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Digital to analogue converter

/headphone amplifier


Manufacturer: MYTEK DIGITAL
Price (in Europe): 4495 EUR

148 India Str. 1FL | Brooklyn, NY 11222
tel.: +1 347 384 2687 | fax: +1 212 202 5331

Made in USA

n October 2013 Mr Michał Jurewicz, a Polish engineer, USA resident, founder and owner of Mytek Digital, when discussing future plans of his company mentioned that he was planning to release few new models for a professional market, but also for home audio one (A few simple words…, „High Fidelity”, Oct 16th 2013, No. 114, see HERE). Only a few months later, in May 2014 during HighEnd Show in Munich we had a chance to witness an European premiere of the newest Mytek product, a digital-to-analogue converter and headphone amplifier in one body called Manhattan.

Mr Adam Bielewicz, a person responsible for Mytek's operations in Poland (Mytek manufactures its products in Warsaw; Warsaw's facility also hosts a large part of Mytek's R&D), told me then that a new DAC was in part similar to the STEREO192-DSD DAC, with some enhancements, mainly in power supply section, and in a different chassis.
The external design of the latter is very distinct. If you saw Sex in the city TV series, and later two theatrical films, especially the second part, one look at the front panel should be enough (Sex and the City, HBO, 1998-2004). My wife noticed that immediately and commented that: “this thing would match my ball dress nicely”. And I guess that was the idea of people who created this design – it was supposed to raise positive feedback, positive associations, and it works very well.

It is a technologically advanced device, but its creator made sure it wouldn't be just another “boring” audio product. A front panel, a thick, aluminum plate, looks like a snake's skin or like sequins (depending on whom you ask). I would say: hammered paint, but – as I already said – it depends on whom you ask. Side panels are finished in the same way, and an aluminum plate constitutes a top cover. The inside chassis is made of steel, so in fact the whole chassis is made of two different metals. It, according to manufacturer, helps to keep diminish mechanical resonances. The total weight of the device is quite impressive - 8 kg and it's placed on four spikes.

Also functionality of DAC was improved. It is a D/A converter, analogue preamplifier and z headphone amplifier in one body. It is a fully balanced design that sports both, digital and analogue inputs. Digital inputs accept PCM signals of sampling frequency of 44,1 to 384 kHz (DXD), but also a Quad DSD256 (11,2 MHz). It is a significant change compared to STEREO192-DSD DAC. Signal might be up-sampled either in PCM domain to 24/192, or in DSD, up to Quad DSD256, although this option will be available in the near future. At the time of the test PCM up-sampling to 192 kHz and DSD to DSD128 were actually available.
There is plenty of inputs, not only USB and S/PDIF RCA but also AES/EBU, Toslink, SDIF, FireWire 400/800, and one for external word clock.

This device might be used also a as preamplifier. A digital and analogue volume control (selectable in menu) are at user's disposal. It is also a headphone amplifier. There are two headphone outputs on the front panel, both driven by high current amplifiers. Due to the analogue volume control Manhattan can act as an analogue preamplifier in a system, with three analogue inputs (one of them is balanced). In the near future one more option will be available. There will be an additional board with MM/MC phonostage available and, upon request, it will replace one of analogue inputs.
Mytek was created mostly with hi-res files playback in mind. Mr Jurewicz though, had worked on DSD decoder for Sony, and thus he had a lot to do with SACD format. Hence another optional function that might be installed in Manhattan – a ST optical inputs, one for signal, other for word clock, that will accept signal from EMM Labs or Playback Design SACD transports.

Owner, chief engineer

The demo unit of Manhattan you have received for a test still uses the first version of menu that derived directly from Stereo192-dsd-dac.

One of our goals is to create new, more intuitive, or user-friendly menu for our new DAC. One of the new features will be more intuitive detection of active inputs.

We are working on a new solution for hardware up-sampling to DSD256, that in an interesting way “improves” DAC's performance. This enhancement will allow us to bypass interpolation filters that are implemented inside DAC chip which will mean a simplification of signal processing that in turn will result in a “purer” signal.

