Blowout deal! The Latest Reference CD/SACD player from EMM Labs, now with USB digital input. (Can be used as a DAC or a SACD/CD Player). This is the newest model and is a mint demo unit. Black face. It has all recent updates. Like new. Included with this unit is a pair of Audioquest Wel Signature interconnects that sound fantastic.
Will consider trade ins.
I am an authorized dealer for Legacy Speakers, Oracle, Auralic, Canary Audio, Verastarr, Resonessence, NAT Audio, and Triangle Art. Paypal/CC adds 2.9%,
Will consider trades. Midwest Audio, South Bend, IN
Emm Labs has released their latest Reference CD/SACD Player, the XDS1-V2, from world leading expert digital converter designer, Ed Meitner.
The XDS1-V2 offers a quantum leap forward in technology and design. Inside its sculpted, brushed aluminium chassis is a silky smooth Esoteric drive mated to the industry most sophisticated digital and analog electronics to be found on aerospace composite pcbs. The XDS1-V2 features shorter signal paths and increased parts quality. All conversion circuitry is proprietary and discrete (no op amps); and operates in pure Class A.
The XDS1-V2 has now all new COAXIAL, TOSLINK, AES and USB inputs - each able to support up to 24bit/192kHz. The USB input also supports native DSD streaming.
The XDS1-V2 features their most refined Meitner Digital Audio Translator (MDAT) circuitry yet. But it is what MDAT does that makes it so amazing! With MDAT, there is no pre- and post ringing; which is why MDAT - quite unlike any other processing technology extant - is unique in its ability to preserve the phase, frequency and dynamic integrity of the waveform. Once you have heard this level of improvement in terms of resolution, nuance and dynamic shading, there is no going back. But that is not where it ends: the XDS1-V2 also features EMM Labs most inquisitively refined conversion circuitry ever - their MDAC module, which is a "cost-no-object" solution with discrete dual differential circuitry free of differential nonlinearities.
Most converters, including high end systems, use a type of PLL (phase locked loop) system to synchronize their digital systems. PLLs have many inherent flaws, most notably its lacking ability to get rid of jitter (it can only attenuate it); inherently slow to lock, a limited lock range and response time and will naturally drift thus adding jitter and phase distortion. This is where Ed Meitner distinguishes himself - the XDS1-V2 utilises their new proprietary digital source acquisition system, called MFAST that captures, extracts and re-clock incoming digital audio asynchronously, thereby completely getting rid of any source jitter!
The XDS1-V2 has a newly upgraded high-isolation resonant mode power supply - the greenest they have ever built; and also the quietest - significantly outperforming typical switchers and linear power supplies. Proprietary to EMM Labs and the XDS1-V2, this power supply synchronizes its operating frequency (or resonant mode) to every other system within the XDS1-V2, thereby reducing digital noise to the vanishing point.
The EMM Labs XDS1-V2 CD/SACD Player - Everything about it is better than everything that has come before it.
