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Emotiva DMC-1 Review: The Testing System & Listening Environment

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The "Audiophile" experience. That term comes up a lot and it's hard to define what exactly makes up this somewhat mystical mojo so many strive for. Audioholics, in general, tends to harp on differentiating features, specifications, and measurable performance - but what about the sound? The experience? Well, the Emotiva DMC-1 is most definitely an Audiophile product, targeted towards audio aficionados who want the finest audiophile sonic performance coupled with a top-notch polished look to rival anything else available on the market. What's the bar, then? Exceptional sound quality and solid integration into a high-performance A/V system - fit for both two-channel and multi-channel sound. This review will assume an audiophile target audience, with supporting gear that sits at a price and performance level commensurate with the DMC-1 pre-processor. If you're looking for a bargain home theater solution - this review (and product) isn't meant for you.

With the objective in mind, and having already reviewed the MPS-1 7-channel modular amplifier from Emotiva, we were eager to get our hands on the matching DMC-1 processor and really experience what this latest controller distributed by AV123.com could do in terms of audio fidelity and performance. In particular, several features really stood out and drew attention to this unit, marking it a unique and flexible system:

  • Two (2) HDTV-compatible component video outputs
  • Fully backlit M X-500 universal remote control
  • Four (3 unbalanced, 1 balanced) subwoofer outputs (though not independently controlled)
  • Balanced 7.1 audio outputs
  • Flash-upgradeable memory

Not too many processor platforms feature two component outputs and I have to say, I found this to come in handy as a reviewer. While the main component output could go to my primary display, the Yamaha LPX-510 LCD projector, another output could be hard-wired to a secondary display such as the Zenith Z26LZ5R 26" LCD TV which I was reviewing concurrently with the Emotiva. If you own both a flat panel display for daytime viewing and a front projection system for nighttime theater, this is a cool feature.

The Testing System & Listening Environment

The Emotiva DMC-1 was feeding a Rotel R MB-1095 5-channel amplifier powering an Atlantic Technology System 4200e . All equipment was located in the soon-to-be-inaugurated Reference System 2, a 17 x 14 listening room featuring room acoustics spec'd by Rives Audio. This room simply presents a blissfully transparent environment for both music and home theater listening.

The new Reference System 2 listening room has 9' ceilings and features an aspect ratio that makes it acoustically "tame" to bass frequencies. A combination of absorptive and diffuse treatments and natural materials make for some pleasant acoustics. When possible, I prefer to do it naturally, however for the optimal results Reference System 2 is having several RPG 7" Skyline diffusers installed in the ceiling as well as some absorption material added to the side and rear walls. Hunter Douglas Duet Honeycomb window blinds are spec'ed for the room's two windows, allowing for sufficient darkening of the room during screenings.

The listening position is set back from the center of the room and made up of three Berkline 088 leather theater seats located about 11 feet from the front wall, and 6 feet from the rear wall. The Atlantic Technology 4200e LRs are approximately 10' apart and the dipole surround speakers are 13' apart on the side walls to maximize their excellent imaging characteristics. A 642e subwoofer is situated inside of the right front loudspeaker and produced clean, articulate bass during listening sessions.

 

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