Note: This article is based upon the video "Building Badseed Tech an Audiophile System!” made by Joshua Valour on his YouTube channel and is printed here in partnership with Joshua Valour. The review was originally posted on July 5th, 2021. Edits have been made for clarity and length.
Over on his YouTube channel, Josh Valour made Brian of Badseed Tech a complete audiophile rig. Watch the video below or scroll on for an edited transcription.
Hey! What’s up, guys. Josh here. So it finally happened. Me and Brian we finally collaborated. If you don’t know who Brian is, he owns a YouTube channel called Bad Seed Tech. If you like really high production videos about gaming peripherals, mechanical keyboards, audio, and if you like big bold personalities, Brian’s channel is the place to get it.
Now, me and Brian we have a trade going on here. I’m building him an audiophile system, and he’s building me a custom keyboard. It’s actually right here, but that’s going to be a separate video. So, in this video, it’s my challenge to make an audio system for Brian that he will love, and it’s going to fit all of his needs. So that’s what we’re going to be doing today.
I think I nailed it. I think I got it.
Now, one last but very important thing before we get into this video. Apos actually sent this gear out for this collaboration. This video quite literally would not have been possible if it wasn’t for them. If you’re going to purchase anything audio-related, I would check out the Apos store first. There’s going to be a link in the description down below. So, Apos, thanks again for making this possible.
Josh: What’s up?
Brian: What’s up, man?
Josh: How’s it going?
Brian: Good. Good.
Josh: Okay. I want to go over what I think you needed, and then why I chose the items that I chose for what you needed.
Josh: One of the things that I know you have are monitors. You have iLouds, I think.
Brian: That’s right.
Josh: So you need a volume control out if you want to use them independently.
Josh: And then you also from time to time review headphones so you need some sort of reference point for your amplifier, right?
Brian: Right. And I’ve got a system I’ve been using for awhile, but I don’t know if it does the best job. I’ve got the SMSL SU-8 and the Drop THX-888 789.
Josh: That’s a fantastic system. But one of the things that I know you wanted was an all-in-one.
Brian: That’s right.
Josh: So something that does everything. So we got the Matrix Mini-i Pro, which is this MQA compatible DAC/Amp. One of the things it really does well is it’s compatible with everything imaginable, so this will be your DAC, but it can also be your streamer, your Bluetooth. You can hook a bunch of different sources up to it. I think it’s got like seven or six different inputs.
Josh: Yeah, and it’ll play super high res.
Brian picks it up.
Brian: Wow, that is kind of beefy. Oh yeah, it’s loaded with inputs and outputs.
Josh: Yeah, it’s got Bluetooth. It’s WiFi compatible. It is balanced. It will also run RCA as well as XLR out the back. Now, here’s the coolest feature of this. This has a balanced output at the front, which is 4.4mm rather than an XLR, but you can get an adaptor for twenty bucks.
Josh: Now, one of the coolest things about this thing is how it actually handles all of the outputs. So you can actually independently control volume between all of the different outputs. So your XLR output out the back can have a specific volume, your single-ended out the front, and your balanced output out the front will all have their own independent volumes.
Josh: You can run and compare the two outputs out the front at the same time.
Brian: That is one of the biggest challenges I run into with my setup right now is running any kind of consistent A/B testing. And you know that if you can’t get from one source to the other real fast, you lose it.
Josh: The 789 is a great amp, but the single-ended is far less powerful than the balanced is.
Josh: So if you’re going to pot swap a headphone, you’re going to have to volume match every single time. The Matrix is different. You can set independent numerical values for each output and go A/B/A/B/A/B. Also, it will automatically switch if you plug headphones in or if you take them out, so if you have this hooked up to your iLouds, you literally just have to plug in a headphone and it will stop playing the iLouds and start playing the headphone output. And vice versa. And all of it is remote controlled, so all of these settings can be adjusted via this remote. It’s freaking sick.
Brian: Does it do simultaneous out?
Josh: I have it turned off, but you can turn it on.
Josh: So you can do all out all the time.
