Emm labs DA2 v2 upgrade

Yuen A.

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Jan 4, 2018
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Hi folks, another review of the emm labs dv2, by Phil Gold of Enjoy the Music.com (December 2019):

"I'm going to have to give the DV2 the highest possible marks across the board, except maybe in the value for money category which is a hard one to call. Simply put, I cannot fault this DAC. It brings music to life in a way that defies belief. It is seamless, fully dimensional, with truly realistic sound color, extremely high resolution and an extension of the bandwidth at both extremes. The disk, file or stream you are playing is always going to be the limiting factor. It wasn't quite all of this until I got the new version back from the factory with the upgraded output level switching. That small change tips it over the edge from simply wonderful to the truth. And you are reading it here first folks – the glowing Stereophile review of the DV2 came out before this update was ready, so Jason Serinus was only exposed to that "simply wonderful" version. ... I trust my physical reaction to music more than my analytical skills in evaluating that experience. On the best recordings, the DV2 captivated me in the way a live performance does. The DV2 (in the right company) has full detail and presence, no digital edge, and reveals all the depth and emotion in the recording. It brings renewed faith into this hobby of ours – musical reproduction in the home. In more modern recordings, the DV2 extracts considerably more realism than my previous reference, the XDS1, and that's saying a lot. There are other DACs which dig down into the lowest octaves without bloat, that can resolve the midrange to wonderful effect, but the high frequencies which contain the many overtones of the various instruments and voices we listen to, which in turn give us the tonal quality, those have always been compromised by filters and other limitations in the digital chain. A reviewer, including this one, may tell you that a particular component, or combination of components will send him or her back to their collection to enjoy it afresh. While certainly the case here, I will go further. In many cases I had not understood quite how outstanding my discs were. To hear Dylan's Ain't Talkin', Rubenstein's performance of Chopin Sonata No. 1, Rachel Podger's Bach Sonatas, the Bill Evans Trio playing Autumn Leaves, this is to experience great music without all the usual filters and impediments – tone and dynamics just as they should be. EMM Labs' DV2 DAC is aimed at the audiophile who wants the closest approach to the music. It is astonishingly neutral and accurate across all the octaves, plus it throws a large stable image revealing layers of depth normally flattened by digital processors. Furthermore, it maintains the full color of musical instruments and voices, and it is somehow very easy to listen to. On good Hi-Res Music recordings, you would never guess you were hearing a Hi-Res Audio digital source. ..." (By the way, Hi Fi+ named emm labs dv2 the 2019 DAC of the Year)
 

Yuen A.

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Jan 4, 2018
145
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Hello folks,

The review of the EMM Labs DV2 by Chris of Computer Audiophile is out. He concludes: "In addition, when it comes to reproduction of transients that are a necessity for lifelike sound, the DV2 is without question the best DAC I've ever heard."
 

Bar81

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Mar 24, 2017
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It's a glowing review but without any comparisons to similarly priced units it's not particularly useful.
 
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Yuen A.

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Jan 4, 2018
145
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It's a glowing review but without any comparisons to similarly priced units it's not particularly useful.
Hi Bar81,

You are right, it's indeed a glowing review! Not only did Chris made comparisons with similarly priced dacs, he compared it with the best out there! Chris emphatically states right at the start:

"The EMM Labs DV2 is the best sounding product the company has ever made and may be as good or better than any DAC on the market today. There, I said it. That's my unequivocal opinion after listening to the DV2 in my system for several months. I used the qualifier "may" because I haven't listened to every product on the market, but I can throw that qualifier out when discussing DACs I've had in my system at home. The EMM Labs DV2 is as good or better than anything I've ever heard in my reference system. Period. No need to read between any lines or guess what I really mean by that statement. The DV2 is just that good." [His associated equipment: dCS Rossini, Berkeley Audio Design RS3]

"On the opening track Oceans, as the band takes the small stage, drummer Dave Abbruzzese gives his bass drum a few warm-up kicks. Upon hearing this, I instantly perked up because I'd never heard this recording sound so realistic."

"I don't have another DAC in my house that can reproduce the emotion and reality of this performance better than the DV2."

"Again, I don't say this lightly and I don't beat around the bush for fear of hurting another manufacturer's feelings. The EMM Labs DV2 has enabled me to hear these recordings like no other DAC I've ever heard regardless of location. Whether in my own system, a friend's system, a dealer's showroom, or an audio show [simply put - the best out there - including the MSB select II?], nothing reproduces the Three Blind Mice catalog like the DV2. Sure the DV2 reproduces all the magic, tones, overtones, air, etc... but the biggest differentiator between the DV2 and its competitors is the way it reproduces transients. There's nothing like it."

