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Emotiva XDA-1 24/192 Balanced DAC/Digital Preamp for $250 (clearance)

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

Anyone have experience with this?

 

The Emotiva airmotiv4 speakers recently reviewed were ran off this and a Macbook at RMAF and although you should never judge the sound quality through a Youtube video, the ability for those small speakers to fill that medium sized room with that clear sound is impressive in itself.

 

 

At that $250 price point what are other competing options that have a similar feature set?

post #2 of 30

I've been using one for a year, with Emotiva's USP-1 preamp and UPA-1 monoblocks.  Speakers are LSA-1 Signature monitors and a Salk Songsub.

 

It's very detailed and clear, with powerful though slightly warm bass.  The bass from my Musiland Monitor 02 is tighter but much thinner, for lack of a better word.  The authority just isn't there.  XDA-1 highs are extended and crisp.  Mids are a bit forward in my system.  Tonality is good, everything sounds like it should. Upper mid and low treble has a slight glare at loud volumes and can get a bit fatiguing at loud volumes (>90 dB at listening position) to my aging ears.  In my system the difference between bad recordings and good is clearly audible, but substandard tracks are still listenable.  Soundstage width and depth varies with recording, but at all times image is dead center and placement is audible, if not pinpoint.

 

This is all when used only as a standalone DAC with volume set at max and my preamp doing volume control.  I tested the unit as a preamp and through the RCA outputs it's similar, while through the balanced outs it too hot on top for my ears in my room, which isn't perfect, but is treated with 6 GIK 242 panels and 2 tri-traps with a thick 8'x11' area rug over hardwood. 

 

I plan on trying a Schitt Statement DAC when it is released for music, but the XDA-1 will stay in the system (living room) and do duty for movies and TV, which it excels at.  For music I'm looking for something just as dynamic and detailed but smoother.  It's going to cost me to get it.  I paid $299 for my XDA-1 on preorder from the first big shipment last year and have no regrets.  For $250, I doubt if you'll find anything that comes close to the sound quality and input flexibility, let alone a remote you could club an assailant to death with, a 5 year transferable warranty and, in my experience with Emotiva, rock-solid customer service. 

 

Definitely not the last word in DAC's, but bang-for-the-buck for sure.

post #3 of 30

Gave this dac a consideration.  The warm presentation ultimately made me turn it down.  Very hard to find a dac in this price range that is very neutral...

post #4 of 30

Have you considered the Schiit BiFrost?  Reviews are good for it.  Or just check out the Head-Fi sales forum.  Maybe you can get a deal there.

post #5 of 30

Thanks for the advice.  PMed a guy yesterday for a Stello DA100.  Lets see if I was the first one to get to him.  All I need is a temporary low end DAC until my beast comes in March :D

post #6 of 30

The XDA-1's USB interface is nerfed. TOSLINK may meet claimed performance specs - testing with a Mac, so can't test the true upper limits of the XDA-1's optical in.

 

The unit's lighting may be too much for some as the dimming feature lacks an "off" setting and the lowest setting is still too bright for me. YMMV

 

The XDA-1 has an iTunes like volume control built into it. Judging by an older thread, it may actually be doing what the display claims . . . attenuating the analog line out. At least in early testing, this is not an issue as the receiver I am using with the XDA-1 is easily able to make up the difference. What this all may or may not be doing to SQ is anyone's guess.

 

Wishing I had just queued up for second Bifrost or tried a V-DAC II or DacMagic instead.

post #7 of 30

I've been very happy with mine. Others have written that its bass heavy, but this hasn't been my experience. Mine sounds pretty darn flat. Maybe others are used to bass roll off? I haven't seen any objective tests, only subjective impressions (which includes my own impression), so I can't attest to exactly how "flat" or bass heavy it actually is. I agree with CrazyBlue that the detail is excellent. Be aware that USB is limited to 24 bit / 48 khz. (TOSLINK inputs can handle 192 khz.)

