Matrix X-SPDIF 2

Hi Philip, I know it probably doesn’t matter to you anymore as you have gone full Matrix / Farad crazy, but I am finally listening to my system with the Shunyata Sigma USB cable plugged directly into the DSD, no Matrix in between. So it’s Signature Rendu Optical -> Shunyata Sigma USB-> DSD. It sounds wonderful. Does it sound as good as through the Matrix to a Revelation Audio Labs HDMI cable to the I2S input on the DSD? Probably not. I would hate to do a double blind test and try to pick out which is which. Now that you have identified massive changes after adding the Farad to your system I imagine a noticeable difference should exist.

Maybe you could try it and tell me. Yank that USB cable out of your Matrix and see how it sounds. If you hesitate to do so I fully understand.

I could listen to what I hear right now without the Matrix and be just fine with the sound. But I am going to put it back in and Exclaim OH MY GOD it’s like NIGHT AND DAY!!

And it will be, right?

Update: Mmmmmmmmuch better with the Matrix and the seems impossible to get Revelation Audio Labs HDMI cable even limited to an Sbooster plus add on thingy power supply. I guess I need to try the Farad next but I am going to wait until my most expensive yet Stealth Audio USB cable arrives.

It really surprises me how much better it sounds via the Matrix route. When listening to just the USB into the DSD I thought how could it get better than this. But it does. Veils lifted, more separation between instruments, wider and better defined soundstage, more precise imaging, it’s all there.

Final thought: if you are reading this and you are happy with your sound using an Evergreen Audioquest USB cable save your money and enjoy what you have. But if someone like me offers a Wireworld Platinum Starlight 7 USB cable for sale for say, $450, SNAP THAT MOTHER UP!!!

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Sometimes the frequency and scope of your system changes leave me a bit dizzy, @aangen. That said, I am vicariously enjoying your journey.

I really appreciate that you take the time to make in-system comparisons and share your thoughts and experiences about your new and rearranged kit. The back and forth is critical to effective evaluation and I, for one, continue to glean valuable information about various kit and options from your posts.

Keep up the good work and, more importantly (to me), keep that used market primed and pumping! :wink:

Best regards.

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Apologies for the slow reply, Al. I’ve been truly hammered at work (surgeon). I did try the direct route and came to exactly the same conclusion as you. The Matrix, fed by Farad, clearly beats USB direct. The direct USB was quite detailed but a bit polite, lacking the same degree of presence and all extent of the qualities and differences you described. I’m using an Aussie USB which is made from US Military spec cable material. It is a truly excellent USB but I doubt it will match your Shunyata.

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My Matrix is now running optimal (for now lol) 6v Sbooster with ultra upgrade, full Audioquest Diamonds USB and HDMI running into Directstream Sr. Very pleased with results! Maybe add a ether regen down the road to try to bring it up another notch.

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Now all I need is a new mountain top on the DS to make my matrix/farad combo sound better!! Lol.

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The EtherREGEN will make a big difference!! I don’t think you would regret it!

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I concur!

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FYI, if you go to the Matrix website you can buy the X-SPDIF 2 for $360.

Buyer beware! :grin: :roll_eyes:

This little gizmo is the “Tar Baby” of digital audio

After the $360 Matrix box comes the…

LPS: $300 - $500 (possibly more if you opt for exotic fuses, connectors and silver DC cables) once you are done agonizing over what voltage to run the Matrix at

Ether Regen: $640, and perhaps yet another LPS for the EtherRegen

Ridiculously expensive HDMI cable: $600 - $800, the most popular choices being the now discontinued WireWorld Platinum Starlight 7 or the “maybe it’ll ship and maybe it won’t” Revelation Audio Labs.

I’m not all the way there yet, but at this point I must say it’s the best digital has ever sounded in my setup. (sigh)

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Gotta agree with the sound being the best mine has reached. I still think the whole “Matrix package” has been totally worth it, and comparable to buying a major component. When I compared with USB direct, it was a clear winner!

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Yep. Amen! It’s a stealth pathway to a component level of improvement. All in all, not what I’d consider “cheap,” but a lot less compared to what the “components” that would meaningfully raise the bar change hands for.

The EtherRegen got a 7-page rave review in the latest Absolute Sound.

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For me this intriguing journey definitely was worth both cost and effort.

SQ-wise the Matrix (AQ diamond usb & AQ diamond hdmi) turned out to be a major step up and UpTone Ultracap 1.2 even raised the level.

With the EtherRegen (AQ diamond rj/e > Melco) Qobuz & Tidal is almost entirely at the same level as local played files.

Replacement of Uptone 1.2 by a fully loaded Farad feeding the Matrix again proved to be a top notch upgrade across the board.

Went (almost;-) all the way down the rabbit hole without regrets.
Final consideration is replacing the Uptone 1.2 by a fully loaded Farad to feed the ER…

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In for a penny…

Yes, The price of admission at the door is modest but once you are in the club that’s when it starts to get pricey. But damn it sounds great!

… in for a pounding? :slight_smile:

(FWIW: Everyone I’ve recommended the Matrix to is quite happy with it, and yes they also usually get an outboard power supply.)

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Too true!

Hi @tedsmith, how does the matrix achieve the trick of isolating usb noise when an external psu is used? Is it opto-isolaters?

The difference between using the USB for power vs external power is that USB power has a lot of hash on it from the VBUS line being next to the data lines and/or the USB power itself coming from a computer which has a lot of hash on it’s power. An external PSU for the Matrix allows the power for the final outputs to be much cleaner leading to a cleaner output.

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Ah, right, so it doesn’t isolate the ground as well. I thought it did and I couldn’t work out how it did it :slight_smile:

I didn’t want to be too specific because I don’t know how much isolation they implement. But the audible difference between internal and external power isn’t a change in isolation implementations. It’s essentially avoiding the USB power noise.

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