We plan to release these new features beginning 2015 in a form of firmware update. At the same time we should be ready with two optional boards for our DAC – one with ST input that will allow connection with SACD transport, a bit later a second one which will be a high quality MM/MC phonostage.

MYTEK in „High Fidelity”
  • 2013 YEARLY AWARD: Mytek STEREO192-DSD DAC – D/A Converter/headphone amplifier, see HERE
  • TEST: Mytek STEREO192-DSD DAC – D/A Converter/headphone amplifier, see HERE

  • Manhattan was created mostly with fans of music files playback in mind, at least I think it was. And not just any files but rather hi-res ones. So the key digital input has to be a USB 2.0. I delivered signal to this input from Auralic Aries, that was connected to Liksys WAG320N router and it played files stored on Synology DiskStation DS410j, with four HDD, 2 TB each, configured as a UpnP server. During this test I used also Lumin L1 (2 TB). I used Acoustic Revive LAN-1.0 PA cables with RLI-1 (see HERE) filters.
    As an alternative source of signal I also used my HP Pavilion dv7 laptop, 128 SSD + 1 TB HDD, 8 MB RAM with JPLAY software player.

    Two other sources: Ancient Audio Lektor AIR V-edition (transport Philips CD-Pro2 LF) and Lumin S1 sent signal to Mytek via coaxial input using Acrolink 7N-DA6100 Mexcel digital cable. I placed Manhattan on Franc Audio Accessories Ceramic Disc and used Siltech Royal Signature Series Double Crown Empress RCA cable for connection to my system.

    While evaluating its capabilities as headphone amplifier I decided to use following cans: Audeze LCD-3, HiFiMAN HE-6, Sennheiser HD800, Ultrasone Edition 5, AKG K701, AKG K271 Studio. I used Bakoon HPA-21 headphone amplifier as my reference device.

    Recordings used during test (a selection)

    • Aretha Franklin, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, Atlantic Record, DSF (1967/2014).
    • Art Pepper with Warne Marsh, Art Pepper With Warne Marsh, Contemporary, DSF (1956/2013).
    • Billie Holliday, Body And Soul, Verve Records, DSF, (1957/2013).
    • Cream, Disraeli Gears, Polydor/Universal Music (1967/2013), DSF.
    • Cream, Disraeli Gears, Polydor/Universal Music LLC UICY-40023, Platinum SHM-CD (1967/2013).
    • Daft Punk, Random Access Memories, Columbia Records, 24/96 FLAC (2013).
    • Depeche Mode, Ultra, Mute/Sony Music Labels, Blu-spec CD2, (2007/2014).
    • Eno/Moebius/Roedelius, After The Heat, Sky/Captain Trip Records, CTCD-604, CD (1978/2007); rip z CD.
    • Lars Danielsson & Leszek Możdżer, Pasodoble, ACT Music, ACT 9458-2, FLAC 24/96;
    • Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin (I), Atlantic/Warner Music, WAV 24/96 (1961/2014).
    • Leonard Cohen, Popular Problems, Sony Music Labels SICP-4329, CD (2014);
    • Leonard Cohen, Popular Problems, Sony Music Labels SICP-4329, CD (2014);
    • Miles Davis, Kind of Blue, Columbia/Legacy/Sony Music Entertainment, COL 480410 2, FLAC 24/192 (1959/2013).
    • Miles Davis, The Original Mono Recordings, Columbia Records/Sony Music Japan SICP 30521-9, Blu Spec CD2 x 9 (1957-1964/2013); rip z CD.
    • Nat "King" Cole, Love is the Thing, Capitol, DSF (1957/2012).
    • Nat "King" Cole, Love is the Thing, Capitol/Analogue Productions, CAPP 824 SA, SACD/CD (1957/2010).
    • Stan Getz/Joao Gilberto, Getz/Gilberto, Verve/HDTracks, 24/96 FLAC (1964/2009).
    Japanese issues available at

    1500 USD for a recently released LP box seems a lot, crazy lot even. And that's what one has to pay on British Ebay for Pet Shop Boys box called Electric Signed Numbered Limited Edition Box Set. By if you're a fan who knows exactly what he pays for then the price seems a bargain. It is a very special, limited edition prepared by The Vinyl Factory of Electric album, with each song pressed on one side of 12'', 45 r.p.m. fluorescent vinyl, packed in a special, acrylic, also fluorescent box. It was released in a series limited to 350 copies, all signed by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, and it and the whole quantity was sold within 48 hours (more HERE), despite the fact that original price was 500£ (plus shipment).

