Please search the archived messages here. This topic has been covered many times, with no clear consensus. I urge you to audition several in your own system and trust your ears, not what you might read online.
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Iujona, visit or call your local dealers. They should let you try the stuff at home if you ask, and if they won't, don't do business with them. I say this as a longtime audiophile first and a dealer second. I sell what I find to be best, but you must listen for yourself and decide. I repeat myself, do not much stock in what you read online.
Iujona, the short answer is no, there is no the "BEST" but many fine reference pieces in high end audio. If your interested a thread that I started entitled, Reference DACS:An overall perspective, will give information on the DACS you are curious about. Much of this wonderful hobby ends up in "EGO" battles over who's toys are the "BEST" in the world. It real boils down to personnal taste and system synergy, so different flavors appeal to different folks. On a final note, no offense to Jtinn, I don't know about your "STATUS", so it most not be very obvious, what ever that's suppose to mean anyways, but to be "ADAMANT" about anything means rigid/dogmatic not a very compilmentary position to to oneself in. If you mean that you believe strongly that for your ear's that the EMM DACS are the best for you, does not make that digital front end the "BEST" in the world for everybody else. I love the sound of my digital front end, auditioned the Meitner gear and did not think it sounded as good as what I finally purchased, but that doesnot prove its the "BEST" in the world. There are many great flavors to choose from, that's what makes this hobby so much fun, if you don't get your ego involved.
I have had a chance to compare head-to-head, in the same system EMM DCC2 + CDSD vs dCS Verdi LaScala / Elgar Plus for over two weeks (both on loan for home audition), and to my ears, the latest dCS stuff clearly outperformed EMM on Redbook CD.
Note #1. I didn't have a chance to compare their SACD performance - I have no software, and do not really care about SACD.
Note #2. I have heard that older dCS stuff is nowhere near as goog as DSD upsampling Verdi La Scala, so my expirience and an expirience of other AudiogoNers that tried older dCS stuff may differ.
Note #3. dCS stack was 50% more expensive.
Note #4. dCS worked perfectly, wheres EMM didn't (it has some static noise probnlems, also reported by other users)
Note #5. You can further improove dCS performance with an external Verona master clock.
Just my 0.02c worth.
I remembered seeing some things out there about the Audio Aero Prestige when I was reading show reports, so I went baack and found it. The Prestige is apparently still very new, with only a few owned as yet. It appears to be a "Contender". They are already comparing the Prestige favourably with the EMM, and the Prestige is not even broken-in yet. (less expensive also)
From a dealer that handles both EMM & Audio Aero:
http://www.audiofederation.com/blog/ (Prestige amps too)
Kennyt, if I had to choose between the EMM and the dCS, I would agree, but fortunately there are others available, and to my ear and others' the Reimyo is superior to both, being much more analog sounding and involving. Disclaimer - I sell the latter, so take that with a grain of salt, but do go hear it for yourself when you get the chance.
IUJONA, you should add the Teac Esoteric X-01 to your short list. I agree completely with TJ. . . at this level of performance it will be largely a matter of personal preference.
It is likely you won't go wrong with any of these boxes. I purchased the X-01 based on personal preference over DCS single player and stack, Accuphase DV77, Bel Canto PL1A, Bermester 001, ARC CD3 Mk. II, AA Capitol II, APL 1000.
I am enchanted by its staging, imaging, nuanced detailing and extreme grace. Won't categorize it as warm, and yes, it is merciless with bright etched recordings. Either way, make sure CDPs are well broken in before evaluating them. X-01 is only now starting to come into its own after about 300 hrs of continuous play. I imagine most other units of this caliber behave similarly. It is said for example that the AA Prestige will keep improving for the first 1500 hrs of playing time.
By the way, one of the reasons I bought the X-01 is Teac's stellar reputation for long term reliability.
If there is a "best", which I do not for a moment concede, then there must be an objective way to make that determination. While we may be able to come close in that endeavor, we cannot (or at least to date have not) reach that destination. As such, we are only left with flavor choices. What sounds best to me may sound mediocre to another.
FWIW, I have A-B'd the dCS stack against the EMM stack on two occasions at two different locations. Each time I preferred the dCS stack by a slight margin. If money were no object, I'd be an owner. Since money is an object, I bought the EMM stack.
