• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

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

miero

Active Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2018
Messages
217
Likes
217
#81
Yes, I agree, and think that it is an artifact, but suspect there is no easy work-around and agree with @amirm that it is not really worth digging deeper for a discontinued product. Unless there is an easy way to add dither and scale it down somehow or otherwise "fool" the processor.
Playing a square wave signal at -90dBFS will show either a sine or square, depending on the implementation.
 

audimus

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2019
Messages
458
Likes
387
#82
This discussion has been a good reminder of the complexities (engineering and business model) involved in developing a glitch-free feature-rich unit like an AVR or a pre/pro, something we don’t seem to appreciate much while nitpicking on details and comparing them to much simpler systems.

Even the Okto guys had to put in a lot of work to get the issues ironed out for the product release and there is a complaint about the display characters being too pixelated making it “difficult to use”! We can trash talk the greed of manufacturers but dealing with some consumers isn’t a walk in the park either.
 

Fitzcaraldo215

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 4, 2016
Messages
1,432
Likes
557
#83
As a huge fan of Mch music, I’m done with prepros and have been since about 5 years ago, when I retired my Integra 80.2 prepro. I first used an ExaSound E28, now ExaSound E38 DAC. I use a PC, with a 52TB NAS and a Ethernet cable card tuner. JRiver running on the PC satisfies my music playing, TV and BD/DVD needs, coupled with Dirac Live in the PC.

I find JRiver has control features which are comparable to a prepro. I really do not need analog, so it’s a digital-only system. I like the fact that is much freer from obsolescence than a prepro/AVR would be. And, it was a distinct sonic advantage over the prepro. I am really happy.
 
Joined
Feb 19, 2018
Messages
32
Likes
19
#84
As a huge fan of Mch music, I’m done with prepros and have been since about 5 years ago, when I retired my Integra 80.2 prepro. I first used an ExaSound E28, now ExaSound E38 DAC. I use a PC, with a 52TB NAS and a Ethernet cable card tuner. JRiver running on the PC satisfies my music playing, TV and BD/DVD needs, coupled with Dirac Live in the PC.

I find JRiver has control features which are comparable to a prepro. I really do not need analog, so it’s a digital-only system. I like the fact that is much freer from obsolescence than a prepro/AVR would be. And, it was a distinct sonic advantage over the prepro. I am really happy.
I did the same years ago and had to switch back (well the avr/avp piece).

The streaming era has hit and jriver has no support for it unfortunately (Netflix, Amazon, Tidal, etc).
 

HLee

Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2019
Messages
25
Likes
9
#85
As a huge fan of Mch music, I’m done with prepros and have been since about 5 years ago, when I retired my Integra 80.2 prepro. I first used an ExaSound E28, now ExaSound E38 DAC. I use a PC, with a 52TB NAS and a Ethernet cable card tuner. JRiver running on the PC satisfies my music playing, TV and BD/DVD needs, coupled with Dirac Live in the PC.

I find JRiver has control features which are comparable to a prepro. I really do not need analog, so it’s a digital-only system. I like the fact that is much freer from obsolescence than a prepro/AVR would be. And, it was a distinct sonic advantage over the prepro. I am really happy.
I like multichannel music with room correction, but sometimes I miss two channel decent hifi music.
I wander if there is any possible collaboration of these two groups.
For example, AVR with incorporated two front channel hifi DAC plus discrete hifi two channel power amp
 

RichB

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
May 24, 2019
Messages
623
Likes
649
Location
Massachusetts
#86
I like multichannel music with room correction, but sometimes I miss two channel decent hifi music.
I wander if there is any possible collaboration of these two groups.
For example, AVR with incorporated two front channel hifi DAC plus discrete hifi two channel power amp
Sure, I do that. A Benchmark LA4 preamp for the mains with 1 input from the XMC-1 and the other from the Oppo UDP-205 DAC.
Roon serves up the music library.

- Rich
 
Joined
Jan 16, 2019
Messages
26
Likes
13
Location
Tucson, AZ
#87
I own some Emotiva gear and have been happy with it - couple of monoblock amps, a five channel amp and a two channel preamp. I haven't had any issues with those products.

Never bought a home theater processor from them, however. Came close a couple of times but they have had serious issues with every new processor they brought out. You would think they would eventually figure out how to build one or get out of that segment of the market. No, they continue to roll out new processor products. Each one has had significant issues. Very happy I never bought one.
 

digicidal

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 6, 2019
Messages
1,242
Likes
1,784
Location
Sin City, NV
#88
I own some Emotiva gear and have been happy with it - couple of monoblock amps, a five channel amp and a two channel preamp. I haven't had any issues with those products.

