Mystique DAC Reviews
Excerpts from a review of our Mystique v2.0 DAC by Anthony Kershaw:
"Although the micro dynamics are spellbindingly effective, the macro type get a workout. The thunderous bass line….was indeed thunderous, but like the best digital, it was separated from the din above. Clinical but tactile. The highs from the stratus and the mids also maintained the definition but also the timbral beauty."
We are proud to be awarded Audiophilia’s Star Component status!
Go to "Audiophilia" to read the full review.
Excerpts from a review of our Mystique v2.0 DAC by Mark Pearson:
"What I can tell you is that the Mojo gear brings a level of sound quality to PCM that I simply didn't know existed...and there is no doubt they extracted the best sound from PCM that I have ever heard in my system."
Go to "Positive Feedback Online" to read the full review.
Excerpts from the review of our Mystique v1.0 DAC by Henry Wilkenson:
"After listening to the Mystique for a short while, my initial impression was distinctly analogue quality of the sound."
"There was no glare or hard edges to the sound rather; it was rich and laid back."
Go to "Audiophilia" to read the full review.
I have owned the Mystique for about 6 weeks now, and thought I’d add my two bits to Henry’s fine review. I agree with his comments except for one quibble. Where he states “If you are looking for the most extended treble, the deepest bass…. you’ll have to look elsewhere.”
My reference points are the Lampizator, Level 4, Gen 4, which I owned for 1.5 yrs., and the Berkeley Alpha DAC (*not* the new Ref series), which I demoed while demoing the Lampy. I found the Berkeley unit very good but it sounded “HiFi” — i.e., something about the presentation always reinforced the perception of listening to recorded music. The Lampy definitely brings home the guts and glory of live music and is a real tribute to the passion of Lukasz Fikus, Mr. Lampizator.
Only with the coming of the Mystique did I start to realize where those ultimate pockets of musical nuance and articulation resided, the Lampy didn’t go to those places. Instead, there was a subtle “scrim” or sonic signature, if you will. When it comes to Henry’s reference to “extension” — the Mystique delineates the frequency extremes with the same crystalline force it does everything in between. To me, it seems like listening to a mike feed — the feeling is like a whole bunch of electronics between me and music was removed. More so — by a fair margin — than the Lampy or the Alpha DAC.
As for the lack of bells and whistles, I’m totally on board with Ben on that. Kit should be heard and not seen. ;<]
– David Z., USA (Comment on Audiophilia)
I think I was one of the first owners of the Mystique DAC, and certainly the first in my country (France). I live with it for 3 months now, and I can say it’s a marvelous piece of pleasure for anyone who’s not searching the most versatile stuff in Earth.
It only has 1 input, 1 pair of outputs, no screen, no selectable upsampling, no DSD, no remote of other funny things. It’s small, makes only MUSIC, up to 192KHz (enough for 99% of us I believe…). Analog like, no harshness, but all details you want/need.
It reminds me the very nice Counterpoint DA10 with Rapture Card I owned a few years ago (maybe 3 times the price of the Mystique...in the 90’s), same character but with « more » things. More details, bigger imaging and « body » to the music. This Counterpoint was a reference 20 years ago, I think the Mystique can be a reference today, for the price and much higher.
I’ve never heard a better DAC yet, but I cant’ honestly say it’s THE best, as I’m not really in high-end…only compared with other deemed stuff like the Metrum Hex or with my precedent one, a Dangerous Source with external PSU and also external clocks. Both at least 50% more expensive if you consider the total price of the boxes, and less natural than the Mystique.
One other thing I can say now, is that I can hear much more clearly differences between good and bad masterings in my system. This DAC has not really a sonic signature for me: it’s very « neutral » to my ears, and I’m used to studio stuff (only active pro speakers for the other part of my system). But it doesn’t means that bad recordings are inaudible, just that I can much better hear every instrument, and the way there were recorded/mastered.
With XLR outputs and a fully balanced build, I believe Ben could have some success with masterings studios (Apogee, RME, Antelope reference’s Dacs or many great pro Brands don’t make better stuff, just much more inputs/outputs for engeenering purposes…)
With Mojo Audio, small and un-ostentatious things means only Music. You can’t get wrong with this one.
