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Matrix Audio X-Sabre Pro MQA vs Mytek Brooklyn DAC+

gags11

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#1
I was really excited to get this DAC, with high expectations. The DAC came yesterday. Nicely packed, and the unit itself is really nice in terms of build quality and aesthetics. Now the performance.

I little background first. I am running active speakers. They are modified Klipsch RF7IIs, with Scanspeak 12mu midrange driver instead of the horns and Pioneer PT-R7 Beryllium ribbon tweeters. Running Marchand x44 crossed over at 300hz and 3khz. Low end is driven by Wyred4Sound st-1000, mids by Mcintosh mc275 mkvi, and highs by Consanance cyber 800se tube monoblocks.

I initially had an Oppo 105 and was happy with it. Tried upgrading to PS auio direct stream DAC. But resold the PS audio as it was a big subjective downgrade for me. Mainly upper mids were lean and made female voices ring really bad. After the Oppo I bought the Benchmark DAC3 and Mytek Brooklyn DAC+. I thought the Benchmark was a hair better than Mytek (had to go back and forth many times to hear the difference), mainly more defined bass. Both were better than Oppo. I kept the Mytek because of the extra phono preamp functionality.

Now, I felt I can upgrade the Mytek. Reading the review of the Element X and it’s measurements, I had high hopes for the X-Sabre pro mqa. On paper, it has all the same hardware as the element x, minus the hybrid volume and the streaming.

I am a little disappointed to say the least. Feels like my PS audio purchase all over again. The Matrix sounds congested compared to the Mytek. And again, upper midrange is lean and lots of ringing from female voices. Also, seems there is no coherence compared to the Mytek, which sounds more upfront in the mids, but weightier. And the soundstage seems significantly larger with the Mytek. I do have some equiment to measure and calibrate my speakers, so volume was equalized at my listening position.

I am a scientist myself and don’t believe most of the bogus subjective audiophile claims. But this is a clear difference to my ears. Can any one elaborate what is actually happening to cause the upper midrange congestion and the narrow soundstage?

I just contacted Matrix to return the unit. Keeping my Mytek DAC+

EDIT: see post #11. With a blind test, I could not hear a difference between the DACs. That is subjectivity for you.
 
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amirm

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#3
I am a scientist myself and don’t believe most of the bogus subjective audiophile claims. But this is a clear difference to my ears. Can any one elaborate what is actually happening to cause the upper midrange congestion and the narrow soundstage?
As clear and as real that difference seems to you, it can be totally imaginary. I find this all the time but differences vanish when I match levels and do the test blind on myself or others. You are here. So please accept this bit of advice and hae a loved one test you on one versus the other after matching levels.
 
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gags11

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Thread Starter #4
I will keep an open mind and try blinding myself and having family listen to it as well. But the imaginary difference should have been favoring the Matrix, nonetheless.
 

FrantzM

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#6
Hi

I am with the consensus: Differences do disappear when knowledge is removed and levels are matched. I wonder however why do we "perceive" Unit A to be better than Unit B, sometimes in the absence of conscious a priori knowledge ?
 

amirm

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#7
I wonder however why do we "perceive" Unit A to be better than Unit B, sometimes in the absence of conscious a priori knowledge ?
Simply put: we listen differently at different times. All you have to do is focus and you will hear more detail, resolution, air, etc. Once there, this impression can set in, biasing other observations. This is why the defense of "I didn't even like this before the comparison" does NOT work. You could hate something, listening intently and hear more and wind up "liking" the device.

This is why even people who know about listener biases cannot escape issues with sighted listening. Like me. :)
 

direstraitsfan98

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#8
I think any perceived changes you may have heard would be a custom filter. I know a lot of modern dacs have filters to roll off ultra sonics, and changes to pre and post ringing. It’s of my personal belief that dacs all sound the same, barring particular filters used by different designers. If you are hearing changes in the soundstage, depth, imaging and frequency (bass) response, you are definitely imagining it.

That being said there is nothing wrong with spending a nice chunk of change on a premium quality product, as long as it a) has state of the art performance to at least have the ability to resolve high bit depth music, if wanted, and b) has a premium looking and feeling enclosure, excellent build quality, with special attention paid to the analog and power supply stages.

Also lest we forget, the pride or ownership of owning a luxury product. I would love to come home from a long day at work and be greeting with the visuals of little modern works of art of which inside is enclosed a state of the art amplifier or dac.

I’m sure Amir experiences this every day when he sits down in front of his stereo system and has his Mark Levinson monos greeting him :)
 
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#9
If there's a difference in sound between filters than there is a difference between DACs. If one can't hear the difference between the various filters of their DAC then there is no point in upgrading to another one...as far as sound quality is concerned.

