Mytek Brooklyn DAC
Input: USB2 Class2 (OSX, Linux driverless, all formats), AES/EBU (PCM up to 192k, up to DSD64 DOP), 2x S/PDIF (PCM up to 192k, up to DSD64 DOP), Toslink/ADAT 2x S/PDIF (PCM up to 192k, up to DSD64 DOP), SDIF3 DSD up to DSD256, RCA line-level or MM/MC Phono
Output: unbalanced RCA, balanced XLR, 2x 3.5mm
Dimensions (W x D x H): 8.5 x 8.5 x 1.74”
Weight: 4 lbs
Availability: Authorized Dealers and Direct Online
The new Mytek Brooklyn DAC does not sport a slicked back undercut, big beard, skinny jeans, a plaid shirt, and tattoos. Wrong neighborhood. What this Brooklyn sports is a preamplifier, a DSD256- and MQA-capable DAC, two headphone jacks which can be paired with a 4 pin XLR to 2 1/4 inch jacks for balanced headphones, a freakin' phono input (MM/MC), and a sculpted aluminum front panel in black (for a touch of Brooklyn) or "frosty silver".
Turning your bits into waves is the ESS Sabre 9018K2M converter while a Mytek Femtoclock keeps internal jitter at 0.82ps according to the company. The volume control in the Brooklyn offers two options; a 1dB step analog attenuator, separate for main out and headphones, or a 1dB step digital 32-bit attenuator with a "bypass" option (bypasses all faders) for a purer path (in electronic terms). There are also 4 internal -6db gain jumpers to mate the Brooklyn's output level to your amp.
Like its predecessor, the Stereo192-DSD DAC which I've been using on my desktop for years (see review), Brooklyn includes filters for PCM (Slow- or Fast-Rolloff and Minimum Phase) and DSD (Auto, Lo - 47,44 kHZ IIR, Med - 60kHz IIR, Hi - 70 kHz IIR Filter) with firmware 2.1. When MQA is enabled, the PCM filter option is disabled and the Minimum Phase filter is engaged. For DSD, Mytek recommends the "Auto" option.
Front panel features, which involve using the 4 buttons and control knob, include input selection, volume control type, diode display brightness and color (lights up the logo), display (on/off/auto off), MQA Decoder (enable/disable), and a bunch more (see the Brooklyn Manual). There's a color coded MQA light in the display that lights up gray for MQA not found, Green for MQA valid, and Blue for MQA authored. That display can also be changed between two different views:
To my eyes, Brooklyn is more attractive than the Stereo192-DSD DAC but that's really up to you. They are pretty much identical in size, think skinny, and can fit nicely where full-size components can't squeeze. Multi-channel lovers can stack Brooklyns to feed their multiple channels but I'll leave those details to someone more versed in more-than-stereo (think Kal Rubinson. One other nice change from the Stereo192 DAC is Brooklyn doesn't require no stinkin' USB drivers for OSX. Fuggedaboudit.
I used the Brooklyn in my main system with the Ayre AX-5 Twenty/DeVore gibbon X and added my Rega P3/Denon 103/A23 setup into the mix for some analog goodness. My sonicTransporter handled Roon Server duties while the microRendu turned Ethernet into USB to feed Brooklyn's digital diet. I also spent time in Brooklyn on my desktop mated to the ADAM A3X speakers.
"In Brooklyn, if you say, 'I'm dangerous', you'd better be dangerous." Larry King
To say that the Mytek Brooklyn DAC is much more than a DAC is to state the obvious. To say that Brooklyn is about as all-inclusive as you can get in terms of taking in and giving out music is to say a whole lot more: Any flavor PCM, DSD to DSD256, MQA, and that freakin' phono input (or line level if you're not interested LPs) coupled to variable single-ended or balanced out plus two headphones jacks. The only other detail remaining is—how does it sound? Dangerous.
I think it's fair to say in a general way that Mytek DACs have a house sound. I also think it's fair to say that they've been refining that sound with each new DAC; first the Manhattan (see review) and now the Brooklyn. This refinement sounds to me like a bit less bite and more smooth. What remains is that sure grip on all frequencies, crystal clarity, and a tight sound image.
Paris, Texas. What better place to test a Brooklyn? I've loved the Wim Wenders film(s) too much; I can't watch Paris, Texas again because I can't stand the heat, loneliness, and pain. But I still love Ry Cooder's soundtrack, especially Harry Dean Stanton singing "Canción Mixteca" (I also loved Harry singing "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" in Cool Hand Luke but I digress). Ry Cooder slides all over his acoustic guitar with sounds accompaniment and it's all beautifully recorded. There's also some dialog from the film between Harry and Nastassja Kinski (Cat People meow) which is a very good test for a hi-fi since we all know what people should sound like when they talk. Brooklyn nails the important parts, especially those leading edges of Ry's guitar, and there's enough atmosphere and air to keep things relaxed.
If we compare Brooklyn to the MOON by Simaudio Nēo 280D DAC (see review), we hear some things that the are not as pronounced with the Mytek's sound picture; namely blossom and 3D space. The Simaudio DAC betters the Mytek to my ears in terms of a softer and more natural glow to music, making for greater emotional connection. However these sonic differences may very well be offset by features; a Brooklyn buyer is getting a lot of things the Simaudio DAC doesn't do. Like...
Freakin' phono. On AudioStream nonetheless. Before I was birthed, re-birthed?, as the Editor of AudioStream, I was known to spend some time listening to records (shh don't tell anyone, I still do). Seeing as digital did not exist when I was in my formative listening years, and I love music more than arguments, this should come as no surprise. For like-minded souls, having a phono input on a DAC is funny in a I'm-dating-myself kinda way and it's also a blessing. You see, there's boatload of music I own that only exists on vinyl and I want to be able to listen to it all. When ever I want. Seeing as a decent phono stage will run you a couple hundred bucks, and seeing as the phono stage in the Brooklyn is better than decent, I consider it a freebee.
Listening to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds newest Skeleton Tree spinning on the Rega was pure delight. While I did not spend too much time (wink wink) listening to my records through the Mytek, those records were well served. I'd imagine most people looking to buy a DAC and play their records will be more than satisfied on the vinyl front.
Which leads me to an interesting, yet not as interesting (for me), feature of Brooklyn; MQA. Since I've already gone through MQA in detail (see review), and I still have the same MQA-encoded music I had then, I'll just say that MQA encoded/decoded music sounds really nice through the Mytek. It sounds better than PCM and DSD, at least in the context of the limited MQA selections I have on hand. The way I see it, hear it, and think it, future-proofers (and I know there are some of you out there) will sleep easier knowing the Brooklyn does MQA. It remains to been seen if MQA's promise of content will be delivered (toss and turn).
The Brooklyn DAC drove the AudioQuest NightHawks to lovely levels of musicality. This combo actually worked really, really well as it imparted a full, rich, and musically sound sound. Of course which headphones will respond equally well, or better, or worse, is up to you and your cans. That being said, I see no technical reason for unhappiness.
Those looking to oust their preamp can rest assured that the Brooklyn can handle volume and control it to sonic satisfaction. Whether that means analog, digital, or digital/bypass, is a welcome choice worth having (I preferred analog for system use and digital bypass for headphones, YMMV).
A Spree Grows In Brooklyn
While I've sharpened my critical keyboard waxing over the sonic attributes of the Mytek Brooklyn—much-more-than-a—DAC, its performance dictates as critical a listen as any other DAC. That's to say that while some DACs at this price point pale in comparison to more expensive offerings, Brooklyn is dangerous.
Also in-use during the Brooklyn review: MOON by Simaudio Nēo 280D MiND