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Review and Measurements of Emotiva XMC-1 Gen 2 Pre/Pro

graz_lag

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#21
Are there any "desktop" DACs that have 5.1 output? We keep reading how miserable the DACs are in these pre-pros and AV receivers- what's the alternative for 5.1 audio when we want to watch a Blu-Ray with lossless surround audio? You can usually get a separate optical digital audio output from a modern TV or Blu-Ray player, seems like using an outboard DAC should be an option for watching movies & streams. Sure, you wouldn't get DIRAC or speaker distance correction, but at least you'd get decent linearity etc.
You can use a Blu-ray player which features the 5.1 or 7.1 analog output connections ...
 

milosz

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#22
You can use a Blu-ray player which features the 5.1 or 7.1 analog output connections ...
...and what kind of performance do the DACs in the Blu-Ray players have? Are there any test results to check out?

The DAC in the Oppo BDP-105 Blu-Ray player that Amirm tested looks worse than these crappy pre-pros and AV receivers. OPPO BDP-105 TEST

The Oppo UDP-205 test looks great but it's been discontinued. I can't find any other tests of DACs in Blu-Ray players, but I'd bet most of them are worse than the miserable pre-pros and AVRs we've seen here. It doesn't seem like using the DAC in your Blu-Ray player would be any better than a pre-pro or AVR.
 
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#23
Are there any "desktop" DACs that have 5.1 output? We keep reading how miserable the DACs are in these pre-pros and AV receivers- what's the alternative for 5.1 audio when we want to watch a Blu-Ray with lossless surround audio? You can usually get a separate optical digital audio output from a modern TV or Blu-Ray player, seems like using an outboard DAC should be an option for watching movies & streams. Sure, you wouldn't get DIRAC or speaker distance correction, but at least you'd get decent linearity etc.
There is the Okto Research DAC8 Pro, an 8 channel DAC with USB input (or 4x AES/EBU). Amir measured a preview version, it did very well. And not even that expensive, per channel...
 

graz_lag

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#24
...and what kind of performance do the DACs in the Blu-Ray players have? Are there any test results to check out?

The DAC in the Oppo BDP-105 Blu-Ray player that Amirm tested looks worse than these crappy pre-pros and AV receivers. OPPO BDP-105 TEST

The Oppo UDP-205 test looks great but it's been discontinued. I can't find any other tests of DACs in Blu-Ray players, but I'd bet most of them are worse than the miserable pre-pros and AVRs we've seen here. It doesn't seem like using the DAC in your Blu-Ray player would be any better than a pre-pro or AVR.
Oppo BDP-105 ---> @amirm's note: it is possible this player was broken. I too have a BDP-105 (d) that I will test at some point.
I had not seen an updated review since but it is possible I have missed it ...

The Cambridge Audio 751BD Blu-ray player is not bad at all, look here: http://www.hdfever.fr/2011/11/11/test-cambridge-audio-751bd/
(This is a French's language review but all the graphs are in English ...)

The Panasonic DMP-BDT500 is not bad either: http://www.hdfever.fr/2012/05/27/test-panasonic-dmp-bdt500/
(Same note as above.)

For me, I have replaced my Oppo BDP-105 with the UDP-205 (an unit from the used market) by adding abt. $600, so I am done for many years to come ...
 
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#25
Are there any "desktop" DACs that have 5.1 output? We keep reading how miserable the DACs are in these pre-pros and AV receivers- what's the alternative for 5.1 audio when we want to watch a Blu-Ray with lossless surround audio? You can usually get a separate optical digital audio output from a modern TV or Blu-Ray player, seems like using an outboard DAC should be an option for watching movies & streams. Sure, you wouldn't get DIRAC or speaker distance correction, but at least you'd get decent linearity etc.
You have the MiniDSP U-DAC8 that offers just a DAC with 8 analog outputs for $255. The OpenDRC-DA8 adds open room correction for a reasonable $375 but requires a USB connection. The nanoAVR HDA does the same but with HDMI in, out AND analog out for just a $10,- premium. I'm not in the market for surround sound but looking at previous MiniDSP measurements and the pricing I'd say there are some pretty good surround sound offerings from these guys.
 
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#26
Yeah....but...the minidsp stuff doesn't do decoding, which is kinda what we need and want from these devices. So I'm not sure thats a legit option either. I have and XMC-1 (and ps audio directstream dac - got beat up twice in the last week). But I concur - how hard can it be for these devices to operate as any desktop dac? I could understand if some of these processors were $500, but were talking large amounts of money here, I'm just fairly disappointed with all AVR/processors at this point.
 

