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  1. Cheers @bobfa I appreciate your kind words and astute observations. As far as I know, the Unity Atom is the closest competitor to the M10. I think you’re exactly right in your comparisons. I have no experience with the D2 or D3, but you might be on to something as far as the trend toward a “modern” sound in speakers. I take modern to mean a pristine, transparent quality which I imagine stems from the current “golden age” of digital sources. Taken too far, I can see how the result could become dry and harsh in a effort to sound cleaner. That über clarity can become too sharp. It wouldn’t surprise me if B&W fell into this digital sound trap due to current ownerships background in Silicon Valley.
  2. @blaven Thank you for the kind words! Enjoy that sweet system of yours while ur hunkering down in safety. @g_iordache Thanks, brother! I appreciate your comments. I don’t think I’m throwing shade though. In fact, I think NAD would agree with me — in spirit if not the exact word choices. At its price, given the costs associated with the impressive design, touchscreen interface and outstanding remote app, I think it’s inevitable ultimate SQ would take a hit. It was a specific choice NAD made. I haven’t heard the R-N803, but I’ve always enjoyed the “natural” Yamaha sound. Based on previous experience with Yammy, I imagine the R-N803 would offer a more laid back, smoother sound. The M10 is quite lively. Also, I should let you know that the M10 offers similar features to what you described. I am not an industry insider, but it seems clear these all-in-one devices are trending now. @Geoffrey mentions Arcam’s entry. PS Audio and others will be releasing their own versions. I bet many of them will rival or perhaps exceed the M10 in sound. But, I doubt any of them will elicit comments and interest from guests like the M10 on full display. And I don’t think many owners will grow tired of looking at it and using it either. To me, that’s the point of the M10.
  3. @apple2k Instead of reviewing the M10 as a model, I review the unit that’s given to me by the manufacturer. I believe that gives a clearer picture of the product as a whole, including its reliability. If a unit I’m given hasn’t been tested thoroughly or is perhaps prone to being faulty (i.e. the standby button), that’s on the manufacturer. If I can’t install DIRAC, then it’s a useless feature to me and for others in my situation, regardless of its potential. That’s part of my review. Having said that, I would’ve been quite interested in hearing what DIRAC could do. But, I was only given sixty days with the M10. That period included Thanksgiving and Christmas. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to go through tech support on installation, then set up, then another series of listening sessions. These are the conditions handed to me by the manufacturer, so I am reporting the best I can under the circumstances.
  4. Thanks for the comments @audiobomber, et al.I love hearing what you guys think! @AudioDoctor, It’s difficult to do goat yoga now that you have to stay six feet from the goat. @The Computer Audiophile, The verve and presence I enjoyed from the M10 would be make it a stand out in a hectic environment like RMAF. I didn’t hear the M10 there, but I imagine it sounded quite good. The refinement that I missed in home listening sessions would be hard for me to detect under show conditions. So, maybe we heard some of the same things. @PeterG, Yes, compared to NAD’s other products, it appears that sound was not the primary goal of the M10. But, I wouldn’t necessarily say NAD compromised on sound per say; it just wasn’t the absolute top priority. Moreover, for around $2700, I have no doubt you could get worse SQ, and without the curb appeal and seamless operation.
