Mytek Brooklyn MQA-Compatible DAC

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Equipment report
Categories:
Digital-to-analog converters
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Products:
Mytek Brooklyn
Mytek Brooklyn MQA-Compatible DAC

The Mytek Brooklyn is the first non-Meridian-branded DAC that supports MQA. Because of that, every time it’s been shown, whether at a consumer or industry event, it has generated practically standing-room-only interest. I first laid eyes on the Mytek Brooklyn DAC at the 2015 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest when it was only a passive display. As I looked through its list of features and capabilities I thought to myself, “This is one heck of a fully-featured DAC even without MQA.”

I reviewed the Mytek 192 Stereo DAC, which was priced at $1595 (now discontinued, remaining stock available at $1095), in the spring of 2013; I was impressed by its sonics, ergonomics, and overall value. The Brooklyn represents Mytek’s next step in the evolution of its “entry-level” yet full-featured DACs. The $1995 Brooklyn is not only a DAC, but also a preamplifier for both analog and digital sources, a headphone amplifier that supports single-ended and balanced cans, and a phono preamplifier for both moving-coil and moving-magnet cartridges. The Brooklyn also comes with its own dedicated control app that allows you to operate all the Brooklyn’s functions from your computer as well as perform software updates. The Brooklyn even has provisions for linking with an Apple remote.

Technical Tour
Given the Brooklyn’s ergonomic flexibility, its front panel is a model of minimalism. The centrally located color LCD is flanked on the left by two buttons and a pair of ¼" headphone jacks while on the right side are two more buttons and a volume/selector knob. To access the Brooklyn’s settings you merely push the knob in—the display will change. The top half of the new display furnishes current volume, peak, and average levels for your program material if anything is actively playing through the Brooklyn. Near the center is a small MQA logo, which will light up when MQA material is being played. The bottom half of the display offers four setting boxes, each accessed by the corresponding pushbutton below. Once you’ve pushed a button the box turns blue (meaning it is available for a change of its setting), then by turning the volume knob you can cycle through the options. Once you have chosen the option you prefer, simply push the button again to save your setting.

Among the adjustments available to the end user are the choices of either line-level analog or phono preamp on the analog input. You can also set the appropriate gain for either moving-coil or moving-magnet phono cartridges. Another option lets you route the output to the headphones, main outs, both, or to auto-sensing. You can also choose a digital or analog volume control as well as a full-output-level bypass option. Input options include the aforementioned single-ended RCA analog/phono, AES/EBU, two SPDIF inputs, TosLink, and USB 2.0. The two SPDIF inputs can also be used for professional DSD SPDIF electrical interface for direct connection to professional equipment such as the Tascam D3000 DSD recorder. The Brooklyn also has provisions for word-clock input and output, as well as an optional 12-volt DC/battery, so you can use the Brooklyn off the grid or with larger dedicated external (third-party) power supplies. Outputs include a pair of balanced XLRs and single-ended RCAs, as well as the two headphone connections on the front panel.

The pair of headphone outputs can be used several ways. You can connect one pair of single-ended headphones to either output, or connect two headphones simultaneously. In addition you can, via a cable adapter available from Mytek ($159), use ’phones with a balanced connection for a true balanced headphone output.

If you use a Windows computer for music playback you will need to install a dedicated driver that is available on Mytek’s website. If you use a Mac no additional drivers are necessary for full functionality. I used the Brooklyn connected to a MacPro desktop unit running the latest version of El Capitan with no compatibility issues whatsoever.

Mytek has developed its own application, called Mytek Control Panel, which allows you to adjust and control all the Brooklyn’s functions via your computer. Many users may find the app easier to navigate than the Brooklyn’s front panel. The app can also perform firmware updates as they become available. Going from firmware version 2.00 to 2.05 took less than two minutes total.

One of the unique features of the Brooklyn is the ability to turn off MQA decoding if you wish. Although I’m at a loss as to why you would want to do this on a regular basis, you can use the feature to compare any MQA-encoded file with what it sounds like with no MQA encoding. You can also compare an MQA-encoded file without MQA decoding against a non-MQA-encoded version of the same file. While this provision may be of value to recording engineers and record labels, for your average audiophile it’s not a feature that needs to be used, except when he or she is driven by extreme boredom.

Another of the more exotic (but useful for professional engineers) options includes the ability either to use an external clock, or to use the Brooklyn’s internal clock to sync with multiple Brooklyn DACs for multichannel playback, or to sync with digital video devices that rely on a master clock.