$500 price reduction plus free shipping!
Financial restraints require me to dismantle and sell my high end system, a featured piece of which is the Mytek Manhattan DAC II which was purchased new from Glen Poor’s Audio/Video in Champaign, Illinois. I have reduced the original asking price by $500 and I am now offering free shipping and I will cover Audiogon fees and PayPal fees.
This is simply one of the finest DAC/PREAMP/STREAMERS/HEADPHONE AMPS available today. It includes the optional streamer card which raises the retail price to $7000 (an optional phono preamplifier module is not included but is available from any dealer or directly from Mytek). As an added bonus it has a state of the art headphone amplifier (see Stereophile review below).
The unit is the best I have ever heard (and is the best that Geoff Poor at Glen Poor’s Audio/Video has ever heard). The unit is finished in a gorgeous black and is in pristine condition with below average use.
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Manhattan DAC II features include:
- World’s highest performance 130dB Sabre 9038 DAC chipset.
- Streamer network card. Just add Ipad for full streaming off Tidal, Qobuz, etc. Roon Ready.
- 32 bit integer Class 2 USB2 driverless audio interface
- World class transparent analog preamp attenuators
- MQA ® hardware decoder
- Improved optional phono preamplifier card
- New, easy to navigate menu system
- Choice of analog or digital outputs
- The Manhattan DAC II design uses the same chassis, same power supply, and front panel circuits as the original Manhattan but with a completely new, redesigned main board which offers a substantial sound quality upgrade, significantly better detail and resolution, and state of the art, transparent, analog preamplifier performance.
- Here’s what Stereophile had to say about the Mytek Manhattan 2:
I first experienced the Manhattan II D/A–preamp–headphone amp in Juriewicz’s basement lab and demonstration studio, where we compared MQA and non-MQA files through a pair of vintage Duntech Sovereign speakers. The Manhattan II sat on a table before me, its top off and its circuit board exposed. The room was small and well padded, but the sound was big, hyper-detailed, and powerfully presented.
You know how I rail against high-end audio evolving into little more than green circuit boards inside over-elaborate machined cases. Well, the Manhattan II is pretty much that—except that its circuit board is thick and black, and its box is very shiny, bright, broad (17" wide by 2" high by 10.5" deep) and heavy (17.6 lbs). My review sample had the Gold Silver faceplate; Black Matte or Silver Frost Matte are also available. The Gold Silver is a little Las Vegas, but as the Manhattan II sat on my desk, hooked up to JPS Labs’ Abyss AB-1266 Phi headphones, the combination looked hipster cool and outlaw-biker chic.
The Manhattan II is a complete digital and analog service provider: conversion rates up to 32-bit/384kHz, MQA, DXD, and DSD256. On the rear panel is every possible input: USB 2 Class 2, AES/EBU, TosLink/ADAT, two S/PDIF, and SDIF3. There are also two sets of unbalanced analog inputs (RCA): one converts to Phono with the optional phono card ($1495), the other accepts a line-level source. A third line-level input is balanced (XLR). There’s also an optional, Roon-ready network/WiFi card ($995) that turns the Manhattan II into a network streamer with maximum throughput of 24/192 and DSD64, compatible with Apple AirPlay, DLNA/UpnP, Spotify Connect, iOS, and Android devices. The outputs comprise one pair each unbalanced (RCA) and balanced (XLR). Also on the rear panel are a three-position headphone gain switch, and two BNC sockets for wordclock input and output.
