Stop N°2. Though narrower even than my petite s.m.s.l. SD9 transport, Mytek's depth well eclipsed it and that of Schiit's Jotunheim R. Going sideways came out ahead. Where the oaken desktop cubes had been control monitors designed by a studio owner, Raal-Requisite's SR1a now were their more ambitious off-ear headfi version. That expanded potential DAC differences by applying the highest resolution our crib can muster. Only parts racism continues to claim that Sabre DACs all sound the same. It flogs a desiccated dead horse. There's virtually always more to a component's final sonic profile than identifying a given part (or class of operation or other parameter). In this case I had a quasi desktop rerun. My vintage Auralic played iFi by proxy. Whilst not delving as deep into decays, it too stacked glossier colors within a more humid and tropical climate. Mytek's camp again set up in the cooler brisker north. Without iFi's real-time DSD resampling, the Vega didn't visualize space to the same extent. Still it was moister than the drier more damped and crunchy Liberty. These active speakers sound best on their digital input, the ribbons require a special amp. Tapping Mytek's 6.3mm socket with them or playing the Fram Midi 150 speakers with an analog signal wasn't on. But rolling converters between transport and Schiit's dedicated ribbon driver still told the story. The Liberty DAC II really was a 'control-type' component which wore its pro DNA with pride.

Its only unexpected twist was that a few Redbook tracks triggered Mytek's bit counter into skipping back'n'forth between 16- and 24-bit lights when bog-standard 16 bits were all the transport spit out. Meanwhile 24/88 and 24/96 source material displayed solidly as such as did most standard 16/44.1 stuff.

My final two pitstops on today's Mytek Mile would get financially unfair. Still, the dice roll with what one has: a Denafrips Terminator Plus upstairs, a Sonnet Pasithea downstairs. My inventory of €1'295 comparator DACs is precisely nil. Blame 20 years on the beat for having clawed their way up into the €5-10K league instead. Rather than waste pixels on what the Mytek couldn't do vs far pricier kit—what would be the point?—I wanted to explore how easily (or not) other listeners in similar boots might swap to the Mytek if circumstances arose. If done right, downsizing needn't hurt; or just a bit which is quickly forgotten. As Tommy our local concrete man said yesterday while floating a small foundation in our yard, "it's easy to forget that we Irish live like kings when so many people are displaced in refugee camps." Perspective is everything.

Interlude on perspective. For 2022, John Darko swore off further DAC coverage. Explaining why, he pointed at a door wedge. Its narrow end equals difference of low significance, its fat end au contraire. Relative to impact on overall sound quality, DACs live on the pointy end, digital filter options dance on its honed edge. With only so many hours in a day and weeks in a year, John felt his time best spent on fat-end kit for a change so speakers, amps, room correction and such. Backing up one layer, we see how primary system resolution sets between speaker and room. To maximize offsets between DACs thus demands the keenest transducers and optimal room integration.

In our digs we already crossed those bridges. Hello SR1a ribbons and DMAX Super Cubes. For raw resolution, it would be all downhill from there. That's because rooms, crossovers, multiple drivers and distance intrude as muckety-mucks; extra emphasis on muck. Now that lower resolution couldn't help but compress differences between our far costlier converters and today's challenger. In fact, Mytek's keen, controlled and crisp demeanor would cut through lower resolution with more not less alacrity. That would serve it better in my warmer upstairs system by giving the fat end of speakers and room greater front-end clarity to work with.

Breaking this assertion down one layer, we see that what DACs may do for tonal warmth and image density pales by comparison to what speakers will do with phase shift, through-cone reflections, box talk, bass boom, room reflections, driver inertia, nonlinear dispersion and more. Now we see wisdom in picking for our front end the most lucid and articulate component we can afford. It's because on those counts, it's all downhill thereafter (or disproportionately costlier). It's easier/cheaper to design a perfectly linear ultra low-noise high-resolution D/A converter than it is to design a matchingly high-spec powerful amp or full-range speaker. Is it not good sense then to go for absolutely minimal voicing and instead load up on maximal detail retrieval at the source? After all, whatever that misses can't be subsequently restored.

With that claim in place—feel free to disagree but I just set Mytek's table—we're ready for stops N°3 and 4.