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Emotiva UMC-1 Pre-Processor Review

Emotiva UMC-1 Pre-Processor Review

Emotiva UMC-1 Pre-Processor Review


  • Product Name: UMC-1 Pre-Processor
  • Manufacturer: Emotiva
  • Review Date: May 08, 2011 15:30
  • MSRP: $699
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!
  • Buy Now
  • Twin Cirrus 32 bit dual core DSP’s
  • Decoding support for Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital True HD, Dolby PLIIx, DTS, DTSES, DTS HD, DTS Master Audio, DTS Neo 6, S/PDIF, PCM 8 channel (note: some audio formats are only supported via HDMI)
  • Multi-channel Dolby Volume
  • Genesis/ST Torino high performance scaling engine - featuring a full implementation of the Faroudja DCDi image processing suite
  • Intuitive, full color graphical OSD with adjustable transparency presented over live video, including HDMI
  • Emo-Q automatic multi-channel room correction and loudspeaker setup. Calibrated measurement microphone included.
  • Quadruple bass manager with independently selectable  high and low pass frequencies from 40Hz – 250Hz, in 5 or 10Hz increments (depending on frequency)
  • Selectable 12db or 24db per octave high pass and low pass filters by channel groupings
  • Independent 11-band graphic EQ with global bass and treble controls by channel groupings
  • Balanced subwoofer output
  • All legacy video inputs can be scaled and output over HDMI at up to 1080p
  • 1080p/24 fps video support
  • Video pass-through mode with 12 bit compatibility
  • HDMI sources can be format converted to component video up to 1080i (subject to Macrovision guidelines)
  • HDMI 1.3a Deep Color compliant (not 3D-ready)
  • All inputs are assignable and feature input labeling, selectable decode modes, selectable triggers, etc.
  • 0.5dB level trims on all channels
  • High voltage, low impedance main analog outputs for uncompromised dynamic headroom


  • 5 - HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI output.
  • 3 - composite video inputs (RCA)
  • 3 - S-video inputs  (S-video mini DIN)
  • 3 - component video inputs (RCA)
  • 1 - component video output (RCA)
  • 4 - stereo analog audio inputs (RCA)
  • 1 - 7.1 analog input set (RCA)
  • 1 - 7.1 analog output set (RCA)
  • 4 - coaxial digital inputs, (RCA)
  • 3 - optical digital inputs  (Toslink)
  • 1- coax digital audio output (RCA)
  • 1- optical digital audio output  (Toslink)
  • 1 - Stereo or 2 channel analog multi channel mix down output  for fixed level monitoring (RCA)
  • 1- stereo analog variable and independent Zone 2 output (RCA)
  • 1 - stereo analog fixed level record output (RCA)
  • High performance  AM/FM tuner with 24 FM and 6 AM presets
  • 3 - assignable trigger outputs Movie/Music/Amp (3.5mm mini)
  • 1- IR input (3.5mm mini)
  • 1 - IR output (3.5mm mini)
  • 1. Microphone input (3.5mm stereo mini)
  • 1- USB data input  (for software upgrades only)
  • Size:
    Unboxed: 17” wide x 3 7/8” high x 13” deep
    Boxed: 18" wide x 7" high x 23" deep

Executive Overview

Can you get a $2000 processor for just $700? Emotiva is betting you can. It's new UMC-1 7.1 processor combines some of the more advanced A/V processing you'll find into a package that is hard to beat. Let's start with the hardware. The UMC-1 utilizes Emotiva's signature aluminum faceplate design and LED backlit controls that give it a warm, minimalistic look. They're going to audiophile appeal and I think they nailed it. The UMC-1 looks like the love child offspring of a McIntosh and Anthem processor. I'm just saying...


On the back you've got 5 HDMI inputs, 3 component video inputs and three composite/S-video inputs. That's enough to handle up to 11 video sources, not counting your integrated tuner and of course any dedicated audio-only sources like CD or Aux. For connectivity to an amplifier, the UMC-1 has unbalanced 7.1 analogue outputs and even a balanced subwoofer output. The other thing that makes this somewhat of an audiophile system is the fact that it doesn't have any provision for serial or network control. It's not really suited or designed for whole home integration systems.

