Mytek Reboots With All-New Audiophile Product Lineup
- Product Name: Liberty THX AAA Headphone Amplifier, Liberty DAC II, Liberty Phono Preamp, Brooklyn Power Amp+, Brooklyn Bridge II, Manhattan Bridge, Manhattan Amp, Empire Streamer DAC, Empire Monoblocks
- Manufacturer: Mytek
- Review Date: August 02, 2021 00:35
- MSRP: $1,495-Liberty THX AAA, $995-Liberty DAC II, $1,495-Liberty Phono Preamp, $2,495-Brooklyn Power Amp+, $3,495-Brooklyn Bridge II, $6,995-Manhattan Bridge, $5,995 & $6,995-Manhattan Amp, $19,995-Empire Streamer DAC, $9,995-Empire Monoblocks
- First Impression: Pretty Cool
If you’re familiar with Mytek’s popular Brooklyn and Manhattan DACs, it probably won’t surprise you that the company is based in New York City, where Mytek’s president, founder, and chief designer Michal Jurewicz got his start in the pro audio world, working in recording studios. In April of last year, Jurewicz even pledged to donate 10% of all Mytek sales toward fighting the pandemic in NYC. But you might not know that the bulk of Mytek’s manufacturing takes place in Poland, and for years has been conducted under the supervision of a company called HEM Electronics, which also acted as Mytek’s European distributer. Last year, Mytek split from its longtime collaborator, amid accusations of various “dubious business practices of Mr. Marcin Hamerla, owner of HEM , spanning the last 3 years.” Having lost confidence in HEM, and with the Covid-19 pandemic further complicating business as usual, Jurewicz took the opportunity to reboot his company, discontinuing all consumer audio products and planning a fresh start that would include refreshed versions of its existing products, alongside an all-new flagship series catering to those with higher budgets. Mytek is currently on track to deliver 9 new and updated products by the end of 2021. Production of the flagship components is taking place at Mytek's facility in Brooklyn, and the rest of the line moved to a new, larger factory in Poland last summer. Lest there be any confusion, Mytek has made it clear that “HEM Electronics is no longer representing Mytek, nor are they involved in any way with Mytek business.” For the new streaming DACs — including the updated versions of the Brooklyn and Manhattan — Mytek has developed an all-new product platform, based on Roon OS and Linux Audio.
Moving forward, Mytek will be offering products in four distinct product series, each with its own stated raison d’etre. At the most affordable end of the price spectrum is the Liberty series. Components in this series are designed to provide a single function — a phono preamp, for example — while offering more advanced features and better performance than similarly-priced units from other brands. These compact, desktop-friendly designs are just 5.5 inches wide, less than 9 inches deep, and only 1.74 inches tall. The Brooklyn series will continue to serve as the audiophile’s Swiss Army knife, combining a large number of functions, each implemented to a very high standard, into one surprisingly small (half-rack-width) package. Moving up the line, the Manhattan series aims to offer what Mytek describes as “genuine high-end audio performance that has been consistently recognized as ‘best in class’ across the globe.” Until this year, the Manhattan was Mytek’s top offering. But now the new Empire series offers “extreme state-of-the-art performance through a cost-no-object implementation of numerous cutting-edge technologies that most of the competition can only aspire to,” according to Mytek. Some of the company’s unique, designed-in-house technologies include the new Linux-based Mytek OS Platform (which will be used in all three Mytek streaming products), and the “revolutionary Mytek GanFET Power Module for amplifier output stages, using ultra fast Gallium Nitride FET transistors,” which will be employed in the power amps in the Manhattan and Empire series. For a quick overview of all 9 products in Mytek’s 2021 lineup, read on.
Liberty THX AAA Headphone Amplifier, $1,495
First up in Mytek’s “one function” Liberty range is the Liberty THX AAA Headphone Amplifier, which sells for $1,495 and should be shipping by the time this article is published. As its name suggests, this all-analog headphone amp features THX’s Achromatic Audio Amplifier technology, and is rated to deliver up to 6 watts(!) at < 0.1% THD. The amp leverages THX’s highest-performance THX AAA 888 circuit, which features the company’s patented feed-forward error correction circuit topology, allowing the amplifier to “reach its maximum output power rating while exponentially reducing noise and distortion levels… unlike the competition where increased output power is typically accompanied by proportional amounts of noise and distortion,” according to Mytek. The company expects the amp to be used both by audiophile headphone enthusiasts and by sound engineers in professional audio environments.
