Unfair? It’s not me who started that challenge. The Emotiva boasts that the UMC-200 “has been compared to processors costing $4,500”. Intrigued by the ad I requested a sample to be reviewed. After several unanswered attempts (literally no answer at all) in contacting them, I finally ordered one.
After shipping, the price came out to be around $800 (not including brokerage fees and tax). Why the shipping costs that much is unknown to me because I have a UPS account and based on UPS calculator, if I want to ship this item back to Emotiva, it only costs me $110. So Emotiva is actually making money from shipping this thing to Canada yet if I live in Buffalo, NY, the shipping will cost me nothing. This does not mean I was hoping for free shipping, but if the shipping for continental US can be included in the price, why Emotiva actually make profit in the shipping cost for countries outside USA? Strike one for Emotiva.
For starters, of course, I’m connecting my main equipments through its HDMI inputs. To my surprise, the Xpressview HDMI switching is nothing to write home about. It’s not noticable faster than the regular HDMI switching used by $500 Pioneer or Yamaha receivers, although it is faster than the slow-ish Onkyo HDMI switching. Not a bad thing, but absolutely nothing special. The exclusion of component video is a huge letdown (although I already know about the lack of them prior to the purchase). I can’t connect my Wii and my Yamaha all-region DVD player. I can’t even choose to use the component video from my cable box (which component video output looks better than its HDMI output). The worst part for me is that I can’t even connect my Pioneer Elite LaserDisc player or my studio-grade Panasonic S-VHS recorder. There is absolutely no analog video input at all. Something that all $500 receivers can do. Strike Two for Emotiva
The Emo-Q, interestingly enough, gave me three different readings when ran at three different occassions although nothing (not even the mic) was moved. Good thing, however, the readings are quite close to what my RTA compensation findings. But how about the people without separate RTA unit? How would they know when the reading is accurate when the end result was never repeatable?
As an addition, I tried using Emo-Q on a different UMC-200. This time the results are even more mind boggling. The first two tries Emo-Q did not even “see” the front three speakers. Only after the third try (nothing was changed in the room, mic connector was not even re-plugged in) the Emo-Q suddenly registered the front three speakers. Even then the level balance were extremely off for the rear and subwoofer. Not by a dB or two, but by 10dB and higher! Subwoofer distance was also completely wrong. I understand that due to the processing in the EQ there will be slight discrepancy with the actual subwoofer distance, usually by a couple of feet. Not in this case. The error was registered by around 200% more from the actual distance distance.
This is too bad because the readings from a Pioneer Elite VSX-60 receiver at $500 (although not too accurate either) were at least constantly repeatable. Strike Three for Emotiva
When it comes to 4K pass-thru, most budget receivers to high-end pre-pro are able to do so. Most can even do 4K upscaling using respectable upscaling chip such as Marvell Qdeo K2H. Emotiva? Can’t pass through the native 4K content streamed via HDMI from the Sony 4K movie server. Strike Four for Emotiva
Last but not least, although I personally don’t find it to be important at all since too many “$4,500 processor” users tend to have a universal remote, the remote. Although ergonomically acceptable and admittedly much better laid out than Pioneer’s $2,000 receiver, it is nowhere near an Onkyo/Denon/Marantz processors selling at around that $4,500 mark. Furthermore, the plastic quality used for the remote is abysmal with gaudy “silver” painted buttons. So although it feels good in my hand (to operate), it feels cheap once you pressed any button or worse, looking at it. Strike Five for Emotiva
So in the end, is Emotiva a good unit? Well, it’s a decent unit. It sounds good, the HDMI switches works as expected (although I don’t know what the Xpressview is doing), there is enough customizations provided you know what you’re doing. However, it is nowhere near the $4,500 value they alluded to, not even near a $2,000 Pioneer Elite receiver (used as a pre-pro – Pioneer Elite SC-68, to be exact); heck, it can’t even match any aspect of the Anthem MRX-300 at $1,000 (again, only used as a pre-pro).
What I’m trying to say is that in the end you get what you pay for…and that’s only if you live in the USA. As soon as you cross the border by even a single mile, it is no longer a good value by any means since you will then need to pay international shipping should you need any kind of factory repair.
This is a clear case of hype over substance. If the unit is being sold for $399 plus a sane shipping price, I would highly recommend it in a heartbeat; but not at $599 “introductory price” and especially not when Emotiva is making profit from the insane shipping cost to Canada.
No wonder Emotiva never even bothered to reply to any of my three e-mails for this product to be reviewed
So my question to Emotiva…which aspect of “$4,500 processor” are you comparing your UMC-200 with?