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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 lush/full albeit a tiny bit laidback. 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 wanted to add that the music seems more energetic when compared with the DACMini and especially the Benchmark.
As I mentioned before, I never put emphasis on the DSD capabilities of this DAC as I had little to none 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.
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.
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!
Edited by dukeskd - 12/14/12 at 3:15am