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Mytek Stereo 192 DSD DAC/Preamp/Amplifier Review & Appreciation Thread

post #1 of 331
Thread Starter 

Introduction

 

The Mytek Stereo 192 DSD DAC is Mytek Digital's first official foray into the hi-fi/audiophile market. Mytek is not a regular name in the audiophile community and that's why you don't see this product discussed much here at head-fi. Mytek is a name known in the pro audio gear world, especially for the converters that occupy racks in many a studio in the past 20 years. Personally, I was looking for a DAC/amp for quite sometime and have experience with the Burson/CEntrance/Benchmark offerings. Please note, there are 3 versions of this product, 2 of them include the preamp with color differences (silver which has no led meter lights and a black version as shown in the picture below) and the other one is the "mastering edition" that does not have the preamp and includes SPDIF DSD inputs with price difference of $100. I have the black preamp version (MSRP $1695). I was really attracted to this DAC because of the DSD capabilities and the "hybrid" functionality that this DAC can offer for the pro audio enthusiast as well as the audiophile! Now, lets move to the specifications.

1000

Specifications

 

  • Conversion: 32bit, PCM up to 192k, 64xDSD, 128xDSD.
  • Dynamic Range: 128dB (ESS Sabre chipset in 8 mono to 2 stereo config.) THD DAC: -110dB.
  • Digital Audio Inputs: SPDIF, AES/EBU, Toslink all up to 192k single wire.

                                     (64xDSD and 128XDSD SDIF DSD interface on Mastering Version).

  • Clock: Internal Clock Generator (10ps jitter), Wordclock In and Out, or sync to incoming digital audio input with low jitter JET (tm) PLL.
  • Internal Async Hardware Upsampling- 16bit 44.1k etc. can be optionally upsampled prior to conversion to 192k/24bit with clock jitter eliminated.
  • Transparent, 1dB stepped programmable analog attenuator, separate for main out and head-phones.
  • Relay bypass of the attenuator for direct purist DAC out.
  • A pair of unbalanced RCA analog outs for preamp functions (assignable to volume control) (In
  • Preamp Version).
  • High Current, High Slew Rate ultra low distortion 500mA hi-fi headphone amp.
  • Worldwide user switchable linear power supply.
  • Online downloadable firmware updates.
  • Ability of converting standard digital audio inputs into computer FW/USB input.
  • Optional infrared remote (avail 2012).
  • Enclosure: Compact portable 1/2 rack space 1.72in H x 8.5in W x 8.5in D.
  • Weight 6 lbs.


User Menu Choices:

  • - Functions assignable to buttons: MUTE, PHASE INVERT, MONO, DIM
  • - Selection of clock choices
  • - Choice of upsampling or not
  • - Selection of slow or fast/steep filter for PCM
  • - Selection of 3 filters for out of band DSD
  • - Assignable input selection (display only active)
  • - Dimmable intensity of display/led meter

 

 

As you can see, the specifications are astonishing especially at this price range.

 

10001000

 

 

 

Review

 

I have been looking for a DAC for quite sometime. I went through the Burson DAC, later the Benchmark DAC1 and finally settled for a few months with the CEntrance DACMini CX. Now, I always knew the DAC was the weakest link in my chain. I primarily use the SPL Phonitor as my amplifier and the sound quality differences are easily distinguishable between the DACs. I also wanted a high-end DAC unit that came with a headphone amplifier incase I was travelling. The preamp feature won't be discussed much in this review.

 

Design

1000

 

I really love the design. I am always for the "professional" design and from the looks of this DAC, you can easily see that Mytek Digital's roots are in the pro audio equipment, no space is left unused and all the buttons are placed intuitively. In comparison the Antelope Zodiac looks like an art piece! The Mytek DAC is also very light and rack-friendly.

 

Features

 

Let's start with the most stand out feature: if you have been reading audiophile/hi-fi magazines, the DSD has been the hype for a time now. It is great to see that the Mytek DAC includes this, and according to the founder and principle designer of Mytek, Michal Jurewicz, the reason he wanted to add the DSD playback technology for this DAC is so that audiophiles can enjoy quality sound from SACD with cutting edge sound reproduction technology. At this price range, there are not many DACs that allow for native DSD playback and so this will be a huge plus for those who are looking for this feature (I wasn't at the beginning but more on this later). There are also numerous inputs ranging from Firewire, to asynchronous USB 2.0 and USB 1.1, which is very convenient for Mac/Windows users alike. You can also use this DAC as an interface to record with your DAW, which is very useful for me as a musician! There is an option of upsampling PCM, which could be your cup of tea.. or not. I say you have to experiment until you get the sound you want, and upsampling can always help in that quest. You can customize playback from sharp to slow of PCM, and the cut off for DSD playback (50, 60 and 70). The firmware of the DAC is updateable by firewire when bug fixes and new features are added by Mytek Digital. All these features add up-to a really customizable DAC that show the hints of the pro audio background of Mytek.

