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

Blumlein 88

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I suspect noise coupling is the most common issue...
Maybe. Seems a premium model could allow more real estate to fix that. Then again, I look at Marantz over the years, and their performance in the end has been very consistent. So much so I doubt with all the changes the noise just happens to make the same near exact difference.

Couldn't an AVP be made where everything was kept like it is now, except zero conversion from digital to analog. Then when everything is ready a digital connection sends the data out to a multi-channel DAC. Pro recording gear manages to get this to work very well. Such a device might cost more, but at least it could have excellent audio results. Video is already HDMI and digital video is almost wholly sent to display devices where it is finally converted. Seems the same could be done for the audio side. Have your complete AVP with digital video outs and digital audio outs both converted elsewhere.
 

GrimSurfer

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Maybe. Seems a premium model could allow more real estate to fix that. Then again, I look at Marantz over the years, and their performance in the end has been very consistent. So much so I doubt with all the changes the noise just happens to make the same near exact difference.

Couldn't an AVP be made where everything was kept like it is now, except zero conversion from digital to analog. Then when everything is ready a digital connection sends the data out to a multi-channel DAC. Pro recording gear manages to get this to work very well. Such a device might cost more, but at least it could have excellent audio results. Video is already HDMI and digital video is almost wholly sent to display devices where it is finally converted. Seems the same could be done for the audio side. Have your complete AVP with digital video outs and digital audio outs both converted elsewhere.
It's possible, I suppose, though it would likely have some impact the way that the digital processing might work between two channel and multi-channel operation.

What you suggest is totally logical but would have cost implications that would affect the profit ratio of the devices. I think AVRs are the cash-cows of the lo and mid-fi sectors of the audio business. There's great profit to be made as long as they are designed to perform in a very limited way. Go beyond that, with low noise power supplies, extensive shielding, better cooling, and discrete assemblies and their prices rise to the point that they cannot meet their sales targets.

This lesson was learned with VCRs and R2R. The wonderfully constructed ones didn't sell, so the construction methods got cheaper and cheaper until noise and tracking met the needs of people who didn't know/care better. It reminds me of how Colin Chapman settled on the design for the Lotus 7 chassis: He build a strong tube chassis. He removed tubes one at a time until the chassiscollapsed. Then he put the last tube back.

The crime is that to meet their sales targets, AVRs are marketed as hi-fi devices. That's why folks like Lonnie don't want to see them or their digital stages judged by the same meter as audio components. Doing so risks exposing a beautiful lie.
 
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audimus

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Couldn't an AVP be made where everything was kept like it is now, except zero conversion from digital to analog. Then when everything is ready a digital connection sends the data out to a multi-channel DAC. Pro recording gear manages to get this to work very well. Such a device might cost more, but at least it could have excellent audio results. Video is already HDMI and digital video is almost wholly sent to display devices where it is finally converted. Seems the same could be done for the audio side. Have your complete AVP with digital video outs and digital audio outs both converted elsewhere.
Isn’t this how it pretty much works now for digital sources in AVRs except the DAC is in the same unit? The solution seems to be just do a better DAC card than get people to hook up yet another external unit and then field support questions when they screw up that connection or the external DAC does something weird (never underestimate this cost). The target audience for this don’t need the complexity of multiple units.

Also, we should not conflate an audiophile who demands good quality from an audio enthusiast who doesn’t mind fiddling around with equipment to get it right. There are a lot of people who are willing to pay good money for a single integrated systems so the setup is simple and still are audiophiles but not audio enthusiasts.

If chassis separation is a necessary design requirement to get a good sound, then the manufacturers need to move away from the 20th century paradigm of discrete cable hook ups to stackable units that have interlocking connectors that handle all required connections without people juggling around cables and kneeling behind equipment to hook them up.

From a space perspective such a system would not need much more system than an integrated system.
 

Lonnie

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As part of @Lonnie's response (and apologies if I missed it) could he tell us what department he works for at Emotiva? Engineering, Marketing or other?

This way we can frame our questions accordingly, so as not to put him in too difficult a (technical or policy) position.
I work in the engineering department. The breadth of what I do is quite broad, but the simplest description would be project management. I oversee the development of all the products. I can speak in depth on a number of things, but embedded code I leave to greater minds. :)
 

Lonnie

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Isn’t this how it pretty much works now for digital sources in AVRs except the DAC is in the same unit? The solution seems to be just do a better DAC card than get people to hook up yet another external unit and then field support questions when they screw up that connection or the external DAC does something weird (never underestimate this cost). The target audience for this don’t need the complexity of multiple units.

Also, we should not conflate an audiophile who demands good quality from an audio enthusiast who doesn’t mind fiddling around with equipment to get it right. There are a lot of people who are willing to pay good money for a single integrated systems so the setup is simple and still are audiophiles but not audio enthusiasts.

If chassis separation is a necessary design requirement to get a good sound, then the manufacturers need to move away from the 20th century paradigm of discrete cable hook ups to stackable units that have interlocking connectors that handle all required connections without people juggling around cables and kneeling behind equipment to hook them up.

From a space perspective such a system would not need much more system than an integrated system.

I would love to build gear that had integrated connectors, it would solve a great deal of interoperability issues and phone calls from customers. Unfortunately it would not go over well with our customers. The majority of our customers change our the various parts of their system as often as they change their clothes. They are forever chasing the latest thing to hit the market. Be it good or bad, it is what it is.
 

GrimSurfer

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I work in the engineering department. The breadth of what I do is quite broad, but the simplest description would be project management. I oversee the development of all the products. I can speak in depth on a number of things, but embedded code I leave to greater minds. :)
Excellent. Your role sounds like it overlaps a broad part of the range of most folks here. Thank you for that!
 