  5. Typically, you might see more of an introduction here, but these days everyone is just so darn busy being busy. Instant gratification is the only solution. I wish there was an app that would read my mind. Me wantee... now! I hear you. Let’s get to it... The NAD - M10 ($2749) streaming amplifier is not your typical audiophile component — mostly because it’s not audiophile. At least, not in the sense that an experienced listener would consider it to be audiophile. Nor do I believe it’s intended to be. But, if audio quality takes a backseat — what, pray tell, is the M10’s raison d'etre? After all, the music streaming device category is highly competitive in price, quality and variety. There is also no shortage of excellent options in integrated amps. Add the plethora of mix and match possibilities among the many online direct sellers and you could certainly come up with a better system than the M10 in all ways... except one. Ease. The M10 is primarily designed to be easy on the eyes and easy to use. This is likely how it first gained entry into NAD’s top of the line Masters Series. Engineers were then tasked with wringing out as much sound quality as they could given mandates of aesthetics, simple operation and a sub $3000 retail price. If you require technical specs, then this novice friendly gadget likely isn’t for you. But, if you insist, let me save you a trip to Google (link) Yay for less work! What results is an uncomplicated, straightforward device on all levels, including sonically. Today’s consumer overwhelmingly values convenience over arguably more practical considerations. In this way, the M10 and its contemporaries are superior to better sounding separates systems because they require significantly less effort. Fewer devices to research. Fewer devices to connect. With the M10, just attach speakers and plug into the wall. Simple. And yet, in an age when people would rather populate the planet with empty plastic coffee pods than count scoops of better tasting coffee, it’s not surprising that devices like the M10 are still not convenient and simple enough for most. For those individuals, smart speakers are the clear winner. Not even separate speakers to deal with — just a USB cable. As for that modern day circus oddity, the music aficionado interested in moving up to a quality home listening experience, I would happily point her in the direction of the M10. That is, if she can find appropriate speaker space in her (likely) overpriced, cramped, shared apartment and be able to spare $2749 plus the cost of good speakers. For those few hardy souls left, the M10 makes an ideal entry point since it’s also probably going to be an end point. A discerning music lover might look no further — just dance to the music like Sly Stone. That would be the case for all but the most demanding, gear obsessed lunatic... which, let’s face it, is pretty much everyone reading here. No offense! I won’t bother to describe the setup process because there’s nothing to say. It’s that basic. If setting up the M10 is a challenge, then please exchange it for a smart speaker or three. You’ll be much happier. Sincerely. There are vocal advocates of spending the majority of your audio budget on speakers. Given that speakers are the only required items which are not included, the M10 provides an interesting test. In my setup, M10 + speakers (DeVore Gibbon 3XL + REL T7 subwoofer), the speakers represent two-thirds of the total system cost. I am unable to comment on the room correction feature. I received an error message referring me back to the developer when trying to download DIRAC software to my MacBook, which made it a non starter. There were also issues with the standby button on the back. For some reason, I had difficulty waking up the unit after engaging the button. However, the M10 appears to have a built-in function that puts the unit to sleep after a period of being idle, so that worked for me. The only variable I explored was in choosing a power cord. Using the stock power cord allowed the M10 to demonstrate its basic nature. With the Synergistic Research - UEF Blue, the sound was similar to the stock cable, but more refined all around. The SR cable remained deployed for the duration. I did no other experimentation. The M10 is not that kind of device. Outside of being part of a BluOS multi-room music system, it seems NAD did not intend it to be integrated with other components downstream nor a home theater. It’s all-in-one, just-add-speakers, plug-n-play, in-a-box. Please alert Guinness about the most triple stacked modifiers in-a-row. Help, I can’t stop!! The M10’s most obvious modern convenience feature is the nice, big touchscreen display it sports upfront. It shows the album cover, artist, track and volume. Basic controls and menu are also accessible. These days I find a good display to be just about mandatory. I enjoy looking over and seeing at a glance what’s playing and appreciating the cover art. After the initial setup, no guide or manual is necessary. The BluOS app worked seamlessly. The M10 updates BluOS automatically. Easy peasy. Again, it’s beside the point here, but