Introducing the Matrix M-Stage HPA-3U and HPA-3B, review to follow!

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by keanex, Jun 5, 2015.
  1. keanex Contributor
    I'm going to assume that many of you guys who are familiar with the Matrix M-Stage amplifier are familiar with project86's largely successful and detailed review of the original M-Stage; if you’re not definitely give it a read! Well Matrix Audio is back with the third iteration of the popular M-Stage line which you can read about here!
     
    HPA-3U - $419.95
    The M-Stage HPA-3U is an updated singled ended amp with increased power output, a front panel gain switch, and a built in USB DAC that supports PCM 24/192 and DSD X64. It also features a new case design for better cooling and the fuse is now accessible externally.
     
    Headphone power output: 2800mW @ 33ohms; 420mW @ 300ohms; 210mW @ 600ohms
    SNR: >-120dB
    THD: >0.0003% at 33ohms 90mW
    Output Impedance: 0.2ohms
     
    DAC is capable of 24/192 and DSD audio
     
    HPA-3U1.jpg   HPA-3U2.jpg   HPA-3U3.jpg
     
     
    HPA-3B - $419.95
    The M-Stage HPA-3B is a fully balanced version with even more power (in balanced mode), a rear panel gain switch, and a single XLR input (RCA to XLR adapters are included). It also features the same new case design (for better cooling and the fuse is now accessible externally).
     
    Headphone power output unbalanced: 2100mW @ 33ohms; 430mW @300ohms; 220mW @600ohms
    SNR: >-108dB
    THD: 0.0004% at 300ohms 320mW 1kHz
    Output Impedance: 0.4ohms
     
    Headphone power output balanced: 3800mW @ 33ohms; 1500mW @ 300ohms; 800mW @ 600ohms
    SND: >-114dB
    THD: 0.0003 at 300ohms 135 mW 1kHz
    Output Impedance: 0.6ohms
     
    There is no integrated DAC with the HPA-3B.
     
    HPA-3B1.jpg   HPA-3B2.jpg   HPA-3B3.jpg
     
    The M-Stage series can be purchased through Matrix Audio and are available now!

    More specifications and details to follow, as well as a full review!
     
    Aplle likes this.
  2. keanex Contributor
    Pros: Low output impedance, powerful output power, low heat output, sturdy build, 3 gain settings, clean output
    Cons: Warm signature
    Tone: Slightly emphasized lows with natural mids and highs
    Cost at Time of Review: $420
     

    Reviewing Process

    I’ve had the HPA-3U for approximately 1 month and have used it primarily with Sennheiser HD600, Audio Technica Ad2000, Audio Zenith PM-x2 and Life Acoustics LIFE IEMS. I have used the HPA-3U for approximately 100 hours total between the three headphones and feel confident in my experience with the unit to share my experiences with it. Despite this, I encourage all readers to demo a product before buying it, when possible, as your experience may vary from mine.
     

    Build Quality & Features

    The HPA-3U internals are encased in black brushed metal with ample heat dissipation, allowing for the HPA-3U to constantly remain mildly warm, at worst, even when left on for multiple days. The inputs all feel sturdy as does the potentiometer and switches, no signs of shoddy parts or build. There are no visible signs of concern from the outside and everything I’ve interacted with has felt sturdy, because of this I have no concerns about the build quality of this.
     
    The HPA-3U allows for DSD as well as 24/192k high-resolution files through USB as well as plug and play with many iOS and Android devices.
     

    Sound Quality

    TL:DR
    So how does the HPA-3U sound? Well overall it sounds rather natural with a good amount of detail retrieval, all while having absolutely no noise even with sensitive IEMs.
     
    Tonality
    I’ve come to the conclusion that the HPA-3U is a slightly warm amplifier, offering a natural sounding midrange that is balanced effortlessly with the treble. The lows are mildly emphasized which adds a bit of thickness as well as sluggishness, making the HPA-3U a better match with my quick and bass lean Audio Technica Ad2000 than the mid-bass prominent LIFE IEMs. The bass isn’t overly emphasized though and I don’t find the added warmth to be intrusive; as a whole, the tone is relaxed and natural sounding.
     
    Presentation
    I’m happy to say that the HPA-3U adds a bit of depth and width to the sound, which enhances the already great soundstage of the HD600 and opens up the LIFE IEMs a bit, allowing for more breathing room. In addition, the HPA-3U’s clean output allows for nuances to come through unencumbered, only limited to what the headphone plugged in has to offer.
     
    Pairing
    Because the HPA-3U has a low output impedance with a low noise floor in conjunction with multiple gain settings I feel that it is capable of powering a wide variety of headphones, from IEMs to planars. Due to the warm leaning sound signature I feel that it best pairs with a headphone that may benefit from a mild addition of warmth.
     

    Conclusion

    In the end my only gripe is that the HPA-3U adds a mild warmth to the lows as I prefer a neutral sound from an amplifier and DAC. That isn’t to say that I dislike the HPA-3U though, the pros far outweigh the cons of the sound signature to me. The low output impedance coupled with the high amounts of power and multiple gain settings makes the HPA-3U a widely versatile amplifier. I think that this is a worthy buy for those in the market for an all-in-one combination to power their IEMs or orthos.
     
    Aplle likes this.
  3. inseconds99
    Awesome,I am so glad I just read this as I was about to purchase a hpa-2 from massdrop but now that I know a 3rd gen is on its way I'll hold out. Looking forward to hearing a review, hopefully the hd800 will be part of the testing. Also when and where can I purchase this from?
     
  4. keanex Contributor
    I had the HD800 but they are now back to their owners hands. I didn't get a chance to play with the HD800 with the HPA-3B but the unit certainly packs enough power it. 
     
    The unit should be available soon, I will update as I have more information.
     
  5. inseconds99

    Thank you, I appreciate it. Hopefully the amp will have good synergy as the hpa-2 was regarded to have with the hd800.
     
  6. keanex Contributor
    Just updated the OP, both units are available through http://matrix-digi-usa.com/
     
  7. Suopermanni
    Woah, that has some serious oomph in it.
     
  8. keanex Contributor
    yup! I was happy about that too
     
  9. jtam
    Both models are available through Tam Audio as well.
     
  10. inseconds99
    Awesome, this will be my next purchase once I see a small decline in price, either by a promo code or a sale. They're already $10 less on amazon through a Chinese based seller.
     
  11. keanex Contributor
    I've heard that products purchased from outside USA will not have the warranty in USA, you will need to ship to China in case of any issues. Spare the $10 and buy from a trusted source imo.
     
  12. inseconds99

    Isn't m-stage a Chinese company and therefore if I purchase direct I would be purchasing from China or am I mistaken? Also tamaudio on Amazon shows the product shipping from China. Where would I buy the product where it wouldn't come from China?
     
  13. keanex Contributor
    From my understanding the item would have to go through China's support, which you may or may not have to pay for shipping. Keep that in mind. These are the listed authorized sellers per country.
     
    Your mileage may vary, but I would go with http://www.matrix-digi-usa.com/ if you're in the USA to play it safe.
     
  14. inseconds99

    Excellent I appreciate your help, looking forward to reading your review.
     
  15. inseconds99

    Can you confirm the information in this thread regarding the warranty if I purchase from you? Would I need to ship the unit to China if it was in need of repair?
     

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