Note: This article is based on the video "Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 _(Z Reviews)_ The Finest Combo" made by Z Reviews on his YouTube channel and is printed here in partnership with Z Reviews. The review was originally posted on December 24th, 2020. Edits have been made for clarity and length.
“This has redefined what I expect out of equipment,” Zeos says of the Matrix Mini-i Pro 3 DAC/Amp Streamer. “I don’t want to deal with anybody but Matrix Audio now.”
The Matrix Mini-i Pro 3 is a DAC/Amp streamer with Bluetooth, MQA, and Roon-Readiness. Watch Zeos’ review below or scroll on down for our written summary.
Zeos returns to the reviews desk to share his thoughts on the Matrix Mini-i Pro 3. This all-in-one DAC/amp boasts Roon-Readiness, MQA, Bluetooth 5.0, and 2W per channel of power. It’s an end-game unit on paper, but will it wilt under Zeos’ scrutiny?
Zeos throws an array of headphones at the Mini-i Pro 3, from closed-back dynamic drivers (Neumann NDH 20) to open-back dynamic drivers (Harmonicdyne Zues) to planar magnetics (HiFiMAN x Drop HE5XX). Each of these headphones offer different sonic experiences, and each appears to pass with flying colors.
“This,” Zeos says, poking appreciatively at the Mini-i Pro 3, “is what I would refer to in the audio world as quality. I don’t want to deal with anybody but Matrix Audio now, because--” Zeos finishes the thought by holding up his Neumanns to the microphone, letting the Mini-i Pro 3 speak for itself.
Zeos takes us through a flying lap of the unit, noting the quality of the glass screen, the chassis, and the remote control. “I would have guessed this thing costs $1,500 just for how nice it looks and feels. [...] It doesn’t look very interesting from afar, but once you get into it, you start noticing how well it’s built.”
The remote control, he notes, “is perfect.” Not only does it feature deep functionality with buttons for power, volume, mute, inputs, digital filters, Bluetooth, and streaming, it looks and feels beautiful.
“Around every button,” he says, “they’ve machined the angularity of the aluminum chassis. It’s got these nice silicone buttons that are exactly where I want the buttons.” The remote “is enough reason for me to endorse this product,” he gushes. “It’s well thought out and feels quality. Quality!!”
“This is functionally the nicest-holding remote control ever.”
The 24-bit color LCD screen passes the test, too. “The screen takes all of the other companies I deal with to school. This is what quality audio should feel like and look like and sound like. We haven’t even gotten to the sound!”
In fact, Zeos loves the screen so much that he ironically wishes the menus were less intuitive and more labyrinthine, forcing him to spend time digging through submenus on the beautiful display. “That’s my complaint,” he says, “I wish it did more with the screen.”
“Your music has never looked better.”
After giving a quick tour of the inputs and output, Zeos jumps into the sound quality. He compares the sound to the Rebel Amp (a Class-A analog amp). “There’s a smoothness to the sound that is not just straight up clean and linear, like the A90. [...] There’s something more than just a clean sound.”
In the modern era, he believes, it’s easy to get linear sound. Now that clean linear sound is so achievable, he’s looking for different flavors from tube amps, class-A amps, and the like. The sound of the Mini-i Pro 3, he says, “reminds me a hell of a lot of the sound [of the Rebel Amp]. Only the [Mini-i Pro 3] has balanced output.”
“[It] sounds like the Rebel Amp, but balanced, with more power [...] and it has a built-in DAC, and its build quality is spectacular. There’s no negatives that I could list and say ‘Oh, you don’t need to buy this.’”
When it comes to the differences between the base and pro model, Zeos sides with the base model. The Pro version, he complains, costs $150 more dollars for the inclusion of WiFi. (Editor’s note: the Pro version also includes MQA and a Crystek CCHD-950 clock.)
“You don’t get WiFi [on the non-pro],” he says. “You only get wired LAN, so it’s still a streaming device. You just don’t get the WIFI.”
Zeos usually recommends that newcomers to the hobby spend most of their money on headphones and only $250 on a DAC/amp stack. However, things have changed in light of the Matrix Mini-i Pro 3. “This has redefined what I expect out of equipment.”
“I love this thing,” he says, fawning over the chassis.
“This officially destroys the need for a TOPPING DX7. That was my high-end combo. The only thing that I would pit the [Matrix] against is the Aquila 2, but I’m pretty sure [the Matrix] would win.”
“I want to thank Apos for sending this to me,” Zeos concludes, “because [it’s] ruined me now.”