Never bought a home theater processor from them, however. Came close a couple of times but they have had serious issues with every new processor they brought out. You would think they would eventually figure out how to build one or get out of that segment of the market. No, they continue to roll out new processor products. Each one has had significant issues. Very happy I never bought one.
I'm the same (mostly): 3 subs, 3-ch amp, 4 monoblocks (2 XPA100's and 2 PA-1's). Subs were a nightmare but their support was great... I just got tired of replacing plate amps in warranty so eventually started converting them to passives as they died. Still have one that works great - don't know how but I'll take it. There's a huge difference in difficulty between the preamp and processor - and I'm not convinced that Emotiva has what it takes on the software side of things. If nothing else their history (both home/pro) inspires some confidence in the other products, but so far when it comes to DSP, surround decoding, and controller programming... I think I'll keep steering clear, no matter how tempting the spec sheet looks.

Although, to be fair, Emotiva is a much, much smaller company than Boeing (and with products costing .00001% as much)... and look at how badly they can screw up a hardware+software solution. :facepalm:
 
Joined
Dec 28, 2018
Messages
38
Likes
12
#89
Not at all. It's pretty sad that these components measure so poorly given that we are in 2019. We KNOW how to build these things right. It's not that hard, it just means someone needs to pay attention in designing.
If it's not audible, why should they care? specmanship?
 

garbulky

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 14, 2018
Messages
1,185
Likes
497
#90
If it's not audible, why should they care? specmanship?
Thank you. :D I think most of this site's reviews should have a disclaimer that says "though we would like things at -110 db for provable transparency almost all the gear measured spec to inaudible at way way higher distortion levels. Good luck hearing the difference between -70 db and a -120 db distortion in a dac in regular use."Otherwise we have people dragging manufacturers names through the mud when in reality these measurements don't actually matter.
 
Last edited:

Visiter555

New Member
Joined
Oct 6, 2019
Messages
1
Likes
0
#91
Emotiva made great low cost amps (UPA series), but their processors have been major disappointing.

The high end Amps were discontinued more like they were orphaned.

The current amps, the lower end are RCA inputs, their XMC-2, RMC-1L and RMC-1 are all XLR outputs. So you now have to go out and get XLR to RCA cables, not a problem.

The UPA amps had a compatibility issue with the XMC triggers, but they looked after clients if the asked they were given a trigger box, which was a nice gesture.

I have lived the UMC-1, UMC-200 and XMC- issues and have found the honest lacking, though Emotiva keeps trying.

The company seems to try, but they are definitely their own worst enemy followed by those that believe Emotiva can do no wrong.

I am waiting to see how the RMC-1L and RMC-1 resolutions and manuals, Dirac etc all work out before I sink more money down.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
26,621
Likes
61,907
Location
Seattle Area
Thread Starter #92
If it's not audible, why should they care? specmanship?
Most people won't get sick if they don't wash their hands after they come out of toilet. But why take chances. Same here. I can't predict what all of you can't hear across all content, all volume levels and all systems until the distortions and noise get extremely low. Anything higher than that becomes a game of probabilities and how critical your listening abilities are.
 

digicidal

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 6, 2019
Messages
1,242
Likes
1,784
Location
Sin City, NV
#93
One other point, thinking on the XMC-1 upgrade, is that they do not have a FW upgrade scheme that checks for valid FW like most every other component I have used. If you load the wrong FW, you can brick the processor, and the only recovery mechanism is to return to the factory. The few companies I have dealt with (including mine) provide user SW tools so you can recover from a field failure. Emotiva exacerbated the problem by releasing one FW rev that included a bug they introduced themselves that would brick the processor if a certain configuration was in use at the time of the install. Hmph...
This was what I was alluding to in one of my earlier posts. I know this isn't likely a problem for anyone on this forum, but it does convey a much more "budget" device than the MSRP would indicate. Warnings like:
THIS FIRMWARE UPDATE WILL ONLY WORK WITH XMC-1 UNITS WITH THE NEW HDMI 2.0b (v3) CARD AND FIRMWARE v5.xx .
IF YOU ATTEMPT TO INSTALL THIS UPDATE ON AN XMC-1 WITH v4.1 OR OLDER FIRMWARE ON IT YOUR XMC-1 WILL PROBABLY STOP WORKING.
Any modern Internet enabled component should be able to "phone home" and grab the latest, appropriate version of firmware and install it with little more than a confirmation by the user. My older Marantz and Denon units do this, my Oppo players do (even after they closed up shop)... so why the whole "copy this file to a USB stick and rename if necessary" routine that seems so 2005 to me? Couple that with the fact that you have to know what upgrade board and prior firmware release you're running and less technical users could put themselves out of operation.

Regardless of those critiques... it's still nice that they measure well, especially in comparison to some pricier, more mainstream brands. I just question how many times they can play the "pay now, actually use 100% much later on..." routine before people stop giving them more chances. Some of that might be due to outsourcing the DSP development, but not having every firmware revision be full-release and not checking for prerequisite configurations prior to flashing... why? And as a side note (from warning above): "will probably stop working" - so even the manufacturer doesn't know for sure?!? o_O
 

DonH56

Technical Expert
Technical Expert
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 15, 2016
Messages
4,176
Likes
6,359
Location
Monument, CO
#94
The problem was that one of the updates would brick the processor if you had a certain speaker configuration (I do not remember the exact one). Found by a hapless customer, natch.

