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RMAF 2017: Mytek Digital – I’ll take Manhattan II

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Mytek Digital had prime real estate near the tower elevators at this year’s RMAF. I wound up stopping by for a more lengthy time finally on Sunday when things were a little less crazy and owner Michal Jurewicz and Chabon had more time. There were a lot of new products to discuss and Stereophile’s Michael Lavorgna of Audiostream fame was gracious enough to let me sit in on a discussion with Michal talking about all the recent developments from new products to MQA work for Bob Stuart. Michal is one of the top talents in digital, and with his playing a big role in MQA’s launch, he has been quite busy.  In fact, there were really four products from Mytek worthy of discussion, all fairly new.

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Manhattan II

I’ll take Manhattan II

Let’s start with his flagship DAC, the Manhattan DAC.  Now in “II” form, this device retails for $6,000 USD and for another $1,000 USD can be upgraded to MQA/Roon capability. Michal continues to refine lots of the internals for better sound but prior owners can upgrade via a board swap. The capabilities are impressive.  Clocking is done by Mytek’s femtoclock technology and is claimed to push jitter and noise to below measurable levels. Formats include the very highest-resolution formats including 11.2Mhz DSD and 32bit/384khz PCM.  You will see in the photo below that there are two large power supplies, one each for digital and analog.  This lowers crosstalk and noise. The optional network card sets up a “Roon ready” device and offer DLNA/UpnP.

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Separate Analog/digital power supplies in new Manhattan II.

This device is where I spent the most time over the weekend’s listening.  It is very natural sounding with very low distortion.  It sounds superb on either phono (a phono card is an option) and it’s built-in preamp capabilities seem well engineered.  This new trend of using a DAC as a preamp makes a lot of sense to me from a value for dollar standpoint.  Of course, Mytek regularly has a nice VPI table on display for listening to records.  In my experience the phono card is quite good.  On the digital front, the MQA and Roon capabilities seem a necessity at the Manhattan IIs price point and Michal and Chabon had built a “guerilla” Roon endpoint using routers and some web connections atop the hotel.  There may have even been some duct tape involved.  In any event, it sure worked well.

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I want to say a word or two on how beautiful this device looks.  The Manhattan II has the hammered steel look that is quite breathtaking. All three color choices of Black Matte, Silver Frost Matte, and Gold Silver looked magnificent.  But the details are quite impressive. There are “arrow buttons” recessed into the front finish and yet they align perfectly with the undulations of the hammered-like finish.  Very beautiful to use and look at.  On the back of the Manhattan is pretty much every input and output an audio geek could want.  Perhaps Michal’s background in pro audio is guiding such versatile design decisions.  The inclusion of two analog inputs makes for solid use as a line stage, bringing the user’s ROI on the DAC even higher.  There are three adjustable gain settings for those using the Manhattan’s headphone capabilities. Very beautiful looking and very beautiful sounding.

Noble-RMAF-2017 940 x 300

RMAF 2017 coverage is proudly sponsored by Noble Audio.

I’ve got a palate for a Clef

Michal has taken a little longer to bring this to market given the intricate plastic work details from the curvy edges but it is imminent as plastic moldings are now in the initial stage.  Expect shipment around CES. Who doesn’t want Mytek sound in a portable device for $300?  How do they keep the price down? Design in Brooklyn, build in China.  I cannot hear what he can do given the sound quality of the Brooklyn DAC for the money. It supports DSD, 32/384 PCM, and MQA decoding.  The headphone amplifier offers 2.2 VRMS output and 1.0 ohm impedance.

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Brooklyn Plus

A newer version of the Brooklyn is out now too.  A nice redesign, Michal has upgraded the chip set from the ESS 9018 to the 9028 Pro providing lower distortion.  The new box also has better left-right separation and beefed up headphone capabilities.  Or as Michal says, “it can go deeper with lower distortion.”  I thought it sounded excellent. Fully capable of using as preamp, the Plus has 1db step analog attenuator and covers a wide variety of digital decoding including DSD256, 32/384 PCM, and MQA file formats on Tidal. Internal clocking is superb with the Mytek Femtoclock Generator offering a scant 0.82 picoseconds of internal jitter. Both RCA and XLR outputs are available. Inputs include SPDIF, USB, AES/EBU, and Toslink. One of my favorite features in a colorful, high resolution front display with a mode that shows Left and Right channel meters. Very cool.

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Brooklyn Amp

Also in the same “half-width component” form factor is a new 300 watt Class D amplifier for an affordable $2,000 USD. To design this, Michal built a test bench where he could “A/B” many different types of existing Class D modules.  He then did a lot of custom work to get the best possible sound.  Unfortunately,  I only saw this on static display but I am curious what Michal has done given his obvious pride on the design work.  I will say the casing is gorgeous and the fit/finish look top rate.  It has the same “crinkled, hammered finish” as his other products and looks quite stylish.  I think this one could be a hit with both audio professionals and consumers. Michal said a particular emphasis of his was on the time coherence of the amp.  It is a very custom implementation and uses a greatly beefed up power supply.

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Thanks Michal for spending so much time with me. It was a very impressive lineup deserving of such a prime spot at RMAF.

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Michael Lavorgna of Stereophile/Audiostream speaks with Mytek’s Michal Jurewicz.

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About Lee Scoggins (57 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 is a serious music collector and his current system consists of Audio Research Reference electronics and Magnepan speakers.

2 Comments on RMAF 2017: Mytek Digital – I’ll take Manhattan II

  1. Lee Scoggins // October 30, 2017 at 4:51 PM // Reply

    Hi Peter,

    Yes, in fact the Manhattan 2 is a huge upgrade for $4K that goes beyond a beefed up LPS. More flexibility in terms of inputs and card/network bridge capability and a much more refined DAC as I understand it. By the way, An ESS 9028 is a current generation chip that performs very well so I don’t understand what you mean by “slow on the uptake”.

  2. The Mytek ‘Brooklyn’ is an interesting DAC; MQA capable, digital filter selection, slow-on-the-uptake ‘new-gen’ ESS 9028 chip (+ designation), but most importantly competently engineered / designed. Even the $2K price-point is palatable (kind-of).

    However, moving up to the Manhattan II, we’re exposed to a beefed-up LPS and little else -for a $4K price premium ? I just can’t see the value (or sensibility) proposition in that.

    It’s time for an industry-wide rethink/re-shape. I have just the idea …

    pj

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