Matrix Audio mini-i Pro 3 Network-Attached DAC Lab Report

Lab Report

Matrix Audio uses a mix of ES9028 and ES9038 DACs in its comprehensive range of converter/headphone amp solutions, but even here there are 'grades' of DAC – the mini-i Pro 3 using the low-consumption ES9038Q2M version instead of the ES9038PRO we saw in the costlier Element X [HFN Jan '21]. Nevertheless, while the 4.2V maximum output and A-wtd S/N is slightly reduced at 115dB (vs. 116dB) and distortion fractionally higher at 0.0001-0.0004% (vs. 0.00003-0.0002%, all 20Hz-20kHz/0dBFs) these are still spectacularly good figures for a £1000 DAC [see Graph 1, below]. Moreover, because both the Element X and mini-i Pro 3 share the same Crystek CCHD-950 master clock arrangement, both also offer a fabulously low <20psec jitter (all inputs/all sample rates for the mini-i Pro 3).

The frequency response(s) depend on which digital filter is chosen [see Graph 2, below]. Filters 1 (Minimum Phase/Fast), 3 (Linear Phase/Fast), 5 (Brickwall), 6 (Hybrid) and 7 (Apodising) all have sharp roll-offs, with Filters 2 (Minimum Phase/Slow) and 4 (Linear Phase/Slow) offering gentler treble roll-offs, reduced 'ringing' but poorer stopband rejection. Otherwise, Filters 1, 3, 5-7 offer a similar 73-84dB rejection of digital aliasing images with 48kHz media, but just 18dB/14dB with Filters 2 and 4 which are better suited to higher sample rates. With CD/48kHz files the responses reach out to –0.2dB, –5.1dB, –0.2dB, –3.6dB, –4.1dB, –12.4dB and –1.0dB/20kHz (Filters 1-7, respectively). With 96kHz media, the 45kHz response limits are –0.8dB, –7.8dB, –1.1dB, –5.6dB, –14.7dB, –24dB and –8.2dB while, with 192kHz files, the 90kHz response limits are –2.5dB, –9.4dB, –2.7dB, –7.3dB, –16.3dB, –25.8dB and –9.8dB. PM


Distortion versus 24-bit digital signal level over 120dB range (1kHz, black; 20kHz, blue)


Time (Linear phase/Fast Filter 1, black; Minimum phase/Slow Filter 2, red; Hybrid Filter 6, blue) and HF magnitude responses at 96kHz/24-bit

Max. output (<1% THD, DAC/Pre) 4.12Vrms at 190ohm (Balanced)
Max. output (<1% THD, headphone) 9.5V/600ohm / 1555mW/32ohm
Headphone output impedance 10.3ohm (20Hz-20kHz)
A-wtd S/N (S/PDIF / USB / headph.) 115.1dB / 115.1dB / 96.1dB
Dist. (20Hz-20kHz, DAC/headph.) 0.0001-0.0004%/0.00-0.00%
Freq. resp. (20kHz/45kHz/90kHz) +0.0dB to –0.2dB/ –0.8dB / –2.5dB
Digital jitter (48kHz/96kHz) 17psec / 14psec
Power consumption 5W
Dimensions (WHD) / Weight 223x48x205mm / 1.7kg
Price £1000

Matrix Electronic Technology Co. Ltd
Supplied by: Signature Audio Systems, UK
07738 007776