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Matrix Audio – The Birth of the Element Series DACs and More

Back in the Spring of 2019, Founder and CEO of Moon Audio, Drew Baird flew to Singapore for CanJam2019. There he discovered the new Element Series product line by Matrix Audio. Drew was so impressed by their innovations and sound quality we now have the Matrix line available at Moon Audio.

Starting with the X-Sabre Pro DAC

Matrix Audio X-Sabre Pro DAC

The Matrix Audio X-Sabre Pro MQA is a phenomenal DAC and very popular here at Moon Audio. It’s also a go-to recommendation for Drew at the $2000 price point.  The X-Sabre pro utilizes the ES9038PRO D/A chip, and its high-performance inner DSP unit and analog circuit provide for a better user experience. It also has excellent digital audio conversion capability.

The Series Flagship: Element X DAC

Matrix Audio’s flagship DAC is the Element X DAC and headphone amp. Packed with features, the Element X is compatible with so many headphones it’ll be hard to find a reason why you don’t want one. The initial appeal of the Element X for Drew was the impressively low noise floor that their products were providing, along with the overall value of the plethora of features that are included.

The Element X has an ARM quad-core CPU. Its DAC section is built on the ES9038PRO DAC chip, along with the ES9311  – a low-noise, low drop-out regulator designed specifically for high-performance audio systems. With a Crystek CCHD 950 Femtosecond clock, the Element X also adds balanced headphone outputs via dual 3-pin XLR and a 4-pin XLR, in addition to its quarter-inch unbalanced outputs.

Matrix Audio DACs have beautifully designed and well-built chassis; they are truly a fantastic value without sparing any details in aesthetics or appeal at their price point. The Element X uses a double shell chassis, with an inner shell of galvanized steel with multistrip reinforcing ribs, and an external shell made of 4mm aluminum. These two shells are combined in a design that is intended to minimize case resonance. In addition to the chasses, Matrix Audio has also created beautiful custom displays for the Element series DACs.

The volume control is what really sets the Element series apart. The idea was to combine the audio quality advantages of an analog volume control along with the precision of a digital one. It uses an array of relays along with the built-in DAC chip’s internal volume unit. It has a wide range of adjustments and every 20dB of volume change you’ll hear a “click” from the relays.

For example, if you set the volume to -19dB, it’s -19dB of digital attenuation. If you set it to -20dB, the relay will click, and you will now be at -20dB of analog attenuation with no digital attenuation. If you then go to -20.5dB, you’re at -20dB of analog attenuation and -0.5dB of digital attenuation. This continues over a wide range every 20dB.

An important point of interest is that the Element X is also dead-quiet when powering IEMs. It is extremely difficult to power both hard-to-drive headphones and very sensitive IEMs well. Usually, products do one or the other, which is why most times we'll recommend different DAC/AMP for power-hungry headphones and IEMs, but the Element X is one of the rare exceptions that can give you the headroom you need with any headphone but also stay completely quiet with the sensitive drivers of an IEM.

The Matrix Element X is a DAC with an impressive price point of $3000 with all the bells and whistles of DACs in a much higher price range. It’s one of the easiest kinds of stories to tell: it’s built great, it sounds great, and the measurements are fantastically quiet.


An Introduction to the Element Series Product Line

Matrix Audio Element X

The Element X

The Element series runs a powerful audio playback system that supports all mainstream formats. Using industry-leading ESS ES9038PRO D/A converter, pro-grade, ultra-low noise LDO ES9311and Crystek CCHD-950 femtosecond clock. Plays up to 768 kHz PCM and 22.4 MHz DSD. Listed at $3000 US. Other features include:

  • Airplay and DLNA
  • MQA Decoding and Rendering
  • New USB Interface
  • Built-in analog preamp with up to +10dB of analog gain (configurable)
  • Dual-mode headphone amplifier
  • High-performance power supply system
  • Balanced inputs

