Davidri, look at my thread entitled, Reference DACS: An overall perspective, it contains a ton of information that you are seeking.
17 responses Add your response
I suggest you also consider taking a look at APL Hi Fi's NWO-2.5 which is based on the Esoteric UX-1. A European version (240V) of the NWO-2.5 is also available from APL (843-665-6113). This is Alex Peychev's original design that uses the UX-1's excellent VRDS NEO transport and chassis. Several people who either own or have heard the NWO-2.5 recently posted extremely positive impressions on the APL Forum. (http://www.aplhifi.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=558) This player is a major milestone, it is the cutting edge of digital.
After extensive listening sessions with several top players including the EMM Signature combo, Reimyo, Spectral SDR 4000S, and Zanden, one of the posters concluded that "nothing comes even close" to the NWO-2.5. There is also a post on Teajay's thread (referenced above) by an Audiogon member who has listened to many top players including the EMM, Zanden, and dCS combos. He concluded that the NWO-2 (which has since been bettered by the 2.5) beats them all "in a non-subtle way." Both gentlemen claim that the NWO is at least on par with the state of the art vinyl (and sometimes better).
Based on my sublime experience with Alex Peychev's previous design (the APL AKM 3910) and based on the high praise of the NWO-2.5 by several people with highly discriminating ears, I recently ordered an NWO-2.5.
I met someone who has both units. He prefers the detail of the DCS over his EMM unit. He considers the EMM warmer in sound (latest signature version) and a better match for a lean system. He now has them in 2 systems so I was not able to AB them. I would suggest that is a matter of sonic priorities and system matching. I have always prefered systems I have heard w. EMM over systems w. the DCS.
"In my experience, the EMM (Signature) is outstanding on SACD but very disappointing on CD. I have no direct experience with the dCS but I could not live with the EMM as my only source"
I am simply amazed at this statement.
Talking to everyone who has the Signature upgrade, most would indicate that the significant sonic improvement has been with Redbook and not SACD (which remains exceptional)
Cleopatra do you have version 24 which is the new algorithm for playing Redbook in 2X DSD?
One interesting thing I read but i forget where is that upsampling CD players are better in different situations than non upsampling/oversampling CD players. But the same holds true in reverse for the alternate situation. What I find is that the EMM is excellent on modern CDs but reveals the shortfalls of older CDs. In that regard, the Zanden or others might be better. I hear the AMR can adjust this. That makes it a nice alternative for CD based systems where SACD is not important. I honestly believe once people hear SACD on the EMM they will not want to give it up.
I also spoke with people who find the DCS equipment warmer than the EMM. I find the reverse true. It might be a power cord difference. It might be more but in different systems different equipment will shine.
2010: Realizing the OP has moved on. I owned both and at the same time. To clarify, I owned the DCS Purcel and Delius and the EMM Labs CDSD and Dac6e combo.
Both are wonderful and are more alike than different. The differences that does exist are not significant (like night and day) but are different by shades.
Firstly, I think both are smooth and very well rounded devices that are not typically going to offend too many people. Not everybody will find they are their cup of tea, but I would be surprised if anybody can really say either offends them.
The EMM Labs is perhaps a hair warmer sounding than the DCS. The DCS is not analytical, but ever so slightly more detailed sounding - but both offer plenty of the details. I have also owned Wadia, Esoteric and other good CDP/digital front ends, but am just answering the OP Qs.
Personally, I would not exchange one DCS for an EMM Labs of the same vintage as I do not feel that the difference between the two will significantly change your sound, improve or otherwise. I think the DCS components are a bit more reliable than the EMM labs, which I fear are a bit more sensitive (but I never had a problem with mine when I owned them - EMM Labs that is).
Both loose their value significantly vs. new when newer models come out and based on the initial selling price. Both are much, much better values used and can be purchased for WELL under 50% of the new price.