Emotiva Ultra Series Setup and Remote
The manuals that come with the Ultra Theater Series combo are among the best I have encountered. Clear, concise and very well-written, they are very easy to understand with clear diagrams. They easily walked me through all aspects of setup and system adjustments. The rear panels of both units are clearly marked and designed in a very easy to use and logical manner.
The LPA-1's rear panel has 7 RCA audio inputs. Channels 6 and 7 can be used as a bridged output. There are also 7 pairs of very high quality 5 way binding posts for speaker connections. There is a standard IEC 3 prong power receptacle, and a 3.5mm remote turn on jack for use with the LMC-1's triggered output. There is also a large rocker-style main power switch.
The LMC-1's rear panel boasts 3 optical and 4 coaxial digital source inputs, 3 component video inputs, 5 S-Video and composite video inputs, and 7 analog audio source inputs. There is also a 7.1 channel analog input for SACD or DVD-A sources, as well as the 7.1 channel analog outputs for your external amplifiers and subwoofer. There are 2 composite video out jacks for recording to VCR or other device. Like the LPA-1, there is a standard IEC 3 prong power receptacle and rocker-style master power switch. A remote amplifier (3.5mm) trigger out jack and remote keypad control connection round out the array of standard jacks.
One thing you will not find on the rear panel of the LMC-1 are any HDMI inputs or outputs. But Emotiva will supply at no charge, a proprietary connector, the HSM-1 External HDMI Switcher. This was not included with my test unit, but is described by Emotiva as follows:
Editorial Note On The HSM-1
The HSM-1 allows the Emotiva LMC-1 preamplifier/processor to add HDMI capabilities. The switcher features two HDMI inputs and one HDMI output. It connects through a proprietary connector (the Zone 2 connector) on the back of the Emotiva LMC-1 processor. This proprietary connection allows the LMC-1 to control the switcher and still allows uninterrupted use of the RRC-1 wall plate accessory for Zone 2 operation. Input #1 on the switcher is aligned to the SAT input and Input #2 is aligned to the DVD input. This operation allows the HSM-1 to operate as if it was built into the chassis of the LMC-1. This eases control of your system by alleviating the need to switch the video input on your TV as well as the audio input on your processor. Pressing a single button changes all of the inputs simultaneously. Manual switch operation is also supported with controls on the switcher itself.
The HSM-1 switcher maintains 480i, 480p, 720p, 720i, and 1080i, 1080p resolutions. Cable runs of up to 50 feet are supported so that the preamplifier/processor location will not limit where HDMI screen placement will be. The HSM-1 can only be used with LMC-1.
A unique inclusion on the LMC-1 is the Zone 2 powered output. There is actually an onboard 25 watt x 2 amp to power a set of speakers for a second zone. I found this to be a great option for powering my outdoor speakers on my back porch adjacent to my theater, without having to purchase a small amp or sacrifice any power from the LPA-1.
Setup was straightforward - the biggest challenge was lifting the 63 pound beast of an amplifier out of its box into place on my rack - or should I say, under my rack! I chose to keep it on the floor to give it plenty of breathing room (not to mention making things easier on my back). Once I powered up the processor, I found the onscreen menu easy to navigate via the remote. Emotiva is to be congratulated for making what can often be a confusing process (setting up a sophisticated pre/pro) quite simple. Pressing the menu button on the remote brings up a simple Main Menu screen, with the following options: Input Select, Mode Select, Sound Adjust, Zone Control, Function, and Exit. From there it is very easy to drill into each section to make adjustments.
Initial setup of inputs was as easy as choosing your input, then selecting which audio and video inputs you wanted assigned to it. I was quickly able to assign all inputs for my gear, and then it was time to move on to mode and sound adjustments. Within minutes I had gone through a quick and simple setup of speaker balance, level, distance and delay adjustments and was ready to start listening.
One thing that is important to point out about the Emotiva is that simplicity does not equate to a lack of depth. The LMC-1 has plenty of tools for configuring the system, including test noise for level calibration of your speakers and on screen display options for other functions. Overall, I found setup of the LMC-1 to be very intuitive and satisfying.
The LMC-1 has three Dolby modes: Dolby Digital (AC-3), Dolby Digital EX, 3 CH, and Dolby Pro Logic IIx. For DTS, the available modes are DTS, DTS-ES, and DTS Neo:6. And in case I ever miss my DSP modes, there are 8 available: LIVE, STADIUM, CHURCH, HALL, THEATER, ROCK, POPS and CLASSIC.
I have to admit, that I have not used the AM/FM section of receivers I have owned for years. The main reason was because they usually did not have very good reception, even with the included wire and loop antennas. I decided to hook up the antennas that came with the LMC-1 and try out some radio (how old-fashioned of me!). I listened to the local classic rock station and was amazed at how easy it was to lock in the station, and found the sound to be rich and full. I also listened to ESPN radio on both AM and FM, and was equally pleased with the results. The LMC-1 has 40 presets for the tuner - 30 for FM, and 10 for AM.
Let me start out by saying that I am a big fan of
universal remote controls. I strongly suggest to anyone who is asking me for
help choosing and purchasing a system that they budget for a solid universal
remote to control their entire system. With that being said, I don't expect
much from supplied remotes, because I end up not using them anyway. (But when
reviewing a product I actually use ONLY the supplied remote so I can tell you
what to expect.)
The supplied remote for the LMC-1 is a decent remote, and much like the system itself, it has no frills. It is not a learning remote, and can only control the LMC-1. There is nothing sexy or fancy here, only a clean, simple layout that includes everything you need. I love the dedicated buttons for "on the fly" trim adjustments to the sub and center channel levels. The left/right/up/down/center array of buttons was a bit frustrating to me at first - the center button is for "menu," and I kept hitting it when I wanted to "select." The right button is the "okay" button which was usually what I was looking for. The left button is "exit." Once I paid attention to this, it was not that big of a deal. My main complaint with the remote is the lack of backlighting, which is always a problem for me in my theater, which is very dark. But to be fair, with such aggressive low pricing on this combo, I can do without the added expense that backlighting the remote - or even a learning remote - would add.