EMM Labs is the company that Ed Meitner founded in 1998 to produce digital electronics for the professional market and specifically for use with Sony’s DSD 1-bit encoding system. I first came across Meitner’s name when he produced a very unusual turntable called AT-2 which dispensed with the platter altogether and clamped LPs at the label, clearly a man capable of thinking outside the box. There is inevitably more to his story than that. Meitner was building mixing consoles for Olive Electrodynamics in the early seventies and went on to produce electronics under the Meitner, Museatex and Melior brands. Among these was the Meitner IDAT DAC in 1993 which is claimed to be one of the first to upsample digital signals without ringing or overshoot. It was probably because of the technology created for that product that in 1997 he was commissioned by Sony to build A to D and D to A converters for use in the studios that were to make the first DSD recordings. Which is why EMM Labs hardware was used in all the early demonstrations of SACD and why it remains a key brand in the pro audio world with a who’s who roster of labels and mastering facilities using the kit today. This was the first company to make a no compromise multichannel preamplifier for DSD/SACD and the chances are it will be the last unless the fortunes of six channel SACD make an abrupt change for the better. Suffice to say that Meitner knows as much as anyone about converting DSD signals into analogue, so the TSD1/DAC2 pairing which is EMM Labs’ flagship player should represent the pinnacle of what can be achieved with the medium.
The key technologies employed in EMM Labs products include MDAT or Meitner digital audio translator which is two times upsampling of the DSD signal at the transport to 5.6Mhz and the use of a single cable Optilink system for sending that signal to the DAC. In a recent AES lecture renowned mastering engineer George Massenburg mentioned that he doesn’t like DSD in its standard form but thinks that 5.6Mhz is a good system, so presumably he’s a customer too. The converter in the DAC2 is fully discrete which allows the company to build a system that works with MDAT from the ground up and offers complete freedom of tweaking for the desired end result, something that is very hard to achieve with chip based DACs.