Mytek was originally a pro-audio equipment manufacturer when it opened its doors in 1991. Its first flagship DAC for both consumers and pros was the Manhattan. Rather than abandon and replace this model when it was time refresh its product line, Mytek chose to update. So, now we have the Manhattan II. And the good news for owners of the original Manhattan DACs is that Mytek can update them to the newest version for a relatively small fee.
As an audiophile who has lived with and enjoyed Mytek’s less expensive Brooklyn DAC, the first question that comes to mind is whether the Manhattan II is a must-have sonic upgrade or merely a more flexible DAC with additional features in a larger cabinet. It could be both and could be neither. Let’s find out.
The Manhattan II uses the latest Sabre 9038 DAC chipset, which is capable of 130dB dynamic range. To time the new Sabre DAC Mytek employs a “femto clock” in its Crystek C777 clocking architecture, which delivers 0.82ps internal jitter. Capable of PCM up to 384/32, and DSD256 (11.2MHz) the Manhattan II DAC also has the ability to do a complete decoding of MQA-encoded sources internally.
Mytek offers a multiplicity of input options including USB Class2, AES/EBU, SPDIF coaxial (three), TosLink, analog XLR, and analog RCA (two). The Manhattan II also has provisions for adding a phono module card ($1495) and a Roon-ready network card ($995), which turns the Manhattan into a UPnP-discoverable streaming network device.
Manhattan II’s output options includes one pair of balanced analog XLR, one pair of unbalanced analog RCA, and a pair of single-ended ¼" stereo headphone with 0.25 ohms output impedance. These two single-ended headphone outputs can be combined via the Mytek balanced headphone adapter ($159) into a balanced headphone output. The Manhattan II also has an input and output for running another digital device from the Manhattan II’s clock or using an external word clock with the Manhattan II.
Unlike some DAC/preamplifiers that convert analog inputs to digital via an analog-to-digital converter, the Manhattan II keeps analog signals analog throughout its signal chain. It even utilizes an analog attenuator, which is one of Manhattan II’s two completely separate volume control systems. With digital signals you have a choice of employing either the analog or digital volume controls.
Ergonomics and Setup
Installing and setting up the Manhattan II in my systems (I used it both in a desktop nearfield and room-based configuration) went almost without issues. After connecting it to my computer desktop system via USB, I used Mytek’s desktop app to configure the Manhattan II. The app has a full complement of control functions, including PCM filter options. There are seven filter choices: FRMP (fast roll-off, minimum phase); SRMP (slow roll-off, minimum phase); FRLP (fast roll-off, linear phase); SRLP (slow roll-off, linear phase); APDZ (apodizing, fast roll-off, linear phase); HBRD (hybrid, fast roll-off, minimum phase); and BRCK (brickwall filter). You also have three DSD filter options: Lo (47.44kHz IIR), Med (60kHz IIR), and Hi (70kHz IIR), and Auto mode (where it selects one of the aforementioned.) To access these PCM filters you must turn off the MQA filter, which is something that should be highlighted in the downloadable owner’s manual.
Because the Manhattan has both active balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA outputs I was able to configure my room-based system so there was no need for a separate preamplifier. The XLR cables were connected to either a Pass Labs X150.8 or Cherry Megashino power amplifier tethered to Spatial X-2 loudspeakers, while the single-ended feed was connected to a pair of JL Audio Fathom f112 subwoofers. I prefer to configure this system with stereo subwoofers as opposed to two subwoofers receiving a mono signal. Both the Spatial X-2 and the JL Audio f112 subwoofers received full-range signals, then I employed the f112’s built-in crossovers to limit their upper frequencies while the Spatial X-2s ran full-range without any low-frequency filtration. The crossover point on the JL f112s was set at 45Hz.
The Manhattan II’s front-panel controls give users complete access to all its functions. The square button on the extreme left is the on/off control. Further to the right are a pair of left/right arrow buttons that scroll through user-menu options. The square button to their right makes selections. The middle of the front panel is occupied by a large 7" by 1" monochrome display panel. To the panel’s right is a square mute on/off button, the master volume control, and the pair of headphone outputs. On the rear of the Manhattan II you will find, on the extreme right side (when facing the front of the unit) a small three-way toggle that adjusts headphone output gain to three levels, +6, 0, -6dB.
The Manhattan II comes with a standard-issue Apple remote. While some may consider the lack of a dedicated custom remote a detriment, the fact that you can pair any current-gen Apple remote with the Manhattan II makes replacing it, if lost, a simple matter. And while not all control functions are available on the Apple remote, the essential ones are. When you combine the Apple remote’s functions with the music selection options available through either the Roon controller app for your smartphone or tablet, the Audirvana+ controller app, or the mControl App (which also works with the PS Audio DACs), you have a complete remote system you can manage from your listening chair.