The Element i streaming music player is a blend of audio circuits from the Element P (which is a Streamer & Speaker Amp) and the Element M (which is a Streamer & Headphone Amp). The goal of Matrix with the Element I is to provide an amazing bang for the buck option for a very attractive price point to the under $1000 price point customer.
The Dac Chip utilized is the same as the more expensive Element P which uses the ES9028 PRO Dac Chip. However, the Element I uses the XMOS XU208 USB controller which provides a little lower input resolution of 24bit 384kHz. This is less than the rest of the Element family but still provides more resolution than most consumer’s digital library music file resolution.
Most of our libraries are in the 24bit 192kHz range so there is still room to breath for higher resolutions to be utilized. USB DSD input resolution is rated at DSD 5.6MHz (DoP) & DSD 11.2MHz (Native), again half that of the big brothers in the series. This is more in line with the mass market available resolutions, so it’s still a great spec. It uses the same Reclocking Oscillator as the Element M and offers all the same inputs as the Element M, which are all single-ended connections but still with the I2S HDMI which means adding the Matrix Audio X-SPDIF 2 USB Interface. This provides a great upgrade path and to take it one step further you can also add the Matrix Audio Element H USB 3.0 Interface.
Similar to the rest of the lineup, it has the same Roon Ready Wired connection. Wifi is steered towards the single 2.4GHz bandwidth thus you don’t have to worry about band jumping on lower priced network access points. Volume control is in the digital domain and since this unit uses an external power supply there is also the upgrade path of adding a linear power supply.
This is a great way to get an all in one bang for the buck streaming music player under $1000 with so many potentials for upgrades later if needed.