Choosing an amplifier is a challenging task, and it gets harder when deciding on a good budget option. We compare two of the best affordable examples in the market, the Emotiva TA-100 and IOTAVX SA3, to see which of the two comes out on top.
Although both the IOTAVX SA3 and Emotiva TA-100 are on the more budget-friendly side of amplifiers, you will find it hard to tell from just looking at their appearance. They share many similarities, especially when catering to the budget crowd while proving hi-fi sound quality.
What are the differences between Emotiva TA-100 and IOTAVX SA3?
|Emotive TA-100||IOTAVX SA3|
|Continuous power levels||63W/95W when using 8 or 4 ohms||45W across two channels when using 8 ohms|
|Frequency response||5Hz to 50kHz, +/- 0.04dB||20Hz to 100kHz, +/-3dB|
|Dimensions||12.5 x 17 x 2.63 inches||17 x 9.4 x 2.3 inches|
|Availability||Check here||Check here|
Emotiva TA-100 vs. IOTAVX SA3 – How do they compare?
Both amplifiers come in a steel chassis, although the IOTAVX SA3 is slightly smaller compared to the Emotiva TA-100. When it comes to the IOTAVX SA3, it is quite minimalistic in appearance, especially on its front side, and the output window takes up most of its space as it offers important information like the source messages and volume. Its rear gives you subwoofer outputs, pre-amp outs, record outs, an in-built MM phono amp, and five sets of RCA sockets.
On the other hand, the Emotiva TA-100 looks and feels solid. Its exterior is comprised of steel plates with the rear aluminum layer being an impressive 8 millimeters in thickness and the sides are twice as thick, thanks to their ‘handles’ that have visible Allen screws holding them to the amplifier body. The power and volume buttons are the only ones on the front, while the rear has three digital inputs, two analog inputs, and phono.
While both amplifiers have a wide array of controls, the IOTAVX SA3 has a better set of controls and outputs, and works better for those looking for a smaller footprint.
On both amplifiers, we tested their sound output using Bandit Gallop by Johan Strauss, and compared the sound feel we got in both cases.
Playback from the IOTAVX SA3 is interesting, as you may get a ‘budget’ sound output from the amplifier, since it does not have the typical 3D depth qualities you would hear on more expensive amps. Instead, it takes on a more flexible approach by highlighting the total surface area of the sound. What does make it impressive though is its amplifier stage and a high-quality Toroidal power transformer that deliver sounds with minimal noise.
The Emotiva TA-100 is equally impressive, considering that small amplifiers have trouble handling large speaker inputs, and is best if you want details in your sound output. It gives the feel of listening to an orchestral or live band arrangement, with plenty of depth and light treble, although it is not as varied as the IOTAVX SA3.
It is a tough call, but we will say the IOTAVX SA3 edges out the Emotiva TA-100 slightly, thanks to the more varied sound output and impressions it leaves on your listening experience.
Expect a tone control in the IOTAVX SA3 that helps you adjust the sound you want according to your surroundings, such as boosting the bass and treble in increments of 1dB by a maximum of 10dB. Additionally, it also lets you balance the right and left speakers by 10 steps in both directions. The Wolfson DAC handles all its internal signal conversions, and the amplifier section will give you plenty of precision and efficiency through its circuitry.
The Emotiva is much better at distinguishing details without much input from you, although it does not have the controls you would want when making finer adjustments. Instead, it employs the use of a pre-out to accommodate extra power amps, as well as basic volume management features that emphasize ease of use.
The IOTAVX SA3 edges out the Emotiva, since it employs more fine-tuning adjustment controls, which ultimately enhances your listening experience.
Emotiva TA-100 vs. IOTAVX SA3 – A Comparison Review
Emotiva BasX TA-100 Stereo Preamp/Tuner/DAC with Integrated Amplifier
Emotiva is well-known for engineering their products extensively then selling them directly to customers. This includes the TA-100 that has plenty to offer, thanks to its stellar build and controls that are satisfying to use once you figure them out.
It comes with a phono preamp that supports moving coil or magnet cartridges, as well as a high-current 3.5mm headphone amp jack that you can use to connect a 300-ohm headphone pair to the 114mw output and a connection for an AptX Bluetooth input module connection point. The headphone control is intelligent as well, as it remembers the volumes you set for the main outputs and headphones.
- Good sound quality
- Durable build
- Features are well-thought out
- The remote control is initially confusing to understand
- Lacks in-built streaming capabilities
IOTAVX SA3 Integrated Amplifier
This integrated amplifier with a Bluetooth design has plenty of attention to its detail, which is similar to the other audio products the company makes. It is designed to give you a power output of 50 watts per channel, it includes plenty of digital and analog inputs that include phono and Bluetooth, making it a versatile device that is easy to use and elegant in design.
- Includes plenty of input options, both analog and digital, into its design
- It has a very accurate onboard DAC setup
- Very easy to use
- Bluetooth connectivity is excellent
- Its Bluetooth option comes at an extra cost
It is a tough call to compare both the IOTAVX SA3 and Emotiva TA-100, as they offer similar benefits and have similar build and output. However, we can conclude that the Emotiva TA-100 excels at leaving warm impressions and handling finer sound details, while the IOTAVX SA3 has a better grasp on both digital and analog inputs and adjusting the overall impression you get.
Does the Emotiva TA-100 show its current sampling rate on its digital source display?
Yes, as it will initially show you the digital source you are using (either opt or coax). Once it begins playing the sound, it will show you the sample rate and input type.
Can I play rock music on both the IOTAVX SA3 or Emotiva TA-100?
Yes, you can do so in both options, as they offer very good sound output with little distortion.