Mytek HiFi Manhattan II D/A preamplifier-headphone amplifier Page 2

I want to share with you not what I heard from this CD, but what I noticed while listening to McDowell play "Shake 'Em On Down," a trance-inducing hill-country blues anthem by Bukka White. Unlike Chicago blues, which usually features guitar or harmonica solos, "Shake 'Em On Down" is groove-based. It begins with a hard-strumming boogie groove that carries the quickly mesmerized listener forward on a steam train of louder-harder-faster strumming, never slowing or backing off until it gently drops that listener off at its final destination. In "Shake 'Em On Down," the force and movement of energy are the poetic content.

Mytek's Manhattan II straightforwardly showed me every bit of that content. I could feel McDowell's fingers on the strings. I sensed his guitar's radiating surface. At several points, I noticed him lean a little harder into the rhythm. The pace and percussive force of his guitar reminded me of the distinctive West African heritage behind these country blues from the North Mississippi hills.

Listening to binaural MQA through headphones
These days, every audio person has an opinion about Master Quality Authenticated recordings, even if few have actually listened to their favorite music in MQA. I have no interest in and zero knowledge of the business aspects of MQA, and I only partially grasp the technology. But I've listened to a lot of MQA-processed material, and I believe it enhances the verity—and my enjoyment—of digital recordings. I think there's only one pertinent question about MQA's virtue: Does it make the playback of digitally encoded music sound more lifelike, or not? DSD and high-resolution downloads never sound completely right or real to me. MQA does.


Who knows? MQA may disappear in a few years. All I know is that Camille Thurman's new MQA-encoded CD, Inside the Moment (Chesky JD397), is the most lifelike, 3D-sounding recording I've ever heard. Featuring the tenor sax and voice of Thurman—with guitarist Mark Whitfield, bassist Ben Allison, and drummer Billy Drummond—this binaural recording of a concert at Rockwood Music Hall, on New York's Lower East Side, is outstanding among audiophile recordings because, all the way through, the band, the audience, and the listener at home all sound and feel as if they're in the same room. Plucked double bass, brushed and struck drums, and audience applause were all so hauntingly real that it was distracting. As I listened through headphones with my eyes closed, the air that vibrated around Chesky's binaural B&K dummy head as this concert was recorded felt as if it was vibrating around my head. The Rockwood audience was next to and behind me. In front of me, the band was tangibly present. The intensity of this experience of virtual reality compels me to ask: If you were contemplating the purchase of a new DAC, why would you not want it to include MQA processing?

Seven Samurai
Listening to CDs or PCM files through the Manhattan II, I discovered that it was best to disable MQA and its built-in minimum-phase PCM filter. With MQA enabled, PCM files and CDs sounded smooth and open, but maybe a little roundish and gray. But I didn't realize how important this was until after I'd carefully listened to each of the Manhattan's seven PCM filters


As you read these observations, keep in mind that each filter affects the signal damping and phase differently, causing varying degrees of timing and transient error, which in turn alter timbre and spatial cues. Because I trust the ears and A/D converters of Todd Garfinkle, founder of and producer of M•A Recordings, I verified the following impressions by listening to his recording of pianist Ito Ema playing J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations (CD, M•A M024A).

1) BRCK (Brickwall): My experience says that not all brickwall filters are created equal. The Manhattan II's BRCK filter didn't sound as digital as most, but was surprisingly fresh and lively. That said, it did try to turn Ito Ema's grand piano into a harpsichord.

2) FRMP (Fast Rolloff, Minimum Phase): Fast Rolloff seemed to sculpt musical images, while Minimum Phase tended to increase the amount of air around those images. FRMP sounded both easygoing and punchy.

3) SRMP (Slow Rolloff, Minimum Phase): A gentle, dreamy guy, I was inclined to like the euphonic character of this filter even before I heard it. Typically, Slow Rolloff removed the little bite of Fast Rolloff, reducing punch—but not enough to hobble the elegant drive and weight of Ito Ema's big Steinway. SRMP seemed more present and colorful than MQA's default minimum-phase filter. Mytek's execution of minimum phase generated additional spatiality, imparted a beguiling luster to upper registers, and made music seem more whole than the other filters.

