Matrix X-Sabre Pro

A place to discuss all things X-Sabre from Matrix!

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Working on a review of this dac and wondering if anyone has thoughts?

I saw some disappointment that it dodnt have more wow factor on first listen but I suspect that might be the point…

Should a DAC provide a WOW? Perhaps if you were doing a huge leap upwards, but all the differences between dacs as I have worked up the ladder have been incremental improvements. What should it do to wow? Provide a 3x larger stage? That would sound ridiculous.

This reminds me of another conversation recently comparing the ever increasing treble in mid-fi allowing them to compete with the speaker next to them on the floor for “sparkle and excitement”. Or the vivd mode on TVs that makes black into light gray, and blinds you after 10 minutes.

I may just have woken up on the wrong side of the bed though.


I agree actually! I had seen some forum chatter on other sites about how people were disappointed on first listen. A lot of hi-fi dacs provide wow but in the mastering studios I’ve worked in high-end converters were almost all sort of boring at first until you realized they were super grainless and texture-free and that you were actually perceiving less coloration.

I can see how this sound is not exciting for the home listener however, and I’ve greatly enjoyed DACs with clear colorations and tube output stages in the past.


Mostly agree with you here. Maybe some R2R dacs that give an extremely natural sound but most of the DACs I’ve heard are going to be improvements on the stage, imaging, detail and not necessarily in mind-blowing proportions unless you jump up quite a few dollars.


And I don’t want to poop on anyone that wants to be excited after spending $3000. I just think they might be better off buying a motorcycle for that kind of excitement.

QUITE a few. Like Modi to May jumps.

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you’re taking the words out of my mouth here : )

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I would argue that even the large jumps are not necessarily mindblowing.
I also happen to think that what we hear as being different in many DACs is the analog stages.


If were talking 3k, are we talking the Matrix X-Sabre Pro 3 not trying to get into semantics? The biggest thing I’ve seen that has changed in the X-Sabre 3 from the previous Matrix X-Sabre Pro MQA (the non MQA was the previous generation, they don’t offer a non MQA anymore) is the updated interface, chassis (slimmer, little bigger but not by much), there are some internals (power and shielding internal noise) and the streaming ability and I’d be surprised if they continue the Matrix X-Sabre Pro MQA which has dropped down to 2k. Personally, I liked the Matrix X-Sabre Pro MQA just as much as the Schiit Yggy which was my only DAC in that price range to compare to. I’m not going up to 5k with the May. To me, the Matrix X-Sabre Pro MQA at the 2k price point was excellent for the price, performance and size. I doubt I’d pay the 3k but if one comes up used, I’d probably jump on that opportunity to see what’s changed. The Element X streaming still needed some fine tuning, the app for the ipad would stop and had issues, I preferred the qobuz app over the Matrix app for the Element better. I bring this, the Element up as it should be what you compare the X-Sabre 3 to in regards to streaming and performance but the X-Sabre 3 does not have a built in amp. My two cents.

I’d generally agree - at $3K it feels steep. But at 2K or so I think for those looking for a really top notch neutral style DAC would be well served. Above this it only gets a really small bit better, and mostly different.

My only other reservation is that it might be a possible to get close for a little less money…

It’s a bit of money over the previous version and I’m curious of the refinement. But they did up the screen to display artwork like the competitors, so it’s a better display type. They added internal antenna’s with dual band wifi instead of having the antenna’s out the back like the Element X. Will that all add up to another 1k over the original? Not sure. It does sound like they added quite a bit with a slimmer (by a couple mm) profile and extended the chassis by only a couple mm. If the internal streaming is improved, the app improved and it works flawlessly, it might be worth that extra 1k. I really like what they did with the ability to remotely control the Element X with an app on the ipad. If they use this app or similar but refine it where it again works flawlessly, it will be pretty amazing.

If you look at the following price points, I won’t put the BF2 in here, it doesn’t compare to any of the following mentioned but it’s excellent for it’s price point.

I’ve tried the following at the following price point

Chord Qutest $1700
Matrix X-Sabre Pro MQA $2300 down to $2000 with the release of the 3
Schiit Yggy $2500 (upcoming price increase?)
Element X $3400 (open box at 2700)
Matrix X-Sabre 3 $3000

Tried all of the above except for the 3. The remote and functionality of the X-Sabre plus the sound is on par with the Qutest and Yggy but the remote, filter, better optical to handle not so good signal, I’d take the Matrix any day over the above.

How much are streamers these days? It’s 500 difference over the Yggy and 700 over the previous X-Sabre before the discount. Does that cover some of the ground difference to combine the streamer with the dac and now your cordless, one less point of failure if it works flawlessly.


Got mine yesterday to compliment my IHA-1. It arrived with bricked firmware and a bad USB cable, but was I got past all that, it’s been pretty good. The density of the case (and remote) is oddly satisfying.


One of the best remotes in the business.


They usually send them out with outdated firmware and usually the wrong voltage. Glad fixing the bricked firmware wasn’t an issue. Still my favorite. Love to see the third version. Excellent remote.