Mojo Audio Mystique EVO


Mojo Audio updated their website yesterday with details on the next generation of the Mojo Mystique DAC, the Mystique EVO.

Unlike the V3, the EVO has upgrade options for component, isolation and shielding upgrades - at purchase or to be upgraded later.   The website states there are plans to release new boards for ethernet/roon, and other dac chips like the PCM63.

I pre-ordered an EVO in late February with a few upgrades.  I'm expected to receive it in 1-2 weeks, and I'll post my impressions after some time with it.  I currently have the Mystique V3 and I find it fantastic.  Really looking forward to hearing Ben's next iteration.





veroguy
Are you going to sell the V3?
This sounds like it's going to give the MSB's, Halo's, Denafrip's, a real run for the money, hope a mag that also does tests and measurements like Stereophile does a review on this.

Cheers George 
Too many options to choose from for me.  I wouldn’t buy because I would be afraid I picked the wrong options and would always be wondering if I picked the right ones.  Looks like a winner though. 
Do you have or have seen & heard his Deja Vu music server?
@sabrejet - Ben at Mojo offered a very fair trade-in of my V3 as a credit towards the EVO. On the Mojo website, you can see that single-ended V3’s have dropped in price to $3500. That’s around the used market price - maybe a little higher.

The upgrades Ben suggested that I went with:

  • Analog PSU Choke - Lundahl
  • SPDIF Upgrade - Lundahl Amorphous core and Vishay resistors
  • Signal Path upgrade - Capacitor upgrade and Vishay resistors
  • AC Filter- Discrete Double-Pi

I ordered the EVO with an AES input as well - as my streamer has AES output and I want to try it out.

Ben’s position is that clean power is paramount to good sound. His Illuminati power supply gets overwhelming good reviews, as do his dacs and servers that have robust power sections of his design.

I can’t imagine how the sound of the v3 in my system could be improved, but I have tempered excitement of Mojo’s claims that the EVO provides a compelling lift in SQ.

veroguy

Thank you, I am waiting!!!

The used value of a non-balanced is really closer to $2600-$2700 based on my recent purchase, past used sales and what I see a used Balanced one listed here for ($3400).  Ben asks more, and should,  as he goes through them and offers a short warranty. Just an FYI. I love the V3 and may upgrade the chokes on my own as well as some other upgrades.
That makes sense, @grannyring .  I bought my single-ended v3 used a little over a year ago for $3100.   I should have checked today's used prices.

I haven't heard a lot of dacs, but I think a $2600 v3 would be one of the best values out there.



Agreed! So darn good.  
I have to post on how good the Mojo Audio Evo dac sounds. While I do not own the Evo, I did upgrade my Mystique 3 to something that is very close to the Evo with most of Ben’s Evo upgrades. I have the latest usb card, op amps and best Lundahl chokes in my Mystique 3.

This dac has transformed my system by delivering a dose of realism I previously thought was unattainable in a digitally based sound system.

I am like a little kid in a candy store with the Mojo dac. I cannot get my system to ever sound loud! No kidding! No matter how much I turn up the volume the music never sounds loud! The music just swells and expands with a live musical experience happening in my space. Uncanny realism and musical delight.

Ben has a very special dac here folks and one I think is transformational sonically. Well done.
This is cool and impressive, Grannyring!  Congrats.

Can you expand on the sound differences vs the stock V3?  Can you quantify the uplift in SQ - 10% better?

I think the Mystique v3 sounds fantastic, and I can't imagine how it can improve - so this is great to hear from you.  My EVO should arrive in a week or two.
It is at least 35% better. Frankly my music is on a whole different level and the percentage improvement is just sort of impossible for me to quantify. Too vague.  

For me it elevates my listening experience more than 30-35%.  Hard to put this sort of thing in percentage improvement.

I found my upgrades needed time to break in and really come through.  Give your new unit the time Ben suggests.  He knows this dac as it is his baby!  
I have the EVO based model which still has some break-in time ahead of it based upon Ben's guidance; that said it is definitely the most overall musical DAC that I have had in my main system. The others, Modwright Elyse and Aqua LaVoce S3 are no slouches, but the EVO just offers more overall.

veroguy, if the options you are getting in your EVO take this DAC to another level you will be truly will be pleased
meant base model not based
The DAC's price basically TRIPLES when full optioned. It'd better sound 35% or thereabouts better for that kind of scratch.
A review of the Mystique EVO:

Audiophillia - Mojo Mystique EVO DAC

My EVO arrives this afternoon.  I'll post some feedback soon.


