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Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 Review (Streamer & DAC)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 balanced DAC, streamer and headphone amplifier. It was kindly purchased new by a member and drop shipped to me for testing and costs US $1,025.

The Pro 3 comes in the usual high quality casing from Matrix, weighing a lot relative to its size:

Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 Review DAC streamer headphone amplifier.jpg


As you see the display is high resolution and shows a lot of information including album art and such. Pushing the rotary control lets you select input but for other settings, you need to press a rear button:

Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 Review DAC streamer headphone XLR balanced amplifier.jpg


Notice use of USB-C for USB audio which we have rare (if ever?) seen in a desktop DAC. Balanced line level XLR is provided as well as headphone output. A slick remote control is supplied but with no battery so I did not use it.

Usability was fine but I did not care for the very slow changing volume control. It goes in half dB increments which is good but then it takes a ton of turning of the volume knob to adjust. There needs to be acceleration support when you turn the dial fast.

Roon endpoint is certified which is nice and how I tested streaming performance.

NOTE: out of the box the unit would keep cycling power on and off. Looking on the side, I realized the power setting was for 230 volts, not 120. Switching that to the right voltage for us solved the problem.

Matrix Mini-i Pro 3 Measurements (DAC)
As usual with combo devices, we start testing the DAC performance using XLR output and USB input. I adjusted the volume down 0.5 dB to get 4 volts out:

Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 Measurements USB DAC.png


I expect competent performance from Matrix and that is what we get. Distortion is less -120 dB which is well below threshold of audibility. Noise level is a bit high (for class) though and that knocks the SINAD down to 112.5 dB:
best stereo streamer review.png


Dynamic range is a bit lower than Matrix element i I tested last:

Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 Dynamic Range Measurements USB DAC.png


Testing for level dependency, we see that -0.5 dB is the best:

Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 THD+N vs level Measurements USB DAC.png


IMD test again shows excellent distortion but a bit "less good" noise floor:

Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 IMD Measurements USB DAC.png


A number of filters are provided:

Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 Measurements USB DAC filter.png


Jitter performance is excellent:
Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 jitter Measurements USB DAC.png


As is linearity:

Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 Linearity Measurements USB DAC.png


Multitone shows the natural rise with frequency but again, a hair worse than element i:

Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 Multitone Measurements USB DAC.png


Matrix mini-i Pro 3 Measurements (streaming):
Dashboard test shows that the Pro 3 is inline with its USB input:

Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 streaming network Measurements USB DAC.png


So I did not see the need to run more test. Note however that I had the network cable plugged in the whole time I ran the other tests above. So if it was going to cause interference, it would be reflected there.

Matrix mini-i Pro 3 Measurements (Headphone Amplifier)
Most important test here is power vs distortion and noise so let's start with 300 ohm, unbalanced 1/4 HP out:

Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 jitter Measurements headphone amplifier output.png


Anything higher than 100 milliwatts is good. Pro 3 races past that to 267 milliwatts which should be plenty to drive high impedance headphones. If you need even more power, we can test for balanced headphone out:

Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 jitter Measurements balanced max 300 ohm headphone amplifier output.png


So you really should not be concerned about driving high impedance headphones as far as power.

Noise floor is a bit high because there is only fixed gain of 18 dB. A low gain setting, had it existed, would have lowered this.

Switching to 32 ohm we get:

Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 jitter Measurements balanced max 32 ohm headphone amplifier output.png


Matrix mini-i Pro 3 Listening Tests
As usual, I start listening tests with my Drop Ether CX headphone. There was no shortage of power and clear, high fidelity sound. I could not bear going to max volume (partially hindered by the slow volume control).

Results were the same with my Sennheiser HD-650 driven using unbalanced 1/4 HP out. There was a lot of power, dynamics, detail, etc.

Conclusions
As is typical of Matrix, proper engineering is used to design the system and verify the performance of mini-i Pro 3. Strong objective and subjective results are reflected here as a result. The only tiny negative I see is that the noise floor has regressed a bit relative to last generation product. I could not detect it in listening tests and dynamic range is still well above 16 bit however.

I am going to recommend the Matrix mini-i Pro 3. Yes, $1000 is a lot of money but you are getting a fully integrated high performance DAC and streamer. Hard to find a configuration like this cheaper.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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amirm

amirm

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A couple of notes. I photoshopped the screen from one image to another and got it a bit crooked. It is straight and nicely fit on the device. :)

The reason for above sloppiness was that I had to rush to get this unit shipped to its owner since he is moving soon. So please don't ask me for more measurements. I no longer have the unit to test anything else.
 

