ABOUT THE MATRIX AUDIO ELEMENT X
In the summer of 2019, Matrix Audio introduced their most advanced headphone amplifier, pre-amplifier, DAC, DAP, and music streamer to date: The Element X. The Element X streamer is the flagship of Matrix Audio’s Element series line. The Element X provides audiophiles and music lovers everywhere with a quality music player that has all the features of other DACs at a lower price point.
The Matrix Audio Element X DAC section is outfitted with the ES9038 PRO+ DAC chip and an ES9311 low drop-out, low-noise voltage regulator. These two items are designed for high performance audio systems and are one of the reasons the Element X is priced the way it is. It is also equipped with a Crystek CCHD-950 femtosecond clock, which provides options for both balanced and unbalanced listening with most headphones. The Element X has dual 3-pin and 4-pin XLR outputs for balanced listening, and quarter-inch outputs for unbalanced listening. No other Element series streamer has such varied output connection options.
The Element X is double shelled with an inner shell of galvanized steel and an outer shell made from 4mm aluminum. Matrix Audio sought to minimize resonance of its flagship product by focusing on materials and the overall construction of the device. One of the best things about the Element X is its volume control. Matrix Audio had the idea to combine the functionality and advantages of analog audio control with the precision of digital audio control. Composed of a cluster of relays, the Element X has several volume adjustments that can be made, giving the listener complete and accurate control of their music (Note that for every 20dB of attenuation there will be an audible “click” in the relay).
The Element X is made with a Noratel 40W linear power supply that creates the foundation for its fantastic sound quality. The device is equipped with linear regulators and a 4-layered printed circuit board (PCB) that assists in the reproduction of original and accurate sound playback. As beautiful the device is on the inside, the outside is just as much so. The design of the Matrix Audio Element X is a sleek and simplified streamer, stripped of eccentricities like curved corners and a myriad of buttons. The design is timeless – minimalistic yet giving you ease of access to everything you need.
Combining a world-class DAC, DAP, headphone Amplifier, pre-amplifier, music streamer, incredibly low noise-floor, and enough power to drive any headphone on the market, the Element X is one of the best listening experiences you can have. We hope you enjoy your Matrix Audio Element X!
- Digital-to-Analog Converter: Quad-Core DAC – ES9038 PRO+ and ES9311
- USB Chip: XMOS XU216: PCM 16-24bit 768kHz, DSD 11.2MHz (DoP), DSD 22.4MHz (Native)
- Clock: Crystek CCHD-950 Ultra Low Phase Noise Femtosecond Clock
- Digital Input: Optical (x2), Coaxial (x2), IIS LVDS (x1), USB (x1)
- Line Out: RCA (x1), XLR (x1)
- Headphone Out: 4-pin XLR, Dual 3-pin XLR, ¼” TRS (6.35mm)
- Output Level: ¼-in: 1150mW @33ohm / ---- @120ohm, 308mW @300ohm / 152mW @600ohm, XLR: 1700mW @33ohm, 1180mw @300ohm, 650mW @600ohm
- Network: LAN: 10BASE-T / 100BASE-TX, WLAN: 2.4GHz/5GHz, IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac standard
- Sampling Rate Support: PCM up to 768kHz, DSD up to 22.4MHz; MA Player: PCM 768kHz / DSD 512; Roon: PCM 768kHz / DSD 256*; DLNA: PCM 768kHz / DSD 512
- Volume Control Mode: Hyper-Control, Relays Array, Digital Volume
- USB Storage: TF Card Slot (x1), USB Host (x2)
- Supported Formats: MP3, WMA, WAV, AIF, AIFC, AIFF, AAC, FLAC, OGG, APE, ALAC, M4A, DSF, DFF. MA Player, AirPlay/DLNA, Roon Ready, Full MQA Support, IR Remote.
- Power Supply: Noratel Linear 40W
- Dimensions: 13.4” x 11.1” x 2.4” (340 x 281 x 60mm)
- Weight: 9.3lbs (4.2kg)
*Sampling Rate of PCM 768kHz / DSD 256 with Roon requires the latest A10301 firmware update. Earlier firmware versions support PCM 384kHz / DSD 128.
