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Emotiva XMC-1 A/V Processor Preview

Emotiva XMC-1 Processor

Emotiva XMC-1 Processor


  • Product Name: XMC-1 Processor
  • Manufacturer: Emotiva
  • Review Date: February 03, 2012 05:15
  • MSRP: $1999
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!
  • 7 HDMI inputs all 3D and 4K compatable
  • USB inputs (Supports Audio Files FLAC/AAC/WAV/MP3)
  • USB-type B input for lossless streaming audio (24/192K)
  • 7.1 Analog inputs
  • 7.2 analog outputs (unbalanced and balanced)
  • Ethernet connectivity
  • Setup and control via PC/Mac
  •  GUI interface
  • Asynchronous sample rate conversion
  • Stereo subwoofer support with independent level, distance and EQ settings
  • Selectable independent multi-band parametric EQ
  • TACT TCS 3e Dynamic Room Correction with GUI for both PC/Mac

While some on the Internet like to pretend that they don't get excited when Emotiva announces a new product, they are like those music snobs that immediately stop liking a band when they hear someone on the bus talking about them (or they sign a contract). Basically, they are liars. They are just as excited as we are and, if they hadn't just cleared their browser cache, we could prove it.

Emotiva XMC-1 AV Processor Video Overview

The new Emotiva XMC-1 is, according to the company, the "first product in a new generation of high performance digital audio products". Emotiva has been promising a new processor for years, and this is their fulfillment of that promise. Given the long development time, there is always the danger that it will hit the ground behind the curve. First, we'll look at the back.


Emotiva XMC-1 Backpanel View

The XMC-1 sports seven HDMI 1.4 inputs (one front mounted) and one output. There are four pairs of digital audio inputs (coax and optical) and one pair of outputs. For those with legacy gear, the XMC-1 has 7.1 channel analogue outputs, each with a balanced XLR option. There is a bit of confusion on our part about the number of analogue inputs. Emotiva lists four RCA style. We see two that are labeled "Stereo Input 1", one of which shares a pair of XLR inputs. There is also an RCA Stereo 2 and Record in and out. We think that the two Stereo 1 RCA inputs are being treated separately on the spec sheet even though they share a label (the picture is obviously a rendering and not an actual photo, so labels may change). We doubt that you can use both the RCA and XLR inputs labeled Stereo 1 simultaneously. Then they are counting the 7.1 channel inputs as the fourth input. The way we see it, it has 7.1 analogue, and three stereo inputs, one of which you can use as either RCA or XLR.

The only really glaring omission from the back of the Emotiva XMC-1 are analogue video inputs. Nowhere will you see component, S-video, or composite video inputs. So, basically, all you early XBox 360 buyers (who haven't been red-ringed into a newer unit) and Wii owners will have to connect your video directly to your display. Not a deal-breaker, but certainly an interesting omission and one that may make some consumers think twice about the XMC-1... or this might be the new trend, who knows.

There are a number of other inputs and outputs, including four trigger outputs, two IR connections, Ethernet, and three different USB ports. There are two USB-A (the thin ones you are used to using), one front and one on the back. These can be used to update firmware or playback FLAC/AAC/WAV/MP3 files. There is also a USB-B port on the back (the square one) dedicated for high bit rate lossless streaming audio using the C-Media 6631 chipset. We can't find anything in the Emotiva product list that support such an input so we're guessing that'll be included in upcoming releases.

The Ethernet port can be used for firmware updates, streaming audio, and connection up to your computer for control. Control4, URC, Crestron and others will be happy to learn that the Ethernet can be used for drivers for their preferred control solution. The TACT room correction system (more on that below) uses the Ethernet port for their GUI interface.

For outputs, the XMC-1's HDMI supports both CEC and ARC. It is both 3D and 4K compatible. OSD overlays and setup menus are available without having to black out the image. There are 7.2 outputs in both RCA and XLR flavors. As mentioned above, there are digital audio outputs (both types) and a record output (RCA). For those with additional zones of audio, the XMC-1 has stereo RCA outputs for two additional zones. The Zone 2 (and stereo record outputs) have separate lossless analogue volume control. Zone 3, since it isn't specified, is probably without volume control.

For audio, Emotiva went with a twin Texas Instrument 32 bit floating-point dual core 300MHz DA710 DSP solution that is pretty much top of the line. They have fully independent crossover settings for fronts, center, surrounds, and backs and stereo subwoofer options allow for independent level, distance and EQing. They've upgraded the main zone to top of the line Burr Brown DACs for the ultimate in fidelity. There are a ton of additional features but we wanted to move on to the room correction system.

One of the hardest things to get right is room correction systems. That's why so many companies go with outside, third-party systems. Emotiva, much smaller than the likes of Denon, Onkyo, and others, went with TACT. The TACT DRC system not only calibrates your system for a particular volume but uses Fletcher-Munson Curves to change that calibration as you change the volume. This is much like Audyssey's Dynamic EQ. Basically, as you change the volume, your perception of different frequencies will change. So, one global EQ won't cut it. You need an EQ that will realize that you'll experience the same frequency differently at a low volume versus a high. TACT's DRC system does this for each 0.1dB of volume change.

Editorial Note:  The XMC-1 has been upgraded to Dirac Room Correction system which will be a firmware upgrade offered in the near future.


Frankly, with the level of technology we're seeing in the Emotiva XMC-1 Processor, we're surprised such a relatively small company can put develop such a product. But such technology comes at a cost. The new XMC-1 doubles the price of the older, UMC-1 Processor (on sale for $500 from Emotiva). But to say the XMC-1 Processor is an "upgrade" from the UMC-1 is a huge understatement. But this price puts it in line with some of the processor offerings from the likes of Marantz and Integra, not to mention high quality receiver offerings from just about everyone. That makes standing out a bit harder. We are excited to see what the Emotiva XMC-1 can do on our test bench.

Emotiva is offering a 40% discount for current UMC-1 owners wanting to upgrade to this new baby.  If that provide enough incentive to upgrade your system, we don't know what will.

For more information, please visit www.emotiva.com.

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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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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