Jul 13, 2017 at 6:12 PM
- Feb 21, 2007
- Reaction score
- Feb 21, 2007
Sorry, I totally admit that attention-grabbing headline was just there to provoke. I'm not the type to use terms like that when describing anything other than drastic improvements. As in, "My new dCS Vivaldi kills the integrated sound card I was using prior." So I'm using the wrong terminology here. Sorry.
That said, I tentatively find the Matrix device to be an improvement over the Singxer in some small ways - which is actually a pretty big compliment considering how great the SU-1 is. I'm a huge Singxer fan as you can see from my review from last year, and have been using it pretty consistently. After just a short time of extensive listening with the new X-SPDIF 2 I'm thinking I've got a new favorite.
Matrix uses their usual build - CNC machined from a single piece of aluminum. If anyone's experienced the X-Sabre DAC series, or similar devices such as the Resonessence Labs Concero series, you'll know this is a step above the Singxer (which is quite nice already, mind you). Not sure how much it matters for SQ, but theoretically this thing has better shielding from EMI/RFI, as well as superior vibration reduction.
Matrix allows their device to be powered via USB, but gives the option of using an external supply if you want. That makes for a smaller device which is very upgrade-friendly without the need for mods like the SU-1 requires. If USB power is used, extensive filtration helps clean things up, though it still responds to better quality sources as well as tweaks. External power requirements are supposedly 6V-9V though I'm using 5V and it works perfectly. When using external power, the device completely cuts off power from the USB bus.
The Matrix unit is smaller and omits the BNC output, instead offering optical, AES, coax, and IIS over HDMI. This size plus the USB power option make it a lot easier for those who regularly bring gear to and from the office, or vacation home, etc. I don't know if I'd use the word "transportable" - it's still not tiny - but I'm sure some people would.
The X-SPDIF 2 uses a pair of Accusilicon femto clocks with their own dedicated ultra low noise LDO power supplies. These should be very competitive with the Crystek units in the Singxer - I'm not sure which is technically better as neither gives enough info in the datasheet. Bottom line, it's a different but equally high-quality solution.
The Matrix device sells for $379 which is slightly less than the Singxer. It is available from a reliable USA-based seller. I think Singxer has some good dealers at this point, but that was not the case back when I got mine - ordering from China was the only option, with the requisite shipping delays and potential communication/warranty issues.
Both models use the latest XMOS U208 core, augmented by proprietary FGPA processing. Both use similar Xilinx Spartan chips but obviously there could be massive differences in their respective code.
Both units have IIS over HDMI which can be configured via DIP switches for different standards. In both cases, using this option allows for extreme format compatibility. I'm not sure where the SU-1 tops out these days but the Matrix does 768kHz PCM and DSD512 over IIS.
I've got a dedicated power supply for it which I'll discuss later, but for now I can say this thing sounds amazing straight from a Surface Pro 3. I'm getting the impression, however slight, of superior imaging and just a touch more weightiness. I didn't think I'd want anything more than what the SU-1 offers... but as usual with audio upgrades, once you hear it you realize you can't live without it.
More impressions and photos of my unit "in the wild" to come shortly.