EMM Labs: XDS1, Version 2
The EMM Labs XDS1 does remain my top choice in DACs for CD and hi-res playback. It also has the advantage of providing SACD playback. But its sonic advantages over the Burmester are slim. The XDS1’s bass was slightly more natural, deeper, and more dynamic. Musical detail and dynamics were slightly more realistic, and I slightly preferred its midrange timbre.
These differences in sound quality are very limited, however, when compared across a very wide range of recordings, and you would probably prefer the Burmester if you like nearfield listening or enjoy sitting in the front of the concert hall—to be as close to the performance as possible.
There also are important trade-offs in features that you need to carefully consider. The EMM Labs XDS1 sells for $25,000. It is only a DAC and SACD/CD player, and does not store music, allow downloading, or have any network features.
Let’s face it, no one really needs luxury, but virtually everyone wants and enjoys it. You can get many or most of the features and sound quality you get out of the Burmester from Sooloos—or even using JRiver, a computer, and a great DAC—albeit at the cost of using one of the most pointlessly annoying software set-up routines I’ve ever encountered. You also can get very close to the same sound quality for less, although I’d listen very, very carefully to determine how much the difference is worth to you. This is, after all, The Absolute Sound. The Burmester is a superb-sounding digital player, and one where cost was never intended to be a key concern. The unfortunate thing is that luxury is often worth the price
SPECS & PRICING
Storage capacity: Two 2TB hard drives, RAID 1
DAC: Burmester Reference Converter with balanced conversion
Sampling rate: Up to 192kHz/24-bit
Formats supported: FLAC, WAV, mp3, AIFF, OGG, AAC, ALAC (m4a)
Outputs: Unbalanced analog out on RCA, balanced analog out on XLR
Digital outputs: RCA and TosLink (one each)
Dimensions: 19" x 3.75" x 13.5"
Weight: 18 lbs.
BURMESTER AUDIOSYSTEME GMBH
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