Emm labs DA2 v2 upgrade

awsmone

Well-Known Member
Apr 7, 2014
1,181
81
48
Canberra Australia
#1

awsmone

Well-Known Member
Apr 7, 2014
1,181
81
48
Canberra Australia
#3
but actually it should be done by your dealer, as make a mistake and its back to Meitner for a repair!
 
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awsmone

Well-Known Member
Apr 7, 2014
1,181
81
48
Canberra Australia
#4
Firmware arrived just waiting for distributor to upload and will report back
 

awsmone

Well-Known Member
Apr 7, 2014
1,181
81
48
Canberra Australia
#5
Firmware installed......


No issues installing firmware

very comprehensive instructions it seems

and a special application to load it up

hey presto its working

Firmware seems to have on some files a November 2017 date on it, with september update of usb drivers

First impressions..

Well if you don't want to read the rest the Dagogo review is pretty spot on

First Day observations

Overall

Is one of great improvement, all the weakness seems to have been attacked and greatly rectified
More musical
Better timing, it’s quick, but with the ease of a great artist, not mechanically quick, yet breathes
Better timbre
Better midrange; with greater more natural information and harmonic density
denser treble, more accurate harmonics, with touch of sweetness where appropriate

greater image depth
less bass confusion
longer sound trails
Greater difference between recordings, and HQplayer settings
Lower noise floor
extraneous noises in recordings more compartmentalised

Bass is less plodding and very articulate, and frequencies between 100-200 more fleshed out, and appropriately, like the frequency spectrum has pulled its "socks up"
 
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awsmone

Well-Known Member
Apr 7, 2014
1,181
81
48
Canberra Australia
#6
Day 2

Noticeable decrease in noise floor, and grain
Seem to be able to listen at lower levels with equal resolution
Greater sense of ease

Ambience of recording space, more evident
Distance between performers front to back is more obvious, no change in width which was already spectacular

Midbass greater timbrally resolution
 

Aussienut

New Member
Jun 22, 2017
12
14
3
Australia
#7
Hi Awsmone,

Great feedback on the DA2 software upgrade. I like the improvements you have noticed.

I have the DAC2X which Warwick upgraded to version 2 hardware and software early this year. The improvements were very noticeable and welcome. Maybe (cross fingers) the DAC2X will get a similar software upgrade to the DA2 in the future.

Enjoy the improvements and keep the feedback coming.
 

awsmone

Well-Known Member
Apr 7, 2014
1,181
81
48
Canberra Australia
#8
Thanks

Interesting as I think there maybe two areas

One is the USB drivers, I might be wrong but I uploaded these first and noticed some improvement but maybe that’s just my system

The second is to the FPGA, I suspect these are different between the DA2 and your dac, but clearly they have learnt something

The tangible timbral, musical sweetness and noise floor/grain issues are very audible

For owners of your DAC I hope the changes wrought are translatable :)
 

cjf

Member
Nov 19, 2012
332
3
18
#9
This is not a comment specific to the DA2 but more of an observation about the "v2" upgrades in general for the EMM Labs DAC's.

It could be just a coincidence but it appears that there are an awful lot of DAC2X and MA1 v2 boxes popping up for sale on AGon lately after the upgrade was applied. Makes me wonder because these DAC's were fairly scarce in terms of being for sale but then...Bang...v2 applied and now they are popping up like daisies.

What gives?
 

awsmone

Well-Known Member
Apr 7, 2014
1,181
81
48
Canberra Australia
#10
Interesting hypothesis

I just had a look on Audiogon, and there seem to be not a lot, and a mixture of v1 and v2

I have not owned the DAC2X so cannot comment on the the V1 or V2

I suppose if you were not happy with the dac you might hope the v2 would solve the issue, and if it doesn’t you sell it

Increasingly I have learned you need to work on a great piece of equipment to get the best out of it

I was happy with the v1, but some of the things in my system, I didn’t like so much were resolved by the V2 upgrade

I think the best testament is I am just listening more, analysing less

However in analytic mode, subtle changes are now more obvious

Pleased so far.....and free, and reversible if you don’t like it
 

cjf

Member
Nov 19, 2012
332
3
18
#11
Interesting hypothesis

I just had a look on Audiogon, and there seem to be not a lot, and a mixture of v1 and v2

I have not owned the DAC2X so cannot comment on the the V1 or V2

I suppose if you were not happy with the dac you might hope the v2 would solve the issue, and if it doesn’t you sell it

Increasingly I have learned you need to work on a great piece of equipment to get the best out of it

I was happy with the v1, but some of the things in my system, I didn’t like so much were resolved by the V2 upgrade

I think the best testament is I am just listening more, analysing less

However in analytic mode, subtle changes are now more obvious

Pleased so far.....and free, and reversible if you don’t like it
I haven't looked in the last week or so but I do watch Audiogon like a hawk in general. Its good to hear you are one of the folks happy with a v2 upgrade. I've wondered why such a great series of DAC's could all of a sudden turn to crap with the application of a v2 update, seems off considering the company.

