Tag Archives: Emotiva

Emotiva LMC-1 as a DAC and Amplifier for my Computer

My Emotiva LMC-1 processor has been sitting in its box since I upgraded to the Emotiva UMC-1 processor. I was thinking about selling it, but then I had a fantastic idea! I had a spare set of Genesis IM-5200 speakers sitting in the bedroom (which my wife was telling me to sell), so why not use the Emotiva LMC-1’s built-in amplifier to power some decent music in the study by connecting my home computer to the Emotiva LMC-1?

The first thing to check was if the speaker stands and speakers would fit on top of my desk. It’s not ideal placement, but hey one has to improvise! The stands were a tight fit, with the left one looking a bit risky, but I put the speakers on top of the stands and everything seemed sturdy enough. With the stands locked in place by the constraints of the computer monitors the speakers had to be placed right back against the wall, so speaker cables with banana plugs were out.

I delved into the ever important box of “useful cables and things” and pulled out a coaxial cable to connect my computer’s coaxial out to the DVD input on the Emotiva LMC-1. There was also a pair of speaker cables that were just the right distance when I did a quick spot check of where everything should go.

I had to change the power cord on the Emotiva LMC-1 because it wasn’t quite long enough and since it’s an American plug I needed a free universal socket, of which there was none. I had to pull out a monitor that I use for my network router computer to get a free UK style socket. Luckily the network router computer only needs a monitor when I upgrade the software on it, so it’s not a big problem.

Then it was time to push the power button and hope the beast would come to life. Nothing! I had forgotten to flick the switch at the back of the Emotiva LMC-1 ;). The power-up sequence proceeded with no drama, so I was happy that the Emotiva LMC-1 was still working after its rest in the box.

I’d always configured the Emotiva LMC-1 using the on screen display (OSD), but now I had nothing but the front panel to play with. Luckily it was relatively straight forward to work out how to change the DVD input to use coaxial for audio. Then I had to work out how to make adjustments to the “Zone 2” configuration.

That proved to be a bit tricky. When I set the 2nd Zone to have the DVD input I could only get what appeared to be crosstalk coming out of the speakers at maximum volume (it was a whisper). I switched the input to Tuner and there was clearly enough power coming from the Emotiva LMC-1’s built-in amplifier to power the speakers. I checked the manual, but couldn’t see what I’d done wrong. I decided to try the “Sync” input for Zone 2, which syncs the main input with the Zone 2 input, and it worked!

One thing I have to be aware of is that Zone 2 will remain active, even when the Emotiva LMC-1 is turned off. This means the amplifier is on and more electricity is being drawn than what you would think of a product in standby mode. I can turn off Zone 2 before putting the Emotiva LMC-1 into standby mode, but I think I’ll just used the on/off switch at the rear.

The improvement in sound quality from my previous desktop speakers is, as you would hope, massive! Now I don’t have to sell my Emotiva LMC-1 or the Genesis speakers.



Emotiva XPA-5 Review

Background

I’ve been using three amplifiers to power all speakers since getting support for a 7.1 speaker setup by upgrading from my old Sony AVR to my Emotiva LMC-1 processor. Well ok, four amplifiers if you include the SVS sub’s built-in amplifier.

I was thinking that it seems rather pointless to take up valuable rack space and power plugs with two amplifiers when I could get one five channel amplifier to replace both my Lexicon 312 power amplifier and a Teac A-H500 integrated stereo amplifier. Not to mention less hassle, as I would not have to set the integrated amplifier at the right volume point to match the power amplifier and make sure it was on the right input if it was switched off from the wall (it forgets the settings).

Happy with my experience with the Emotiva LMC-1, I was hoping to order a next generation processor and a five channel amplifier from them this year. Unfortunately there have been long delays in releasing the next generation processors due to the lack of availability of some critical integrated circuits.

A couple of other forum members at Xtremeplace.com were also eyeing some Emotiva gear, so three of us combined forces in the hope of saving on the shipping. I picked up mine yesterday (Dec 28, 2008) from DanDon’s place at Jurong West. Thanks to Dan for organising the order!

Out with the old then and in with the new!

The Old Amps

The Old Amps: My Lexicon 312 and TEAC A-H500

The combined box and amplifier weight is nearly 40kg, so I took a trolley to Dan’s place to pick it up. A very worthwhile investment!

Emotiva XPA-5 Box

Emotiva XPA-5 Box

The amplifier is double boxed and well insulated from shocks with snugly fitting foam packaging.

Emotiva XPA-5 Double Boxed

Emotiva XPA-5 Double Boxed

Emotiva XPA-5 Packaging

Emotiva XPA-5 Packaging

Emotiva XPA-5 in standby mode

Emotiva XPA-5 - Top View

Emotiva XPA-5 - Top View

Bryston 14B ST on the left and Emotiva XPA-5 on the right

Bryston 14B ST and Emotiva XPA-5

Bryston 14B ST and Emotiva XPA-5

Emotiva XPA-5 powered on.

