuff for your money, and while the TA-100 isn't a total giant-killer, as a total package (and by the standards of what else this amount will buy you) it's an appealing one. Partner it with smooth-sounding speakers able to deliver the bass it can punch out, get to grips with the vestigial controls despite its comprehensive spec, sit back and enjoy. This is a great budget amp-with-benefits buy.

Emotiva Audio Corporation
Tennessee, USA
Supplied by: Karma AV, York
01423 358846