It's our solution for a $1200 very full featured preamplifier that has a phono stage, balanced inputs, and good build quality. It's the best solid state price/performance pre-amplfier we've found and a natural match for a big Emotiva two channel amplifier.
The XSP-1 has a nice built-in phono stage, and single ended and balanced inputs and outputs.
It also has some unique bass managements features in that it has analog high pass and low pass filters configurable via switches on the back. You can run a low frequency output signal just to your subwoofer, and a high frequency output to your main amp/speakers. This is great for those who have a sub/sat configuration and brings you higher performance. It's especially great if you're running a performance two channel front end within your home theater: You get to have your very well configured analog low pass configured sub on for your two channel!
Some good applications of this piece:
1. Part of an Emotiva 2 channel stack. One of the best configurations, which we show in the store, is to have this with the XPA-2 Gen 3 300 watt amplifier. This $2200 balanced (xlr) connected preamp/amp setup easily drives Magnepan 1.7, 3.7 and 20.7 speakers with room to spare.
2. You already have an Emotiva based theater, but want to increase your two channel performance. Add this XSP-1 preamplifier to the mix, configure it's home theater bypass input for the processor, and connect all of your two channel sources (record player, tuner, 2 channel dac) to it. This will give you an increase in two channel resolution.
3. You primarily use a volume control capable DAC, but also want to occasionally use a tuner and record player. Configure the home theater bypass on the XSP-1 for the volume controlled DAC on one input, a standard input for the DAC's fixed outputs (if it has them), and you can enjoy the convenience and versatility.
4. You generally just want a high performance audiophile preamp, but don't want to spend $4000. This piece serves very well in that space.