Electrocompaniet EMC1 CDP owner's suggestions

Which is the best to use RCA(single ended) or balanced (XLR) from the EMC1 CDP? I founded using XLR the sound has more transparent, musical and lively detail.
It depends on your pre-amp. If you have a truly balanced pre-amp like a Pass X series or an Adcom GFP750, it should sound better balanced. If you have a pre-amp that just adds balanced inputs & immediately uses a converter to deliver to a single ended (non balanced) circuit, it probably won't help & can even degrade the sound to use balanced interconnect.

Mine sounds better balanced out no matter what hookups the preamp has.
Thanks for your suggestions. Ljgj is right. I firstly hooked up directly from my EMC1 to Berning amp with volume control via single ended the sound was not transparent and high-and midranges sounded roll-off. Since I switched to XLR by using XLR interconnects(Granite Audio 470) to an XLR adapters for the amp the sound suddenly has a huge soundstage and having more high-and midranges and a sweet pot is up to the ceiling. I have also tried to use preamps(CJ-16LS, First Sound Deluxe MKII and Emotive Audio Erato)but none of them can match with the Berning amp.
The EMC-1 uses a truly-balanced design, and as such mine sounds better through SPM XLRs to my Aleph P also. After modding a couple for friends I can't help but notice that the XLR jacks are soldered directly to the analogue output board, too, whereas the RCSa are fed by a few inches of really cheap, unshielded wire, using only solder without cold-weld crimping. So if you're forced to use the RCAs I'd at least replace the lead-out wires with silver shielded ones and CRIMP them at the RCA jacks as well adding a dollop of silver solder. Gotta help at least a little. But balanced IS really the way to go with this magnificent player. If you need help getting the SE "UP'grade installed, let me know, as I have the parts, and can save you 50%. Cheers.
Thanks for your suggestion, Subaruguru! I actually own the latest version of EMC1 (called EMC1 UP). I had used Nordost Valhalla and Quattro-Fil ICs but I still do not like the sound until I connect the CDP with XLR the sound incredibly have a huge soundstage and much more details. Once again thanks for sharing your opinion.
I've ordered a First Sound Presence Deluxe II preamp which only has RCA inputs, so I recently purchased a pair of HT Truthlink IC's terminated with XLR's at one end and RCA's on the other. I did this because everyone agrees the EMC-1UP sounds infinitely better through the balanced outs. However, using the XLR-RCA cables results in a hum that didn't exist before. I've tried lifting the ground on the Amp, Preamp, and CD player...and several combinations of these with no solution. Of course the easiest solution is to run balanced and be done with it, but that prevents the use of the First Sound, which I'm mighty excited about adding to my system. Any ideas?
I'll be the contrarian here. I own one of the first EMC1s off the line and it is upgraded to the current UP configuration (Thanks Ernie!). I believe Mike from Father and Son's addressed this phenomenon in a previous post quite well.

The main difference between outputs is a 6 dB increase in gain using balanced over single ended cables. That's a VERY audible difference - some musicians can detect deviations in sound levels as little 0.5 dB. We all know louder sounds "better". Unfortunately, I think that is what most of you are perceiving.

How many of you have adjusted your volume up/down 6 dB using a sound meter and pink noise to level out the relative gain between trials in your A/B testing? Be honest!!!

I'd like to hear from those who have done this and still claim they hear a "huge" difference between XLRs and RCAs. BTW - I've owned all EC components at one time connected with balanced Transparent Reference interconnects and can make no such statement that there is an overwhelming difference between XLRs and RCAs. I know Ernie will take me to task over this one...;^)

Happy listening everyone...
Proberts, you may be right regarding the perceived performance gain via XLR being attributable to volume alone. Though, to my ears, the XLR outs seem to provide more detail. I'll admit I haven't precisely adjusted the volume using a sound meter during A/B tests, but I have adjusted the volume nonetheless. Perhaps the perceived improvement is analogous to the perceived improvement when using really expensive interconnects (as I look over my shoulder to the wire gurus pulling arrows from their quivers...).
Some of these guys have great imaginations. I've owned a EMC-1UP for several months now and have heard my player running both ways. Initially I purchased a pair of high quality XLR to RCA adapters so that I could use the XLR outputs of the EMC-1. I could hear very little difference between that and running it straight single ended. I then had the opportunity to hear it in the system of an acquaintance, which is fully balanced. Since I wanted to compare the EMC-1 running in each mode, I also brought my preamp and using a RCA to XLR interconnect, was able to hook it up to his amps. Taking into consideration the differences in our preamps, I was not blown away by the superiority of the EMC-1 running balanced. Yes, there was more dynamic headroom and yes, it was seemingly a touch more transparent and detailed, but the difference was not staggering. Rolled off highs and mids? A lack of detail? Not in my system. If the highs were anymore extended, I'd have to grit my teeth each time I listened to cds. As for the mids, I do believe the EMC-1 is a rather neutral player in that respect. Certainly not possessing the midrange bloom of my previous cdp, the tubed BAT VK-D5. One thing I will do, once the stingy, one year warranty runs out, is intstall a better quality wire from the RCA outs as suggested by Subaruguru. Btw, in looking under the hood of the EMC-1 I found it totally unimpressive as far as build quality is concerned. Not much to it actually. After living with the magnificent build quality of the BAT D5, the EMC-1 is a bit of a disappointment. Oh well, it's sonics that count the most.
Jm88439, what type of XLR-RCA interconnects are you using? I recently purchased and tried a XLR-RCA interconnect (not adapter) and had problems with hum. Do you have this experience?

