Emotiva UMC-200 Preamp / Processor Review

Discussion in 'Amps, Pre-Pros & Receivers' started by admin, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. admin Audioholics Robot Staff Member

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    The Emotiva UMC-200 Processor/Preamp is quite a bargain at under $600. It supports all of the latest in HD audio and video. The UMC-200 even has an adjustable multi band EQ for all channels, including the subwoofer. A true analog bypass is a plus for audiophiles. The UMC-200 paired with UPA-700 amp gets you a full separates solution for under $1k. Is this your cure for the common receiver?

    [​IMG]

    Read the Emotiva UMC-200 A/V Processor Review

    Share your thoughts if you have this Emotiva processor and/or amp combo.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2013
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  2. jcl Senior Audioholic

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    Thanks for the review. Great to see this and the Outlaw as I think they fit a niche that Audioholics tend to fall into - value oriented Preprocessors.

    One note to anyone contemplating the UMC-200, I think the $599 price is part of the Emotiva holiday sale and on 1/15 it goes up to $699.
    jcl,
  3. agarwalro Audioholic Ninja

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    Nice pre-pro. Measurements definitely put it in the "reference" category.
    Small typo, that needs to say -100dB.


    Is this a measurement technique error or is the device actually altering sub level? If latter is true, when one sets the levels for 7.1 and then plays a CD, the sub will be -15dB? What happens if you do the reverse. Set the levels for 2.1, watch a movie and end up with sub damage because it got overdriven? Deja vu?

    I don't understand this at all. The subwoofer HP roll off depends on number of active channels? So, in 2.1 mode you have 22dB/Oct even when set for 24dB/Oct. When watching a movie it is only 17dB/Oct even though it is set for 24dB/Oct? What the hell?

    There goes "THX mode" out of the window for anyone with THX certified speakers ;).
  4. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Overlord

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    Is there anything wrong with UMC-200's internal dac?
  5. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

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    Thanks I fixed the -10dB typo.

    The sub level change is the same for ALL products and has to do with the fact I was sending 5 channels of correlated audio into the processor while the sub out was summing them. For CD, its a 2CH source so the level wouldn't jump like that. For multi-channel, you're dealing with non correlated audio sources which sum as the sum of the squares.

    Most publications don't have access to HDMI analyzers and only inject a signal to the front main channels for testing bass management, if they test it at all. I have the advantage of really putting a product through its paces thanks to the APx585 HDMI analyzer in my pocket ;)

    No the UMC-200 is NOT THX certified. Emotiva prefers symmetric rolloffs for both HP and LP filter responses. I see merit to both approaches. What really matters is how the speaker/subwoofer system blends with in-room measurements. The UMC-200 allows you to vary slope and crossover frequency for that very reason. If you want a true 24dB/oct slope all of the time,then set the HPF and LPFs to 24db/oct as I state in my review.
    gene,
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  6. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

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    nope it worked just fine and decoded all of the HD formats correctly. But, the Oppo BDP-105 playing back redbook or SACD sounds better IMO. Most people won't be using such a high caliber blu-ray player with this processor, but if they do, then I recommend using the analog connections.
    gene,
  7. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Overlord

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    gotcha and thx for the clarification
  8. macddmac Audioholic General

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    So.. Umc200 or outlaw 975?
  9. agarwalro Audioholic Ninja

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    Thanks for the clarification. I knew something was amiss in my understanding.
  10. agarwalro Audioholic Ninja

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    Should'nt the roll off have stayed at 24dB/octave?
  11. j_garcia Audioholic Jedi

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    I mentioned it before that the 83SE seemed to sound better via analog than the 200 as well, and that is not really a knock against the 200. I still want the 105, but I am not sure I will be buying it as soon as I expected :)

    I think that was answered in the review. If you need analog video support, the UMC-200 is not going to work for you.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013
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  12. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

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    As I said in the review and in this thread, if you keep all HPF and LPF's set to 24dB/oct, the rolloff will ALWAYS be 24dB/Oct. If you change some of the HPF's to 12dB/oct then the summed response to the subwoofer channel when playing correlated audio sources will change.
    gene,
  13. agarwalro Audioholic Ninja

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    Well then, either my reading comprehension needs improvement or you need to clarify it better :p.
  14. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

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    probably a bit of both ;)
    gene,
  15. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

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    Review Updates

    Guys,

    I made a few updates to the review based on the feedback I saw at the Emotiva forum. The pages should cache out in an hour so you can see them, but here are the running changes:

    Bass Management:
    The “enhanced bass” setting is a great option for those that want to have their subwoofers engaged while having their main front speakers set “large” listening to two-channel music. Other manufacturers often call this “double bass” or “LFE + Main”. However, in my testing, I found the UMC-200's "Enhanced bass" mode does a bit more than the typical feature found on most competitor products.