if you need to know more about BluOS, I refer you to Mr. Connaker’s master’s thesis (link). The M10 is steadfastly consistent and presents music with great verve. Nothing I listened to sounded unpleasant or particularly poor. It extracts the most important qualities within each track and provides a well balanced and musically nourishing meal. Whatever may be left out doesn’t significantly impair your ability to enjoy the music. That is, until you start listening more critically and attentively and notice what you’re missing. If all songs get similar treatment from the M10, then perhaps it’s not uncovering enough detail to expose the differences between them? My feeling is that while not ruthlessly revealing, the M10 is still discriminating. It’s able to recognize that not all tracks are created equal, so it draws better sound from better quality tracks, just as it should. At one point I noticed I was easily able to determine which version of The Cars eponymous album I preferred. RIP Ric Ocasek It’s also reasonable to wonder if this one-size-fits-all sound signature might indicate that the M10 paints everything with the same brush. I found the answer is both yes and no. While the M10 does allow for nuance and feel, at the same time, it seems hampered by a limited palette of colors and textures. In the very early going, I felt I had a good handle on the M10’s sound. Half-jokingly, I told myself I wouldn’t need to listen any more in order to write about it. To my surprise, that ultimately proved true. When it came down to focusing on individual tracks, my notes were essentially the same on everything I tried. The M10 delivers about 88% of what I like to hear in every aspect on the audiophile checklist. But, it’s missing the last ten percent or so that brings music to life — the difference between simple fun and captivating. Soundstage is the one attribute that didn’t rate quite as well as the others. I don’t normally listen for it consciously. But, when I did, it was kept noticeably confined between the speakers. Various songs had a smidge more height or depth, but I couldn’t get the sound field to budge on the horizontal plane. It makes the overall presentation feel a bit false and constricted. If soundstage is your thing, you might check elsewhere. Or, perhaps match the M10 with speakers that project the type of soundstage you prefer. Since I’m normally impressed by the DeVores’ sense of scale, I would have to identify the M10 as the soundstage bandit in my case. The amp may very well be the weak link. The M10’s strengths and shortcomings are reminiscent of the Mytek - Brooklyn AMP (link). Both amps happen to be Class D. In a review of the M10 found elsewhere online, the writer went to great lengths to defend Class D amplification in both the M10 and in general. But then, he ended up trying solid state and tube amps with the M10 anyway. He noted definite improvements with both amps and even went so far as to suggest using a different amp would represent a worthy upgrade. My listening suggested that’s a distinct possibility. However, adding an external amp negates the all-in-one simplicity that makes the M10 what it is. Is the speaker dominant system building strategy optimal here? Would more and more expensive speakers be performing up to their capabilities when connected to the NAD? I only listened to the M10 with the DeVores, so I can’t answer definitively. However, based on what I heard, the speakers easily outpaced the M10. I would regularly find myself thinking the DeVores are capable of more than what was being asked of them by the NAD. On the flip side, I wouldn’t see the point of adding something like cheap computer speakers to such a fine sounding component. I can’t honestly apply the review cliche “I could happily live with it.” The sound quality is just too compromised for these ears. And, like many people here at A/S, I don’t mind a bit of work in research, setup and operation in order to reap sonic benefits. Hence, the trade off of fidelity for convenience doesn’t work for me. If sound is your top priority, you can find better alternatives. The M10 is like a Mercedes A-Class. It’s a classy looking ride — easy driving and comfortable. It performs capably in all areas and has a decent set of features. At the same time, it doesn’t do anything exceptionally well. When you focus on the driving experience itself, if you crave the effortless feel of an Enzo Ferrari, the A-Class will never satisfy your hunger. Ease and convenience become irrelevant compared to actual driving performance. On the other hand, I think it would be fun for a budding audiophile to spend an afternoon shopping around for her ideal speakers to mate with the M10. Simply bring the unit to the store(s) with you and you can try any speakers in stock with your actual system. Given the plethora of outstanding speakers at budget prices, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a pair you vibe with and at a sensible price. The combination of looks, convenience and sound fidelity the M10 brings to the table is what makes it stand out. Finding a better alternative would require more work