Streaming DAC & Preamp Test

Mytek Brooklyn Bridge Review

In addition to the New York districts of "Manhattan" and "Brooklyn", a Brooklyn Bridge now also connects Mytek's product families of the same name – and seemingly casual classic analog with progressive digital HiFi.

Julian Kienzle

Bridge Builder

Rarely do we come across a product whose name is at the same time this appropriate and misleading. In connection to a "Bridge", the digitally inclined person would, after all, think primarily of the so-called "Streaming Bridge", which is a streamer without integrated D/A-converter. If you, however, expect to get such an ultra-specialized minimalist with the Mytek Brooklyn Bridge, you'll be down for quite a surprise!

The special feature of the "BB" is indeed its streaming board, by means of which it builds a bridge between Mytek's "Brooklyn" and the more expensive, optionally streaming-capable "Manhattan" series. However, it is by far not a "Streaming Bridge", as, in addition to a powerful headphone amplifier with two outputs and versatile preamplifier functions, there is also a superb D/A converter on board.

Simply put, the Brooklyn Bridge is nothing more than an upgrade of the streaming-free and 800 Euro cheaper Brooklyn DAC+, with the inputs for AES/EBU and word clock having been replaced by network interfaces for LAN and WLAN as well as a USB input for storage devices. Apart from these minor changes in connectivity and the additional streaming board, the signal path remained untouched. Why should one invest huge huge amounts of resources in development again, when there is already a strong foundation to build on? After all, the here used basis is more than respectable, in an ambiguous sense as both the exterior with its cool design and golf ball look and the technical interior were adopted virtually unchanged.

Thus, both siblings offer a USB interface which can be, for example, fed with music from a Mac or Windows in addition to two coaxial and one optical input on the digital level. It doesn't matter whether the musical information comes from a local hard drive, is streamed in HiRes via Qobuz or in MQA via Tidal. Using the USB inputs, the Mytek supports PCM up to 32 Bit/384 kHz as well as DSD up to 11.2 MHz (DSD256) and can also decode "Master Quality" files with the integrated MQA decoder.

Analog? Digital? Both?

With the Brooklyn Bridge there comes the streaming board on top, which does not quite keep up with the resolution of the USB interface, but is still completely sufficient for most applications with its support up to 24 Bit/192 kHz and a maximum of DSD64 (as DoP). Since the Mytek supports UPnP, you can select music for example via the app "mconnect Control" or "BubbleUPnP" and send it to the Bridge. With "Spotify Connect" this also works directly from the Spotify App. The most luxurios solution – and our preferred way – is using the Roon software, as the Mytek is Roon ready and can therefore be integrated into a Roon network as an endpoint.

But let's get back to the basics: like the DAC+ the BB offers in addition to the many digital interfaces also an analog tract and preamp outputs in XLR and RCA. The single Cinch input can be switched between "Line", "MM" and "MC" in the menu, which is easy to use after a short period of getting used to it. No joke, this specialist for digital music actually has a proper phono pre even with MC on board. As the listening test proves, this is also no simple "alibi" to get a piece of the vinyl-revival-cake, but a serious phono stage that deserves a high quality turntable.

Those who understandably feel strange about controlling the level of their record on a digital level can switch to purely analog volume control in the menu. The navigation through the settings is done with the help of the multifunctional rotary knob and the four small buttons on the front, which all could sit a little tighter, but have a good pressure point. As an alternative, you can also link any RC-5 universal remote control or use the supplied Apple Remote, which you have to unlock first. To do this, simply select the option "Apple" under the menu point "Remote".

It is true, that one can and sometimes has to spend quite a bit of time in the menu of the Brooklyn Bridge. However, that does not distract from the joy of using this all-rounder, certainly also thanks to the beautiful OLED color display that is very easy to read for its size. Our verdict: the Bridge is not quite Plug 'n' Play – but almost – and in return extremely flexible. Latter also hold true for its placement, as its extremely compact design of only 22 by 24 centimetres means that it does not just feel at home in a classic hi-fi rack, but just as much in narrow shelf niches or on a desk. However, it does need some air to breathe on top, as it can heat up quite a lot during operation. If the Mytek were to also support Bluetooth and Airplay, it would be even harder to beat in this price range in terms of versatility.

Deservedly Self-Confident

Beating it will also be a challenge in terms of sound, as the Brooklyn Bridge confidently takes on some (far) more expensive competitors and is by no means completely outclassed. Yes, it lacks a little bit of glamour and finesse to keep up with the absolute best equipment of the higher priced segments, but it blows the audience away with monumental power and rhythm.

Despite all its devotion, the Bridge still plays surprisingly neutral and direct. Together with the excellent timing and the superb dynamics, it was pure fun to blast the diffusely swaying and yet extremely energetic electronic piece "AS Daemon" by the Finnish artist duo Amnesia Scanner through the Brooklyn Bridge. The Mytek was able to perfectly capture the dramatically tense mood of the title and reproduced it uncensored. The heavy and hard guitars on the new album by the old masters of Tool are as little a hurdle for the Bridge as the fragile high voice of the American songwriter Will Oldham. Together with the very potent phono stage and the headphone outputs, which can handle even the most demanding headphones, this is a more than successful sonic package.

The Mytek Brooklyn Bridge manages to unite the most diverse product genres and effortlessly bridges the gap between analogue and digital HiFi, between maximum flexibility and audiophile sound. A true bridge builder.

 

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