One of their long-standing issues is their FW upgrade process. A number of users have bricked units, something that should not happen but I can understand that (glitches happen), but having no recourse except to return it to the factory is a major PITA. And if you have anything else on the stick at the top level the FW update can fail, which may or may not brick the unit. Hopefully they can improve the process.
 

digicidal

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 6, 2019
Messages
1,242
Likes
1,784
Location
Sin City, NV
#95
The problem was that one of the updates would brick the processor if you had a certain speaker configuration (I do not remember the exact one). Found by a hapless customer, natch.

One of their long-standing issues is their FW upgrade process. A number of users have bricked units, something that should not happen but I can understand that (glitches happen), but having no recourse except to return it to the factory is a major PITA. And if you have anything else on the stick at the top level the FW update can fail, which may or may not brick the unit. Hopefully they can improve the process.
Agreed. One of my pet peeves (in CE devices) is anywhere I'm required to manually configure updates... I appreciate making them optional, but not making them manual: download them, unzip them, rename them, copy to stick and pray for a good outcome. For the cost of the units (especially now with the new models) and the price of 64MB thumb drives in bulk... you'd think they could mail out updates to registered owners if nothing else - as well as maintain a database indicating by serial number which versions your unit is compatible with. Guess I expect too much for $3K-5K. ;)
 
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
Messages
95
Likes
62
#96
If it's not audible, why should they care? specmanship?
For me it's because they claim to be high-fidelity, not high-enough fidelity. See, when i look at my phone or a random USB-C to 3.5mm dongle, I expect poor performance and you don't see me complaining.

On the other hand, when you ask for anywhere from $2500 (like here), or $5000 (for the very similarly performing Marantz AVR-8805), you damn well be able to at least match the performance of IVX' $70 USB dongle that was engineered by one man working alone at home, and beat a $9 USB-C to 3.5mm dongle with a decent margin!

I get that licensing, firmware development, HDMI switching and DSP and so on costs money, but there is no reason for a pre-processor costing more than an integrated AVR should perform this poorly. Well, no reason outside of not actually caring about how your kit performs anyways, which is why there's so much salt.

I also have to agree with @digicidal's point about firmware upgrades, especially at the price. That said, with how primitive and fragile the embedded systems AVR's run are, I'm quite a bit more forgiving than most in that respect.
 

DonH56

Technical Expert
Technical Expert
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 15, 2016
Messages
4,176
Likes
6,359
Location
Monument, CO
#97
I would love to see AVR/AVP manufacturers step up their game and deliver much higher performance. OTOH comparing a full-blown AVR/AVP to a small stand-alone DAC or whatever is not fair IMO. Trying to provide all the functionality demanded by consumers in a relatively small form factor for a relatively low price means corners will be cut. And in some cases the cuts are things like shielding and reducing the number of circuit boards so noise coupling is much greater than a stand-alone dongle. I am surprised we don't see more DACs in AVRs enclosed in shielding boxes but that would drive up costs and potentially cause thermal management problems. Designing something like an AVR or AVP with all of its internal noise sources strikes me as a major technical challenge with no easy solution. That said I do wonder when I look inside some of these and see basic tenets of EMC compliance guidelines violated, whether lack of a shield between boards or around noisy components, or simply not orienting boards and components inside to maximize isolation.

I wonder what the market would be for a two-piece AVP with all the DSP (including video) in one box and all the mixed-signal (ADC/DAC/analog) circuits in a second box. You could design a custom digital link or use one of the standards, maybe even go to a wideband optical connection between boxes (I can get 100G Ethernet over an optical link -- not TOSLINK!) Probably nil or not enough since they aren't around now.
 

GrimSurfer

Major Contributor
Joined
May 25, 2019
Messages
1,238
Likes
1,369
#98
The industry needs to tell engineers to park their egos at the door. If the engineers don't have a proven track record designing sub components, or are unable to do so, then management needs to step in and outsource the ancillaries to a company that knows how. If that is too hard for management to swallow, they could start acquiring small but successful specialist companies to bring their expertise in-house.

This applies to DACs, phono stages, power supplies, etc.

The computer industry has been doing this sort of thing for years with their product development... and we have seen steady progress in performance and reliability in that sector over the past 20 years.
 
Last edited:
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
26,621
Likes
61,907
Location
Seattle Area
Thread Starter #99
With no push from marketing and sales organization, what comes out of these AV gear is whatever an engineer thought was good enough. I am confident if sales/marketing pushed them, far better performance can be had. In desktop and 2-channel systems, there is some pressure from sales/marketing. There is none in AVR market. Hopefully we can change that and get better products.
 

DonH56

Technical Expert
Technical Expert
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 15, 2016
Messages
4,176
Likes
6,359
Location
Monument, CO
With no push from marketing and sales organization, what comes out of these AV gear is whatever an engineer thought was good enough. I am confident if sales/marketing pushed them, far better performance can be had. In desktop and 2-channel systems, there is some pressure from sales/marketing. There is none in AVR market. Hopefully we can change that and get better products.
Agreed! And by "we", I mean "you" and measurements like these! Go Amir!
 
Top Bottom