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Emotiva XMC-2 Review (AV Processor)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Emotiva XMC-2 Audio/Video Processor (AVP). It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $3,000.

The XMC-2 is surprisingly light for a high-end processor which my back appreciated as I carried it around:

Emotiva XMC-2 Review XLR Balanced Coax Toslink AV Processor.jpg


Ironically, the remote is made out of metal and weighs a ton as remotes go.

Back panel is as you expect for this class product with balanced XLR outputs:

Emotiva XMC-2 Review XLR Balanced Coax back panel Dolby DTS Atmos Toslink AV Processor.jpg


For testing, I performed a factory reset. I was hoping that this would get it to output video to my Samsung monitor but it would not. My HDMI interface would recognize it and I could pump audio through it but no picture.

Configuring the unit through the front panel was painful as some options would take as much as 5 seconds to take effect (e.g. User EQ). Worse yet, it would buffer all the clicks and then act on them in sequence making it maddening to operate.

The volume control as very soft detents that did not allow precise adjustments of the volume control. 0 dB for example sometimes would be at the peak of a detent rather than the notch. When in this situation, it would alternate between -1 and +1 dB and even +2 dB at times. Strangely it would change as I would rotate the volume.

There were other strange things like selecting the Direct mode and then back causing the output voltage to jump to 7+ volts. But the moment I would touch the volume control, it would go back to near 4 volts as I had it set.

Considering how little I use these products for just testing them, this level of problems is way too excessive and indicates a product that simply is not ready for distribution and needs to have a complete test run on it and many bugs fixed.

XMC-2 Measurements
As usual, I start with testing the HDMI input. Here is our dashboard there:

Emotiva XMC-2 Measurements XLR Balanced HDMI AV Processor.png


We have so many issues here. Starting with top left we see that the two channels are out of sync. This issue was frequency sensitive which likely indicates one channel being N samples behind the other. Remember that I performed a factory reset so there should be no programmed delay.

Rotating to top right we see heavily rising noise floor as frequencies get lower. Why??? Distortion by itself is bad news enough at -88 dB or so. It doesn't need extra noise to make the situation worse. Speaking of noise we can measure it and see the frequency dependence of it:
Emotiva XMC-2 DNR Measurements XLR Balanced Coax Toslink AV Processor.png


We lose nearly 25 dB of dynamic range as frequencies go from 1 kHz to 20 Hz! [right side should say 15 bits, not 15 dB]

I figured I try Coax/Toslink inputs to see if there is a problem specific to HDMI but got more problems:

Emotiva XMC-2 Measurements XLR Balanced Coax Toslink AV Processor.png


:(

Using the better of the two SINAD scores, the XMC-2 lands in the poor category of all AV products tested:

best AVP reviewed.png


It is also much worse than XMC-1!

I ran a jitter test and sure enough it also produces a ton of jitter and low frequency noise:

Emotiva XMC-2 Jitter Measurements XLR Balanced Toslink AV Processor.png


I didn't see a reason to keep testing the XMC-2.

Conclusions
The XMC-2 reminds me of getting a new job at a company and taking over a messy project with tons of problems. Lesson I learned there was to just ditch then thing and start over with a clean design. I think such is the situation with XMC-2. It clearly has a list of hardware and software design problems.

Needless to say, I can't recommend the Emotiva XMC-2. Get yourself a Denon AVR and use its pre-amp outs. Yes, you don't get balanced output but if you are not facing ground loops and connections are short, you should be OK. At least you get a working product with very respectable measurements.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

You may have noticed that the head of the headless panther has made an entrance here. It pleaded with me to get it glued back to its former body. I told it that I can't afford the money but if he starts "working" again as a model, maybe the membership starts to feel sorry for him and donates money toward this cause using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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abdo123

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Did you manage to capture an FFT without a test signal? is that spray of 'stuff' signal dependent?

S/N seems great. Infact probably the best you have ever measured for AVPs. even the rising noise floor at low frequencies would be below hearing thresholds.

it seems like the S/N was so good, it allowed the rest of the mess to be discovered. it's very rare that we see Jitter in an FFT.
 
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Matias

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Waiting for Topping to enter the AV Processor market and do it right.
 

muslhead

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Nothing here us XMC2 owners didnt already know or suspect. Thank god your tests are limited as not only would your panther lost his head but every other appendage too, leaving him a headless quadriplegic.
 

sam_adams

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This is an unfortunate turn of events for Emotiva. Although I do have to say that when the long anticipated DC-2 DAC did not show up, I got the feeling that something was definitely wrong in Tennessee.
 

AdamG247

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This is so sad, like snake oil bad. I think we need a new Panther being eaten by a giant snake!
 

muslhead

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What did you experience?
Had to return once for repair as front display died.
System is so slow to react to switching (either from remote or front panel) it becomes virtually impossible to use as Amir alluded to.
A slight workaround is if you have the presets set, using them to switch is better. Not good, just better.
Kludged Dirac implementation. It finally works but it was only years late and barely usable when finally released.
I posted in the xmc review about an issue they currently have (on the xmc and rmc since they share the same platform) that has incorrectly boosted bass output (under all use conditions where the bass is boosted as little as 4 db and as much as >20) --- The net effect = blew my sub driver.

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...av-processor-review.11673/page-60#post-870857

There are plenty more issues that are related to functionality and usability issues but not measurements as I have no way to do that..
The Dirac support team is excellent but the rest of it done with their ears plugged as any time the are presented with issues/bugs they not only dont acknowledge there is a problem but just as important, they are non-transparent and keep the problems swept under the rug instead of informing affected owners. I could go on but caveat emptor.

I really dont see, at least the current way the company is operated, them being in business much longer or at least narrowing down their product offering. They are seriously leaking oil.
 

Vini darko

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Oh dear this looks bad. I remeber denon having similar issues with a big rise in low frequency noise but that was on analog in and dissapeared on digital. Coax almost looks like square waves are present :facepalm:
Thanks for the review Amir.
 

Shirazir

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Emotiva has really only done well on amps IMO, and those too were built by ToneWinner.

Doesn't seem to me as though they have the engineering chops to go out and build products from the ground up like this.
 

Madjalapeno

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I do hope no panthers were harmed in this review.
 

abdo123

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Doesn't seem to me as though they have the engineering chops to go out and build products from the ground up like this.

this is not really from the ground up at all, panasonic provides a chip that does 99% of the digital mambo jumbo (Similar to XMOS for USB), all the digital audio is eventually decoded to i2S and is forwarded into the DAC chip.

This is a gross oversimplification but most AVRs are very similar circuit design wise and it is why the majority of the AVRs/AVPs measure similarly to one another.

Except when a company goes out of their way to fuck shit up like Marantz.
 

GWolfman

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So sad; this doesn't even make a pretty paper weight! Wonder what all those raving reviews/reviewers are smoking?

Get yourself a Denon AVR and use its pre-amp outs.
I did just that. Can someone please point out how I can disable the Left, Center, Right amplification so I can use preout only (and connect to an external amp)? Thanks!
 

sam_adams

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I was hoping that this would get it to output video to my Samsung monitor but it would not

The XMC-2 is HDMI 2.0b/HDCP 2.2. It might be that the monitor is not HDCP 2.2 compliant. Just a guess . . .
 

beeface

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Waiting for Topping to enter the AV Processor market and do it right.
I would settle for something more feasible but equally unlikely to ever happen: Denon release a processor that's basically the same as their current receivers but with balanced XLR outputs replacing the amplifiers, and without charging customers extra for the privilege.
 
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