 

The Sound

 

First off, I was never a believer that a DAC could make much of a difference in the sound, but boy was I wrong when I added this DAC to the chain. The bass come out with extreme tightness, control and quality that I never heard before. The instrument separation deepened with my HD800s and soundstage became enhanced. The treble reached all the highs you'd ever need without any color added, and the mids were full. The sound outputted by this DAC is definitely high-end. The overall sound is very neutral and exquisite. Nothing added, nothing subtracted from the original recording, it is how it was meant to be. If the recording is bad, it will be bad, if its good, then marvel in its greatness. I also want to add that the music seems more energetic (PRaT anybody?) when compared with the DACMini and especially the Benchmark.

 

Revelation

 

As I mentioned before, I never put emphasis on the DSD capabilities of this DAC as I had little to zero experience with SACDs. However, one night I decided to download a few ISO SACDs and lo and behold, the sound evoked from this little DAC was fantastic! I heard things I never ever heard before, as all of you know that with the HD800s this comes with the territory but I couldn't believe how much there is to actually listen to! The first recording I loaded was Norah Jones' Come Away With Me, and I am very familiar with the songs since it was released nearly 10 years ago, but what I heard was an absolute surprise to me. I highly recommend this DAC for this feature alone.

 

Headphone Amplifer

 

The amplifer of the Mytek Stereo 192 DAC is capable of driving my HD800s/LCD-2s to great heights. However, I still prefer my Phonitor but I could live with the amplifer included in this DAC, and again the strong point is most definitely the bass region. The PRaT of the amplifier is neutral not enhanced at all, and the treble very neutral. The mids region are as lush as the DAC output.

 

Conclusion

 

This dac/amp/preamp could be a pricey addition to your setup but I insist on trying it out and hearing how beautiful this DAC makes music. The DSD feature is a welcome innovation for me and I am utilizing it as I write this article. If you have a chance to trial this awesome device, do it.

 

duke


Edited by dukeskd - 5/30/13 at 4:19am
post #2 of 331

Great review! Looks like an interesting DAC and I hope to hear one, and it's nice to see some talk about something different than the few DAC's that everyone always seem talk about. 

post #3 of 331
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swatcsi View Post

Great review! Looks like an interesting DAC and I hope to hear one, and it's nice to see some talk about something different than the few DAC's that everyone always seem talk about. 


I totally agree and that's exactly why I went for it! gs1000.gif

post #4 of 331
Thx for the review. In the past it's been a real toss up between the Mytek DSD DAC, Eximus DP1, or Fostex HP-A8C (DSD ready awaiting drivers from Fostex) & there's been very little reviews & especially comparison between the three. To make matters more interesting Chord Electronics threw in the Qute DSD DAC into the mix.

I'm coming from a Benchmark DAC1 Pre & trying to find a decent successor to it. I have approx 300-400 DFF/DSD tracks so the DSD support is very welcome.

Any further opinions you're able to shed will be very appreciated.
post #5 of 331
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnakChan View Post

Thx for the review. In the past it's been a real toss up between the Mytek DSD DAC, Eximus DP1, or Fostex HP-A8C (DSD ready awaiting drivers from Fostex) & there's been very little reviews & especially comparison between the three. To make matters more interesting Chord Electronics threw in the Qute DSD DAC into the mix.
I'm coming from a Benchmark DAC1 Pre & trying to find a decent successor to it. I have approx 300-400 DFF/DSD tracks so the DSD support is very welcome.
Any further opinions you're able to shed will be very appreciated.


Yes I would love a comparison thread, but I will settle with the Mytek for a long, long time. I think that this DAC would be a really great successor for your Benchmark, if you were living in the USA you could trial it for 30 days from Mytek with "no questions asked" return.

post #6 of 331

Thanks for the review. This is one unit I've had my eye on as well.  I think DSD does have a future in computer audio so a DSD capable DAC makes sense for me.   I'm wondering if the Preamp version has anything to offer me, since I'm just interested in using the Mytek to play native DSD files to my tube preamp, I probably only need the mastering version. I can't see any need to have the analog inputs.  


