Rogue Metis vs. Emotiva USP-1

Recently I posted my review of the Emotiva amps vs. some more expensive amps. Last night I played with the Emotiva USP-1 preamp that costs under 400 bucks. I mated it with a Odyssey Stratos and Rotel 1090. The pre-amp war was on and I compared it to was the very sweet Rogue Metis.

While Secrets of Home Theater had already posted a impressive review for the inexpensive Emotiva, I still doubted it would be any good.

I'll cut right to the point. The Emotiva is NOT as good as the Rogue, at least with the Stratos or Rotel. The Rogue had the ability to soften some of the SS brightness and made both amps sweeter sounding. Maybe this is an unfair contest and a shootout with another SS pre makes more sense.

But here's the problem: The Emotiva was VERY close, and it seemed to produce a more neutral sound, where the Rogue sometimes gave a bit of midrange bloat to some vocal recordings. Bass seemed tighter and more detailed and the Emotiva also had a lower noise floor. Mated to the Odyssey I really felt that the USP-1 was doing more than a good job. I would have easily believed I was listening to a 1500 dollar pre. On top of that the Emotiva seemed to work better with my MJ Acoustics 150 II subwoofer since it has it's own bass management built in. It's really quite a bit more flexible and I think some would actually prefer it to the Metis depending on their speakers and tastes. At the end I felt that the Rogue Metis was somehow more than the sum of it's qualities and more musical...but I wouldn't be unhappy with the USP-1 either!

Bottom line: For a SS pre-amp this thing has no business costing 399.00! It's just crazy. Frankly it's cost will scare off a lot of audio buffs, but that's their loss. A product like this makes me seriously question the obviously inflated costs of like-featured products with better known names.

Don't be afraid. Listen to a USP-1 before springing for a preamp that costs 3 times more. I probably won't buy one since I like the Rogue (my second one!), but WOW....

Since I gave that short review I've had few other items in the house to compared it to, most notably my new Manley Stingray II integrated tube amp.

Will I actually claim that the Emotiva could hang with a piece of gear costing 3 grand?

Nope. Sorry! No-can-Do. The Stingray imaged the pants off the Emotiva and created a lush soundstage with a serious soundstage. The USP sounded analytically less musical and made the Totem The One speakers sound even brighter than usual (a good mini-monitor costing 3200 new). Switching over to the more refined Merlin set was a bit more forgiving. The USP was able to convey the musical information, but just couldn't get as much of the "you are there" feeling going. Nor could the Merlin's pull off their disappearing act as well.

The USP can hang with a LOT of components in 750-1500 range. And that's nothing to cry about. "Entry level" was a term in audio that used to scare off a lot of audiophiles. That's just not the case anymore and I'm always a fan of companies that bring good sound to folks not willing or ready to spend thousands on each component.


Currently evaluating a Emotiva USP 1 preamp and have to say way impressed not only with its sonics, but build quality as well. However this thread comparing it to elevated tube gear is not a fair evaluation. Nor is it fair for me to compare the USP 1 to high end Pass Labs, Levinson, Rowland and other ultra high end preamps. I did compare it to a Rowland Coherence One preamp, no contest the Rowland steam rolled the USP 1 big time, but then again it should.

But to look at the Emotiva in the context of its competition it is a winner hands down. Smokes anything I have heard from Parasound,Adcom,Bryston,NAD and bested a Classe 30 preamp by a wide margin.

After 54 years in this hobby, to me this is a genuine breakthrough in affordable stereo preamplifiers and easily competes with anything up to the $1K level.

I am continually evaluating the Emotiva USP 1, throwing one tough test after another to it and thus far the USP 1 has come through with all the musicality one could ask for in this price/performance category. Just amazing value.
Most negativity about the Emotiva preamp will disappear if you switch from the preamp outs that go to satellite and subwoofer, to the full range outs. I found the hi pass outs glaring; but the full range outs are mellow and fine on my Martin Logan Vistas. btw, the Emotiva Monster does not flinch running them,my McIntosh MC 2002 ran out of steam. Th Monster uses up to 6 of the 14 volume meter lights.
In my testing have only used the full range outputs. I won't be testing the other outputs, as this test is for stereo operation only sans any subwoofer attachment. Have never found a subwoofer I could live with.
can you guys tell me why the usp-1 don't even have a function like integrated amp with the adjust of the bass and treble , i just got the pre-amp yesterday and already disappointed with it , sound so flat and there is no bass at all(my gear is upa-1 and focal 836