Matrix X-Sabre Pro DAC Review - Stream of Consciousness Prove me wrong, I've always said this. Despite my not favoring the ESS Sabre sound, the original X-Sabre was always the DAC that I recommended to others who asked. The OG X-Sabre not only equaled but in some cases massively outperformed the more expensive ESS Sabre based units (Benchmark, AG-D, Ressosonance, Mytek, etc.), with the added benefit of heroic construction (more on this later). I've been hearing a lot of good things about the latest ESS Sabre 9038 chip correcting a lot of the flaws of the older TOTL 9018? chips. At worst, the old Sabre sound could be described as having glaring and sharp highs, lows without any texture or pitch differentiation, and flat soundstage. Many of you know that with some exceptions, I was not exactly enamored with the sound of ESS Sabre based DACs. Could the Matrix X-Sabre Pro be the one to change that? Absolutely. I appreciate members' offers of various 9038 based DACs, but the one I really wanted to get my hands on was the Matrix X-Sabre Pro. This was based on my experience with the original X-Sabre and other Matrix products. I wanted to go with someone that I trusted (and sorry, A-GD was not a brand that I trusted) so that I did not waste my time. FWIW, I placed the X-Sabre Pro along with the Schiit Gungnir A2 Multibit on the volume matched blind test rig. Speakers were JBL 4698b with Eddie Current Studio Junior 300B prototype. The X-Sabre Pro outputs were actually a little hotter than the Gungnir's. This is something to keep in mind: make sure your amp's inputs will accept a hot signal. Impressions were actually blind per this: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/dac-blind-test-series.7518/ with the identity of the DACs revealed later. I took down notes on A or B DAC, although I would have to say that I was fairly obvious after some back and forth which DAC was which. The bottom line is that I wanted to continue listening to the X-Sabre Pro. You guys know that if I don't turn away in disgust after the first 15 seconds, it's at least got some merit. And that if I continue to want to listen, it's definitely worthy. What matters most is how a piece of gear connects emotionally and makes you not want to walk away or zone out to play Clash of Clans on my phone. OK, now check these pictures out! Yes, that's right. Now you guys know exactly why I refused members' offered AGD, Guzzard, etc loaners. Matrix is the only one crazy enough to fricking machine a chassis out of a solid block of aluminum. Do you guys know how much that would cost in the USA? Or even China? Not cheap. I am absolutely convinced this makes a difference in sound. Anyone who has played with overpriced www.orfas.org audiophile audio bricks, stones, feet, will understand how much these things matter. BTW, the power transformer is properly isolated with rubber discs top and bottom. No DIY efforts to install pieces of cardboard are necessary (this is an inside SBAF joke). To be continued... P.S. Thanks to Matrix (USA reps?) and @ChaChaRealSmooth in making this happen. This is an example of asking what you can do for SBAF rather than what SBAF can do for you.