About the EMM Labs DAC

It seems that the EMM Labs DAC only can achieve optimal performance in conjunction with the proprietary Philips or Meitner transport. Does anyone know what might be the reason for this synergy? To me the Philips transport is just another mass production unit with quite an ordinary built quality. But where lies the secret? Is it due to another clock, D/A-converter chip or digital filter? If the Meitner modification is truly an improvement, why can it not be applied to other transports?

I would imagine that the principal reason is Meitner's proprietary DSD interface to be able to transmit a DSD digital signal for SACD to be used by the DAC. Add to this that there is a lot of space inside the Philips unit to allow the necessary hardware/boards to be installed for this application. Although Accuphase and dCS have their own proprietary interfaces, I don't think they'll work with the Meitner unit, and Sony has only recently come out with its own SACD transport which will output a digital DSD signal--who knows, that's probably yet another interface. As far as redbook goes, I'll leave it to owners to say whether other transports are as good or better with a normal CD pcm interface.
Rcprince is correct regarding the interface. That being said, any transport that outputs via an AES/EBU connection, would greatly benefit from the use of an EMM Labs DAC. Conversion from PCM to DSD still occurs, but, as Rcprince says, the benefits of the DAC master clocking would not be acheived.

If you want to be able to play SACD software, the Meitnerized Philips or the upcoming EMM Labs Transport are the way to go.

Jonathan Tinn
Distributor of EMM Labs
I don't own EMM, but there are some very wise folks (tireguy included) hereabouts that are going in that direction and this must mean something.
The Meitner modification of the Philips SACD-1000 involves the installation of a circuit card in an unused space on the left side of the player. It is (primarily) an optical interface, with individual AT glass fiber outputs for encoded DSD digital data, and also input/output for digital clock. As noted, the Meitner board also provides an AES/EBU (balanced) digital output, for unmodified PCM digital 16/44 only, and the Meitner-modified SACD-1000 could be used as the transport for any DAC accepting a balanced digital input.

The magic happens via the AT glass outputs, when partnered with the Meitner DAC 6, or new DCC-2 DAC/preamp. Together they are absolutely the best digital source I have ever heard, whether playing SACDs, or PCM discs upsampled to DSD. It does not sound remotely "digital" as we have come to use the term, but (at least) an "order of magnitude" better. There is a complete absence of artifact, edginess, irritation, glaze, congestion, harshness, grit, or however you may characterize the entire catalog of unnatural and fatiguing digital distortions, however subtle; they are simply GONE.

If forced to use a single term to describe what most impresses, it would be the overall smoothness of the presentation. To my ear nothing is lost, and the reproduction of nearly everything is improved: air, ambience, space, soundstage depth & width, natural detail, dynamic range, micro and macrodynamics, truth, beauty; I'm sure you get the idea. I am confident that anyone listening to the Meitner gear will recognize the "rightness" of the sound at once. IMO, it is as true to the "Real Thing" as anyone has yet approached in the digital reproduction of music.
With the propietary connection between the Emm Labs/Philips transport and the EMM Labs DAC, Meitner is able to completely eliminate jitter and
it allows redbood CD's [PCM] to be converted to DSD. Of course, I love
the SACD playback on my Emm Labs Dac6, but you also want that poprietary connection so you can hear what this player does for redbook
CD's. As a person who owns over 1,000 redbook CD's, the EMM Labs
transport and DAC is a gift sent by the audio gods. And, as great as it sounds on redbook, SACD is even better. Quite an amazing player!
Any DAC/transport combo that is clock-linked (master/slave) will eliminate jitter in the same manner, AFAIK.