4) SRLP (Slow Rolloff, Linear Phase): Sometimes, linear-phase filters make me feel that something is not exactly right. They have a less developed sound than minimum phase, but more drive. Mytek's SRLP filter sounded weighty and clear, but didn't develop the piano's full palette of harmonics and overtones.

5) FRLP (Fast Rolloff, Linear Phase): The FRLP filter almost matched the BRCK filter at turning Ema's Steinway into a harpsichord, while actually losing some of the BRCK's energy. The sound was strong and rhythmic, but distinctly artificial.

6) APDZ (Apodizing, Fast Rolloff, Linear Phase): Supposedly, apodizing reduces FRLP's pre-echo. Theoretically, then, the Manhattan II's APDZ filter should have sounded more easygoing than BRCK—and it did. Smooth rolling, it was still firm and quite businesslike, but in a music-enhancing way. I enjoyed the edgeless body this filter imparted.

7) HBRD (Hybrid, Fast Rolloff, Minimum Phase): With the HBRD filter I heard the enlarged space of minimum phase and the image sculpting of fast rolloff—but with a noticeably mechanical movement and tone. My feelings about this filter choice were mixed.


"That is nice."
When I first installed the Manhattan II in my system and began playing music over speakers, using the SRMP filter, I kept mumbling to myself, "Wow! That is nice. Damn!" I played Mantra, Karlheinz Stockhausen's pivotal 1970 composition for two pianos, performed by Yvar Mikhashoff and Rosalind Bevan with periodical ring modulation by Ole Ørsted (CD, New Albion NA025). The two pianists not only masterfully play their keyboards; they also perform on wood blocks, chromatic cymbals, and a shortwave radio that generates Morse code.

At this early point in my Stockhausen studies, I perceive Mantra as a sensuously pulsing, meandering, yet mathematically concise composition that must be visualized as much as heard. It requires a high level of pattern recognition. Forward momentum is easy to appreciate with the hypnotic blues of Mississippi Fred McDowell; it's even more captivating in a work such as Mantra, in which notes and sounds are separated by repeated silences of unpredictable duration. Imagine an invisible force strong and tangible enough to hold a listener's rapt attention during extended stretches of silence. Imagine a sensed energy that makes waiting for the next sound exciting.

Not only did the Manhattan II make Stockhausen's poetic silences come alive, it made the morphing and modulation of his 13-note mantra sequences and their inversions easier to comprehend. The Mytek let my mind rise and then look down on the musical stream, to observe the matrix of its notes and silences. More than the moderately priced Brooklyn DAC, the Manhattan II enhanced my ability to recognize and sort out musical unfoldings. With PrimaLuna's ProLogue Premium preamplifier and power amp driving the Stirling Broadcast LS3/5a V2 speakers that JA reviewed in 2007, the infinitely varied piano tones in Mantra felt real and satisfyingly organic. The Manhattan II delivered denser, more succinct piano tones than do the Brooklyn or Schiit Yggdrasil DACs. Also better than either, the Manhattan exposed the instruments' keyboards, soundboards, pedals, and Stockhausen's ring-modulator effects. The Manhattan II's transparency was like a pitch-black corner in deep outer space.


I didn't fully grasp the quality of the Manhattan II until I used it to listen to Fred McDowell's "Shake 'Em On Down" through Zu Audio Soul Supreme speakers driven by the ProLogue Premium preamp and Bel Canto Design REF600M monoblocks. I'd just listened to the CD through a friend's system with the same speakers, a lower-powered amp, and a different but equally expensive DAC. In my friend's room, the track sounded hard, shallow, thin—barely listenable. In my bunker, it sounded richly toned, dense, and soulfully engaging.

The combo of Mytek Manhattan II, PrimaLuna ProLogue Premium preamp, Bel Canto monoblocks, and Zu Soul Supremes put Mississippi Fred right there in front of me, his guitar and voice ballsily urging and communicative.

