Got my trade in XMC-2 on Monday and last night I got it swapped into my rack.
Having the outputs go from outside to inside instead of pairing each set of channels next to each other meant I had to reorganize all my wiring, so that took a while. Otherwise the physical install was pretty straightforward.
After firing it up, the first issue I had was I couldn't get video. After a while of fiddling, I ran into the second oddity of the arrangement of the back panel: The HDMI inputs go from 8 to 1, not 1 to 8. So instead of input 1 and 2, I have my sources on 8 and 7. That took me over 20 minutes to figure out, partly because I thought for sure it was a handshake issue, then when I swapped the output from 1 to 2 to troubleshoot, it failed to handshake again until I fully reset the unit, even after swapping back into output 1. Also, my equipment is in another room from the theater, and I have to walk all the way around the basement to get from the equipment room to the theater, so I would walk about 30 steps to the room, check something, 30 more steps to the theater, nothing on the screen, 30 more back, try something, 30 more and now blue screen... I got exercise though..
So now that I had video, I started the process of setting up the speakers. Of course, going from a D/M product to Emo is night and day for speaker setup. It's like stepping back to DOS from Windows 10, lol. Would it kill them to come up with a graphical interface? And wow it takes like 300-600 ms for any button push to register on the screen. When adjusting levels and distances, I could count my clicks and back out and then sit and watch the display count up slowly. Unfortunately, if I got too far ahead, the display would wig out and I would have to go back and forth a couple times to get it to start showing right again. But it took my inputs from the remote just fine.
Then I hit the next issue. I had my Shield set to 20 minutes to go to sleep, and since I was only using the OSD in the XMC-1, the shield was idle. I was entering distances for speakers when the Shield went to sleep and the screen went blue (no signal). I grabbed the shield remote and hit a button to wake it up, and while I could hear the clicks from the Shield menu through the speakers as I moved around, the display remained blue. It took me about 10 minutes to get a display back, and from what I could tell I had to go to a different input on the XMC-2, then wait about 20 seconds, then power off the Shield, then switch back to the shield input, and then power the shield back on for it to finally reconnect. This wasn't encouraging... Is it that hard to program it to look for a signal every second or two if there is none?
With the speakers set up and roughly level matched, I fired up my first test. My immediate impression was super low bass, which isn't abnormal, I always have to run the bass hot to really hear it, even with 6 18" subs and 18kw of power, lol. You just can't level match subs with pink noise. My next impression was that the surrounds were WAY too hot compared to the fronts. So I went and dialed all 8 surround/Atmos speakers down by about 3db. And finally, my last impression was that my mains need some major EQing to counter being behind a vinyl microperf screen. On the Marantz 7703 that I was using before, I had EQ'd the 8k+ range up about 5db to compensate, so I needed some tuning on the XMC-2. I went into the system EQ and ran up the 10k hz about 2 db, but I didn't have time to go through and set up PEQ's for the front three speakers.
Aside from the fronts sounding rather dead with so much rolloff on the highs and no compensation for it, the sound was definitely different. I got the feeling it was more distinct than the Marantz, but until it is sounding "right", I am holding off judgement on whether it is "better" or "worse".
I primarily use one source for everything - the nvidia Shield. I run Plex for movies and some TV series, almost 100% ripped from bluray and UHD bluray (about 1200 BD movies and about 100 UHD now). I run Netflix and Amazon as well as Disney+ now for added movie and TV show content, and I run YTTV for "cable". The Shield is set up to automatically switch refresh rates and color spaces, but always sends 4k no matter the source, so I tried a bunch of different content with varying refresh rates and color spaces. When switching to HDR content, the screen would flash blue for a second, but all other changes were fairly seamless. This was a good sign, and one I was worried about given the history of this generation of products with handshaking issues.
However, I found one big problem that I need to figure out a solution for: The XMC-2 autodetects when there is no audio, even for a fraction of a second, then takes 1-2 seconds to reacquire signal when sound returns. In Plex, when there is nothing to send, it doesn't send any audio, so the XMC-2 immediately detects this and switches to PCM-0. When moving around in the menus, this happens occasionally, sometimes keeping audio going between clicks, sometimes (seemingly randomly) stopping audio for a few seconds as you navigate around.
This part wasn't the bad part though. The bad part is when watching something and I fast forward 15 seconds. The XMC-2 IMMEDIATELY detects this and stops audio. The Shield is fast, so it only takes about 100ms to start playing again, but it is too late, now the XMC-2 has to spend the next 1-2 seconds figuring out what the audio stream is again. It usually starts by displaying PCM-0, then PCM-2.0, then 5.1, then finally settles in on TrueHD with Atmos. If I am skipping ahead to find something, or in the case of TV skipping ahead to avoid commercials, this happens over and over.
I looked at the manual at the audio modes, and it seems that there is no universal mode other than Auto, and I am NOT going to set it up so I have to manually select the audio mode for each type of content. Anyone have any ideas? I can't imagine Plex is the only program that doesn't send audio data when there is nothing to send, and the Marantz never once had an issue even remotely like this.
It got late last night and I was tired, so I didn't go any further. I haven't tested powering on to make sure it handshakes with the projector (which takes 40seconds to 3 minutes to power up), so I am a bit nervous about that one. I won't just power up my projector while still hot, so I couldn't test this last night. Given that the XMC-2 couldn't reacquire HDMI when it went away for 10 seconds, I'm concerned with how it will work when it doesn't have signal for over a minute...
Anyway, I plan to break out the UMIK-1 this weekend and dust off my REW skills and see if I can put together a file to set up the PEQ for the front stage. I've never done that before, so it will be interesting. If anyone has a step by step guide to building correction files in REW that can be imported into the XMC-2, I would love for you to share.