Matrix Audio Element X Music Streamer Unboxing
The flagship model of the element series, element X combines years of development and tuning experience with the industry-leading ESS ES9038PRO DAC chip to push the hardware to its full potential.
Matrix Audio's brand-new element series has a simplified visual design, removing unnecessary elements. It features simple visual lines with a precision CNC anodizing aluminum case.
More than a year went into incorporating a quad-core ARM processor (Freescale i.MX6) into Matrix products. They then developed a high-quality audio system based on Linux. The element series is their first product that transforms into a full-featured audio source with built-in music playback for streaming media over your network or files from a local disk.
The element series runs a powerful audio playback system that supports all the popular 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.
We have developed an Android app for the element series so users can browse and play their music from any smart device connected to the same local area network (LAN). We will continue to improve our app with updates and also develop a similar app for iOS users in the near future.
Listening to network streaming media has become a normal part of life today. The element series also enables you to play music from your smartphone or other mobile devices via AirPlay & DLNA for convenient wireless streaming.
MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) is an award-winning British technology that delivers the sound of the original master recording. The master MQA file is fully authenticated and is small enough to stream or download. The element series include MQA technology, which enables you to play back MQA audio files and streams, delivering the sound of the original master recording. Visit How it works for more information.
The element X is the series flagship model using the industry-leading ESS ES9038PRO D/A converter along with the professional grade ultra-low noise LDO ES9311 and the Crystek CCHD-950 femtosecond clock. By combining our years of development and tuning experience with ESS best chip to date we have achieved the full potential of this hardware.
With the rapid development and release of high-quality music formats, the processing requirements are also higher than ever before. The element X is equipped with the brand-new XU216 XMOS processor which can easily handle decoding and unfolding of the highest bit rate MQA format.
We wanted to eliminate the weaknesses of traditional analog potentiometer based volume controls and digital based volume controls. So we designed a hybrid digital volume control for the element X which uses an array of relays along with the built-in DAC chips internal digital volume unit. This enabled us to combine the audio quality advantages of an analog volume control along with the precision of a digital volume control.
When using active speakers, there is no need to add a pre-amplifier since the element X has a built-in very high-quality analog pre-amplifier section that is configurable with up to +10 dB of analog gain.
The element X is also a dual-mode headphone amplifier based on the LME49600 and consisting of four independent amplifier units. In balanced mode it can drive a pair of balanced headphones or in single-ended mode, it can drive two single-ended pairs of headphones each having its own independent stereo amplifier.
Our linear power supply is the foundation of our excellent sound quality. We use a customized Noratel toroidal transformer along with Nichicon audio grade capacitors. The element X also has multiple levels of isolation LDO, with a well-designed four-layer PCB to help reproduce the original sound as accurately as possible by removing interference from the separate internal systems.
Different materials have their own resonant frequency. The element X is designed as a double-shell structure. The inner shell uses stamp galvanized steel with multi-strip reinforcing ribs to ensure excellent strength and the external shell is made of 4mm aluminum. The combination of the two metals eliminates the fixed resonant frequency of each material and greatly reduces the negative impact that case resonance can have on the sound quality.
*Sampling Rate of PCM 768kHz/ DSD 256 with Roon requires the latest A10301 firmware update. Earlier firmware versions support PCM 384kHz/ DSD 128.
The LME49600 is a high performance, low distortion high fidelity 250mA audio buffer. The LME49600 is designed for a wide range of applications. It can be used inside the feedback loop of op amps.
The LME49600 offers a pin-selectable bandwidth: a low current, 110MHz bandwidth mode that consumes 7.3mA and a wide 180MHz bandwidth mode that consumes 13.2mA. In both modes the LME49600 has a nominal 2000V/μs slew rate. Bandwidth is easily adjusted by either leaving the BW pin unconnected or connecting a resistor between the BW pin and the VEE pin.
The LME49600 is fully protected through internal current limit and thermal shutdown.
The ES9038PRO SABRE DAC is the flagship of the ESS PRO series. It sets a new benchmark for audio excellence with the industry’s highest dynamic range (DNR), up to 140dB, in a 32-bit, 8-channel DAC. The ES9038PRO was designed for premium home theater equipment including Blu-ray players, preamplifiers, all-in-one A/V receivers, and more. For serious audiophiles, it provides the most immersive listening experience — bringing music to life.
The ES9038PRO SABRE DAC also features ESS’ patented 32-bit HyperStreamDAC technology with-122dB total harmonic distortion plus noise (THD+N). The HyperStream architecture is responsible for both the outstanding sound quality of the ES9038 and the extremely low THD+N. A typical competitive, 32-Bit 8-Channel DAC using a delta-sigma architecture features-107dB THD+N (0.0004%), which when subjected to listening tests does not equal the clarity and sound stage of the ES9038PRO.
The ES9311 is the industry’s first low-noise, low-dropout regulator designed specifically for high-performance audio systems. It is optimized for high-resolution audio (HRA) thanks to its revolutionary dual regulator architecture. This innovative architecture contains series-voltage and shunt-voltage elements, eliminating the need for output decoupling capacitors – an industry first in audio system design. The ES9311 provides the extremely low-noise outputs that are necessary for driving the reference inputs of audio converters and offers significant value-add for audio system designers.
The ES9311 regulator replaces three active devices and several passive components typically used in audio system designs, shortening design cycles for faster time-to-market. This best-in-class dual, low-dropout regulator consists of a low-noise bandgap voltage reference, two high-performance low-noise low-dropout buffers, protection circuitry against over-current and over-temperature fault conditions, plus control logic and signaling. The regulated outputs use remote sensing to maintain voltage accuracy at the load under varying load currents, and the output voltage can be trimmed, if required, to be exactly +3.3V.