Against the Schiit Yggdrasil
Recordings played through Schiit Audio's Yggdrasil DAC, which I reviewed in February 2017, display a punchy, tight-bass vivo, natural tone, and conspicuous musicality. Schiit's reference DAC would be my reference DAC—if only it had MQA and emptier empty spaces. In contrast, Mytek's Manhattan II is the most transparent and grain-free DAC I've used.


The Yggdrasil makes "Red Book" CDs sound a lot like MQA. But real MQA, via the Manhattan II, delivered cleaner, stronger, more obvious versions of all the Yggdrasil's strengths. Compared to Mytek's own Brooklyn DAC, the Manhattan II made MQA recordings feel as if they were emerging from vaster, deeper, more silent emptiness. And silent vastness is what we audiophiles must always pay extra for.

The most conspicuous differences between the Manhattan II and the Schiit Yggdrasil and Mytek's own Brooklyn: The Manhattan II delivered music of greater transparency and image solidity, and generated a stronger force field that let instruments and voices stand out with greater physical presence.

Sing Hallelujah!
All I want from my stereo is an open door to the music on my recordings. I don't want to just peer in that door—I want to walk straight through it and sit down close, to grasp the full nature of their sounds in that space. I want a hint of reality. Mytek HiFi's Manhattan II DAC–preamp–headphone amp let me do all that. It's one of those rare, forceful beasts that realistically express the energy behind the music and proactively enable pattern recognition, doing so with beguiling ease and morgue-like silence.

It also sounded uniquely non-digital. Which is not to say it was analog-like, because that would be like saying that an apple was so good it tasted like an orange. Instead, the Manhattan II reproduced recordings in a manner that seemed devoid of mechanicalness or electronic artificiality. Class A all the way.

Mytek HiFi
148 India Street, First Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(347) 384-2687

tonykaz's picture

it's good to feel like I'm not the only one not paying 'needless' editors for everything I scribble.

People ( I work for ) will typically poke me with a sharp stick for this kind of fun stuff, I tell em that I wonder if they actually read the important content I send em'.

Anyway, thanks for reviewing this significant development in digital source technology.

Now I can confidently own a Polish Feliks Elise and Polish Mytek!

How about some Polish Loudspeakers and/or Headphones ( or are Sennheisers close enough? ).

Tony in Michigan

rt66indierock's picture

Herb you asked a good question. “If you were contemplating the purchase of a new DAC, why would you not want it to include MQA processing?”

You answered this question many years ago. “Choose components that have proven their worth and musical prowess over time.” There aren’t any MQA DACs that have proven their worth or musical prowess over time yet.

“I have no interest in and zero knowledge of the business aspects of MQA,”
I understand that. No audio journalist would want to talk about the MQA website receiving about 13,500 views in the last 28 days. A pretty good indication nobody cares about MQA.

Charles Hansen's picture

“If you were contemplating the purchase of a new DAC, why would you not want it to include MQA processing?” A few reasons:

1) Increased costs due to licensing fees and royalties at all post-production steps, none of which is passed on to the artist. All of this is detailed at:

2) Very limited number of titles from essentially only one provider. Real-world opinions range from MQA is clearly superior (to what?) to true high-res is superior to Redbook is superior. This is unsurprising as MQA reduces the file size through lossy techniques. Resolution is reduced to roughly 17 bits (the noise shaping used give a non-flat noise floor, so that the resolution varies in the audio band). The easiest place to hear this loss of resolution is in the infamous "whisper overdub" by Jim Morrison on The Doors track "Riders on the Storm". With the original 96/24 file transferred by Bruce Botnick several years ago for The Doors' box set, the whisper overdub is clearly distinguishable on a good system. On the MQA version it is more difficult to make out.

3) The original MQA comparisons were versus MP3. Recent comparisons *seem* to have become more reasonable, yet it has been proven that the MQA and normal releases of Donald Fagen's "The Nightfly" on Tidal have come from two different masters. Who knows what other kind of manipulations have been used in the MQA comparisons?