Emotiva UMC-1 rear

As far as inside the box.. there's a lot. For video processing, you have a Genesis Torino chip with Faroudja DCDi. The on-screen display is full color and will overlay overtop of video via HDMI. There's even automatic setup and room EQ via "Emo-Q" and an included microphone. Bass management is pretty sophisticated, and you can set different crossover points and slopes for each speaker group (the main channels, center, surrounds). In terms of audio, the system is equally flexible and we liked how you could customize how it treated each signal type.

emotiva inside angled

Remote Control

The remote is totally audiophile... which is to say ginormously big, clunky, and difficult to use or even hold in the hand. Lets face it, Emotiva hates everyone who it gives this remote to. They hate you. Why else would they go all the way back to 1985 to engineer a remote? Fortunately, nobody buys processors for their remotes, so here's what we recommend: get a universal solution, like the RF20 we reviewed earlier, and set this beautiful piece of billet aluminum on top of your processor for everyone to look at it. It's a piece of art, just not something you want to use. The only thing we really liked about it was the trim controls and tuner section. Having to grab a screwdriver to replace the two non-standard "N" batteries? Not so much...

worst remote control ever

Emotiva Remote Doubles as Navy Seal Weapon

What are the downsides to this processor? Well, it's not 3D-ready, but if you're as excited about 3D as I am, that's about as important as... it's just really not that important... Other than that this is a product that has the features you need, and none of the ones you don't. For all its capabilities, it's actually quite simple to use and operate - and that simplicity is what endears it to those looking for a more audiophile solution to home theater. You've got surround sound and video in a product that will do equally well at two-channel stereo sound. This is a very compelling buy from a company that has been producing value-priced products that consistently outperform their higher-priced counterparts. You owe it to yourself to at least check out the UMC-1, especially since they offer a 30-day money back guarantee. Pair the UMC-1 with one of Emotiva's hefty multi channel amps and you’ve got a separates solution with more power at your command than a flagship A/V receiver  - and for much less.

On the Bench

Using our Audio Precision APX585 8-channel HDMI Audio Analyzer, we put the UMC-1 through our rigorous testing procedure.

UMC-1 Frequency Response

Emotiva UMC-1 Frequency Response

Whether we measured the UMC-1 via the analog or HDMI outputs, the resultant frequency response was ruler flat to the limits of our test equipment.  We measured a mere +-.096dB variation from 10Hz to 80kHz via the analog outputs and  +-0.180dB deviation from 10Hz to 20kHz using 96kHz linear PCM on HDMI input.  The UMC-1 handled 0dBFS input signals without any issues.

Emotiva UMC-1 FFT

Emotiva UMC-1 FFT Distortion Analysis

With 200mVin, we set the master volume until it reached 1Vrms out of the preamp. The FFT plot was very clean (6.47+ 77.86)dBv = 84.33dB or 100*alog^-1(-95.69/20) = .0006% THD + N.  Max unclipped output for the main channels was 5.5Vrms (6Vrms for the sub out) which is more than ample drive for any audio power amplifier to reach its max gain.

Emotiva UMC-1 SNR

Emotiva UMC-1 SNR via HDMI In


Emotiva UMC-1 with 0dBFS input to HDMI and 2Vrms out, 40kHz LPF produced 95dB SNR which is excellent.  Via analog using 200mV in, 1Vout, the SNR was almost 80dB with no weighting or filtering used.  Again these are excellent figures.

UMC-1 Xtalk

Emotiva UMC-1 All-to-One Crosstalk Measurements

The UMC-1 exhibited commendable channel to channel crosstalk performance. With all channels acting as the noise source or disturber driven via the HDMI input, I measured each idle channel one at a time to determine the worst case channel to channel crosstalk via the analog outputs.  At 1kHz the UMC-1 yielded  >-80dB @ 1kHz and stayed level throughout the entire audio band with only a slight rise to -70dB at 20kHz for its noisiest channel.  We consider anything less than -40dB @ 10kHz acceptable so the UMC-1 met that minimum requirement with 30dB to spare!  We rechecked the results via the analog inputs and the UMC-1 produced similarly good results.


From its very generous feature set, ability to decode all of the latest HD Audio formats (IE. Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, etc)  to its excellent performance on the bench, the Emotiva UMC-1 has proven to be an excellent value for anyone searching for an affordable separates solution for about as much as a mid priced A/V receiver.  Backed by Emotiva's 30 day return policy and excellent customer support, we give little pause to anyone on the fence about purchasing this product.


Emotiva Audio Corporation

UMC-1 7.1 Pre-Processor
MSRP: $699

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About Emotiva Audio
Emotiva engineers believe that the experience of enjoying home audio and home theater components begins with thoughtful design, robust engineering, superior quality materials and a deep understanding of what the audio/video enthusiast wants and needs. It occurs all too often; designers and manufacturers consider technology and ease of use to be mutually exclusive qualities in a product. Emotiva engineers think differently. Technologically superior and user friendly products are paramount to the Emotiva design philosophy and are qualities that allow Emotiva users to appreciate their purchase in the future as much as they do today. We utilize only premium components with proven, critically evaluated circuitry in the audio and video paths to preserve the original quality of the sound and vision experience. Emotiva products compliment the entertainment experience and bring it up to a level rarely experienced with other mass produced products.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Andrew Gash was the online personality for Audioholics' video reviews back in 2010. He's an accomplished video editor and scriptwriter and enjoys masochistic events such as entering 48 hour film festivals each year, for which his last several attempts have placed in various nominations and awards.

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