The exciting news from Emotiva at CEDIA 2017 is that the mothership has finally landed. The mighty RMC-1 ($5000) AV processor, sporting 16 total channels (including sub), was demoed for the first time at the annual custom integration-oriented show. This is Emotiva's new flagship and it is a massively disruptive device thanks to its unprecedented price.

With the RMC-1, you get features that were previously the exclusive domain of processors that cost as much as a very nice new car—in the lower to mid five-figures range. But now, if you have a few grand to spend on a processor, you no longer have to settle for a rehashed AVR. Instead, Emotiva is offering "audio-visual nirvana in a box" for mere mortals.

The feature set of the RMC-1 has been known for some time—for example you get hi-res Dirac Live at 192 kHz on all channels. And while the dem was restricted to Atmos content, at this show, I got to hear it for the first time. And here's what I hope: That manufacturers of other amplifiers, processors, and speakers, and subwoofers don't read this article. Why? Because I'm about to tell you that the Gap in performance between what emotiva offers for 4 figures, and what you get if you spend upwards of high five figures, amounts to very little.

Moreover, if you go into overkill mode with Emotiva gear—build a rack of amps, stack a dozen subs—the decibel-per-dollar ratio is so favorable that... whoa, hey wait who's that at my door??? Uh oh, I better shut up now, because the audio mafia is here to shut me up.

OK all kidding aside, I really was impressed with what I heard. Emotiva is achieving the fidelity of a much more expensive system. No qualifiers, it's as simple as that.

I was blown away by Emotiva's demo, this system is the price/performance champ of the show
Going into the demo, I knew the price points of the speakers and amp and processor I was listening to. However, my guess is that many attendees might not have had similar knowledge until they got to the end demo. It's still a bit shocking to hear these MSRPs when many other demos were all about dealer costs and making big margins—no mention of MSRPs. But I can tell you, dealer cost on inferior-sounding (and spec'd) gear is often higher than retail on Emotiva's offerings. So there's that.

The T2s and C2 used up front are $999/pair and $369 respectively. For the sides and rears, Emotiva leaned on its T1 towers, which are a real bargain at $699/pair. Meanwhile, bass in the demo room came from two Airmotiv 15s subs ($899 per sub) plus two Airmotiv 12s subs ($699 per sub). Intriguingly, Emotiva created custom height speakers with a quad-ribbon design (each at a 90-degree angle from the other, for 360 coverage) plus a 5" woofer. But, this is not a product, so no price and no specs, sorry.

Of course Emotiva is known for its amps, and the solution it chose for the CEDIA demo it was pretty cool too. Inside one single XPA Gen3 Chassis, they put three 200-watt mono modules plus four 75 watt/channel stereo modules, which created an 11-channel single-chassis amp perfectly suited for a 7.1.4 (multi-subwoofer) system. That amp, fully-loaded, costs $2000. Therefore, with the RMC-1 and amp combo, you're talking about spending $7000 and then utterly blowing away every mass-market AVR that has ever existed—reducing them to smithereens in ways that can't be discussed in polite company.

While this was a 7.1.4 demo, that's an Atmos for home limitation. However, Emotiva explicitly noted that 9.1.6 Atmos decoding is coming to the RMC-1 later this year.

Rear panel view of the Emotiva RMC-1
I heard the system nail Atmos demo clips from Unbroken and Mad Max, both of which I am deeply familiar with at this point, having heard them on dozens of competent (and a few incompetent) systems. My words, from my notes, on Mad Max were "Maybe the best I have heard this intro, an amazing sense of space." And then I wrapped up with "Shocking performance, top notch at a price point that does not require you to be a millionaire." Any questions?

The performance with Atmos tracks was especially impressive given that what we heard did not use Dirac Live room correction.

Emotiva's RMC-1 demo left me so impressed with its overall price-performance ratio,I awarded the entire system a "Best of CEDIA 2017" award. Richly deserved by this gang:

From left to right: Nick Mandara, Damon Steele, Emotiva President Dan Laufman, Lonnie Vaughn and Walter Schofield