– Jeff., France (Comment on Audiophilia)
After burning in the Mystique for a while, I went back to my old DAC for a comparison tonight and it was easy to decide to keep the Mystique. [added: My current DAC was a Red Wine Audio Bellina - battery powered NOS DAC. In the past, I've had a Neko Audio D100Mk2 and Eastern Electric Minimax.] What I used to think was great sounding now sounded muddy and diffuse, with the Mystique easily cutting through that fog, giving a clearer picture on the performers and their intent.
– Mike A., NC (Audiogon feedback)
My path to optimum sound via Mojo Audio's Mystique DAC has not been a straight line. I did not purchase this product directly but rather was involved in listening tests during the DAC's development and refinement at the home of head Mojo Benjamin Zwickel. I previously had Benjamin upgrade an MHDT Renaissance DAC [that was] about ten years old [that] I won on an EBAY auction, and the improved sound of that device was astounding on my Apogee Diva main system.
Ben invited me to do a series of listening tests as he perfected the design of the Mystique DAC with various upgrades. Over a period of several months I was invited to Ben's living room to hear the next evolution of the Mystique. Eventually I fell in love, and when Ben went to production on the final Mystique design, I asked him if I could buy the prototype board. It looked like a science project, which in a sense it was, and i couldn't be happier!
Lets begin at the conclusion: the Mojo Mystique DAC is the most transparent DAC I have ever listened to music through, creating an analogue like sound that is unsurpassed by any other digital equipment i have ever owned. It is a pleasure to listen to, non fatiguing, musical, detailed and dynamic. It is my reference digital gear at this point.
I have had very expensive Sony ES CD players, top of the line Marantz players, a very good Monsoon audio Dac, and others, but the Prototype Mystique Dac i listen to on my main computer USB out rig is clearly the most enjoyable!
This DAC is NOS, using nonoversampling chips that fly in the face of most new DACs on the market. The Mystique DAC is very revealing, garbage in garbage out, but it is not so cruel to streaming music as to make it impossible to listen to. MP3s and Apple Lossless files sound very good through it. Upgrading digital sources to FLAC is revelatory, giving the music glorious textures, tone and spaciousness that rivals my SOTA Sapphire vinyl source. I wouldn't say it makes all my upsampling DACs sound like toys, but it definitely creates a different kind of listening pleasure which makes them second or third choices to listening through the Mystique.
I haven't gone all the way yet and created a Mac Mini server to maximize my digital world. But I’m seriously thinking about it, because the Mystique has revealed that digital can indeed rival analogue is musical delicacy power and sound stage.
Bravo MOJO AUDIO!!!!!
– Dr. Blue, NM
I'm currently hearing my system with your Dac, and it's really quite impressive. I believe there's also a "burn in" after what it will someway improve even more ?
The first impression is the huge width, and the "flesh" (my English words are not so good...), no aggressiveness at all. I think it's what the vinyl lovers calls "analog".
– Jean-Francois, France
The Mojo Mystique [DAC] review (or, how I learned to stop worrying and stop oversampling…)
I’ve been using a prototype of the Mojo Mystique DAC a few months now, and I have some impressions. The rave recommendation by Dr Blue (drblueinnewmexico on Head-Fi) piqued my curiosity. I had the Peachtree GrandPre, which my research had shown was well regarded in the audiophile community and was well reviewed, both as a preamp and a DAC. But, audiophilia nervosa struck (as did my inability to resist bargains), so I went for it.
So, when I decided to review, I figured I’d do it like the reviewers in those audiophile mags do, describe the sound, and compare to a known reference. I’d use albums I liked musically and sonically. I started with Aimee Mann “@#%&*! Smilers”, the tracks “Phoenix” and “Borrowing Time”, Sarah Vaughn “How Long Has This Been Going On” (XRCD), the title track, and Guy Van Duser & Billy Novick’s cd, “Every Little Moment”, a demo disc if I’ve ever heard one. (They play guitar and clarinet respectively). I’d already gotten some comments from my wife and a friend on how live the clarinet sounded through the system. To get to the heart of the matter, the tubed Mojo [DAC] is rich sounding, layered, great vocal rendition and instrumental texture presentation. Vocals are particularly well served on the Mojo; they are lifelike, lush, and very present. It portrays the sound stage with depth, and preserves great “pace” (as the Linn people used to stress), gets me tapping the toes/dancing moronically, to my family’s amusement.