Liberty DAC II, $995
The Liberty DAC II aims to offer high-end digital-to-analog conversion, with performance on par with that of the Brooklyn DAC, but without all of the Brooklyn’s other functionality. The $995 Liberty DAC II uses an ESS ES9038 chip with an on-paper dynamic range of 127dB, handling PCM up to 32 bit/384 kHZ, and DSD up to DSD256. It also features a built-in MQA decoder. In addition to its balanced and unbalanced line-level outputs, the Liberty DAC offers Mytek’s “reference high-current, high-transient” headphone output, delivering up to 3 watts of power for hard-to-drive headphones. With an output impedance of just 0.1 ohms, the Liberty should also work well with in-ear monitors. Unusual for DACs in this price range is the Liberty DAC’s hefty power supply, featuring an oversized 60W linear toroidal transformer with automatic voltage switching. Like the Liberty THX AAA Headphone Amplifier, the Liberty DAC II should be shipping by press time.
Liberty Phono Preamp, $1,495
Mytek describes the upcoming Liberty Phono Preamp ($1,495, shipping in late June) as a “reference” moving-coil and moving-magnet preamp with nickel step-up transformers and a built-in headphone amp. The phono stage was designed “though explorations of the most accurate microphone studio preamp circuits,” and is based on the (optional) phono stage inside the Manhattan DAC/preamp. The low-distortion nickel core audio transformers used in the moving-coil circuit provide 20dB of noise reduction compared to solid-state phono stages, according to Mytek. They also add what the company calls a “desirable hint of transformer sound,” contributing to the Liberty Phono Preamp’s “dynamic, transparent, detailed, and honest” presentation. The preamp features 3 RCA inputs for 3 separate arms/turntables, and dual, simultaneous preamp outputs on RCA and XLR. The built-in headphone amp is comparable to the one in the Liberty DAC II.
Brooklyn Power Amp+, $2,495
The first component in the new Brooklyn series is the Brooklyn Power Amp+, a compact stereo amp that Mytek describes as “small enough to fit in a briefcase, yet powerful enough to drive the largest speaker systems.” How small exactly? It’s a very tidy 8.5 inches wide by 8.8 inches deep, and just 1.74 inches tall. How much power can Mytek cram into such a small chassis? The dual-mono design can deliver an impressive 250 watts per channel into 8 ohms, 300 into 4 ohms, and 400 into 2 ohms. If that’s not enough juice for you, the Brooklyn Power Amp+ can be bridged into mono-block mode, producing 500 watts into 8 ohms, and 600 into 4-ohm loads. Mytek calls the the new Brooklyn amp, which uses modified class-D modules from the Danish company Pascal A/S, “Fast Class-D.” A fast 650kHz clock extends bandwidth, while fast FET transistors retain the low-level detail and soundstage, and contribute to what Mytek calls a “triode analog-like quality” to the sound. The Brooklyn Power Amp+ is shipping now.
Class-D amplifier topology is based on one very sound principle. If class-D topology is realized perfectly, the amplifier transfer function would be a straight line, meaning the amplifier will be perfectly linear with zero distortion. The challenge is to get the output square wave as close to an ideal square as possible. When this is accomplished, the unit not only sounds better, it is also more efficient.
Brooklyn Bridge II, $3,495
The latest version of Mytek’s Brooklyn streaming dac is the result of a major redesign, and now includes a built in Roon Core, combined with the all-new Mytek OS. In order to use Roon, you typically need a separate server to act as the Roon Core. This can be a ready-made, dedicated device, such as a Roon Nucleus, or a DIY solution using an Intel NUC. Alternatively, you can run Roon on a Mac or Windows PC. But somewhere on the network, you need a pretty powerful server to crunch the numbers and connect to Roon’s powerful online database of metadata. With Mytek’s new streaming DAC platform, all of that takes place inside the DAC itself, and a separate server is no longer needed. Roon’s interface can be operated via the Roon Remote App, or from the Mytek Web Interface using any device connected to the network. The Brooklyn Bridge II is a fully-functional multi-room playback machine, serving up audio to various Roon endpoints around the house. It also works with Apple Airplay, Google Chromecast, and DLNA. The DAC itself is built around the ESS ES9038 chipset, with a built-in hardware MQA decoder and Mytek’s Femtoclock Generator with 0.82ps of internal jitter. True to its Swiss Army designation, the Brooklyn Bridge II also has a built-in analog preamp with line-level, MM phono, and MC phono inputs. The relay-controlled preamp section includes both analog and digital 1dB-step volume attenuators, as well as a relay bypass to deliver the purest line-level signal to a separate preamp or integrated amp. The built-in headphone amp delivers up to 6 watts of power, via either of the two headphone jacks. The Brooklyn Bridge II is expected to ship in July 2021.