SETUP AND CONFIGURATION
If setting up your device for a wireless connection, place you Element X in an open area of your home or in a location where the device will not receive interference from alternative wireless sources. For the most stable connection, we recommend setting up your Element X via a wired connection (LAN).
If you are setting up and WLAN connection, please install the antenna on the back of the Ethernet console in an upright position. If setting up a LAN connection, place an Ethernet cable into the jack located in the rear, right-hand corner of the Element console. Connect the Element X to your ISP device.
Reference the following video on how to set up your Element X to either a wired or wireless network:
Regardless of the connection configuration, download the Matrix Audio Remote application to control your Element X.
Once the Matrix Audio Remote is downloaded, plug in your Element X into the power supply, power on, and wait for it to be recognized by the Matrix Audio Remote application. There are three ways to connect and configure your device in the MA remote application: WLAN, Automatic, and Manual.
Select WLAN configuration, if you want to connect your Element X streamer to a wireless network
Select the Automatic connection, if your Element X has been connected to a LAN and you wish to add and search for devices automatically
Select the Manual connection, if your device is already connected and you’d like to manually enter the device’s IP address.
Your basic steps in setting up your Element X for the first time:
- Power on. The LED indicator will turn on following the connection to the power supply. By default, the device enters Standby mode when connected to power. Pressing the Standby button on the unit body or the remote control will power on the Element X, as signified by the LED indicator turning to a highlighted white color.
- Select the input source. Repeat pressing the menu button (three horizontal lines) and select the input channel selection menu. Then rotate the knob to select between auto, coaxial 1, coaxial 2, optical 1, optical 2, IIS, LVDS, USB audio, or network. Press the knob to confirm the selection. If you are unsure what input to select, choose “auto” and the device will automatically scan all digital input channels. The first connected input channel will be locked immediately. The Element X will continue to scan other channels until the current signal is lost. When there are several input channels being connected, the Element X will always choose the signal it detects first after scanning in the following order: COAX 1 > COAX 2 > OPT1 > OPT2 > IIS LVDS > USB > Network. When using network related music sources such as AirPlay, DLNA, Roon, or MA Player, please select Network as the input channel.
- Select the output channel. Repeat pressing the menu button (three horizontal lines) and select the output channel selection menu. You can select output channel between balanced headphone output, single-ended headphone, and line output. Push the button to confirm your selection. Also note that when the single-ended headphone output is changed to the balanced headphone output, the output volume will reduce 6dB to make the balanced headphones have the same volume as the single-ended input to reduce the risk of being startled from the volume difference.
- Volume adjustment. The volume can be adjusted by the knob or the [speaker]- and [speaker]+ key on the remote control, and the screen will show the current volume level when adjusting. Line output and headphone output have different volume control level, as well as the line level output can be configured as a fixed level output.
CAUTION: “Fixed Output” means that the device outputs signal with a maximum level at 0dB. Before selecting this mode, please make sure that your power amplifier or active speaker has been adjusted to a lower volume level. If the amplifier or speakers do not have volume control, DO NOT set up to “Fixed Output” mode, otherwise this operation may damage your devices and harm your hearing.
FAQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Does the Matrix Audio Element X allow for external hard drive storage?
Yes, the Element X allows for external USB drives to be connected. Flash drives, SSD and HDD are all compatible as long as the main connection is via USB-A.
Please Note: Your music files on an external are local to the hard drive. Removing the hard drive will result in the files being removed from your library playback on the Matrix Audio remote application.
How do I add my device in the Matrix Audio Remote App?
Here’s how you can add your device manually in the Matrix Audio Remote app:
Here’s how you can add your device wirelessly in the Matrix Audio Remote app:
Here’s how you can add your device automatically in the Matrix Audio Remote app:
What headphone connections does the Element X have?
The Element X is equipped with 4-pin XLR, dual 3-pin XLR, and a ¼” TRS. You’ll need to make sure your headphone has a compatible connector. If you are not sure or want a custom cable created for your headphone, feel free to Contact Us and we’ll be more than happy to help you.
