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post #1 of 15 Old 09-07-2016, 02:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Building a new system - need advice please

Hi guys,

I have recently decided to refresh my audio setup and change direction a bit. After years of using B&W speakers I turned my attention to Klipsch and bought a full 5.1 set which includes their RF-7II mains, RC-64II Center and RP-250S Surround speakers.

I also decided to go for better amplification (I currently have an Onkyo 838) and purchased 2 new Emotiva XPA3 amps:

1. Amp 1: XPA3 - 3 channels at 3x275W
2. Amp 2: XPA3 - 2 channels at 2x300W.

Once I realized that with this setup, my receiver is now the weak link in my system, probably keeping me from improving the sound quality of the system for both movies and music, I decided to go for a Pre-amp.

I naturally went to Emotiva and took advantage of a sale that they had going and ordered the XMC-1. After ordering (it hasn't been delivered yet) I started second-guessing myself because I haven't really done a proper Pre-amp research, I just read a few great reviews of the XMC-1 and decided to go for it, thinking that it would probably match the amps I bought the best.

I am by no means a tinkerer, I like playing a little bit with menu options, trying to get more from my system but I by no means look to achieve the ultimate sound quality, I look to enjoy my system when I watch movies (mainly) and when casually listening to music every day.

I then came across the Marantz AV8802A and looking at its specs, it does provide many more features (11.2 channels, Atmos, Auro, EX, HDMI 2.0 and HDCP2.2 to name a few of them).
The XMC-1 has very little going for it when it comes to all those bells and whistles but I think it might sound better (I haven't heard any of them yet).
I called Emotiva abd they just told me that they are delaying the shipping of my XMC-1 by about a week so that they can install a new board on it which supports the HDMIY and HDCP which is very important to me as I am using a 4K TV.

To make a long story short: I could really use some guidance/advice as to which is the best Pre-amp to go with based on my current setup and listening habits. I am probably not going to make such an investment for a few good years to come and want to make sure I choose wisely.

Thank you for sticking thorough my long post and for your help!
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post #2 of 15 Old 09-07-2016, 02:39 PM
 
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Why would the avr be a weak link other than Onkyo's AccuEQ? Is the room eq feature, ostensibly the biggest impact on sq among the choices, important to you since you don't mention any of them? Biggest difference to me between your current avr and the 8802 and the XMC1 is the room correction software, AccuEQ vs Audyssey XT32 vs Dirac. How about the immersive audio (Atmos etc) options in the 8802 vs the XMC1? Are you going to get the XMC1 with those features? Are you going to use the immersive audio options via appropriate ceiling mounted speakers?

Curious, do you require high spl levels?
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post #3 of 15 Old 09-07-2016, 04:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Lovinthehd,

Thank you for your reply. My HT system is located in our living room which is uniquely shaped (it's a very large octagon) and therefore could benefit from a more robust room correction algorithm.

I mentioned that my receiver was the weak link because during my conversation with the Emotiva sale rep, he led me to believe that a dedicated Pre would have much better sound processing, and along with the balanced output, I could achieve better clarity with less interference.

In addition, when Emotiva is ready to upgrade their units with Atmos, I do plan on sending my unit in for it. I do want to expand to Atmos at some point, 7.1.4 or 5.1.4 would probably be my choice.

So what are your thoughts on choosing between those two pre-amps? Are there any other options in the price range that I should consider?

Thank you again.
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post #4 of 15 Old 09-07-2016, 05:42 PM
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I would go with the Marantz. It's more future-proof, and it's already loaded with all the features that UHD needs for the next 4 years or so...
Where as the XMC-1 is not.

I have avoided buying the XMC-1 because I used to have the UMC-1 and I got burned bad by Emotiva on it.
I went with an Oppo 105 back in 2013 because of the UMC-1, it has pretty basic features compared to an AVR or processor, but it gets the job done (unlike the UMC-1)

Just waiting for the 115 to come out to see what features/specs it has before deciding on the 9903 (if needed), or possibly the RMC-1 if it's any good... 2017 timeframe.

The XMC-1 came out well before the specs on BD-UHD were finalized, and they spent so much time just getting it out the door that it now lacks key features for UHD.
They are trying to close the gap by adding new boards and FW upgrades for existing customers, but for new customers it's sort of too little too late.

All the major players like Yamaha and H/K are gonna be releasing second generation UHD processors soon-ish with the finalized specs, which could mean having just as many channels as an 8802 but at a lower price point (hopefully...), and DTS:X will be included from the get go, as part of the package. (No FW updates or fees or boards required.)

