Emotiva BasX TA-100 Amplifier/DAC

hfnoutstandingBudget hi-fi, from the USA: Emotiva's BasX TA-100 isn't quite what at first it seems – however, given what it does, it's hard not to conclude that it's something of a bargain

Well, this is rather confusing: look up the Emotiva BasX TA-100, which sells in the UK through Karma Audio Visual for £519, on its US-based manufacturer's website, and you'll find it appears under 'Preamps'. In fact Emotiva has a stack of preamps, and even more power amps, in its unusually extensive catalogue.

Except that the TA-100, part of the company's entry-level range, isn't a preamp, that role falling in this section of the Emotiva lineup to the £399 PT-100. You see, the TA-100 is a preamp with a power amp section built-in, delivering a claimed 50W per channel into 8ohm, and 80W into 4ohm.

Ah, so it's an integrated amp, then? Well, not quite – or maybe 'not just' – as it also has on-board digital-to-analogue conversion able to accept music files up to 192kHz/24-bit. Furthermore there's a switchable MC/MM phono stage. Oh, and an FM tuner, complete with 50 presets…

Digging Deeper
So it's a receiver, then – remember them? But given all there is here, just to describe the TA-100 as a receiver seems to be selling it a bit short. So perhaps it's best to stick to the way its manufacturer describes it when you dig a little deeper into the website: it's a 'Stereo preamp/DAC/tuner with integrated amplifier'.

As an aside, that PT-100 I mentioned just now is no less unconventional, being a 'Stereo preamp/DAC/tuner'. In other words, it's basically a TA-100 shorn of its power amp stage, and to which you could add any of the company's power amplifiers.


These start at just £399 for the 75W A-150, and go all the way up to the purposeful-looking XPA-1 Gen2 mono power amps, selling for what looks like a very sensible £1499 apiece, given that they deliver a claimed 600W/8ohm and 1000W/4ohm. More than 'claimed' in fact, for PM measured a full 650W/8ohm and 1.02kW/4ohm [HFN Oct '18].

If you need any further confusion the company also has an A-100 in the range, at £299. No, that's not a power amp, but a single-input compact integrated amp delivering the same power as the TA-100, and with a twist all of its own. As well as conventional speaker and headphone outputs, it can re-route its main speaker outputs to the headphone socket to drive low-sensitivity planar headphones.

That's only scratching the surface of the Emotiva range, which also takes in AV-targeted power amps offering up to 11 channels – the £2349 XPA-11 Gen 3, delivering 3x300W and 8x65W – and an XPA Gen 3 'Fully Modular Amplifier', that can be ordered as anything from a 2x300W model to a 7x200W version. Extra '300W Blade power modules' can be added to that one, at £299 a pop.

The first observation on unpacking and configuring the TA-100 is that, and despite its very agreeable price tag, this product feels anything but cheap. Yes, it looks simple, with no more than a display, a volume control, power on/standby, a couple of tiny buttons and a headphone socket on the front panel, but all this belies the flexibility within. In practice there's a reassuring solidity to the build, and decent heft, so while it's no back-breaker, at around 7kg it's weighty enough by the standards of its class.

Blue Collar
Fit and finish is good, with the power and volume controls ringed in blue illumination, and a basic if slightly old-fashioned almost-matching-blue dot-matrix display. The unit also comes complete with a stylish remote control that's a long way from the usual plasticky buttonfest. Instead you get a ring of up/down/left/right controls surrounding a mute function, and just three more buttons, for on/standby, menu and tuner stereo/mono switching.

This menu button indicates that there's more to the TA-100 than just input selection and volume, for as well as bass, treble and balance, it's also possible to set up display dimming, auto-tuning, with programming and recall for FM stations, and switchable US/Europe FM de-emphasis.

You can get into the menu by pressing the front panel volume knob then using the tiny input selector buttons to navigate, but the remote functionality is more intuitive than remembering to press the left button on the front panel to go down (or is it up?) and so on.

Anyway, once set up, the remote is simply up/down for volume and left/right for input choice, which is totally logical provided you remember which input follows which. One neat touch here is that the TA-100 remembers separate volume settings for its main and headphone outputs – plug in your favourite 'phones and you can adjust the level, the amp returning to the previous 'speakers' setting when you unplug them.

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