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EMOTIVIA BASX MR1 - Review

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Emotiva is well known for it separate units, decoders and amplifiers.  The MR1 is their first release serving two spots in one package – and one hell of a package it is.

By Scott Michael Bosco

Bottom line – well built. Simple in aesthetic/in design/in menu operation/in set-up … and a monster in terms of power.

Its simplicity is part of the genius of its design.  This is not the cup of tea some may want.  To others, it the no glut, bullshit approach.  It offers tone down plain usage.  Again, not for everyone.  But for what it delivers - well worth the dollars spent.

Some much has been loaded into receivers these days it’s more akin to walking through a carnival with shouts of attractions, and where to spend your money.  Emotiva has tone down to the essentials.  The results is a product that isn’t hiding in fluff and simply offering what is needed.

Boxed the unit is 58lbs, unboxed it’s 50lbs.  Yes, heavy.  The item is well packed and the box is higher grain, ship worthy container.  Item is 24" wide x 13" high x 23" deep.

The blue lit display on the front shows you volume, input and decoding matrix.  Once you either press the “on” button on the front or on the remote be patient.  The receiver actually does a “boot” when turned on.

Future upgrades must be done via flash drive, through a USB data input (reserved for firmware updates).

The remote is cool with a bright backlight. I was impressed with the wide and varied coverage.

As always, I state, this is not a bench test.  I say state that because many reviews hook-up this stuff measure and decipher, give readings up the wazoo, then skimp on the actual function.  I offer a different approach to out there among the masses.

The amplifier section of the BasX MR1 combines 11 channels of audiophile-grade Class A/B amplification. Powered by a massive, class leading 1,000 VA toroidal transformer driving our exclusive Soft Switch Class H power supply for high efficiency, with cool running, reliable operation. The MR1 exhibits complete control over difficult loads and low impedance speakers, The MR1 leaves less capable receivers gasping for air!. The MR1 also includes a full set of line level 13.2 channel preamp outputs, and of course, the amplifier section can be totally disabled if you wish to use the MR1 as a dedicated surround sound processor.

Hook up is simple and depends on the chosen set-up configuration.  I did a 5.2.4 (with the second sub actually an audio transducer on the bottom of the couch.) 

In the past after testing Atmos I found that so much sound is compressed when only two locations are used I expanded to 4 and was extremely pleased to hear a difference.

All speakers are connected via turn/screw terminals on the back of the unit.  Easy.   The main subwoofer was connected via an RCA subwoofer cable. 

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As stated, the menu set-up screen is very simple.  At first I simply made all connections and wanted to hear the unit without any calibrations added.  There are no Bass & Treble options.  All dynamic trims are done after the calibration through equalization.  Yes, simple.

Upon the first audio heard I immediately noticed the power and force of the sound heard.  There was no straining.   Sound simply flowed, clean and without distortion… and there was plenty more power on reserve.

When listening prior to any calibration mental subtraction is to judge the sound realizing what there.  The clarity of the sound, the ease of changes in modulation – especially in music.  The silence between passages. The different octaves and how they are presented.  All is collated for a basic evaluation in presentation. 

The outcome was clean and precise.  The clarity was pleasing.  Immediately I knew there was quality here that could only me improved with the right calibration for the room I was in.

I was very much accustomed to using Audyssey in the past.  Emotiva uses EmoQ Second Generation Automatic Room Correction.  This would be a new experience.

The mic provided is hocky-puck-like.  The option to start the calibration is activated via the on-screen menu.  The test is the standard noises from each of the speaker locations.  Surprisingly the calibration is one from only one location, not several, as with Audyssey.  This put me off at first in a position of doubt – I was wrong though.

BTW… a helpful hint.  The receiver has two outputs for subs.  The calibration with come up with an  error due to my transducer under the couch.  To get around this I use a “Y” cable to split the sub so it registers during the calibration sounds.  Ta-da.

After the calibration there was an instantly noticeable sonic difference.  Not just different, incredible!

This was not Audyssey.  No.  My first surprise was in how the calibration handled bass.  Audyssey noticeable cuts bass response.  Emotiva not only busts it, it actually reconfigures its sonic make up enriching the channel.  Also, in the past my transducer volume needed to played to avoid bottoming due to miscalibration – not now.