He certainly *can* enable DSD outputs on other players - the SCD-1 being one of them... but clearly he chose the SACD-1000 for the aforementioned reasons (space inside, availability) and probably also due to the fact it's fairly cheap (inexpensive) and easy to come by at the time, plus it being a 6-channel machine too of course. Had to standardize on something -that was probably the best compromise @ the time. Good to hear they are OEM'ing something new though - SACD-1000 even at its best is a mediocre transport from a build quality standpoint. Combine that with the common congenital defect(s) known to exist with it (which are supposedly sorted out and fixable now...) and a new Meitner transport is almost a must, to continue selling DACs.

First off to these ears I have yet to hear anything better than the Meitner combo. I was told that they went with the Philips 1000 because of the drive and that its successor used an inferior one plus Ed liked these drivers better than the Sony's. I have had my combo since last summer with not a problem on the 1000 and I use mine several hours a day. I guess I am lucky. It is also nice to be able to have them several feet apart (as long as that ATT glass cable is) if you need too, as it is the only cable other than the power cord.
Like Panorama I have had no problems with my transport. I've had mine on for the last 3-4 weeks, 24/7 with no problems at all. With the MACE chip update all problems with the SACD1000 are gone, this upgrade is performed when Emm labs modifies these units. I knew of all the problems with the Philips players before I bought one, but trusted the experts when they say confidentally that the problems are fixed. I have not heard of a Philips failure when the player has the MACE chip. Rumor has it that the new transport will resemble the DCC2 more so then the other studio gear(DAC6e, DAC8, switchman, etc..), and that alone may make me want to change, in the mean time I don't think I am "roughing it" with the Philips.

Ed- I can't seem to figure out why you have such a hard on against Emm Labs, when you've acknowledged you haven't heard it yet. When you do you will understand why NO one who owns it cares about the Philips, it sounds so good why waste any time worrying when you could be listening! :o) It just seems the only folks who seem to care about the fact that the SACD1000 is used are those who don't own it or haven't heard it. Do you think folks like Fmpnd, Panorama, Mikelavigne, Mes, Gladstone, Rsbeck- just to name a few- would have a second rate component in there absolute state of the art systems if it wasn't the "real" deal? Just food for thought.
Are you saying that this cheap modified Philips with EMM Labs DAC beats in CD mode Wadia 861 or Accuphase 75V players?
Asking only about CD playback.

I have stayed out of all these EMM posts until now as I really would rather be listening than trying to "convince" anyone else of anything. Before getting to my point let me first say that, as one of the first EMM/Philips SACD owners, I did experience some problems with the Philips SACD-1000 (as many did) and EMM corrected the problem.

Now, since you seem sincere in your question, I thought I would chime in because all I was really interested in when looking for a new digital front end a year ago was Redbook playback (and considered any benefit of SACD a bonus). Now realize that the following opinion is ONLY that - an opinion - and is based on MY tatses, MY system and associated gear (and its synergy or lack thereof), MY room and MY preferences (gee, I guess I have pretty much qualified the HELL out of my opinion to the point of leaving it all but useless unless you know me or have heard my system) - oh well, here goes anyway:

I put the Philips/EMM up against an Accuphase 75V, a Wadia 860 [not the 861] (with GNSC upgrade), an Audio Aero Capitole MK-II (with the P-934,743 chip - LOL!), a Linn CD-12, a Sonic Frontiers T3/P3 and a Cary 306 - IN MY SYSTEM -- and, for me, the EMM won the battle convincingly. I should admit that with a few of these players, they were on short loan for only a few hours from friends or dealers. I REALLY did NOT want to like the EMM because I wanted to stick with a one-box unit. I was also not in any way biased toward any one piece - I just wanted the best sound I could get in my system.

The EMM/Philips combo, TO ME, and to a couple of my friends, had better resolution and detail and yet was so much less "digital" and mechanical sounding. Trying to get the Nth degree of resolution and detail while also getting an effortless, relaxed and non-fatiguing presentation has always been my goal but getting those qualities, I have found, is not only a very difficult task, but many times is mutually exclusive with many high end products. The EMM Labs gear, assisted by my associated gear and my room treatments, has finally allowed me to reach my goal - with REDBOOK CD (which I listen to at about a 100 to 1 ratio over SACD).