Technology / Key Features:
- All digital inputs support up to 24bit, 192kHz PCM audio
- PCM inputs via USB, AES/EBU and Toslink
- DSD streaming over USB (DoP 1.0)
- Single stage from DAC to output with fully discrete Class-A circuitry
- Meitner Digital Audio Translator (MDATTM) signal processing technology
- Provides 2x DSD upsampling for SACD and PCM playback
- Preserves phase, frequency and dynamic integrity of waveform
- MDACTM discrete dual differential D-to-A conversion circuit
- MFASTTM technology for instant signal acquisition, jitter-free performance
- High-isolation resonant mode power supply for silent, green operation
- Exclusive aerospace-grade composite laminate circuit boards
- Silky smooth EsotericTM drive
- Sculpted, brushed aluminum chassis
- Low resonance, internally braced design with thick, machined sole plate
- Available in silver or black
- LCD display with four brightness levels and a display-off setting
- Precision-machined aluminum multifunction infrared remote control
- Remote-controllable polarity inversion performed in the digital domain
- CE-compliant device
Digital input formats:
- Class 2 USB (44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, DSD)
- AES/EBU PCM (44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz)
- TOSLINK PCM (44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz)
- Up to 24bit wordlength at all inputs
- DSD streaming over USB (DoP 1.0 specification)
Digital output formats:
- EMM Optilink
Stereo Audio Outputs:
- XLR 300 ohms balanced
- RCA 150 ohms unbalanced
- Two user selectable output levels:
-- Low position: XLR: +10.4dBu, RCA: +4.4dBu
-- High position: XLR: +15.4dBu, RCA: +9.4dBu
- Power factor corrected
- Factory set to 100V or 115V or 230V, 50/60Hz
- Power consumption: 45W (max)
- 435mm (W) X 400mm (D) X 145mm (H)
- 17 Kg
- Sculpted, brushed aluminium chassis extensively treated with vibration control material consisting of a highly damped, low-rebound, rapid-settling polymer composite.
Review of XDS1 excerpt from Enjoythemusic:
The box must provide a stable platform for the drive mechanism and facilitate isolation of each of the major subsystems from the others. The XDS1 retains the same reasonably compact dimensions as the CDSA, but the bottom plate is now a thick slab of milled aluminum instead of sheet metal. The feet, which include a mechanical isolator, are machined from aluminum blocks. Improved shielding between the components extends even to the display panel. A quick look inside reveals the modular approach taken to shield the electronic components from the power supply and control mechanisms. The chassis is internally braced and damped to eliminate resonance. The unit weighs a substantial 37.5 lbs, well up from the 26.5 lbs weight of the CDSA SE. You can select either a silver or black finish.
The Power Supply
Ed Meitner has always used switching power supplies in his digital components. He maintains that they are more efficient than linear power supplies and inject less interference on the line that can travel back to other components. This incarnation is a newer version of his classic design, aimed at minimizing noise levels. Like its predecessors it has power factor correction (PFC), and in this implementation it is the superior active form of PFC rather than the more common passive form. The XDS1 has been tested and is CE compliant. The power supply is now more impervious to the imperfections on the input power line, so will likely be less cable sensitive. It now reaches 95% efficiency, contributing to the cool running of the unit. To achieve the desired quality, the transformers are custom wound. A high voltage rail is created from the input line, and lower voltages are derived from this high voltage line rather than directly from the input. This isolates the low voltage power feeds from phenomena present on the line. Switching frequencies are synched to the audio clock, since experiments have shown this approach minimizes jitter (timing inaccuracies). All the low voltage feeds are very tightly regulated to ensure optimal performance in the signal path. A good proportion of the cost and the performance of the XDS1 can be directly attributed to this remarkable power supply, which sits to the left and runs the full height of the chassis. You’ll see it labeled EMM Labs X Power System SMPS v. 3.
The Drive Unit
For the first time, EMM Labs specify an Esoteric VSOP drive unit, rather than the European drives used in earlier models. The box marked EMM Labs X Drive Systems contains the Esoteric control system and the drive itself is mounted centrally and offers a slim metal drawer for the disc. This mechanism loads discs much faster than before (around 6 seconds for CD and 10 seconds for SACD). It also responds instantly to commands, a huge improvement over its predecessor. A similar mechanism is found in the dCS Puccini CD / SACD Player and several other high end players.