Matrix Audio Element P

The Element P

Everything you need in one unit, an excellent quality audio source, DAC and speaker amp all-in-one. Matrix Audio chose the ICEpower 250ASX2 Class D amplifier module from Denmark as the core power amplifier in the element P. The rated power output is 230 Watts per channel at 4 Ohms, which can easily drive any speakers from small bookshelf models to small or medium-sized floor-standing models. Listed at $2499 US. Other features:

  • Airplay and DLNA
  • New XU216 XMOS processor
  • Matrix Audio Remote App
  • ESS ES9028PRO D/A chip
  • Crystek CCHD-950 femtosecond clock
  • Separate linear power supply on the front end to minimize noise
  • MQA Decoding and Rendering
  • New USB interface

Matrix Audio Element M

The Element M

Element M is one of the newer members of the Element family. It furthers the concise and steady design elements, creating a balance between performance, functionality, and price. Element M provides a desktop two-channel stereo simplification solution for mid-range active speaker and headphone users. Matrix Audio developed MA player as a powerful audio playback system based on the Freescale quad-core ARM computing platform. It supports all the popular audio formats. Simply connect a USB drive or configure a NAS storage device to browse your music library and enjoy up to 768kHz PCM and 22.4MHz DSD.

  • ESS ES9028PRO D/A chip
  • SiTime Low Phase Noise Clock
  • New USB Interface
  • Digital Volume Control
  • Matrix Audio Remote App
  • Airplay and DLNA·       
  • MQA Decoding and Rendering

Matrix Audio Element i

The Element I

The newest member of the family, the Element I has a discrete component headphone amp with up to 1300mw of power, it can easily drive various high-resistance full-sized headphones and high-sensitive IEMs. The excellent dynamic performance and inaudible background noise, make you concentrate on the music. The device can be controlled by IR remote and MA Remote app, you can easily control the volume and input channels even if connecting to active speakers or power amplifiers.


Matrix Audio Element H

The Element H

Designed to increase the USB audio quality of your computer, element H increases the data transport quality and reduces the power supply noise, upgrading your PC Hi-Fi system at the source. The Element H uses Crystek CCHD-575 super-low noise femtosecond clock coordinate with USB 3.0 bridge chip from Texas Instruments, open up independent data channel for USB audio stream. It helps signal bypass the USB controller integrated into the motherboard, avoid sharing data channels with other USB devices.


Other New Matrix Audio Gear

DAC X-SABRE Pro

Matrix Audio DAC X-SABRE Pro

Using the same DAC chip as the Element X, Drew picked up the X-Sabre Pro with the rest of the Element Series product line due to the fact that it is an amazing DAC. If you only wanted the DAC features of the Element X, then the X-Sabre Pro is for you. Matrix Audio, in partnership with MQA Ltd., created the MQA-supported X-SABRE Pro audio DAC to let you experience the abundant music details in the artists' recording room. X-SABRE Pro is an MQA-enabled DAC that can fully decode the original MQA files without any assistance from third-party software (MQA Core Decode). Other features include:

  • Supports 32Bit/768kHz PCM audio stream playback
  • DSD64, DSD128, DSD256, DSD512 and DSD1024 playback with 45.158MHz sample rate (via IIS input)
  • Can be configured with a +18 digital gain
  • Tempered glass front panel supports touch control
  • Infrared remote control

Matrix Audio X-SPDIF 2

X-SPDIF 2

Listed at $379, this generational update includes a new IIS port and a built-in high-quality femtosecond clock and FPGA processing unit. Other features:

  • More powerful X-CORE
  • 32Bit/768kHz PCM and 1Bit/22.4MHz DSD audio streams supported
  • FPGA Control center
  • Audiophile Crystal Oscillators
  • Multi-level LDO
  • Configurable IIS port
  • External power supply supported

For more information about Matrix Audio and their products, head over to our Matrix Audio Brand Page to see more. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. Happy listening!

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