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Thread: Home Theater Pre/Pro

  1. #1
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    Home Theater Pre/Pro

    I posted a thread awhile back about my amp. I went with the Emotiva UPA-500 and was happy with the choice...

    Now, My B&K head unit is dying.
    I've narrowed it down to 2 choices and was looking for some input before I break out the credit card.

    1) The Emotiva UMC-200
    http://shop.emotiva.com/products/umc200
    I like the amp, trust the company and it would be nice to match the gear.
    The problem is, it doesn't have any component video inputs. I could work around this but it'd be a bit of a hassle.

    2) The Outlaw 975
    http://www.audioholics.com/av-preamp...-model-975-pre
    This unit is a little more expensive, but it has the inputs I need. The problem is, I'm not familiar with the company and my gear would be mismatched.

    I'm not a hard core audiophile, but I do appreciate good sound from my A/V gear.

    Is anyone familiar with Outlaw? They seem to get decent reviews, but I don't know enough to understand all the specs...
    The one bad thing about buying equipment online is I can't let my ears make the decision.

    The other thing is that my amp is only 5x80w, and both of these heads are 7.1. I'm assuming this won't be a problem?
    I don't really care about 7.1 right now as long as the head doesn't have a problem with it...

    Any input would be appreciated!
    Dave
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  2. #2
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    Outlaw makes good stuff, i would get the Outlaw if i had a choice. Lots of Emotiva fans out there too.

    I heard the outlaw receiver, it looked and sounded great though it had the silver face. Not a big fan of the silver myself

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the info on Outlaw Jason...

    I found a very lightly used Emotiva UMC-1 on Craigslist for $300 (Perfect condition!).
    Solved both my problems, inputs and aesthetics... Then it promptly died while trying to flash the newest firmware.

    On the bright side. I called Emo's tech support today, gave them the name of the guy I bought it from and they transferred ownership to me and issued me an RMA on the spot!

    Awesome customer service...
    You gotta love a company that stands by their warranty regardless of ownership!

    It just sucks that I don't get to play with my new toy right away...
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  4. #4
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    Sorry to hear your flash went south, it happens. Your UMC-1 should work like new when it comes back from RMA.

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    Just wanted to update on the status of the RMA.

    I got the UMC-1 back from Emotiva on Friday (6 business day turnaround), with the newest firmware ...
    I've been working with it this weekend, and setting up the Harmony One remote.
    I used the mic and Emo-Q to set up my speakers and it sounds incredible!

    Like I said before, I'm not an extreme audiophile, but I'm really happy with this purchase.
    I've seen some mixed reviews on Emotiva, but after this experience I wouldn't hesitate to buy from them again!

    I've still got some work to do before I'm totally happy with my gear (like that'll ever happen ), but here's a pic of my current set up:
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  6. #6
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    Probably a stupid question...

    I'm passing audio from my HTPC to the UMC-1 via HDMI (using the on-board sound chip).
    The Mobo is an ASUS F2A85-V PRO w/5800k apu.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813131882

    I have a decent sound card (Asus Xonar DX):
    http://www.microcenter.com/product/3...ess_Sound_Card

    Since I'm just passing the audio through, do you folks think putting the sound card in the HTPC using it's "optical out" to the UMC-1 would offer any benefit?

    I'm thinking it probably wouldn't, but I have the card so I thought I'd get some opinions from the pros...
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  7. #7
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    This is what i went through, i bought little Xonars for all my rigs........then i found out that since i'm using Optical out on 2 of them they aren't doing anything!!!
    So i sold um and yes the sound did sound better when I just fed the receivers directly like that.

    I am in no way a Pro, get a 2nd opinion.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveburt714 View Post
    Probably a stupid question...

    I'm passing audio from my HTPC to the UMC-1 via HDMI (using the on-board sound chip).
    The Mobo is an ASUS F2A85-V PRO w/5800k apu.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813131882

    I have a decent sound card (Asus Xonar DX):
    http://www.microcenter.com/product/3...ess_Sound_Card

    Since I'm just passing the audio through, do you folks think putting the sound card in the HTPC using it's "optical out" to the UMC-1 would offer any benefit?