How am I going to audition all of them in my system? Are you going to give me the money? Truth is, most of us can only go on the reviews and comment of others as a starting point.
If you are going to ask, then expect to have many different responses. At the price level you are contemplating, you HAVE money. If you spent $1200 on travel to hear the various items mentioned it would be far better then making a $10,000+ mistake.
Nothing makes me laugh harder than a tightwad audiophile. Spend thousands on a fragile delicate piece of equipment and then choke on the difference between ground shipment and far safer/faster air shipment.
This thread is for constructive comments on EMM Labs CDSD and DAC6e and not for you to air your bad experiences with shipping whatever to whoever.
My comments are valid. Unless I have $60k handy to buy and test out all the top quality transports and DAC's, the starting point would be reviews and other people's findings and comments.
Lets keep discussions to the thread's title PLEASE.
Personally I definitely prefer Meitner over Esoteric and dCS. Esoteric does excel on inner detail, but Meitner is far better in terms of transparency and just a general sense of openess. In way it sounded if Meitner had a larger sound stage, both left to right and front to back. Also better at transients & decay. Esoteric was v good at resolution, inner detail, dynamics but lacked that sense of naturalness if you will. dCS goes even further in terms resolution, detail to my ears but again lacks the special air around the instruments or color of timbre. In a way, I guess Esoteric and dCS sound like GREAT digital but Meitner approxiametes analogue LPs. At least that has been my own experience so far.
Zanden, Reimyo, I have not tried but hear great things about them: however they do not provide SACD capability, which of course may not matter to you. Zanden though if you want the full set up will cost you!
I also think that not only is the Ayre 5xe (2 channel universal) very very good indeed, but among all the high end players best value for money. Personally prefer it over Esoteric. I already have the Meitner gear, the Ayre is my top choice for second system I am considering building.
Whatever the case, you really need to audition them yourself. At this level, all are exceptionally good, and a lot depends on your own tastes.
if you are serious about the best digital then you'd have to include Exemplar 3910 ModWright esoteric x-01 possibly the Reference Mod SCD-1 and of course the APL 3910. the apl is arguably the best digital in the world. it isn't cheap but also isn't expensive when compared to the EMM and some others.
only problem is you have to get on their waiting list for the APL 3910.
this posting may answer your question.
but first you have to carefully read and analyze the post just of it.
Henryhk, how many hours of breakin did the Esoteric X-01 you listen to have when you compared it against the EMM? Detailed and slightly digital sounding are the typical features of the creature when it is not completely broken in. Conversely, once broken in, X-01 excels in the very size of the stage in the three dimensions, the sense of separation and air around the instruments, and the decaying resonance from the venue and from the instruments. String players will tell you you can hear the 'sound of the Rosen' in quiet passages. Whether it is digital or analog sounding is not terribly material, however what is true is that it is very sensitive to recordings that have been equalized with an artificial treble boost to compensate for poor equipment. Recordings with flat equalization more typical of some classical recordings sound absolutely marvellous. : try J. S. Bach's suite #6 for cello played by M. Rostropovich and you will hear what I am talking about.
Yet, not having heard the EMM, I am not qualified to make any better/worse comparisons.
Guidocorona, I must admit I do not know for sure how long the break in was but I suspect well enough given I had loaned a the demo model from a dealer. I am more of a jazz, blues, rock person though I do love Bach for some reason. I generally agree with what you are saying but my own personal exp with X-01 was very good, I do think it lacked what I described before: it had "hard" character if you know what I mean though I must stress this was only to a minor degree and in relation to Meitner. At least that was my own experience: I also listened to it over 3 hours or so as the dealer had to take it away: perhaps more time with it would have chnaged my mind. At any rate, I personally just think the capability of best of what digital has offer has sigificantly improved over very recent years including Esoteric, Meitner, Ayre, and the likes. At this level, its not about better and that was why I said I "prefer". I did think after all Esoteric was better at retrieving inner detail at times, though I may be mistaken. I believe JA at Sterophile's measurements showed the Estoeric gear rolled of high frequencies on SACD playback rather quickly: I wonder that has anything to do with it, though I am no measurement freak either. My old players were ML and Camelot Techonology stuff before the upgrade to Meitner and for that I am absolutely sure there was huge improvement! Its matter of preference and system matching.
