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Matrix Audio mini-i 4 Streamer Review

Rate this streamer/DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 11 5.9%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 50 26.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 106 56.7%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 20 10.7%

  • Total voters
    187

Krusty09

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Amirm.

Could you answer my question about roon. I ask because I'm not sure you need roon to test the streaming of ability of any streaming device.

Tha ks
 

Daverz

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Except using a $30 single board computer as a streamer is not an out-of-the-box type of solution and requires custom configuration and software as well as a custom enclosure and wiring. Some people like to buy a product and have it all done for them and for it to look nice.

Not sure what use case we are talking about, so I'm not sure why you'd need any of the "custom" things you mention.
 

Jimster480

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Not sure what use case we are talking about, so I'm not sure why you'd need any of the "custom" things you mention.
By "Custom" I mean you are DIYing configuration for your network & devices. It is nothing like a unit you take out of the box and just use.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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Amirm.

Could you answer my question about roon. I ask because I'm not sure you need roon to test the streaming of ability of any streaming device.

Tha ks
The trick here is using a protocol that is guarantied to pass bit perfect test signals. I have such a method with Roon. The device also supports Airplay but that is not bit exacts. I could probably use their player to play local files on my phone but I would have to go through a process to make sure it is bit exact.
 

Krusty09

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The trick here is using a protocol that is guarantied to pass bit perfect test signals. I have such a method with Roon. The device also supports Airplay but that is not bit exacts. I could probably use their player to play local files on my phone but I would have to go through a process to make sure it is bit exact.
Thank you for the explanation.
 

enricoclaudio

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I stand on this:

Depends. In this case, if MA Player doesn't allow local playback, there is virtually no way that @amirm may use his test tones files, and then measures the result. I also use Roon when available, for measuring streamers. Better would be to use an app allowing local (or UPnP) playback for playing my own files. Anyway, measured results using either Roon, or the manufacturer's app, should not differ, unless there are some design issues...
The MA mini-i 4 is DLNA/UPnP Certified and you can stream local files stored in your NAS. The mini-i 3 was not. @amirm if you have a Synology NAS you should be able to stream any file stored in your NAS using the MA Player app.

Here is a screenshot of my MA element i2 streaming from my Synology NAS.

IMG_1887.png
 

pseudoid

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For my main system, I don't need a headphone amp as I only do headphone listening on desktop. Sub out would be good though.
I count a little over 24 different connectors which would make every member happy, as a small form-factor desktop control center/preamp:
--------------------
Analog RCA IN (2x)
Analog XLR IN (2x)
Analog RCA OUT (2x)
Analog XLR OUT (2x)
Analog HP OUT
Sub OUT
S/PDIF Optical I/O
S/PDIF Coax I/O
-----------------
e/ARC HDMI 'Loop' (I/O) (2x)
USB Audio IN
USB-C
----------------
Software/Stream 1Gbit WAN
AVIO/NAS 1Gbit LAN
WiFi
BlueTooth
EQ Digital I/O [?] (2x)
---------------
(AES/EBU IN)
(I²S IN)
------------------
Trig I/O (2x)
AC/DC Power IN

---------------

Did I miss any?:facepalm:
Is it physically possible?
 

Daverz

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By "Custom" I mean you are DIYing configuration for your network & devices. It is nothing like a unit you take out of the box and just use.

You shouldn't have to do any custom network config (editing a file) with, say, piCorePlayer, unless you don't have access to ethernet for the initial setup.

You do have to use a computer or phone to connect to piCorePlayer to select your DAC from a dropdown on the web setup and to control volume.

The official plastic Pi case is fine for most uses, unless you anticipate needing more cooling. You snap the board into the case and then snap the top on. I do use a Flirc case for my Pi4 that requires a screwdriver for assembly.

"Custom" wiring is the USB cable that came with the DAC.

Adding a touch display and remote does seem to be more of a challenge.
 

Jimster480

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You shouldn't have to do any custom network config (editing a file) with, say, piCorePlayer, unless you don't have access to ethernet for the initial setup.

You do have to use a computer or phone to connect to piCorePlayer to select your DAC from a dropdown on the web setup and to control volume.