I definitely heard a difference between a Topping D50 and an older DAC of mine, and there was zero bias going on. I wanted to give the old DAC the heave-ho. So I was disappointed when the D50 lost. (I was expecting the D50 to be equal or better). I have read at least three others describing what I heard with the D50, which was a leaner sounding mid-range. It can't be a coincidence.

Dispite my findings, I do appreciate the science provided here and agree in theory that all DACs SHOULD sound the same or similar...at least the ones with similar measurements. I would never buy a DAC without checking Amirm's results.
 
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Joachim Herbert

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#10
Does the Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ have that issue with mqa filtering beiing applied all the time? I that active in your setup?
 
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gags11

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Thread Starter #11
Ok, so I just did a quick blind test.

Levels were care fully matched by generating white noise from a computer. Mytek (digital volume) -21db equals to -14db on the Matrix, expected given the full bandwidth voltage differences.

Both DACs were running fast rolloff linear filters. MQA disabled on Mytek. I am using an external linear power supply for the Mytek.

Running usb from a DIY mini PC to the dacs. My boys changed the cables and the audio zone in Roon, I tried to tell the difference. Listen to the song I felt could here the biggest difference before the test. About 20-30 secs.

Ran 15 trials, only 8/15 were the correct choice. There you go, it was all in my head. I could not tell the difference between these DACs. Still, this was telling for me. I have no reason to upgrade my Mytek, especially given the extra functionality it has.
 

JohnYang1997

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#13
Sure the blind test tells the story. But what if mytek has more distortion at near full level or caused the next stage to distort? Also when matrix can't even output at such high level. Why it's not possible that we already changed how it sounds in the attenuation process. We need to think about it.
 

30 Ounce

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#14
I don’t think the fast roll off filter is the best sounding on the Matrix. Personally I prefer the stock setting (#1) which I think is fast roll off minimum phase. Also why reduce the volume on the Matrix to -14? Aren’t you losing resolution from the digital volume?
 
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Veri

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#15
Ok, so I just did a quick blind test.

Levels were care fully matched by generating white noise from a computer. Mytek (digital volume) -21db equals to -14db on the Matrix, expected given the full bandwidth voltage differences.

Both DACs were running fast rolloff linear filters. MQA disabled on Mytek. I am using an external linear power supply for the Mytek.

Running usb from a DIY mini PC to the dacs. My boys changed the cables and the audio zone in Roon, I tried to tell the difference. Listen to the song I felt could here the biggest difference before the test. About 20-30 secs.

Ran 15 trials, only 8/15 were the correct choice. There you go, it was all in my head. I could not tell the difference between these DACs. Still, this was telling for me. I have no reason to upgrade my Mytek, especially given the extra functionality it has.
Awesome that you did the real test!!

Also why reduce the Bolton the Matric to -14? Aren’t you losing resolution from the digital volume?
ESS's digital volume reduction when using 24-bit streaming is absolutely lossless in real-world usage, and definitely so at -14. The internal volume control operates with a lot of headroom in terms of bits...
 
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30 Ounce

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#16
He didn’t say he was streaming 24 bit audio...if he’s streaming 16 bit and reduces volume by 14db is he losing 2-3 bits of resolution?
 

JohnYang1997

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#17
He didn’t say he was streaming 24 bit audio...if he’s streaming 16 bit and reduces volume by 14db is he losing 2-3 bits of resolution?
If it's 16bit streaming then it will be no difference. The "bit" is eventually decided by the output SNR. The thing is, what do we compare to. When we reduce volume we always lose some SNR. Instead of thinking of losing bit, just think the SNR then finally the absolute noise level at transducer output. If you cannot hear the noise then there is no difference.
 

gvl

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#18
He didn’t say he was streaming 24 bit audio...if he’s streaming 16 bit and reduces volume by 14db is he losing 2-3 bits of resolution?
It's the other way around, fewer bits in material means more volume range before you start losing bits.
 
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gags11

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Thread Starter #19
My understanding was that the digital volume is applied at the chip level, so you have about 8 bits to go before you lose any resolution for 24 bit music. That would not happen until you are about 48db down if I am not mistaken. However, you do lose SNR with digital volume, as your noise floor stays the same, while your volume goes down. This is where analog volume is different and supposedly preserves the SNR.
 
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gags11

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Thread Starter #20
Does the Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ have that issue with mqa filtering beiing applied all the time? I that active in your setup?
MQA is a separate filter on the Mytek. You need to disable to be able to apply any of the other filters. So yes, you can disable it.

In contrast, MQA could not be disabled on the Matrix X-Sabre Pro.
 

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