Can the Element X drive two headphones at the same time?
Yes. However, when the Element X is in balanced mode, it can only drive one pair of headphones. When the Element X is in unbalanced mode, it is capable of driving two single-ended headphones. The performance might vary depending on the power demands of each headphone, but we have not experienced any issue with the Element X being unable to power any headphones on the market.
Do I need a pre-amplifier when using active speakers with the Element X?
No. The Element X has a built-in high-quality pre-amplifier. The pre-amplifier section can be made up of a +12dB low gain and a +22dB high gain.
What does a hyper-controlled volume mean?
Matrix Audio set out to eliminate the weaknesses of traditional analog and digital volume controls. The creation of a hybrid volume control combined the audio advantages of analog with the precision of digital control on the built-in DAC chips internal volume unit.
Do I need to install the antennas on the Element X?
The antennas that come packaged with the Element X are Wi-Fi antennas. If you are setting up a LAN connection with your Element X the antennas will not be necessary for the operation of the device. Otherwise, you will need to install the antennas for wireless functionality. If you are setting up a WLAN connection and intend to use AirPlay and other streaming apps and devices the antennas are necessary since they assist your Element X in sending strong signals and achieving optimal playback through your device.
Are Balanced Amplifiers Better?
There are many factors that come into play when it comes to sound. Balanced amplifiers are not necessarily better than a single-ended one, but other factors in your sound system need to be considered before determining what it going to be best for you. Certain headphones might sound better with particular amps, but if you want to learn more about the main differences, head over to our guide on How to Choose: Balanced vs. Unbalanced Audio.
What does the ES9311 regulator do?
The ES9311 is a low-noise, low dropout regular that is only configured in the Element X streamer from Matrix Audio. The regulator eliminates the need for output regulator capacitors, which is a first in audio system design. Along with the elimination of output regulating capacitors, it provides low-noise outputs that are required for the driving of the reference inputs of audio converters and offer fantastic value to audio system designers.
Is the Element X Roon Compatible?
Yes, the Matrix Audio Element I, Element M, and the Element X are all Roon Compatible.
Does the Element X have a Remote Control?
The Element X is equipped to be used by either a physical remote or a digital remote via the Matrix Audio Remote application for iOS and Android. Both the physical remote and the Matrix Audio Remote app for the Element X allows the user to power the device on and off, select the input and output, adjust volume, and select what PCM filter they would like to use.
Does the Element X have a Standby Mode?
Yes. The Element X will enter sleep or standby mode after the selected digital audio channel has no input signal and no operation for more than 5 minutes. To completely turn off the Element X, press and hold the power button on the right-hand side of your machine and wait for the display to fade to black.
What are the PCM filters available on the Element X?
The Matrix Audio Element X streamer is equipped with 7 different PCM filter options:
- Mod1_fast roll-off, minimum
- Mod2_slow roll-off, minimum
- Mod3_fast roll-off, linear
- Mod4_slow roll-off, linear
What do these filters do?
These filters are known as dithering curves and they shape the digital signal of your audio. The Mod 2 and 4 filters smooth out audio, while Mods 1 and 3 are more analytical. These filters bring out the nuances contained in music genres like Americana, Bluegrass, Jazz, and Acoustic music. The other 3 filters all do something different. The brick wall filter (Mod 5) has a sharp roll-off, The apodizing (Mod 7) has a smooth roll-off and the hybrid (Mod 6) filter has a bit of both Mod 5 & Mod 7 in its filter.
What cloud and internet radio services are available to the Element X?
The Element X supports direct access to streaming platforms Tidal and Qobuz. The Element X does not support or serve as a direct access point for streaming platforms like Spotify or Pandora Radio. However, to use said platforms and others follow the instructions below:
Connect your Element X via tablet, iPhone, and desktop or personal computer. Enable Apple AirPlay and select the Matrix Audio streamer that appears and have your streamer configured to USB audio or network as input. Begin streaming from the appropriate app’s desktop/mobile streaming page.