from start to finish — from purchasing decisions, to set up, to usage. And who has time for that? Actually, we all have time thanks to innumerable lifestyle efficiencies and time savers wrought by digital technology. Nevertheless, connecting a series of cords and wires is anathema for some people. For these folks — and even those for whom sound quality is appreciated, but not the be-all and end-all — improvement in audio is not as welcome as ease of setup and user experience. Indeed, there’s something to be said about the difference between enjoying music within minutes of opening the box versus a person who has to spend hours being frustrated just to get the latest firmware to work. It’s also true that overall dependability can be preferable to a chain of fussy electronics. To the music lover with the proper resources, who’d appreciate good sound, but doesn’t want to think too hard or work too hard on her musical pleasure, the M10 is here for you. Product Information: NAD M10 BluOS Streaming Amplifier ($2,749) NAD M10 BluOS Streaming Amplifier Product Page NAD M10 BluOS Streaming Amplifier Quick Setup (4.6 MB PDF) NAD M10 BluOS Streaming Amplifier Owner's Manual (2 MB PDF) NAD M10 BluOS Streaming Amplifier Data Sheet (1.2 MB ZIP) Where To Buy Readers with experience using the M10 are encouraged to leave a star rating and quick review on our Polestar platform: About PurpleWarrior Home: City of Angels Turn-ons: generosity, the ocean, new speaker smell Turn-offs: mean people, Republicans, Democrats Talents: piano, trombone, drums, nunchucks, bow hunting, computer hacking Favorite TV show: it's one that I've written for, but I can't say which as it's iconic and fraught with more NDAs than Harry and Meghan's nanny contract Best Concert: Ol' Dirty Bastard, Woodstock (tie) Sports Played: basketball, golf, Muay Thai, CrossFit People I Admire: my family, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Richard Pryor Ambitions: house the homeless, free the innocent Pets: uno doggo Guilty Pleasures: PS4, making fun of people who do goat yoga Foods I Crave: Shake Shack, Bob's Doughnuts, my grandmother's fried chicken Good First Date Idea: "When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV."
  6. <<monster truck show voice >>> Sunday! Sunday!! Sunday!!!
  7. Things I Learned At RMAF: Always make sure your seat is properly oriented toward the speakers. When people get up to leave, they tend to turn the chairs askew. There were rooms where I found myself underwhelmed and thinking the soundstage is very confusing, only to realize I’m sitting off angle. Anyone else have RAMF “protips”?
  8. It’s the second half here at RMAF. A few thoughts. Two of my favorite rooms, Classic Album Sundays and Sonore, both had one significant thing in common - Vivid Kaya. Their looks are growing on me. Definitely a case of form meets function. Smooth slopes and curves. Boulder/REL room sounded impressive without any acoustic treatments. Directional tweeters (Vienna Acoustics Liszt) and SIX subwoofers sure helps. Apparently after much trial and error they ended up with a symmetrical arrangement. Pic below. Pleased to see several blind audiophiles with canes. Now, there’s some folks who couldn’t care less about fancy casework. Haven’t seen any sign language around here though, hmmm.
  9. Great topic @The Computer Audiophile. Sorry your experience was a bit miserable. I had a different experience. Loved the rain and mud. Woodstock was easily one of the best times of my life. Transcendent. Life changing. Probably the first and last time I'll ever experience that much of a humanistic, communal feeling. People spontaneously formed a human chain to help others climb a steep muddy hill where we camped out. And then some people felt sorry for us sleeping in the rain (couldn't afford a tent), so they gave us their tent and some food and drink. Just before the now legendary Green Day mud slinging set, some kind dude generously traded me a bunch of weed for a few rolling papers. I was wondering if the band would start to complain about being pelted with mud, but in legit punk fashion, they reveled in it and started throwing it back. Good (un)clean fun. To this day, Dave Navarro says that RHCP set with those crazy light bulb heads was one of the highlights of his entire musical career! I'll never forget seeing the whole crowd swinging their shirts over their heads during "Higher Ground." What an amazing time Woodstock was for me and all my NYC buddies who attended. One guy even rode his bike all the way upstate from Brooklyn. Thanks for evoking those treasured memories, Chris! I wonder if we crossed paths back then? Regardless, we're Woodstock bros now. ✌+❤️
  10. @Veovis Thanks for your perspective as an owner. Due to a variety of circumstances, the review period took place over a number of months. The first month I was unable to start the review in earnest, so the amp had a good amount of time to get settled. When I said “out of the box,” it was a bit colloquial. I was referring to using the amp “as is” with the stock power cord and default settings. Also, the unit had already seen use prior to arrival.
