Stereophile & Mytek Brooklyn - Better than it Measures


I just read Stereophile’s review of the Brooklyn. The Brooklyn is a mini-preamp and DAC. The preamp parts includes one pair of RCA inputs which go to an optionally enabled phono stage. List is just under $2k

Unlike JA’s speaker reviews, I don’t have much to criticize this review for but as an owner I wanted to chime in. In fact I found JA’s writing quite useful as I learned why I can’t try out the different digital filters. MQA bites me again! I can either enable MQA or have filter control, but not both. Perhaps I missed it in the article but I’m not clear if JA tried out the fast roll-off filter or not.

First, this DAC sounds a lot better than it measures. What I mean is, we’ve all seen DAC’s that end up with superb measurements and develop a following, despite sounding well, emotionally flat to many. The Mytek is no such thing. It’s quite fun to listen to. Tonally I would put it close to the Berkeley Alpha, but while it has a glass smooth treble, it lacks the overall "cool" sound of the BADA. Compared to the Schiit I heard I find the Brooklyn every bit as resolving, but again, tonal balance leaning more towards the BADA. These are total nits though. I think I could live happily with any of these 3 DAC’s. :) Just for reference.

I’m using the Brooklyn as a USB DAC and preamp right now. Sorry, no vinyl here to try. I’m feeding it from a Xubuntu server and Logitech Media Server/Squeezelite. I was using a Parasound P7 for my integrated HT/stereo setup but it may be months before I can do 5.1 again so I decided to go direct. It definitely shows the P7 to sound a little veiled by comparison. Also, imaging is somewhat improved this way, perhaps due to better channel separation, or better frequency extension.

One great thing about the Brooklyn is that it is pretty much insensitive to sources, unlike my previous DAC the laid back ARC DAC 8. It really only sounded superb on high rez sources and even better via USB with proprietary drivers. The Brooklyn sounds great via USB and on any format you throw at it. It’s actually very hard to distinguish Redbook from 96/24. Of course, the flame wars will begin now about how that should be interpreted. I’m only stating what I hear. What conclusions you draw are your own.

Other interesting points about the review is how little praise MQA gets here. JA writes that MQA files sound better with MQA decoding, but in absolute terms of using MQA vs. not, he writes a single sentence.

Like JA I also have occasional need to reboot the entire thing. One thing that seems to get me into trouble is switching rapidly between PCM resolution locks it up, and very rarely when listening to Jazz FM 91 (96k/16) it would not lock on properly so there was quite a bit of distortion on the top end. I’m a little concerned actually this is a heat issue because now that fall is upon us in the SF Bay area I no longer experience it.

I’m not the biggest fanboy of DSD, but I like it a smidge better, and the recordings I have from Blue Coast Records sound superb.

Thanks to my PC setup, I use the PC and therefore the Brooklyn to watch Netflix/Hulu, etc. and I have to tell you, it's really kind of crazy good! :) You don't realize how good Saturday Night Live sounds until you've listened this way.

Anyway, I hope this helps you. As always, only to your own ears should you be true.

erik_squires
I have owned a Brooklyn DAC for around 5 months now, and agree that it sounds excellent on all resolution sources. I am using the variable pre-amp output to drive my amp directly, and it does a great job. I urge anyone who owns one to try powering it with a good external DC power supply. It made a BIG improvement in clarity, detail and energy over the internal switching power supply.
Correction; The article's author is another JA: Jim Austin.

My sincere apologies to Jim Austin, I’ve no idea what his speaker reviews are like. I read John Atkinson on the measurements and somehow believed he was the article’s author, or I messed up which JA I meant, in either event, my bad. 

Best,


Erik
@bigshutterbug What power supply did you end up using?

Best,

Erik
I tried 3 different power supplies on the Brooklyn....An HDPlex 100,  a Keces ,and one "non-audiophile" one, which is built like a tank and quite affordable... An Astron RS-12A. I found the HDPlex and the Keces were quite "soft" sounding, and did not improve detail or imaging. I read a post on Computer Audiophile about the Brooklyn, and someone mentioned the Astron, which is American made. I picked up a used one for well under $100. It puts out 13.8 volts, but can be turned down to 12 volts by adjusting it inside. To my surprise, the Astron sounded fantastic, with a lot more clarity, energy, and detail. I had also tried various AC cords going to the Brooklyns own power supply, which just resulted in modest tonal changes to the sound. 
@bigshutterbug

Thank you! I found a version with V and A meters I will have to try.