Look forward to reading your impressions. If your experience is as with my basic (no upgrade) version, it will keep getting even better with break-in as Benjamin suggested to me it would.

Wish in the review the writer had given some insights between the 3 versions of the EVO
It's now been a little over a week that I've had the EVO. 

Comparing to the v3, I hear improvements in micro details, timing, texture and cohesion. On their own, each of these traits might be small improvements over the v3 - but as a whole, it sums to a significant improvement in realism.  

Right now, I think the biggest improvement is in hearing small details around instrument and vocal vibrations and resonance - all with subtlety and dynamics.   The EVO creates incredibly organic and natural music - that on some recordings is little spooky.  They are in the room.

While my amp and speakers have a reputation as being a very good value, they certainly wouldn't be considered "hi-end" by many.  But even in my modest system, I'm extremely pleased with the upgrade to the EVO.






I hear the very same improvements. The top to bottom perfect balance and every frequency in proper and right balance is something this dac really excels at. My music never sounds loud anymore. No matter how much I turn it up the music sounds right and never loud. It grows and swells filling the space and I can feel the impact, but it never sounds pushed or “loud”.
No matter how much I turn it up the music sounds right and never loud. It grows and swells filling the space and I can feel the impact, but it never sounds pushed or “loud”.
I totally agree.  I'm playing louder than normal (about +10db) as well and the sound only becomes fuller - never strained nor distorted.  And while playing at higher than my normal volume, I can hear more of the delicate details and dynamics of this excellent DAC.

I live in Vero Beach, FL.  If anyone would like to have a listen, you're more than welcome to come by.  Or, I can come to you and bring the EVO - I love hearing different systems and meeting people.


I’m playing louder than normal (about +10db) as well and the sound only becomes fuller - never strained nor distorted. And while playing at higher than my normal volume, I can hear more of the delicate details and dynamics of this excellent DAC.


+1
That’s what a "good" R2R Dac does, discrete or chip. On a system that handle’s it.
It gives incredible punch and definition (boogie factor) to the bass yet a rich/fullness to the mids and above, all you want to do is turn it up.
Then suddenly your amp runs out of steam on a dynamic swing, you realize, your wife, and your neighbors say "wow" I went too far this time, That Was Loud!!.

Mojo
Our Mystique EVO digital-to-analog converter is a no-compromise design incorporating ultra-purist non-oversampling direct-coupled R2R topology.
Cheers George
+1 Exactly my experience lately.  
I just grabbed a used Mystique V3 Balanced this week and it is incoming. 

It will be my first R2R DAC and I'm excited to try it vs my recent handful of DACs (SimAudio, Bricasti, Topping, and currently RME).

I'll be using the SPDIF interface from a Roon endpoint (Raspberry Pi based).
@ddafoe , nice!  Would love to learn what you think of the V3, and how it compares to your other DACs.

I've had the EVO for a couple months now.  Continues to impress.
@grannyring @veroguy Your speakers may perform better at louder volumes. For example, there’s a consensus that the Scanspeak Revelator series woofers are power-hungry speakers, which means that the woofers sing their best at louder volumes than at low levels. This information is from users that I’ve talked to for home and car audio systems.

I have experience with 7100 and 6600 AirCirc tweeters on the dash of my car, and I currently use the Revelator woofers in my Ellam-FLEX 3W. These speakers keep their composure at loud volumes, and you’re naturally going to hear more details.

I’m not saying that you’re not hearing what you’re hearing. I believe you regarding the sound swelling as you turn up the volume. You know your system better than anyone, and I’m looking forward to owning a Mojo EVO DAC in the future.
I was also interested in the “can’t get it loud enough” ‘type’ of statements. I’ve had components before that made the system seem like I couldn’t ever get it loud enough. That’s not preferable for me. Not my goal to have to have more volume to ‘get there’, especially not +10db. 
 I’ve always thought this was a symptom of rounded-off transients or a lack of ‘bite’ to the sound, that, imo some music needs. Sometimes smoothness can be taken to far and upset the ‘excitement’ factor... Probably not the case here though ?? 
You folks missed the point and this is so important. The reason it doesn’t sound loud is the harmonic coherency…everything is in proper time and tune. Also, the absense of noise. Distortion sounds loud. 
Looking forward to reading more impressions... this dac has been on my radar ever since I saw the internal construction and attention to detail (especially in the power supply). Very happy with my Audio Mirror T3-SE, and since it uses the same r2r chips, I see the evos as a natural potential upgrade path.

