Review: EMM Labs DAC6e Signature Edition DA converter

Category: Digital

EMM Labs DAC 6e Signature Edition Upgrade-Initial Impressions


There seems to be so much back and forth diatribe on the internet recently regarding the EMM Labs Signature Edition upgrade. It has been evident to me that much of the talk was "psychobabble" most of which has been started by people who like to fuel speculation and drive the rumor mill. It seems to me that most of these people serve no other purpose than to create uncertainty about an otherwise excellent and first class company that caters to we the audiophile community.

My good friend Mike Lavigne posted a very articulate review of the upgrade but unfortunately it became vapor and disappeared.

I would like to preface my comments with some disclaimers.

1. I have no vested interest in EMM Labs except to say that I have used their gear in my system since the first modded Sony SACD 1000.

2. No one has asked me to write my impressions of the new SE upgrade.

3. I am first and foremost an audiophile and have been involved in this hobby for well over 33 years.

4. I would like to consider myself and my system sufficiently at a level that I can comment in a reasonable and meaningful fashion about the DAC6e upgrade.

5. Even though I have the DAC6e and have the ability to listen to multichannel I am still very much a two channel purist.

6. My comments are related only to the DAC6e SE and not to the DCC2 SE

7. I have owned pretty much all high end equipment over the years. I can be considered biased to the extent that for my ears the music reproduced by the EMM Labs CDSD and DAC6e truly rocks my sonic boat, so much so that after all of these years I feel that with my system where it is now I have reached where I want to nirvana

8. Having said all of this I hope this thread will be posted by the moderators to give my overview of the new Signature Edition upgrade.

I received my SE upgrade yesterday from EMM Labs where the turn around time was fast ( less than one week and with a new shipping box to boot)

Judging from my "Return Authorization Number (U-0001) I would have to infer that my unit was the first in line for the upgrade and therefore any other speculation by naysayers is IMO only gossip at best.

I will not interject my remarks with such "flowery" comments or adjectives such as the proverbial "the veil has been lifted" or the "layers of the onion are peeled" etc, etc.

Suffice it to say I will make the following observations of my past 24 hours of listening. Initially I felt that the changes were subtle in some respects but more than dramatic in others.

All of us no doubt have what we call our "go to" disks and reference recordings that we use over and over in our system and in others. These represent our frame of reference to highlight something(s) which will bring out the best or show the inadequacies of a system.

I would like to consider that I have a SOTA system with speakers than truly illustrate my above point. My initial thoughts after listening were the following

1. A more than dramatic expansion of the soundstage. With my Wilson X-2's I always felt that the soundstage reproduced in my room was superb...until last night. Much to my amazement the soundstage now transgresses the boundaries of my speakers and literally flows from wall to wall. There is also an added depth to the soundstage.

2. An absolute precise and crystal clear clarity to vocals. I thought that I had that lifelike presence before but something yesterday just absolutely locked in the imaging in a manner that I have not previously heard.

3. I agree with prior posts that the sound floor has been dropped and that there is now a much cleaner sound. Mike Lavigne implied this when he stated that the Signature Edition takes us further down the sonic road.

4. There is indeed a better articulation at the "high" end. So far I have not listened enough to comment about increased bass that others have heard.

5. I will add further comments after more extensive listening.

6. Finally, I am not looking for validation from others who read this thread about why I did the upgrade and what I heard. After all, it is my wallet and my ears. The EMM Labs gear reproduces the audio flavor that light up my ears. I like what I have heard so far and have absolutely no regrets in my decision to do the upgrade.

Most important for everyone to know however is this....Everyone asks "should they do the upgrade?" My mantra in this hobby has always been to "do what is best for my ears and my wallet". Those who already own Meitner gear IMO already have SOTA equipment. If you never hear and/or never upgrade to the Signature Edition and keep the status quo, you will still be blessed with countless hours of listening bliss with SOTA equipment. If however you do hear the SE and feel the urge to do the upgrade, the change in your system will be one that you will never regret.

Happy listening...

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Oneobgyn, great review! I was privileged to hear A-B test at Mike's house between the old and new EMM. The difference was huge indeed. The new EMM sounded even more lifelike.

Since you're so close in the SF Bay Area, would you be interested hearing one of my Esoteric UX-1 based NWO players in your system? I'd love to hear your honest opinion about it.

You are welcome to listen in my room but I am afraid you'd be unfamiliar with my audio system.

Hearing it in your system would provide you with the best reference.

Let me know.


My issue is pulling cables. I hate to re-eastablish the di-electric that I spent hours to create by taking out my gear, installing new gear and then re-installing mine. Typically takes at least 100 hours to get me where I was. I don't like that.

Can't you add the UX-1 onto your system w. an additional set of cables without pulling or changing anything? I would love to hear the results of such a comparison.