Henryhk, it is quite possible that the X-01 may have either more treble energy or a more extended treble than the EMM.
It is also possible that the X-01 may generate by itself some treble distortion. Yet I have at least some indication that treble harshness or distortion in the X-01 may be caused by some ICs mismatch instead. . . e.g. I have experienced it with both AWQ Panther and Cardas neutral reference.
In either situations the treble distortion has largely gone away by replacing the front-end to linestage length of Panther with an AudioQuest Sky.
I am qualifying with 'largely, because in both situations there was occasional residual harshness, but the 2nd length of IC had not been replaced by a higher quality one.
Oddly enough with the insertion of the single length of Sky, not only distortions were largely removed, but the treble became more extended. It would have been very interesting to audition also an EMM under identical circumstances.
HenryHK, I forgot to mention that during the Panther/Sky X-01 audition the X-01 was powered through an AudioQuest NRG5, which in itself accentuates treble response. In the Cardas Neutral Ref vs AQ Sky situation I have had the X-01 equipped with its own stock powerchord, which puts it at a relative soundstage, imaging resolution, and sweetness disadvantage if compared against players equipped with an aftermarket chord. In either case, I have been concentrating on RedBook performance, as I own but one single SACD. I am not in a position to offer any meaningful findings on SACD performance of X-01 yet.
IUJONA, I have had several occasions to audition equipment at SoundBySinger in NYC and always been delighted by their professionalism. My first exposure to X-01 was in fact at Andy Singer's shop in NYC as well.
dCS goes even further in terms resolution, detail to my ears but again lacks the special air around the instruments or color of timbre.
Henryk -> an interresting comment. To my ears it is the EMM that was a resolution and openess champ. The dCS was slightly behind EMM in that regard, but offered much better balanced sound overall. The EMM was almost "too open" for it's own good, his midrange lacked body and texture compared to latest dCS offerings. I found EMM cold and uninvolwing in comparision.
Both me and my audio buddy were to buy EMM after reading all the internet rewiewvs (hey - I even got the proforma infoice for EMM at the time), but after comparing it extensively to dCS for over TWO WEEKS we decided against it.
My buddy eventually got the latest dCS stack (which was twice as expensive as EMM) and since I could not afford dCS at the time and did not like the EMM, I got AA Capitole mk II instead and upgraded it to SE status.
Couldn't resist adding a few thoughts of my own. These comments are addressed just to the question of performance, not purchase recommendations and especially not what makes sense for the $ involved.
dCS: I have had an early Purcell and Elgar and now a Purcell DSD and Elgar Plus. Operating in DSD the later versions are vastly superior to the originals, particularly if you acquire the $169(?) aftermarket firewire cable advertised on Audiogon. But I'm afraid that the Verdi simply isn't on the same level; the minute I inserted the demo into my system, the sound became thinner, brighter and more forward--amazing detail and space, but I couldn't live with it. The Purcell DSD and Elgar Plus are still the best redbook sound I've heard with the right transport, but I had to give up the Elgar's SACD performance.
Esoteric X-01: Wonderful SACD, much preferable to the dCS SACD sound with the Verdi in the system. Perhaps not the very last bit of spaciousness and depth, but very close. And the difference the X-01 as a transport feeding the dCS Purcell and Elgar Plus in redbook over the Verdi in sound balance and dynamic range is extraordinary. Very good CD sound of its own, but simply not as good as when feeding the dCS units through the digital outs. And yes, this puppy sounds much, much better after 750-1000 discs than it did at first. But beware: even after extensive break-in this is the most ruthlessly honest component I've ever heard. Quality of disc, and top to bottom balance of cables and amplification, are critical.
EMM: All of the above comparisons were through my system (Purist Dominus cables, Rowland Synergy IIi preamp, Mac 501 power amps, Eggleston Andra II speakers). I've heard EMM units twice, but unfortunately in other systems. A 6e being fed with a $10,000 plus CEC transport and Dominus cables sounded fabulous in one system (redbook only, of course); an EMM pair (DCC2)in a superb system (Tenor/Kharma) had amazing detail, but sounded lightweight and lacking in bass and impact, in SACD but even more so in redbook, to the point I had no interest in seeking a demo in my system. (Probably that was a bad decision, but who has time to do all of this right?)
