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57gold

Matrix Audio X-Sabre Pro MQA

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Anybody listen to one of these.  The fellow at Audio Science Review who claims to have tested 150+ DACs reports this unit has the best performance specs of any he has tested.

 

Since I do not understand all the charts and graphs on his forum, he could be fooling me.  But the fellow seems seriously committed to his tests and whilst this DAC is @$2K, but he also recommends DACs as testing extremely well like one called a Sabaj D5 DAC, which uses top drawer parts with broad capabilities in terms of file resolution and connectivity for @$500.

 

Any experience with these units?

 

Happy with my Brooklyn +...but would have been happier if it cost $500 and could do DSD1024...which might mean I could use my Mini and HQPlayer to get to DSD256, for example.

 

 

 


Tone with Soul

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I’m not sure but I think his site is totally measurements based. He basically measures  distortion, jitter, frequency response (flat or not) and S/N ratio. So he has some $500 DACs rated very highly and some $13000 ones he says are poorly engineered, even though they are praised by reviewers. 

 

I actually asked him if he can hear differences between the DACs that measure extremely well and those that measure almost as well, but not at his pinnacle. 

We will see what he says. I’m guessing he will say in a blind test he can’t reliably tell them apart. 

 

BTW, if it matters to you this seems to be one of those MQA DACs that doesn’t let you turn off the MQA filers. 


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also an SBT and a RB Pi 3B+ running piCorePlayer as an SBT emulator. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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25 minutes ago, firedog said:

I’m not sure but I think his site is totally measurements based. He basically measures  distortion, jitter, frequency response (flat or not) and S/N ratio. So he has some $500 DACs rated very highly and some $13000 ones he says are poorly engineered, even though they are praised by reviewers. 

 

I actually asked him if he can hear differences between the DACs that measure extremely well and those that measure almost as well, but not at his pinnacle. 

We will see what he says. I’m guessing he will say in a blind test he can’t reliably tell them apart. 

 

BTW, if it matters to you this seems to be one of those MQA DACs that doesn’t let you turn off the MQA filers. 

 

ASR has objectivist philosophy. Both measurements and controlled tests are OK there. Amir concentrates primarily on measurements, and that’s useful information to have. Sometimes he also adds listening tests, but these are not nearly as interesting to me, personally, since I’m not him and don’t hear the same way as he does.

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Friends of mine who like music but do not have the budget or a desire to spend $2k+ on a DAC have asked how to get good sound.  Some of these $500 area options that seem to come from China (tariffs might make them $600?), seem to be a decent option if they sound as good as they test.   

 

Noticed Amir tested a $15K TotalDac against a $500 one and the cheap one beat the expensive one handily in every parameter he measured...though not sure if the magnitude of the delta means anything to human hearing nor do I know that what he is measuring is all the "important stuff".   

 

Seems like a lot of "trickle down" engineering happening.


Tone with Soul

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4 hours ago, 57gold said:

Friends of mine who like music but do not have the budget or a desire to spend $2k+ on a DAC have asked how to get good sound.  Some of these $500 area options that seem to come from China (tariffs might make them $600?), seem to be a decent option if they sound as good as they test.   

 

Noticed Amir tested a $15K TotalDac against a $500 one and the cheap one beat the expensive one handily in every parameter he measured...though not sure if the magnitude of the delta means anything to human hearing nor do I know that what he is measuring is all the "important stuff".   

 

Seems like a lot of "trickle down" engineering happening.

 

Probably more of "tickle up" than "down" :) TotalDac appears to be getting some of the basic things wrong in the design or engineering to measure this poorly. While it may sound good to some, transparent it is not. Even when compared to some $500 and cheaper DACs out there.

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16 minutes ago, Miska said:

 

To some extent that was discussed, but then I got fed up and ignored the whole site. They think that as it is now is all that matters, except that nobody can hear it, so it doesn't matter. So I'm not sure what they are trying to achieve.

