The Emo XDA-1 is a good DAC, no worries there. The question is, do you like the AirMotiv speakers? I find the ribbon tweeter to be a bit strident, but others disagree. Ya better listen and choose what pleases you...
Two SUPER buys out there. Your total cost (before cables) is just under $400.
For your amp, from Emotiva ... Emotiva mini X a-100 now on sale for $175.
For your speakers, from Energy ... Energy RC10 at $220.
At $220, the RC10's are a steal ($600 list). They are a very smooth sounding speaker with good bass. I used them for a few years and they were good performers.
THanks for the replies all.
Is there anything wrong with marantz 4200 receiver and mission bookshelf(can't remember the model,im at work)? I bought these years ago following reviews/recommendations/etc off the web, and it sounds horrible to me. I just lived with it. I'm just afraid this will happen again.
Without owning the Marantz or Mission, I wouldn't know. What precisely sounded so horrible?
Today's entry level AV receivers are not designed for 'music only' reproduction. They are designed to make car crashes, explosions, and general movie mayhem sound impressive. It's not that they necessarily sound bad, it's just that they don't do music justice. Think about the bass that goes with movie reproduction ... boom, boom, boom.
That is why music only users tend to go for separate amplifiers, CD only players (as opposed to universal players), etc.
There are also synergy issues to consider. Just because individual components are rated highly, doesn't necessarily mean that they will sound great together.
This is why auditioning is important, though depending on where you live, that can be difficult.
Nat, where are you located?? Are there any HiFi salon's located with driving distance? You may just want to go just for the sake of wrapping your own 2 ears around some of the lowest priced gear out there and see for yourself if any magic can be found - or if any of the problems you've been running into can be avoided. It can't hurt anything, even if you only wind up ruling some things out for yourself. Let your ears be the guide. Also, dealers often have already experimented with their stock and have come up with pairings (like amp/speakers) that sound the best among what they have to choose from. Ask them if they have any particularly good sounding, but cheaper combo's and then don't fail to at least audition them. Then keep both hands on your wallet...(!) Apart from that, Emotiva does offer some pretty good bang for the buck gear. Also study up as much as you can about impedance matching from your source-to-pre (or int. amp/receiver, or whatever) as well as from amp-to-speaker. Getting things wrong here may be part of the problem you've been having (can't say that for sure), but this can only help you in the long run. Hope this helps.