One last thing, what was the DC plug you used? Do you remember? I imagine I'll have to make my own.

Best,


Erik
Yes, the Astron VS-12M is the variable voltage and amperage version of the RS 12A that I am using on my Brooklyn. I am also using a VS-12M on my Microrendu with similar results. I have a local audiophile friend who I just visited with yesterday, who tried a VS-12M on his Tortuga based LDR pre-amp, and we were both quite amazed at how good it sounded in his rig. I am using some simple, affordable ends I found on E-Bay, which, tighten down on the wires with small screws. The make it easy to experiment with different types of wire for the DC leads.....The type of wire used can also make a noticeable tonal difference.  I have tried dozens  of different types of wire, from ultra-pure stranded and solid core copper, to stranded and solid core silver and silver plated copper of all sorts. 
@bigshutterbug Sorry I should have been more specific.

What was the external diameter of the DC jack? :)

Thanks,

Erik
5.5mm x 2.5mm CCTV camera DC Power Male Jack Connectors
If you search for the above description on E-Bay, you will find them. I would suggest not using a heavy gauge wire for your leads, and keep them as short as you can. After spending over $100 on various "audiophile grade"  exotic wire, I found that my favorite was the cheap black wire that I pulled off a wall wart power supply....go figure!.
Thanks!

Erik
Erik;

do the filters and the associated changes work

noticeable or kinda?

jeff
Hi @frozentundra

To be honest I haven't tried them out. I've moved, then I got pretty sick, so my listening location isn't ideal. I am using the default filter that ships with MQA enabled, so slow roll off I believe.

Best,

Erik
I have discovered that the MPH filter and the FR filter both sound very similar, but the SR filter does roll of the very upper highs a bit. This was confirmed by the Stereophile tests, which found the SR filter reduces the highs by 3db.
I'm trying the FR right now. It is very similar, but I think I'm getting more imaging past the speakers.  Have to listen more with known tracks. :)
So it took me a bit to really get used to the FR. It seems to have an accentuated transient edge, and more imaging, but there was definitely some time in my ears adjusting to it. I would say it’s worth trying, but I don’t think the difference between minimum-phase and fast-rolloff filters is going to move the Mytek Brooklyn up or down in anyone’s list of DAC’s except in imaging. If you feel that's lacking in MPH, definitely try FR.
I just took delivery of an Astron with variable voltage and current. I ordered it from AstronDistributors.com and they were well priced and fast. UPS ground was not too bad.

Astron has a rock solid output. Meter says 12V, actual output is closer to 12.3. I'm leaving it alone. Usually when you measure a regulator circuit you'll have little fluctuating voltage readings. 12.29, 12.27... but not here.

I'm using a short run of 14 guage speaker cable to a little adapter with screw terminals. The markings on the plug guided me for polarity.

The current meter says the Brooklyn is only drawing about half an amp.

So this may seem like overkill, but this power supply has just a rock solid output with such a little load.

So far pretty good, but let me get more used to what I'm hearing.
Erik, I agree with your assessment of the sound of the FR filter on the Brooklyn. It does accentuate the leading edge of notes and attack more than the SR or MPH filters. If I am listening to a forward or edgy recording, I like the MPH or SR filter a bit more, but the SR filter is not quite as extended in the upper highs.
Be sure to try a different type of wire from the heavy 14 gauge speaker cable going to the Brooklyn from the power supply. I found the heavy gauge wire to make it sound dark and overly warm. I know it sounds silly, but the cheap, black 22 gauge stranded copper wire you find on small, wall wart power supplies sounds much more neutral and better balanced all around. It beat out all of the various, expensive, ultra-pure copper and pure silver wire I tried. You don't need a heavy gauge wire to supply the Brooklyn. Try to keep the wire as short as possible too.
My local audiophile friend just ordered a second RS12A from Astron, and had them set it up to put out 19 volts so he could power his audio computer with it. They did not charge him extra for the custom set-up. It took a few days of constant use for his new RS12A to break-in and settle down, but once it did, he is enjoying the results. Leave yours powered up for a couple of days before any serious listening, and DO try that cheap wire!
I'd rather stick with what I'm using, also cheap, but i may put a very nice 0.1uF film cap across the ends. :)

My version of the Astron has a voltage dial, so I'm all set so long as no one changes it. :)

Best,

Erik