"Yes, other DACs do a wonderful job with this track and album, but I just can't duplicate the DV2's reproduction of transients with any other DAC. "

"Circling back to the ability of the DV2 to reproduce transients like no other DAC I've heard, this album is yet another example of amazing attack, release, sustain, and decay. "

"The sound in my audio system has never been better than when the DV2 is at its heart."

"when it comes to reproduction of transients that are a necessity for lifelike sound, "the DV2 is without question the best DAC I've ever heard. "
 
Likes: ack

Mdp632

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May 30, 2016
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@Bar81 and @Yuen A.

I wonder when EMM labs will release the hardware/software for DA2 owners to bring their dacs up to the specs/performance of the DV2.

Sans the pre-amp of the DV2, these great reviews should be similar for the DA2 when it is updated.

I'm told its a combination of new hardware and software (Including MQA) and must be done by EMM factory.

Have you heard any news ?
 

Yuen A.

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Jan 4, 2018
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I don't think it is ready yet. See below from EMM Labs (posted yesterday):

We are very happy to hear that Andy! We’re very proud of the DA2‘s performance. It may get even better soon

-Ed & the EMM Labs team
 

Al M.

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Sep 10, 2013
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Interesting reports on the transient performance.

Here are the comments from the Stereophile review of the DV2, comparing with the dCS Vivaldi (DAC alone, no external clock and upsampler):

https://www.stereophile.com/content/emm-labs-dv2-da-processor-page-2

"Using the dCS Network Bridge to feed both units via coaxial S/PDIF, I found the dCS Vivaldi's sound livelier. The Vivaldi revealed more of the leading edges of instruments' sound, and delivered great timbral contrast. This became especially apparent when I returned to Podger and Brecon Baroque's The Four Seasons and discovered that the DV2's sound was smoother, warmer, mellower than the Vivaldi's, and a mite toned down on top. In that regard it was a bit less "intrusive," and less demanding of attention. Bass, image size, and soundstaging, however, seemed equivalent from both units. Although these two DACs had different strengths, both sounded superb."
 

Mdp632

Well-Known Member
May 30, 2016
284
61
113
Interesting reports on the transient performance.

Here are the comments from the Stereophile review of the DV2, comparing with the dCS Vivaldi (DAC alone, no external clock and upsampler):

https://www.stereophile.com/content/emm-labs-dv2-da-processor-page-2

"Using the dCS Network Bridge to feed both units via coaxial S/PDIF, I found the dCS Vivaldi's sound livelier. The Vivaldi revealed more of the leading edges of instruments' sound, and delivered great timbral contrast. This became especially apparent when I returned to Podger and Brecon Baroque's The Four Seasons and discovered that the DV2's sound was smoother, warmer, mellower than the Vivaldi's, and a mite toned down on top. In that regard it was a bit less "intrusive," and less demanding of attention. Bass, image size, and soundstaging, however, seemed equivalent from both units. Although these two DACs had different strengths, both sounded superb."

Interesting. But, wonder if they revisit it now that EMM has their own transport/network bridge NS-1. Uses their proprietary connection to the DAC.

One thing I like about EMM over DCS; you don't need an external clock for their DACS (EMM) to shine.
 
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Vienna

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Oct 14, 2018
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I decided to sell my EMM DA2 and my Aurender which had less than 100 hours of use as I had no interest for the digital music.
i had the impression that Aurender would be much harder to sell and I thought that at half the price EMM would sell quickly With all these reviews.
its strange that the Aurender was sold instantly. and there is no interest at all for the EMM.
its strange isn’t it?
 

Yuen A.

Well-Known Member
Jan 4, 2018
145
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Interesting reports on the transient performance.

Here are the comments from the Stereophile review of the DV2, comparing with the dCS Vivaldi (DAC alone, no external clock and upsampler):

https://www.stereophile.com/content/emm-labs-dv2-da-processor-page-2

"Using the dCS Network Bridge to feed both units via coaxial S/PDIF, I found the dCS Vivaldi's sound livelier. The Vivaldi revealed more of the leading edges of instruments' sound, and delivered great timbral contrast. This became especially apparent when I returned to Podger and Brecon Baroque's The Four Seasons and discovered that the DV2's sound was smoother, warmer, mellower than the Vivaldi's, and a mite toned down on top. In that regard it was a bit less "intrusive," and less demanding of attention. Bass, image size, and soundstaging, however, seemed equivalent from both units. Although these two DACs had different strengths, both sounded superb."
(1) Yes, this an interface issue. The EMM DV2 sounded best using its optical link. JVS should do a follow-up, using the EMM streamer and the optical link.

Note what Chris of Computer Audiophile has to say on the matter:

"Note: Over the course of my time with the DV2 I used both its AES and USB inputs. The best sound, without question, was had by pairing the DV2 with the Sonore Signature Rendu SE Optical feeding the USB input of the DV2.

