Top 5 Desktop DACs of 2023 | Moon Audio
Top 5 Desktop DACs of 2023 | Moon Audio
The X-SABRE Pro 3 is the premium flagship-level desktop DAC from Matrix Audio, only this year they added some significant hi-fi music streaming functionality. Audiophile-grade clarity and high-end sound quality, your digital music never sounded so good. The X-SABRE Pro 3 is the perfect desktop DAC and streamer for any hi-fi system, and Matrix Audio has packed tons of premium features by adding MA Remote App compatibility. Control all your music in one spot from your favorite mobile device.
The X-SABRE 3 Pro DAC is an upgrade in every sense of the word from the previous generation DAC. Matrix Audio has put a tremendous amount of effort into improving one of the best DACs on the market and making it even better, more resolute, and packed with the latest features bringing it up to date and putting it ahead of the competition. The addition of Tidal and Spotify Connect, combined with Roon Ready certification make the X-SABRE 3 the perfect hi-res streaming host to add to your system. The DAC is one of the best sounding on the market - hands down - and will provide a level of detail and clarity few DACs can match.
At $2,999, the X-SABRE 3 Pro MQA DAC from Matrix Audio isn't cheap, but you certainly get what you pay for here. It's one of the best standalone DACs you can get and it's hard not to get excited when listening to music through it. Compare it to seeing an IMAX film for the first time after watching movies on an old CRT screen: an infinite amount of pixels, details, resolution, and depth that you never knew was there. Yeah - it's just that good.
Dragon Cable Recommendation: The Silver Dragon Interconnect is one of our best-selling cables at Moon Audio and our top recommendation to pair with the X-SABRE Pro 3 from Matrix Audio. Sold in Pairs, the Silver Dragon V2 is our top-of-the-line silver conductor based interconnect. With a braided geometry and amazing shielding, this interconnect is a remarkable solution where noise isolation is key.
After four years of technological expertise and research, Matrix Audio introduces the X-SABRE Pro 3 DAC and Streamer. It is a new generation of the X-SABRE lineup and one that brings major advancements and increased functionality across the board. Housed in a brand-new chassis, with a new user interface and sonic capabilities, the X-SABRE Pro 3 DAC is a fully functional network-capable streaming host. This new streaming integration opens up a whole new world for music lovers wanting the best SABRE sound and the best streaming functionality.
With the latest firmware updates to the X-SABRE Pro 3 you can now use the MA Remote App to control the DAC streamer. You'll be able to log in directly to all your favorite streaming services and subscriptions, UPnP playback from the app, and more. Access your entire local and online music library with the X-SABRE Pro 3 DAC.
There have been some notable upgrades to the chassis construction as well. The new X-SABRE 3 is 10mm wider and 2mm lower than the previous generation, giving the box a sleek and slim aesthetic. All the angles and sharp lines are still there - which is great - because it's one of the best designs for a chassis that still holds up today. You know what they say: if it ain't broke. The top of the chassis is now protected by a layer of tempered glass, giving off a more premium design feel than that of the brushed metal of the original. The logo is now a reflective silver, standing out much more through the glossy back glass.
Matrix Audio gave the X-SABRE 3 a brand new high-resolution LCD display, allowing for crystal clear updates on the current operating status of the device. While streaming, album art covers will be displayed, aligning with current technological demands from a user’s perspective. The screen provides a sufficient amount of information despite the smaller size, and it's an elegant touch to an already extremely-premium device.
Being a Roon Ready certified device means that you connect to Roon without further configuration, and bit-perfect audio is promised from Roon to your X-SABRE 3. With the Roon app, you can now control the playback, output volume and standby. With software that supports UPnP or DLNA, you can stream with the original sampling rate in the local area network to X-SABRE 3. Now you can also log in to TIDAL, Qobuz, and Internet Radio directly from the MA Remote App, which is now compatible with the X-Sabre 3. Add your UPnP media server as a music library as well through MA Remote. Make sure you update to the latest firmware when starting up your X-SABRE 3.
X-SABRE 3 is the first of Matrix’s line up to include Tidal Connect and Spotify Connect. Detection of the X-SABRE 3 as a playback device with your choice of streaming service and enjoy lossless playback seamlessly. Playback and volume can be controlled via the apps. Airplay is also supported.
Switching of the working mode of the D/A chip can be conveniently done through the touch panel of X-SABRE 3. In the Async mode, the master clock of the D/A chip comes from the Crystek CCHD-950 femtosecond clock inside the X-SABRE 3, and the clock from the front-end device will be abandoned; in the Sync mode, the built-in femtosecond clock will be turned off, and the D/A chip depends on the clock of the front-end device completely. In this mode, with a high-quality digital interface, you can bypass the digital processing part of the DAC through the IIS-LVDS interface, and send the digital audio stream directly to the D/A chip to achieve different experiences.
The streaming capabilities of the X-SABRE 3 allow more ease of controls via your mobile phone. The standard Trigger port enables you no need to turn on and off the power amplifier manually. When the X-SABRE 3 is powered on or entered standby, it will also turn on or off any connected 12V trigger device automatically.
In order to preserve the excellent noise and distortion performance that Matrix Audio is known for, they have fully isolated the power, digital, and analog circuitry in the X-SABRE 3 into individual compartments carved out of aluminum. As a result of the network streamer, faster processing speed, and higher clock frequency, it was necessary to place the D/A conversion and output stage into independent cavities. Matrix Audio successfully eliminated any noise contamination and source of interference in the digital audio circuitry of this flagship device.