Emotiva UMC-1 Experience
This is a short review. I plan to extend it after I've had more time with the unit:
Well.....I had a few rough spots, but they were all associated with a learning curve. The UMC-1 is very simple to use and also very complex to get the most out of it. In that regard it's no different than any other processor. Other units I listened to: Onkyo Integra 9.8.
This is a superior pre-amp for music when compared to the Onkyo. It creates a deeper soundstage and more air around instruments in two channel mode. There's also something less harsh and gritty in the treble and a more neutral slightly lean midrange. In home theater multi channel modes you are not likely to hear a difference. They sound nearly identical and appear to handle codes the same. I give the UMC-1 the nod in this important area though, because it's a more musical pre-amp. The channel specific EQ settings are a godsend, if you take the time to understand that 3 speakers in 3 different places don't sound the same. My front 3 channels never sounded so seamlessly integrated as they do now.
Using PS3 blu-ray, Sony BD320 blu-ray and Comcast cable HD I initially had some issues because the pass through was adding sharpening effects. Dropping those settings and switching to 1080p took care of it. I see NO DIFFERENCE now between direct sources and UMC-1 relaying signals as a switcher. I have a HD projector and a screen 10 feet wide. I also have a 40" Samsung 600 series LCD. IQ is excellent across the board, but the lack of a true unruffled pass-through.is still bothersome. Though I don't see an issue anymore, some will probably not like this aspect of the design. For all of the talk of changing color spaces and signal integrity, the UMC is sending a beautiful picture to my displays.
On ONE occasion the unit would not power down. I powered it up again, and then down and all was well. I have experienced no issues with sync delay, blasts of static or anything else after watching several movies and cable programs. CD's played on my PS3 work perfectly with no audio loss at the head of tracks. My Oppo CD player also works perfectly. Switching between sources is quite slow when compared to the Onkyo. Skipping chapters on DVD's does result in a second long delay before the audio signal is restored. None of these issues impede typical operation of the unit.
The UMC-1 certainly looks better than the Integra. The Onkyo is pretty awful, looking like a big cheap receiver. The UMC-1 is a very sweet looking machine with a simple elegant face.
The supplied remote is awful, looking cheaper than a badly painted Yugo. It is quite functional though. I can't wait until the free upgraded remote ships, though many will use all-in-one units anyway.
I have NO DOUBT that others are having issues with the UMC-1, especially those who adopted very early, but many of the unit's problems are now resolved. Emotiva is still working on ironing out the firmware as well. My general feeling is that this is a 2000 dollar processor for 700 bucks. In my system it's identical to the Onkyo and superior for music.
Current gear hanging around!
Manley Stingray II
Rega Apollo CD player
Merlin TSM-XMR speakers (on order)
Skylan speaker stands
MJ Acoustics 150 MKII sub
SVS 16-46 sub
Emotiva XPA-1' x 2 (on order)
Panamax Power conditioner
PS3 and Sony BD players
Definitive Technology BP7004's
Definitive Technology CLR 2300 center
Emotiva ERD-1's (on order)