And didn't know you'd made the switch Bill @grannyring Congrats on the extremely positive upgrade experience...
Good to hear. I had a feeling what I was perceiving surely wasn’t the case. 

So to clarify, you guys can still enjoy your music just the same at low levels, it’s just that the ability to play much louder than before is there?    
Because one of @viroguy ‘s statements eludes to more details at that much higher vol. level. 
Hi Everyone.

Benjamin here: owner of Mojo Audio and designer of the Mystique series of DACs.

I wanted to clear up a few things and respond to some of the questions that were asked.

First of all, the difference between our Mystique v1, v2, v3, and EVO:
The v1 and v2 use the same chassis and very similar ciruits. The big difference is the v1 had a direct-coupled output stage from the 18-bit AD1865 DAC chip’s voltage output with no external parts and the v2 uses the current output of the AD1865 with a discrete output stage that has two op amp stages per channel. The same output stage circuit used in our v3 and EVO.

In later versions of the v2, such as the v2+, v2SE, and our current v2X, the output stage uses the same discrete Sparkos op amps, Vishay TX2575 "Nude" resistors, and foil and film caps as our v3. Quite an improvement.

Our new v2X uses an XMOS USB input module that not only makes it more compatible with more operating systems, it also improves performance quite a bit as well.

Our v3 and EVO use nearly identical circuits to the v2 but with the 20-bit AD1862, better signal path modules and parts, better shielding, better grounding, better mechanical resonance, and 5X LC choke-input power supplies vs the 2X capacitive input power supplies that are used in our v1 and v2 DACs.

Our EVO is basically the same circuit as our v3, but with upgrades to the USB input, S/PDIF input, analog output, shielding, grounding, and mechanical resonance. And where as the v3 has two circuit boards (PSU and signal) with one .25" thick ferrous shielding barrier between them the EVO has three circuit boards (PSU, digital, and analog) and has a second .25" thick ferrous shielding barrier between the digital and analog boards.

Sound quality wise the entry-level EVO Basic sounds better in all ways than our v3.

The EVO is also divided into three versions: Basic, B4B, and Pro. B4B stands for "Bang for the Buck" and is our recommendation to most of our customers. With each upgraded version there are "freebies" in terms of upgrade options, so it pays to buy the entry-level B4B over a Basic with all the upgrades, and it pays to buy the entry-level Pro vs a B4B with all the upgrades.

And of course the EVO is engineered to be upgraded at any time in the future with better digital and analog signal path part options, advanced shielding material options, advanced anti-resonance options, better wiring and connector options, better AC filter options, and significantly better power supply options.

We’re already planning entirely new digital, analog, and PSU boards for the future with significant performance upgrades. And all of those boards will fit in our current EVO chassis.

The big performance upgrade would be to upgrade the chokes in the analog power supplies to the Lundahl or Lundahl amorphous core. That is where the "magic" comes from. It would be nice if some of you guys who upgraded your v3 or EVO with the Lundahl chokes could chime in and describe what you are hearing.

Of course both the analog signal path upgrade and Lundahl chokes in the analog section are included in the B4B, along with a few freebee upgrades.

We often get v2s traded in that will show up on the Specials page of our website. We rarely get any v3s traded in. When we get a v3 traded in it is usually pre-sold before we even post it on our Special’s page.

When we get trade ins we bench test them and adjust the trim pots for DC offset and MSB at the zero crossing (DAC chip linearity). Few companies who use the same DAC chips and op amps use these fine tune circuits even though they are on the data sheets of all the R-2R DAC chips and op amps we use. Something to think about.

When we resell used gear it comes with our standard 45-day no-risk audition, 90-day full-value upgrade, infinite trade in options, and a 2-year factory warranty. Our new gear comes with all the same return and upgrade options plus a 5-year warranty.
We usually resell our trade ins for what we pay our custom for them...sort of a discount to our loyal customers. We’ve been offering customers $3,500-$4,500 trade in on v3 DACs depending on version and condition. At $3,500-$4,500 we have a long waiting list to buy a used v3 from us.

So if anyone has a v3 DAC in good condition they want to sell for $2,600 no need to spend $$$ on a listing...I’ll be happy to buy it from you, recondition it, and resell it for $3,500 :^)

The most important thing to remember is the DAC can only give you what you feed it from your digital source. We get customers all the time who have a modest transport or server/streamer and want to buy one of the more expensive versions of our EVO: big waste of $$$. You want to use a digital source that is proportional to your DAC or all your DAC is going to reveal are the flaws in your digital source.

