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Matrix Quattro DAC: Unboxing and initial impressions

post #1 of 120
Thread Starter 

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This post marks a departure from my general reviewing style. Normally I get a new piece of gear, burn it in, listen to it, dismantle it for pictures, listen to it again, compare it to competitors, listen some more, etc. until I have a complete understanding of how it performs. Then I write up a detailed review and post it. The process generally takes at least a month or two depending on the complexity of the equipment. Meanwhile, people are sending me PMs asking about the device, and the more time I spend chatting with people about it (which I love to do) the longer it takes to finish the review. Taking some cues from my friend Average_Joe, and to a lesser extent 6moons.com, I’m trying a new format: posting initial info and impressions early on, and then incrementally adding more until I have a complete review. So with that in mind, I present the Matrix Quattro DAC.

 

UNBOXING

 

I got my Quattro system (DAC and matching amp, XLR cables, and balanced headphone adapter for the amp section) from Jeffrey Tam at www.TamAudio.com - Jeffrey is an excellent seller - very helpful, very trustworthy, and very fast with shipping. He has proven himself time and again, and I wouldn't purchase a Matrix product from anyone else. Someone else will eventually pop up on eBay selling the Quattro gear for a few dollars less, but in my opinion it isn't worth the risk to buy from an inferior seller. Plus Jeffrey throws in extras and has options like the cables which nobody else has. I just can't recommend him highly enough.

 

The DAC sells for $699 with shipping included. It ships in a nice box with a good amount of protection. Inside we find the DAC itself, a user manual, a basic power cable, BNC adapter, and the remote (which is a $5 option).

 

 

The manual covers both the Quattro DAC and the Quattro amp.

 

 

The remote is the same for both Quattro products – when ordering them both, you really only need one remote. This is the same remote used with the latest Matrix Mini-I DAC.

 

 

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BNC adapter

 

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INTERNALS

 

I’ll expand on the internal design as this review progresses. For now the pictures tell a lot of the story.

 

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AD1853 DAC

 

 

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AKM digital receiver

 

 

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AD1896 asynchronous sample rate converter

 

 

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LM1085 voltage regulator

 

 

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Xilinx FPGA 

 

 

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LM4562 opamps in the output stage

 

 

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TAS1020B USB controller

 

 

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LME49600 as buffer in headphone section

 

 

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Noratel toroidal transformer

 

 

FEATURES

 

The Quattro DAC has a good amount of inputs: Toslink, BNC coaxial (can be used with standard SPDIF coaxial cable via included adapter), AES/EBU, USB, and a single analog in. Outputs can be either balanced XLR or single ended RCA. The USB input accepts up to 24-bit/96kHz audio, the other three inputs up to 24-bit/192kHz. Analog in is handy, allowing you to use hi-res SACD or DVD-A discs (since those won’t usually send out a digital signal) or even a turntable setup if desired.

 

 

Front panel has dual headphone outputs. Using the jack on the left side automatically mutes the output on the rear. The right side headphone jack does not. This muting function can be disabled via an internal jumper.

 

 

This device can also be used as a pre-amplifier. Volume can be controlled manually or via the remote control. This function can be bypassed by moving the rear panel switch from “variable” to “fixed”. Volume control is done in the analog domain using a motorized Alps potentiometer. Gain is adjustable via internal jumpers.

 

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BUILD QUALITY

 

The Quattro has a pleasing appearance and seemingly high quality construction. It isn’t flashy but it has an understated appeal to it.

 

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SOUND QUALITY

 

I am very impressed by the sound of this DAC. For many folks, this is about as high end as they would ever need to go. Sure, there is improvement to be had if you have really high end headphones/speakers, really well recorded source material, and are a really critical listener. For some of us it is worth taking that step, but for many this is as high up as I would recommend. You could easily spend much more than this and not get any better sound. I know because I've done it myself.

 

But I'm not going into as much detail about the Quattro DAC at this point. Why? Because I'm sending the system around to some other HeadFi members to listen to, and I don't want to influence them. Their impressions will be added to this thread as they come in.

 

Here is the thread about my loaner program.

 

Here is a bit of feedback, including some Youtube videos, from the first participant. 