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Thank you Lonnie for your explanations! It makes so much sense now why every single AVP that's been tested have performed so poorly relative to $99 DACs. I didn't realize the cost to SNR when applying all that DSP/EQ/room-correction. Thankfully, for movies this is mostly unimportant and negligible.

Does this mean that for future AVP reviews, we should be comparing them relative to the "best in class" among their peers rather than the better measuring $99 DAC (for all the reasons Lonnie has presented)?
 
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Thank you Lonnie for your explanations! It makes so much sense now why every single AVP that's been tested have performed so poorly relative to $99 DACs. I didn't realize the cost to SNR when applying all that DSP/EQ/room-correction. Thankfully, for movies this is mostly unimportant and negligible.

Does this mean that for future AVP reviews, we should be comparing them relative to the "best in class" among their peers rather than the better measuring $99 DAC (for all the reasons Lonnie has presented)?
No this does not fully explain why these AVPs are measuring so poorly compared to $99 desktop DAC.
 

RichB

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No this does not fully explain why these AVPs are measuring so poorly compared to $99 desktop DAC.
An AVP has DSP processing, many more channels and DACs so that data path is more complicated and the data itself must be re-clocked.
I expect that makes the design much more complex. I just ordered an RMC-1 so I would like it to outperform everything, but I'll settle for it outperforming the XMC-1.

HT keeps moving, since I want to stay current, that means upgrades of some sort are required.

- Rich
 
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I didn't realize the cost to SNR when applying all that DSP/EQ/room-correction.
I think this is the part of the statement that some found objectionable which then prompted @dwalme's reply.

Just to summarize, no, DSP processing doesn't necessarily add noise if you are performing said calculations on 16/24 bit content in 32 bits. It depends on the implementation. See Roon for a great example of EQ/upsampling/volume control/etc that results in -- arguably -- an enhancement rather than a degradation in quality.
 

RichB

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I think this is the part of the statement that some found objectionable which then prompted @dwalme's reply.

Just to summarize, no, DSP processing doesn't necessarily add noise if you are performing said calculations on 16/24 bit content in 32 bits. It depends on the implementation. See Roon for a great example of EQ/upsampling/volume control/etc that results in -- arguably -- an enhancement rather than a degradation in quality.
Dirac has the potential for benefit but not for improved S/N. Specifications and measurements I have seen show reduced S/N with DSP's engaged.
Are there measurements of S/N and THD with Dirac enabled versus not enabled, that would be interesting?

- Rich
 

Blumlein 88

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Dirac has the potential for benefit but not for improved S/N. Specifications and measurements I have seen show reduced S/N with DSP's engaged.
Are there measurements of S/N and THD with Dirac enabled versus not enabled, that would be interesting?

- Rich
As these tests are being done with no DSP being done. There should be no added noise above the analog nose floor due to digital process. This isn't a reason AVPs would be worse performing than simple DACs. Even with processing the impact should be minimal.
 
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Dirac has the potential for benefit but not for improved S/N. Specifications and measurements I have seen show reduced S/N with DSP's engaged.
Are there measurements of S/N and THD with Dirac enabled versus not enabled, that would be interesting?

- Rich
I'm not claiming improved S/N. If all signals must pass through the DSP chain unless Reference Stereo is engaged (analog only), then every digital signal should take the same one-time noise hit -- which should be negligible given the chip technology available today. Whether you choose to manage bass, engage room correction, and/or upmix to surround shouldn't matter as all these calculations can be combined accurately (losslessly) using higher bit depth math. Theoretically, no penalty should be assessed for each additional feature, especially if done in floating point.

The "improvements" I mentioned are mostly related to volume regulation and avoidance of clipping and brick wall filtering.
 

Lonnie

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Thank you Lonnie for your explanations! It makes so much sense now why every single AVP that's been tested have performed so poorly relative to $99 DACs. I didn't realize the cost to SNR when applying all that DSP/EQ/room-correction. Thankfully, for movies this is mostly unimportant and negligible.

Does this mean that for future AVP reviews, we should be comparing them relative to the "best in class" among their peers rather than the better measuring $99 DAC (for all the reasons Lonnie has presented)?

This is what I would recommend. Comparing an ARP or AVR to another AVP or AVR is in my opinion a fair comparison.
 

Lonnie

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I have been doing both, providing a home theater specific table as well as the larger table for all DACs:


Just a quick question Amirm. Why do you use Sinad? I would think you would use the IEEE standard in the AP test for S/N since it is industry standard. Just curious.

Lonnie
 

amirm

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Just a quick question Amirm. Why do you use Sinad? I would think you would use the IEEE standard in the AP test for S/N since it is industry standard. Just curious.

Lonnie
SINAD includes distortion (it is the same as THD+N in this case). So both SNR and THD are included in one. Sometimes one or the other dominates, other times both.
 

GrimSurfer

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This is what I would recommend. Comparing an ARP or AVR to another AVP or AVR is in my opinion a fair comparison.
So would you, then, recommend that customers avoid using AVRs in place of 2ch audio?

I'm not seeking a policy or marketing answer but a logical one that squares with your previous recommendation.
 

Lonnie

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So would you, then, recommend that customers avoid using AVRs in place of 2ch audio?
That is up to the end user to decide if the performance meets their needs. When I talk to customers I try to find out what it is they are looking for and help them find what works best. For a large percentage of our customers, the performance of our AVP is more then sufficient and at the same time a much smaller percentage like to use a dedicated 2 channel pre-amp. I just depends on what you are looking for.
 
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