    The visual, aesthetic form of this edition is astonishing. Needless to say its predecessor, the YES box released in 2009, is displayed in the British Design Museum and received the Most Collectible Product of the 21st Century award from „Record Collector” magazine. As fabulous its graphic form was, the sonic side wasn't that good. The vinyl edition sounded quite good, but (and the same goes for a digital release) compared with other recordings of electronic music (Daft Punk) sound lacked richness and “weight”. So in fact it sounded similar to any other “regular” release of this group, or any other recordings of electronic music recorded in the same period.

    Such issues with sound quality Manhattan started to report right after it received a signal from the Electronic album by Electronic duet. This, as we would call it today, synth-pop supergroup released its most important pieces on their debut album called Electronic in 1991. The group was founded by the vocalist and guitarist of New Order, Bernard Sumner, and by Smiths ex-guitarist, Johnny Marr, and for this album they invited members of Pet Shop Boys. For another album, Raise the Preassure (1996) they invited Karl Bartos, a former musician of Kraftwerk. This album sound in a similar way to most of releases from the same period and even a luxury, two-disc edition from 2013 that was remastered didn't change that. My problem is that I like this type of music, and I like musicians who participated in this recording.

    This was a problem because Mytek DAC calls things by their names. So whenever a tonal balance was shifted, Mytek delivered just that. Whenever recording sounds harsh, you won't hear anything different using Manhattan. Mytek's devices are used in many recording studios so I can't really understand how it is possible that recordings of such sound quality as Electronic, or thousands of others produced nowadays, can be released by those studios. The only explanation is, that sound engineers really WANT their recordings to sound this way. Maybe it is not about sound engineers being deaf (although in some cases we can't exclude that possibility), but rather about a choice made by producers, or labels.
    Anyway Manhattan is a very precise, offering a "high fidelity” if you will, and it presents exactly what you feed it with. The leading edge is really fast, precise, there is no softening of the sound, no rounding on the edges, it doesn't try to sound warm which is usually “achieved” by attack and treble softening.

    Having said that, I need to say that Mytek can sound warm and rich. But it delivers such a performance using other means than most competitors, like, for example, Nirvana Battery Dubiel Accoustic CD Player. A comparison of the performance of the very modern, advanced technology used in Mytek, with signal delivered by the last in Philips history, CD PRO-2 LF CD transport, and with 1985 Philips CDM-2 combined with TDA1541 DAC was truly fascinating.
    Nirvana delivered warmer, more liquid performance, I mean “richness” of the sound resulted in a better „flow” of music. But its sound wasn't particularly resolving nor differentiating. And it was clear that leading edge was somewhat softened and not as fast as delivered by Manhattan.

    DAC developed by Mr Jurewicz is able to deliver warm sound if: a) that's how the played material sounds like, b) system, we used it in, offers proper tonal balance. This is an amazingly resolving device and its musicality is based of this feature. By musicality I understand its ability to deliver not only sound, that is a sort of outer shell, but also to get through to the inside layers of music. Sounds have to create a certain patter in front of our ears to create an impression of a live event, something that would allow us to forget that whatever we hear is not real, is not happening in front of us.

