Matrix Mini i review

Doubles as a headphone amplifier, detailed and dynamic sound, but can sound clinical Tested at £259

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Versatile and capable, worth a look if the flexibility and cheaper price are important


  • +

    Supports 24bit 192kHz files

  • +

    choice of inputs

  • +

    doubles as headphone amp

  • +

    sound is detailed and dynamic


  • -

    Lacks refinement

  • -

    sounds clinical

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Matrix Electronics has ploughed plenty of technology into the thin chassis of its Mini i. Looking not unlike an old soundcard that you might have slid in to the back of a tower PC, the Matrix Mini i also doubles as a headphone amplifier.

As well as the headphone connection and volume control on the front you’ll notice the LCD panel with Knightrider-inspired colour-scheme. The display tells you the volume, sample rate of your music file and the input in use.

Make sure you run it in
The Matrix took a long time to get going. But a good couple of days of running in saw the Mini i improve from a slow start to a very listenable sound. It’s a little clinical and cold – even once warmed-up – but there’s good detail and decent scale.

Playing Linn’s hi-res recordings in ‘DAC mode’ shows the Matrix capable of stirring dynamics, too. We switch to ‘Pre mode’ to turn on and try the headphone output and tracks are intimate and insightful, if still a little rigid.

There are digital optical, USB, AES and BNC coaxial inputs on the back, alongside stereo analogue, balanced outputs.

Independent internal clock
The Matrix has a dual AD1955 chip and like others here boasts an independent internal clock that aims to minimise the jitter introduced to your files on their way to the DAC.

The Mini i can handle 24-bit 192kHz music via coaxial and optical inputs, while the USB input maxes out at 48kHz, as is not uncommon.

We’re impressed with the Mini i, as the most affordable DAC in the test. If you like the flexibility, it’s well worth a look.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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