by Kevin O'Brien on October 6th 2018.

 

EMM LABS DV2 DSD DAC PREVIEW

 

The 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest was hustling and bustling on Saturday set in the background of the Denver Tech Center. There was a slight chill to the air at 9 AM as the weather finally cleared from the previous night. The roads were dry and the sun was beginning to show itself from behind the now parting cloud cover. We were ready to check out some of our favorite HiFi gear on our home turf.

The subject of this article is the latest EMM Labs gear to be offered up from one of the most highly regarded digital masterminds, Ed Meitner. RMAF 2018 provided the perfect opportunity to see the new EMM Labs DV2 DSD DAC. This is the latest addition to the EMM Labs family of gear for 2019. The DV2 has some exciting new features to add to its already proven performance, which it shares exactly with its sibling, the DA2, EMM's current reference digital converter.

According to Ed Meitner, the DA2 is still their ultimate reference digital to analog converter when mated to their latest preamplifier, the PRE, EMM's current reference preamp. So all the DA2 owners can rest assured. If you pair your current DA2 with a state of the art preamp, you're still getting the exact same performance, if not better performance, out of your digital front end as you would if you ditched your DA2 / preamp combo and inserted the single DV2 into your rack.

 

 

 

As you might have guessed, the major difference between the DV2 and the DA2 is the added volume control (a hybrid design in both the analog and digital domain). This means Ed had to place more hardware inside the DA2 chassis (but not too much more) and add a volume knob to pull this off. The other added feature which sets the DV2 apart from the DA2 is the added MQA support. Yes, you read that correctly, the EMM Labs DV2 will have full MQA support. If your current source can play MQA files, the DV2 can decode your MQA data stream and convert it to an analog signal to pass to the rest of your chain. This is pretty exciting news. (Translation: if your playback software / streaming program supports MQA, ANY music server, YFS built or otherwise, can play MQA when paired with the DV2 using USB as your digital input).

Current DA2 owners have nothing to fear as Ed Meitner never leaves his current or past customers hanging. The DA2 will be given a moderately priced update to allow it to decode an MQA data stream as well. This will come some time in 2019.

The rest of the EMM Labs converters in the line up may not get MQA support. Once the DA2 gets the MQA update, Ed will begin working on an MQA update for the rest of his line of converters. There are no promises at this point since it's very early on but I have a feeling Ed will be able to work some magic. A change of hardware and software in the older models to bring them up to date should do the trick, just like with the recent V2 update available for the DAC2X and Meitner MA-1.

 

 

 

On another note, we found out that unfortunately the EMM Labs TX2 CD/ SACD transport is discontinued and completely sold out. If you missed your chance to grab Ed's last and final optical disc based transport, you'll have to link up to the DV2 with your own source player such as a streamer, computer, or legacy CD transport. 

Another exciting feature of the DV2 (currently in the works) is DSD256 support. The DV2 will not ship with DSD256 support but a firmware update in 2019 will add support for quad DSD for both the DV2 and the DA2. The estimated ship date for the DV2 is December 2018 / January 2019. These are exciting times for EMM Labs owners indeed.

 

 

After speaking to Amadeus Meitner, we found out the DV2 will retail for $30,000. Shahin Al Rashid, the head of sales for Meitner, made it very clear that the DA2 (MSRP of $25,000) combined with the PRE (MSRP of $25,000) solid state preamp is still the combination to beat as it ever so slightly beats out the single-box DV2 solution as far as sound quality goes. But, if you don't need multiple analog sources and you're strictly a digital listener without unlimited funds, the DV2 is the way to go as you can simplify your rack and clean things up. The DV2 fills a niche that the previous EMM Labs lineup was not able to do. Many listeners wanted a reference EMM Labs digital front end they could hook directly up to their power amplifiers and Ed Meitner has finally delivered with the DV2.

As you can see from the shot of the rear panel of the DV2 above (lighting was very scarce behind the rack), the only difference from DV2 rear panel to that of the DA2 is the gain switch located between the left and right analog outputs. This switch is used to match the gain of the DV2 with the rest of your gear. This is a nice option for those of us who may not need the extra gain in our preamp. It appears Ed Meitner has all the design options ironed out. The DV2 is ready for any system, not just an EMM Labs based system. As we here at YFS are also equipment designers, it's these little touches that keep us tipping our hats to EMM Labs.

 

 

The DV2 comes with a remote control cut from a solid block of aluminum, just like the rest of the EMM Labs line up. Unfortunately, we did not get a good close-up picture of the DV2 remote functions. We're still confident Ed hasn't left us wanting in this department either.

When we stepped back to listen to the EMM Labs room as a whole, we were hit with a seriously refined and detailed presentation. The power and effortlessness laid out in front of us was impressive as always. The EMM gear mated with the reference Focal transducers was one of Ed's best showings in the Rockies that we can recall.

Thanks for taking the time to read our DV2 preview. Drop us a line if you have any questions about anything we've touched on above. Contact us if you'd like to order your new DV2 in black or silver at a very competitive price as YFS is an authorized EMM Labs dealer. We guarantee we'll beat any advertised price from any US dealer. We're serious about getting our customers the best deal possible. Just give us the opportunity and we'll prove it to you.

Thank you and happy listening!

 

 - YFS Design Team

  

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