Emotiva XPA-5 Powered On

Emotiva XPA-5 Powered On

Watch the power on sequence on YouTube. You can watch it in HD on YouTube too.

As you can see from the photos above I have another power amplifier, my Bryston 14B ST, to power my main LR speakers while the Emotiva XPA-5 powers the remaining five speakers in my 7.1 setup.

I’m a bit lazy so I have not labelled my cables and in the excitement didn’t bother remembering the colours of the cables when I disconnected the other amplifiers. That meant it would be hit or miss when I reconnected everything. Of course I got it wrong. I noticed the bullets flying in weird directions on my favourite test scene, The Matrix lobby shoot out. I was a bit too keen to hear how it sounded and suffered the consequences. I grudgingly went off to get my sound meter and played the test tones from the Emotiva processor for a quick confirmation that everything was in order. I had both the side surround and rears around the wrong way!

Home Theatre Test

Now let’s be honest here – the time it took me to unplug everything, assess how many AMPs were going to be drawn from each socket/power board and moved the amplifiers in and out was far too long for a reliable comparison. The Lexicon amp is no slouch (it’s really a re-badged Bryston), and the Teac was only doing the rears anyway. However, I did feel that there was better integration in the sound, which is strange given the Lexicon is a Bryston. I also felt that there was more detail and clarity in the scene. I do not think there is a light and day difference, but that was not my intention anyway. I just wanted to clean things up and make sure I got a decent amplifier to replace my other two amplifiers and the Emotiva has performed that task easily.

Stereo Test

Both the Bryston 14B ST and the Emotiva XPA-5 have RCA and balanced inputs which can be set with a simple flick of a switch on the rear of the amplifier for each channel. I decided to use my Benchmark DAC-1, with the balanced outputs, to test the stereo performance of both amplifiers.

Again, it is not a straight forward task to switch bare wire connections and the balanced cables from one amplifier to another, so in the time it takes I’m sure my “sound memory” fades. Combining this with construction noise and a howling wind probably didn’t make for the best listening environment either. Hopefully DanDon and Quest from Xtremeplace can come over soon and we can have more ears and brains to make an assessment.

I played some tracks that I’m familiar with and found both amplifiers to perform similarly, which is a feat in itself for the Emotiva to compare favourable with the Bryston. Like both DanDon and Quest I found the Emotiva to be a little more harsh than I would have preferred. I would even say in one part of a song with some thumping bass that the Emotiva seemed to deliver a more defined bass note than the 500W+ per channel Bryston. However, It is the kind of track where you need to go back and forth to compare a few times and I just didn’t have the time with a guest coming for dinner.

Conclusion

I will have to wait for a quieter evening with some fellow Xtremeplace forumers to compare the Bryston and Emotiva amplifiers in more detail. For now I can say that for the price the Emotiva XPA-5 is an excellent amplifier for home theatre and will do a very good job in stereo too.

I now have seven channels of high power amplification with unbalanced and balanced connections ready to go into action. All I need is the new processor from Emotiva with balanced outputs and I’ll be a very happy man for a few years at least. In the meantime I’ve cleaned up my setup while at least maintaining, if not improving, the overall sound quality of my home theatre experience.

Now I just need to fix this horrible room!



Emotiva LMC-1 Review

Introduction

I’ve been living with my good old Sony STRDB940 AVR since my first foray into surround sound when I was living in Ireland in 2001. I purchased this particular AVR based on the reviews in What HiFi, which gave it a 5 star rating. It has performed very well over the years with no problems whatsoever. The only gripe that I have with it, as most people do with AVRs, is that it’s stereo performance leave something to be desired. Especially when you move from a dedicated stereo environment.

Moving along to 2007 and my Sony AVR has performed well, but is starting to look rather dated when compared to modern AVRs. For example, my Sony doesn’t have the latest Dolby or DTS modes, is not 7.1 capable, and has no component or HDMI support.

My components around my AVR have been upgraded too. I now have power amps for 5 channels and can use an old integrated to give me 7.1 capability. I have upgraded from the Starhub Digital set top box to the HD box which has component and HDMI outputs. The major upgrade was moving from my trusty old BenQ 6100 projector (800×600 4:3 DLP), to the Mitsubishi HC5000 projector (1080p LCD). The Mitsubishi has component and HDMI inputs too.

Looking further ahead I will have to decide whether to get dedicated HD-DVD and Blu-Ray players or put some appropriate drives in my HTPC. Either way, there are going to be more HDMI or component outputs coming soon. Combined with the improved video available 6 years later comes the new sound formats that the HD platforms can provide. Unfortunately getting the HDMI signals over long runs between different devices and working out the best way to get the HD sound formats (digital/analogue, bit rates, etc.) seems to be anything but clear at this point in time.

I was in a dilemma! I needed something to provide me with the modern video switching capabilities with the support for 1080p and the new HD sound formats. At the same time I didn’t need amplifiers, the audio/video processing would suffice.