 

 

Yes, there’s some very strong skepticism on that site to anything that’s not obviously true or can’t be easily demonstrated with a controlled test. Sometimes it’s over the top, just like some sites with the purely subjective approach that go to the extreme in the opposite direction.

 

As I understand it, you’d want to see  much wider bandwidth measurements up to, say, megahertz range. That might be useful and can be interesting, but hardly negates the poor measurement results in the audible range, as is, for example, the case with TotalDac. Would you agree?

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3 hours ago, Miska said:

So I'm not sure what they are trying to achieve.

 

I like his measurements, to know something (DAC, amp) is not broken from a design perspective...

 

i.e. does it actually meet the manufacturer’s own performance claims...

 

I think that’s a nice check to have (as a consumer without access to an APx555).

 

Better than not having ?

 

I don’t use his site to know if it will sound good. Only if it performs as well as manufacturer claims...

 

Same with Stereophile and HFN measurements.

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3 minutes ago, Miska said:

Now they have DAC rankings based on THD+N figure. And some people then buy DACs based on that figure.

 

If it means manufacturers see it and try to improve measurements so they go to a higher “ranking”, that’s not a bad thing for end consumers?

 

How people buy things can be too complicated to even think about... whether there is a ranking or not.

 

 

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11 minutes ago, Miska said:

 

For that, just OK/NOK would be enough. Now they have DAC rankings based on THD+N figure. And some people then buy DACs based on that figure.

 

 

That would be a mistake, the ranking chart is probably more for entertainment than for actual purchasing advice. But for those who know a little about measurements and how to interpret them, the site offers a lot of information often not available elsewhere.

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3 hours ago, pkane2001 said:

 

Fair enough. I don’t always agree with everything posted on ASR. You can see my own measurements there of interconnects and USB cables both showing some differences, despite the common belief there that these don’t matter. 

 

THD figure by itself is meaningless, but the actual distortion plot over audible range is very useful, IMHO. Just like a single jitter value is meaningless, while a phase error plot over audible frequencies can be very revealing.

 

Do you have a link to your measurements? Very interested to see. I was fascinated by some of Atomic Bob's USB cable measurements. 

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2 minutes ago, pkane2001 said:

That would be a mistake, the ranking chart is probably more for entertainment than for actual purchasing advice.

 

Unfortunately it seems to be used for such though...

 

3 minutes ago, pkane2001 said:

But for those who know a little about measurements and how to interpret them, the site offers a lot of information often not available elsewhere.

 

For me, I don't find much useful information there. But if it is useful for someone, then the site certainly serves it's purpose.

 


Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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45 minutes ago, JoshM said:

 

Do you have a link to your measurements? Very interested to see. I was fascinated by some of Atomic Bob's USB cable measurements. 

 

Haven't seen AB's USB measurements. Mine was just to compare a Lush^2 to a generic USB cable. First post here, some follow-ups in the posts below it:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/do-usb-audio-cables-make-a-difference.1887/post-216835

 

Comparison of a few balanced interconnects:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/do-interconnect-cables-make-a-difference-a-null-test-result.7738/

 

 

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13 hours ago, pkane2001 said:

What would be a better set of measurements that would be useful to you?

 

Similar to what I usually post.

 

In addition, I've now started to measure TIM on DACs too, it's been forgotten for too long.

 


Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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Had to search TIM.

 

TIM = Transient Intermodulation Distortion?  

 

Is that distortion with moving multiple signal frequencies as opposed to a measurement at  fixed frequency?

 

 


Tone with Soul

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2 hours ago, 57gold said:

Had to search TIM.

 

TIM = Transient Intermodulation Distortion?  

 

Is that distortion with moving multiple signal frequencies as opposed to a measurement at  fixed frequency?

 

 

 

Usually a sudden change in amplitude. For amps, it has to do with the slew rate not being fast enough to keep up with the signal change, often due to negative feedback. I'm curious to see if this is truly a problem for DACs as I've not seen such measurements performed on DACs before. I see that there is a fairly straightforward way to measure TIM using a signal consisting of a low-pass-filtered square wave and a sine-wave.  May be worth a try.

 

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