FrantzM

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#28
Hi
Seeing how most AVR and PrePro underperform, I would be interested in a solution that would allow a high performance music and HT system. How can we do this with a cobbled-up solution, perhaps an HTPC? That would do the decoding of the various HT format , HDMI switching? Bass Management, DRC? Is that possible?
Are there software decoders... for HDMI? is an HTPC the better solution? I prefer appliances but in the here and now ...
Truth to be told , I don't listen to much music on my HT system, built around a Denon AVR-X3400H used as a PrePro and actives speakers and active subwoofers. In my HT, I perceive the lack of performance in the area of speakers, I don't or perhaps cannot (yet?) perceive what the electronics are doing wrong ... perhaps with more exposure to better electronics...
 
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#29
I'm not sure HTPC's are the solution. Last time I checked in (which was maybe a year ago?) you had to have very new hardware not for power, but rather because only the new stuff had the correct encoders/decoders to decrypt all this nonsense. Off the top of my head you had to be running win10/intel i8 or newer, newer nvidia card with hdcp 2.2, etc etc. Plus there were certain stipulations about getting 4k netflix and all that other stuff. This isn't the thread for it and I'm not that knowledgeable about it right now, I just know that its not as easy as picking up a streamer player and an AVR and your set to go
 

DonH56

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#30
This is cool, it's the processor I use (though with the new video board and latest FW). Very happy Amir could review one!

I suspect most anything AVR or HT oriented is going to miss a stand-alone DAC pretty badly for a variety of reasons, like cost and space limitation for shielding and isolation cramming all the processing in the box, and console myself that at my age and with ears of clay it still sounds good enough to me. Plus the knowledge that my speakers, albeit decent, probably still far dominate what I hear. I am upgrading processors soon and am not about to send it to Amir; I want to keep some of my fantasies alive. ;)

Emotiva had a horrible problem with pops and such a couple of years back whenever the processor received a digital "0". Chances are a bias/offset problem in the DAC and analog stages. IIRC they "fixed" it by muting low-level signals; probably couldn't fix the fundamental problem (I'm guessing a circuit issue in the analog chain). I'd bet my latest-and-greatest-updates_FW-and-all version has the same problem. Maybe the new RMC-1/RMC-1L/XMC-2 platform won't have the same issue but I wouldn't bet either way. Their history is good value for amplifiers and some other electronics, maybe speakers (I do not know, never heard them), and pretty much a mess for processors though they have a strong fan base. My XMC-1 had some issues when I first got it (~3 years ago now, I think) that were immediately fixed by FW, was stable for a while (years), then the v3 HDMI board update (about a year later than they said) was a unholy terror that took ~6 months to (mostly) fix. And the early RMC-1 adopters went through hell as beta testers though it sounds like most of the issues are resolved now.

In fairness a lot of the large manufacturers have also had their fair share of issues, but have seemed to work out most of the basic handshaking issues Emotiva has struggled with (perhaps being small and late to the game).

Of course, having Emotiva amplifiers as well, I can be happy in the knowledge that my amps (and speakers) don't have 120+ dB dynamic range (let alone my ears) so can live with the XMC-1. For now.

Onwards - Don
 

RichB

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#34
This is cool, it's the processor I use (though with the new video board and latest FW). Very happy Amir could review one!

I suspect most anything AVR or HT oriented is going to miss a stand-alone DAC pretty badly for a variety of reasons, like cost and space limitation for shielding and isolation cramming all the processing in the box, and console myself that at my age and with ears of clay it still sounds good enough to me. Plus the knowledge that my speakers, albeit decent, probably still far dominate what I hear. I am upgrading processors soon and am not about to send it to Amir; I want to keep some of my fantasies alive. ;)

Emotiva had a horrible problem with pops and such a couple of years back whenever the processor received a digital "0". Chances are a bias/offset problem in the DAC and analog stages. IIRC they "fixed" it by muting low-level signals; probably couldn't fix the fundamental problem (I'm guessing a circuit issue in the analog chain). I'd bet my latest-and-greatest-updates_FW-and-all version has the same problem. Maybe the new RMC-1/RMC-1L/XMC-2 platform won't have the same issue but I wouldn't bet either way. Their history is good value for amplifiers and some other electronics, maybe speakers (I do not know, never heard them), and pretty much a mess for processors though they have a strong fan base. My XMC-1 had some issues when I first got it (~3 years ago now, I think) that were immediately fixed by FW, was stable for a while (years), then the v3 HDMI board update (about a year later than they said) was a unholy terror that took ~6 months to (mostly) fix. And the early RMC-1 adopters went through hell as beta testers though it sounds like most of the issues are resolved now.

