In the category of moderately priced standalone CD players, the Emotiva ERC-2, like its predecessor, the Emotiva ERC-1, has emerged as a standout for its ability to deliver audiophile-quality sound at substantially less than an audiophile CD players' price -- holding its own and even outdoing some disc spinners that cost substantially more. The slot-load mechanism is still unsettling to some, but it worked well in the ERC-1 and is said to be a gentler performer in this revamped player.
That's not to say that there aren't some disc-handling concerns. It can take discs up to 12 seconds to load -- which is certainly on the slow side. Disc support is good but far from universal; for example, it is only able to play the standard CD layer of hybrid SACD discs. The ERC-2 does support CD-Audio (of course), as well as HDCD, CD-R and CD-RW discs. Availability is a challenge, as the Emotiva ERC-2 can only be purchased from the maker, where it is often backordered. A five-year warranty adds peace of mind. For performance that's nearly -- but not quite -- as good at a lower price, the NAD C515BEE (*Est. $300) and the Marantz CD5004 (*Est. $350) are worth considering.
Professional reviews for the Emotiva ERC-2 have been slow to appear, but CNET and Stereophile magazine have solid coverage. A few less formal reviews and briefer commentary on the player are found at AudioCircle.com, The EmotivaLounge.com and a classical music blog.
Guttenberg puts the Emotiva ERC-2 to the test with high-volume rock and live chamber music, and he is impressed by the depth of the player's sound. Pitting the ERC-2 against the much pricier Oppo BDP-95, he finds distinct advantages to the latter, but he asserts that, at its price-point, the ERC-2 can't be beaten.
Review: Can a Bona Fide High-End CD Player Sell for $449?, Steve Guttenberg, June 8, 2011
Stephen Mejias says he is astounded at how much emotion and detail the Emotiva ERC-2 brings out in well-recorded music, but he is not charmed by the machine's loading mechanism, which he says takes some getting used to, or its bulk. His evaluation is based on listening tests using a variety of recorded material. In a separate article that appeared in the magazine but not on line, Mejias conducts a somewhat irreverent comparison test, pitting the ERC-2 against the Sony Playstation 1. He notes some surprising advantages with the PS1, but this review offers few technical specifics.
Review: The Entry Level #12, Stephen Mejias, Dec. 15, 2011
This is a short review, lacking in detail, but it's from a reviewer with knowledge of a wide range of players. He praises the Emotiva ERC-2 for its solid build, low price and superior sound, and he warns that players in higher price ranges expose the flaws of poorly recorded music and make it sound worse.
Review: Compact Disc Players: Overview and Best CD Players Guide, "Sebastian"
This is certainly not the most active discussion thread on AudioCircle.com, but it does contain helpful opinions on the Emotiva ERC-2. Owners discuss both sound quality and ergonomics.
Review: Emotiva ERC-2 CD Player?, Contributors to AudioCircle.com
5. Emotiva Lounge
This discussion forum focuses on Emotiva products. Various threads contain a handful of thoughtful and positive user reviews for the newer ERC-2 (and far more reviews of the discontinued ERC-1), along with insights into the differences between the two. In terms of sound, the reviews are largely glowing, though posters also talk about problems with the player: They include difficulty playing Hybrid SACDs, a skipping problem and long waits for products to arrive.
Review: Media Sources Reviews, Contributors to Emotiva Lounge