The Digital Input Circuitry
The asynchronous input circuitry from the DAC 2 has been further refined in the XDS1. Currently it supports only TosLink and AES/EBU at up to 24-bit/96kHz, but we can expect a firmware update (uploadable through the USB service connection) to support 24/192 inputs in the near future. Although often dismissed in the past as a lower quality connection, EMM Labs assure me the TosLink input included here is a very high performance device capable of superb low jitter communications if the transmitting device is well implemented. It is galvanically isolating – a fancy way of saying it isolates the ground from the ground in the source component. This is an important factor in attaining high audio quality. By contrast a USB2 connector can transfer a lot of noise from the source, particularly if that source is a server or a desktop computer, although laptop computers are generally much cleaner than either servers or desktops. The digital inputs are housed on a small daughterboard, and it is possible that an alternative input board may also be offered in future with a USB input option capable of a full 192 kHz/24bit transfer rate. In fact, over the life of the machine, EMM Labs may offer various upgrades, both hardware and software, to keep the owners up to date. All inputs, including from the internal Esoteric drive, use EMM Labs’ proprietary MFAST (Meitner Frequency Acquisition System) asynchronous input mechanism. MFAST appeared first in the DAC2 and has been further refined for this application. Used in place of the more familiar Phased Lock Loop (PLL), MFAST eliminates jitter from the input stream rather than merely attenuation it, and locks rapidly to the incoming signal.
EMM Labs have developed their own high speed clock module, the MCLK-1, which they claim sets new records is sub-picosecond jitter measurements. There is now general agreement that the reduction of jitter is a key to maintaining phase coherency and special integrity or the audio output and no expense has been spared here in this vital component or its power supply. Unwilling to surrender its competitive advantage, EMM Labs would only say the clock generator is not based on crystals or atoms. In the interior picture, the central of the 3 large modules on the upper circuit board is the MCLK-1 module.
Here’s a component that really didn’t need any improvement. Ed Meitner’s DAC (MDAC-1 module) is a fully discreet, dual differential design which upsamples all signals to 5.6 MHz, twice the frequency of the SACD standard. This DAC features a further refinement of MDAT (Meitner Digital Audio Translator) processing, which avoids both pre and post ringing and preserves all phase information. Conventional DACs convert a digital signal to analog by passing it through a reconstruction filter using interpolation to smooth the analog waveform, which leads to a perfectly flat frequency response but errors in the time domain which show up as audible ringing. MDAT works by dynamically adapting to the transient nature of the musical signal – the exact opposite of the traditional one-size-fits-all algorithm. There have been some small changes in the DAC. Ed believes it is not possible to avoid non-linearities in chip based DACs which is why he prefers the far more expensive discreet component approach. The two converters are better isolated from each other and they are fed by a higher quality power supply. In the interior picture, the 2 modules on either side of the clock module on the upper circuit board are the left and right MDAC-1 modules.
The Output Circuitry
Perhaps the biggest innovation over previous EMM Labs designs is the output stage. Unlike the CDSA SE or DAC2, which use high quality op amps in a multi stage output section, Ed Meitner wanted a single Class A output stage with the shortest possible signal path. He achieved this by using discreet components of the highest quality, combining all the necessary filtering, buffering and amplification into that one stage. Simpler is better.
The Control Mechanism
Virtually all CD players use a microprocessor to control the user interface and display logic. EMM Labs prefers to use instead a state machine. This has the advantage that it does not introduce a new source of pollution into the system, but it is by no means as flexible as a microprocessor can be. As a result, while we can vary the display brightness to four levels, and have all the usual track access and scan buttons, we can only see the track number and elapsed time for this track. All the controls work very well and the display is very readable at a distance, but the layout of the identical looking buttons takes some getting used to. The remote control is a very nicely milled aluminum device, a good step up from the plastic wand that accompanies the CDSA SE. When asked why we couldn’t have a more intuitive and ergonomic interface, the answer I was given is the Ed does not like to inflate the cost of his products on improvements that do not directly relate to the sound quality.