    That's exactly how Mytek presented a mono version of Miles Davis' albums played from both, Blu-spec 2 CD, and a hi-res, 24/192 files. There was an amazing depth of the soundstage, fantastic separation, and impressive selectivity. Presentation has a big scale with large phantom images. Images had proper size and palpable body. Peter, Paul and mary's In The Wind and Frank Sinatra's Songs for Swingin’ Lovers! sounded as impressive.
    Listening to Leonard Cohen's latest album, Popular Problems turned out to be particularly interesting. Mytek showed me very clearly how the voice of he vocalist was recorded: a microphone was placed very closely, lots of compression was used, and a long reverb was added too. But Mytek was able to nicely present well recorded accompaniment, and a work that producers did to combine these two parts of the recording together.

    One of the remarkable characteristics of Manhattan is is ability to combine outstanding selectivity with coherence of the presentation, of the “big picture”. Most of highly resolving devices, including ones designed for professional market, are not able to deliver such a coherent presentation focusing on presenting tons of details that don't come together to create a coherent picture. In result what they offer is a chaos. Mytek is very unique product this way. It always delivers context, not just sounds, it combines all the elements into a coherent whole, it delivers music, and not just sound.

    I already mentioned an impressive depth of the sound. It is particularly difficult to achieve when playing mono recording, because it's difficult to “cover up” the lack of depth of such recordings. Mytek creates an impressive depth of the soundstage, nicely differentiating following layers, planes of soundstage. There is no homogenization of the events happening further away from the front of the soundstage, they are still nicely differentiated. What helps is a clarity of upper midrange, but not only that. Usually this element is that good when a jitter is very low (there is a direct relation between one and the other), and in this particular case jitter level must be really low. Another element that helps is a phase coherence and I guess that's another of Mytek's multiple assets..

    Two headphone output on the front panel are there not just for show. Mytek's engineers worked really hard to make sure that these headphone outputs would be able to drive any cans. In fact with the +6 dB gain setting Manhattan was able to drive even HiFiMAN HE-6.
    This headphone amplifier has its own, distinct sonic character. It is very fast, transparent, but it doesn't not create such large images, and doesn't offer such a dense sound as the DAC while playing in my stereo system with speakers. Although with Sennheiser HD800 tonal balance is bit lower, and with Audeze LCD-3 sound was even creamy, but in general with most cans tonal balance was slightly shifted up.

    That's why I liked it a lot with AKG headphones, with K701 for example, but also with K271 Studio (with Oyaide cable). Such a setup will deliver truly enjoyable performance, resolving, without any harshness in sound (these with HE-6 were not acceptable). If one requires more from one's headphone setup one has to consider purchasing a separate headphone amp from at least 3000-4000 PLN price range.

    Mytek Manhattan, despite its outstanding transparency, has its own sonic signature. But we have to remember that there is no such thing as as a device without any sonic character. In this particular case sound was no as palpable as my personal reference digital devices like Accuphase DC-901 and Reimyo DAP-999EX Limited. But also my Lektor AIR V-edition CD Player and previously mentioned Nirvana Battery, are able to create deeper, more palpable, more “within a reach” images. It's a well known audio paradox and manufacturer's conscious choice – in the real world sound are not that palpable, as when delivered by audio system. But a closely placed microphone, and the microphone technique in general, promote more distinct separation, more saturated tonality, more precise localization. These elements should compensate for the lack of image that delivers a lot of information when we witness a live performance, including those that deliver information about spacing and imaging. Mytek delivering more distant presentation is a matter of its creators choice.

    Also the way Manhattan present bass is worth noticing. It is very tuneful and powerful. Presentation is never “light”, size of the soundstage is never an issue, neither is a size of phantom images, as these are based on a above mentioned great presentation of a low range.
    Both above mentioned DACs and my Ancient Audio Players, offer better extended bass, and deliver even more energy there. I don't mean level/volume of bass but how energetic it is. Mytek does a good job, offers a nicely defined bass. But there is still room for improvement.


    Regardless of how a signal will be delivered to Manhattan, it will deliver an orderly, well thought-through sound. Not to bright but selective and tuneful. Hi-res files, especially DSD ones, seem to offer slightly “softer” sound, more open, with more air. For me though, a classic CD transport still has some advantages, like coherence and liquidity of the sound.