One is also able to go into the unit and equalize after calibration as well.

The overall sound spectrum had a much more detailed arrangement.  Sound from the surrounds were much for instant.  They didn’t just only get louder.  It was if they suddenly came on with sound.  Placement of sounds were that much more defined.  The detail was much for akin to theater sound.

I was so taken by the splits in the channels I did a little experiment. I disconnected all the speakers and only left the Atmos channels.  I was amazed how the distribution of effects that were heard.  This of course also depended on which film was played. 

Basic Dolby decoding is done via the chip within the unit.  However other things can be applied by a company to further aid in how this is done.  Emotiva completely outshines what I have heard from other manufactures.  I have been told that the separate higher end line of decoders would be even more detailed – I hope toget me hands on one of them.

Surround Sound Audio Formats:

  • Dolby Atmos

  • Dolby TrueHD

  • Dolby Surround

  • DTS:X

  • DTS HD Master Audio

  • DTS

THE EXORICIST

This originally released MONO mix has gone through changes through the years presented in stereo for the first time on Laserdisc, then later on DVD.  That mix was from the theatrical 70mm 6-track.  Later a terrible new mix was done for the 25th Anniversary.  Then redone again and fixed.  It is that newer mix which was also made for the Director’s Cut. 

Now for the 4k release it is that same mix that has refined and presented.  The MR1 handled it magnificently.  The surrounds are extremely active and with separation.  Most notable is the beginning sequence in Iraq.  Crowd scenes are alive with different persons heard in the left & right surrounds.

Regan’s laughter during the exorcism is panned across the front Left & Right as Father Merrin walks.  The crashing of the exorcism room rocking is heard in the surrounds.  Planes are heard flying from the front to the rear speakers.  As is a subway train.

Strangely, the Atmos speakers don’t stand out.

THE DARK CRYSTAL

Remixed into Dolby Atmos this mix offers a wide-open feel.  Thunder is heard in the Atmos speakers.  The rotating universe is heard in the front Atmos speakers.  I would think the 70mm six-track mix was used to re-mix into Atmos.  If so the film has never sound better.

BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES

Originally a MONO film it was released in stereo for it Blu-ray release.  The sound is open but not very directional.  However, in the scene where Nova and Brent walk through the unground N.Y.C. land marks an electronic moaning and buzzing is heard in the surround rears effectively.

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HALLOWEEN III – SEASON OF THE WITCH

This titles has been remixed from MONO into Atmos.  There are some really well rendered sounds in the main title sent to the Atmos channels.  Electronic sounds are moved around the Atmos channels – although they aren’t in conjunction with the visual image on screen.

There is a scene in which a public announcement to a small town is generated with a slight echo through the Atmos channels as well. 

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GODZILLA 1985 (THE RETURN OF GODZILLA)

This is one of those time a non-Atmos mix yields results.  The upgrade or up-mix feature on the MR1 shows off by correctly moving the sound to the Atmos speakers when Godzilla walks above the underground government station.

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THE BLACK HOLE

Another film bumped up to 70mm this 5.1 mix is nicely active.  It was the first digitally recorded score produced, by John Barry.  The bass response is excellent and throughout the film.  Sound effect travel into the surrounds and travel from front to rear.  Effect are carried into the front left & right locations as well.  

LOGAN’S RUN

This film from the 1970s was released in 70mm six-track stereo.  I don’t know the elements used for this master but the presentation is excellent.  There really isn’t anything to speak of that reaches the Atmos channels, but the front stereo separation is excellent.  Even dialog at time is split from side to side.  Jerry Goldsmith’s score is wide and emotional. 

Connectivity

Video Inputs and Outputs:

  • (6) HDMI 2.0b compliant HDMI video inputs (all with full support for 4k UHD video, HDCP 2.2, HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision).

  • (2) HDMI 2.0b compliant HDMI video outputs (primary output supports both ARC and eARC).

 

Audio Inputs:

  • (4) stereo unbalanced analog audio inputs.