The Manhattan II’s discrete, high-current headphone amp has a 0.25-ohm output impedance and two independently driven, ¼" headphone jacks on the right side of the front panel. The top jack’s output is in phase, for single-ended use; the lower jack is anti-phase. Using both jacks and Mytek’s optional XLR-to-dual-¼"-plug adapter ($159), balanced operation is therefore possible. Absolute signal phase is switchable on the front panel, using the menu and switches described below. Also available via the Manhattan II’s menu are various user-selectable PCM and DSD filter options—none of which are available during MQA playback, which mandates a single, unique filter. The seven PCM filters are: FRMP (Fast Rolloff, Minimum Phase); SRMP (Slow Rolloff, Minimum Phase); FRLP (Fast Rolloff, Linear Phase); SRLP (Slow Rolloff, Linear Phase); APDZ (Apodizing, fast rolloff, linear phase); HBRD (Hybrid, fast rolloff, minimum phase); and BRCK (Brickwall). The user can also select one of three DSD filters—labeled Lo (47.44kHz IIR), Med (60kHz IIR), and Hi (70kHz IIR)—or an Auto mode in which the appropriate filter is automatically determined by the DSD rate: Lo for DSD64, Med for DSD128, or Hi for DSD256.
On the distinctively sculpted front panel are six controls, five of them fingertip-size and only semivisible. The one you can’t miss is the rotary volume control, which is also a pushbutton for navigating and selecting from the Manhattan II’s menu. Almost hidden at far left is a round On/Off button. To its right are two triangular buttons pointing in opposite directions: one for Go to Menu, the other for Move in Menu. On either side of the wide, dimmable LED display are square, user-programmable function buttons. In addition to the menu selections, the LEDs display the current sample rate and the volume level in dB. But many Manhattan II owners will never use these controls, or even turn on the display—after they’ve installed the Manhattan II’s OSX or Windows driver, they’ll download Mytek’s Control Panel app and from then on select all functions from the screen of their computer.
The owner’s manual, available online, is well written and illustrated—but, as with the Mytek Brooklyn, even geezers and toddlers will find the Manhattan II’s controls and menu intuitively easy to learn.
The Manhattan II has three selectable line-level inputs, and offers the user a choice of digital or analog volume control. I much preferred the open naturalness of the analog control, which I used for 95% of my listening. It was of high enough quality to eliminate the need for and cost of a separate line stage in even the best systems.
Listening with headphones
The beauty of headphones is that they eliminate the dodgy issue of loudspeaker power response: The transducers’ output is applied directly and almost entirely to the listener’s ear canals.
I continue to use and admire Mytek’s Brooklyn DAC, but its headphone amplifier has never inspired me. With most headphones, it sounds slightly dull and emotionally shut down. That was definitely not the case across the East River. The Manhattan II’s headphone amp could really dance and sing, its strong points being percussive impact, precise imaging, well-described textures, and deep transparency. I listened to the Manhattan II with a wide variety of headphone models: HiFiMan HE-1000 V2, Sony MDR-Z1R, Audeze LCD-X, and JPS Labs’ new Abyss B-1266 Phi. With any of these, the sound of the Manhattan II DAC and headphone amp never failed to be fast and lucid, with a fine, natural-feeling balance of smoothness and punch. Space was always dark, hauntingly quiet, infinitely deep.
With Abyss AB-1266 Phi headphones plugged into the Manhattan II’s headphone amp in balanced mode and using the MQA filter (see later), my skull and shoulders could actually feel that forward momentum I’ve been talking about. I was there with Mississippi Fred McDowell, from Heroes of the Blues: The Very Best of Mississippi Fred McDowell (CD, Shout! Factory DK 30256). His rhythm was hypnotic and tangibly fierce.
I want to share with you not what I heard from this CD, but what I noticed while listening to McDowell play "Shake ’Em On Down," a trance-inducing hill-country blues anthem by Bukka White. Unlike Chicago blues, which usually features guitar or harmonica solos, "Shake ’Em On Down" is groove-based. It begins with a hard-strumming boogie groove that carries the quickly mesmerized listener forward on a steam train of louder-harder-faster strumming, never slowing or backing off until it gently drops that listener off at its final destination. In "Shake ’Em On Down," the force and movement of energy are the poetic content.