    I'm thinking it probably wouldn't, but I have the card so I thought I'd get some opinions from the pros...

    Depends if you want the additional processing or not that the Xonar can do. Normally going to a floor standing speaker setup you don't add stuff like Dolby Headphone but you can always try it out and see if you like it. If you are not going to use any special processing then no it wont have any benefit from sending audio out of the card.
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    Thanks for the comments/info KC & Enigma...

    I'm an AMD guy at heart, and things have been pretty boring on that front lately. So, I've been spending money updating my HTPC/Audio set up.
    My HTPC's Win7 install was pretty old (~2 years). I've had some weird experiences with it, trying to get WMC to play older video formats without much luck...

    The most important thing concerning this thread was the audio card. I installed the XonarDX and didn't notice any improvement while using it (Opt Out).
    If I had any intentions of using the 7.1 analog out from the card the results may have been different, but I have to believe the UMC-1's DAC and Dolby processing is better than the Xonar DX's...

    Anyway, going by the age of my Win7 install, and the fact that things got even more screwy after installing the DX/drivers, I decided to do a fresh OS install and start from scratch...
    Since this will be a 24/7 machine, I'm sure I'll save a little power consumption by not having the add in sound card, especially considering I didn't see any benefit (for my use).

    I tried the jRiver Media Center software:
    http://www.jriver.com/download.html
    It has a 30day free trial, and after playing with it, I'm going to go ahead and purchase it ($50).
    It plays all the older files WMC wouldn't, Dl's the covers for most stuff, and plays everything I through at it...
    It has problems doing TV (using my HDHomerun Prime), but it's really impressed me with movies and music, and after a fresh install it doesn't mess with WMC on the HDTV front...

    I know XS isn't a Home theater site, but, I've been a regular here for quite awhile, and I like music&Movies too!

    Here's what I've spent all my money on lately (>$1000):
    Pre/Pro: Emotiva UMC-1
    AMP: Emotiva UPA-500
    Speakers: Paradigm Monitor 9 v7's
    Blu-Ray: Sony S-5100

    I'm a sad photographer, but here's a pics of my new gear/speakers.
    It sounds frikken GREAT for movies and Music!:

    Last edited by Daveburt714; 12-09-2013 at 09:53 AM.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveburt714 View Post
    Tthings have been pretty boring on that front lately. So, I've been spending money updating my HTPC/Audio set up.
    Just some food for thought; a vast majority of the home entertainment system setups I see completely or mostly ignore acoustics, and I really think it's a shame. Granted, there are some issues that go along with dealing with acoustics, particularly aesthetics and the architecture of the space, but the possible improvements are really really big.

    In the workspace I built at home I can actually do professional work, and the only reason I can work using speakers versus headphones is the panels I've mounted along the walls. The difference isn't subtle, it's brutal.

    So to all those into sound I highly recommend improving acoustics. Depending on your situation you can possibly get much more for your money going down that route. Like I said, just some food for thought...
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattiasNYC View Post
    Just some food for thought; a vast majority of the home entertainment system setups I see completely or mostly ignore acoustics, and I really think it's a shame. Granted, there are some issues that go along with dealing with acoustics, particularly aesthetics and the architecture of the space, but the possible improvements are really really big.
    Thanks for the heads up Matt!

    I don't have a dedicated media room, so I have to do the best I can with my living room...
    It's not bad, ~12x16 foot rectangle, but adding acoustic treatments probably wouldn't meet my needs in the aesthetics department.

    You seem to have a handle on getting the best out of audio equipment, and you've offered some good advice in the past, so if you don't mind, I have a really noobish question to ask...

    I'm running 5.1 on my speakers...
    With this set up, should the ones behind my couch be the "surrounds" or the "rears" (based on a 7.1 head)?
    I know most current software (DVD/Blu-Ray) is based on 5.1, I have the ones behind the couch set as the surrounds.