    But still both sources combined with Mytek will deliver high quality sound. Its sonic character is quite opposite compared to such devices as Nirvana Battery CD Player, Reimyo DAP-999EX Limited DAC, Vitus Audio DAC and Player (see HERE), Audio Research (see HERE) and emmLabs/Meitner (see HERE). There are much more similarities between Mytek and Accuphase (see HERE), Esoteric and CEC.

    Impressive set of features, appealing looks and relatively (as for its high-end performance) low price make this device an attractive candidate for a digital “heart” of any system. And on top of that in the near future its user will also be able to feed it with a signal from SACD/CD transport via ST link. A potential of this device as a D/A Converter is simply amazing.

    Most of the companies that manufacture professional audio equipment, whose priorities (when designing a device) are reliability and functionality, have problem to adjust to the requirements of audiophile's market segment. With that said, I can't help but admire guys from Mytek who really thought things true and came up with truly appealing look for their new device, while improving chassis rigidness and vibration damping qualities at the same time.

    The main chassis is made of thick, steel slabs. Then the outer “shell” of nicely finished, aluminum plates was screwed on on top of that. Middle of the front panel there is a large, easily readable dot-matrix display, with large, white dot making up all the writings. It's brightness is user adjustable. It displays information like: an active input, selected output (headphones or loudspeakers), signal's sampling frequency and a type of signal. Additionally an information about a selected digital filter is also displayed. Push-buttons are not easy to find as they are finished exactly the same way as the whole front panel. These are used to select input and to move around in device's menu. A small pot works as volume control, but it is also used to change some settings in menu. There are two, 6,3mm headphone outputs at the side of the front panel.

    There is an abundance of connectors on the back on the device. There are RCA inputs, two USBs (there is a separate 2.0 one that requires driver installation to work properly, and the other one is just 1.1 standard), but also a FireWire 400/800 port. The latter has been used for years in professional studios for signal transfer from a computer, but it seems its popularity has been decreasing in recent years. It allows an asynchronous transfer of PCM signal up to 24/192 resolution, and of DSD signal. Also optical TOSLINK and electrical AES/EBU (XLR) are available. USB 2.0 input accepts PCM signal up to 32 bits and 384 kHz, and DSD up to DSD256.

    There are also two BNC inputs, that can receive a DSD signal (SDIF, up to DSD256). Additionally there are sockets that allows synchronization with an external word clock. In the middle of the back panel manufacturer placed analogue outputs: a balanced XLR, and single ended RCA. There are also three analogue inputs including 2 x RCA and 1 x XLR.

    The whole electronic circuit works on a single PCB. Half of space inside chassis is occupied by a power supply with two fully shielded toroidal transformers – one for digital section of the device, other for analogue. 50W each. Digital processing is performed by few chips including: Xilinx Spartan and Alter Cyclone III. The latter is a FPGA, that was programmed by Mytek.

    Next to it there is a D/A conversion circuit with ESS Sabre 32-bit ES9080 chip in 8-mono to 2 stereo configuration. Mytek decided to use a precise Femto Internal Clock Generator (1ps jitter). Despite that signal is additionally re-clocked in a separate anty-jitter circuit. Signal might be up-sampled either in PCM domain (up to 192 kHz) or in DSD one (up to DSD256). I/U conversion, filtering and buffering are all executed by chips, but their names were wiped out so I can't tell their models.

    There are two methods of volume control (user selectable). A digital one he output level is controlled by a digital 32 bit fader prior to conversion. It controls the main output or headphone output simultaneously. And an analogue where the output level is controlled by a programmable analogue fader with 1 dB steps.
    Headphone Amp is a High Current, High Slew Rate ultra low distortion 1600mA Hi-Fi dual mono design with 0.25 Ohm impedance and with gain selector switch.
    Volume control may be bypassed.