Mytek’s Manhattan II straightforwardly showed me every bit of that content. I could feel McDowell’s fingers on the strings. I sensed his guitar’s radiating surface. At several points, I noticed him lean a little harder into the rhythm. The pace and percussive force of his guitar reminded me of the distinctive West African heritage behind these country blues from the North Mississippi hills.
Listening to binaural MQA through headphones
These days, every audio person has an opinion about Master Quality Authenticated recordings, even if few have actually listened to their favorite music in MQA. I have no interest in and zero knowledge of the business aspects of MQA, and I only partially grasp the technology. But I’ve listened to a lot of MQA-processed material, and I believe it enhances the verity—and my enjoyment—of digital recordings. I think there’s only one pertinent question about MQA’s virtue: Does it make the playback of digitally encoded music sound more lifelike, or not? DSD and high-resolution downloads never sound completely right or real to me. MQA does.
Who knows? MQA may disappear in a few years. All I know is that Camille Thurman’s new MQA-encoded CD, Inside the Moment (Chesky JD397), is the most lifelike, 3D-sounding recording I’ve ever heard. Featuring the tenor sax and voice of Thurman—with guitarist Mark Whitfield, bassist Ben Allison, and drummer Billy Drummond—this binaural recording of a concert at Rockwood Music Hall, on New York’s Lower East Side, is outstanding among audiophile recordings because, all the way through, the band, the audience, and the listener at home all sound and feel as if they’re in the same room. Plucked double bass, brushed and struck drums, and audience applause were all so hauntingly real that it was distracting. As I listened through headphones with my eyes closed, the air that vibrated around Chesky’s binaural B&K dummy head as this concert was recorded felt as if it was vibrating around my head. The Rockwood audience was next to and behind me. In front of me, the band was tangibly present. The intensity of this experience of virtual reality compels me to ask: If you were contemplating the purchase of a new DAC, why would you not want it to include MQA processing?
Listening to CDs or PCM files through the Manhattan II, I discovered that it was best to disable MQA and its built-in minimum-phase PCM filter. With MQA enabled, PCM files and CDs sounded smooth and open, but maybe a little roundish and gray. But I didn’t realize how important this was until after I’d carefully listened to each of the Manhattan’s seven PCM filters
As you read these observations, keep in mind that each filter affects the signal damping and phase differently, causing varying degrees of timing and transient error, which in turn alter timbre and spatial cues. Because I trust the ears and A/D converters of Todd Garfinkle, founder of and producer of M•A Recordings, I verified the following impressions by listening to his recording of pianist Ito Ema playing J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations (CD, M•A M024A).
1) BRCK (Brickwall): My experience says that not all brickwall filters are created equal. The Manhattan II’s BRCK filter didn’t sound as digital as most, but was surprisingly fresh and lively. That said, it did try to turn Ito Ema’s grand piano into a harpsichord.
2) FRMP (Fast Rolloff, Minimum Phase): Fast Rolloff seemed to sculpt musical images, while Minimum Phase tended to increase the amount of air around those images. FRMP sounded both easygoing and punchy.
3) SRMP (Slow Rolloff, Minimum Phase): A gentle, dreamy guy, I was inclined to like the euphonic character of this filter even before I heard it. Typically, Slow Rolloff removed the little bite of Fast Rolloff, reducing punch—but not enough to hobble the elegant drive and weight of Ito Ema’s big Steinway. SRMP seemed more present and colorful than MQA’s default minimum-phase filter. Mytek’s execution of minimum phase generated additional spatiality, imparted a beguiling luster to upper registers, and made music seem more whole than the other filters.
4) SRLP (Slow Rolloff, Linear Phase): Sometimes, linear-phase filters make me feel that something is not exactly right. They have a less developed sound than minimum phase, but more drive. Mytek’s SRLP filter sounded weighty and clear, but didn’t develop the piano’s full palette of harmonics and overtones.
5) FRLP (Fast Rolloff, Linear Phase): The FRLP filter almost matched the BRCK filter at turning Ema’s Steinway into a harpsichord, while actually losing some of the BRCK’s energy. The sound was strong and rhythmic, but distinctly artificial.
