AXPONA 2016: I’ll take Manhattan. Brooklyn too.


axponaOne of the best rooms at AXPONA wasn’t a room, it was the marketplace…and not just because MusicDirect was offering killer deals on Mofi LPs nearby.  It was home to Mytek Digital who enabled me to hear the hot new MQA digital format for the first time.  Michel Jurewicz had brought in some fancy headphones, his Brooklyn and Manhattan DACs, a nice VPI turntable. Analog?  Yes, there is a phono stage now on board in the new offerings, taking moving magnet or moving coil.  I have not always enjoyed Michel’s displays at Rocky Mountain only because the room there was very noisy. The marketplace at Axpona was buzzing but not loud enough for some quality listening on some very nice Audeze headphones.  I got in some quality time over two visits with the new Brooklyn DAC.  Sure, I’d like to have the more upscale and even more beautiful Manhattan but it is a little beyond my means given a recent purchase of a preamp and phono stage.

The Brooklyn is a smallish metal box of similar dimension (8.5 x 8.5 x 1.74 inches) to the Benchmark DACs but it has a really gorgeous sculpted faceplate and a very high quality display.  Terrific product design.

Also important is the unit easily drives the more expensive Audeze headphones.  Here Michel had LCD-XC closed backs to listen to.  It’s quite a nice match in fact.  If you already have a high quality headphone, the Brooklyn might just be a nice exit off the audiophile equipment merry-go-round.  Ha! Who are we kidding here?  There will something else you want next year…like the Manhattan.

AXPONA coverage brought to you by Underwood HiFi, Exogal and Emerald Physics

The specs on the Brooklyn are impressive.  Conversion up to 32/384 in PCM. DSD to 256 DSD and DXD. Dynamic range?  130db.  Want a jitter-free experience?  Done. The Mytek Femtoclock Generator has just 0.82ps internal jitter.  Want power for the cans?  6 watts, 0 ohm impedance. The built-in volume control of a 1db step analog attenuator, a 1db 32 bit digital attenuator, and a purist relay bypass. Balanced option for headphones is possible with an optional Mytek adapter.  There is even an audio recording function so one can connect external sources like a CD player or ADC.  The unit weighs four pounds and comes with a two-year warranty.

I liked the “old” Mytek Stereo 192 but always felt it had a slight edginess to the sound.   Quite good but in need of an ounce of warmth.  The Brooklyn has the detail and accuracy of the Stereo 192 but is much more musical.  This is a really nicely done digital.

The sound was impressive.  I listened to a variety of regular and MQA tracks.  They sounded quite musical.  The voice of Sinatra was very realistic.  The glorious guitar and drum sound of Dire Straits well captured.  A Bob Dylan track was the best I have heard in digital form.  I would say the word that comes to mind was “natural”.   Cohesive across the bass to mids to the treble with a nice airy high frequency range.

MQA? It’s a new digital format that is all the current rage. Bob Stuart of Meridian fame has unleashed a new way to fold in the hirez content of a digital file via two steps: 1. an algorithm cleans up some of the transient smearing that occurs in the analog to digital process, and 2. they use some “musical origami” to fold a hirez file and all the necessary quality sound into a smaller file that is more compatible with limited bandwidth and a wide variety of devices.  I think the longevity of the format will depend on the music on offer over time, but the tech is pretty cool.  There was a noticeable improvement in sound when the MQA green light was on.

I’m very intrigued.  It seems to be a lot of sound for reasonable money.  Beauty and brains.  I asked Michel for a review sample.

About Lee Scoggins 118 Articles
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Lee got interested in audio listening to his Dad’s system in the late 70s and he started making cassettes from LPs. By the early 80s he got swept up in the CD wave that was launching which led to a love of discs from Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs. Later while working on Wall Street in the 90s, Lee started working on blues, jazz and classical sessions for Chesky Records and learned record engineering by apprenticeship. Lee was involved in the first high resolution recordings which eventually became the DVD-Audio format. Lee now does recordings of small orchestras and string quartets in the Atlanta area. Lee's current system consists of Audio Research Reference electronics and Wilson Audio speakers.