Were all the other players weak or bad? No, just not as natural with as much detail and resolution and that spelled joy for me. But, as always, YMMV.

I hope this helps. If you are ever in the Metro Detroit area, drop me an e-mail and stop by for a listen.


PS- a couple of very nice guys from the Gon stopped over a few weeks ago specifically to hear the EMM stuff . These guys have been around audio a LONG time, have heard it all and are still peripherally associated with the high end business. I told them that I did not want to do the typical "audiophile dog and pony show" where I play only a select few discs that make MY system sound the best. Instead, I told them to bring THEIR reference discs so they might be able get a handle on any differences. I sat them down, left the room and turned em loose. The one gentleman has a Sony SCD-1 (I don't recall if it is a modified unit). I noticed they were shaking their heads so I figured they didn't like it. Went I went in the room, the one gentleman said he never thought he'd say this but the CD he played was "perfect" and didn't know where it could be improved. The other gentleman said he had heard this CD a gazillion times but was hearing all sorts of things (not just ambient info or useless info like paper clips dropping) he had never heard before - which added to the enjoyment. I say this NOT to brag about my system, but to brag about what guys like Ed Meitner (as well as MANY other fine designers) are capable of bringing into our homes! If either Ted or Dennis read this - feel free to chime in!!!
I must differ with Tireguy on the transport issue. I would prefer a much more rigorous housing. The Phillips is a tin-can subject to all sorts of resonances. As it stands, I suspect the performance would be even better with a solidly built transport.
Gladstone- Of course you would :o)
What a review!
>If you are ever in the Metro Detroit area
I really appreciate your honest review and invitation.
because of this I have read all information on EMM Lab on their web page. It is former pro equipment.
I wish they build 2 channel version of it (I do not need 6 channel) DAC. Maybe as 2ch it would be more affordable (like used Wadia). But you got me thinking.
Out of (Accuphase 75V, GNU Wadia 860, an Audio Aero Capitole MK-II (with the P-934,743 chip - LOL!), a Linn CD-12, a Sonic Frontiers T3/P3 and a Cary 306 ) what (beside of course of EMM Lab) have you liked? Maybe you would be able to put them in some order. It could be interesting!
Seems to me that you are very audio-experienced man.
Hope some day used 2ch EMM's will be on auiodgon's classifieds.
Best Regards from Phila area.
fact that SACD player is so good as CD is amazing to me, especially that I hear SONY's SACD in CD mode and it was not good, I have read that even Accuphase 75V is amazing CD player his SACD successor 77V is as CD player not that good at all. So I have figured that SACD player are not good as CD players. So it surprises me even more that this modified SACD Philips (with Meitner DAC) is so good in CD mode!
I assuming that as SACD is good too.
Even if Tireguy says it, it's still true. The Meitner is a fabulous piece. It creates a 3-D image the likes of which I have never heard before and it's silky smooth.
I was able to hear member Larry's (gasman above) new Meitner Transport/Dac in his fabulous home reference system and it was silky smooth/relaxed yet extremely revealing of the finest details.....best I have ever heard his system sound.

The ticket to admission is high, but if you want the very best you should hear this set-up before making another choice.
EmmLabs makes a two channel version -- it is called the DCC2 and it *is* less expensive than the DAC6. What this player does for redbook
CD's is nothing short of amazing. I have over 1,000 redbook CD's, so
redbook play-back was my primary concern. Of course, SACD is even
better, but until more SACD software becomes available, the Emm Labs
player will help you enjoy the hell out of redbook. If SACD format dies
a horrible death, I would still be ecstatic with my Emm Labs gear because of its redbook play-back.
There is no such thing like DCC2 on their web page ?
How much is it suppose to cost?
Who is selling it ?
here's what it looks like:

I have never heard any emmlabs equipment, but have been reading the raves in this section of audiogon for many months. (perhaps even years). I must admit to being very naive, when I wonder why no other maker can solve all the problems of digital, when Meitner can. Are his techniques so solidly covered by iron-clad patents that no one else can utilize them, or is his genius so totally unique, that this superiority cannot be copied by anyone else? Or, are most other manufacturers designing for sound that quickly impresses people who have not heard much live music. (i.e. the "hi-fi" sound) For me, a reasonably priced digital one-box player offering these qualities would be one of the audio breakthroughs of all time!
Irishdog - THANK YOU!! That is the most sane statement I have ever heard concerning the status of digital disc technology.

Is it asking too much for a player that is NOT discontinued (SACD-1000), that Meitner does NOT refuse to convert anymore, that we can actually buy NOW for less then the price of a nice USED CAR and that could actually produce great quality sound on all current formats - INCLUDING (God forbid!) DVD-Video?

Has the general acceptance of the pitifully-compressed sound of MP3's convinced all the equipment manufacturers and recording companies that high levels of digital sound quality are no longer needed in the marketplace to sell their junk?

Even on newly-released CD's, with all of the state-of-the-art recording technology available now, sound quality is the least important aspect of the engineering. The latest Jonny Lang and Rush CD's (not the new live Rush release) are the WORST recordings I have ever heard. They are both getting sold to a used CD store as soon as possible.

This is depressing.....
Thanks Bhouser, for your thoughtful reply. I agree about the software currently being issued. Much of it is unmusical, harsh, and sometimes unlistenable. This includes SACD, DVD-A etc. Where is the incredible sound Bob Harley promised us after listening to the special Sony demos that supposedly were able to duplicate a "live microphone feed" with DSD technology? Real life SACD's seldom even approach the euphoric perfection Harley claimed he heard. Of course, many current SACDs are converted to DSD from PCM sources, even those from such respected classical labels as Chandos. How can the the Meitner gear cure what is already messed-up in the mastering. If it can, then it is truly a miracle!
Do a Google search on Ed Meitner. He has been "THE MAN" when it comes to digital for quite some time. He was making his DACS for the professional market and record companies were using them to make
SACD's. His DAC is so good, as is his Switchman pre-amp, that high end consumers demanded them. So, Meitner, who was used to creating them on a limited basis for record companies, had to tool up in order to manufacture these units for high end audio consumers. One of the ways he has been able to meet the demand quicker rather than later has been
to modify the Phillips transport so it can work with his DAC. People who
have heard the combination have raved and production runs have sold out quickly. So, for people who have heard the EMM LABS gear and people who have purchased it, the Phillips transport has been a moot issue. These are people who wanted the Meitner player who didn't feel the need to wait until Meitner could design and manifacture his own transport. I would also guess that Meitner's customers, like myself, were
comparing the Meitner to other top of the line digital players like DCS,
Burmeister, Linn. Believe it or not, Meitner's Emm Labs gear is not only
the best out there -- but his gear is also reasonably priced IN COMPARISON WITH OTHERS AT THAT LEVEL. So, if you want that level of
playback and you're shopping at that level, you buy the Emm Labs DAC and Phillips Transport because it is that good -- you want the best playback that is availabe -- AND because it is fairly priced in comparison to other top of the line digital players AND because it sounds so good, you don't want to wait until Meitner can design and manufacture his own transport -- you hear it and you say, "I don't care what it is called -- I want that!" And you can't wait to get this puppy into your system -- you want it YESTERDAY!
To buy EMM Labs gear, contact Jonathan Tinn at Chambers Audio -- (503) 221-0465
Let's be fair. The EMM labs is superb, but it can't make a badly mastered CD or SACD sound good. No player can or ever will. What the EMM does is take good to excellent CDS and SACDs and make them sound tremendous.
There is no question that Meitner is at the top of this game. The problem is, the game itself sucks. Even if I could justify the cost of his products and buy them today, I still can't play DVD-Audio or DVD-Video discs without buying some other player. And of course, Ed would say "why would you want to???". Well, I DO.