 

 


Edited by project86 - 9/19/11 at 2:55pm
post #2 of 120

Looking forward for future updates. 

post #3 of 120

How's the headphones amp?  

post #4 of 120
The internals greatly look like the internals of the Benchmark DAC1 rolleyes.gif
post #5 of 120

Thanks project86 for the review.

Looks like a very nice DAC indeed! 

 

post #6 of 120

The amp section is simply superb !

 

I am waiting for the Quattro amp to arrive as well as a balanced cable for the HD800s...then we shall see..

post #7 of 120

Think I have made up my mind, gonna order both the amp and dac tonight. Then save for a pair of balanced cans. 

 

What was the delivery time like? 

post #8 of 120

5-10 days.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zoqi View Post

Think I have made up my mind, gonna order both the amp and dac tonight. Then save for a pair of balanced cans. 

 

What was the delivery time like? 



 

post #9 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtam View Post

5-10 days.
 



 


Hi Jeffrey,

How your Quattro DAC/amp and  balanced Quattro amp match with Beyerdynamic 600 Ohm headphones (DT 880 and Tesla 1)?

 

Antonio

 

post #10 of 120

One Quattro Dac ordered :). Though decided to wait with the amp and get new cans first. 

 

Hopefully it will be a good value/performance Dac, first time I have taken a leap of faith without knowing too much pre-hand. 

 

post #11 of 120
Thread Starter 

Here's a link to my unboxing/review thread of the Quattro amp:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/564151/matrix-quattro-amp-unboxing-and-initial-impressions#post_7629888

 

 

post #12 of 120

Since this unit looks outside and very much inside close to a Benchmark dac1 pre, do you think Project86 that you will be able to compare it to a Benchmark during the course of your review?

post #13 of 120
$699 is not cheap. You can get a Apogee Duet 2 for $100 less. Apogee is well know for it's digital products and well respected be Pros. Is this as good or better sounding than Apogee Duet 2? Could you comment on how the DAC stacks up to other DACs, like DAC Magic or Musical Fidelity?
http://yourhomerecordingstudio.com/apogee-duet-2
Edited by DjAmTraX - 7/24/11 at 7:21pm
post #14 of 120
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnolfini View Post

Since this unit looks outside and very much inside close to a Benchmark dac1 pre, do you think Project86 that you will be able to compare it to a Benchmark during the course of your review?


I'll try to get my hands on one. I used to own the first Benchmark DAC 1 (not USB, Pre, or HDR) so I'm familiar with the sound, but of course direct comparisons are always better. If I can't get one, maybe down the road I'll send my Quattro to someone else who can do the comparison for us.

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DjAmTraX View Post

$699 is not cheap. You can get a Apogee Duet 2 for $100 less. Apogee is well know for it's digital products and well respected be Pros. Is this as good or better sounding than Apogee Duet 2? Could you comment on how the DAC stacks up to other DACs, like DAC Magic or Musical Fidelity?
http://yourhomerecordingstudio.com/apogee-duet-2

 

I see your point - the price on this thing is moving into a territory where there are a lot of good choices. 

 

I'll never be able to compare them all but I can make some relative judgments. I've done A/B comparisons between my Yulong D100 DAC and the Cambridge DacMagic, and the Yulong seemed significantly better to my ears. It also seems on par with the Grace m902, Benchmark DAC 1, and Lavry DA10, all of which I used to own. So for just under $500, that device has been my favorite in the <$1000 or so price range. I'll be comparing the Matrix Quattro to the Yulong, and by extension, to those others as well. Unfortunately I haven't heard the Apogee. 

 

Very preliminary impressions indicate that the Quattro is at least as good as the Yulong if not a bit better in terms of pure sound quality, especially when used with a balanced amp. The Quattro has more features like remote control, pre-amp capability, and analog inputs. The integrated headphone amp seems to be somewhat better too. But again, this is all preliminary and I've got a lot more extensive listening to do before I can really be sure. 
 

 

post #15 of 120
Thread Starter 

Forgot to mention: Here is a link to the Matrix Quattro amp, which is the matching amp to this Quattro DAC.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/564151/matrix-quattro-amp-unboxing-and-initial-impressions#post_7629914

 

 

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