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"The beauty of a modular design is that it guarantees the XMC-1 will never be out of date," says Dan Laufman, founder, Emotiva.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