EMOTIVE AUDIO EPIFANIA REVIEW
The Emotive Audio Epifania followed the Emotive Audio Sira-LE in my system. The Sira-LE is a fantastic preamp, the Epifania is in another league.
The Epifania is described by Emotive audio as being “fundamentally different from all of our previous linestage preamplifier designs.”
If you learn more about the Epifania, the design considerations and the evolution from its stablemate the Sira, via the Sira-LE, you’ll come to know that Epifania designer Fred Voltz genuinely felt that there wasn’t a great deal of opportunity available to improve upon the performance of the Sira-LE. At least not without starting out from scratch.
“The Epifania is fundamentally different from all of our previous linestage preamplifier designs. If you take a look at the rest of our web site, http://www.emotiveaudio.com/ you’ll see that the Poeta, Sira, and Sira-LE are all based on the same general design principle (just as were the Prima and Erato before them). All of our other designs have been based on two audio stages….we were quite pleased with the Sira-LE and often wondered whether there was even much room for improvement at that link of the audio system chain. But, that wondering grew into desire. We really wanted to push the issue–to make a new level of performance where there hadn’t been one before. So, to some extent, we started over.”
And start over they did. The Epifania boasts the same low output impedance as their Sira / Sira-LE (cathode follower designs), but elimantes a cathode follower from the circuit topology altogether. A single hybrid audio stage was developed for the Epifania where the audio signal passes through only one tube en route to the power amplifier.
Significant improvements to the power supply include the elimination of all electrolytic capacitors from the high voltage supply, replaced by smaller value oil filled capacitors and a large choke, for DC filtering. The filtered DC is then current regulated for each channel before being voltage regulated with gas filled regulator tubes. The design takes special care with the heater supply for the audio tubes which is filtered with a large input choke followed by quality filter capacitors.
The voltage regulator tubes are an unusual presence in the Epifania design. For one thing, you won’t need to obsess over finding expensive NOS replacements for these tubes, as there essentially are none. Furthermore, you can replace these easily for less than $10 each. I picked up replacements from Brent Jesse for only six bucks a pop.
The star of the tube lineup in the Emotive Audio Epifania is the Sophia Electric 274B. I read somewhere that a RCA 5R4GY is a better performer, so I ordered a WWII version of the military RCA 5R4GY brownbase dual bottom getter, a superb rectifier tube supplied by Brent Jesse for $200
The parts quality of the Epifania is super high. The chassis is constructed from very thick (0.1 inch) stainless steel and beautiful maple wood. It uses a custom potted power transformer along with Yamamoto machined Teflon tube sockets, throughout. The RCA audio connectors are all WBT Topline.
Key specs for the Emotive Epifania:
- Input Impedance range=100K-150K
- Output Impedance=150 Ohms
- Signal Phase=Inverted
- Gain=up to 15db
- Inputs=5 single-ended line level
- Outputs=2 variable single-ended line level active, 1 fixed single-ended passive
As I’ve said, the Sira-SE was no slouch. But the Epifania raises the bar quite significantly, and does so through ommission and not addition.
Where the Sira-LE had a warmth and glow, the Epifania is clean and transparent. But smooth. Ever so smooth, without lacking any detail or resolving power. My old Allnic Audio L-5000 DHT was/is a fantastic preamp, but compared with the Epifania, its colorations were subtly apparent.
There’s an ease and flow to the music with the Epifania which is beguiling. It’s just crystal clear, but never etched or forced. It’s also seamless top to bottom. So many tube amps are readily identifiable by there midrange bloom and presence and there lack of top end and bottom end extension. The Epifania runs through the frequencies without giving away the fact that it’s a tube design. It’s just seamless. Transparent. Musical. Enjoyable.
It’s also dramatically more detailed than either of the Sira-LE and the Allnic L-5000DHT. It opens up a vast sonic soundscape and populates the stage with bold images brimming with air and space and detail.
For $16,995, it should be good. Then again, it’s better than the L-5000 DHT, which was modified with better caps and ran at closer to $30K with mods factored in.
I’ve been using the Epifania in my system since Fred first released it (#002). Over the years Fred has made a few changes. The original caps were replaced with Sonicaps and now the CuTf V-Caps. Also the volume control has been changed to an auto-former volume control from Bent Audio.
I have tried rectifiers from Sophia, NOS RCA, the Philips Holland, and now a Brimar CV717, which has become my favorite.
Thanks for the info. Am I correct in thinking that Fred is no longer active in supporting the Emotive line? I’d like to have someone look over my unit to see what stage it is at in terms of its natural evolution over the years. Any ideas on who to contact?
Fred Volz is still active. firstname.lastname@example.org
OK thanks. I did email Fred when I bought the Epifania a few months back but didn’t get a reply. Maybe I’ll try again.
I’m also using Emotive Audio Vita mono blocks. I have had other amps in the system but nothing comes close in terms of musical enjoyment.
I want those amps! There’s a pair listed on USAudiomart but they’re too rich for me. They even have the same finish as my epifania..
What output tubes is he using?
The Epifania uses
2 x RCA 12B4A
2 x Sylvania OA3
4 x Raytheon OB3A
I used an RCA 5R4GY as a replacement for the Sophia 274B
That’s quite the eclectic assortment of artisan brands you represent. Nice!
Thanks. We like to have fun with it. I’ve always had a weak spot for Fred Volz’s work. Beautiful aesthetic and sound.