In fairness a lot of the large manufacturers have also had their fair share of issues, but have seemed to work out most of the basic handshaking issues Emotiva has struggled with (perhaps being small and late to the game).

Of course, having Emotiva amplifiers as well, I can be happy in the knowledge that my amps (and speakers) don't have 120+ dB dynamic range (let alone my ears) so can live with the XMC-1. For now.

Onwards - Don
I also had to work through the issues with the XMC-1 V3 video board.
It is fair to say that there are open issues in the XMC-1 V3 and RMC-1.

For me, FAF (Family Approval Factor) is hugely important. I use cold-start to save power and to have a clean starting point and heat/power reduction. It is almost impossible to automate the startup procedure that waits over 1 minute. I have submitted suggestions for early recognition of the input selection and early trigger operation to mitigate this issue. When the unit starts, at least the rest of my gear will be ready and the XMC-1 will be on the proper input.

I do feel the XMC-1 was an improvement over the AV8801 so it has been a good purchase.
The upgrade path is also appealing with trade in value.

If the -90 dB problem is hardware related, the XMC-1 and RMC-1(L) are new layouts with separate DACs per channel. I don't think it is reasonable to assume this problem is carried forward.

@amirm. Do you think your measurements are in-line with HomeTheatureHifi? They look that way to me.
Also, is it possible to measure the 7.1 analog inptus?

- Rich
 
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#35
You can use a Blu-ray player which features the 5.1 or 7.1 analog output connections ...
Aren't those all capped at pre-Atmos surround though? If you want Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, or Auro-3D I think you need to go with a home theater receiver or a pre-pro like the Trinnov Altitude 32:

https://www.trinnov.com/altitude_32/

BTW anyone else love the fact that in the back of the Altitude 32 there's a standard PC motherboard port cutout, indicating the whole thing is based on a PC architecture of some kind:

 
OP
amirm

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Thread Starter #36
@amirm. Do you think your measurements are in-line with HomeTheatureHifi? They look that way to me.
I looked at them on the phone and yes, they seemed to be inline with mine.
 
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amirm

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Thread Starter #37
https://www.trinnov.com/altitude_32/

BTW anyone else love the fact that in the back of the Altitude 32 there's a standard PC motherboard port cutout, indicating the whole thing is based on a PC architecture of some kind:
Not me. Unless something has changed, their "tablet" UI was just remote login into Windows on the thing making it hard to navigate.
 

graz_lag

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#38
Aren't those all capped at pre-Atmos surround though? If you want Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, or Auro-3D I think you need to go with a home theater receiver or a pre-pro like the Trinnov Altitude 32:

https://www.trinnov.com/altitude_32/

BTW anyone else love the fact that in the back of the Altitude 32 there's a standard PC motherboard port cutout, indicating the whole thing is based on a PC architecture of some kind:
@milosz was mentioning the 5.1 audio ... 5.1.2 or 7.1.4 is of course a different scenario ...

The Altitude 32_ is made in France, not very popular in the market, though. Sure it's price ($25,000?) does not help in that regards!
Indeed, it is declared as based on a single multi-core Intel processor, design which contributes to explain the PC motherboard port cutout.
 

audimus

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#39
The exposé of the muting via measurements is technically interesting but I am confused by all the tech-porn.

Does this mean the Emotiva is better sounding than the NAD as implied by the comparison table because of its SINAD rating or is the NAD better sounding than the Emotiva because of the latter’s muting? Are both bad sounding or are both good sounding for their use in a mixed HT and Music setup?
 

garbulky

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#40
The exposé of the muting via measurements is technically interesting but I am confused by all the tech-porn.

Does this mean the Emotiva is better sounding than the NAD as implied by the comparison table because of its SINAD rating or is the NAD better sounding than the Emotiva because of the latter’s muting? Are both bad sounding or are both good sounding for their use in a mixed HT and Music setup?
The muting appears to occur when ONLY below 90 db audio is present so during that you won't be able to calculate linearity below that. That doesn't mean that it doesn't resolve audio below 90 db. It means that if ALL the audio is below 90 db that it will mute.
 
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