The Emperor integrated amplifier is one of the most accomplished high-end integrated amplifiers on the market. It has the ability to deliver large amounts of power into the most demanding loads and to do so with exceptional finesse. A wide range of input and out interfaces provide great versatility and the ability to split its pre and power sections, allow it to be used in multi-amp active systems together with an active crossover.
Single chassis powerhouse
The Emperor Integrated amplifier incorporates the low level signal circuitry from the Emperor Preamplifier and the power stage from the Emperor Extreme stereo power amplifier to create an integrated amplifier of exceptionally high quality. It uses a 2,500kVA toroidal power transformer and conservatively rated reservoir capacitors, enabling it to deliver 600W RMS into 4 ohms with both channels driven. This ensures that it will drive any German Physiks loudspeaker and almost any other makers’ loudspeakers, while providing excellent dynamics and bass control. Large heat sinks concealed within the case, allow the unit to run continuously at high power whilst remaining cool, thereby improving reliability.
3 balanced and 3 unbalanced inputs are provided per channel, allowing flexibility for use in a wide range of system configurations. Each channel also has 2 balanced and 2 unbalanced preamplifier section outputs, making it easy to add additional power amplifiers when the unit is used in multi-amp systems. Direct inputs are provided for the power amplifier stage, allowing this to be used independently of the preamplifier section.
High voltage power supply rails for the low level signal stages and a balanced output stage ensure a very wide dynamic range, which combined with the design’s very wide bandwidth provides exceptional transparency and resolution.
The volume control uses a sophisticated relay-switched resistor network design, allowing precise adjustment with very accurate channel balance. This also gives the volume control stage a constant input and output impedance, which prevents the changes in sound quality that can occur at different settings with simpler designs.
The heart of an amplifier is the power supply, so great care was taken with the design to ensure that it would be able to provide the audio sections with a source of power that was as stable and noise free as possible.
The preamplifier section, power amplifier stage and control section all have their own independent toroidal power transformers. These were chosen for their low external magnetic fields. To minimise the effects of stray magnetic fields, all four transformers are housed in their own screened enclosures.
The amplifier’s incoming mains power is not routed through the power switch, as these can have a detrimental effect on the sound, more so with power amplifiers. Instead, this switch supplies power to the standby circuit and when the front panel On button is pressed, this turns on a high current relay which carries the mains power.
When a large power supply is connected to the mains supply, the initial in-rush current can be high enough to trip circuit breakers or blow fuses. To prevent this, a 4-stage soft start circuit allows the power supply to “slowly” charge before it is switched out of the circuit. This also reduces the stress on the power relay.
High quality power supply capacitors are used with additional decoupling capacitors located physically as close as possible to where they are needed in the circuit.
Great care was also taken with the internal grounding to prevent the introduction of noise.
As a further noise reduction measure, a front panel ground lift switch allows the amplifier’s signal ground to be disconnected from the chassis safety ground and is useful in eliminating hum when this is caused by a ground loop. This is where there is more than one ground connection between two pieces of audio equipment, thus forming a loop. This can act as a single turn coil and stray magnetic fields from nearby equipment and/or power cables can induce a mains frequency current in this loop, which then produces a hum that is heard from the loudspeakers. If this is the cause of hum in a system, using the ground lift switch to break this loop will stop the hum.
Easy to use
A large front panel display provides a clear indication of the volume control setting and unit status
A large, easy to read front panel display provides a clear indication of the volume control setting and the unit’s status. A front panel switch allows the display to be dimmed to 50%, or switched off altogether. When the display is switched off and a front panel control is operated, the display will come on for a few seconds before switching off again.
Input selection and volume level may be adjusted from the front panel, or via an infrared remote control, which is included.
Premium grade WBT loudspeaker terminals provide a reliable and high quality connection and are also easy to secure and release.
The high quality remote control is machined from a solid block of aluminium
The solid construction of the remote control matches the equally solid construction of the main chassis. It feels reassuringly heavy and fits comfortably in the hand. It allows control of the volume, mute and input selection functions. To improve the ease of use, all the buttons have a firm and positive action.
The provision of outputs from the preamplifier section and inputs to the power amplifier section allows the Emperor integrated amplifier to be used in both multi-amp systems and fully active systems with an electronic crossover, such as our own DSP-X. This gives the user a number of options for upgrading their system, whilst avoiding the need to replace their original amplifier and the consequent costs this would involve.
In a multi-amp system, each section of the loudspeaker is driven by its own power amplifier. To use the Emperor integrated amplifier with a 2-way loudspeaker, it’s power section could be used to drive the loudspeaker’s high-frequency section, while a second power amplifier driven by the signal from one of the integrated amplifier’s preamplifier outputs, would drive the loudspeaker’s bass/mid-range section.
