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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.
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  1. loserica
    Yes, I replaced voltage regulators with some that work on 16V. After I put the capacitors there the case gets slighty warmer. There is not a good ventilation for opamp. The space between capacitors and opamp is about a half centimeter and it looks like there's no problem.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2017
    trybeingarun likes this.
  2. Strangelove424
    On an early page someone asked if this amp could be used as a standalone DAC, i.e. is the output unamplified? His question was not accurately addressed. In case he is still reading, no, it cannot be used standalone. The back output is a preamp, not line level.

    A few pages ago another person asked if his amp was modified with a resistor to alter the gain, and perhaps causing the humming issue he has. Again, nobody answered.

    You’d think with all these modifications taking place the user base would know the amp inside/out, and be able to answer simple yes or no questions, but alas this is not the case. This thread is not an ideal home base for users wanting to know comparisons to previous versions or other amps, specs, revision histories, or advice on purchasing. The vast majority of posts are concerning modifications, which I respectfully think the moderators should move to a new thread entitled “Matrix M stage HPA 3 Modding Thread” (as is typically done in the headphone forums).
    DRHamp and winja like this.
  3. trybeingarun
    This unit (hpa-3u) has line out and can be used as a standalone dac.
  4. Strangelove424
    Thanks for the clarification. Was hoping to also use the hpa 3u as a standalone DAC for a second amp, and was (mistakenly) disappointed when I heard it was amped, that's great news.
  5. trybeingarun
    @loserica Looks like Muses03 is out. Do you know if this is compatible with hpa-3u? http://www.njr.com/MUSES/series/MUSES03.html

    Inspired by what you've done with your unit I've bought a soldering iron. Still don't have those capacitors with me; might be able to do at least the capacitor mods in the next couple of months. Since I live in India I am not able to get those capacitors immediately.
  6. loserica
    I think it is compatible. Audyn Plus and Elna Silmic II are bargain for what it sounds like. After 500 hours the sound texture is starting to get different from what I heard before on Matrix. The sound is opening more and more and soundstage is getting bigger. Bass is fleshy. Instruments and voices are realistic and convincing. :beerchug: Transparency, clarity, timing, deep, musicality are there. :L3000: I feel like I'm listening to another DAC/amplifier, It is different from the stock in a positive way.

    Everything that has been said about these upgrades is true, I personally checked through the sound differences.
    Audyn Plus are very good and very suitable there!
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2017
    trybeingarun likes this.
  7. xenithon
    Has anyone managed to do any extensive testing of the HPA-3B with the HD800 and, if so, what were the results like?
  8. mickerru
    Anyone compared the mstage 3b to the audio gd 1amp? Which one is better driving the hd800?
  9. mickerru
  10. raoultrifan

    I finally managed to write down my thoughts on how the new Burson SS V6 Classic opamps are pairing with my Matrix M-Stage HPA-3B here: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/bur...ssion-and-reviews.854912/page-9#post-13830420.

    To make the long story short I'll just post the conclusions here:

    • I really liked the sound, especially when rock is involved; try imagining the screaming from an AC/DC songs with volume close to the max., sometimes this could make you wanting to lower the volume a little bit, but when SS V6 is used, the screaming is "upgraded" from tolerable to enjoying...it's like diminishing the 2-4KHz frequencies somehow and make it sound so pleasant...though on my scope the bandwidth was perfectly flat. :)
    • On hip-hope/house/techno/dance music I felt the sub-bass being very "pertinent" and authoritative or perhaps the mid-bass is diminished somehow, but overall I liked the bass more than V5i.
    • Balanced and neutral sound, but not on the analytical side and definitely not "overwarming", it's simply: pleasant sounding to my ears. Totally not-fatiguing sound compared with other digital-like sounding opamps (NE5532 or even the LME49720 and similar ones); I could actually listen to my headphones for hours, with an average volume higher then usual and fell no need to stop the music at all.

    • Size is a bit big, the same as the SS V5 opamp, so it may not fit properly inside some devices (though purchasing additional extender cables and 90-degrees adapters will help a lot here).
    • Price could create an impact, though a solid-state opamp could be reused and become helpful on future devices upgrades.
    Bottom of line, sound is just perfect to my ears! On both, headphones and active studio monitors, the SS V6 Classic opamp sounds correctly and pleasant, with a wider soundstage, more details and clarity and it's definitely less fatiguing. It doesn't sounds digitally at all, it's more like hearing the vacuum tubes singing, so perhaps on the warmer side a little bit, but I totally love it! This is probably related to the even-order harmonics created by the inside hand-matched FET-transistors (read more about it on OPA604 datasheet, on pg. 12) and a bit of Burson's magic touch perhaps.

