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One element of the Mytek presentation not as good as the rest of the frequency range is the midbass. With my large Harbeths I could tell that definition and selectivity here were below the higher frequencies. There's a slight emphasis to make it sound richer but it doesn't fit that well with the otherwise very coherent linearity. It seems that the DAC is responsible and the headphone amp just follows its lead. The converter is undoubtedly the better performer. Having said that I admit to spending most of this review with cans. DAC and head amp work together very nicely and really allow you to enjoy the music. This device does not always guarantee only pleasant sessions as I learnt the hard way listening to hi-res versions of Depeche Mode. Those were rather harsh and bright. But that was obviously the recordings' fault. The most expensive devices show up all the problems of a recording but thanks to extraordinary intensity of the presentation still can make them quite enjoyable. With the Mytek you'll have to turn down the volume a bit and then you can listen to any recording you want.

Summary. In the paragraphs describing my experience with DSD, I reported that this DAC accepts not only basic DSD but also DSD128. At first you might think there's only a small difference between them, less than between PCM 24/96 and 24/192. But the longer I listened the more significant this difference became. DSD128 offers an even deeper more delicate sound with even better microdynamics. The Mytek showed such differences off nicely. If there are technical imperfections in the recording you'll hear them without emphasis. That said its performance is clearly better with high-res files. CD-quality recordings sounded quite good but lacked the spark of 24 bits or DSD.

On functionality this box is amazing. Its performance via USB was as good as S/PDIF. Only the very few who prefer an even richer deeper sound with lower punchier bass might complain a bit. If not it will be very difficult to find a competitor in this price range that's equally neutral. The headphone port is good enough to forgo looking elsewhere unless you aimed for a Bakoon HPA-21 or Leben CS300XS. From the cans I tried the three best were Sennheiser HD800, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro (600Ω) and AKG K271 Studio. These offered the most accurate least colored truly high-end sound. I fed the Mytek from my HP Pavilion dv7 laptop with Win8, 8GB RAM, 128SSD + 520HDD with Jplay/foobar2000. Since I had some problems playing DSD I had to switch to a different ASIO driver for DSD64 and DSD128. That resulted in incorrect information about these files being displayed by the Mytek. I consulted with Marcin Ostapowicz of Jplay who remotely tried to solve the problem. I'd like to thank him for that. All users of JPlay can count on the same commitment from his end in case of trouble. But even Marcin was unable to force my Jplay installation to stream DSD via DoP. He told me that many of his customers own Mytek DACs and never faced similar problem before. Most likely my computer's configuration was to be blame. We'll try to get to the bottom of this in the near future.

I compared the Mytek directly to the ASUS Xonar Essence STU. One reference system combined a Bakoon HPA-21 headphone amp with Reimyo's new DAP-999EX Limited converter. I used an Acoustic Revive USB-1.0PLS cable. During my assessment I ran through most headphones in my collection: Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, Beyerdynamic DT-770 Limited Edition, Sennheiser HD800, HiFiMan HE-6 and HE-300, AKG K701, AKG K271 Studio and AKG K3003. Power was delivered with a Harmonix X-DC350M2R improved version. Analogue connections came from Acoustic Revive's RCA-1.0PA interconnects.

This was the second device where I tried a somewhat different approach to vibration control using a platform plus footers. I used the massive Acoustic Revive RST-38H platform (the smaller TB-38H version could also be used) and placed four Hickory wood cubes from Acoustic Revive on it which will be sold as the HQ-4 set. Since the Mytek isn't massive the Siltech Double Crown interconnect and power cord pulled it strongly back so I had to load it down with a few heavy books. My review was mostly a comparison against my reference system but also A/B'd against the all-in-one Naim UnitiQute2. I used 2-minutesmusic samples and also listened to full albums.

The Stereo192-DSD DAC sits inside a flat casing made of steel panels. The aluminium fascia is quite simple which makes it attractive. Most will notice the DSD logo right away. On the left side is a combo control for the pre-out and headphone volume plus menu navigation. Said menu affords filter choices, upsampling (in my opinion the Mytek sounds best without upsampling), volume modes, display brightness and such. Apart from the menu access button there are two more with assignable functions. I made the first into a phase switch and the second into a mute control. There is also a 6.3mm headphone port and mechanical on/off switch. In the middle a blue LED display shows volume level and sample rate. There's no information on word length however. The LED -based dancing VU meters below this display will be useful mostly to recording studios. They can be switched off.

The back panel offers RCA/XLR analogue outputs, digital outputs and plenty of options for digital inputs. There's 24/96 synchronous USB 1.1, 32/192 asynchronous USB 2.0, Toslink S/PDIF coax, AES/EBU and Firewire. The power inlet is a classic IEC. Two BNC sockets are a master-clock i/o loop. Interestingly Mytek advise against external master clocks, even atomic ones. That's not what Japanese audiophiles love to hear. Most of them seem to rely on external clocks from Esoteric, Phasemation, Antelope & Co. Mytek argue that any master clock placed at some distance always introduces some jitter. Using external clocks also involves more cable for more distortion. Here each user must decide.

Opening the case shows two different worlds adjacent in one space – an ultra-advanced digital module based on programmable chips; and a classic analog output section. Both benefit from an advanced power supply with toroidal transformer, with separate voltage regulators and filtering caps for each section. Next to the USB 1.1 input sits a Texas Instruments TAS1020B. All it would take for this to work in asynchronous mode is different software as written by Wavelength's Gordon Rankin. Here it works with native code. Next to it another larger chip handles the USB 2.0 input. AES/EBU sports an input transformer for impedance matching plus opto isolators. Coax eschews a transformer. Regardless of which input is active, the signal next meets a Xilinx Spartan DSP chip, then an Altera Cyclone III FPGA. Next to that is a TC Applied Technologies TCD2210 for FireWire comm. Upsampling isn't executed in any of this silicon but reserved for a classic AD1896 chip which upsamples all signal to 24/192. Two high-quality oscillators are billed as 10ps low-jitter clocks. A third clock sits adjacent to the 8-channel ESS Sabre in 2-channel mode. The analog module sports some defaced chips to elude identification. The headphone circuit is described as a high-current high slew-rate ultra low-distortion 500mA headphone amplifier.

Tech specs according to the manufacturer
Conversion: 32-bit PCM up to 192 kHz, DSD64, DSD128
Dynamic range: 128dB
THD (DAC): -110dB
Enclosure: 1U, half rack
Dimensions: 4.4 x 21.6 x 21.6cm HxWxD
Weight: 2.7kg
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