4) Closed, proprietary system that (if successful) puts an end to all future advances in digital filters.

5) Built in DRM (copy protection). Please see the case study from German security firm Utimaco at:

"A pretty good indication nobody cares about MQA." Yes. Which brings up the question - why are the two major US audio print magazines constantly promoting MQA?

John Atkinson's picture
Charles Hansen wrote:
why are the two major US audio print magazines constantly promoting MQA?

Oooh, I know the answer to that question, Charley, at least as far as Stereophile is concerned. It is because all of us at the magazine who have auditioned MQA recordings have been impressed by the sound quality.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Gumbo2000's picture

Gee John, you don't even have the slightest pretense of being impartial about this do you!

I hear the pasture calling you and it is not garbled by MQA.

John Atkinson's picture
Gumbo2000 wrote:
Gee John, you don't even have the slightest pretense of being impartial about this do you!

We report what we hear with MQA, just as we do with everything we write about. Why do think that means we are not impartial? What did you hear in your comparisons of MQA files with the original PCM files?

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

tonykaz's picture

I think you make valid points, as does that Linn person as well as a good many other industry folks.


the Listening public are anxious for a good solution to Digital.

The listening public are the 6 Billion who don't read comments from Industry insiders but buy iPhones and love music, who wouldn't even realize that they're listening to MP3 or Redbook or MQA.

I can make a solid argument for Mono !

Why do we need two identical Audio Systems to play music?


The Stereo philosophy dominates to the harm of the Vast majority who don't own a music system that images worth a hoot. How much added expense do they incur to have this useless feature? Imaging is a contrived quality that mostly doesn't exist in Live Music. ( I certainly don't feel it's the important quality of listening to a "Live" String Quartet ).

I get the impression that Mr.JA considers you to be a man of integrity, what you have to say carries weight but I doubt that you will ever sway the course of music reproduction's decision makers who think that Lincoln SUV buyers are far more significant customers than our little (tiny) Audiophile Sphere ( who still cling-to [and manufacture] 40 year old Vinyl stuff ).

Tony in Michigan

ps. if you're the Ayre people, congratulations for getting an A+ from JA.

RichT's picture

Why? Because they think it sounds very good, and I have to agree. On your point 5, authentication is different from DRM. There is no copy protection in what Ultimaco describe, merely tamper prevention.

Btw, whereabouts in the track is the 'whisper overdub'? I'd like to try that comparison.

RichT's picture

I read up about the overdub. I tried a Qobuz 24/96 download vs tidal. I agree that the 'whisper' is clearer in the 24/96 download, but on the other hand, the rain at the beginning is so realistic on the MQA version (on phones) that I instinctively had a powerful feeling 'it's raining' in reality - which the 24/96 version did not give me atall. I found the electric piano during the intro more realistic on the MQA version too, with greater percussiveness. But of course, I don't know if these are the same master or not.

Charles Hansen's picture

There is some good information (which it sounds llike you already found) on the "whisper" overdub at:

The difficulty in hearing the "whisper" in the MQA version is simply due to the loss of resolution from 24 bits in the original file to roughly 17 bits in the MQA version. ("Roughly" must be used because the noise floor of MQA files varies with frequency.) Once you hear the audible effects of MQA's measurable loss of resolution, one is left wondering "What other details am I missing on MQA fiels?"

All of other sonic difference you hear are due to the digital filters used, either when processing the file, or in the playback DAC (the "rendering" stage). Many DACs use the standard digital filters built into the DAC chips used, as this is the easiest, least expensive solution. At least a dozen manufacturers have developed custom digital filters that can achieve the same exact results as MQA's filters (should they choose), but they don't require a closed, proprietary system with licensing and royalty fees at multiple stages along the way.

As you point out, it is possible that different masters were used. They weren't in the file comparison I heard of The Doors' track, but one of the latest MQA releases is Donald Fagen's "The Nightfly". This is available on Tidal in "normal" and MQA format, but a different master was used for the MQA. Looking at track 2:

The sample rates differ, 44.1 kHz vs 48 kHz for the MQA version.
The MQA version is 7 seconds longer.
The MQA version is 2 dB louder, even clipping a few times.
The polarity of the MQA version is inverted.
The actual speeds don't quite match. In other words, they are not simply different digital downsamples from a common source.
The speed difference fluctuates throughout the track.

