My New Emotiva DAC

I posted this on Audio Asylum/digital as well.

I took delivery a few days ago for a refurbished Emotiva dac. So far, I only have very positive things to say about it. All my observations is with the dac in my system using my choices of music. I am very impressed with the build quality. The layout is nice and open and the dac has many high quality audiophile parts inside. There are no less than 6 digital inputs so I won't have to worry about growing out of the unit for quite a while.

The dac is dead quiet. I get no ticks or pops when switching the digital inputs. Presently, I have my HP laptop with an external 1 terrabyte usb3 drive running J rivers Media Center 16 hooked up to the usb input with a Kimber usb cable. I also have my Sony SCD777ES sacd player hooked up to the coaxial input using Emotiva's x Digital coax cable. I spent a lot of time comparing the dac in my sacd player with the dac in the Emotiva and they sound remarkibly similar yet the Emotiva sounds more musical. I am extremely pleased with the sound via usb and I have been listening to my music rips which are all in FLAC mode.

I have heard some say this dac is cold and lifeless and others say the bass is boomy and treble is tizzy, but not so in my system. Maybe my tube preamp helps a bit. I am extremely fussy and very pleased. One Audiogoner told me the dac is a "piece of crap", but again it sounds absolutely wonderful in my system.

I feel my system has made quite a leap forward and feel I will be satisified for quite some time. Notice the picture of the interior of the dac. I feel I have made a very wise purchase.

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The Emotiva DAC is on my radar. Are your feelings about it yet positive having more time with the unit? Priced very well now.
I really like the Emotiva dac. I used it in my main system for 7 months and moved it to my secondary system where it still sounds wonderful. I am using a Wyred dac 1 now on my main system. To be honest, the Emotiva is about 92% of the Wyred at an unbelievable price. I wouldn't hesitate to get one.
This is a review of the XDA-1 by Emotiva . My goal in buying this DAC was to downgrade my system. Yes Downgrade. I had planned to sell off some of my more expensive stuff only to later come back next year sometime with a 2000 dollar DAC. The DAC to be replaced was the Audio GD- MK19 3 A very well respected and reviewed DAC. My expectations of the XDA-1 were low but I felt I would be able to live with it until I could rebound with my higher end DAC. It seems that the XDA-1 is a discontinued model. The price is already marked down from a low 249.00 to a “fell off the truck” price of 199.00 and free shipping
The amount of inputs available at that price was all the more reason to be suspect of its performance.
Was I ever wrong? While I admit to having low expectations, they were exceeded as soon as I plugged the unit in. Listening to cuts I know every nuance of; it sounded as good as my Audio-GD DAC.
I was expecting a clear drop off in performance. I listened and listened. The sound stage was just as wide (if not a tad wider) and the depth was a dead tie. This bothered me. Something has to be wrong.
Spatial memory is fleeting, so I went to certain cues that I was very familiar with. The drum solo from Blue Monk and the 5 spot café Still holographic and musical. Tony Benet and Bill Evans, doing Days of Wine and Roses . Yep, still heard the studio reverb. Still I would not accept this. I decided to do A/B testing to get to the bottom of this.

I would have to use coax on one and Fiber on the other but all other things would be equal and to be fair I would switch cables so both would use the others cable.
As soon as I began the test the difference jumped out at me. Output. The audio-GD had more output.
Without having some kind of measuring equipment, I would guestimate about a 4db difference in sound. This unexpected find made AB testing not so AB. Every time I switched from one to the other I had to turn the sound up or down. Being that this DAC is also a digital pre-amp I would have thought that it might have had more output not less. When it was all said and done the only thing that somewhat struck me was that the Xda-1 presentation seemed a little more relaxed. One could say that the Audio-GD was more focused. In my view the Audio-gd should have blown the XDA1 out of the water. While I have not tried it as a preamp, just as a DAC alone it the best kept secret and best value in audio. By the time you read this they may all be gone. Tough break for you… If you have a chance and are on a budget, then this is the DAC to buy. BTW the sheer Eye Candy “value is nicer looking than I have seen on DACS at 1 to 1 thousand dollars . All at a, “Fell off the truck” price.
Thanks Bob and KB for your impressions. At the price/features it would seem hard to match. Your actual use has made me finally pull the plug and order one this morning. Hoping that it will provide just the quality sound link needed to engage my system.
I am positive that it will. Enjoy your new dac. It took a couple of days for mine to break in. I used the Isotek cd to burn it in faster. I also added an aftermarket Shunyata Diamondback Platinum (bought used here for 100.00) cord and it made the overall experience just a little bit better. Have fun
Emotiva DAC arrived and is now installed in my primary system. Set up to feed my MAC integrated and Acurus SS system. First impressions really good. Out the box you realize it has some heft to it, starting with the remote control. The look of the XDA-1 goes well with the MA 6600. The sound fed from my cd player and Apple TV, which was the main reason for the purchase of a DAc, is not smoke and mirrors. Even at this early date it is sounding great. I can tell little too no difference in the audio fed from the XDA-1 and direct from my cd player analog XLR outs. As I think the cd player is quite excellent that is a good sign. Further comparisons to come.

First on my list was the Cambridge DAC Plus. I find I value the remote control of the XDA-1 more than I would have the headphone output of the Plus and the wireless feature at least in this setup really not needed. And at a third the price it was a no brainer for myself. Glad this one did not get away.
It is amazing how good a DAC can sound vs. any CD player. Some people do not understand what can happen when you take away the CD deck, the spinning disc, the optics, power supply and jitter and just feed data into a decent DAC.

I owned a W4S DAC-2 and was very pleased. I recently moved into a LINN Akurate DS. I feel discless is the way to go. I sit in my listening chair with an iPad and have access to all my music... cannot beat it.
After a couple of weeks of using the Emotiva dac, you will suddenly realize the bass is more "there" as are other aspects to the sound. So, if you think it sounds good right out of the box, just wait a couple of weeks. You will be pleasantly surprised.