Some people are always looking at specs and try to imagine the sound of a product before even listening to it, and that especially applies to d/a converters in my opinion. Some always ask what chip is used and come to conclusions before even giving the product a chance. The ESS chips are a victim of that especially, as it automatically gets described as an analytical and bright sounding chip. The DAC chip is only a small part of the entire circuit though, and it heavily relies on how well one can implement components to make a good sound.
The Brooklyn DAC+’s sound can be described as impressively rich across the entire spectrum with loads of details and a realistic and wide sound stage. It offers incesive bass, which goes low with high resolution and texture. Lows are impactful with great speed and dynamics. There is good body and weight, which makes the DAC+ not overblown or boomy.
Midrange is well resolved and transparent. It keeps an organic sound with spot on timbre, where every note enjoys excellent size and shape. The DAC+ never seems to step a foot wrong and stays in control with any genre. Even information overloaded tracks of the likes of Aphex Twin, classical pieces of W. A. Mozart or complex songs of Frank Zappa don’t make the DAC+ sweat. It stays top dog and delivers a full experience, where instruments are clearly positioned and separated.
The Mytek DAC offers a wide and deep sound stage, with impressive imaging and layering. What I like especially is the attention to detail while creating the stage, left/right stereo separation is very good and there is sufficient air between each musician to easily tell them apart.
Treble is extended, airy and rich. It has decent sparkle and brightness, while it never seems to become harsh, agressive or sibilant. It has a sufficient energy to add a certain excitement to the picture. Highs are well formed with a slight warmth in the lower treble for a rich tuning.
Linear Power Supply upgrade
As mentioned before, the Mytek offers a 12V DC input for upgraded power supplies. When you have seen Mytek at different shows, you might have spottet that they sometimes use linear power supplies for their units. Getting a dedicated power supply upgrade can have benefits, and today we will also look at how the sound of the Brooklyn DAC+ behaves when we put one in the chain.
Dutch Sbooster has been kind enough to supply me their latest linear power supply suitable for the Brooklyn DAC+, the BOTW P&P Eco 12-13V. It is a humungous piece of equipment that might even out-weight the DAC itself. The Sbooster uses a torodial transformer and gives a clean and linear power output. This upgraded power supply is available for 329€.
With the Eco in the chain, the sound makes a noticeable jump in terms of quality. You get a blacker background, which gives even better imaging values, where every instrument stands out clearer. The overall sound has gotten cleaner and more precise.
Body has been added to the sound and bass definition has stepped up. The DAC+ seems to go lower with even better texture. The sound stage appears to be deeper and slightly wider. I don’t necessarily hear any changes in terms of resolution, but articulation has been improved to my ears.
The Sbooster has provided a clear upgrade on the sound in my opinion, and I definitely recommend you to try it out for yourself. Be aware though, that you might go home with one.
Since Headfonia is a headphone focussed website, it only makes sense to give you, the reader, an overview of how the Brooklyn DAC+ holds up running different kinds of headphones. As my main inventory nowadays concentrates on portable audio products, I am in the position of not having too many over ear headphones to play with. So I first tried the DAC+ with a few in ear monitors, and all of them picked up noticeable electrical hissing from the Mytek. It’s unfortunate but of course not surprising, given that the Mytek sports two 6.35mm outputs, which are intended for full sized headphones.
After I ran through my monitors I decided to ditch them and only listen with the over ear open back headphones I have at home. Currently that’s three pairs. The almighty Sennheiser HD800S, the newly introduced MrSpeakers Ether 2 and the vintage AKG K240 (Sextett).
I have used the internal power supply for this section, as it is what you will get when buying a vanilla Brooklyn DAC+. The volume control set to digital. I used all headphones unbalanced, as I don’t have that kind of adapter (dual 6.35mm to 4Pin XLR) at hand. The 3Pin XLR/6.35mm combo plug would be much better to use in my opinion.
Sennheiser – HD800S
I hooked up the Senn first and was positively surprised to hear such high levels of layering. The HD800S sounds rich throughout and gives a pleasing signature that can last for hour long listening sessions wihtout any fatigue.
The Sennheiser is known for its wide and deep soundstage, and it of course produces exactly that with the Mytek. The resolution is top notch and the same goes for imaging. There is excellent measures of transparency in this pairing, with good body in the midrange. Where every instrument and singer gets portrayed with a rich and organic sound.
You get a dynamic low end, with good body and resolution. Though the Sennheiser is not known for its punch and drive in the lower regions. Mids are well formed with good texture. There is good air in the picture, to give the instruments decent room to breathe. Treble is crisp and shining, with good extension and no sign of sibilance anywhere.
MrSpeakers – Ether 2
The just introduced Ether 2 is the successor to a very popular headphone by MrSpeakers. Their former flagship planar mangetic Ether headphone. The Ether 2 is a headphone that has left a very good impression on me thus far.
The MrSpeakers has an outstanding balance in its sound, with a very dark background. It offers excellent low ends, with a full presentation throughout the entire frequency response. The Ether 2 to me is a highly enjoyable headphone, that doesn’t hold back on details or technical performance.
Bass is deep with great rumble and impact. It has a dynamic low end and can throw a good punch if needed. Lows are well controlled and have authority, they don’t bleed into midrange but can give lower mids a slight boost.
Mids are transparent and open sounding, with excellent levels of details. The sound stage is wide and deep, maybe not on HD800S levels, but that’s hard to achieve for any headphone. However, the sound does reach out of your head in all dimensions.
Treble is well defined and articulate. It’s rich and well proportioned. High notes won’t pierce your ears with sharpness, as they are more of a softer kind, yet still have good energy in them.
AKG – K240
This pair of vintage headphones has been made in the early Seventies and is mostly used by me as a stress-test headphone. Hardly any headphone amplifier can get this oldie to sound right. Most units nowadays can’t get them loud enough or deliver the sound the Sextett is known for.
The K240 is a trusty candidate if you want to know what an amplifier is capable of doing. The Mytek can drive this pair of 600 Ohm cans very well indeed. Though of course I have to increase volume by a good 15 steps compared to the Sennheiser. Where the Senn is comfortable at -40dB to me, the AKG starts at -25.
You get a wide and deep stage, with good layering and details. Bass is flatter and lighter with this headphone compared to the Ether 2. It does deliver good body and resolution in the mid and upper bass segment, as well as the midrange. But to me it’s missing out on the toe tapping factor.
The AKG sounds fairly neutral but has a brighter sound up top, which can overthrow the balance in its favor. Mids have good resolution and a spot on imaging. Overall the AKG/Mytek combo sounds very nice with good portions of a natural sound.
The Mytek has passed the Sextett-test. Congratulations.
The last page is about Comparisons and Conclusion.