More at:

including an in-depth discussion of how the recording was made and how various transfers were made from the original recording.

As far as people "preferring" the MQA version of a track, it is well known that level differences of a fraction of a dB will create surprisingly strong preferences for the louder version, even for otherwise identical tracks. Obviously I think there is far more to sound quality than simple level matching, but a 2dB difference can hardly be considered a fair comparison, let alone using entirely different masters.

JL77's picture

"a 2dB difference can hardly be considered a fair comparison"

So true. When A/B'ing audio, anyone (including myself) can be fooled into thinking "B" is better than "A" simply by making "B" 0.2 - 0.3dB louder than "A" (known in audio as a "just noticeable difference"). If MQA performs any sort of level or loudness pre-manipulation whatsoever, or if MQA "A/B" tests are not properly matched with the original source (less than 0.1dB difference), then the test is psychoacoustically weighted in favor or MQA. I would not participate in an A/B test that I hadn't (1) first vetted for absolute level consistency and (2) assured "A" and "B" used the same (bit-accurate) source.

Herb Reichert's picture

...for reading my scribbles so carefully. I endevor to make statements that will not embarrass me too much in the future. Therefore, I thought and listened long and carefully before I made any public statements about MQA. I encourage every audiophile to do the same.

Meanwhile, I am compelled to ask, what DACs HAVE proven their worth and musical prowess over time?

peace and crickets
herb in Brooklyn

rt66indierock's picture

Your scribble like the “Search for Audio Tranquility” is very good summary of about a dozen sources of mine. But yours is better because it contains warnings about the damage bad audio decisions do to a person’s emotional well-being.

I’ll accept you have thought long and hard about MQA. But one of most interesting parts of the MQA launch is the difference between MQA Limited’s interpretations of who is a key opinion maker and who is an opinion leader. The theory of Diffusion of Innovation (how an innovation is adopted) has opinion leaders who are not seen as forcing something on people the way media or others selling a product are.

Once the media is seen as pushing a concept on people the media will be less influential. All the key opinion makers in the music industry pushing MQA are seen as having an agenda and therefore don’t have the expected influence. So a commonly used theory in business explains why MQA Ltd is having a hard time getting traction in the market. You can really have a problem if enough opinion leaders are against MQA. No matter what MQA sounds like it’s still about business.

Since you are compelled to ask if I think any DACs have proven their worth over time I don’t think so. There is too much change coming. But if you don’t like green circuit boards you really aren’t going to like it.

Finally here’s to growing crickets in Brooklyn. I was there last month but prefer the lightening bugs around Prospect Park. Take care

Herb Reichert's picture

That the world of digital is still evolving (after 35 years) is a very interesting point. (At least it's getting better.) Because analogue too is still evolving – except! By 1972, only 25 years after the invention of the LP, there were already many turntables that were declared “classics” by customers and cognoscenti. The majority of these classic record players remain highly regarded (and in service) and can play along with the best contemporary decks. The Thorens TD-124, the Garrard 301, the Technics SP-10, the EMT 927, and (of course) the Linn Sondek LP-12 are still making music in countless homes and studios (including mine). Can anyone name even one CD player or DAC that may be regarded as a “classic” – offering its owner the warm feeling of 'no need to upgrade'? Or is planned Obsolescence part of the digital marketing program? (Are there any 30-year old CD players I can still buy a transport mechanism for?)

michaelavorgna's picture

In my experience, and on a personal note, the totaldacs offer "the warm feeling of 'no need to upgrade'". I've also found that the importance of things like file resolution are diminished to the point of being beside the point when the DAC is musically satisfying. To put it another way, the greater the perceived difference between CD-quality and hi-rez on a given DAC, the less satisfying the DAC. Generally speaking.

