Well, I decided to purchase an XSP and continue the quest for the magical two channel sound that to some extent has eluded me over the years. It's always been either a compromise electronics wise or speakers. I've never fully felt that I negated the ill effects of both. I've gotten close.
Unfortunately, my ERC-2 has been replaced by Emotiva and I am waiting for it to arrive tomorrow. Currently I am playing Cd's through analog outputs of a Panasonic Blu Ray player which is mediocre at best but hey, I don't have the ERC yet, so...
A couple of nit-picky things first. I'm not sure who at the warehouse or the plant is looking at the units for quality control but it is lacking. The lettering on the back of the unit in certain areas is worn. Not completely, but enough to not be able to see in lower lighting if you were to be switching cables or trying to make other adjustments. For their reference pre amp, those sort of things should be perfect. The remote also has a faint line down the middle which is not a scratch or smudge. Its a cosmetic issue, once again, not critical but annoying.
The unit itself seems well built and impressive looking. Another quirk is if you want to go direct two channel with no sub, you have to manually shut your sub off or shut the sub volume off from your pre-pro if you are using the ht inputs. Not a deal breaker, but...
I'm basically running it for a couple of days with the setup mentioned before until the ERC arrives.
I would contact emo about it. I believe it has happened before and they took good care of the customers (without inconveniencing them).
Transport: Sony UBP-X700 UHD-Blu ray player spdif PC using Musiland Digital Times WASAPI via BNC connection - DAC: DC-1->XLR XPA-1 , RCA->Basx A-100 CD: Denon DCD 600 PCM 61 DAC. RCA Amp: XPA-1 gen 2 using XLR connections. Speakers: Axiom Audio m80 V3, Sennheisser HD700 headphones. two pairs 12 guage each bi-wire speaker cables per monoblock Headphone amp: Basx A-100 (INCREDIBLE VALUE!!)
I have to apologize to Emotiva and take back what I said about the lettering on the back of the unit. I took the XSP-1 out of the rack again to inspect it and there does not appear to be an issue. It looked very obvious when everything was hooked up, but upon further inspection, it is fine. The remote does have a faint line, but not worth losing sleep over.
Preliminary findings so far are positive. I will give it some more playing time to fully get a handle on the sound and integration into my system.
Last Edit: Nov 26, 2012 21:29:31 GMT -5 by Deleted
Music used are my typical rotation discs for evaluation as I am very familiar with them.
I know many will wonder what improvements does the XSP bring over the USP, UMC, Marantz 7005, or what have you. I had all these units in my setup at one time or another and many stayed a while, except for the USP which lasted only a few months. I am going on my memory of the signature of sound from all these units. I'll start with the USP. I found its sound a bit harsh at times and could never integrate it well in my system. For the money it was ok. I then spent much time with the Marantz AV7005. I really liked the unit and it sounded great. Smooth and enjoyable. Not the best I've heard, but it bested my Onkyo 5507 and UMC for music only. It wasn't the last word in neutrality, but it was close and non fatiguing. The UMC is still in my system and can hold its own against the XSP, but ultimately the XSP beats the UMC and excels in top to bottom coherence, neutrality and imaging that the UMC cannot replicate. I want to be very clear here, to my ears, it is not earth shattering drastic in differences. Where the XSP goes to the next level, it does so with grace and pace...read on.
Pink Floyd's track "Wish You were Here" was detailed, powerful and immediate. With the UMC, it gets a bit homogenized. The XSP has better instrument separation and detail. Imaging is excellent with the XSP, much better than any of the units I've mentioned. What you pick up on after hours of listening is that the XSP never gets frazzled by intricate or "busy" passages. One word describes it best, "effortless". Not so with the other units.
On the Ultimate Demo Disc, Rebbecca Pigeon's "Rose in Spanish Harlem" details the accuracy of sibilances of "s" in particular. The XSP produces it faithfully without being harsh or overpowering. A good pre-amp should be neutral and not add or detract from the original source. I feel the XSP has succeeded in that.
Mighty Sam McClain's "Give it up to Love" is a fantastically recorded cd and the title song is full of great guitar riffs and powerful bass. The XSP delivered this song in exquisite grace and impact. The combination of separation of instruments, detailed vocals and effortless power gave the impression of a costlier unit. This is the feather in Emotiva's cap. It's a very good pre-amp for under a grand. I don't think there is a pre-amp out there that can best it at the 1k level.
Anyone who has the Doug McLeod disc, "Come to find" should audition the XSP with that title song. After listening to this song, I came away thinking this was the first time I felt my system sounded "high end", in a sense that it was punching above its class. My system is modest (see signature), but the all Emotiva electronics, Usher Speakers, room treatments have created a good foundation to re-exploring my musical collection.
I will say this, as good as the ERC-2 is, I think the XSP could even entertain mega buck cd players. I would love to hear what it could do with say an Ayre, Esoteric, Teac or Oppo 105 cd player. I also look forward to mating it with a fully balanced Emotiva amp, preferably the future XPA-1L.
I'll report long term listening results as I get a better handle of the XSP, but so far it's a great unit for the price. For those who can appreciate and distinguish the articulation in improvements it provides over the units I mentioned earlier, they will be delighted.