The Peachtree’s presentation is slightly wider, not as deep, more “dry” sounding. Certainly not bad, in fact I was fine with it before I got the Mojo, but it’s a tad more clinical and less involving. Listening to the Mojo to “Every Little Moment”, the sound and feel of air being blown through the clarinet is tactile, and Van Duser’s playing has the edge and warmth nylon string guitars have. Sarah Vaughn’s lush voice and inimitable vocal calisthenics are intense and rich, her swoops ethereal. Compared to the Peachtree, drums more snap, cymbals more bite and body.
Maybe it’s the non-oversampling DAC, as Ben says, doing no harm to the fragile digital signal. Maybe it’s the tube amplification, or choice and matching of other parts. Beats me, I just listen. My ears tell me something is really right, though. It certainly provides good value in the realm of affordable (for high end audio) DACs.
– Jack S., NJ
I started my Mojo journey with the Mojo Lucent ICs which were simply the best I had heard at the time as compared to anything that wasn’t out-of-this-world costly. I was using a Chris Johnson modified Benchmark DAC (with the Burson discret output stages) with the music server and was loving it. The modified Benchmark is an analog sounding music maker – way better than the stock Benchmark. In fact, the modified Benchmark literally made the stock DAC unlistenable and this is no exaggeration. And the stock DAC is considered a reference by a number of reviewers!
Since my experience with Mojo had all been positive and none of what Benjamin had told me regarding his products had been exaggerated, I decided to try the Mojo DAC. Glad I did. Whether it is the lack of upsampling or the lack of sound degrading filters or the superior parts used, the DAC was a move up from the modified Benchmark – in some very important ways. The Mojo DAC was more detailed, dynamic (by a small amount), much more organic and simply more musical. The Mojo DAC just presents the music in a way that to the ear and brain is simply right – more like real music. Hard to define, but you know it when you hear it. Interesting enough, prior to the Mojo DAC, I greatly preferred Amarra in my system, but after the Mojo DAC, I prefer Audirvana with its bit-perfect, unadulterated signal. I think this may be a nod to the way the Mojo just lets the music flow without any need of software manipulation.
I always recommend the Mojo DAC (and its other products) to anyone auditioning anything even close to their price range. I don’t see how anyone can go wrong when Mojo Audio give you 45-days to audition their products.
– Owen S., FL
Needless to say I was fairly impressed with Ben's power cords; so much so that I asked him to modify my MHDT Havana DAC. I sent it to him and he immediately informed me I needed to sell my DAC and demo his latest creation. I went to Ben's home with the intention of being underwhelmed by big words and decent tunes. The differences between this...DAC and the Havana were night and day. The Mojo Audio DAC was more refined, lower noise, bigger, bolder and more organic. These babies weren't even in the same league.
Ben has since upgraded the DAC about 5 times, each time sending me a new iteration to test and evaluate. The latest version having transformed..to a piece of gear that could be lived with for a good long time.
At this DAC's price point it is a truly wonderful piece of gear. I can say from experience that the Mojo Audio DAC is very much competitive with the best out there.
I found that the Mojo DAC easily bested Musatex Bitstream, Bel Canto, Benchmark, and PS Audio Perfect Wave all of which I've had fly through my system.
– Ryan M.,NC (Owner, Core Audio Technology)
Rarely can I say I've been so impressed with a company or their products.
After I replaced all the power cords in my system with the Mojo I tried his interconnects. Same results. I sold off my high end wires used and had money left over. Ben had been telling me about a DAC prototype he was working on.
I've been a vinyl guy for many years.The big reason I have a digital system is I can't find the new music I like on vinyl so I don't have a choice. All I can say is the Mojo DAC sounds more like analogue than anything I've ever heard. In some ways it actually sounds better than vinyl and in some ways not quite as good. In any event, I don't find it a compromise to buy CDs anymore.
I've had some big names like the Benchmark DAC1, Consonance Droplet, Shanling 200 (with level 2 upgrades), Wadia, Accuphase, Teac VRDS, and even some modified vintage gear that weighed as much as a boat anchor and had a Philips TDA1541 chip in it. They were not even close to Ben's DAC.
Ben tells me he's working on a DAC that play native 24/192 files and will also be non-oversampling and have a USB input. He says it should be out some time next year. I told him to put my name at the top of the list to buy one.
Every product I've bought from Mojo sounds natural, musical and coherent just like they say. With a 30 day money back guaranty and 90 day upgrade option its a real no brainer.
– Rooney, Pittsburgh, PA