  • (2) S/PDIF coaxial digital audio inputs.

  • (2) Toslink (optical) digital audio inputs.

  • (1) USB Audio (DAC) input.

  • (1) Bluetooth audio input (internal with rear panel antenna).

Audio Outputs:

  • (1) set of 13.2 channel unbalanced audio main outputs.

  • (1) set of 11 channel speaker outputs

  • (2) balanced subwoofer outputs (in parallel with main sub outputs).

 

Other Inputs and Outputs:

  • (1) IR remote control signal input.

  • (1) RS-232 serial remote-control port

  • (1) Trigger output (programmable).

  • (1) USB data input (reserved for firmware updates).

Room Correction

Automatic Room Correction

  • EmoQ Second Generation Automatic Room Correction (with graphical interface).

 

Manual Room Correction (EQ): Three Separate Manual Speaker Presets - Each Of Which Offers...

11 Bands of Full Parametric EQ: Left Front and Right Front.

11 Bands of Full Parametric EQ: Center Channel.

7 Bands of Full Parametric EQ: Surround Channels.

7 Bands of Full Parametric EQ: Top Channels.

5 Bands of Full Parametric EQ: Subwoofers.

Technical Specifications

Line Level Analog Outputs (Preamp Outputs)

Rated Output Voltage: +6 dBV (2 VRMS)

Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz +/- 0.05 dB

Total Harmonic Distortion: < 0.0025% @ 1 kHz < 0.05% from 20 Hz to 20 kHz

Signal to Noise Ratio: > 100 dB @ 1 kHZ

Crosstalk: < 85 dB @ 10 kHZ

Speaker Outputs (Amplifier Section)

Power Output Per Channel; ONE channel driven: 160 watts RMS / channel @ 8 Ohms; 290 watts RMS / channel @ 4 Ohms; < 0.1% THD

Power Output Per Channel; TWO channels driven: 160 watts RMS / channel @ 8 Ohms; 260 watts RMS / channel @ 4 Ohms; < 0.1% THD

Power Output Per Channel; FIVE channels driven: 135 watts RMS / channel @ 8 Ohms; 190 watts RMS / channel @ 4 Ohms; < 0.1% THD

Power Output Per Channel; ELEVEN channels driven: 100 watts RMS / channel @ 8 Ohms; 130 watts RMS / channel @ 4 Ohms; < 0.1% THD

Power Bandwidth (at rated power; 8 Ohm load): 20 Hz to 20 kHz (+ 0 / - 0.15 dB) or better.

Broad Band Frequency Response: 5 Hz to 80 kHz (+ 0 / - 3 dB).

THD + Noise: < 0.005% (A-weighted); at rated power; 1 kHz; 8 Ohms.

Signal To Noise Ratio (8 Ohm Load): > 115 dB or better; referenced to rated power (A-weighted).

Minimum Load Impedance: 4 Ohms (one 4 Ohm speaker or two paralleled 8 Ohm speakers.)

Damping Factor: > 500.

Environmental

Power Requirements:

115 VAC or 230 VAC @ 50 / 60 Hz (automatically detected).

Dimensions:

17” wide x 7-3/4” high x 15-1/2” deep (without connectors).

24" wide x 13" high x 23" deep.

Weight:

50 lbs. (net)

58 lbs. (boxed).

Downloads

Download Product Manual

Emo-Q™ Guide

Emotiva Processor Setup Resources

Emotiva Processor Compatibility, Configuration Notes

Firmware

Firmware 04.03

Playing CDs in two channel stereo was an eye opener.  The plain force of the sound was enthralling.  Never did the music seem to challenge the receiver.  There was always enough power to support the demands of the audio. 

I never had to push the receiver’s volume.  I was always less than 50%.  The power was incredible.

In all, I have say the MR1 is a top of the line amp that is simple to use, and provides excellent results.  The lack of extraneous features on other receiver/amp does take getting used to, but happens very quickly.  It is the results and performance that really counts.

Emotiva first foray into providing a all together unit over its separates is a wonderful example how to offer more to the public in terms of option, a lesser price.   

For more information and ordering go to - 

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