  11. @msagar Thanks for the nice comment. The unit I received was indeed made in Brooklyn.
  12. Thanks for the welcome @The Computer Audiophile, @DuckToller, et al. CA/AS has been an invaluable resource as I’ve evolved my system over the years. Hopefully I can make a positive contribution to this great community. Cheers!
  13. Always Start With Coffee I've switched to drinking cold brew coffee. I used to be an Aeropress guy, but the cold brew process is a revelation to me. Bitter acidity and aftertaste are banished like so much jitter. Plus, I prefer iced coffee anyway. If you really want to get to know the flavor of your coffee beans, cold brew is the way to go. Water + coarse grind beans + steep time. This simplicity allows you to enjoy your coffee beans in their purest, most unadulterated form. In streamlining the coffee making process, one is able to zero in on the few elements in play and get them dialed in with fewer variables and distractions. The Contender As with the cold brew process, I wanted to explore the Mytek Brooklyn AMP under basic conditions in order to minimize additive elements. In terms of the coffee, if you want to be a stickler about the analogy, I would say the amp is more akin to the water and music to the beans. However, I'd rather remove asbestos with my tongue than be tasked with comparing the taste of different waters. So, let's stick to the amp equals beans analogy. Taste the beans, taste the amp. To that end, my primary evaluation choice was to listen with my Wyred 4 Sound - DAC-2v2SE-10th-Anniversary directly driving the amps -- no preamp. This is not to say that the end result of said simplicity will necessarily be to your liking. Some people will still prefer hot brewed coffee. Likewise, whether taking a miss on a preamp is your cup of tea (or coffee) is a matter of individual taste. But, in removing a significant variable like heat, I can focus on appreciating the actual flavor of the beans/amp, knowing I can always modify at a later stage to suit my exact preferences (i.e. almond milk and tube preamps). As far as operating the Brooklyn, it did not come with an owner's manual. For the most part, an amp is an amp, so this didn't present any problems. There is a series of DIP switches on the back which offer some options that I was able to decipher by going online. However, I didn't have any reason to alter things, so I used the amp with its default settings. Lookswise, the Brooklyn is a welcome relief from the typical oversized black box. It's got a uniquely dimpled, silver colored front panel. When I look at it, I alternately think golf ball or Epcot center. One of those ubiquitous blue LEDs (switchable to red which I prefer) nicely illuminates the Mytek logo on the front, indicating power. Near the conclusion of the review period the LED stopped working, although the amp continued to function. The perforation schemes dotting the casing are an imaginative take on the usual ventilation slits and add big style points. For those who normally buy their amps by the pound, this compact unit will leave a giant hole in your rack where the amp usually goes. Tale Of The Tape - lightweight division Name: Mytek Brooklyn AMP Type: Class D amplifier Country: Made in Brooklyn, USA Width: 8.5" Depth: 9.5" Height: 1.74" Weight: 6 lbs. Power Rating: 8 ohm - 250 Wpc; 4 ohm - 300 Wpc Warranty: 2 years Price: $2495 Here's an idea, place the Brooklyn inside of a giant aluminum casing with heat sink fins like a '57 Chevy. Blast all 250 watts for your friends and, when they're suitably blown away, lift the large casing to reveal this little wonder. Jaws drop and you take your bows while your significant other his/her their eyes. Matchup The plan was to conduct an evenly matched comparison of the Brooklyn AMP to my resident Valvet - A1.2 amp (25 Wpc, solid state, Class A), driving a pair of DeVore Fidelity - Gibbon 3XLs + REL - T-7 subwoofer. Kimber Kable - 8TC connects amp to the DeVores. The aforementioned W4S DAC would assume volume control duties. When I started the review process my source was an SOtM - sMS-200ultra powered by a Wyred 4 Sound - PS-1, followed by an Uptone Audio - ISO REGEN/LPS 1.2 combo platter. But then, in a dramatic plot twist, things took a trip to bountiful. Midway through this evaluation, I found myself with an Auralic - Aries G2 digital to digital converter, two new power cords (Audience - forte f3, Synergistic Research - UEF Blue) and Audience - Ohno interconnects. Okay, time for a new plan. See how the Brooklyn responds to changes, both minor and major as they say in the music business. Actually, I have no idea if they say that, but they probably should. So, instead of trying to keep system elements consistent across the board when comparing amps, I decided to evaluate how the Brooklyn takes to each different change and then derive an optimal source/amp/power cord/interconnect combination for comparison to the Valvet as configured in my present system. The Valvet amp is paired with a Synergistic Research - Atmosphere, Level 1 power cable. Holy dictionary, that's a long name! It's practically a full sentence. Likewise the Wyred 4 Sound - DAC-2v2SE-10th-Anniversary. On the other hand, Chord has a fancy, cutting edge DAC and simply calls it "Dave," which makes it seem pretty ordinary for the near $12,000 asking price. I don't think it would hurt these companies' bottom lines to try coming up with more appealing names for their passionately designed and engineered products. Naming schemes like sequential numbers, the initials of the designer, or tired classifications like "SE" are not nearly as special or carefully considered as the devices themselves. To me, the technical sounding names seem more like official designations than inspired name branding. Mytek's Brooklyn and Manhattan make perfect sense for a NY based company. Personally, I'd like to see Boogie Down and Shaolin models too, but I suspect that would have limited appeal to a more genteel crowd. Thus, the Hamptons series should be next. You didn't ask, but you're welcome Mytek. Preparing For The Showdown Out of the box, powering the Brooklyn via the stock cable, I immediately noted the midrange. Vocals are clean and mid-bass is solid. Drums crisp, clear. Sounds exactly like what it is -- a good quality reproduction of recorded music played on a two channel stereo. What's largely missing is any sense of illusion. You're never in doubt that you're listening to a stereo. There's no suspension of disbelief, that you've been transported to a place where the music simply exists. The guiro in David Bowie - "The Man Who Sold The World" is just not convincing. I'm missing the shimmer of the keyboard atmospherics. I'm not getting the jaunty feel of the ascending the bass line in the chorus. Signal Cable - Magic Power cable seemed a reasonably priced middle ground. Little Feat's moving trucker paean "Willin'" was pleasingly rendered. There's an appropriately large soundstage, although I noticed the female background vocals were hard to locate. Lowell George's road weary vocals sound right musically, but missing is the emotion -- the longing that's found in the subtle inflections of his delivery. Using the Mytek with the Magic Power cord, compared to my usual setup, I found the thrill was gone. Experimenting with the Synergistic Research power cables (UEF Blue and it's twice pricier brethren, Atmosphere) yielded similar results, both to each other and to other power cords I tried. Lone Justice "Dixie Storms" showcases Maria McKee's heavenly pipes in a simple, lush arrangement of voice, piano and strings. My notes say, "Here everything sounds good, but not great. Not wet, perhaps a bit dry and sterile. Not lifelike. Not emotive. Missing that touch of aliveness." When I knew I'd be receiving the Brooklyn, I did not read any reviews or forum chatter on the Brooklyn or Class D amps in general. I opened my mind and prepared to be smitten. Class D amps have been negatively described as etched, maybe a bit dry and lifeless with a flattened out soundstage. I don't have prior experience with Class D amps in my system, but those notions have been put forth by others. That said, the dismissive tone of some of those naysayers certainly gave me pause to question those assumptions. Besides, technology < implementation. Nevertheless, looking at my notes in retrospect, some Class D stereotypes did indeed seem to hold true with the Brooklyn. When using the SOtM chain in listening tests with the stock cable, Magic Power and Synergistic Research power cables, I got the feeling the Brooklyn was doing things in regard to detail and transparency that helped expose its limitations. I was starting to think I might have to write that scathing, negative review some of the more cynical