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A Review On: Matrix Quattro Dac

Matrix Quattro Dac

Rated # 63 in DACs
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Review Details:
Audio Quality
Design
Quality
Value
rroseperry
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Pros: forgiving of poor recordings, good detail

Cons: odd sizzles, uneven bass

If you look at my profile, you'll see that I've got mainly mid-fi sources, so this was my first chance to have an extended listen to higher end gear. I did most of my critical listening with three headphones, modified Grado SR80s, Beyerdynamic DT880/250s, and Grado HF-2. I did try them with customs one evening, with unsatisfactory results I'll go into below. I listened to them as a combo, only, usb out with foobar2000.

I don't have a set list of tracks that I use to test gear. Generally I'll come up with a list of things that I'm currently listening to and try to make sure that a range of genres are represented. Partly I do this because I'm just lazy and don't have the patience to listen and relisten. (Not to mention that it's not my idea of fun). Partly I think it's a good idea to throw a range of different music at equipment, music I know well, music I just got, music that's well recorded, music that's crappily recorded. This provides a more reasonable test for a music lover, imo. It gives me a better idea of how equipment will affect the usual, rather than critical listening experience.


Strengths:
Detail and accuracy: On live recordings, the details that allow you to place the instruments in space are all there. On 21st century chamber music - yMusic's Beautiful Mechanical, the timbre of the instruments (strings, bassoon) is accurate. You can even hear the bow bounce on the strings. And bass-heavy tracks also do fine. I've been listening to The Roots, Undun lately and even with the slightly bass-shy Beyers, there's sufficient thump for me, with all the details intact.

One surprising thing for me is how forgiving this set up is for poor recordings. I've got a 112 bit copy of Pearl Jam's "Better Man" that I must have torrented at least ten years ago when I still did that sort of thing. It's completely listenable. But this pairing really shines with well-recorded acoustic music. I'd start a session with the intention of doing some critical listening and just get lost in the music because it sounded so good.

Weaknesses:
Weird treble sizzle/snap on some recordings and with some headphones. I heard this the most with the Beyers and the SR80s. It's hard to explain, but on some hand claps, guitar riffs, there's this added edge that I hesitate to call sibilance because it's less of a hiss than an extended snap.

It's not completely silent. To be truthful, it's about dead silent with full sized headphones. But I heard an audible hum when I plugged my UM customs in. To be honest, I don't think customs are made for desktop setups, so this probably wouldn't be an issue for most people. The hum's not noticeable once the music is turned up to a comfortable level.

One unexpected discovery, this set up really brings out the difference in the different phones. It's not like I hadn't noticed it before (why have different phones if you don't, right?) But their different strengths and weaknesses, really stand out with the Quattro.

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