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Emotiva ERC-1 CD Player Review Print E-mail
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Article Index
Emotiva ERC-1 CD Player Review
Features and Sound


Emotiva clearly put the sound first with the ERC-1. It sports four separate power supplies, each driving its respective section:  CD carriage, digital section, analog section and display. The audio board features a fully discrete output stage that can pump out 7 volts, and is fully isolated from the digital sections and power supply. A 24-bit, 384-times oversampling Analog Devices 1955 DAC helps wring the smallest audio details from any disc. The rear panel is outfitted like many players costing hundreds or thousands more. It simply does not look or come dressed like a sub-$400 player  - with a set of balanced XLR outputs, two pairs of analog outputs (should you choose to connect the player to two input devices), coaxial and optical digital outputs, and detachable power cord. Remote controls rarely elicit “Wows!” from users, but the ERC-1's remote is the bomb. Cast in steel and built better than some cars I've owned, it's well-appointed with 12 commands accessible via a set of raised metal buttons.

ERC-1 Rear Input Panel


This is a very quiet player. Without the standard machinations of a tray-loading system and attendant parts, the ERC-1 simply plays music – no whirling artifacts from the CD drive are heard even up close. Music emerges from that black background beloved by audiophiles everywhere. Clean, detailed sound with broad staging are what I heard, no matter what I played through the ERC-1.

T. Rex's The Slider had a crystalline clarity on tracks such as “Mystic Lady” and “Spaceball Ricochet” and plenty of grit on “Rock On” and the title track. The ERC-1 was particularly good at reproducing the decay of crash cymbals and the overall sustain of instruments.

I liked the Emotiva's HDCD-decoding capabilities, allowing me to take full sonic advantage of the many such discs in my collection. If you're a Grateful Dead fan, you know what I'm talking about. Truckin' Up To Buffalo is a 3-disc favorite of the band's 4th of July show in 1989. The HDCD engineering perks up the many performances here: “Terrapin Station” and “Morning Dew” - to name two tunes – sounded very clear and full through the ERC-1.

The player does tend toward brightness compared to the Swiss-like neutrality of Bryston's BCD-1 CD – a terrific player, but retailing for $2,300 more than the Emotiva. Even a track as boomy as Kiss' “I Love It Loud,” the ERC-1 presented it with a bright, gleaming smile. It that befuddles metal heads, adjust your bass accordingly. The ERC-1's sparkling personality, however, makes songs such as David Gilmour's “Blue” dreamy delights, padded in lush ripples of sound. And albums by ELO, with the creamy Jeff Lynne production, really benefit from the ERC-1's sonic footprint.

The X-Series interconnects are no throwaways either. Composed of an insulated oxygen-free copper core and braiding, insulated in PVC, protected by a rugged nylon jacket and capped with gold-plated terminals, you get a lot of cable for the money here. Together, the ERC-1 and X interconnects make a formidable and wallet-friendly team.

Although the ERC-1 is touted to work with CD-Rs and CD-RWs, my experience was hit-and-miss. I loaded several CD-Rs into the player – some discs played, others were not recognized. When it failed, the display indicated “No disc.” This isn't a problem restricted to the ERC-1, but there were many CD-Rs it wouldn't play. Flawless performance with Redbook and HDCD, so-so with CD-R.

Final Thoughts

Hefty build, great sound, eye-catching design and audiophile-grade guts make the ERC-1 a terrific all-around player. At just $399, it's one of the best buys in audio – period. Currently, Emotiva has the player reduced for holiday sale at just $319 plus shipping. Buy it for performance and smile at the price. The ERC-1 is my audio find of 2009.

Reviewer Setup System

  • Grant Fidelity A-348 Integrated Tube Amplifier
  • Emotiva Audio ERC-1 CD Player
  • Emotiva Audio X-Series Interconnects (.5 m)
  • Davone RITHM Speakers
  • RS Audio Cables Illume Silver Loudspeaker Cables (8-foot pair)

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