among us believe establishes credibility. But, to my surprise, the Audience - forte f3 power cable triggered a stunning personality transformation. Suddenly the Mytek made for some captivating listening. It turns out the Audience cable warms up the Brooklyn sound nicely. Things are smoother, producing a denser, more lush feel compared to the Valvet, which plays more down the middle with a fast, open sound and a clearly defined sense of air and space, like the Smithsonian Museum. The Audience cable seems to mitigate and soften the negative qualities I was hearing with the other power cords attached to the Brooklyn. While still lacking the ultimate resolution of the Valvet, the details I heard were now easier to appreciate and added to the musical enjoyment. The resulting increase in my listening pleasure, made it clear this is easily my best match for the Brooklyn. With the Audience on the case, the thrill was back. Anyone notice any changes when experimenting with different power cords on the Brooklyn? Has anybody else tried the Audience - forte f3 (or any Audience power cord) with the Brooklyn or other Class D amps? Comment down below. Considering they're providing the definitive analog link, choice of interconnects is significant in this DAC direct to amp setup. That logic notwithstanding, there is surprisingly little to report here. I have some DIY cables that proved remarkably unremarkable. It was quickly apparent the Audience - Ohno were an energy and resolution buzz kill. Perhaps they added too much Audience warmth to the overall mix when combined with the Audience power cord. In the end, both amps were lashed to the W4S DAC with my usual Kimber Kable - Hero (RCA), which are faithful to the signal they're given and not particularly spendy. The SOtM/Uptone chain was successfully deployed to sort out which power cables and interconnects were working best with the Brooklyn. Once that process was completed, the Auralic - Aries G2 arrived on the scene and the SOtM chain was given an honorable discharge. No need for any long, drawn out comparisons. The Aries G2 simply proved to be in another league of electronic silence, providing noticeably more nuance and refinement. Galvanic isolation is the hero. In the spirit of Marie Kondo, I thanked the old devices for their service and then set them out on the curb. The Auralic became the only source used for comparing the amps. At last, it's time to compare the optimized Mytek Brooklyn AMP to the Valvet A1.2 when placed in my newly upgraded system. Had the previously established Brooklyn + Audience power cord combination not sounded good with the Auralic, it would have sent me back to square one. Fortunately, the Brooklyn's qualities remained consistent, so it sounded rightly impressive with the Aries G2. Main Event (round by round) I've always been disappointed by the fidelity of Tame Impala recordings. As much as I love "New Person, Same Old Mistakes," it has never sounded good on my system. Listening with the Brooklyn is the best I've heard this track. Perhaps a benefit of the Mytek's forgiving nature. Drums and vocals, usually weak and lacking character, become the most enjoyable parts. I noticed this song mostly resides in the midrange, the heart of the Brooklyn. Piano is consistently the most enjoyable instrument with the Mytek. When sufficiently present in the recording, piano parts invariably draw my attention and prove rewarding to follow along. Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Only A Dream" features her smokey vocals accompanied only by piano. Under the scrutiny of this spotlight, the piano performance holds up and allows you to delight in the track's simple beauty. But, let's not get carried away. It's not like the Brooklyn dropped a piano in my living room. It's known that piano is a particularly difficult instrument to convey convincingly and the Brooklyn isn't cracking the code. Although the Mytek delivers a lively presentation, it's only in the middle portion of the keyboard. Joe Strummer's "Willesden To Cricklewood" features a lot of piano notes in the upper octaves which lacked tinkle and sparkle. The gilded harp glissandos have less glow. Mytek doesn't convey the light touch and delicacy that make this song so charming. Tracy Chapman recorded a live version of "All That You Have Is Your Soul" at a Bridge School concert I happened to attend. The