Manhattan Bridge, $6,995
Also shipping later this summer is the Manhattan Bridge, which replicates the Roon Core and streaming DAC functionality of the Brooklyn Bridge II, but with higher audio performance across the board. The DAC is built around the ES9038PRO chip, accommodating PCM up to 32 bits/768 kHz, and DSD up to DSD512. The built-in preamp has both RCA and XLR inputs, with a high-performance phono stage as an optional extra. The analog inputs are routed through a short, minimalist signal path to a state-of-the-art analog attenuator, and then directly to the analog and headphone outputs, according to Mytek.
Manhattan Amp, $5,995 or $6,995
Details are not yet available for the Manhattan Amp, which will sell for either $5,995 or $6,995 when it ships later this summer. (Mytek’s original press release from earlier this year lists the price as $6,995, but the website currently says $5,995). Either way, we do know that the amp will have a form-factor to match that of the Manhattan Bridge, at approximately 17 x 14 x 2 inches. The dual-mono design will feature Mytek’s proprietary GanFET power module circuit.
Empire Streamer DAC, $19,995
The first product in Mytek’s new flagship Empire series is the Empire Streamer DAC, which sells for a substantial $19,995, and is available to order now. (The first 25 sold will include additional extras and will sell for a discounted price of $14,995.) All Empire Streamer DACs will ship with a dedicated aluminum suitcase (do people plan to travel with these things?) and an iPad for control. Mytek humbly describes the Empire as “a marvel of engineering” and “most likely the best DAC ever made.” The rather striking design includes a custom-milled aluminum chassis containing components of the highest, cost-no-object quality, according to Mytek. The company has designed the Empire to be upgradeable, so all internal parts are easily accessible. The device contains no moving parts, such as fans, which are prone to failure over time. Instead, the CPU is cooled by aluminum “heat pipes,” which are part of the chassis lid, all milled from a single block of aluminum. The DAC uses a pair of ES9038PRO chipsets in dual-mono, fully balanced configuration. The DAC board is 100% isolated from computer/EMI noise in a Faraday cage, with its own dual-mono linear power supply and galvanic USB isolator. The Intel Core i7 CPU boards can be easily swapped out for faster chips in the future, as can the internal 8-terabyte SSD storage. The Mytek OS platform also allows for software upgrades to deliver new functionality and performance gains to be released throughout the life of the product. Mytek already has plans to deliver a version 3.0 of the software during the 4th quarter of 2021, which will enable some yet-to-be-announced “a la carte” hi-res DSP features. (Room correction, perhaps?)
Empire Monoblocks, $9,995 each
Expected to ship by the end of this summer, the $9,995 Empire Monoblock amp is just 8.5 inches wide and 3.5 inches tall, but will deliver 500 watts into 8 ohms, and a remarkable 1000 watts into 4 ohms. At the heart of the Empire Monoblocks is Mytek’s newly-designed, proprietary GanFET Power Module, which uses the newest range of ultra-fast Gallium Nitride transistors, paired with a large, low-noise linear power supply. Thanks to the unique behavior of these transistors, distortion resulting from transistor switching is reduced by magnitudes, according to Mytek. This allows for “very gentle negative feedback, and triode-like behavior of the output stage transfer characteristic.” As a result, the amp reportedly produces silky highs and tube-like mids with a 3-dimensional sound stage. At the same time, Mytek claims that the amp offers up all of the “tight bass, control, and dynamics of a large transistor amplifier.” The Empire Monoblocks have a selectable gain of either 23 or 29 dB, to work with a variety of preamps.
For more information about these upcoming products, check out Mytek’s official corporate website, www.mytek.audio, which has also undergone a significant update to reflect the company’s new direction and product lineup. The website also offers continued product support for, and information about, many of the now-discontinued models from Mytek’s past.
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