Emotiva vs Outlaw Amps – Which Brand Is Better?

Norvan Martin

Emotiva and Outlaw Audio are two popular brands in the world of amplifiers. Both companies are well known for designing powerful, elegant, and reliable amps. In this article, we will compare Emotiva vs Outlaw Amps to help you make the right decision about which brand is best for you. 

In general, Emotiva amps are mostly 5 channel amps that range from $200 to $2000 and offer detailed and nuanced sound. Outlaw amps on the other hand include 7 channel amps that range from $200 to $5000 and offer pure, elegant sound.

Emotiva vs Outlaw Comparison Table

CriteriaEmotivaOutlaw Audio
Build QualityAssess materials and constructionEvaluate sturdiness and reliability
Power OutputCheck watts per channel and impedance compatibilityExamine power output specifications
Sound QualityConsider clarity, dynamic range, and overall performanceEvaluate audio fidelity and sound characteristics
Features and ConnectivityExplore input options and advanced functionalitiesExamine input/output configurations and special features
Price and Value for MoneyConsider pricing in relation to features and performanceEvaluate cost against features and overall value
Brand Reputation and Customer SupportResearch brand reputation and customer supportInvestigate user feedback and responsiveness of support
Design and AestheticsAssess form factor and integration into audio setupConsider design and visual appeal

1. Emotiva vs Outlaw Overview

Outlaw General Overview/Pros and Cons

Outlaw Audio is an internet audio retailer that attempts to provide products that are not normally available via traditional sales channels.

outlaw amplifier company logo

Instead, they manufacture and sell their own brand of high-performance devices including power amplifiers

One of the main advantages offered by Outlaw is that their gear is USA made which is hard to find these days.

Great for home theaters
More powerful amps
Durable and functional

More expensive
Demand a lot of power

Emotiva General Overview/Pros and Cons

Emotiva prides itself on providing high-end audio. They strive to design amplifiers that offer low distortion and no coloration.

emotiva amplifier company logo

This means their amps do not add to or modify the incoming signal. All they do is to boost the incoming signal effortlessly and dynamically.

Great for music
Modern, minimal designs
Not very prone to overheating
Demand less power

Less powerful amps


2. Pricing

Outlaw Prices

Outlaw amps typically range from about $300 on the low end to $5000 on the high end. Since Outlaw products are available to you exclusively on the internet, the company is able to eliminate the additional markup required to support traditional “bricks and mortar” retail stores.

This means they are able to offer their products at a lower price than competing products of the same quality. Regardless, Outlaw high-end amps are more expensive than Emotiva high-end amps.  

Emotiva Prices

Emotiva amps generally range from about $200 on the low end to $2000 on the high end.

This ranges from their low-end Flex and Distribution amps to their high-end reference amplifiers

3. Sound Quality

For sound quality, we compared the Outlaw 975 and the Emotiva UMC-200. 

Outlaw Amps Sound Quality

You’ve probably heard that Outlaw Amps are famous for their pure and elegant sound. Their amps sound rich, full, and clear at reproducing details.

Outlaw 975 sound quality

That’s certainly true. Moreover, they are also quite reliable in providing this standard quality under different conditions.

This reliability comes from a lack of bugs and easier operation. This makes Outlaw amps excellent for home theater used when watching movies, for example, Outlaw amps are a good choice. 

In terms of our specific comparison, we found that the Outlaw 975 sounded cleaner and smoother than the UMC-200 as you would expect.

However, the 975 didn’t offer the dynamic range and greater gain that the UMC boasted. 

Emotiva Sound Quality

While the Outlaw 975 was cleaner and smoother which makes it great for home theater use, it is not the best option for music.

They are nonoffensive and well suited for home theatres, but really nothing special for music.

Emotiva UMC-200 sound quality

Emotiva amps shine when it comes to the nuances of playing music in terms of detail and overall clarity.

4. Features

Outlaw Features

In terms of features, you may consider it a drawback that you don’t get to audition Outlaw amps until you buy them.

Others may consider it a positive as it’s best to evaluate your products in your own home, where it counts the most.

Of note, typically Outlaw pairs up their amps with Marantz receivers and pre-pros if you’re familiar with those menus and setup.

For the example we chose, the Outlaw 975 offers Dolby TrueHD/Hi-Res and Digital Plus as well as Dolby Pro Logic X.

Emotiva Features

In general, Emotiva has some very good features. Their feature-packed amps normally come with bells and whistles such as Automatic room EQ, 11-band manual EQ, etc.

As an example, in our comparison, the UMC-200 has some valuable features that the Outlaw lacks – Automatic room EQ, 11 band manual EQ, et.


5. Power

Nothing is more important for an amplifier than its power output, right? For power, we will be comparing Outlaw 7125 and Emotiva XPA-5.

