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Nearly two years ago, Emotiva released its then-highly-anticipated XMC-1 7.2 Channel Preamp Processor. Following an elongated development cycle, it had the unfortunate fate of entering the market during a period of major technology shifts including the emergence of immersive sound and 4K video. Buyers, however, were undeterred largely because of the model’s bones. Having been developed under the guidance of legendary systems architect Ray Dennison, the XMC-1 was praised for its rich features and audiophile offerings at a price well below that of the competition.

Featuring connections galore, the XMC-1 houses a powerful brain comprised of a 32-bit, dual core, processor controlled by an advanced ARM processor with custom Linux software. And it carries the highly acclaimed Dirac Live correction suite with separate level, distance, and EQ controls for subwoofer channels. Currently, the XMC-1 can decode all legacy multi-channel codecs, in addition to Hi-Res formats such as FLAC, WAV, AAC, and MP3.

One of the XMC-1’s more interesting features is its modular design, which allows for future enhancements and upgrades. We (as consumers) have become highly accustomed to firmware upgrades that fix bugs and unlock new functionalities within a model’s physical capabilities. Modularity, however, allows for physical hardware changes. In the case of the XMC-1, it originally shipped with HDMI 1.4. Owners will now have the option to upgrade to HDMI 2.0. The new board (available in August) will give the XMC-1 one HDMI 2.0 input and one HDMI 2.0 output. This means full 4K functionality (4K/60Hz and HDCP 2.2) minus the ability to pass HDR content. Another upgrade to HDMI 2.0a (which will allow for HDR and wide color gamut) is due in 2017. Yes, it seems Emotiva is slightly behind the curve, but HDR content is still in its infancy and relatively rare.

"The beauty of a modular design is that it guarantees the XMC-1 will never be out of date," says Dan Laufman, founder, Emotiva. "The units our customers buy today will remain just as vital and satisfying no matter what new formats take hold in the market. Buy it now, enjoy it for a lifetime."

Emotiva is offering this upgrade free to all original owners and current buyers. Owners that acquired an XMC-1 through a discount or on the used market will need to pay $299.

While the HDMI upgrade brings the XMC-1 closer to modern video relevancy, it doesn’t help owners in the immersive sound department. Look for Emotiva to tackle that issue with Dolby Atmos and DTS-X enhancements sometime in December.

Image Credit: Emotiva
 

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That's the problem, isn't it? More channels for immersive audio. Is this something they can add to the XMC-1, or will it require a new design such as the rumored XMR-1? Seems like this will be a bit more difficult to add to the XMC-1 than the upgraded HDMI board. One wonders, also, why they didn't go straight to HDMI 2.0a. Perhaps they started the process to 2.0 before 2.0a was a thing?

The release of Atmos for the home was unfortunate timing for the XMC-1, as otherwise I understand it is a great unit and pretty cutting edge for its time.
 

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It certainly looks like HDMI 2.0a caught them by surprise...

As for Atmos/DTS-X... I'll check with my contact, but I believe we are looking at the potential for a 5.1.2 array only.
 

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I follow the Emotiva devolpment closely... The XMC-1 will have an Atmos upgrade soon also. They will be able to handle 7.2.2 or 5.2.4 is it's only limitation.

Personally I'm going to try out the 5.2.4 when that time does come.
 

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It appears that you all are not up to date on the XMC-1 developments. As it will be 7.2.4 capable. Follow the link below for official information from the Emotiva website.

http://emotiva.com/xmc-1-enhancements

A post(quoted below) from Dan Laufman on the Lounge after the official news addressed some possible options as well.

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Hi all,
Happy to see all of the interest and excitement regarding the new upgrade path! :)

We're really excited and working hard to bring this out on time... now, don't laugh!! We're doing much better these days!! A couple of notes...

1. We will definitely work to get more than one Dirac preset for the XMC-1.

2. The new DSP engine will have enough H.P. to support Dirac Unison. We don't know all of the details regarding implementation and cost yet, but we'll keep you posted as we know. We'd like to be able to offer it as an option.

3. We'll have enough DSP oomph to do Dirac at 96k on the new engine. Again, we've got to do some negotiating with Dirac on the business side of this, but we'll certainly do our best to make it available. Stand by for advice as we get it.

4. There IS a 16 channel super AVP under development, concurrent with the updated XMC-1. We're not ready to release specific details yet, but you can probably guess the most obvious "must have" features for this baby.


BTW, we do not make any meaningful profit on the DSP upgrade. It's EXPENSIVE!! But we're taking the long view on this side of the business and we're in it for keeps. We're going to do some amazing stuff in the next year or so. We've hit our stride, so to speak. So, hang on!! :)

Thanks for the support and keeping faith! More to come soon.
Cheers,
Big Dan
 

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Well this is encouraging news, re the ability of the XMC-1 to expand and accommodate 12 channels. There was no mention of whether Dirac Live will be able to EQ all those channels -- does anyone know?

The next question in my mind is whether the new 16 channel unit will be able to run a 9.1.6 or 11.1.4 Atmos configuration. I understand that Datasat's 15 channel LS10 unit can only do 7.1.4 because there are still no DSP chips made that can do more than 12 channels. Trinnov is able to go beyond that only because their solution is in the software, and not dependent on DSP hardware for that functionality. Hopefully there is enough demand for going beyond 7.1.4 that DSP chip manufacturers will provide a solution to do so soon. I doubt Emotiva will go the software route like Trinnov has.
 

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Well this is encouraging news, re the ability of the XMC-1 to expand and accommodate 12 channels. There was no mention of whether Dirac Live will be able to EQ all those channels -- does anyone know?

The next question in my mind is whether the new 16 channel unit will be able to run a 9.1.6 or 11.1.4 Atmos configuration. I understand that Datasat's 15 channel LS10 unit can only do 7.1.4 because there are still no DSP chips made that can do more than 12 channels. Trinnov is able to go beyond that only because their solution is in the software, and not dependent on DSP hardware for that functionality. Hopefully there is enough demand for going beyond 7.1.4 that DSP chip manufacturers will provide a solution to do so soon. I doubt Emotiva will go the software route like Trinnov has.
What Dan has said on the Lounge about DIRAC being applied to the extra overhead speakers/channels is quoted below.

"We will want to add Dirac to the extra channels, and there is no major technical reason this can't be done. Allow us to get a little further along, and as I have said, we will be able to answer your questions in more detail."

So as I interpret his words I believe the answer to your question would be yes, all 7.2.4 channels will be corrected by DIRAC. Though nothing in his words is concrete until he actually confirms it.
 

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Yeah, I'm not surprised that there's no technical reason why it can't be done. If they "can't" do it, I suspect is will be because their upgrade-to-Atmos/DTS:X cost is not enough to cover what I assume will be additional licensing fees paid to Dirac. I'm assuming here that the licensing structure for Dirac has some basis in the number of channels you're EQing for, although I don't know that this is the case. We shall see I suppose. Dan clearly hedged his bets in that response, though :)

And the reason I even bring it up is that Arcam and Audio Control have receivers with Dirac Live, but they only EQ the 7 bed-channel speakers (and the sub). In response to questions about why they don't EQ the overheads, they've talked about enabling it with a firmware upgrade, implying that it is possible with current hardware. If it is possible, why didn't they do it at the outset? I suspect it's a cost issue related to Dirac's licensing fees.

Just doing some speculating!
 
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