Edited by No Disc - 8/12/12 at 1:45pm
post #7 of 331
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by No Disc View Post

Thanks for the review. This is one unit I've had my eye on as well.  I think DSD does have a future in computer audio so a DSD capable DAC makes sense for me.   I'm wondering if the Preamp version has anything to offer me, since I'm just interested in using the Mytek to play native DSD files to my tube preamp, I probably only need the mastering version. I can't see any need to have the analog inputs.  


DSD is definitely the future, as its the next level in sound reproduction. Isn't that the quest of all the people at head-fi?

post #8 of 331

Sounds like a very good dac/headphone amp,good review my friend!


Edited by our martin - 8/28/12 at 3:59am
post #9 of 331

If anyones after a turntable the clear audio concept turntable is the best bang for your buck turntable you can buy! If you can pm me how many times i have just said turntable i will give you one free out of the shop for christmas! Ok brunk has won a clear audio concept turntable thanks!


Edited by our martin - 8/24/12 at 9:55am
post #10 of 331

I tried to compare SACD (2ch DSD) & CD (lossless pcm 16/44.1) version of Depeche mode. No difference.

post #11 of 331
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloodykot View Post

I tried to compare SACD (2ch DSD) & CD (lossless pcm 16/44.1) version of Depeche mode. No difference.

 

Any idea what the original master is on DSD? I'm unfamiliar with Depeche Mode's recordings. Talking to some recording engineers, more "modern" (no idea when that cut-off time was) masters made on digital are more likely, but not always, on 48kHz. Only the older masters are done on 1/4" (analogue) tape.

 

To be honest, quite a few of my SACDs and CD equivalents, the improvements on SACDs are "slight" by my standards - i.e. I'd have to listen well to hear the difference - they're not exactly night 'n day. These are mostly the older late 50's/early 60's West Coast jazz, and some fewer modern (namely "Yo-Yo Ma") SACDs compared to their CD counterparts. But I continue buying/ripping backup SACDs 'cos they're available - shallow, I know.

 

Today I did try the Mytek 192-Stereo DSD and April Music Eximus DP-1. I must say after listening to both, I find the Mytek to be a tad warmer between the two. I had problems with hi-rez FLACS 96/192kHz via optical (iBasso DX100) and could only sample my 44.1kHz and lossy 320kbps AACs of my source. I did sample the demonstrator's DSD tracks off his notebook but was unfamiliar with his tracks so hard to really comment.

 

For some reason though I have a tendency to lean more towards the Eximus DP-1 over the Mytek DSD as it seemed somewhat more detailed. But for one track/album, the DP-1 was very unforgiving to bad recordings - namely Bill Evan's Waltz for Debbie. I could hear -every- crackle as though the DSD was ripped from a vinyl or something (which isn't in reality...it was a live recording) and that was so distracting I couldn't concentrate on the music. That was the only exception. For my other albums, the DP-1 felt smoother and more pleasing to my ears than the Mytek DSD - naturally, this is comparing PCM <-> PCM, since the Eximus DP-1 doesn't do DSD.

 

Another I tried was the Chord Electronics QuteHD and QBD76HD. They both sounded very good and detailed but they're DAC only - so the external amp (of which I forgot the name). I'd consider the QuteHD quite seriously if it weren't for it's output which is unbalanced-only. Whereas the QBD76HD has a lot more options, it's also 5x more expensive.

 

In short, if I take the DSD factor out of the question, I'd personally lean towards the Eximus DP-1. OTOH, if I do take DSD into consideration, I'd personally choose the Mytek DSD for it's features (balanced output, multiple input, etc.) but would pick the Chord QuteHD for its SQ (but very limited input/output options).

post #12 of 331
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnakChan View Post

 

Any idea what the original master is on DSD? I'm unfamiliar with Depeche Mode's recordings. Talking to some recording engineers, more "modern" (no idea when that cut-off time was) masters made on digital are more likely, but not always, on 48kHz. Only the older masters are done on 1/4" (analogue) tape.

 

To be honest, quite a few of my SACDs and CD equivalents, the improvements on SACDs are "slight" by my standards - i.e. I'd have to listen well to hear the difference - they're not exactly night 'n day. These are mostly the older late 50's/early 60's West Coast jazz, and some fewer modern (namely "Yo-Yo Ma") SACDs compared to their CD counterparts. But I continue buying/ripping backup SACDs 'cos they're available - shallow, I know.

 

Today I did try the Mytek 192-Stereo DSD and April Music Eximus DP-1. I must say after listening to both, I find the Mytek to be a tad warmer between the two. I had problems with hi-rez FLACS 96/192kHz via optical (iBasso DX100) and could only sample my 44.1kHz and lossy 320kbps AACs of my source. I did sample the demonstrator's DSD tracks off his notebook but was unfamiliar with his tracks so hard to really comment.