The official plastic Pi case is fine for most uses, unless you anticipate needing more cooling. You snap the board into the case and then snap the top on. I do use a Flirc case for my Pi4 that requires a screwdriver for assembly.

"Custom" wiring is the USB cable that came with the DAC.

Adding a touch display and remote does seem to be more of a challenge.
That is what I mean; to add a display and use a remote and then get a case for such. I've seen the projects.
Personally I'm a person who would go this route rather than buy a product like this Matrix box.
However I can tell you that there is definitely a market for people who want it done for them.
 

digicidal

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I count a little over 24 different connectors which would make every member happy, as a small form-factor desktop control center/preamp:
--------------------
Analog RCA IN (2x)
Analog XLR IN (2x)
Analog RCA OUT (2x)
Analog XLR OUT (2x)
Analog HP OUT
Sub OUT
S/PDIF Optical I/O
S/PDIF Coax I/O
-----------------
e/ARC HDMI 'Loop' (I/O) (2x)
USB Audio IN
USB-C
----------------
Software/Stream 1Gbit WAN
AVIO/NAS 1Gbit LAN
WiFi
BlueTooth
EQ Digital I/O [?] (2x)
---------------
(AES/EBU IN)
(I²S IN)
------------------
Trig I/O (2x)
AC/DC Power IN

---------------

Did I miss any?:facepalm:
Is it physically possible?
I believe the device you're thinking of is called an AVP. :D All you have to give up is a moderate amount of performance and accept an extremely large box that costs about 6 times as much as this streamer. Oh yeah, and you still need to buy amps for it unless you want to give up more than just a "moderate amount" of performance and go the AVR route.
 

fordiebianco

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The HDMI-Arc input makes this very appealing, as my living room setup has mixed TV/digital audio use. I will keep an eye on Matrix's website to see whether they announce a firmware upgrade that sorts these issues. Nice. @amirm, thanks for the review.

BTW, does anyone know of another unit with similar functionality that has HDMI-Arc input (apart from the big Denon boxes mentioned earlier).
 

JSmith

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BTW, does anyone know of another unit with similar functionality that has HDMI-Arc input (apart from the big Denon boxes mentioned earlier).
Well these are amps as well, but thought I would mention;
Also, keep an eye out for the soon to be released WiiM Amp, which also has HDMI.


JSmith
 

restorer-john

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The unit ships with "Minimum Phase" as the default. That response was surprisingly slow (in red). But after I went through all the filters, it showed the more correct response (in dark blue #9). I have seen this once or twice in other DACs. It seems the DAC filter is not setup correctly.

I'm starting to think the variations in default power-on filtering being so variable across so many D/As must/might be why the subjective reviewers (with good ears) are hearing these "night and day" differences between products. It takes the objective testing to expose this.

I miss the days of one LPF filter- the correct one.
 

totti1965

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Statement Regarding Roon Ready Certification of Matrix Products​


I am not sure, if someone has posted this statement of Matrix Audio before……





2023.09.19

Dear Customer,
We submitted the test prototypes of element S in February and submitted mini-i 4 and mini-i Pro 4 in June to Roon Labs for certification. We allocated adequate time according to the typical timeline of Roon certification. Over the past period, we have addressed almost all the issues they reported. However, we are currently stuck with an issue that we haven't encountered in previous certification tests. We are also seeking technical assistance from Roon to help us resolve it as soon as possible.
We can well understand that customers wants an accurate timeframe regarding when these models can be certified by Roon. However, the certification process is a joint decision made by both「 Matrix Audio 」and Roon Labs. As one party in this process, we are unable to provide an exact time. Nevertheless, we hope that this process will conclude within 2023. With time goes by, as more and more uncertified products were sold, our pressure is increasing as well. As of July, this task has been elevated to the highest priority within our development department. To complete the Roon Ready certification as soon as possible is currently the most urgent work for 「 Matrix Audio 」.
We have already noted on the product page of these models that Roon Ready certification is in progress at the time of product launch. However, we realize that not all customers read this information. In many cases, this information may not be communicated to customers due to different sales channels, which leading to a cognitive deviation for customers and affecting their purchase decisions. This can result in a misunderstanding between expected and actual product performance. Therefore, we have decided to temporarily remove Roon Ready-related information for these models from the official website of 「 Matrix Audio 」, starting from today. This information will be reinstated once the certification is passed. We will request authorized dealers of 「 Matrix Audio 」 to inform customers clearly before sales. And advise customers to postpone their purchase if Roon is the main functionality for them.
Thank you for understanding. We will continue to work diligently to address the issues and progress with the testing until the Roon certification is passed.

