Emotiva B2+ Speaker and TA1 Amp Review. STUNNING!
By Steve Huff
I have reviewed a lot of audio gear over the last year and most of it was of the higher end variety. I did mix in some affordable gear as well of course as I love a good bang for the buck product.
Today I want to talk about a set of speakers and an integrated amp that really made me sit up and pay attention. This system complete with integrated amp and speakers costs around $1,000 and comes from an American company (though the gear is made in China). That company is Emotive.
What I am talking about here is their B2+ speakers and TA1 Integrated Amp as these two have a synergistic thing going on and are a match made in heaven, especially for the cost. Now, Emotiva is a budget brand when it comes to price. When it comes to sound not so much as these sound much better than any budget gear I have ever heard.
This will be a quick review as there is only so much I can say about these lovely pieces that I did not say in my video that you can see below.
My Video on this System
In fact I was so impressed with these being powered by gear that cost many multiples of their price I started to question my sanity. Have I been crazy buying high end audio all of these years? While these speakers did not reach the level of my Deville’s, I would say they are about 80% of that sound but for 40X less cash. How could this be? Well, it’s called Diminishing Returns and I believe all of us in audio know what this is.
When we spend a lot more it will not mean we will get “alot” back in performance. Just a small percentage. Yes my Deville’s sound better to me and look nicer but to get there one has to pay. Dearly.
So why have these under $500 speakers excited me in this way? Well, they are pretty well made, they use a folded ribbon tweeter and have rather astonishing bass performance. The bass was bigger, badder and tighter than some speakers I have heard in the $10k range. The midrange is slightly warm leaning and a tad recessed but still puts out a very nice quality of voice. The imaging is, well, excellent. The soundstage is wide and somewhat deep. Of course, this is when I placed them within met reference system and powered them with my Enleum AMP-23R.
I just was in awe of what a speaker that costs $500 can sound like in 2022. This wasn’t always the case. Back in the 90’s most speakers of this price sounded flat, hard and even chuffed when played loud. Not the B2+.
These speakers have a treble that is airy and present and while it is not the most refined top end I have heard, for the money I can not imagine beating it. I have heard some $1500 bookshelf speakers recently that I wasn’t the biggest fan of, and to me, these sound better than those.
Of course to get this performance one will need decent stands and the stands I used are the Dynaudio Stand 6, which is what I had around. No need to spend that much though, THESE will do the trick for much less.
All in all, the B2+ sounded phenomenal within my reference system. If I was blindfolded and someone told me they installed new $5k speakers in my system I would believe them.
What about when I hooked them up to the $550 Emotive TA1 Integrated Amp? Well, the sound did change.
When I moved the speakers to another room and set up the system with the TA1 I was hearing the same character but it wasn’t as refined, smooth, wide or expansive. They didn’t sound as 3D but remember, I was running them with a $6800 amp and a $13,000 DAC/Streamer!
With the TA1 and the B2+ the speakers still had power, grunt, drive and sounded way better than I would inagine for the cost. The TA1 is chock full of features such as Bluetooth 5, a built in DAC, an MM/MC Phono Stage, an FM tuner, 60 WPC Class A/B Amplification in to 8 ohms (100 WPC into 4 ohms) and even a headphone amp. All of this for $550 and it’s built nicely as well. It also come with a basic plastic remote.
With the TA1 doing the amp duties the B2+ still sounded full, present and had that bass kick. The treble was a little more edgy with the TA1 vs my reference but hey, that is to be expected. I suppose the $6800 Enleum and DCS DAC has to do something to the sound ; )
WIth the TA1, B2+ and some $30 speaker cables I was enjoying music into the night and it was simple, easy and pleasant to use. I did hook up my blue sound node as a streamer to the digital input of the TA1 (using the internal DAC of the TA1) to stream Tidal and Spotify. I just could not believe how good these sound for the money.
This system will sound great with just about any music you listen to with it. Jazz, Vocal, Rock, Metal, EDM, Bluegrass or well, you name it. These sound rather large and full so no thin sounds here. Nothing ragged or dry here. While this is the case, these also never sound bloated or flabby as the bass is tight and controlled. I could not get these to distort either, even when going to high volume extremes (as much as I could take).
I have never in my life heard such sounds from a $1000 system. In fact, it has made me rethink some priorities.