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Why did you move production to Poland? Who do you work with here?
Sometime in 2000 I started working with Marcin Hamerla, an electronics engineer from Warsaw. It was a period when many US companies moved their production to China. At first our cooperation was strictly design driven. Later I decided to move production to Marcin's company in Warsaw. I needed a partner who'd help me reduce production costs whilst guaranteeing properly high standards. I also needed a trusted design partner. When you work with Chinese companies you never really know whether they'll keep your IP protected or not. Mytek Poland today employs 20 people who manufacture our products. Marcin and Mytek Poland do a lot of design work including firmware for our machines.

How different is it designing a PCM decoding device from one that does DSD?
The main advantage of DSD is its simplicity. That results in sonic advantages. You might call it a very pure sound unspoilt by additional processing modules. DSD and PCM converters are usually based on similar circuits but DSD signal isn't processed by digital filters which are ubiquitous for PCM.

What are the main challenges a D/A converter designer must face?
There are two. The first one is about the constant innovations necessary to adapt converters to the evolving world of digital technologies and computers. This tends to mean new connections and ways converters are used in home and professional audio. The second is the permanent development of conversion techniques to achieve even better resolution and dynamics and higher and higher sample rates.

What is the upper limit of signal processing in terms of bits and fs.
It's hard to tell if there is any particular limit. Over the past 20 years there were many pronouncements about certain formats being good enough. That's what was said about 16 bits, then 20 and now 24. The current version of our DAC accepts 32 bits and we already know that it works best when fed 32-bit signal. The same goes for DSD. Not so long ago everybody thought it was a perfect format yet it sounds better at twice the sample rate (DSD128/5.6MHz) and even better quadrupled. Current technology already allows us to build D/A converters that can accept up to DSD256 data (FS=11.2MHz) and 32-bits PCM at 768kHz. Theories about human hearing limits at 20kHz don't factor. In our experiments we've already confirmed the usefulness of the new formats. We use new formats only if they sound better. We have learnt that very high resolution allows us not only to record at the highest quality but to diminish its degradation during the recording process. Novelties in digital techniques also implicate the development of analogue methods even though everybody thought these were already good enough.

On plans for the future?
The Mytek Stereo192-DSD-DAC was designed with two markets in mind: professional mastering and the rapidly developing PC home audio market. We will continue our involvement in both and try to build up our position. We plan on developing a new line for the hifi market and one for the pro market. All our future products should support DSD up to DSD256 and high-speed PCM.

Recordings used during the test: CDs - Black Sabbath, 13, Vertigo/Universal Music LLC (Japan) UICN-1034/5, 2 x SHM-CD (2013); Count Basie, Live at the Sands (before Frank), Reprise/Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 2113, Special Limited Edition No. 197, SACD/CD (1998/2013); Depeche Mode, Enjoy The Music....04, Mute, XLCDBONG34, maxi SP (2004); Et Cetera, Knirsch, MPS Records/HGBS Musikproduktion UG HGBS 20013 CD, (1972/2013).; Frank Sinatra, Sinatra at the Sands, Reprise/Sinatra Society of Japan/Universal Music Japan UICY-94366, SHM-CD (1966/2009); Mel Tormé, The legend of Mel Tormé, Going for a Song GFS360...

... Nat King Cole, Welcome to the Club, Columbia/Audio Fidelity AFZ 153, SACD/CD (1959/2013); Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come, Atlantic Records/ORG Music ORGM-1081, SACD/CD (1959/2013); Pat Metheny, What’s It All About, Nonesuch Records/Warner Music Japan WPCR-14176, CD (2011); Siekiera, ”Nowa Aleksandria”, Tonpress/MTJ cd 90241, 2 x CD (1986/2012); Wolfgang Dauner Quintet, The Oimels, MPS/Long Hair LHC59, CD (1969/2008)...

... hi-res files -
Opus3 DSD Showcase, Opus3, DSD + DSD128; Opus3 DSD Showcase2, Opus3, DSD + DSD128; Satri Reference Recordings Vol. 2, Bakoon Products, FLAC 24/192; Charlie Haden & Antonio Forcione, Heartplay, Naim Label, 24/96 FLAC; Dead Can Dance, Anastasis, Entertainment Group, PIASR311CDX, "Special Edition Hardbound Box Set", CD+USB drive 24/44,1 WAV (2012); Depeche Mode, Black Celebration, Mute DMCD5, “Collectors Edition”, WAV 24/48 (1986/2007); Depeche Mode, Delta Machine, Columbia Records/Sony Music Japan SICP-3783-4, FLAC 24/44,1, HDTracks (2013); Miles Davis, Tutu, Warner Brothers Records, FLAC 24/96, HDTracks; Nagrania z płyt DVD-R pisma “Net Audio”; Persy Grainger, Lincolnshire Posy, Dallas Wind Symphony, Jerry Junkin, Reference Recordings, HR-117, HRx, 24/176.4 WAV, DVD-R (2009); Yes, Close to the Edge, Warner Music, FLAC 24/192, HDTracks (1972/2007).

DSD68/DSD128. Why the fuss? The audio or better audiophile world witnesses extraordinary events from time to time - new ideas, new trends. These could be new formats, copy protection policies, new resale channels for music and more. These are the more important events. There many far more secondary blips on the radar often inspired by PR, marketing or sales people who push a particular model or line of products. The first type of event is essential. The latter is routinely quite the opposite. Usually there are no real benefits.

The real problem are the marketing guys who'd convince us that what they sell is essential. Fortunately the general market tends to eventually verify it and occasionally enforces positive changes. It's what happened in the 1990s with 'digital' amplifiers which in fact were regular amps with D/A converters and Toslink inputs. They didn't last long. Nobody took them serious. Yet they've recently made a comeback because designers changed their approach with now high-quality D/A converters build into preamplifiers and amplifiers. Plus the overall situation has shifted to digital sources where everybody needs a DAC. [The advent of PCM-to-PWM power processing chips also has made possible true digital amplifiers – Ed.] The same fashion trends can be spotted with exotic power transistors, centrally placed CD drawers, the supremacy of low-noise toroidal transformers and many other things. Some 'great' ideas vanish, some evolve into something other than what the marketing guys initially positioned.