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Matrix Audio announce X-SABRE DSD/DXD DAC

  • Is this the lowest-priced native DSD-capable DAC to drop thus far*? The X-SABRE from Matrix Audio marries an XMOS USB DSP to the well-established ESS Sabre 9018 Reference decoding chip for DXD (24bit/352.8kHZ) and DSD (1bit/2.8224MHz or 5.6448MHz) joy.

    Playback resolution is indicated by a series of front panel LEDs. The USB input can also decode PCM streams of up to 32bit/384kHz; as can the coaxial and AES/EBU inputs. The X-SABRE offers single-ended and balanced outputs.


    A unibody chassis made from aluminium is designed to minimise vibrations and therefore optimise sound quality.

    We reckon this all adds up to something quite impressive when you consider the pre-order RRP: US$1100! [Another unit to shake the Mytek tree?]

    Further Information:  Matrix Digital Audio USA


    *UPDATE: No. The TEAC UD-501 is cheaper still at US$899.

    John Darko

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

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    1. The Teac UD-501 is cheaper with street prices of $720 USD being reported. List price is $849.

    2. Hi-

      I think these new DACS are putting some price pressure on the Mytek, but the Mytek is much more feature laden – more inputs, outputs, volume control and preamp/analog input.

      So it may be that we have the normal market segmentation – those looking for just a DAC that does DSD, and those looking for “more”.

      My guess is that in a year or two the Mytek will go down in price. Or they will come out with 2 DACs for hi-fi: one basic and one more “high end”.

      The Sonore DSD DAC is “only” $1295, BTW. Sound good, too, acc’d to reports.

    3. A while back I read a thread in a forum where they were speculating that it was gonna come in at $300-400, in line with most of their other products which I believe are all Chinese made.

      I hope it performs well for it’s price.

      Wonder why they didn’t anodize the chassis?

      • I never saw it discussed at that price. The main discussion I’ve seen took place at HeadFi where most people (correctly) assumed it would be around $1000.

    4. I have an X-Sabre here now and it’s the real deal – killer chassis (which weighs a ton considering its size), brilliant sound, and nice touches like soft LEDs instead of the typical spotlights (yuck). So far the sound has a lot in common with the excellent Resonessence Labs Concero, but the Matrix is even better. Concero is clearly the value leader though, and easy to recommend if someone won’t need DSD or the extra connectivity.

      • We’ll have to see what the consensus is when the reviews start coming in.

        Heavy chassis LEDs, gold connectors or features like DXD/DSD mean nothing if they don’t have a good circuit design. Does a heavy chassis add anything to the sound quality of a component? Evidently, it makes you feel good when you stare at it.

        I don’t see it putting price pressure on Mytek if it doesn’t sound at least as good. Audiophiles will pay a lot more for better sound as we’ve seen with brands like Weiss.

        There’s already been a glut of low-priced DACs in the past. But people will paid more for the best.

        • I agree but I also think a lot of DSD newcomers/skeptics are likely to start their journey at a lower price point for fear of the format’s sonics and media availability being a disappointment.

          • I am watching this and really looking for a low entry DSD /PCM entry point to feed my LS50’s. blew the budget on the KEF’s!
            Keep up the great articles and user feedback.

          • There is the Matrix X-SPDIF that can improve the Mytek (the Mytek isn’t “integer mode”)

        • All I can say is the X-Sabre sounds mighty nice, for both DSD and PCM. Does the enclosure add value, sonic or otherwise? That’s a larger discussion we could have about a variety of audio gear. But I love the looks and “feel” of the thing and to me that’s worth whatever extra cost is added because of it.

          But yes – sound is of utmost importance and the X-Sabre delivers.

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