Before we turn to the audio performance, let me point out that this unit has a much more luxurious and responsive feel than the CDSA SE, as befits its $25,000 price, and is a much more flexible unit by virtue of its digital inputs, not available on the lower priced unit. Once again Ed specifies aerospace-grade composite laminate circuit boards. The picture does not reveal the presence of a second circuit board mounted below the visible one. It contains the logic boards for the state machine, the RS232, USB and external IR connections and other non audio path componentry. On the back you have analog balanced (5V) and unbalanced (2.5V) outputs, plus digital outputs over AES/EBU and EMM Labs high resolution Optilink. The internal layout is so perfect it’s a shame the top cover is not a glass window so we could admire it from time to time. The one thing missing is a high/low output switch. EMM Labs components are often used in professional studios, and this switch was provided on earlier models for matching studio requirements for high output. This component is priced out of reach for such commercial applications, so this switch is not longer required. The big question of course is whether it is priced out of reach for audiophiles too. Certainly we’ll need a lot more than a more responsive remote control and some digital inputs to justify the asking price. It will need to be a big musical step up from the CDSA SE.
Unquestionably, the XDS1 is the best SACD player I have ever heard. The increase in realism over the already fine CDSA SE leaves me at a loss for words. Don’t worry, I’ll find a few and put them down here for you, but let me simply say for now that this is for me the new reference SACD player, and I’m just going to have to trade in the CDSA SE and pack up the Linn Sondek LP12 because I’ve now found what I’ve always been looking for, the absolutely convincing and easy to use source component. Blacks are blacker, dynamic range is unrestricted, frequency response as flat as a pancake and imaging holographic. Music appears unfettered by all the usual imperfections.
Of course you’ll need some dam good equipment to go with it, but you can do astonishingly well with a pair of Sennheiser HD800 headphones and a really good head amp like the Graham Slee Solo for under $3000. My speakers, the Wilson Benesch Act 1s have never sounded this good before, aided and abetted by a Parasound JC-2 preamp and the latest Bryston 4B amp, all wired together with Nordost Valhalla cables.
I didn’t take as many notes as usual while listening, because I kept getting carried away with the music, but I’ll give you some highlights. Let me get the bad news out of the way first. One recording which I had thought pretty highly of before, Ravel’s Bolero played by the Minnesota Orchestra under Stanislaw Skrowaczewski [MFSL UDSACD 4002] turns out to have a number of the string players very slightly out of tune. On previous plays the strings merged nicely together, but the greater resolution proffered by the XDS1 reveals the slight discord and sharply lowers my enjoyment. That one recording aside, every other disc gave me new insights and increased musical thrills. Here’s the play-by-play.
Ivan Fischer - Brahms First Symphony [CCS SA 28309]
The XDS1 pulls furthest away from the CDSA SE on complex large scale pieces where its higher resolution, stronger bass extension and improved dynamics are most easily assessed. You can hear the hall itself, one listener remarked. It is so hard to get the power of a symphony orchestra in full cry into your living room without losing the precise imaging you can get in smaller scale works, and without a softening of transients as the volume level rises. What we get here is big time linearity, and that’s what makes it all so convincing. What a performance!
Miles Davis – Kind of Blue [CS 64935]
The improvements here are certainly more marginal, since the CDSA SE does such a superb job already. Yes there are some small details I hadn’t noticed before, and the image is a little better defined, but if this is the kind of music you like to listen to, I would not pay the extra.
Coleman Hawkins – The Hawk Flies High [MFSL UDSACD 2030]
This disc again gains very little from the CDSA SE, which was doing it full justice already. It’s a delight from start to finish on either machine.
MA on SA [Crystal cables]
Small scale music but this time superbly recorded. The CDSA does a superb job here but it is left in the dust by the XDS1 which reveals depths, subtleties and tonal beauty the CDSA simply misses. The piano tone on Gabriella Kafer’s Chopin Barceuse is fuller, darker and richer, better suiting the material. Paganini’s Carnival of Venice is both more intricate and more dynamic than before while Kalman Olah’s Improvisation on a Love Song, always a stand out, is now a peerless testimony to how little the recording process can impinge on a live performance. The perfectly black background and impeccable transient response and sustain capture the improvisatory nature of this performance to the fullest.