 

For some reason though I have a tendency to lean more towards the Eximus DP-1 over the Mytek DSD as it seemed somewhat more detailed. But for one track/album, the DP-1 was very unforgiving to bad recordings - namely Bill Evan's Waltz for Debbie. I could hear -every- crackle as though the DSD was ripped from a vinyl or something (which isn't in reality...it was a live recording) and that was so distracting I couldn't concentrate on the music. That was the only exception. For my other albums, the DP-1 felt smoother and more pleasing to my ears than the Mytek DSD - naturally, this is comparing PCM <-> PCM, since the Eximus DP-1 doesn't do DSD.

 

Another I tried was the Chord Electronics QuteHD and QBD76HD. They both sounded very good and detailed but they're DAC only - so the external amp (of which I forgot the name). I'd consider the QuteHD quite seriously if it weren't for it's output which is unbalanced-only. Whereas the QBD76HD has a lot more options, it's also 5x more expensive.

 

In short, if I take the DSD factor out of the question, I'd personally lean towards the Eximus DP-1. OTOH, if I do take DSD into consideration, I'd personally choose the Mytek DSD for it's features (balanced output, multiple input, etc.) but would pick the Chord QuteHD for its SQ (but very limited input/output options).

Thanks for the comparison! I do agree that the Mytek DAC has a hint of warmth that is evidently there, especially when comparing with the clean-cut Benchmark DAC1. I have to be honest, it is a bit unfair comparing the Mytek DAC with the Eximus DP-1, since the Eximus's price is twice the MSRP and therefore it has better components, etc. I think no one can argue the Mytek DAC's versatality factor, and since it has so many features and at this price range. As audiophiles, we're used to exaggerated prices, be it for cables or DACs/amps, and personally its refreshing to see this functionality at this price range.

 

Back to the discussion about the DSD vs FLAC. The differences are there, and they are huge if you're listening on an optimal system and with your "inspection ear" turned on, you will hear them. Every mastering engineer will agree to this since the SACDs are the closest rips to the studio mastering tapes. I have the SPL Phonitor as my headphone amp and its reputation as an inspection tool is true to the word so perhaps if you really want the benefit of DSD playback, your whole chain has to be of that notion.

 

Anyway, I am looking for more input on this DAC from the community so if anyone owns it, please post your impressions! If anyone wants to read more on the Mytek DACs including the more expensive 8x192, the forums @ gearsluts have a lot more professional reference and comments.


Edited by dukeskd - 8/27/12 at 4:23pm
post #13 of 331
Quote:
Originally Posted by dukeskd View Post

Thanks for the comparison! I do agree that the Mytek DAC has a hint of warmth that is evidently there, especially when comparing with the clean-cut Benchmark DAC1. I have to be honest, it is a bit unfair comparing the Mytek DAC with the Eximus DP-1, since the Eximus's price is twice the MSRP and therefore it has better components, etc.
[snip!!]
And that's my dilemma, since in Japan, the Eximus is -cheaper- in Japan than Mytek - USD$2546 vs. $2941. Yep, the Mytek is almost double of what it sells in US :-( but it's modded to suit JP's 100V/50Hz.
post #14 of 331
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnakChan View Post


And that's my dilemma, since in Japan, the Eximus is -cheaper- in Japan than Mytek - USD$2546 vs. $2941. Yep, the Mytek is almost double of what it sells in US :-( but it's modded to suit JP's 100V/50Hz.


Then that truly is a dilemma, Can you explain why the Mytek is so much more expensive? Is it because of the importation or component upgrades?


Edited by dukeskd - 9/2/12 at 10:47pm
post #15 of 331
Quote:
Originally Posted by dukeskd View Post


Then that truly is a dilemma, Can you explain why the Mytek is so much more expensive? Is it because of the importation or component upgrades?

 

Well for one, in general anything that comes from overseas is just "automatically" more expensive (e.g. ALO Audio Rx Mk3 is $650 vs $920 in Japan). I've imported stuff directly before and it's not always import taxes (which usually is minimal). So I guess labour, bricks 'n mortar.

 

Secondly, specifically for the Mytek, I believe the distributor has specifically asked Mytek Digital to produce Japan-specific models for the 115V -> 100V PSU. SQ-wise, he told me that the local Japanese ones sound "warmer/involving". I have heard only the Japanese version and it is warm-sounding, but never heard the 115V version as a comparison. But not worth the $1400 price difference.

 

If mini 115V -> 100V stepdown converters exist, this could be cheap option. Then only have to worry if the 60Hz -> 50Hz difference matters or not.

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