I've never seen experience discounted with such silly 'explanations' as we've seen with MQA. But I'm relatively young ;-)

Michael Lavorgna

Herb Reichert's picture

Michael I am with you: "the greater the perceived difference between CD-quality and hi-rez on a given DAC, the less satisfying the DAC."

seems totally true to me too

Herb Reichert's picture

rt66indierock quotes me, You answered this question many years ago. “Choose components that have proven their worth and musical prowess over time.” There aren’t any MQA DACs that have proven their worth or musical prowess over time yet.

I ask now, what non-MQA DACs have proven their worth and musical prowess over time? Can we name any?

tonykaz's picture

JA and Stereophile's Staff have been rather consistent in demonstrating Integrity, haven't they?

Isn't that what it all comes down to ?, isn't it why we all read these people ?

Offffffff Course we can challenge their position and/or their thinking or what we may think of as their bias.

I've been around Consumer Audio since the early 1950s, Stereophile today is the best that Audio Journalism has ever been.

I read a wide range of Journalism, Stereophile passes the "Smell-Test" more consistently than most any Magazine/News Paper we're likely to find at our local Libraries ( including the NYTimes ).

Stereophile should be at all the Barber Shops in America!!

Tony in Michigan

ps. Jana's Video work is getting pretty darn good, that Analog Planet guy could take a lesson from her and hopefully get rid of his "Jiggle Camera" set-up.

Zwingli's picture

I wondered if you had a chance to use this as a preamp into your PrimaLuna power amp or Bel Canto monoblocks? I wonder if the magic is gone without the tube PrimaLuna preamp?


Herb Reichert's picture

has its own magic - I have loved it with every amp in the house but it can put 15V into an amplifier input so the Mytek's gain must be adjusted carefully in every application.

tonykaz's picture

Stoddard reports, on HeadFi, that Schiit will soon release a Record Player and also reports that he's never owned one personally. hmm.

Follow-up comments from readership are pointing out HR's thoughts about this Mytek DAC and it's desirability compared to the much vaulted Yggy ( which I've heard [Jude Mansela's] and don't think much of ).

Anyway, Schiit is trying to launch a Mechanical Device.

Seems wrong somehow, they're not a Mechanical type outfit.

Betcha they're buying something from Project or Rega.

Buying a Complete Analog System from a guy thats never owned a Vinyl System doesn't quite Pass the Smell test.

Or does it?

Reading the Schiit Story Page and all their "Followers" regular comments reveals a Cult type truth emerging : Schiit Followers are buying into the entire "Experience" they are evolving into "Shiit-Heads" & proud of it!

They need an entire line of Clothing & Accessories.

They're becoming ( or have become ) Alt-Audios: Making Analog Great Again!

Tony in Michigan

Charles Hansen's picture

I'm not following you Tony. The only connection I can see with the Mytek Manhaattan review is that HR liked both the Manhattan and the much less expensive Yggdrasil. You apparently are unimpressed with the Yggdrasil. Are we to then conclude that you would likely be equally unimpressed with the Mytek? Otherwise, why bring up a discussion of Schiit Audio's product plans in the comments for the Mytek Manhattan review?

tonykaz's picture

My point is satire.

The Schiit people are up in arms over HR liking the Manhattan more than the Yggy!

I personally own Schiit stuff and don't like their DACs.

I may have an incorrect view of DACs as I think they shouldn't make a contribution to the sound of the System. DACs are transducers not musical instruments. ( perhaps a fantasy concept )


DACs are being Sold as "sounding good".


I'm a little disappointed in Schiit going back to introduce Vinyl playback while clever digital people are surging forward into the 21st. Century with designs like the Kii Three.

Hence Schiit Satire from:

Tony in Michigan

ps. their Amplification is good

Charles Hansen's picture

You don't like the Yggdrasil, yet HR did. Is it then safe to assume that you would also not like the Mytek Manhattan? Or does that mean you generally don't agree with HR's reviews because you have different listening priorities? If the latter is the case I would assume that you pretty much don't trust his reviews and therefore would not trust his take on MQA either. Or am I missing something?