Remember when you could buy a CDP or a transport and DAC and the transports cost roughly the same price as the matching DAC? So we don’t suggest buying anything more expensive than our EVO Basic unless if you have a transport or server that costs over $5K. We would strongly recommend upgrading your digital source first.

And our advanced shielding and anti-resonance options will make very little improvement unless your entire system is of a high enough performance and is using similar shielding and anti-resonant products. So rather than buying a set of Stillpoints Ultra II feet for your EVO we might suggest you spend a similar amount of $$$ to buy Stillpoints Ultra Minis for your entire system if you don’t already have something equivalent.

BTW, we are about to run a few specials with freebees thrown in on our EVO between now and the first of the year. If you want to know about those specials sign up for our e-newsletter. They won’t be advertised anywhere else.

FYI, on January 1st we’re planning on raising the price of our EVO by $500 to compensate for rising parts costs. So it would really pay to purchase one before December 31st.

I hope you all found this helpful.

Feel free to call me if you have any more questions.
I would like to know if anyone has tinkered with the ground lift and ground post in Mojo Audio products. What were your findings?
After about a month of having the EVO, one morning I heard a significant hum out of my speakers.  

I changed the position of the ground switch on the EVO and that fixed it. I couldn't tell you what the original and current position is, but I can look if you need that info.

No idea what caused this - my house is 55 years old and probably has the original wiring.   

From Mojo Website:  "To optimize system integration the DC signal ground can be floated from the AC, Earth, and chassis grounds with the flip of a switch."


Ideally, a system should have only one ground point to the mains through one mains lead. Because you can get small earth loops happening if everything has a mains earth plug
All equipment are grounded to each other via the interconnects from source to poweramp if the power amp has the earth to the mains.
  
The only time a second mains earth is needed is if cd transport using the optical (toslink) connection to the dac. Then the transport need to have a mains earth as well.

Cheers George 
Actually ground loops occur when one or more components have a different ground potential.

Then the grounds seek to equalize themselves between the components through the path of least resistance, which is most often your low-impedance analog interconnects.

If all the components were at the same ground potential it wouldn’t matter if they were star grounded, daisy chained, or grounds floating, relative to each other.

The ground lift isolates AC/chassis/Earth grounds from the sensitive DC ground in the EVOs circuit boards, and from the signal that runs through the connectors to the interconnects.

And the grounding post provides the option to create a path of lower resistance between components than the AC safety ground in your power cables or your interconnects.

For advanced system grounding I recommend using the same 24AWG OCC UniCrystal silver wire we use in our digital and analog signal path upgrades. That would create the lowest impedance ground you could get. Ideally you would do this with all of your components and then star ground all of the grounding posts together at the AC safety ground at one of your wall receptacles.

I recommend connecting to the screw that holds the face plate on that receptacle and replacing the screw with a pure copper screw.

This will create a path of least resistance between all the AC grounds in your system and not only eliminate ground loops, but also actually lower the noise floor in your entire system.

All the best custom systems I’ve heard...ones owned by the most advanced DIYers I know...ones you can’t buy for love or $$$...use a dedicated OCC UniCrystal silver star ground between components.

Then you may be asking "what about the resistance of that brass grounding post on the EVO...it make no sense to use silver wire with that in the ground path" and you would be correct.

I’ve been looking for a low impedance grounding post for an EVO grounding upgrade option and I can’t find a copper one let alone a silver one.

I’m actually considering using a Furutech low-mass RCA plug in place of the brass ground post for customers who want to do advanced system grounding.

We already use silver plated wire in a low-impedance daisy chain between our AC/chassis/Earth ground star ground point located near the grounding post in the EVO and the shielding grounds on the balanced connectors in the EVO, and the shielding barriers between the circuit boards in the EVO.
And when you get our copper clad shielding upgrade both of the .25" thick ferrous shielding barriers are laminated with pure copper foil so that any EMI or RFI that contact the shielding barriers is dumped through the low-impedance copper foil, to the silver plated daisy chain wire, to the the grounding star point and grounding post.

As part of our advanced grounding upgrade not only will you get a low-impedance grounding post/connector, the silver plated wire in the daisy chain and the wire going from the ground star to the grounding post/connector will be upgraded to the same OCC UniCrystal silver wire I’m recommending to use between your components in your system star ground.

At Mojo Audio we take grounding and shielding very seriously :^P
I'm guessing there might be a few more EVO owners out there now.  Anyone care to provide their experience?

Mine continues to impress, especially the microdetails and realism from top to bottom - but really I'm just sitting back and enjoying the music.