But with that said, from what I have observed, the recently upgraded "v2" items do appear to show up quite often and interestingly enough, for less money than the non "v2" items.

Who knows! Could be just a fluke but being someone waiting for a good deal on a DAC2X SE for quite some time maybe I'm more aware then others to this oddness?
 
Dec 26, 2011
275
1
18
#13
I had the DAC2X v1 which I traded in for a brand new unit of v2 at some additional cost.

Although there is now fuller body, and the lock-in to incoming data is more secured compared to the v1 unit, but I don't like the new unit's sound at all, and I can't bear to listen to it for long. Soundstaging is now lower. and imaging has become forward. The lit-from-within effervescence that made the v1 so enjoyable to listened to is now gone. In place is faintly perceptible jitter artifacts (ear-pricking sensation).

I had asked my dealer to downgrade me to a v1 or a single-boxed XDS-1 v2 at no refund, but he has not responded.
(v1 => v2 is not merely firmware change, there is supposedly analog output stage changes as well)

Meanwhile I am quite happy listening to Tidal on the cheap, cheap Yamaha WXC-50, and I don't feel that I miss the TSDX/DAC2X v2 combo at all.....
 
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Mar 24, 2017
85
4
8
#14
I can't figure you out. You go on and on **** talking the XDS1 and now you want one as a replacement? I'm not quite sure what's so offensive about your DAC (after your XDS1 comments I can't take any of your comments at face value), but claiming a Yamaha is superior doesn't exactly enhance your already questionable credibility.
 
Dec 26, 2011
275
1
18
#15
I guess you must be a emm labs fan boy?

Read on, because here's where i reveal more technical issues with emm labs products...

The dac2x v1 replaced the xds1 v1.
And i still stand by my comments about the "whitish" sound of the xds1 v1.

However i noted the xds1 v2 had audibly improved from the v1.

I've had the chance to use the xds v2 extensively over a period of 3 weeks in a setup consisting of the yamaha ns-5000 driven by the pass xp20 and x350.8, a setup which is very similarly sounding to one of the system i have at home. The ns-5000 does indeed sound very identical tonally to my ss-M9ED. Their frequency response curves are nearly identical! And I'm using exactly the same pre-amp, nearly the same power-amp, all wired up by the same wires and powercords that were brought over from my home. That is why i can safely say that the xds1 v2 is much improved over its predecessor.

However superior the tsdx/dac2x v1 combo over their 1-box brother, they have 1 major flaw.

Long time audio asylum inmates will know i have a ritualistic procedure when playing optical discs - that is, i will shut down the player/transport & dac combo prior to playing any optical discs. I've developed a strict sequence of always powering up the transport first, insert disc, letting the transport read disc toc and settle, before i then go on to power up the dac. Music simply sounds better with this powering up sequence. However I encounter a very peculiar problem with the tsdx/dac2x v1 combo.

When they are both freshly powered up, and when i load in an RBCD, 9 out of 10 times, the dac will have momentarily sync drop off before locking on again. This has very audible degradation in sound. Luckily, with SACD discs, this was never a problem. And so with RBCD discs, sound quality can never be optimised on the tsdx/dac2x combo in my system. This was tolerated as RBCDs were only occasional fillers.

While using the xds1 v2 during that 3 weeks period, and playing RBCDs I didn't, and hadn't noticed this problem at all.

The question would be - was it the transport or the dac that is causing RBCDs to lose sync when they were freshly powered up?

All my testing and testing then led me to believe that the culprit had been the transport. So i dabbled with different optical disc transports for playing RBCDs for a while - including my sony scd-xa9000es (via toslink connection) and a shigaclone transport based on sanyo disc drive (using coaxial connection). Both transports allowed the dac to sync lock without any problem) Yes, i could enjoy very satisfying RBCD sound with very good sense of musical flow from these 2 transport that i couldn't get from the tsdx.