John Atkinson's picture
Charles Hansen wrote:
Or does that mean you generally don't agree with HR's reviews because you have different listening priorities? If the latter is the case I would assume that you pretty much don't trust his reviews and therefore would not trust his take on MQA either. Or am I missing something?

Herb did like the Schiit Yggdrasil, Charley, but he had not at that time auditioned either the Mytek Manhattan DAC or decoded MQA files. (He had auditioned the Mytek Brooklyn DAC and compared it with the Schiit in his review—see—but not with MQA files.) I think it fair to suggest that his tastes had evolved as a result of the subsequent experience.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

tonykaz's picture

You probably aren't missing something,

I didn't like Jude's Yggy, which might not have been run-in properly, might've been Cold or any other range of things wrong with it, I did love the Valhalla 2 sitting right next door ( Russian Tubes ).

Most folks write about loving the Yggy but not the one at that Ann Arbor Headphone Meet.

On HR, I like his storytelling. If I were still manufacturing Audio gear I'd love to have HR plugging my stuff into his world and him telling stories about his experiences. I'd be bragging about having my stuff in his system, who wouldn't ?, he's like Audio's Casey Neistat, he & Jana make wonderful video stuff.

I don't know if I'd like the Mytek stuff ( I'm listing heavily to gear like Genelec & Kii ) but thanks to HR & the Feliks folks on HeadFi and PrimaLuna's Kevin Deal I'm finally realizing that tubes are the easy way to great sounding amplification.

And now, JA gives Ayre an A+ for a little digital box, phew.

How are any of us supposed to properly audition this stuff?

In 1985, my Esoteric Audio had 9 Competing HighEnd Shops to hear stuff, today we have only a Best Buy Magnolia that mostly sells 4k Monitors and 5.1 !

On Trust

I've been in love with Meridian since 1982, I admire their Design Team and the Solutions they provide. I've also loved Electrocompaniet and ProAc loudspeakers, MH-750 Speaker Cables, Monster Cable's Product Line, Paul & Stan's PS Audio stuff, Art Ferris and Audible Illusions stuff, Thiel Loudspeakers and now I kinda love Schiit's Amplification ( Asgard2,Valhalla2 ). I trust Sennheiser.

And I trust that someone like Ayre will be supplying the world's 6 Billion population with quality music thru some download service and a pocketable HighEnd Music system that enables 'Everyman' the capability of enjoying Lang Lang's interpretation of Liszt Concertos.

Out of Civilization's 10,000 years of existence, we've had audio reproduction gear about 50 years.

We're just starting, we're just getting a bit of traction, we're just figuring out what we need and we're only beginning to figure out how to make it happen.

A hundred years from now they'll be say'n that in 2020 we were just coming out of the 'Dark Ages' , that we were storing our music in 'Oil', for gods sake!!!

On Sound Quality

I'll take a well done Recording in preference to A+ gear. Great sounding gear is a nice 'life' bonus!!

On Ayre

Thanks for being there and contributing, I hear that you are 'moving the needle' in things Audio. I hope to find your gear somewhere that I happen to be.

Tony in Michigan

Staxguy's picture

Really loving these guys speakers (Duntech Sovereign's) has me continually looking at the MyTek Brooklyn and Manhattan.

They really look beautiful, a bit of a cross between the gorgeous finish of Jeff Rowland and April Music's Eximus line. Great case!

Perhaps what I'm really wishing is that it had ADC's in-her, and included Earthworks's 1024 as well - with the screen, I'm really expecting an ADC device. :)

Reading the review on the new version, and the included Femto clocks, it has me excited: MSB's Femto 140 is $4,995, 77 $9,950, or 33 $19,900, so this MyTek really screams bargain.

And yet, when are DAC's going to have their "Manhattan Moment" and actually, commonly play 24-bit to full-specification?

At $1,400.00 USD, Hegel's HD12 has a noise floor of -145 dB, which would do it!

I'm not expecting a 32-bit noise floor or dynamic range, today, despite DAC's advertising themselves as being 32-bit, but a 24-bit one...