6) APDZ (Apodizing, Fast Rolloff, Linear Phase): Supposedly, apodizing reduces FRLP’s pre-echo. Theoretically, then, the Manhattan II’s APDZ filter should have sounded more easygoing than BRCK—and it did. Smooth rolling, it was still firm and quite businesslike, but in a music-enhancing way. I enjoyed the edgeless body this filter imparted.
7) HBRD (Hybrid, Fast Rolloff, Minimum Phase): With the HBRD filter I heard the enlarged space of minimum phase and the image sculpting of fast rolloff—but with a noticeably mechanical movement and tone. My feelings about this filter choice were mixed.
"That is nice."
When I first installed the Manhattan II in my system and began playing music over speakers, using the SRMP filter, I kept mumbling to myself, "Wow! That is nice. Damn!" I played Mantra, Karlheinz Stockhausen’s pivotal 1970 composition for two pianos, performed by Yvar Mikhashoff and Rosalind Bevan with periodical ring modulation by Ole Ørsted (CD, New Albion NA025). The two pianists not only masterfully play their keyboards; they also perform on wood blocks, chromatic cymbals, and a shortwave radio that generates Morse code.
At this early point in my Stockhausen studies, I perceive Mantra as a sensuously pulsing, meandering, yet mathematically concise composition that must be visualized as much as heard. It requires a high level of pattern recognition. Forward momentum is easy to appreciate with the hypnotic blues of Mississippi Fred McDowell; it’s even more captivating in a work such as Mantra, in which notes and sounds are separated by repeated silences of unpredictable duration. Imagine an invisible force strong and tangible enough to hold a listener’s rapt attention during extended stretches of silence. Imagine a sensed energy that makes waiting for the next sound exciting.
Not only did the Manhattan II make Stockhausen’s poetic silences come alive, it made the morphing and modulation of his 13-note mantra sequences and their inversions easier to comprehend. The Mytek let my mind rise and then look down on the musical stream, to observe the matrix of its notes and silences. More than the moderately priced Brooklyn DAC, the Manhattan II enhanced my ability to recognize and sort out musical unfoldings. With PrimaLuna’s ProLogue Premium preamplifier and power amp driving the Stirling Broadcast LS3/5a V2 speakers that JA reviewed in 2007, the infinitely varied piano tones in Mantra felt real and satisfyingly organic. The Manhattan II delivered denser, more succinct piano tones than do the Brooklyn or Schiit Yggdrasil DACs. Also better than either, the Manhattan exposed the instruments’ keyboards, soundboards, pedals, and Stockhausen’s ring-modulator effects. The Manhattan II’s transparency was like a pitch-black corner in deep outer space.
I didn’t fully grasp the quality of the Manhattan II until I used it to listen to Fred McDowell’s "Shake ’Em On Down" through Zu Audio Soul Supreme speakers driven by the ProLogue Premium preamp and Bel Canto Design REF600M monoblocks. I’d just listened to the CD through a friend’s system with the same speakers, a lower-powered amp, and a different but equally expensive DAC. In my friend’s room, the track sounded hard, shallow, thin—barely listenable. In my bunker, it sounded richly toned, dense, and soulfully engaging.
The combo of Mytek Manhattan II, PrimaLuna ProLogue Premium preamp, Bel Canto monoblocks, and Zu Soul Supremes put Mississippi Fred right there in front of me, his guitar and voice ballsily urging and communicative.
Against the Schiit Yggdrasil
Recordings played through Schiit Audio’s Yggdrasil DAC, which I reviewed in February 2017, display a punchy, tight-bass vivo, natural tone, and conspicuous musicality. Schiit’s reference DAC would be my reference DAC—if only it had MQA and emptier empty spaces. In contrast, Mytek’s Manhattan II is the most transparent and grain-free DAC I’ve used.