Pure speculation but... I hope they also include an Atmos processor that allows you to change the placement of the heights to custom locations in a 3D room model in the 2nd Gen stuff, similar to what Trinnov does today... (one can only hope!)
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post #5 of 15 Old 09-07-2016, 05:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gurt View Post
So what are your thoughts on choosing between those two pre-amps? Are there any other options in the price range that I should consider?
Right now is the absolute worst time to be buying an AVR or processor IMO.
Prices for first gen UHD systems are sky-high because it's brandnew cutting-edge technology.

Let them iron out the glitches and bring the prices down with 2nd Gen technology.

Many people got burned buying early when DVD switched over to BD, remember that?
UHD is gonna be the same thing.

Nearly every 4k "ready" tv is now totally useless because they don't meet the UHD requirements for HDCP and HDMI, nor sporting HDR/color table support neither.
There are literally 200 million out-dated LED/LCD/OLED tv's out there now and they all have to re-buy new stuff this Christmas if they want a true 4K/UHD experience. (There is a "Told ya so!" joke in there somewhere! )

Never buy the 1st generation of anything. Wait at least 6 months to a year. (Unless you have money to burn and a full head of hair...)

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post #6 of 15 Old 09-07-2016, 07:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Is the AV8802A first generation? or the XMC?

Last edited by Gurt; 09-07-2016 at 07:35 PM.
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post #7 of 15 Old 09-07-2016, 08:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BassThatHz View Post
I would go with the Marantz. It's more future-proof, and it's already loaded with all the features that UHD needs for the next 4 years or so...
Where as the XMC-1 is not.
The XMC1 is a modular platform that has a pipeline of changes. Atmos will be available early 2017, the Marantz wont be changed. I don't get your definition of future proofing is.

The XMC1 is fully differential, so balanced audio remains from input to output and offers Dirac.
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post #8 of 15 Old 09-07-2016, 09:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gurt View Post
Hi Lovinthehd,

Thank you for your reply. My HT system is located in our living room which is uniquely shaped (it's a very large octagon) and therefore could benefit from a more robust room correction algorithm.

I mentioned that my receiver was the weak link because during my conversation with the Emotiva sale rep, he led me to believe that a dedicated Pre would have much better sound processing, and along with the balanced output, I could achieve better clarity with less interference.

In addition, when Emotiva is ready to upgrade their units with Atmos, I do plan on sending my unit in for it. I do want to expand to Atmos at some point, 7.1.4 or 5.1.4 would probably be my choice.

So what are your thoughts on choosing between those two pre-amps? Are there any other options in the price range that I should consider?

Thank you again.
Sounds like the Emotiva sales rep is full of poop IMO. Balanced interconnects are useful over long runs, otherwise, meh. Separates vs today's single box solutions is more a spec battle than something audible IMO. Did he sell you on those amps, too? What playback levels at what distance are you trying to achieve? What subs are you using? Since you don't list any that may be where you should be concentrating your efforts at this time. Waiting for Emotiva to play catchup has never appealed to me and their amps don't do much for me either. I'd be looking at Marantz avrs personally, unless Dirac is a must have. If you're willing to buy more amps for all your surrounds later maybe the prepro makes sense.
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post #9 of 15 Old 09-07-2016, 09:07 PM
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Since you are not set up yet for Atmos and it will be coming to the XMC-1 its something to look forward to though at an extra cost and a bit of inconvenience having to ship it back for the upgrade. I can assure you that you will not be disappointed with the quality of the XMC-1 and Dirac is a really great room correction system . I would suggest you read around over at Emotiva's forum and see if Dirac is something your up to using as it does need a laptop and a bit of time to use and learn , especially if you plan to get Dirac Live Full. If anyone wants my XMC-1 they will have to pry it from my cold dead hands . I for one like to shop on my own shores , keep America working I say.


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post #10 of 15 Old 09-07-2016, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by hosko View Post
The XMC1 is a modular platform that has a pipeline of changes. Atmos will be available early 2017, the Marantz wont be changed. I don't get your definition of future proofing is.

The XMC1 is fully differential, so balanced audio remains from input to output and offers Dirac.
The AV8802A is fully differentially balanced too, it has Atmos today and DTS:X today, and HDMI/HDCP/4k:60hz today... not 6 months from now.
I highly doubt Emotvia will treat the XMC-1 like a DataSat (which was a well known modular AV platform for well over 10 years).
I'm pretty sure that these hardware/massive updates that Emo is doing to the XMC-1 today are the last pieces of hardware/major revisions that it will EVER see, I can't see them adding 8K and HDMI 3.0 anytime soon etc, so it has no advantage over the 8802.