 

You can pay a lot more money for a DAC that offers sound quality that is equivalent or worse. My suggestion is take a look, and audition it if you can. Or if you don't mind the possibility of paying return shipping, buy it and return it if you don't like it (assuming that this $250 price isn't a "clearance" price where all sales are final).

post #8 of 30
I like mine though a DAC upgrade in my system will make mine for sale soon. For 250 it's one of the best purchases I've made. The amounts of ins and the fact you get balanced outs for that price makes it hard to beat. I'm using it as a pre in one system and maxed in another.
post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thunder240 View Post
My suggestion is take a look, and audition it if you can. Or if you don't mind the possibility of paying return shipping, buy it and return it if you don't like it (assuming that this $250 price isn't a "clearance" price where all sales are final).

It is very much a clearance price . . . no returns unless you get a defective unit.

 

While not an issue for me, do note that the XDA-1 is deeper than most AVRs, but otherwise stacks nicely with them. This may or may not be an issue for desktop/work bench use. It will look odd when paired with most headphone amps.

post #10 of 30

I use this DAC using optical from my Mac and couldn't be happier.  As for the size of the thing it's actually smaller than my amp, both width and depth, so it fits in nicely.  Price is down to $200 as well on Emotiva's site.

post #11 of 30

Just pulled the trigger on one today. $199 with free shipping!!! eek.gif It's a little disappointing that USB only supports 24/48, but I'll be able to push it to 24/192 with the Toslink output from my laptop (just need a mini-toslink adapter since it's in the headphone jack).

post #12 of 30

Oh My God!!!!!! eek.gif

 

I had no idea how much was missing from my system before I added this DAC. Using it with my laptop via optical SPDIF (or CD player via Coax), trying some of my 24/96 material. I don't believe in burn-in for DACs or solid state amps, so I'm really glad it sounds this good out of the box. I really don't know how else to describe it, the music just sounds so natural, without any bass or treble roll-off.

 

Yep, I think this one's a keeper smily_headphones1.gif

 

It's running into my Pioneer integrated, with my HD580s plugged into the headphone out. On a side note, it absolutely wipes the floor with my Little Dot MKIII.

post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by calipilot227 View Post

Oh My God!!!!!! eek.gif

+1 Way to go buddy! biggrin.gif

post #14 of 30

atsmile.gif

 

I love those "eureka" moments when you add a good new component to an already decent system and hear new things in the music. It's so much more satisfying than setting up the final system from scratch! I had a similar reaction when I added the XDA-1 to my stereo, then the same thing all over when I added a dbx 223s active crossover to break out the signals for monitors and sub instead of relying on the sub's passive crossover. At some point I'm gonna bi-wire the stereo's speakers, and hopefully get a 3rd eureka moment.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by calipilot227 View Post

Oh My God!!!!!! eek.gif

 

I had no idea how much was missing from my system before I added this DAC. Using it with my laptop via optical SPDIF (or CD player via Coax), trying some of my 24/96 material. I don't believe in burn-in for DACs or solid state amps, so I'm really glad it sounds this good out of the box. I really don't know how else to describe it, the music just sounds so natural, without any bass or treble roll-off.

 

Yep, I think this one's a keeper smily_headphones1.gif

 

It's running into my Pioneer integrated, with my HD580s plugged into the headphone out. On a side note, it absolutely wipes the floor with my Little Dot MKIII.

post #15 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thunder240 View Post

atsmile.gif

 

I love those "eureka" moments when you add a good new component to an already decent system and hear new things in the music. It's so much more satisfying than setting up the final system from scratch! I had a similar reaction when I added the XDA-1 to my stereo, then the same thing all over when I added a dbx 223s active crossover to break out the signals for monitors and sub instead of relying on the sub's passive crossover. At some point I'm gonna bi-wire the stereo's speakers, and hopefully get a 3rd eureka moment.

 

 

Yeah, my next upgrade is the UPA-200 hopefully. Maybe the USP-1 as well so I'm not limited to all-digital (I still like my vinyl smily_headphones1.gif). I'll have to say this brought the most noticeable improvement since I ditched my iBuds for the ER-4, no joke.

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