Simple fact is, until the format wars are resolved or yet another format completely takes over, there will NOT be enough quality MAINSTREAM music available on ONE hi-res format to finally finish-off CD's as the primary (yet inferior) audio media. And why should it when the general public has no clue that we are all being cheated of good sound quality by a recording industry that does not care?
To Bhouser: AMEN!! Irishdog.
You know what? If you buy a Porsche Carerra, you can't haul the soccer team around. There are always trade-offs. The Linn CD12 costs $20,000 and doesn't play SACD or DVD-A. Since no player or format will make badly recorded software sound like well engineered software,
it is a moot point, you can say that about any player, be it digital, analogue, or whatever -- so, why bring it up? The problem is that if
this player is above the price at which you feel comfortable, you need to find reasons NOT to buy it -- like -- it won't make your coffee, won't walk your dog. People who are buying the high end players like
EMM Labs will just buy another high end player to play DVD-A, just like the guy that owns a porsche will usually have several other cars. And -- the point about high-rez is also moot. Like I said, if High Rez dies,
which I doubt -- follow this -- then we will all be stuck with redbook CD as the standard of digital playback -- and I will have a player that converts redbook to DSD and is the best redbook player out there -- to my ears. And -- I have heard redbook CD's on the Meitner that never sounded right with any other player sound amazing on the Meitner --
it is just a great player and must be heard to be believed.
To Rsbeck: Amen Tireguy. mind as well be cliché ;)
Tim, check this out. The DCC2 and new transport. The SRA stands and rack will be at my house after the show. Kevin out did himself again!


ok when is the DCC 2 and transport supposed to actually start shipping and price for the transport will be?
Michael- Those stands look real nice!! Let me know how they sound when you get them into your system.

Justin- Now this is just what I am told and I don't believe it any more then you do, but..... The DCC2 Dac's should be shipping by the end of the month. The transport(I've got a better picture I will post later- so you guys can see a close up of it) is still being finished, I guess they have got at least one working at THE show which is news to even me, I would not expect to see the Emm labs transport before late spring. It retails at $5000. I will tell you this much the DCC2 with the Emm labs transport on top is beautiful!

BTW those Gilmore speakers just keep getting uglier and uglier every time I see them!
Any idea which DAC chips are used by Meitner?
"BTW those Gilmore speakers just keep getting uglier and
uglier every time I see them!" gee I couldn't agree more with you Tim, can't say I have ever seen any speakers this ugly before.
They are proprietary. That is what makes them unique.
hello any DAC 6 owners planning on selling their DAC 6 when their DCC 2 arrives? If so I am looking for the DAC 6 and the modified Philips 1000 transport combination for purchase
What? The Wadia is not good enough? Just kidding. Although I am a two channel person I like the pre to be seperate from the DAC that is one reason I chose the DAC6. I am sure the DCC2 will be very very nice though. It looks nicer. :^)
Haven't heard the Steve Huntly modified wadia or the EMM combination wondering has anyone compared the great northern sound modified wadia 27ix and 270 or 270 se transport directly to the EMM Labs combination?
Why on earth doesn't EMM Labs liscense the Technology? Do you realize the killing this guy could make with the right deals? Meitner seems too busy for a consumer level product even if it is ultra high end. Why not allow other manufacturers the chance to implement his technology in more affordable designs? It's no secret the audiophile community is crying out for such a solution. Perhaps he could work a % of sale deal, I am sure many companies would love to be the first out the door with near EMM Labs performance in various reasonably priced packages.

If he isn't careful he is going to get trounced and forgotten once things pan out. It's highly unlikely hes the only individual on earth capable of advancing the SOTA. Create a quasi monopoly while you still can Ed.