In fact, it's my own impression that neither dCS nor EMM has managed to match the extraordinary quality of their DACs with comparable transports, but the one thing I'm sure of is that there are no completely relevant comparisons except in your own system. As to how to get them, well, good luck. But these are my experiences, for what they're worth to anyone but me.
Very intriguing findings MGottlieb, have you been using Purist Dominus PC on the X-01? Have you tried any other PCs on it, such as Shunyata Anaconda VX and Electraglide Epiphany and what were the perceivable differences?
As I installed X-01 on Oct 15th, My unit has now over 400 hours of redbook playtime on it in repeat mode and is still sweetening, while opening up audibly.
Even through its stock power chord, a ludicrous Audioquest Quartz RCA between it and my aging LS2B, yesterday, playing works by Gibbons performed by the Rose Consort, my jaw was seriously losing altitude: treble, alto, tenor, and bass viols, positif organ and cembalo were simply staggering.
If the hypothetical addition of DCS processors opened the stage any further, this would bleed through the walls into the yard next door, and my neighbours would accuse me undoubtedly of pernicious invasion of privacy.
Elberoth2--late 2004 vintage Verdi. DCS indicatd that a separate Verdi and Purcell DSD would marginally outperform the combo, though I'm not sure in what respect. Since I already had the Purcell, that was fine with me. Guido, nice to chat again. I'm not a PC guy; been through NBS, Dominus, a couple of Shunyatas, and I don't remember what else, and always felt that all they ever did was change the sound, not improve it. One somewhere in the system might seem to help, but a second was always too much of something. I'm sticking with my ten Absolute power cords--they do no harm. I don't blink at thousands of dollars for Dominus speaker cables and the same for a half dozen pair of balanced ICs, but can't justify significant PC bucks. Sure, I know a lot of people differ, but my ears hear what they hear. Maybe my Burmester line conditioner does the work some PCs do.
Elberoth2...well I guess we just disagree on what we respecitvely heard. Perhaps due to system matching. But yes EMM to me has far more "openess" and sense of air around the instruments...and that is what I like about it. Disagree about mid range as well though dCS may had more solid bass (not necessarily more tight). At any rate, each to his own: at this level all Ithink are really good and its about tastes and system matching
Is the EMM DAC6e or DCC2 /CDSD the best out there?
I think it would be hard for anyone to answer this question, not so much because audio is so subjective, but because there is just so much out there.
I'm trying to pick a handful of DACs to audition and now ARC comes along with a new CDP:
" the Reference CD7 breaks new ground with a gain stage taken directly from the REF3, incorporating the latest proprietary capacitor technology found only in Audio Research Reference components.
Using four 6H30 triodes, the audio stage features high voltage regulation using an additional three 6H30s, coupled to a massive power supply."
I used to think it was amazing. Now I just think it is amazing until you listen to great vinyl. My vinyl front end is back & is better. I don't mind listening to Digital nowadays as I did before but the Emm combo is not as good as top notch vinyl. I guess there is room for improvement. Is it possible is the question. SACD is great though & very very close. CD is more distant.
Guidocorona & Oneobgyn,
I am using Elrod Signature power cords. I haven't tried the others you have both mentioned but believe firmly in my Elrod cables. I find they significantly improve the sound on everything I have tried them so far. I have some other cords that I did compare & it was an immediate difference, too significant to go back.
On to the question at hand. Using Elrod power cords on both my Vinyl & EMM set, on SACD it is very close. On CD though it is significant. In either case w. my analogue system there is just no doubt. Analogue is better. Not by much consistently, and on some recordings CD is better, but for the most part vinyl is definitely better.
What analogue systems did you both compare in your systems to your EMM setup?
P.S. I love the EMM gear & never thought analogue would be better. Once I upgraded my phono preamp & cartridge there just was no doubt.
I am not trying to start the SACD/CD/Analogue debate. It is more about just knowing the truth.
Mind you, w. EMM gear, I wouldn't run & buy an analogue setup unless you are willing to spend at least 10-15K on the setup. Otherwise you will fall short. I wonder if some others can chime in here.