Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: 27" iMac with 5K Retina display, 4GHz quad-core engine with 4.4GHz turbo boost, 3TB Fusion Drive, 16GB SDRAM, OSX Yosemite, PureMusic 3.01, Tidal & Qobuz lossless streaming, COS Engineering D1 & H1, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi Formula, Fore Audio DAISy 1, Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, Pure i20, Questyle QP1R; Bakoon DAC-21 [on review]
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Wyred4Sound STP-SE MkII, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVC module), COS Engineering D1
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1, F5, F6, F7; Bakoon AMP-12R; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics One SE Up NC500MB; Linnenberg Audio Allegro
Loudspeakers: Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; soundkaos Wave 40; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence; Audio Physic Avanti [on review]
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan]; Sablon Audio Petit Corona power cords [on loan], Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components, 5m cords to amp/s + sub
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands [on loan]
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: Rectangular 5.5 x 15m open floor plan with two-storey gabled ceiling, wood-sleeved steel trusses and stone-over-concrete flooring
Review component retail: £1'699

For every sabre, there's a tooth. For Matrix Audio's Sabre-X Pro DSD, that pointy fang is the ESS Lab ES9038 Pro chip. It's the Canadian supplier's latest 8-channel IC with on-chip digital attenuator and spit-polished specs. To play with PS Audio-type I²S transports, that parallel not serial interface even appears on an HDMI port though it's not standard HDMI protocol. Do not plug your Oppo video feed into it. Else your little tiger will draw blood.

As a milled-from-solid affair, Mister X only needs screws for the bottom plate and connectors. Otherwise it's full-on "mono, man!" Monolithic. Before you call it a trifle, consider the £1'700 ask. Where Ayre, Jeff Rowland & Co. offer such constructions, they tend to demand loads more. Where the Matrix plays, it's usually bent sheet metal. Add a tell-all central display to confirm menu choices, then format, sample rate, source and volume during play. Add touch-sensitive controls behind the tempered glass strip. It's crystal that this model takes looking sharp serious. A sabre tooth in an Armani suit?

The DSD suffix signifies DoP protocol up to DSD512 over all inputs, not merely USB. To hit the stratosphere of 45.158MHz aka DSD1024 requires the I²S port. Ditto DSD native (or otherwise via ASIO). PCM maxes out at 32bit/768kHz. So the Matrix is the consummate number's warrior, dresser, math geek and buzzword-compliant marketeer. We get three low-jitter Crystek clocks, seven selectable PCM filters, a Noratel toroid and Neutrik socketry. To drive inefficient active speakers, there's even a +18dB gain mode.

In geek mode, Mr. X delivers >-151dB crosstalk and >134dB S/N ratio over its 4.5Vrms XLR. That's still >-143dB and >-129dB on 2.25Vrms RCA. A global switch on the belly digests 115/230VAC. If you relocate to another power grid, the Pro converts. Based out of Shaanxi/China, Matrix Electronic Technology Co. Ltd. are a busy OEM/ODM. That makes them designers and/or makers of contract gear which other companies rebrand as their own. Like many ghostwriting outfits, they must have grown desirous of getting proper credit and recognition for their work. Hence their own brand Matrix Audio for which the X-Pro DSD is the present flagship. To spare Western customers the insecurities of dealing directly with China, Elite Audio UK have taken on distribution on this side of the pond. Timing is good. Matrix have secured European CE, RoHS, US FCC and Korean KCC certifications to roar globally. DACs are popular. DSD is fashionable. What to say about value-priced Far Eastern imports with impeccable European backup? They stretch your discretionary euro, pound or krone and take all worries out of the deal. Study the manual for the works. This is quite the comprehensive package.