I read that there are new boards and perhaps a new chassis coming out.  The "21" model?  Anyone have details.  Oh, 'just looked at the Mojo website and I see the 21 indicated on the products now.

I'll have to ask Ben what that might mean for my original B4B EVO.
@veroguy - I am glad to hear you are enjoying your EVO.  I am (sort of) an EVO owner....I just haven't received it yet.  Did you previously own a v3?  I would be curious to hear how the EVO improves on the v3 since I will be sending my v3 in to Benjamin as a trade-in, as soon as the EVO gets here - but that is weeks away yet.
To your questions, the 2021 version does indeed have new boards and a new chassis.  I was able to purchase the 2021 B4B model with the new boards, but in the 2020 aluminum chassis, which allowed a bit of a savings.  We did not have any discussion about different DAC chips so I do not know whether he is doing that or not.  I do remember owning a Lector CDP-7TL with the PCM63 chip and I later purchased the newer 7TL that used the PCM1704.  An audio industry insider purchased my older Lector with the PCM63 chip and told me in his opinion it would sound better than the newer PCM1704 version.  I didn't understand his thinking at the time...Duh!
The new 2021 chassis is constructed from ferrous metal, which will provide better shielding on all sides from EMI.  The current aluminum chassis may have better resonance characteristics, which is probably more important for my set-up.
I am curious how you are getting the signal to the DAC and which input you have found to sound the best.  I have the ability to use either USB, S/PDIF-BNC, or AES/EBU and I am considering different network bridge options depending on which input sounds the best.  Of course I will try them all myself but I am still curious what other owners are hearing.
@mitch2 Have you read the thread regarding the Schroeder method (SM)? SM involves using XLR or RCA splitters to utilize a pair of interconnects per channel instead of a single cable per channel for those who aren't familiar. Read what steakster and douglas_schroeder have to say about SM and digital cables. Steakster nails the description. The key take-aways from the link above are that SM works with uneven lengths of cables and can mix different cable brands.

I recently implemented SM in my system with four single-ended ICs and four AudioQuest hard RCA splitters. The female RCA inlets are too close to comfortably use these spitters with large RCA plugs like the Xhadow connectors that the Cerious Graphene Matrix uses. You might be able to get away using these splitters with one large Xhadow connector and a regular RCA connector. Otherwise, using two large connectors would put stress on the center pins. Other splitters will allow you to use two pairs of Cerious GM cables without a problem.

The downside to SM is that it adds weight that the input/output jacks have to support. Other than that, the Schroeder method is absolutely worth an audition.
@mitch2  - yes, I did own the V3 for about 2 years before getting the EVO.  I was extremely happy with it, and wasn't considering a new dac at all.  I couldn't imagine better.   

To my ears, the EVO brings more of what the V3 does so well, from top to bottom.  Micro-details in the lows and mids were improved in my system.  Low notes aren't just tones, but real instruments with their vibrations, decay and resonance more present.   There are other small SQ improvements in the EVO - but as a whole, the EVO in my system, is probably 20-30% improvement over v3.

To feed the EVO, I use AES/EBU.  With the V3, I was using SPDIF-RCA.  Before receiving the EVO, I asked Ben for his advice on RCA vs AES, and I'll just show you his reply:

AES XLR is a significant upgrade over coaxial S/PDIF.
The reason is that with coaxial their are only two conductors and the ground is the shield, but with AES XLR there are three conductors the plus, the ground, and the minus, plus the shield is a fourth conductor that connects the chassis of the two components and is totally out of the signal path.
Really no comparison, and that’s not even counting how much better an XLR connector is compared to an RCA or BNC.

So, I've been using AES the entire time with the EVO.  I haven't tried RCA yet.  While waiting for the EVO, I sold my SPDIF cable (Sablon) to help fund a new AES cable (BlackCat).  My streamer is the DCS Network Bridge.

I did hear my EVO using USB when I brought it to a friend's house.  He has a Antipodes DX Gen 3.  It sounded excellent.  He was using a Accoustic BBQ usb cable (sold by @grannyring ).  In his system, there was not a big difference between his DX with USB, and the DCS with AES.  Not a great comparison with 2 different streamers feeding the EVO, but to our ears, the USB was certainly not a step down in any way in our limited test,

Thanks for the updates on the new boards.  I told Ben I would be a beta tester for the PCM63 boards.  I hope I'm chosen.  I have an old Rotel CD player that has 2 of them.

Hope this helps.  Let me know if you have more questions.

VeroGuy