As it stands today, it has less abilities.

Fixing bad room acoustics with auto-EQ is like trying to fix a quadriplegic with liquid bandaid. A properly acoustically-engineered room is the equivalent of an A+ surgeon vs liquid bandaid. A bit of an exaggeration but you get my point.
In my opinion, DSP is an absolute last resort... It's not Frank's RedHot to be applied on everything & everywhere possible. EQ is what you do when all-else fails.

Last edited by BassThatHz; 09-07-2016 at 09:18 PM.
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post #11 of 15 Old 09-07-2016, 09:21 PM - Thread Starter
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The AV8802A is fully differential balanced too, it has Atmos today and DTS:X today, and HDMI/HDCP/4k:60hz today... not 6 months from now.
I highly doubt Emotvia will treat the XMC-1 like a DataSat (which was a well known modular AV platform for well over 10 years).
I'm pretty sure that these hardware/massive updates that Emo is doing to the XMC-1 today are the last pieces of hardware/major revisions that it will EVER see, I can't see them adding 8K and HDMI 3.0 anytime soon etc, so it has no advantage over the 8802.

As it stands today, it has less abilities.

Fixing bad room acoustics with auto-EQ is like trying to fix a quadriplegic with liquid bandaid. A properly acoustically-engineered room is the equivalent of an A+ surgeon vs liquid bandaid. A bit of an exaggeration but you get my point.
In my opinion, DSP is an absolute last resort... It's not Frank's RedHot to be applied on everything & everywhere possible. EQ is what you do when all-else fails.
Hey Bass,

I totally agree with your statement but my reality is such that I don't have a dedicated HT room. I have to try and come up with the best solution for the space that I have.
The XMC vs. AV8802A question still bugs me. I don't think that I am going to tinker with Dirac Live, I'll probably do some basic calibration with the more basic version that comes with the Pre-amp. I was hoping to learn which Pre-amp has better sound and if the XMC was superior, I might be able to convince myself to live without all the extras that the Marantz currently has.
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post #12 of 15 Old 09-07-2016, 09:21 PM
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Is the AV8802A first generation? or the XMC?
Both are, as far as UHD and Atmos/DTS:X is concerned.

For 1080P and HD both are fully "ironed out".
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post #13 of 15 Old 09-07-2016, 09:27 PM
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Hey Bass,

I totally agree with your statement but my reality is such that I don't have a dedicated HT room. I have to try and come up with the best solution for the space that I have.
The XMC vs. AV8802A question still bugs me. I don't think that I am going to tinker with Dirac Live, I'll probably do some basic calibration with the more basic version that comes with the Pre-amp. I was hoping to learn which Pre-amp has better sound and if the XMC was superior, I might be able to convince myself to live without all the extras that the Marantz currently has.
In a living room DIRAC might have more value for sure...

I'm sure they both sound great. Most electronics have less than 0.0001% distortion these days, but all speakers and subwoofers are still in the 0.1 to 10% distortion range (or even higher, much above 100db...)
Add all the distortion from wall-reflections and that % can jump up another 10% more.

EQ can't fix these wall reflections and room-nulls, but it can reduce the room-peaks. It can't fix spectacular echos or comb-filtering effects at all, for that you need acoustic panels (or in your case, very soft throw rugs/curtains and whatnot).

Last edited by BassThatHz; 09-07-2016 at 09:33 PM.
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post #14 of 15 Old 09-07-2016, 09:40 PM
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Some people put up paintings with 1-2inch deep framing, and then stuff the backside with various things like: polyfill sheets or insulation or acoustic foam.

That way they still get many of the advantages of acoustic panels, but without the insane-asylum look.
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post #15 of 15 Old 09-08-2016, 02:08 AM
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I don't think that I am going to tinker with Dirac Live, I'll probably do some basic calibration with the more basic version that comes with the Pre-amp.
Dirac Live is very simple to run.

Dirac Live comes with as part of the XMC1 at no extra cost, its the full version that requires a $99 license. You sound like you would never use any of the features that the full version offers.

As you already have the XMC1 on order why not take advantage of the 30 day no questions asked refund policy and have a listen to it for yourself. I think you your ears will enjoy it, mine certainly have.
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