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This review first appeared in the October 2013 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read it in its original Polish version here. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own articles, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity or Tannoy. - Ed

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacula
CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air V-edition
Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC
Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory Shilabe & Kansui
Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III Signature with Regenerator power supply
Power amplifier: Soulution 710
Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom
Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic + Acoustic Revive custom speaker stand
Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro 600Ω vintage, HifiMan HE6
Interconnects: CD/preamp Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, preamp/power amp Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo
Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx
Power cables (all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
Power strip: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate
Stand: Base IV custom under all components
Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under CD player, Audio Revive RAF-48 platform under CD player and preamplifier, Pro Audio Bono PAB SE platform under Leben CS300 XS
Review component retail in Poland: €1.499
To me Mytek is an interesting case study of successfully combining good engineering with a proper marketing strategy and a bit of luck. On the front of today's loaner and below the company logo it said Digital Audio Converters. This would soon change as they worked on a new logo. But the byline had a point. A/D and D/A converters are Mytek core products. It seems this company appeared out of nowhere making a lot of noise very fast. Halfway into 2010 I'd done a review of their Stereo96 DAC for Audio and this more or less coincided with their ascent to recognition and popularity.

The real breakthrough happened when Mytek released their Stereo192-DSD. A prototype was ready already 2 years ago and after 3 years of development. I'd then hoped at a quick chance to review it. But feedback from beta testers had Mytek decide to improve it further. Production finally hit a year ago. Whomever I talked to soon after, from Polish and foreign audiophiles to music producers and sound engineers like Dirk Sommer, chief editor of and owner of the sommelier du son recording studio, all spoke of this DAC as being capable of playing DSD signal very well. If you check the Japanese Stereo Sound magazine, photos taken in their readers' homes will show just how popular this device became. In every other system next to top high-end devices with price tags of tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, you will see the small inconspicuous usually black box from Poland.

And that's the thing I completely missed in the beginning. I'd noticed Made in Poland on the back of my review loaner but thought it an American company outsourcing production to our country to save on production costs. I was right but only partially. Polish engineer Michał Jurewicz founded the firm in New York in 2002. His first products addressed the professional market. Other companies we know in hifi went down similar paths – Bryston, dCS and Weiss Audio come to mind. Now add Mytek Digital.

What these brands have in common is their eventual decision to migrate pro-audio experience into home audio. Mytek converters worked during recording sessions of music stars like David Bowie, Lou Reed, Mariah Carey, James Taylor and B52 but also during a recording of Krzysztof Penderecki's music with the composer as conductor. It seems producers and sound engineers alike enjoy working with these little Polish decks. Another engineer from our country who had big success in the US is Andrzej Lipiński, owner of the Lipinski Sound Corporation. Many of his photos show Mytek in the background. Back to Jurewicz. In 2005 Sony hired him to design a DSD decoder. It's a well-known fact that Sony's involvement with the format didn't last long but the experience our Polish engineer gained whilst on their product allowed him to roll his own – the one I'm about to review.

There are three versions all priced the same and distinguished only by features. The Black Preamp version sports an LED-based VU meter on the front. The Silver Preamp doesn't. The Black Mastering Version does again but does away with the analog inputs in favor of SDIF twinned DSD inputs. For now this final version is used exclusively in recording and mastering studios. The fact that today's DAC converts DSD should seem near miraculous given how reluctant the Sony mothership was to originally allow it. Once Sony abandoned SACD, DSD signal transfer to outboard devices became possible. A January 2012 standard called DoP for DSD over PCM can stream native DSD files packed inside PCM containers flagged as such via USB. Later such streaming added S/PDIF and FireWire which Mytek currently both supports for DSD64. DoP is an open standard which anyone may adopt. The core protocol was created between Andreas Koch of Playback Designs, Andy McHarg of dCS and Rob Robinson of Channel D.

Amongst other information in the DSD Guide we learn that Jurewicz contributed to the development of the DSD standard. On March 8th 2012 an update to DoP added DSD128 with a sample rate of 5.2kHz. Since then one should find Jurewicz's name next to each subsequent revision. It also explains why whenever DSD streaming is mentioned, the name Mytek tends to come up sooner or later. His converter platform can also stream multi-channel DSD though it requires three units [ExaSound have one that does 8-channel DSD128 with one box – Ed]. Mr. Jurewicz must have made quite an impression on Sony as they use Mytek DACs for official multichannel DSD presentations.

A short chat with Michał Jurewicz.
Wojciech Pacuła: Who came up with the idea of the Mytek company? Where and when?

Michał Jurewicz: I founded Mytek Technologies in New York in 1992. I'd graduated from Warsaw University of Technology. After I left Poland and moved to the US I worked for two large now legendary NYC recording studios - the Hit Factory and Skyline Studio. My first commercial product was a multichannel monitor system designed and made for Skyline Studios. Later we developed a series of A/D converters which were built whilst still at Skyline to improve the quality of digital mixes. Most recordings by Mariah Carey, James Taylor, James Brown, The Chic, Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed and others were mixed with prototypes of Mytek converters. Later I focused all my efforts on my own company building converters for other large Manhattan studios. There were about 40 of those at the time. From 1995- 2000 Mytek grew steadily and all our production was in the USA.

What was the idea behind your company?
In the 1990s I'd worked with many extraordinary designers building new types of devices that had not existed before to improve the recording process. The main concept behind Mytek was always technological innovation for the recording production process and to preserve the highest possible sound quality. Eminent golden ears like Mark Levinson, Keith Johnson, Andrzej Lipinski, Walter Sear, Alan Silverman, David Chesky and many sound engineers were my constant inspiration to pursue great sound for top quality recordings which at the time was quite the challenge.