Matrix X-SPDIF 2 - a Singxer SU-1 killer?

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by project86, Jul 13, 2017.
  1. project86 Contributor
    xspdif_1-1200x800.png

    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.

    Key Differences:
    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.

    xspdif_8-1200x800.png

    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.

    xspdif_5-1200x800.png
    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.

    xspdif_4-1200x800.png

    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.

    Similarities:
    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.

    xspdif_2-1200x800.png xspdif_3-1200x800.png

    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.


    Results:
    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.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
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  2. mb3
    I was looking to buy this - but the vendor advised that it doesn't work with the lks004 dac.
     
  3. project86 Contributor
    Interesting, I haven't fully explored the compatibility yet. I know it works with the Matrix X-Sabre Pro, and then there's an alternate configuration - but I'm not sure which "standard" the alternate is for. I wish these companies could get together and decide on a universal standard!

    EDIT: You can read about the adjustment options here in the manual. Perhaps helpful for some people.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
  4. project86 Contributor
    Now, some quick pictures of the device in my setup. Poor quality, sorry, I just snapped a few to get something up here.
    DSCF4585.jpg

    DSCF4588.jpg



    XSPDIF2.jpg

    DSCF4587.jpg
     
  5. Clemmaster
    No galvanic isolation between the 2 chips on this one?
     
  6. mb3
    I agree - there should be a standard for i2s since so many manufacturers include the feature.
     
  7. project86 Contributor
    Don't know yet, I have not popped the hood to take a look. The old model had it if I recall correctly.
     
  8. project86 Contributor
    Just got word from the designer, who was on vacation when the question first came up (hence the delay).

    "The X-SPDIF 2 supports a maximum sampling rate output of 768kHz. The USB isolation chips have a bandwidth limit that would prevent the maximum sample rate from being possible. So the USB input is not isolated. However, the IIS output, optical, coaxial, and AES output are galvanic isolated. They use a different means of communication and the isolation chips available do not limit the sample rate."

    So there you have it. I don't find it to be an issue regardless - as I've said, this little box sounds amazing.
     
  9. Asimov-kln
    Hi Project86

    It is a nice device with all sort of outputs.
    Seems the device has UBS3 input.
    Is there any problem connecting USB2 card with USB2 cable and what about the sound quality with USB2 and USB3 cable?
    Have you tried both USB2 and USB3 cable, if so what's your findings?

    Thanks for posting the review.

    Regards
    Asimov
     
  10. project86 Contributor
    USB3 type B inputs are something we are seeing more of on audio devices. But that's just the physical jack - as far as I know they are all actually running at USB2 speeds. The USB3 jack is completely compatible with all regular USB cables, and your cable choice should be based on your preferences for cables, not the USB2/3 difference.
     
  11. BWV656
    I just read your SU-1 review. Now that you heard both, would you recommend this X-SPDIF 2 over SU-1?
    I am using a MacBook Pro and I need an AES out to a studio monitor with AES input.
     
  12. project86 Contributor
    I really like both devices, but if I had to choose just one I'd go with the Matrix at this point. When I run the X-SPDIF 2 off USB power, it is pretty much indistinguishable from the SU-1. That simplifies things already, and saves money if you're the type to run aftermarket AC cables.

    The other part of that equation - the Matrix has to potential to sound even better with a nice external PSU. We aren't talking night and day or anything, but I do hear a worthwhile improvement when running with either the Keces P8 or the Wyred 4 Sound PS-1. That's an upgrade that can be done down the line to break apart your purchase into smaller chunks over time.... which I'm always a fan of.

    Again, Singxer is excellent, but at this point I think the Matrix is the way to go.
     
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  13. BWV656
    Thank you so much for the detailed reply!
    If it is almost indistinguishable then I'll just go with the cheaper one: X-spdif 2
    All I need is an AES output to connect to my powered studio monitor with AES input.

    I was looking at even cheaper options like Hiface and Schiit Eitr but since they don't have a dedicated AES port, I would need to spend extra on cables and BNC/AES converters which makes the total price pretty much the same. Still, $375 for a digital interface is a bit hard to swallow but I have no other options. Haha. Thanks again!
     
  14. project86 Contributor
    Just to be clear, what monitors are you using?

    If the budget is tight you could always go for something more affordable like the Gustard U12 or Melodious MX-u8. Those aren't on the same level as the Singxer or Matrix, but they will do a respectable job for a considerably lower cost.
     
  15. slex
    Compare to Eitr. Is the price/performance worth it?
     

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