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DAC newbie questions / Matrix Element X model

Dec 11, 2020
First of all, please be generous about old fool’s first step to the digital source.

I’m planning to switch to the digital source, and this site introduces me a great product like Matrix Element X.
(Previously I thought that I need Lumin X1 which costs me arm and legs.

This DAC/Streamer seems to have pre-amp preinstalled. In this case,

1) If I have pre-amp, then is there any way I don’t use Matrix Element X’s pre-amp?
Or should every signal go through your pre-amp anyway?
(So Element X’s Pre-amp -> my Pre-amp? or once I plug this DAC to my Pre-amp, the sigal will bypass Element X’s Pre-amp?)

2) I plan to play songs from iPad with the app Flacbox. (Aiff files)
Without any subscription service, can I just use my airplay2?

3) Lastly, let’s say, my MacBook has its DAC and Maxtrix Element X has its DAC, and songs are played on MacBook.
This case how do I know which DAC is being used to make digital -> analogue?
(of course I want to solely use Element X’s DAC)

Thank you.
Dec 24, 2020
Hi Sangbro,

I am a new member on this forum but I own the Element X and can hopefully reply to 2 of your questions:

1) the Element X has is own preamp and volume knob so you could use it without preamp. I don't know if the problem is specific to my Element X only, or if other users are experiencing the same problem but I discovered that the solution used internally to the DAC as preamp/volume control is not satisfactory... It degrades the Signal Quality in a terrible way... This is really important if you are planing to use the Element X as your main amplifier for headphones for example, as you will have no choice but to use the internal volume control to control the volume (or use a virtual volume control through an app/program but I couldn't find any satisfying one so far)... I would strongly recommend you to bypass the Element x volume/preamp by using the "line-out mode 0db fixed" directly to your preamp (I am using a passive Khozmo preamp in balanced mode with great results). So to answer your first question, YES the Element X internal volume/preamplifier can be bypassed and I even strongly recommend to do it (it's very easy to do by pushing two buttons)

2) I am not familiar with these products so I cannot answer you.

3) I am using a MacBook myself (late 2013 MacBook pro). Basically it is very easy to select you sound output on a Mac. You need to go in the "utilities" then open the "midi controller". The matrix Element x will appear and you just have to select it. Personally for high resolution playback, I run Windows 10 on my MacBook and I stream to the Element X via USB using Jriver player in bit perfect (Asio driver) and I am very pleased with the results).

Honestly the Element X is a great DAC and I am very happy with it associated to my passive preamp connected to my Benchmark AHB2 power amp (many thanks to Amirm and ASR for making me discover this amazing amplifier) but the volume control was really a bad surprise for me when I have purchased it has I was planning to use it without additional preamp and as and headphone amp too...

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