Not only did Mytek proudly proclaim the “cost no object” category for their newest EMPIRE streamer, but the accompanying PR release counts it as an “all out assault on state-of-the-art”. Now, those are bold words, but when price tags get this spicy in high-end audio, amazing things usually do start to happen – if you can afford it.
Take the dCS Bartok for example. Its $15k plus price range may raise an eyebrow or two, but the custom ring DAC implementation (also found in even higher price points for the company) has wowed us on not only the digital realm, but as a preamp and shockingly as a $4k add on class A headphone amplifier. Lesson is, sometimes more R&D does lead to more acoustic value. As simple as this seems, there are many who tend to shy away from this logic in hifi. While perhaps the analog side of reproduction has settled a bit on this front, it is no more apparent than the gains had from increasing research and development in USB audio and streaming in recent years.
In terms of feature set, the Mytek EMPIRE DAC/Steamer/Pre first and foremost drives Roon Core all by itself. This functionality is something that is usually absent from most streamers and requires that another Core-running device be always on in order to maintain the network. From the Core the Mytek EMPIRE can then stream the music to itself, or any Roon endpoint in another room – very handy. The rest of the design features that lead the assault can be found in the PR release below.
Expect availability to start in December of this year, with more quantities hitting in February of 2021. MSRP for the Mytek EMPIRE DAC will be $19,995 in the US.
Mytek Audio proudly introduces the EMPIRE DAC/Streamer/Preamplifier; An “all out” assault on the state-of-the-art, the EMPIRE establishes Mytek as a top echelon player in the high-performance audio arena. The Streamer is “Powered by RoonOS” and features internal Roon Core that can drive both the ultra-high performance EMPIRE DAC and external Roon endpoints. There is a dual mono fully balanced differential analog preamplifier with an ultra quiet phono stage for both MC and MM cartridges. Going one step further, a high current, dual mono, fully balanced headphone amplifier is part of this extraordinary package.
The heart and soul of this state-of-the-art component is the new on-board Empire DAC which represents the highest performance and most musically engaging Mytek DAC ever. Built around two ultra-high performance ESS 9038PRO Sabre DAC chipsets, this dual mono fully balanced circuit is capable of 32-bit/768kHz PCM, DSD512 and MQA while achieving dynamic range greater than 133dB. Both the DAC and Preamplifier functions are controlled by a brand new MytekOS Platform, offering new functionality via easy software upgrades that will gradually be released in the future as the Platform progresses.
Mytek Digital enters the “cost no object” digital arena
The EMPIRE streamer is a new product category which combines state-of-the-art analog design with modern digital, wifi and an internet ready control platform in one colossal sounding, easy to use fully functional device. It’s draws from nearly 3 decades of award winning digital audio engineering and manufacturing experience coupled with future visionary software driven products. This represents the very finest one box solution for both music lovers and audiophiles, all housed in a one chassis milled from a single block of aircraft grade aluminum. Furthermore, as a result of both its modular hardware design and software based platform, the EMPIRE Streamer can be easily described as “future proof”. The EMPIRE Series will be expanded upon with an addition of similarly constructed EMPIRE Monoblock Amplifiers planned for 2021.
EMPIRE DAC/Streamer/Preamplifier Significant Design Features:
● “Roon OS Powered” Streamer built in. Operated either via a front panel touchscreen or Roon Remote on a smart device. All regular Roon functionality with access to online streaming services and local content. The ability to play to all endpoints.
● Cost no object dual mono fully balanced audio path for both DAC and analog circuitry. Three oversized linear power supplies for digital circuitry, left and right DAC/analog circuitry; Each uses a shielded low noise toroidal transformer with automatic adjustment for AC input voltage (100-240VAC).
● 7 analog preamplifier inputs, including a state-of-the-art MM/MC nickel transformer based phono stage, 2 balanced analog preamplifier inputs each input with adjustable input sensitivity and 2 independently selectable outputs – XLR and RCA.
● Digital DAC inputs includes: Streamer, SPDIF, AES/EBU, Optical, USB2, HDMI (2-channel), all PCM DSD and MQA capable. ● Digital Streamer outputs: SPDIF, USB2, HDMI (2 – 8 channel), Ethernet and WiFi.
● Internal Storage: 8TB SSD. Accepts all external USB3, USBC and Network drives.
● Built in MytekOS DAC/Preamplifier Platform allows for future functional upgrades and new DSP features for the
DAC/Preamplifier to be released throughout product lifecycle. There will be 3 stages of development and functionality:
1) Upon shipping: Firmware V1.0: Fully functional Roon OS Streamer with complete DAC output playback, volume control.
2) Q2, 2021: Firmware V2.0, as above plus full preamplifier functionality (enables functionality of already built in hardware)
3) Q4, 2021: Firmware V3.0, as above plus “a la carte” hi-res DSP features. Details TBA ● Chassis: Silver or Black, Dimensions: (w x h x d): 17″ x 3.5″ x 14” / Weight: 20 lbs.
● Companion Empire Monoblock Amplifiers (8.5” wide) to be released Q2, 2021. Details TBA