    There is a space on the back panel for future (optional) add-ons. One of them will be a board with ST sockets that will allow user to use an external emmLabs or Playback Design SACD transport. The second option will be a high quality MM/MC phonostage.
    Manufacturer includes a small Apple remote control, but also some other, universal remote might be used. Chassis is equipped with four isolation spikes. You might want to replace them with some more advanced feet like Franc Audio Accessories Ceramic Discs for example.

    Specifications (according to manufacturer)

    Conversion: 32 bit, PCM up to 384 kHz, DXD, DSD64-DSD256
    Dynamic range: 130 dB
    THD (DAC): -110 dB
    Digital outputs:
    • S/PDIF, AES/EBU, Toslink, all working up to 24bit/192kHz
    • Fire/Wire 400/800 – up to 24/192 + DSD
    • USB – PCM up to 32/384 kHz + DSD up to DSD256
    • 2 x BNC – DSD up to DSD256
    Chassis: 1U
    Dimensions: (H) 50/66 (incl. feet) x (W) 431 x (D) 300 mm
    Weight: 8 kg



    - Turntable: AVID HIFI Acutus SP [Custom Version]
    - Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory ZERO (mono) | Denon DL-103SA, review HERE
    - Phono stage: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE

    - Compact Disc Player: Ancient Audio AIR V-edition, review HERE
    - Multiformat Player: Cambridge Audio Azur 752BD
    - Line Preamplifier: Polaris III [Custom Version] + AC Regenerator, regular version review (in Polish) HERE
    - Power amplifier: Soulution 710
    - Integrated Amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE

    - Stand mount Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
    - Stands for Harbeths: Acoustic Revive Custom Series Loudspeaker Stands
    - Real-Sound Processor: SPEC RSP-101/GL
    - Integrated Amplifier/Headphone amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
    - Headphones: HIFIMAN HE-6, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-300, review HERE | Sennheiser HD800 | AKG K701, review (in Polish) HERE | Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, version 600 - reviews (in Polish): HERE, HERE, HERE
    - Headphone Stands: Klutz Design CanCans (x 3), review (in Polish) HERE
    - Headphone Cables: Entreq Konstantin 2010/Sennheiser HD800/HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE

    - Portable Player: HIFIMAN HM-801
    - USB Cables: Acoustic Revive USB-1.0SP (1 m) | Acoustic Revive USB-5.0PL (5 m), review HERE
    - LAN Cables: Acoustic Revive LAN-1.0 PA (kable ) | RLI-1 (filtry), review HERE
    - Router: Liksys WAG320N
    - NAS: Synology DS410j/8 TB
    System I
    - Interconnects: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, review HERE | preamplifier-power amplifier: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
    - Loudspeaker Cables: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review (in Polish) HERE
    System II
    - Interconnects: Acoustic Revive RCA-1.0PA | XLR-1.0PA II
    - Loudspeaker Cables: Acoustic Revive SPC-PA

    System I
    - Power Cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300, all system, review HERE
    - Power Distributor: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate, review HERE
    - Power Line: fuse – power cable Oyaide Tunami Nigo (6m) – wall sockets 3 x Furutech FT-SWS (R)
    System II
    - Power Cables: Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version, review (in Polish) HERE | Oyaide GPX-R (x 4 ), review HERE
    - Power Distributor: Oyaide MTS-4e, review HERE
    - Stolik: SolidBase IV Custom, read HERE/all system
    - Anti-vibration Platforms: Acoustic Revive RAF-48H, review HERE/digital sources | Pro Audio Bono [Custom Version]/headphone amplifier/integrated amplifier, review HERE | Acoustic Revive RST-38H/loudspeakers under review/stands for loudspeakers under review
    - Anti-vibration Feets: Franc Audio Accessories Ceramic Disc/ CD Player/Ayon Polaris II Power Supply /products under review, review HERE | Finite Elemente CeraPuc/ products under review, review HERE | Audio Replas OPT-30HG-SC/PL HR Quartz, review HERE
    - Anti-vibration accsories: Audio Replas CNS-7000SZ/power cable, review HERE
    - Quartz Isolators: Acoustic Revive RIQ-5010/CP-4

    - FM Radio: Tivoli Audio Model One