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Thoughts on the Matrix Audio X-Sabre Pro DAC?

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#81
One more question: how exactly X-SABRE's XLR/RCA outputs work? User manual does not mention any options to switch between them, so I am assuming both connectors are hot at all times? Can they be used simultaneously, e.g. one pair connected to a power amplifier and another to a powered subwoofer?
 

MatrixAudio

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#84
One more question: how exactly X-SABRE's XLR/RCA outputs work? User manual does not mention any options to switch between them, so I am assuming both connectors are hot at all times? Can they be used simultaneously, e.g. one pair connected to a power amplifier and another to a powered subwoofer?
yes XLR and RCA output analog signal simultaneously.
 
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#85
yes XLR and RCA output analog signal simultaneously.
Can you share some implementation details? Are XLR and RCA outputs connected to the Sabre chip directly or go to a driver first, which does common-mode signal rejection before the output? Is another driver then used to convert the XLR output back to differential/balanced? This seems to be the proper way to design a combo SE/balanced outputs, as has been described by @John_Siau in his post some time ago. To be fair, I do not know of any other DAC except Benchmark DACs which would fully implement this solution. How about Matrix DACs?
 

MatrixAudio

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#86
Can you share some implementation details? Are XLR and RCA outputs connected to the Sabre chip directly or go to a driver first, which does common-mode signal rejection before the output? Is another driver then used to convert the XLR output back to differential/balanced? This seems to be the proper way to design a combo SE/balanced outputs, as has been described by @John_Siau in his post some time ago. To be fair, I do not know of any other DAC except Benchmark DACs which would fully implement this solution. How about Matrix DACs?
Dear Bamyasi, the entire process of digital to analog conversion of X-SABRE Pro is differential/balanced. As you know there are 8 D/A channels in an ES9038PRO chip, we use 4 channels hadle left channel and the other 4 channels to hadle right channel. so the entire converting link is balanced and transfering differential signal, which can reject common-mode interference. you are right, there is a driver between the Sabre chip and the analog output ports. and the unbalanced/single ended signal is converted from differential signal by another driver.

Please note, before the signal output as single ended signal, the complete link of signal handling is all balanced/differntial.

Thank you!
 
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#87
Dear Bamyasi, the entire process of digital to analog conversion of X-SABRE Pro is differential/balanced. As you know there are 8 D/A channels in an ES9038PRO chip, we use 4 channels hadle left channel and the other 4 channels to hadle right channel. so the entire converting link is balanced and transfering differential signal, which can reject common-mode interference. you are right, there is a driver between the Sabre chip and the analog output ports. and the unbalanced/single ended signal is converted from differential signal by another driver.

Please note, before the signal output as single ended signal, the complete link of signal handling is all balanced/differntial.

Thank you!
@MatrixAudio Thank you for prompt reply and for the detailed explanation, this sounds very promising indeed. I am looking forward to seeing the X-Sabre PRO measurements here.
 
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#88
@MatrixAudio just curious but will you maybe add DPLL bandwidth settings in a future firmware update, I see that many sabre DACs expose this setting to allow you to fine-tune the jitter suppression depending how good the incoming signal is.

It shouldn't really matter with good sources but there's always that one guy on forums struggling with occasional, or frequent dropouts, and I experienced it myself occasionally when I connect my audio gear to a AVR/ gaming console on my HT setup.
 
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MatrixAudio

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#89
@MatrixAudio just curious but will you maybe add DPLL bandwidth settings in a future firmware update.
Hi Yviena, X-SABRE Pro MQA do has the DPLL bandwidth setting, but the non-MQA version has not. Yes, the high bandwidth is useful for the users whoes front-end device outputs poor digital signal. It helps the DAC locking signal more stably, but the sound quality could be not so good in this situation. so we recommend users set DPLL bandwidth to Normal.
I'm not sure if non-MQA version X-SABRE Pro could be added DPLL bandwidth setting.
 
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#90
Hi Yviena, X-SABRE Pro MQA do has the DPLL bandwidth setting, but the non-MQA version has not. Yes, the high bandwidth is useful for the users whoes front-end device outputs poor digital signal. It helps the DAC locking signal more stably, but the sound quality could be not so good in this situation. so we recommend users set DPLL bandwidth to Normal.
I'm not sure if non-MQA version X-SABRE Pro could be added DPLL bandwidth setting.
I thought the DPLL setting was tied to the sabre chipset firmware, so the only thing needed is for the firmware/display to show it, I don't see how MQA/USB chipset has anything to do with it.
But i, and many others who have the non-MQA version would appreciate it if it was possible to add it but I understand if it's impossible thanks anyway!
 

gvl

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#91
I think what they are saying they don't have plans to add this feature to their non-MQA firmware.
 
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#93
Hi @amirm,

Have you received your X-Sabre Pro (MQA) review unit from @MatrixAudio yet? Any plans on measuring it in the near future? Now that my attempt to get a cheaper DAC upgrade (with the Topping D70) failed I am back to my original plan, which has X-Sabre at the top of the list, but I would love to see it measured first.
 
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#95
Not yet. Got shipping notification that it will arrive next week I think.
That's good news, thank you. Hopefully, you will find time soon to work on it. Would be interesting to see how it measures against their TOTL model.

I have also spotted LKS MH-DA004 DAC recently which also uses ESS ES9038PRO chip and has similar specifications to Matrix Audio but is significantly cheaper. Do you think it is worth considering? I haven't heard about this company before.
 
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#96
I have also spotted LKS MH-DA004 DAC recently which also uses ESS ES9038PRO chip and has similar specifications to Matrix Audio
I don't find the specifications to be similar. One showing a lot of measured performance. The other not so much.

Also, LKS doesn't even has a website...

If the X Sabre Pro performs as good as the Element X, I see no point to buy the LKS at the same price.
 
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MatrixAudio

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#97
Hi @amirm,

Have you received your X-Sabre Pro (MQA) review unit from @MatrixAudio yet? Any plans on measuring it in the near future? Now that my attempt to get a cheaper DAC upgrade (with the Topping D70) failed I am back to my original plan, which has X-Sabre at the top of the list, but I would love to see it measured first.
Sorry to everyone, there was something wrong with the shipment. I need to fix it. Sorry for keeping everyone waiting such long time.
 
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#99
I don't find the specifications to be similar. One showing a lot of measured performance. The other not so much.
Manufacturer's specifications and independent measurements are two different things. I was referring to the former.
Also, LKS doesn't even has a website...
They do but oddly enough the website is not named after the brand:

http://www.mu-sound.com/

Not much information available there though, that's why I was asking about any feedback or personal experience with this particular Chinese brand.
If the X Sabre Pro performs as good as the Element X, I see no point to buy the L.K.S. at the same price.
L.K.S. MH-DA004 is priced about $700 less than X-Sabre Pro MQA, depending on the deals you may find. It's a pretty significant difference I would say.
 
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Manufacturer's specifications and independent measurements are two different things.
Hum! Ideally, in a perfect world, it should the same: no difference between Manufacturer's specs and measured performance.

Amir's Element X review shows that manufacturers specs reach real world measurements.
L.K.S. MH-DA004 is priced about $700 less than X-Sabre Pro MQA, depending on the deals you may find. It's a pretty significant difference I would say
It probably depends on your location... For mine, both the LKS and X Sabre Pro (non MQA) are around 1300 to 1500€. Maybe the LKS is a hair cheaper but both are totally in the same price range.
 
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