The Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ is a high-end digital-to-analog converter that has been designed to meet the needs of audiophiles and music professionals alike. It is an improved version of the Brooklyn DAC, with additional features and enhancements to deliver better performance and sound quality.
The Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ was introduced in 2017 and had a retail price of around $2,295 USD when it was last in production a couple years back, (without the SBooster power supply, which adds around $450 to the price).
At first glance, the Brooklyn DAC+ is a nicely crafted device with a sleek and modern design. The front panel features an adequately sized, high-resolution display that shows detailed information about the current playback status, input source, and volume level. The rear panel is packed with a range of connectivity options, including USB, AES/EBU, S/PDIF, and Toslink inputs, a pair of RCA inputs, as well as balanced and unbalanced analog outputs and word‑clock (in and out) on BNC connectors to allow synchronisation in multi‑channel applications.
One of the most impressive features of the Brooklyn DAC+ is its ability to handle a wide range of digital audio formats, with two coaxial S/PDIF inputs (which also double‑up as separate left/right SDIF inputs for a hardware DSD source), optical S/PDIF (Toslink), AES3, and USB 2.0. There’s also word‑clock (in and out) on BNC connectors to allow synchronisation in multi‑channel applications. All the standard PCM formats can be accommodated up to 32‑bit/384kHz, plus the three most common DSD formats, DSD64, DSD128, and DSD256 along with the MQA ‘master quality’ file format.
The Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ is equipped with a versatile phono input that can accommodate both Moving Magnet (MM) and Moving Coil (MC) cartridges. This input is a great addition for vinyl enthusiasts who want to enjoy their vinyl collection with high-quality digital playback. The MM/MC input on the Brooklyn+ DAC has two settings: one for MM cartridges and the other for MC cartridges. MM cartridges typically have a higher output voltage and require less amplification, while MC cartridges have a lower output voltage and require more amplification. The Brooklyn DAC+’s MM/MC input is designed to accommodate both types of cartridges, with selectable gain and impedance settings to optimize performance.
The gain settings on the Brooklyn DAC+’s MM/MC input range from 36dB to 66dB, with increments of 6dB. This allows users to adjust the input sensitivity to match the output level of their cartridge, ensuring optimal performance and minimizing noise and distortion. The impedance settings range from 47k ohms to 1k ohms, with increments of 50 ohms. This allows users to match the input impedance of the cartridge for optimal loading, which can have a significant impact on the sound quality. In addition to gain and impedance settings, the Brooklyn+ DAC’s MM/MC input also features a selectable subsonic filter to reduce low-frequency rumble and a selectable high-pass filter to remove rumble from warped records. These filters can help to improve the sound quality of vinyl playback and reduce unwanted noise.
This MM/MC input on the Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ is a versatile and powerful tool for vinyl enthusiasts who want to integrate their vinyl playback into a high-quality digital playback system. With its adjustable gain and impedance settings, selectable filters, and high-quality analog-to-digital conversion, the Brooklyn+ DAC’s phono input is a valuable addition to any audiophile’s setup. Though I’m impressed with this being a feature of a relatively affordable DAC, it isn’t something I’d want or need in my system, so as of the time of writing, I have not tested this feature to establish how it performs.
A noteworthy inclusion on the Mytek are the pair of headphone jacks. This alone would give it a leg up on many competitors in the under $3K pricerange, but since I do not own and operate cans I’ll make no further comment.
The Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ Setup and Operation
There’s nothing quirky about the Mytek Brooklyn DAC+, the display is adequate and intuitive and allows for full configuration and ongoing operation without the need for the supplied Apple remote. Connectivity is straightforward, unless you have heavy/beefy interconnects, which can cause this fairly light unit to tilt backward on the rack.
I set up the DAC initially by pulling the Gustard X16 DAC from the system and inserting the Mytek in its place using the same cabling. I used a DH Labs USB cable to connect from the Lumin U1 mini, Harmonic Tech silver RCAs on the output to the Veloce Audio LS-1 linestage, and DH Labs Spdif to connect to the digital output on my old OPPO BDP 93 universal disc player. I use the OPPO for the occasional SACD but mostly for playing Blu-ray discs with the projector and pull-down movie screen.