    WP_20171029_16_24_14_Pro.jpg WP_20171029_16_23_34_Pro.jpg
    WP_20171029_18_10_25_Pro.jpg WP_20171029_16_17_09_Pro.jpg

    Of course, no oscillations occurred and the opamps are fully compatible with my HPA-3B since I installed the new power regulators here.

    Last edited: Nov 5, 2017
    loserica likes this.
  11. trybeingarun
    Finally did Elna Silmic ( 330uF instead of 470uF ) & Audyn Plus recap that's specified. The dac/amp is phenomenally better now. I haven't gone through the extensive burn-in you've mentioned, as I received the modded unit just a couple of hours back.
    I tested these changes with Cheske's Ultimate Headphone Demonstration disk - 2. Changes I notice so far
    • Much better sound stage: Earlier the unit had a weird dumb-bell like sound stage, where front & back were squished and there was slightly more channel for instruments played in the left and right. Now it's more spherical
    • Improved perception of space: I notice a lot of air around instruments, which makes things more realistic
    • Reduced compression in the highs, which made music a little shouty earlier, not anymore
    • Relaxed presentation? The amp has lost its bite a little bit, which is a -ve; i'm not entirely sure though. It could be that I'm used to a shouty sound from this unit and now it is soft. The increased sound stage could also contribute to this feeling. Also I am using a HD6xx right now, IMO which doesn't pair well with the amp.
    • Better, but still fuzzy imaging. Earlier, imaging was plain wrong, as explained earlier. Now it's improved a lot; still there's a bit of fuzziness
    • Bass: nice extension to the bass
    • Mids: vocals are much more real life like than it used to be and the rest of the music sound airy, relaxed and spacious. The fake visceral feeling the unit gave with shouty mids is gone now.
    • Highs: detailed highs, and as i said earlier, uncompressed
    Overall I'm really happy I did this mod. I thought capacitor changes won't change the sound by much, but I am glad I was wrong. If the sound improves as mentioned, I'm all for it!
    Finally, thanks for PM'ing about the mod and your feedback about the sound changes you experienced. If not for that I wouldn't have modded my unit.

    UPDATE: Experience after 3-4 days of listening.
    The sound has definitely improved and i a lot more transparent now (or I am digging that sound more and more, i won't know). Bass is slightly lower than what I used to get (by memory), but it's detailed and not overpowering. I thought the stock form had slightly elevated bass anyway. So I'm good.

    I've started to appreciate the way it sounds with hd6xx. Earlier I thought this combo was bad (even when using Mac -> Aune X1s dac -> Matrix -> 6XX) as it was really warm and bassy. Now it sounds natural and layered with a pretty dark background.

    Most of all, I'm digging the dac/preamp of Matrix now (stock was BS IMO). I even tried this combo Mac -> Matrix m-stage hpa3u+ dac -> Nuforce HA-200 -> 6XX. The Nuforce HA-200 is also a really nice amp; I cant hear any noise floor even at full tilt. The ha-200 has a slightly different presentation, but I like the layering and spacial representation of the matrix is better.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2017
    TimeSnow and loserica like this.
  12. loserica
    Please, wait 500 hours and we're talking. :ksc75smile:
    trybeingarun likes this.
  13. loserica
    There is a clear difference between how it sounds this unit unheated (at startup) and after letting it work for a few hours. At first sounds sterile, strangled after which he regains its refinement and a tube-specific heat.
  14. gLer
    Hey guys, first post to this thread. Anyone tried the HPA-3B with the ZMF Atticus? I’m currently using it with my Audeze LCD-2F (2016) and the pairing is sublime (I like my sound warm, punchy and detailed, and both amp and headphone driver in spades).

    I’ve read that the Atticus prefers tubes (or should that be many Atticus users prefer it on tubes), but since the Matrix already has a ‘tubey’ presentation I think it could be a great pairing. Currently using an ifi Micro iDSD as the dac, and liking the extension of the ifi’s warm-of-neutral and revealing dac with this amp.

    All thoughts and insights welcome.

    PS. Have no interest in modding headphones or amps, or going down the tube amp rabbit hole for that matter.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2017
    DRHamp and mickerru like this.
  15. raoultrifan
    Hi gLer,

    HPA-3B has a discrete output buffer made of power transistors. so it will drive anything with ease...well, maybe Hifiman HE-5 could be an issue. :)
    However, ZMF are based on Fostex T50RP drivers. so it will drive'em perfectly. Myself I have Fostex T50RP MKiii and sound is perfect.

    Good luck!
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