A quick aside from Josh
Okay, so I didn’t want to hit him too hard and heavy with all the numbers and all the specs and everything. I just wanted him to experience the amplifier without being told what it’s gonna sound like. But that doesn’t mean we’re gonna ignore specs. This thing is an absolute unicorn in the audio world, because it is rare for something to be so good in so many different fields. This does a lot of things really, really well. So this is a DAC, an amp, a streamer, a preamplifier. It’s a ton of different things. This is a fully balanced system. It’ll play 24-bit up to 768kHz, which is insane. It’s got really good dynamic range, excellent signal-to-noise ratio, some really low distortion numbers, 2W out of the 4.4mm balanced, and a ton of options. And the DAC options, the DAC filtering options, actually make a tangible, notable difference on this device. I think this thing is really special. I actually have a full review coming out very soon of that. So subscribe if you’re not already.
Back to the interview
Josh: Okay, so one of the things I wanted to pair with this--though we don’t actually have the cable for it--we have the single-ended cable for it--
Brian: I’m out of here, dude. I’m done.
Josh: Okay, so we’ve got the Audeze LCD-X.
Brian smiles and hides his face from the glory of the LCD-X.
Josh: These are in studios all over the world. These things are great.
Brian: You know me so well! So, Audeze has eluded me for a long time. I used to work for a guy that produced music, and he had LCD-2s. Amazing! Absolutely amazing headphones. And in spite of everything I’ve reviewed, I have never gotten my hands on LCD-2s. This is big, dude. This is big.
Josh: They’re pretty nice. You know what the best thing about those things are? They’re made to be super efficient, so you can run them on your phone, your laptop, or an amplifier.
Josh: Yeah, they’re like 25 ohms, and they have a sound pressure level of like something near the hundreds. Even with planars being so power hungry all the time--most planars are--but these are...I don’t know what kind of voodoo magic that they used, but they’re designed to work with a lot of low-powered amplifiers in studios, so they should be able to play from just about anything. Actually, one of the things that I can run with that is like a $100 DAC amp.
Brian: What!? Seriously?
Josh: So we were going to get a cable from Periapt, but that didn’t show up by the time we wanted to make this video, so you’re gonna have to run the single-ended.
Brian puts the headphones on.
Josh: How do they look?
Brian: They look enormous!
A quick aside from Josh
Okay, so a quick note on this cable thing. So this was kind of my fault. I took a little bit too long getting back to Periapt about this cable. I’m gonna see if they can still send this cable, and then I’ll get it over to Brian. It was going to be this sick lightning blue color, and it was going to be 4.4mm to XLR. And it was gonna be so clean, but my bad, my bad. So shout out to Periapt for working on the process and dealing with me.
Back to the interview
Brian: I don’t even want to set these on the table. These look amazing.
Josh: Okay, so you’re gonna listen to these for the first time. You know what a volume knob is?
Brian: I do! Yeah.
Josh: Pick whatever song you like, and we’ll make sure that I don’t play any audio so I don’t get copyrighted.
Brian puts them on.
Josh: They fit okay?
Brian: Nice pads! Are these the stock pads?
Brian: That’s incredible!
Josh starts playing music.
Brian: It’s biiiiig. Yeah, the sound is biiiig. I can’t wait to get these homes on a proper system--wow. Wow. You knocked this out of the park, man. It was a really interesting thing because you kind of put together an audio system for me kind of knowing what I’m into.
Josh: That was the interesting challenge about this. Every audio system has to fit the user’s needs.
Brian: Right. It’s a really personal thing.
Josh: So, I don’t know. Did I do good?
Brian: I mean, yeah.
Josh and Brian bump fists.
Okay, wrapping up: I hope that he loves this thing. It’s definitely a killer system that I think anybody would be happy with. I think it’s gonna give him a ton of headroom and a ton of flexibility in the future. So, I hope he’s happy with it. Until the next video, I want to thank Brian for coming out to do this collab, and I want to thank you very much for watching. Again, I want to thank Apos for really literally making this video possible. And until the next video, my name’s Josh, signing off.