EMM Labs Optical Equalizer Phono Stage, Focal Utopia Scala V2 Loudspeakers, Kimber Kable Interconnects and Speaker Cables

Ed Meitner goes analog?

Not really. But the famed digital pioneer and founder of EMM Labs, known especially for his work with DSD/SACD, was showing his prototype optical phono preamp, the Optical Equalizer. Designed solely for use with DS Audio's optical cartridges, it can be described as a marriage between analog and digital. With specific filters for the different DS Audio cartridge models, it's expected in the first quarter of 2020.

"DS Audio's optical cartridges are so different than regular magnetic-based transducers," Meitner told me. "They require one less translation from the mechanical motion to the electrical. The usual path is magnetic>electrical>magnetic. Regular cartridges have velocity transducers, while these have displacement transducers. Optical cartridges convey exactly what's recorded without having to translate into velocity, which makes for a more direct path for conversion to electrical. I've learned more from working with these optical cartridges in a very short period of time than I learned from digital."

Also new in the room were products from the new top of Kimber Kable's middle line, the Carbon interconnect ($576–$700/1m pair, depending upon WBT termination) and Carbon XL loudspeaker cable ($3600/2m pair). Only Kimber Select cabling occupies a higher tier in their product lineup.

I've praised the sound of EMM Labs gear to the heavens at many shows, and love the sound of their DV2 Integrated Converter ($30,000). But it seemed to me that the Focal Scala Utopia Evo loudspeakers ($40,000/pair [product name and price edited--jca]) that were an essential part of the system simply didn't have enough space to perform at their best.

SalvorHardin's picture

If I recall, EMM is Canadian in origin. Just a patriotic shout-out for our people, and that they can compete with the best. Haven't heard of optical cartritches before. Hope we'll see some reviews by AD, HR or perhaps you, JVS.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Mikey has reviewed this $20,000 cartridge plus preamplifier, and rated it Class A in Recommended Components. https://www.stereophile.com/content/recommended-components-2019-edition-turntables-tonearms-cartridges-etc

daveyf's picture

Ask Ed Meitner if he likes music, LOL. You may be surprised at his answer!!!