I was reading some of the positive reviews and comments about the Yamaha 2700 and thought that might be the right solution. However, I really didn’t want to “waste” money on the amplifiers. I looked at the Emotiva processors and discounted them as out of date, with some having HDMI as an after thought, such as the Emotiva LMC-1. The LMC-1 also has two channels of amplification built in for a second zone. This is something that I was trying to get away from when considering separates! It is generally cited that one of the benefits of separates is keeping the delicate sound/video processing circuits away from the amplification.

You are probably scratching your head right now and thinking, hang-on, isn’t this web page about the LMC-1. What’s this guy on? 😉

What made me order the LMC-1 was the special offer of a 40% discount of Emotiva’s 2008 line of products that will include all the latest and greatest (for the moment) sound and video processing features. Looking at the lovely balanced outputs on Emotiva’s higher end gear I decided that an up to date version of that would be ideal. The LMC-1 would give me what I needed right now and I could upgrade to Emotiva’s next generation products when they become available. It is also cheaper than buying an AVR with all the same features, plus the unnecessary (for me) amplification.

Ordering the LMC-1

I opened Emotiva’s web site in Firefox, credit card in hand, and went through the order process. That was quite painless and I waited in anticipation. Then the bad news came that there was no cost effective way for Emotiva to ship to Singapore. They said that their quoted shipping cost with FedEx was US$358.00! I called up Emotiva to discuss the options, and the outcome was Vpost.

Vpost is a service from Singapore Post that allows you to have a USA address (or Japan) so that you can order goods from businesses that do not ship overseas. I had never used Vpost before, so I was a bit worried about how involved setting up an account was and all the steps required. I need not have worried as it was all reasonably painless, although I still think they could improve their web site a bit.

When I went back to Emotiva’s web site to order with my new Vpost address all sorts of strange errors started happening. I think they were trying to use my shipping address to validate my credit card details, which of course failed. I received a call from my bank as they were concerned about strange credit card charges for the same amounts appearing on my card. I was persistent and had tried to order a few times ;).

In the end I emailed Emotiva and organised a manual order. Unfortunately they are only a small company and some of the key people were on holiday, so the order took a week to process. The order was confirmed upon their return on March 28, 2007 and the box arrived in Singapore on April 11, 2007.

Costs

The table below outlines the costs of getting the LMC-1 to Singapore.

Expense Description Cost
Emotive LMC-1 SG$772.23 (US$499 including shipping in USA)
VPOST Shipping Charge SG$111.88
VPOST Insurance SG$39.00
Singaporean GST SG$39.09 (calculated on SG$763.47 with CIF of SG$781.76)
Total SG$962.20

CIF is cost, insurance and freight, as kindly pointed out to me by my friend Peter. :)

Photos

Here are some photos that I took while I was unpacking my new toy.

Emotiva LMC-1 Main Box

Emotiva LMC-1 Main Box

Emotiva LMC-1 Second Box

Emotiva LMC-1 Second Box

Emotiva LMC-1 Front

Emotiva LMC-1 Front

Emotiva LMC-1 Rear

Emotiva LMC-1 Rear

Emotiva LMC-1 HDMI Switch Front

Emotiva LMC-1 HDMI Switch Front

Emotiva LMC-1 HDMI Switch Rear

Emotiva LMC-1 HDMI Switch Rear

Emotiva LMC-1 with HDMI Switch

Emotiva LMC-1 with HDMI Switch

Emotiva LMC-1 Accessories

Emotiva LMC-1 Accessories

Stereo Performance

I have my music on my HTPC and play it through iTunes, as I have an iPod. I did some quick listening tests comparing my old Sony AVR, Benchmark DAC-1 and my new Emotiva LMC-1.

With one person, i.e. me, going back and forth, flicking switches and changing cables, the listening tests are not exactly reliable. Also, the Benchmark DAC-1 has an unfair advantage, in my opinion, using balanced connections instead of RCAs. That said, here is my opinion.

The Emotiva LMC-1 does quite a good job with stereo music. It is certainly better than my old Sony AVR, with more detail, a wider sound stage, and most importantly more realistic reproduction of instruments and voices. The Benchmark DAC-1 is another level up from the Emotiva, as I would hope, having spent all that money on it. ;). However the Emotiva is closer to the Benchmark DAC-1 than to the Sony. It would be interesting to compare Emotiva’s higher end models with the Benchmark DAC-1.

On a very subjective, but somewhat tried and true testing method, I found my foot tapping away to a number of tracks while listening to the Emotiva. Even on MTV the Emotiva made a noticeable improvement to the music compared with my old Sony. That is saying quite a lot as the quality of the music signal from MTV is quite poor when compared to the Australia Channel’s RAGE program.

Someone sent me a message on a local forum here in Singapore asking how the Emotiva compared to a Rotel processor. I would love to know the answer to this question myself, but unfortunately I don’t have a Rotel lying around. I’ll see if I can find someone who wants to bring theirs over to my place or I’ll take the Emotiva to their’s.