Are you satisified with your EMC-1UP? Your comments aren't particularly glowing...
Tvad: It's actually a RCA-XLR and it's a Empirical Holophonic my acquaintance owns that he doesn't use anymore. No hum.

Yes, I really like the EMC-1UP sonically. That said, I've had some problems with it that remain intermittant and minor. Occasionally I will pause play and when I press pause again to start listening once more the counter will start counting as if it's playing but there's no sound. I only need to pause and start again to get the sound back. There occasionally are minute drop outs in the left channel. The stop button on the front panel jams so I don't use it anymore. Lastly, the remote occasionally does not work at all. I need to turn the player off and turn it back on to get the remote to work. EC has for the most part done a great job sonically with EMC-1, but despite its substantial bulk, I don't think it's the best built cdp around. Oh, and the Spider Clamp? I've heard it improves focus substantially. Focus happens to be exactly where the EMC-1 is weakest IMO. Now if EC ever gets its act together and produces Spiders for the general EMC-1 using public, I'll be set for sometime to come.
Tvad,Jm88439 - thanks for stepping up to the plate on this one. Agree, there's not much "under the hood" in the EMC1, particularly in terms of high end passive components. I did see a couple of Kimbercaps on the Analog power supply board. Everything else was penny parts. In the end, it's the sound that counts, so who cares? The EMC1 is a great player and will be with me for a very long time.
Jm88439, this is probably going to sound like a dumb question, but what's the difference between an XLR-RCA cable and an RCA-XLR cable? I'm assuming you're going from the balanced outs of the EMC to RCA inputs of your preamp, correct? Thanks for your comments regarding the player. I wasn't aware of the cheap parts qoutient, but I do like the sound they make together. Regarding the Spider clamp, haven't I seen a dealer on Audiogon advertising the clamps @ $350? I assumed this meant they were available, but I have to confess that $350 is awfully steep for a glorified puck.
Agreed, it's the sound that counts, but the price tag does too when you're on the poorer side of audiophoolishness. Seems to me, it doesn't need to cost quite so much. But then, what does in this hobby? I have great admiration for companies like BAT. Their components aren't inexpensive by any standards, but one look under the hood and you can see why. To this day I miss the bloom of the D5. And what it did with voices was fantastic. I'm hoping the Spider (when and if) will coax some of that from the EMC-1 and take what the EMC-1 does better than the D5 (most things IMO) even farther.
jm88439 - are you using solid state or tube amplification? Is your preamp tubed? I lost much of the bloom experienced with my EMC1 when I swapped out my tube amp (Air Tight ATM2) with a Bryston 14B-SST. Don't get me wrong, the solid state amp and EMC1 are providing great sound - just a little more analytical and less emotional. I sure miss that midrange bloom, especially on vocals, but the accuracy and speed of the big SS amp brings out subtle details like never before. Thank goodness I kept the Air Tight - now I can enjoy the best of both worlds with a simple equipment swap. I just wish my bank account (or lack thereof) loved this hobby as much as I do!
My pre is tubed and my amp is a hybrid w/tube input and ss output. The slight loss of bloom has nothing to do with the pre and amp. The BAT D5 is simply a better performer where bloom and 3D voices are concerned. Especially with the NOS Amperex and Siemens tubes I was accustomed to using. In other respects, I prefer the EMC-1. Always the trade offs.
Today, I connected my EMC-1UP to my Bryston Preamp using a set of HT Truthlink XLR-RCA cables (from the EMC balanced outs to the Bryston RCA inputs), and another set of HT Truthlink RCA-RCA cables (from the EMC RCA outs to Bryston RCA inputs). I can report that an A/B comparison produces no difference in sound quality that I can detect between the EMC's XLR and RCA outs when both are run into the Bryston's single ended inputs. This would lead me to concur with other poster's conclusions that the perceived difference in sound quality between the XLR and RCA outs has more to do with the 6db level increase when using a truly balanced connection (and not cheated as I have done). This being said, given the choice, I'd run the EMC truly balanced because I like to occasionally listen at "live" volume levels, and I can take advantage of the added 6db's since the balanced conections allow me to reach loud volumes at 12:00 on the volume knob instead of 2:00 on the volume knob.