Lorenzo74

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Hi Amir, same price (more or less) than Minidsp SHD, same performance but half DAC capability and no Dirac...
which of the 2 would you recommend? According to you which is the best (overall) dac streamer around 1k€ today?
many thanks for your reviews and videos. Pls keep science (ex. share aes papers) as NDA of this place.
My best
Lorenzo
 

Matias

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Very nice unit. Great value.
 

JSmith

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restorer-john

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A couple of notes. I photoshopped the screen from one image to another and got it a bit crooked. It is straight and nicely fit on the device.

First thing I noticed, I thought it was a dodgy placed display sticker! How do we know the panther isn't photoshopped in too? Is anything real these days? ;)
 

Matias

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I don't see it... not when there are other units for half the price with more connection options and MQA, BT etc. One could get a separate streamer to pair for a few hundred and still be in front.

There is also this which doesn't fill me with confidence;

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-short-story-about-matrix-mini-i-pro-3.17701/

JSmith
It is a Roon certified and also standalone proprietary streamer with a competent DAC and headphone amp, also bluetooth, MQA (who cares?), Wi-Fi, and analog in to input phono or an AVR in a HT, all in a nice box. I find it very versatile.

Bugs happen and they were fixed by now, no big deal.

Complete line for reference.

index.php
 
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lizhuoyin

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Very nice review. Last time when I checked it out, the only thing concerning me was headphone output impedance. For SE it's < 11ohms and balanced it's < 22ohms. Given a lot of headphone amps reviewed here are 1ohms or below, do you think if this performance matters?
 

TulseLuper

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MiniDSP SHD has no headphone out, most other streaming DACs don't have analog in (citation needed). Any EQ option built in here? If so it's seems to be a great, compact, nearly full service preamp.
 

JSmith

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@amirm Can you measure jitter for a streamed input on this?
I don't think that will be possible as per the below;
So please don't ask me for more measurements. I no longer have the unit to test anything else.
It is a Roon certified and also standalone proprietary streamer with competent DAC and headphone amp, also bluetooth, MQA (who cares?), Wi-Fi, and analog in to input phono or a AVR in an HT, all in a nice box. I find it very versatile.

Bugs happens and they were fixed by now, no big deal.

Complete line for reference.
Fair enough, value to some, maybe not to others though. Some may not care about Roon and have interest in trying MQA, or would never own an AVR, may not use headphones etc.

If one reads that whole thread there was a number of user issues, also the pricing in the chart is now higher as they announced a 15% price increase across the whole range a month or two back I think.



JSmith
 
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amirm

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Very nice review. Last time when I checked it out, the only thing concerning me was headphone output impedance. For SE it's < 11ohms and balanced it's < 22ohms. Given a lot of headphone amps reviewed here are 1ohms or below, do you think if this performance matters?
Really? Is that the recommended headphone low impedance or the headphone output? Can't imagine it producing this much power with such high output impedance.
 
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amirm

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@amirm Can you measure jitter for a streamed input on this?
Sorry, no, the device is shipped already to its owner. You can look at the FFT and see that the only sidebands there are identical to USB input so I don't expect it to have done worse in streaming.
 
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amirm

amirm

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First thing I noticed, I thought it was a dodgy placed display sticker! How do we know the panther isn't photoshopped in too? Is anything real these days? ;)
I have been tempted to photoshop the panther in some cases where I can't use my lightbox. So far, I have resisted the temptation. :)
 

restorer-john

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I have been tempted to photoshop the panther in some cases where I can't use my lightbox. So far, I have resisted the temptation. :)

Just do it. You could photshop him in strange places, like in a speaker port or scaled really tiny so everyone has to look hard to find the panther. Or really huge. The possibilities are endless.
 

Massimo

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It is a Roon certified and also standalone proprietary streamer with competent DAC and headphone amp, also bluetooth, MQA (who cares?), Wi-Fi, and analog in to input phono or a AVR in an HT, all in a nice box. I find it very versatile.

But missing Spotify Connect, which has a vastly bigger audience than Roon. Matrix has been promising Spotify Connect for a year or so now but has gone quiet on the topic now.
 

TheTalbotHound

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Sorry, no, the device is shipped already to its owner. You can look at the FFT and see that the only sidebands there are identical to USB input so I don't expect it to have done worse in streaming.
Didnt notice that thx.
 

sam_adams

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A couple of notes. I photoshopped the screen from one image to another and got it a bit crooked. It is straight and nicely fit on the device. :)

I knew it was a 'shop. I could tell from the pixels.
 

lizhuoyin

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Really? Is that the recommended headphone low impedance or the headphone output? Can't imagine it producing this much power with such high output impedance.
Yes, those are their headphone output impedances on their website. That puzzles me too.
 
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