    With “enhanced bass” turned on, I fed the UMC-200 an HDMI 192kHz PCM signal to the front main channels and subwoofer channel. The output produced a -32dB notch in the response of the main front channels at the crossover point followed by a slight elevation at 20Hz. The notch and elevation varied depending on the number of channels driven. With ACD, the notch was under -10dB. I was a bit surprised by this until I realized what was happening. Emotiva has given the customer something I’ve always wanted and thought would be a great idea. They allowed the end user to simultaneously send LFE info to the subwoofer channel and front main channels if they were set “large”. I didn’t think at the time there would be a downside to this provided the main speakers were capable of handling the bass but the summing of the subwoofers LPF into the main channels causes this undesirable anomaly. However if the LFE channel contains correlated audio from the main front channels, it can produce a notched response like this (though likely at a much lower amplitude) in those channels.

    I informed Emotiva about my findings and they are working on a firmware update to disable the option of combining LFE signal back into the main channels with the "enhanced bass" feature turned on. In the meantime, I suggest enabling enhanced bass mode only for two-channel sources if your front main speakers are set to “large”. Disabling "enhanced bass" when playing back multi-channel sources containing LFE content will also prevent potentially overloading your main channels with too much bass. It’s important to note this will NOT be an issue in multi-channel if your front speakers are set “small” however.


    I don't think anyone can say for certain what will ALWAYS be in the LFE channel. I put in a call to Dolby to see if I could get some clarity on this issue. I've personally found that LFE channel must also contain audio from the other channels since when I tried to run the Status 8T as large and a dedicated sub channel, they 8Ts weren't getting much bass at ALL for multi-channel sources. Disabling my bass management so that LFE routes to the main channels made a huge difference, especially on music Blu-rays. The best way I've found to combine LFE + main bass to both subwoofers and your main speakers is to bypass the subwoofer channel all together by setting the sub to "no" and the mains to "large" and then connecting your powered subs to the L/R main channel outputs. You lose subwoofer control and delay but EQing the subs can be a good workaround. This worked great in my setup.

    Outlaw 975 Sampling Rate Support
    Further, because the Outlaw 975 has only one DSP, it offers limited functionality with a Dolby TrueHD bitstream or LPCM above a 96kHz sampling rate and above a 48kHz sampling rate for DTS-HD via HDMI. You will have to switch your Blu-ray player to LPCM as a workaround if you go the Outlaw route. This is NOT an issue for the Emotiva UMC-200 since it employs two Cirrus DSPs. More horsepower and more MIPS are essential to fully support the highest sampling rates offered from HD audio formats while simultaneously supporting level control, digital delay and bass management.

    I misunderstood Outlaw's workaround they told me about via the phone. A Blu-ray player cannot output bass managed signal via HDMI. I made a gaffe and corrected it as shown above. My apologies to Outlaw and any of their owners for misstating this.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 19, 2014
    gene,
  16. panteragstk Audioholic Chief

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    Let me see if I'm reading this correctly. For multi-channel music the UMC-200 is capable of sending the LFE to the front if they are set to large, as well as sending the bass from the main channels (or all channels) to the sub woofer as well depending on the settings you have chosen. My Onkyo has the double bass setting, and I found that it made things quite boomy. Emotiva's way sounds like it would be much better. Also, when I listen to multi-channel music I can't use direct if the track has an LFE channel because I will get little to no bass from my front speakers, and this is with my front channels set to large. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that sounds like the same issue you had with your 8T's until you routed the LFE to them? Sounds like a very well thought out approach. Thanks for the great review, as always.
  17. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

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    Yes I think you've got it. Is your Onkyo supplying bass to the sub channel in "direct" mode for those multi-channel sources? It should be.

    If you truly have fullrange front channels capable of the same SPL output down to 20Hz as your separate powered subs, I still think the best solution would be to bypass the subwoofer channel all together and take my approach. Until I can confirm with Dolby or artists mixing multi channel discs about what exactly is in the LFE channel, then there is a potential for a notched response at the Xover frequency using the "enhanced bass" mode that Emotiva currently employs. I think the notch would be much lower in amplitude than I showed when I injected correlated audio to the front and subwoofer channels however.
    gene,
  18. panteragstk Audioholic Chief

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    Unfortunately, I think the f10 of my mains is around 30hz (if it's that good). They are getting replaced with the new pioneer's you used for this review. I plan to use 3 towers behind the screen so they should be close to the bass capability of my current mains. My subs are way more capable than my mains, but for most music I should get decent bass out of my mains, but for some content it just isn't there. I think it may be part of the recording, and I'm still new to the receiver so I may be missing something. This is beyond the scope of this thread, so I'll just comment that when I upgrade (someday) to separates, emotiva sounds like they have a fantastic offering.
  19. fufanuer Enthusiast

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    Bass management for stereo pure direct mode?

    I have the Emotiva stereo preamp USP-1 which I really like and it allows for bass management with subwoofer for stereo sources. Plus it fits right in with my reciever with the HT bypass mode. But if the UMC-200 has such a good preamp section, maybe I wouldn't need a separate preamp. Does this UMC-200 allow for bass management in pure direct/stereo mode? That's my favorite thing about the USP-1, be able to manage a subwoofer with stereo sources. Unfortunately my mains can't go down to 20HZ... but whose surprised?
    -Thanks
  20. slipperybidness Audioholic Ninja

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    I don't think the USP-1 is really what they mean by "bass management". I think bass management is referring to room correction and/or parametric equalization on the sub.

    The USP-1 has a separate SW out put that has a selectable xover, but I'm not 100% sure that this is really "bass management" as it is commonly used on this site.

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