"Too Good" DAC/Amp: Zeos on Matrix Element X

Note: This article is based upon the video "Matrix Audio Element X _(Z Reviews)_ Let..💎Me..💎Finish..💎” made by Z Reviews on his YouTube channel and is printed here in partnership with Z Reviews. The review was originally posted on May 20th, 2021. Edits have been made for clarity and length.

We sent Zeos the Matrix Element X to get his thoughts. 

“This thing shouldn’t appeal to me because I hate expensive stuff,” he responded on his YouTube channel. “But the problem with this thing is that it sounds too good.” 

Check out the full video below or scroll on for some written highlights. 

The Matrix Element X made Zeos rethink his principles this week. “This is one of those rare occasions where something is so expensive that I shouldn’t like it--just based on principle--but there’s something about Matrix Audio.” 

“It’s so well-built,” he says, backing away from it to see it within the context of his desk setup. “It doesn’t pop on a desk [...] It’s subtle in its beauty--and expensive as hell--but then at least it sounds like it should.” 

“That’s the best review you’re going to find on this unit: it sounds like it should.” 

He notes that it isn’t as linear as the TOPPING A90, but also that he’s not interested in another linear amp. “You can only linear so linear before you’re like, well, that’s it! It’s like making the whitest piece of paper. Hundreds of companies compete to make the whitest piece of paper, and then someone does it. And then there it is. Great. Now put something on it.”

“Whatever color that Matrix is painting with here is my color. I love it. I love everything it does to every one of my headphones.” 

If you watched Zeos’ video on the Matrix Mini-i Pro 3, you’ll remember how much he loved its remote control. “I basically loved it so much that I went to Vegas and got married to it,” he reminisces. Similarly, The Matrix Element X’s remote is spared no adoration. “It has a fine, black, plastic back, which is nice and textured and hyper-thin. It has an aluminum top. [...] One difference between this remote and the last one is that this has cap buttons rather than flat buttons. They feel better than the other Matrix remote, so I’m sold.” 

One of the joys of the Matrix Element X is the subtle aesthetic touches that only reveal themselves when you have one in your hands. “The screen is sunken back a bit into the front of the chassis," he says. "That slight depth just adds something to the mystique of this unit."

Additionally, the output ports light up in coordination with your output selection. “When you switch the output to rear, the lights of the headphone jacks up front turn off. When you change it to unbalanced output, the two unbalanced outputs light up. When you go to balanced, all three light up.”

“That, at night, that’s worth $3,000. Sign me up. Sign me up.” 

Zeos goes on a flying tour of the menu, parading the Matrix’s many capabilities: PCM filters, DSD filters, headphone gain settings, dithering, jitter eliminator, DPPL bandwidth, dimmer, and more. 

“That’s a hell of a menu loop.” 

But it’s the volume knob that really catches his attention. “It’s so smooth [...] there’s no jump in volume [...] It has better volume than pretty much anything else I’ve used, not just in the feel of the knob, but the actual way it moves.”

“The volume is probably the most linearly consistent thing I’ve ever used.” 

Not only is the volume smooth, it boasts some pretty useful features, too. While changing the Element X’s volume with the app’s slider, the app will warn you if you slide it up too high, protecting your ears and equipment. “Thank you, app, because I am an idiot, and that is way too easy to go whoop! And this thing is powerful enough to go whoop and then you die.” 

He’s not kidding. The Element X is powerful. “It’ll push 28 decibels past zero. You’ve got headroom for days. It’s loud at negative five!” 

Another nice feature of the Element X is that it remembers the volume levels you set for each output, a handy feature when switching between multiple pairs of headphones and powered speakers.   

Any downsides? Zeos wishes it had a 4.4 output. “Six points from Gryffindor."

But overall, Zeos was bowled over. “Matrix, if you want to contact me and send me everything you’ve ever made, I’ll bum down.”