Tim -
I have heard the EMM labs stuff, on several occasions. Heard his prototype transport @ CES too. Not bad looking, finally - still smacks of pro-gear look though, which IMHO is not really expected @ the price point it is at. (BTW, $5k was not mentioned as a price point. I expect it might be higher? The people in the room with it (Tenor?) didn't have any info at all.)

I have owned an SACD1000 and later sold it - didnt' care for the build quality. The sound could be the best thing in the world, but if I can't live w/ the physicality of the transport, it's a moot point. Reliability was iffy at the time too, this before the 'fix' was well known.

I like the work he has done, I just don't see the justification for the price points. I'd love a normal, stripped down (no preamp) version of the DCC2. It should sell for about $2k - $2500 max. Beyond that, I just find it hard to justify the price.

"Any idea which DAC chips are used by Meitner?"
"They are proprietary. That is what makes them unique."

...rrrriiiiiight. Sure. Like any chip manufacturer is going to tool up a whole separate chip to sell maybe a couple hundred of them? Not likely. It's probably just the implementation that is unique. Maybe they are unique but seems highly unlikely to me.

"If he isn't careful he is going to get trounced and forgotten once things pan out."

This could be a very possible scenario in the longer-term, once standards solidify and more players get into the game. there are also some very nice one-box players on the horizon or already here. (Esoteric/Teac, Luxman, something from Wadia by the end of the year they say...)

" It's highly unlikely hes the only individual on earth capable of advancing the SOTA."

Clearly. Of course he is not. He is one of the pre-eminent ones doing work in this area, though, and he has a relationship with Sony apparently, which gives him closer contact with their stuff than nearly any other outsider, or so it seems. It just needs to be more affordable, if it truly is as good as it is claimed to be. There's no reason it has to cost as much as it does - recouping/amortizing the cost over a few units @ high price point will not play out as well as lower cost and slightly higher volume and market share.

" Create a quasi monopoly while you still can Ed."

Seems to be trying, or at least he has a good head start. Still, it could be done better (marketing/sales/pricing/etc.), I think, as outlined above.

Time will tell...

Expect the price to be higher. Expect them to list in Canadian dollars as the US dollar has dropped in value like a rock. Case in point is the Tenor 300 Hybrids now list in Canadian dollars. A few months ago you could get a pair for US30k now US35k.

By it now Ed before the dollar falls further or if you're lucky and get paid in Euro's you can buy it for less. I'm glad I got mine when I did. Especially my Kharma's. They went up 30%. :^)

By the way, how did you like those SRA stands and rack shown in the room?

I was wondering what kind of rack that was.Got a price on that?Gary.
The cost varies by fit and finish. If you want wood, the type of wood, inlays, etc. I bought the three of them before they went to the show. In fact I have not even seen them until I saw them on the web. They should be here on Monday or Tuesday with the total freight weight of 837Lbs. The CRAZ4 rack listed at $8000 because it had more upgrades than normal. It had 1.25 granite on all shelves instead of only the top while the others come standard in .75. The two Ohio Class XL stands which are custom made for what ever they sit on (mine being Tenor 300's) list for $4000. They have special upgrades too. All three are said to be the best in total isolation.

I have the VR isoBASES (which were made for these amps) right now under my Tenors. In fact, I bought them from Frank Peraino who had them under his Tenors and upgraded to the Ohio Class XL. Before I had them I had my Tenors on the carpeted floor. The change was not subtle so I know they do what they are supposed to do. I am really looking forward to it when these three get here.

So, very soon like next week you will see my Zoethecus Z5 here on the gon. :^)

is any rack really worth $8000? I find hard to believe people will actually pay this for a rack
I am a firm believer in you get what you pay for. I did state list and most do not pay list. But who cares what the price of anything is if people are willing to pay it. If one does not like the price you don't have to buy it. Would I pay $440000 for the new Porsche GT when I can buy a 911 for a quarter the price? If I had the extra cash, I gladly would. But that is just me.