For a 3-way loudspeaker, the first additional power amplifier could be used to drive the loudspeaker’s mid-frequency section, whilst another power amplifier would be added, which would be driven by the signal the integrated amplifier’s second preamplifier output and this power amplifier would drive the loudspeaker’s low frequency section.The diagram below shows how one channel of a system with a 3-way loudspeaker would be arranged.
In a fully active system, the loudspeaker’s internal crossover is removed and each section of the loudspeaker is driven directly by its own power amplifier. This improves the damping of the drivers, and is especially noticeable at low frequencies, where bass extension and clarity are enhanced. It also offers an improvement in efficiency due the elimination of the lossy components in the passive crossover and can improve clarity.
The audio signal is split into the appropriate bands for each section of the loudspeaker at a low signal level using an active crossover and the outputs from this drive the power amplifiers. With a digital active crossover, such as our Emperor DSP-X, it is possible to define the frequency characteristic of the signal fed to each section of the loudspeaker far more accurately than is possible when a conventional passive crossover is used. In addition, many digital active crossovers, including our Emperor DSP-X, also have an equalisation function that allows the characteristic of the signal fed to the loudspeaker to be adjusted in order to better match the user’s listening room.
The diagram below shows how the Emperor integrated amplifier could be used in a fully active system with a 3-way loudspeaker. For clarity we have only shown one loudspeaker. For the purpose of illustration, we have shown our Emperor DSP-X digital active crossover, but any other suitable active crossover could be used.
The signal from the integrated amplifier’s preamplifier section output is fed to the active crossover. One output from the crossover, in this case the high frequency band, is fed back to the integrated amplifier’s power amplifier section input and the integrated amplifier drives the loudspeaker’s high frequency section. The mid-frequency band and low-frequency band outputs from the crossover are fed to separate power amplifiers, which in turn drive their respective sections of the loudspeaker.
With a 2-way loudspeaker, the basic arrangement would be the same, but only one additional power amplifier would be required per channel.
Systems like this are complicated and expensive, but in a high performance system, using a fully active configuration can provide a level of performance that cannot be achieved by any other means.
Quality and reliability
The Emperor Integrated amplifier is designed and manufactured in Germany. To ensure excellent sound performance and high reliability, great care and attention has been devoted to all stages of production: from the initial design to component selection and final manufacture
Before a single component was soldered, many hours were spent carrying out detailed computer modelling, in order to optimise the technical performance of the various sections of the design. All the components were selected for both their technical excellence and reliability. To further enhance the reliability, all components are operated well within their maximum limits. The final selection of components and topology was made on the basis of exhaustive listening tests, as well as detailed measurements.
It is well known that the operating temperature of electronic equipment has a direct effect on its reliability and the length of its useful service life. The higher the operating temperature, the poorer the reliability and the shorter the service life. When the Emperor range was designed, we employed a specialist engineer to analyse the airflow through the products and optimise the cooling effect. Consequently, they run very cool, maximising both the reliability and the useful service life. This is so effective that even when running at full power, the the Emperor integrated amplifier remains cool to the touch.
Great attention was paid to the aesthetics and the mechanical construction. This is a very high quality product, so the look and build quality had to be of a commensurate level. The construction uses an internal steel chassis with a 15mm thick silver anodised aluminium outer case.
This provides magnetic screening, together with structural rigidity to minimise the effects of external vibration. The fit and finish of the chassis is first class and this combined with the impressively smooth feel of the controls, reassures the user of the high level of quality that this product offers.
Before dispatch, each unit is given a prolonged burn-in run before being subject to an intensive battery of electronic tests. Only when it has successfully passed these and been given a final physical inspection is it judged ready to be sent to the customer.
Specifications & Price
|Type||Stereo Integrated Amplifier|
|Output power (Both channels driven)||300W RMS into 8 ohms|
600W RMS into 4 ohms
|Frequency response||0.5Hz to 80kHz (-3dB), 1W into 8 ohms|
|THD + Noise||0.01% (22Hz to 22kHz), 1W into 8 ohms|
|Maximum dynamic range||127 db|
|Signal to noise ratio||– 91 dB A|
A weighted @ 1W into 8 ohms
|Pre-amp inputs||Unbalanced x 3 pairs|
Balanced x 3 pairs
|Power amp direct inputs||Unbalanced x 1 pair|
Balanced x 1 pair
|Output Terminals||1 pair of high quality WBT screw terminals per channel|
Direct input select
Direct input gain
|Supplied accessories||Infra-red remote control|
|Other information||Trigger input & output for remote operation|
Custom cable used for internal wiring
|Finish||Silver anodized aluminium|
|Dimensions||474mm (W) x 240mm (H) x 474mm (D)|