    Am I missing anything by not having rears?
    Don't get me wrong... When watching movies, my system sounds daym good, but being the geek that I am (computers and audio), I just want to make sure I'm not missing anything!

    Thanks,
    Dave
    Last edited by Daveburt714; 12-11-2013 at 12:06 AM.
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  12. #12
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    Acoustic treatment doesnt have to look really bad. You can place it in all sorts of nice looking designs that also benefit by reducing reflections. Here are some examples you could think about:




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  13. #13
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    The pros always say people spend way too much on the hardware and not enough on the room treatment, they'd probably get better performance out of that than plunking thousands more into hardware.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveburt714 View Post
    Thanks for the heads up Matt!

    I don't have a dedicated media room, so I have to do the best I can with my living room...
    It's not bad, ~12x16 foot rectangle, but adding acoustic treatments probably wouldn't meet my needs in the aesthetics department.
    In additions to the panels shown by Enigma you can think outside of the box a bit.

    One of the worst things in room is 'first reflections'. They confuse the ear because they are so close in time to the original signal that our sense of direction (of the signal) gets 'unclear'. If you have a friend available, have him walk with a mirror completely flat against the walls and you sitting in the preferred listening position. When he reaches a point where you can see the speaker in the mirror you've found a spot where you have a first reflection. That's a spot you'd want to treat by either making the sound bounce off in a different direction (can be difficult) or have it be absorbed. The panels are usually some sort of acoustic material with a cloth over it.

    You could actually try to hang relatively thick curtains at those spots and it may be sufficient to get rid of those reflections. Higher frequencies = more directional = shorter wavelengths = bigger chance to 'catch' with a heavy cloth or pillow (or panels). Another thing that may help and will look 'kinda' ok is a book shelf with very varying lengths of books (!). It's basically a lo-fi practical take on this:



    The different lengths etc makes the previously direct signal bounce off in different directions instead of all back to your ears. Also, the panels could be hid behind curtains if they're ugly (and they kinda are in my opinion).

    The other thing you can do is add a bunch of soft mass to the room, particularly in corners and edges, to soak up low frequencies. So an audiophile would be better off (arguably) with a bigger fabric couch than a single seat leather chair (because the volume is larger and the fabric lets audio through better than shiny hard leather).

    Quote Originally Posted by Daveburt714 View Post
    You seem to have a handle on getting the best out of audio equipment, and you've offered some good advice in the past, so if you don't mind, I have a really noobish question to ask...

    I'm running 5.1 on my speakers...
    With this set up, should the ones behind my couch be the "surrounds" or the "rears" (based on a 7.1 head)?
    I know most current software (DVD/Blu-Ray) is based on 5.1, I have the ones behind the couch set as the surrounds.

    Am I missing anything by not having rears?
    Don't get me wrong... When watching movies, my system sounds daym good, but being the geek that I am (computers and audio), I just want to make sure I'm not missing anything!

    Thanks,
    Dave
    I'm not sure I follow. If you mean that you have 5.1 speakers and they're hooked up to a 7.1 device then I'd say the two speakers you're talking about should be surrounds, and not rear surrounds. I think most media and media players are 5.1 compatible but not all are 7.1. I think you'd be better off sticking to a true 5.1 and always choosing that playback configuration when you have the option between that and 7.1.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kingcarcas View Post
    The pros always say people spend way too much on the hardware and not enough on the room treatment, they'd probably get better performance out of that than plunking thousands more into hardware.
    Probably true, and I'm a guy that loves gear (when it works)!

    The way I look at it is that you quickly reach a point of diminishing returns when investing in loudspeakers until you treat your room. It's hard to know what the room does to your signal to begin with even. But basically it seems a bit.. questionable, to spend a lot of money on better speakers that have a wider and better soundstage yet leave walls untreated so that all those frequencies just blur together into a big phase-fckd mess. It's like you pay a premium for a better speaker and are never able to utilize more than 60% of what it can do.
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