Keep in mind however that the Outlaw is a 7 channel amp while this Emotiva is a 5 channel amp. 

Outlaw Power Ratings

Most Outlaw amps are designed with large and powerful transformers that can drive multiple speakers at peak power.

Most of them have good capacitance too – normally separate caps per channel. For this reason, you will find a lot of multi-channel Outlaw amps (beyond 5.1 surrounds) capable of driving 7.1 home theater system. 

In our example, with the Outlaw 7125, this amp boasts a custom-designed 1.6 kVA transformer coupled with discrete output devices per channel. With this, the amp can push a solid 125-Watts for 8 ohm speakers and 190-Watts for four Ohms.

Emotiva Power Ratings

Emotiva amps are powerful as well but sometimes you may have issues with power drops when all channels are driven hard. 

In this specific case, the Emotiva XPA-5 is more powerful than the Outlaw (200 watts/ch. vs. 125 watts/ch). However, Outlaw offers more channels. 


6. Gain

Along with power, gain is also an important consideration for amps. What are your requirements? Do you need an amp with a higher or lower gain? For example, if you are using horns, gain will give you more hiss.  

For example, A gain of 27dB equates to a ~22.6x increase in voltage, meaning our amplifier will be putting out 22.6 volts RMS, or  64 watts into the speaker load.

Outlaw Amps Gain

Generally, Outlaw amps offer a respectable degree of gain. For example, The Model 7125 offers a voltage gain of 28 dB.

Emotiva Amps Gain

In general, the newer Emotiva amp models offer lower gain when compared to their older versions.

However, many still have higher gains than Outlaw. For example, the  Emotiva XPA-5 has a 32db gain structure which represents a 3dB reduction over previous models. 


7. Design and Build Quality

Design is of course a matter of taste, but in our opinion, both types of amps are beautifully designed. However, Emotiva amps do offer a more modern and cleaner finish. 

Outlaw Amps Build Quality

Outlaw makes fine amps that stress durability and functionality. Moreover, they are made in the USA!

outlaw amplifier designs

Emotiva Amps Build Quality

Emotiva amps are also excellently designed with clean and crisp finishes. Additionally, their build quality is excellent. 

emotiva amplifier designs


8. Overheating Issues

When you take about amps, we also need to be careful with overheating which may occur if you fail at doing proper impedance matching and drive your amp too hard. 

In any case, you want to purchase an amp that is less susceptible to overheating even when driving to its limits. 

Outlaw Overheating issues

In general, outlaw amps will run quietly without generating excessive heat. Remember, they are most suited for home theaters and so they shouldn’t be driven too hard. 

Emotiva Overheating Issues

Emotiva amps have cooling fans and what appear to be significantly smaller transformers than outlaw amps. This means they generally produce much less heat and the heat dissipates quickly and easily. 


Do You Really Need An Amp?

So, do you really need an amp? Well, it depends on how much power output you need from your speakers. That depends on your room size, your listening, levels, and more. 

So, considering your room and listening tastes, do you need louder audio? If you can get it loud enough, then you may not really need an amp, especially with Klipsch speakers.

Keep in mind however that you should not always try to max out your speakers. Speaker limits are expressed in watts of power and in most cases, you will cause your system to distort if you push your speakers at max for long periods of time. 

Another good reason to get an amplifier is if you want to offload some power requirements from the receiver to a power amp. In fact, doing this often leads to a positive sonic difference, though rather modest. This also adds to your receiver’s overall durability. 

Are Outlaw Amps Good?

These brands, Outlaw, score reasonably enormous in many of their mid-range to higher-end amps. You agree that actually, they are not claptrap components and that they are built for longevity. The power availed by these amps should indeed satisfy a large majority of movie and music buffs alike. It never runs out of steam that easily. 

Is Emotiva A Good Brand?

Emotiva is one of those finest American companies best known for its excellent price-to-performance ratio designs. Try their BasX TA-100 stereo integrated amplifier, and I bet you will not regret it.

Who Makes Emotiva Amps?

Emotiva and Sherbourn are companies associated with Jade Design. Jade Design is an original equipment design (OED) firm that creates all the product designs and holds all the intellectual property for the two brands.

Can an Amp Be Too Powerful for Speakers?

Yes, amplifiers can be too powerful for speakers. Speakers are limited by how much electricity they can turn into sound.

If the amplifier creates more electrical energy than the speakers can handle, it is possible to induce distortion or clipping, but there is little danger of damage.


Outlaw and Emotiva amps are excellent options when searching for power amplifiers. In general, Outlaw amps are clear and offer powerful, pure, uncolored, and sound great for home theaters while Emotive amps are powerful and great for music.

All in all, both are unique brands for amps so good luck and we hope you find the best option for your specific case! 


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Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics. My email: [email protected]  Connect on Pinterest and Linkedin