The Yggdrasil makes "Red Book" CDs sound a lot like MQA. But real MQA, via the Manhattan II, delivered cleaner, stronger, more obvious versions of all the Yggdrasil’s strengths. Compared to Mytek’s own Brooklyn DAC, the Manhattan II made MQA recordings feel as if they were emerging from vaster, deeper, more silent emptiness. And silent vastness is what we audiophiles must always pay extra for.
The most conspicuous differences between the Manhattan II and the Schiit Yggdrasil and Mytek’s own Brooklyn: The Manhattan II delivered music of greater transparency and image solidity, and generated a stronger force field that let instruments and voices stand out with greater physical presence.
All I want from my stereo is an open door to the music on my recordings. I don’t want to just peer in that door—I want to walk straight through it and sit down close, to grasp the full nature of their sounds in that space. I want a hint of reality. Mytek HiFi’s Manhattan II DAC–preamp–headphone amp let me do all that. It’s one of those rare, forceful beasts that realistically express the energy behind the music and proactively enable pattern recognition, doing so with beguiling ease and morgue-like silence.
It also sounded uniquely non-digital. Which is not to say it was analog-like, because that would be like saying that an apple was so good it tasted like an orange. Instead, the Manhattan II reproduced recordings in a manner that seemed devoid of mechanicalness or electronic artificiality. Class A all the way.
CONVERSION: PCM up to 384k, 32bit, MQA ®, native DSD up to DSD256, DXD, 130dB Dynamic Range.
MQA Hi-Res DECODER: built in certified hardware MQA ® decoder
DIGITAL INPUTS: USB2 Class2 (OSX, Linux driverless, all formats), AES/EBU (PCM up to 384k, up to DSD128 DOP), 3x S/PDIF (PCM up to 192k, up to DSD128 DoP), Toslink, SDIF3 DSD up to DSD256
ANALOG INPUTS: RCA Line In switchable to Phono with Optional Phono Card insterted, second pair of RCA Line In, third pair XLR Balanced Line In.
Analog inputs are router through minimalpath state of the art analog attenuator directly to analog and headphone outputs.
ANALOG OUTPUTS: RCA, balanced XLR, simultaneous, 50 Ohm impedance
HEADPHONE OUTPUTS: Reference High Current, High transient Headphone Amp, 500mA, 6 Watts, 0 Ohm out impedance. Dual headphone jacks, designed to drive demanding headphones. Balanced operation w/optional Mytek adapter.
BUILT-IN ATTENUATOR: Choice of 1dB step analog attenuator for main out and headphones, 1dB step digital 32bit attenuator or purist relay bypass.
CLOCK: “Mytek Femtoclock Generator (tm)” 0.82ps internal jitter,
Wordclock Input and Output (allows stacking multiple units for
multichannel operation, includes mch DSD)
AUDIO RECORDING FUNCTION FOR DIGITAL SOURCES: All digital inputs can be routed into computer via USB2. Allows connection of external digital sources such as CD Players and digitizing ADCs.
REMOTE: Included, universal remote capable
FIRMWARE: Upgradable via USB Control Panel App (Win and Mac)
OPTIONAL PRECISION PHONO ANALOG PREAMP CARDHigh End M/M, M/C Phono Preamplifier with custom nickel core step up transformer , relay switchable and tunable. Input impedances, transformer ratio, RIAA curves and choice of gain can be changed within the menu or using the remote via relay switches. Optional card is sold separately and is user installable.
OPTIONALthe Manhattan II into network streamer with 24/192k and DSD64 maximum throughput. Compatible w/ Roon, DLNA/UpnP
POWER SUPPLY: Switchable 115/230VAC (100V Japanese version available)
WEIGHT: 16lbs, 8kg
In addition to offering free shipping I will cover Audiogon fees and PayPal fees.
Thie pics are from the internet and show a unit in black along with a streamer network card. More pics and information are available on the Mytek Digital website.
Please no lowball offers!
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