Stop N°3. Most important ingredients here were the solid-wood sound|kaos Vox 3awf monitors with paper/AlNiCo custom small widebander, upfiring Raal ribbon and laterally opposed carbon woofers crossed at 40Hz/4th-order to Dynaudio's force-cancelling 2 x 9.5" sealed subwoofer. By design, the rear-ported Vox 3 is tuned very different than the active single-driver sealed Slovakian control monitors on my desktop. Its V-twin woofers then set up omni dispersion higher in the band whilst the ribbon uses the ceiling as deflector. This produces gorgeous tone. It also had me opt for a passive magnetic preamp for volume and Goldmund's Job 225 for power. In the same amplifier vein Crayon's CFA-1.2 then Enleum AMP.23R would sound progressively more refined. Yet I favor how the Swiss amp's greater cutting power best complements the speaker's play of the room. It's also why the SD-card source clock-slaves to the Terminator Plus DAC and streams data via I²S over RJ45/CAT8a. It milks a few more resolution points from the flagship Denafrips. Dropped into this tuned context, Liberty II's leaner/cleaner personality mildly improved overall system resolution. Yet in no way did this fade tone-color coverage or image density as values dominated by the speaker/room interaction. Liberty II simply caused a small quickening or tidying up.

On its own the Denafrips is unquestionably fuller and warmer. But such phrasing reflects audiophile myth-information at its most egregious. 'On its own' is pure miss. Except for a streaming active speaker fed by a wireless digital signal, no component makes sounds on its own. To formulate an educated guess at a component's self sound relies on copious triangulations to track how its insertion changes many different systems. Having just done this for the Mytek across three stops, I already knew that its accuracy, control and damping incurred none of the often related timbral thinness. Where the Raal headphones and desktop control monitors had shown Liberty II's gravitas, weightiness and fullness to be lighter than resident comparators, they'd not heard/seen any more simplistic or washed-out color palette in trade. Neither did the sound|kaos/Dynaudio 2.1 system. DAC II obviated advantages a Terminator Plus might press in a leaner/thinner far more lit-up system. In the above, desired sonic materialism is built in by my choice of transducers. The DAC's chief job is as broadband detail provider. Any additional enhancements are secondary or tertiary to the dominant speaker/room balance. What's more, they're easily counterproductive to overall intelligibility. The undeniable upshot? For my ears, Liberty II slotted into this upstairs system even better than the resident machine, did so at 4.5 x less wallet wring, bolted on headfi with remote volume and performed without any exotic tricks like clock-sync or I²S data transfer. Zero pain for downsizing but actually a small gain. Sometimes that's how the cookie comes together.

Stop N°4: from halcyon days to hulkian daze? Setting up the laterally challenged Mytek on the downstairs Artesanía rack took a well-used cutting board from the kitchen. That's because the narrowest possible footer setting of the shelf-less rack wasn't sufficiently narrow. Then one of the fat-barrel Allnic power cords behind the rack wouldn't clear the DAC II's coaxial input jacks to seat. A generic cord from the utility closet took the spot. For a more secure perch then, one of Artesanía's mass dampers added top-deck weight. Ready. Had certain audiophile kingmakers past Stop N°3 already stooped low in the wings to declare the li'l Mytek a giant killer, Einstein's law—it's all relative—intruded now. That's because on raw resolution, focus, contrast ratio and microdynamic range, Cees Ruijtenberg's €5'900 Pasithea upstaged it. Even Liberty's damped trait was outshone by the more fluid Dutch. Yet in more general terms, now it was students from the same sonic school which had met up. Pasithea with the privileged upbringing was its A-level graduate with honors, Liberty DAC II from the rougher 'hood more middle of the pack. Given price discrepancy, that's what you'd expect had you invested wisely and system-matched keenly. Listeners with this kind/level of system would recognize the gap, many soon get over it. Some wouldn't. Occasionally that's how the cookie crumbles.

Now I found Michael Lavorgna's review. In it he concludes much the same to point at surprisingly concentrated color fullness. That matched my primary takeaway: groomed for resolution just not at the expense of properly variegated timbre intensity. Being far more familiar with like-priced competition than I, Michael then attached a Favorite DACs award. Shazam. Bigfoot or Sasquatch is a myth. But living on a big foot for a smart budget isn't. One just must be properly informed and selective.

Variegated timbre intensity in action: many different hues of blue yet none that are washed out. They're all strong and vibrant like the Liberty DAC II.

Small but potent. Multi talented. Smartly styled. Built well. Backed by 30 years of design experience in the field. The rebooted entry-level DAC from Mytek v2. I don't see what's not to love. At Stop N°3 in fact, this could easily become Mytek.