HOW-TO QUESTIONS ANSWERED
How to adjust and interpret the volume display of the Element X
The volume for the Element X can be adjusted three ways, by the Matrix Audio remote app, the physical remote, or the turn dial on the right-hand side of the Element I. When you adjust the volume of your machine, the volume of the Element I increases and decreases by .5 dB.
**Please note: For every twenty-decibel increase or decrease in your machine, there is a small, almost inaudible click.
How to connect Tidal and Qobuz in the Matrix Audio remote App
To connect Tidal or Qobuz on the Matrix Audio remote App, tap the streaming icon at the bottom of the app, select the appropriate streaming service you wish to connect to, input your username and password in the respective spaces and tap add in the right-hand corner of the app on your smartphone.
How to change the PCM filter on the Element X
Reference the instructions below on how to change the PCM filter on the Element X with the physical remote, Matrix Audio remote app, and turn dial.
Physical Remote: To change the PCM filter via your physical remote, press the filter button on the bottom of your left. Watch the display on the Element X to see the PCM filter options change. There are 7 to choose from. Once selected, press the turn dial and the display will return to regular function.
Matrix Audio Remote app: To change the PCM filter with your Matrix Audio remote app, tap the remote icon in the upper corner of the app’s welcome screen. Go to the bottom of your remote and tap FILTER to select 1 of the 7 PCM filters and the streamer will display the filter you selected.
Turn Dial: To change the PCM filter on your Element X with the turn dial, press the button with the three lines next to it 3 times, turn the dial to the left to select 1 of the 7 filters when finished press the turn dial to return to the display screen.
How to set the cover/image settings in the Matrix Audio remote app
To set the cover/images in the Matrix Audio Remote app and tap the settings icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the app. Tap the cover settings option in the menu that appears. 3 choices will appear to select from that are listed below:
- Clear album cover image cache - This will display the album cover after the default image has been cleared.
- Clear artist image cache - The artist image will display the default image after its cleared
- Reacquire album art and arctic images - The app will re-cache the images in the background
How to change the appearance of Matrix Audio remote App Interface
The Matrix Audio remote app has two appearance modes: light and dark. The appearance is comparable to that of Twitter’s light and dark modes. To change the appearance of your app tap the settings icon on the lower right-hand side of the app, scroll down to the appearance theme, tap again and select from either light or dark mode.
How to push music through AirPlay or Roon on the Element X
For instructions on how to push music through AirPlay or Roon, watch the video below:
NOTE: Here are the written instructions below:
To push music through your Element X with Airplay or Roon:
- First, select the network connection on your Element X using the turn dial
- Open your iPhone, swipe up and press the Airplay icon in the right-hand corner of your iPhone.
- Select your Element X device that appears in the drop-down menu
- Select your favorite music app to stream with and your music will begin playing
How to check for software updates on the Element X
To update or check for a software update on your Matrix Audio remote app with these steps:
- Tap the settings icon on the bottom right-hand side of your app
- Scroll down until you see the “Check for update” option - on the right side of said option, the app will tell you whether your app is up to date.
- If an update is required: Tap the option to do so and follow the prompts to complete the update.
How to change the PCM filter on the Element X
Change the PCM filter on the Element X with either the Physical remote, Matrix Audio Remote app, and the turn dial on the machine.
- Physical Remote: To change the PCM filter via your physical remote, press the filter button on the bottom of your left. Watch the display on the Element to see the PCM filter options change. There are 7 to choose from. Once selected, press the turn dial and the display will return to regular function.
- Matrix Audio Remote app: To change the PCM filter with your Matrix Audio remote app, tap the remote icon in the upper corner of the app’s welcome screen. Go to the bottom of your remote and tap FILTER to select 1 of the 7 PCM filters and the streamer will display the filter you selected
- Turn Dial: To change the PCM filter on your Element X with the turn dial, press the button with the three lines next to it 3 times, turn the dial to the left to select 1 of the 7 filters when finished press the turn dial to return to the display screen.