Emotiva UMC-1 7.1 Channel Preamplifier/Processor Review

I recently had a chance to work on an Emotiva UMC-1 coupled with Emotiva XPA-5 and XPA-2 power amplifiers. This combination is an amazing value. The UMC-1 processor lists for $699 and has features competitive with units many times its price. The XPA-5 lists for $799 with 200 watts per channel capacity and the XPA-2 lists $799 with 300 watts per channel. Anyone considering a processor and amplifier combination instead of a receiver would do well to look at this brand.

The UMC-1 includes excellent flexibility in its setup. The user can adjust the typical channel levels and distances. Where it is unique is its ability to adjust crossover frequencies and slopes for each channel at such a low price. Graphic equalization is also available on each channel. Default surround processing modes can be set for each input and each input type into that input.

Emotiva has struggled getting the software in the UMC-1 to be as robust as more expensive competitive products from Denon and Integra. At this time with version 7.02 of the system firmware the only problem observed was a loss of center channel and surround speaker sound after pausing a movie. I suspect this last issue will be fixed quickly.

An odd feature of this processor is the subwoofer equalization is only applicable to the LFE channel and not the bass management applied to the subwoofer. Hopefully, Emotiva will change this in the future. At this time I would use a Rane PE-17 to equalize the subwoofer for all situations.

Ignoring the few problems that exist in this combination the sound quality was fabulous after a careful manual calibration of the 7.1 surround system. The sound decoding in the UMC-1 was exceptional along with the amplifier power.

W. Jeff Meier

ISF and THX Certified Home Theater Consultant

Bruce Voigt

They are coming out with a Upgrade Firmware today 10/15/10 for the dropouts.They will also fix the other problem in a coulpe weeks.Jeff has calibrated my system and it sounds FANTASTIC!!!! I am using many EMOTIVA products and they all sound great.


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