Since I purchased the Brooklyn DAC+ with a 12v Sbooster power supply I decided to use that throughout this review. At some point, I may pull the Sbooster and try the Brooklyn DAC+ with its AC-connected option, if so I’ll add any comments at the end. The SBooster was powered from one of two PS Audio P10 regenerators in my system (one for power amps, one for everything else), using an ESP power cord.
The Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ Sound Quality
I gave the unit about an hour of warm-up time before settling down for a listen. It’s a used unit with plenty of use, so break-in wasn’t a concern. Initially, I found the sound of the DAC to be very open and detailed and with good stage depth and width, but very much on the bright and lean side of the spectrum, certainly compared to the less expensive Gustard X16 that it had just replaced. It delivered a more detailed presentation but at the expense of some warmth and what I’d generally term ‘musical engagement’. As the listening session progressed, the sound began to flesh out more and everything took on more depth and more body, so clearly, this thing needs some warm-up time from first plug-in, even when fully broken in.
Over the course of several hours, the sound quality of the Brooklyn DAC+ blossomed and began to deliver music with a more natural and detailed presentation that was both musically satisfying and engaging. The device has a very low noise floor and excellent dynamic range, which allows it to extract a lot of detail and nuance from the music. The bass is tight and punchy, while the midrange is rich and textured, and the high frequencies are clear and extended.
On my second night with the Brooklyn DAC+, after having it powered up for around 24 hours continuously, the DAC had clearly settled down and was now taking things in its stride. Playing the DSD version of Friday Night in San Francisco, the 1981 live album by Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía the performers appeared more recessed on the stage than they had via the Gustard X16, or, in other words, the listener’s position in the hall is pushed back more from the front row to a mid-hall perspective. This is generally a presentation more appealing to me, I prefer the soundstage to evolve from the front plane of the speaker and then to push backward, rather than to project out into the room forward of the speakers. With this recording, particularly via DSD, it can sound a little lean, a little hard, and almost a bit too dynamic in a sense. I think the Mytek presentation of this DSD recording is borderline in that regard. The Gustard X16 sounded less dynamic, a tiny bit less detailed, yet perhaps a little more pleasing to listen to overall. Some cable experimentation helped tame the Mytek’s rather forward and aggressive presentation. Switching from silver RCAs to Bogden Audio copper RCAs helped a little, but further experimentation will be necessary.
With 44.1/16 tracks played back via an 8tb Seagate USB storage plugged into the Lumin U1 mini, most well-recorded music came through exceptionally well. With PCM, gone was any digital harshness and most vestiges of brightness. Playing the ripped CD of Abdullah Ibrahim’s ‘Cape Town Revisited’, this mesmerizing album showcases the pianist’s incredible musicianship and deep connection to his South African roots, and the Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ captured the pace, rhythm, and timing of this recording quite impressively.
The piano on track 2 – ‘Someday Soon Sweet Samba’ has weight and body and exceptional tone, and the percussive riff driving the track along is clear and crisp with a great sense of rythmic pace. The upright bass can sound a little muddy on this track if things in the playback chain aren’t working with synergy, but with the Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ bass notes are clearly defined with great pitch and definition.
I would imagine many people would migrate toward the Brooklyn DAC+ due to its ability to handle MQA files and decoding, but, since I’m not a streaming guy, I can’t really pass comment on its MQA performance. Perhaps someday I’ll live in a part of the country with hot running water and internet access, until then…
I’ve name-dropped the Gustard X16 DAC here and there in the above review, mostly due to the fact that it’s the unit I pulled to make way for the Mytek. The Gustard is a really great sounding DAC for the money ($500 new), and has an even more impressive spec than the Mytek when it comes to handling hi-res digital files, including MQA. Of course, it does not have the ability to use headphones, nor act as a MM/MC phonostage, as does the Mytek. But side by side (almost) they have a similar presentation. The Gustard is a little warmer, a little fleshier, while the Mytek has a tad more detail and transparency. If I were just interested in the playback of digital files, and ultimate sound quality, and price were a factor, (isn’t it always), I think I’d shoot for the Gustard X16. Were I planning to replace a linestage with a DAC (as both can do), then I would definitely go with the Mytek, given its input versatility. If I was a headphone user/wearer, then obviously it would be the Mytek. But for basic digital file playback within an established 2-channel system, I would opt for the Gustard X16 solely on the basis of its slightly warmer and more pleasing musical presentation.
CAH April 2023