Ok, even my beloved Earthworks ZDT 1024 EIN (equivalent input noise) is a paltry - 132 dB or - 143 dB (like a Hegel SUPER DAC / Headphone Amp) at 20 dB and 60 dB of gain.

That's so 23.75 bit, but where is the MyTek? (MSB: -173 dB)

Just my 25c.

John Atkinson's picture
Staxguy wrote:
When are DACs going to have their "Manhattan Moment" and actually, commonly play 24-bit to full-specification? At $1,400.00 USD, Hegel's HD12 has a noise floor of -145dB, which would do it!

I very much doubt that the Hegel has a noisefloor at -145dB. I think that they are referring to the fact that the bins in an FFT-derived spectrum lie at -145dB. But this isn't the actual level of the noise. which is actual the RMS sum of those bins, which will be significantly higher in level.

For example, spectral analysis of a perfect 16-bit system's noisefloor results in FTT bins that each lie around -133dB. But the RMS sum of those bins gives the well-known figure for 16-bit PCM of -96dB.

The DACs that have the best dynamic range these days, like the Benchmark DAC2, have noisefloors around the 21-bit level.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

absolutperception's picture

Just took possession of the Mytek Manhattan ll after having a very good 8 month-long relation with the Brooklyn Dac and Tidal and their MQA masters.
Almost without any burn-in the MII delivers a superlative pleasure which is maximally heightened by the sudden appearance this weekend of a fairly large batch of favorite Universal titles in Tidal Masters.
The pro and cons of MQA have been much discussed, but when you hear it like this,throug a great DAC (and not a Meridian Explorer!) there is no doubt that it sounds wonderfully lifelike.
All the toxic sour grape sentiments from various worried DAC manufaturers can be understood in a commercial perspective. But have they really heard MQA?
In my practical reality Tidal, MQA and high resolution streaming has completed a revolution in the listening room. The very expensive vinyl rig can't really compete anymore with the steady inflow of limitless amounts of wonderful rich sounding music from Tidal with or without MQA.

Doctor Fine's picture

The impression I am getting from various reviewers who listen all day long to good gear is this:
MQA is like Dolby Noise Reduction for digital. It adds fidelity by working with the limitations of the medium (which in Dolby NRs case was the cassette format if you still remember those). And it IMPROVES the results by manipulating the parameters using what it has to work with.
Sort of like a COMPANDER used to do back in the stone age.
You know, EXPAND during playback that which was COMPRESSED during recording so that you wound up with a more EVEN fidelity in the playback chain. And increased liveliness was the result.
MQA sounds like one of these blindingly obvious ways to improve the RESULTS of digital.
As first implimented digital really drops the ball on anything that is less than loud as heck because these notes are not recorded at 16 bits because they are not LOUD enough.
They get maybe five bits.
On playback what would you EXPECT?
Dicital sound bleached out and wimpy compared to say---analog.
So here come MQA with a means to bring detail to low passages and improve the dynamic fidelity of all digital by increasing the contrast to a richer state.
What is wrong with you people that think this is not worth pursuing?
If it works even in a half arsed manner it just might add a ton of enjoyment to digital that was missing before.
Put me down for a Brookly product one or another whatever I decide to try out.

Gnib's picture

I would have loved to hear about the Manhattan as a preamp, e.g. directly connected to your Belcantos.

Reggy's picture

It doesn't take long to trust your gut on why this review spells bullshit, I can tell the reviewer is a little mad about the Yggy's comparisons left right and center on value-performance considerations across the audio world.

This guy says it all concerning the motives of this review if anyone would like to cross reference the validity here: ** ***

gpdavis2's picture

Many interesting comments (the 'silly' one preceding mine, notwithstanding). However, its is worth noting that MQA is always compared to other digital formats. How about the reviewers, who, I believe, all listen to vinyl, comparing MQA to same? Does MQA (or any digital format) best/equal vinyl? That ask, I see a Manhattan II (or very similar) in my future, even though I feel MQA is being "forced" on us. If folks at Stereophile show any bias, it is to things British. Unfortunately, MQA is.