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Addendum to EMM Labs TX2 and DA2 Review: V2 Firmware update

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EMM Labs firmware update to DA2 digital to analog converter

Read the EMM Labs TX2 and DA2 Review.

DA2 V2 Firmware Update Details:

More than a year in development, the DA2’s DSP engine has been completely updated. The updated DA2 now has a newly redesigned digital signal path that is built from the ground up for very high precision and accuracy in audio processing and conversion:

  • New very high-resolution up-sampling algorithms that offer vastly more sonic detail for all digital audio streams (PCM and DSD)
  • Audio filters and the delta-sigma process were significantly optimized for time and frequency response
  • Enhanced up-conversion algorithms especially for DSD, offering audibly improved ‘detail extraction’ from standard DSD audio streams.

DA2 Back_NEW

Late last week, Shahinn al Rashid, the Director of Sales at EMM Labs sent me an update to the firmware of the DA2.

While I had known that the upgrade had been in the works for almost a year, I was somewhat surprised when it showed up as an email attachment.  My friend, Paul, installed the update to my DA2 last night. The process was simple and straight forward with no glitches or problems and the results were nothing short of stunning. Given that I already thought that the EMM Labs DA2 was exceptional, what do you say when an update is so dramatic in its effect on the sound?

To place things in perspective, the improvement as heard through my Acapella Triolon Excalibur is basically equivalent to going from a really good and moderately priced cartridge, say a $6,499 Ortofon A95, to something like the $12,995 Lyra Atlas SL or the $15,000 Clearaudio Goldfinger. It is hard to know where to begin since so many performance perimeters are impacted; but if I had to choose one area with which to begin, it would be the lowering of the noise floor. To use an old cliché, backgrounds are blacker which significantly improves my ability to hear low-level and ambient detail. As my friend commented about Walter Becker’s recording, 11 Tracks of Whack, “on this album, I am hearing detail that in the past I only heard with headphones.”

At the same time, resolution has been dramatically improved. Subtle details now are easier to hear and the intelligibility of voices is enhanced. This was particularly evident in one track of the Becker recording that includes Buddhist chanting. The bass is also tighter and much better controlled. I would not have previously characterized the bass as overblown before the firmware update; however, in comparison with the sound prior to the upgrade, the bass now sounds much better controlled and has significantly better impact, particularly in things like rim shots, which now are explosive.

Coupled with this is an increase in midrange bloom. It’s almost as if some of the excess bass energy has been moved up in frequency to the midrange. Dimensionality and focus are also improved. On the Becker CD, the stage is now more voluminous, having more exceptional width and depth. Images are stable and tightly focused. All in all, this is a rather significant enhancement and Marius, who works for Ed Meitner, deserves kudos for his work on the firmware.

The upgrade is available directly from the factory and is user installable so long as you have a computer running Microsoft 7 or higher (preferably Microsoft 10). The installation is via the diagnostic USB port on the rear of the DA2.  Even better, the upgrade is free and is currently being rolled out to dealers.

All these improvements provide the listener with a more immersive experience and help bring music to life.

Very highly recommended.

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