Review: Emotiva UMC-200 preamp/processor and UPA-700 7-channel amp Page 4

Bottom Line

The Emotiva UMC-200 pre/pro and UPA-700 power amp pair-up may be nicely featured, but no more so than many a $1,100 A/V receiver. It’s also nicely styled and nicely powered — but, again, no more than many a price-competitive receiver. So why go separates?

The answer, or answers, are both practical and emotional. (I will leave aside the question of whether separates necessarily “sound better” than integrated amps or receivers, since the variables are so many — and since Emotiva, at least currently, offers no receivers.) First and foremost, flexibility: You might eventually replace the UPA-700 with a studlier power plant (perhaps one of the half-dozen or so such models Emotiva itself currently offers) and demote some or all of the UPA-700’s channels to remote-zone duties — and with UMC-200 you can be assured of a highly competent head-end. Second comes the less quantifiable fact that separate components look and feel “higher-end.” Since audio/video perception is not and cannot really be divorced from feelings, hardware that you feel more positively about will necessarily sound better. Don’t laugh: We’re all, every one of us, susceptible, whether we admit it or not. And sounding better is rather the point, isn’t it?