FYI, I'm using a Bryston 14B-SST to drive Aerial 7B louspeakers.
Same results here. Results differ when comparing straight single ended hookup to straight balanced though. The straight balanced is indeed more dynamic with slightly enhanced detail. Not enough to convince me to "upgrade" my pre however. In fact, in some ways I actually preferred the sound running the EMC-1 into my pre compared to my buddy's truly balanced pre. I'm comparing apples to oranges of course as the two preamps are quite different.
Jm88439, I agree with your observations 100% regarding straight single ended vs. straight balanced.
You do have an excellent discussion about EMC1 UP compare to other CDP. But you also forget the power line conditioner and power cords also play an important role in the system. I am using Bybee Tech Signature power conditioner(has 4 digital outlets and 4 analog outlets), hook up my EMC1 to digital site and preamp(Marsh Sound design p2000t hybrid tubed) to analog site. I found the sound has more holographic 3D than before(preamp and CDP in digital part). This time EMC1 has performed an awesome sound with more transparency, detail and huge soundstage (using RCA interconnects since I have tried balanced ICs before too).

EMC1 using Elrod EPS 2S power cord, Marsh preamp using Bybee Quantum PC and Berning amp using Ric Cumming's Jaden Signature power cord. Bybee power conditioner with digital side using Custom Audio PC annd Analog side using Mac Delta 1 PC.
I use my PCK13Q+G PC on my EMC1 SE, balanced through an Aleph P with GREAT results. I suuggest using a very neutral, clean cableset on this CDP, as its freq extremes are extended and clean. No need to roll off, warm 'em up or smooth 'em down with bandwidth limited cables, IMO.
I just discovered Empirical Audio's $1400 modification to the EMC 1-UP and I'm intrigued. What do you EMC 1-UP owners think about modding the machine? Should it be left alone, or should it be made better, if possible?
The wiring inside of the EMC1-UP is not 75 ohms or even 110 ohms, so the connectors are not going to make much difference. In fact, the AES/EBU is wired directly to the 75 ohm outputs and there is an attempt to match to 75 ohms for all of them.
The EMC-1 as a transport can be very good, but probably will never compete with the Sony transports. The real advantage is using it as a CDP. It has the best upsampling chipset inside. With mods, it is exceptional due to the discrete analog output stage.
Audioengr, there has been much discussion among EMC 1-UP owners about the sonic benefits (or not) of using the balanced outputs over the single ended outputs. Does modding the EMC 1-UP have any effect on the sonic quality of the RCA outs vs. balanced outs?
Modding the EMC 1-UP has a positive effect on all digital outputs. Unfortunately, unless the transformer is replaced, the outputs are all 75 ohms. The balanced outputs would be 75 ohms as well, which is a mismatch and will cause reflections. With the stock player, the risetimes are very slow on the digital outs, so it is possible that the AES/EBU connector might sound better even though there is a mismatch. The mods speed-up the risetimes from 25 nsec to 5 nsec. This allows the use of all lengths of cables. With slow risetimes, it is advisable to use longer cables, at least 1.5m. I prefer to wire only to the connector that the customer wants to use and disable the others. This provides the cleanest, jitter-free signal.
Why would anyone MOD the ElectrocompanietEMC-1UP? I have ask this of myself, and the answer is not only am I Heretical, but because, after over 25 years in this hobby the EMC-1UP was my Big venture into Digital, simply because it sounded (SO ANALOG)yes. I have read some of your discussion as to the drawbacks of this player, and your on the mark with most. And what did this Heretic do, I send the EMC-1up off to Empirical Audio for Steve`s full mod, and it is a Major Improvement. Every thing about this Player was Improved, the focus, and the Black background,are the thing that will Shock you at first, hearing it with Vocals that sounds so real...but you have herd this from the EMC-1UP yes? NO!!! This is a completely diffrent Player I am totally impress.
So....go on, call me names, I like been a Heretic
I, like you Mango, follow Steve Nugent's piper-call to the EMC-1UP Mod. Can I be insane to spend $1400 to modify this player? Stay tuned...
When you are talking about mods, you are not relating to the "official" mods from Electrocompaniet, isn´t it ? (As it can be read in their website)
Has anybody tested this official mods from EC ?
Xelu, NO! not the mod on the "oficial" Electrocompaniet site. I am refereeing to the Empirical Audios Mod, that takes this player BEYOND any CDP I have ever herd.
What Steve Nugent is doing at Empirical Audio to the EMC-1
is something truly SPECTACULAR, this guy as over 25years
combined in the Digital and Audio field, he is no Parts swapper, Steve lisened to everything before the reengineeeing begins.
Tvad...my EMC-1UP as reached its full potential as of this time. This tells me of the extensive amount of parts Empirical Audio is useing. Have you sent Your EMC-1 to the Wizard?
Is this an SNL skit?
I just bought a pre own EMC1 CD Player. How much difference will the upgrade to 24/192 and cost? Thank you.