Now comes the surprise, and the shocker:

When i replaced the dac2x with the brand new v2 unit, i noticed immediately that sync lock with the tsdx when playing RBCDs were much improved! Where previously, success rate of sync lock was 1 out of 10 times, now it is 8 out of 10 times. Hurray! I thought i had gotten a winner here. It seems that the new v2 dac2x had improved on the sync lock issue where previously i thought the problem originated from the tsdx transport. However, i was to find out soon after that the v2 dac2x had a very different sound presentation from the v1 predecessor.... i don't like the new unit's sound!

Now, if given a choice of the TSDX/DAC2X v1 combo vs the XDS1 v2, which one should I go for?

I'll lose more money if I downgrade to xds1.

But in the long run, I think I'll have greater satisfaction.
 
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Mar 24, 2017
85
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#16
Yes, your amazing detective skills have uncovered my secret - I am an EMM Labs fanboy. You're a character.

All I can say reading the above is that I still don't know what I read.

Good luck. I hope you can be happy with whatever you end up with.
 
Dec 26, 2011
275
1
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#17
The rationale for powering down digital players (single boxed unit or transport/DAC combo) is to erase playback memory - which for some unknown reasons degrade sound reproduction. Jim Smith briefly mentioned this in his book, although he couldn't explained why.

The Yamaha WXC-50 streamer clears residual playback memory prior to the start of subsequent tracks.
So the sound is always opened, fresh, dynamic, and very musical, timing wise.
And I don't have to go through that power down/powering up nonsense.
The fact that it cost nearly 100 times cheaper than the TSDX/DAC2X shouldn't stop one from checking out this little miracle worker.
 
Oct 15, 2010
130
5
18
Kidneystone-on-Trent
#18
Long time audio asylum inmates will know i have a ritualistic procedure when playing optical discs - that is, i will shut down the player/transport & dac combo prior to playing any optical discs. I've developed a strict sequence of always powering up the transport first, insert disc, letting the transport read disc toc and settle, before i then go on to power up the dac. Music simply sounds better with this powering up sequence.
I follow a similar routine with my non-EMM Labs digital gear. Before I sit down to listen, I touch my nose with my left hand and my left ear with my right hand, then reverse the procedure because the order is somewhat critical.

After loading the CD, I take it out, put it in upside down, hit eject, then put it in data-side down. You'd be surprised at the difference this makes. Well, maybe you wouldn't but everyone else would.

Then I walk the width (never the length) of my listening room left to right twice (once sounds okay, three times sounds awful), returning to my listening seat at precisely a 120 degree angle (I have the path marked out on the floor with black duct tape).

If I don't go through this somewhat time-consuming routine (it took me 20 minutes once after a few too many cognacs), the system sounds fuzzy, gray, ill-defined and unfocused.

YMMV.
 

mountainjoe

Industry Expert
Mar 25, 2015
121
40
28
Bay Area, California
eigenaudio.com
#19
I follow a similar routine with my non-EMM Labs digital gear. Before I sit down to listen, I touch my nose with my left hand and my left ear with my right hand, then reverse the procedure because the order is somewhat critical.

After loading the CD, I take it out, put it in upside down, hit eject, then put it in data-side down. You'd be surprised at the difference this makes. Well, maybe you wouldn't but everyone else would.

Then I walk the width (never the length) of my listening room left to right twice (once sounds okay, three times sounds awful), returning to my listening seat at precisely a 120 degree angle (I have the path marked out on the floor with black duct tape).

If I don't go through this somewhat time-consuming routine (it took me 20 minutes once after a few too many cognacs), the system sounds fuzzy, gray, ill-defined and unfocused.

YMMV.
Lol - should you reverse directions if you live in the lower hemisphere?:cool:
 
Dec 26, 2011
275
1
18
#20
I used to think the memory retention problem can be solved solely using refreshing procedure with the transport. But since living with a transport and DAC combo for a while, I've discovered another previously unknown issue.

The dac2x v1 and v2, hell yes, like all other dacs I've tried (non-tube output stage) are sensitive to powering up sequence.

The issue is switching between incoming digital data streams. When a DAC is freshly powered up and locks on to an incoming data stream for the first time, it sounds fine. But when it lose sync and re-locks again, there would be audible sonic degradations. When inputs are changed (as in switching from coaxial to optical, for example) and switches back to the original inputs, the sync lock off and lock on process will again create sonic degradations. Powering off the transport to erase playback memory also means the dac loses sync and locks on to another incoming stream when the transport is powered up again.

Perhaps there is a better way to describe what's happening, but dacs sound better when they are powered up last, and subjected to no changes of digital inputs.

The dac2x, rather unfortunately, have LEDs on its front panel that indicate the sync lock status.

I've never bothered with dacs that come with tube-based output stages for obvious reasons.
 

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