My impressions: Emotiva PT-100 vs. MiniDSP 2X4HD vs. Parasound 200 Pre

m1964

Active Member
Hi,
I decided to post in this forum in case there are people who are looking for the info on these two preamps, because when I was looking for such info, I was unable to find a direct comparison between these two units: Emotiva BassX PT-100 and MiniDSP 2x4HD.
A little background: I started looking for a preamp with DAC after I decided to add a sub to my powered speakers.
The speakers have both line analog and optical (toslink) inputs, so I was using an optical cable between the media box (Roku) and the speakers. They sounded fine but lacked very low end.
I needed a preamp/DAC that had a line output and a seperate sub output, so I could use one remote to control volume of speakers and sub.
I took advantage of generous return policies of Emotiva and Partsexpress (miniDSP dealer in the US).

Below are my observations/impressions:
1.a. MiniDSP is much more flexible because you can adjust gain, crossover points and different filters for each of the 4 output channels.
I did not get into filtering options but took advantage of gain and crossover adjustability. I programmed reduced gain for the sub channel (default output was too high for my sub), and crossovers for both speakers and the sub.
There are four programs available that can be chosen using the remote, so I could program crossover at 70Hz, 80Hz and combine them with different gain levels.
1.b. PT-100 has no adjustability except for the bass, treble and balance that seemed OK to me and required no adjustment. It feeds full range signals to the speakers and the sub.
***Unfortunately, my sub's crossover bled frequencies above its crossover point, so I could still hear some higher frequencies/sounds with speakers off, though at a very low level-it was audible with speakers off.
MiniDSP crossovers helped to eliminate high frequencies bleeding into the sub almost completely. I still heard some low end grunt from the sub with speakers off, but it was almost inaudible.

2.a MiniDSP sound quality: speakers connected to MiniDSP did not sound as good as when connected directly to the media player. With MiniDSP, the sound became less clear and the sound stage moved "forward", but I lost depth perception. It started to sound like each orchestra instrument was playing from the same distance and sitting at the same location on the stage.
When I listened to Xeo10 speakers connected directly to the media player, I could hear the location of different instruments on the stage.

2. b. EMOTIVA PT-100 sound quality: speakers connected to the preamp sounded almost as good as connected straight to the Roku.
The sound was clear without any noticeable degradation in clarity.
However, I noticed that some instruments (cello) did not sound as warm as it did without the preamp.
Also, I still had a feeling that the sound stage lost some depth.
Another problem (that I desribed above) was that the PT-100 sub output is full range, and I heard some low "thumping" when listening to voices.
I am definitely returning MiniDSP.
I have ordered Parasound 200 Pre, which has sub output crossed at 80 hz, and adjustable line output crossover.
The Parasound is a lot more money that I initially was going to spend. Hope my second half is not going to read this post :D.
I will post my impressions after I listen to 200 Pre and compare it to Emotiva.

Hope the above info helps someone

Edited on Oct. 28, 2020.
Connected 200 Pre and immediately noted improvement in SQ comparing to Emotiva PT-100.
Sound stage, bass, treble and balance unchanged comparing running the speakers directly off Roku to passing the signal through the pre amp.
Highs might actually opened up a little.
Combining the SQ with ability to set crossovers 200 Pre is a winner. Albeight, at twice the price of Emotiva. However, I am looking at it as a long-term investment so it's going to stay and Emotiva will be returned.
 
Last edited:

m1964

Active Member
...
Connected 200 Pre and immediately noted improvement in SQ comparing to Emotiva PT-100.
Sound stage, bass, treble and balance unchanged comparing running the speakers directly off Roku to passing the signal through the pre amp.
Highs might actually opened up a little.
Combining the SQ with ability to set crossovers 200 Pre is a winner. Albeight, at twice the price of Emotiva. However, I am looking at it as a long-term investment so it's going to stay and Emotiva will be returned.
To get a RMA for Emotiva unit, I had to explain why I wanted to return PT-100.
I told them that there was noticeable change in SQ after connecting the pre-amp .
Their response: "Any component will impart some change to the signal path...hearing a change in the signal when the preamp was added would not in itself be an indication of any sort of defect".

I disagree with the above statement. IMHO, an amp or pre-amp should not change sound quality so much that a casual listener like I, can hear the changes.
 

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