Brooklyn makes the performance easy listening, but doesn't evoke memories of the show. There's a sense of pristine clarity missing. The literal air is so well portrayed by the Valvet that I almost swear I can detect the gentle breeze that I recall during the performance. That's the sense of infinite openness and literal air around the instruments that I find lacking in the Mytek. That same missing element shows up again in Moby's "Rushing." It's an atmospheric track and it's not given a proper sense of airiness to express that feeling. But, it's also presented from a flat soundstage, so it lacks a sense of space fore to aft as well. In terms of dynamics, the Mytek gives you what you need. Phoenix's "Girlfriend" offers well played dynamics not only in terms of crescendos/decrescendos, but also in creating a dense/sparse soundstage as keyboards swell and drop out. Paul Westerberg's "These Are The Days" shows off the best of the Brooklyn. Good loud/quiet contrast. Pleasing tone and vibrancy in the electric guitar. I took notice of how the song is presented as a musical tapestry rather than a collection of individual instruments in space. Judge's Scorecard, aka TLDR I liked that most everything I tried sounded enjoyable through the Brooklyn AMP. In this sense, it arguably bests the Valvet which is more critical of poor recordings. Consistent with its more forgiving nature, the Mytek soundstage size is seldom noticeable as being particularly spacious or shrunken. Usually it's just about right for Goldilocks. However, my listening preferences currently favor realism, resolution and transparency. With the Brooklyn, focusing on any particular instrument had its limits. It doesn't provide extreme nuance and detail without running into its shortcomings as demonstrated with its stock power cord and some of the after-market power cables I tried. A well matched power cord may help to moisten and smooth over those rough edges, but finely honed details won't suddenly appear. That the Mytek didn't hit my exact sweet spot is likely a matter of personal taste. The gestalt of the Brooklyn lies in its midrange, while the Valvet plays instead with a great sense of ease from top to bottom. Where the Mytek presents music as seamlessly stitched together across a blank canvas, with the Valvet there is no canvas; music emerges from an invisible, three dimensional background.With the Brooklyn, I would still be listening to music, as opposed to experiencing it and being under the spell of it. For me, it's missing that last few percent of palpability and realness I crave. The almost tactile sensation that triggers my emotions more than my ears and takes me to my musical utopia. At the end of the day, musicality sits at the top of my list of desirable sonic qualities. Part of what I consider musicality is the sense that you're hearing the musical whole and not the sum of its parts. To that end, the Brooklyn's overall presentation is well organized and coherent as a performance. It's easy to get carried away just enjoying the music. If you like a forward, musical sound, you'd do well to consider this powerful little box. When one can find such a delightful performer in a small, environmentally friendly package, anyone with space, heat and aesthetic considerations would be remiss to ignore the Mytek Brooklyn AMP. This is an amp appropriate for our times. Product Information: Mytek Brooklyn AMP ($2,495) Brooklyn AMP Product Page Brooklyn AMP Brochure Brooklyn AMP Manual About PurpleWarrior Home: City of Angels Turn-ons: generosity, the ocean, new speaker smell Turn-offs: mean people, Republicans, Democrats Talents: piano, trombone, drums, nunchucks, bow hunting, computer hacking Favorite TV show: it's one that I've written for, but I can't say which as it's iconic and fraught with more NDAs than Harry and Meghan's nanny contract Best Concert: Ol' Dirty Bastard, Woodstock (tie) Sports Played: basketball, golf, Muay Thai, CrossFit People I Admire: my family, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Richard Pryor Ambitions: house the homeless, free the innocent Pets: uno doggo Guilty Pleasures: PS4, making fun of people who do goat yoga Foods I Crave: Shake Shack, Bob's Doughnuts, my grandmother's fried chicken Good First Date Idea: "When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV."
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