(2) Besides, the DV2 has being upgraded since. Note what Phil Gold said in his review of the DV2:

"It wasn't quite all of this until I got the new version back from the factory with the upgraded output level switching. That small change tips it over the edge from simply wonderful to the truth. And you are reading it here first folks – the glowing Stereophile review of the DV2 came out before this update was ready, so Jason Serinus was only exposed to that "simply wonderful" version."

Chris of Computer Audiophile provides more details:

"A couple months ago I sent the DV2 back to EMM Labs for an update. This is part of EMM ethos as well. The company never stops improving existing products and, if possible, offers a way for customers to upgrade their purchases down the road. When I received the DV2 back in Minneapolis, it had the Low/High output voltage toggle switch removed from the rear of the chassis. This feature was now implemented as a user selectable option within the front panel menu. According to EMM Labs, "Formerly, the physical switch changed the reference level at which the audio output section operated, it therefore worked at two different voltages as you moved the switch, which meant it wasn’t fully optimized for either. By moving this high-low range adjustment inside the DAC firmware, the analog output section now always runs at one fixed voltage and is therefore fully optimized for that one voltage."

(3) The EMM DA2 and the DV2 will be further updated with a new E analog board soon.
 

Al M.

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(1) Yes, this an interface issue. The EMM DV2 sounded best using its optical link. JVS should do a follow-up, using the EMM streamer and the optical link.

Note what Chris of Computer Audiophile has to say on the matter:

"Note: Over the course of my time with the DV2 I used both its AES and USB inputs. The best sound, without question, was had by pairing the DV2 with the Sonore Signature Rendu SE Optical feeding the USB input of the DV2.
Interesting. Sometimes you wonder if people come to their conclusions under optimal circumstances or not. For example, many reported on the performance of the first version of the Yggdrasil DAC by using its USB input. But all negative conclusions were worthless, since a) the original USB Gen 3 board was suboptimal (it has been replaced by the Gen 5 board), and b) the AES/EBU connection is the designer preferred one. I use that connection over an expensive MIT cable in order to get the best performance, now on version 2 of the DAC.

So yes, I can easily accept that the Stereophile reviewer has not heard the EMM DAC under optimal conditions.
 

Al M.

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Sep 10, 2013
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Interesting that Mike Moffat claims that the upcoming Unison USB for Yggdrasil is superior to AES/EBU.

Matt
Moffat always looked at USB with disdain, until he found a way to make it better. AES/EBU had always been his preferred connection among the standard ones. If the upcoming Unison USB for Yggdrasil is indeed superior to AES/EBU that would be quite a change in his world.
 

cuprone1

Well-Known Member
Feb 10, 2013
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Hi all.
As I could be interested to a used Da2, can you please explain:
1) how many upgrades it had in its life?
2) The last E analog board can be mounted on every DA2 in the used market?
3) it has to be shipped to the factory to do it? ( I live in Europe).

Thanks in advance for replies.

Piero
 

Yuen A.

Well-Known Member
Jan 4, 2018
145
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Hi all.
As I could be interested to a used Da2, can you please explain:
1) how many upgrades it had in its life?
2) The last E analog board can be mounted on every DA2 in the used market?
3) it has to be shipped to the factory to do it? ( I live in Europe).

Thanks in advance for replies.

Piero
Hi Piero

(1) For the DA2, just one upgrade (software - free) (hence, DA2 V2)

(2) I think this time round you need to shipped to the factory to do it - it involves more than software upgrade. See above, via Chris and Phil.

I have just received a note from EMM Labs, via Computer Audiophile:

"Thank you Andy. Sounds like a fantastic system you have. Thank you for sharing it with the people around you and spreading the good word.

We will keep everyone updated via our website and social media of course, and I’ll send you a DM when more news is announced.

All the best,

-Ed & EMM Labs
 

Yuen A.

Well-Known Member
Jan 4, 2018
145
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Hi folks

If you are interested in the emm labs NS1 Streamer, the following comments from Phishphan (at audioshark forum) might be helpful: "Try feeding it with NS1 via EMM Optilink. I found it to be far superior to my Aurender N10 via USB." Thank you Phishphan for sharing.

Interesting comments about the emm DA2 from Colekat at audioshark. He compares it with his Esoteric Grandioso P1/ D1/G-01 clock and concludes: "Right on ... that seems to be the EMM way ... in direct comparison to the Esoteric , which is three times the price , the EMM playback is always pleasing ... great soundstage , very immersive , almost everything is listenable , and at a very high level ... as where the Esoteric , with certain media sounds fantastic , but never as consistently pleasurable as the EMM !
 

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