「Matrix Audio」
 

Marou

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Oct 2, 2018
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I bought this device plus a remote a couple of months ago from Audiophonics, advertised as Roon Ready. It wasn’t and nor was the remote in stock. Audiophonics quickly removed the remote from the order and refunded me and suggested I return the device if I wasn't happy about the Roon Unreadines. As this would have cost me shipping and taxes (non-refundable), I turned instead to Matrix Audio who agree to liaise with Audiophonics. After a few weeks with no response, a reminder got them moving and Audiophonics quickly arranged a firmware update which gives me Roon beta. In an ideal world, none of this should have happened, but I wasn’t greatly inconvenienced (Roon was available via an Rpi) and I can’t really complain about the service (slow but effective). It’s a good machine - the installed VTuner doesn’t have BBC stations but Roon does - and suits me well. I have the remote on order but in the meantime the app is fine. Audiophonics are a good company to deal with - my power amp is one of theirs - the risks of buying from abroad notwithstanding.
 

AzReciOn

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I agree, I get the impression the majority of members at ASR are at the stage where they want a fully functional pre-amp "with" a high performing DAC, not the other way around.

My ideal preamp would have all the features of the mini-i-4 + DSP + volume knob + remote.
The only device similar to your description that I know today is the new Eversolo DMP-A8.

At first, and in the process of studying the device, I was very interested, but in the end one very important (for me) nuance turned out: the sound output is carried out only on one of the outputs (either analog or one of the digital, but not all at once), while there is also no Line Out, which would allow direct output of the audio signal from the DAC without adjusting the level, that is, there is no way to output sound to other rooms (Zones).

In addition, such all-in-one devices complicate the process of using different sources (especially when there are several rooms/zones at once).
It is also worth noting the price ($2000 for the DMP-A8) - for this money you can buy a stationary player with an excellent DAC (like mini-i 4, judging by measurements) and a separate balanced preamp with a headphone amplifier (like Topping L70 or A70 Pro), and even there will be money for a separate good DAC or an amplifier for speakers.

Probably the best option would be a combination of two separate devices:
1) a stationary audio player with a good DAC (or even without one), maximum support for a variety of audio formats and USB drives, an abundance of digital outputs, with convenient operation and a large high-quality touchscreen display;
2) A balanced preamp with adjustable and unregulated analog inputs/outputs, with an excellent DAC with an abundance of digital inputs (including BT, ARC, IIS, and so on), would also not hurt a DSP for digital inputs (many ask about this) and a good balanced headphone amplifier. No limit on the simultaneous number of outputs.
Of course, both with remote control.

But everyone has such different usage scenarios that it is impossible to please everyone at once. Therefore, the most realistic is the combination of three different devices (Player + DAC + Preamp).

P.S. I can't say anything about the Matrix Audio mini-i 4 yet - it's very good in terms of measurements, but I haven't studied its functionality and usability yet. But as a preamp, I wouldn't use it.
 
Last edited:

pseudoid

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I believe the device you're thinking of is called an AVP.
I have an AVP/Proc but really not in 'love' with it and most definitely it is not "...a small form-factor [SFF] desktop control center/preamp".
I just wanted to provide an (all inclusive) a-la-carte-menu of the audio connectors/functions to choose from.
My next dream-rig needs to be a modular system, with plug-in cards the size of typical RAM (or NVMe) modules... in an SFF enclosure.
Such add-on, plug-in audio cards have no current demand for them but portable media players have been toying with such futuristic designs:
202311_iBassoMP01.jpg

202311_iBassoMPckt02.jpg

This AMP14 is one such example.
202311_iBassoMPcard03.jpg

I love this concept very much and can only hope we can even miniaturize beyond SFF.;)
 
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