my quick take on Matrix mini-i dac

Category: Digital

I wanted to post a quick review of the Matrix Mini-i Dac and get the word out on this amazing dac. Ok this is my first outboard dac and I am really blown away by the performance of this unit that sells for $375 from Pacific Valve. I have no affiliation with them or any other vendor.

My main source for cd playback is Tosh 9200 or a Oppo 983, with my preference overall being the Tosh even though it is around 6 or 7 years old (stereophile class a fwiw back in the day). I’ve been researching the digital forums on dacs and have been curious about the slew of new offerings in the market. At this point I am using the tosh and oppo as transports feeding the dac. No music on a hardrive (yet).

I was about to order a MF V-dac to get started down this road and then the Matrix popped on agon so I grabbed it after reading some good stuff at head-fi. So it arrived and got it wired up to feed my MF A3cr preamp out to Quad 12L active monitors with an mfw-15 subwoofer. ….. then a BIG SMILE came over my face as I listened.

Wow, no question more of everything was coming through…. First off had to dial back the sub a touch, STRONG bass. Detail is improved, as is body and drive of the music. Soundstage is what I always look for and the width is the same, but the depth and air around each instrument is better. Highs are sweet and all the feeling, force is much more ALIVE. I can’t seem to hear anything over hyped or downside at this point. The musical presence in the room is amazing (not sure if that is the best way to described it) it just sounds more LIVE. I guess that may be the increase in dynamics and the transient edges of the notes that are apparent. Every disc I play is improved

Also, I listen a lot while I am in other rooms of the house such as kitchen or office. I still can hear the improvement so I would not describe it as subtle.

The sound of DRUMS of all types are amazing, the drums are in my room!
So now I will start ordering some other dacs to try, I am very impressed and amazed at this one, ah but you know the vice,,, need to try more. Still want to try a v-dac, ps DL3 and others under $500.

Music: Pat Barber, J Johnson/on and on, Clapton/reptile, Brubeck/Time out, S McLachlan/afterglow,

Other dac suggestions are welcome.

System: Oppo 983 > Matrix mini-I dac> MF A3cr preamp> Quad 12L active (w diffractionbegone pads) av123 MFW-15 sub, porter ports, PS audio duet, audio art interconnect, iron lung jelly fish PCords, red dragon digital IC
Can the Matrix mini-i serve as a preamp? In other words, could you bypass your MF preamp? I'm curious about it and have been reading reports on Head-Fi and elsewhere, but haven't been able this find this info. Thanks.
YES you can use as preamp it has balanced and single end analog out. I do not use as pre as I really like the MF pre. this is a versatile dac. pre & headphone amp, also great for a desktop system w active speakers
Very interesting. Thanks for the review and the response!
Just to chime in, I've been using the Matrix for 3 months and the sound opened up in about two weeks of daily listening.

I'm using the XLR out and feeding it via HiFace BNC. I'd say the strong points of the DAC are air around vocals (they take a step forward from the rest), articulate bass, sweet treble, good depth (layers are easy to see) and realistic soundstage (wide and not concave or U shaped).

USB sounds a little dull but BNC sounds to best to me. Compared to the Oppo BDP83SE the Matrix is less detailed but they are comparable for casual listening. Now, compared to the Ayre QB-9 it's no comparison - but you know 8x the dollars, even audiophile flavor, should get you something...
I have my Matrix mini-i DAC for about a year and I sadly lost its IR remote controller.
I am trying to use a universal IR transmitter to control it using LIRC or WinLIRC, but I cannot find the controller transmit specification anywhere.
If anyone has it configured with LIRC already or is able to scan the sequences transmitted by Mini-i's remote controller, could you post it here please?
The values I'm after are at least PRE_DATA, BUTTON CODES and POST_DATA, or better a complete config file, for example as is this for NAD. It should be fairly simple as the controller only has 5 buttons.
Thank you very much for posting or pointing to this information!