Brinkmann Audio Nyquist DAC - TAS
The Absolute Sound 01 December 2017 Full Review
Mention the name Helmut Brinkmann to an audiophile and the first thing that comes to mind is probably the German designer’s superb turntables. But Brinkmann began his audio career more than 35 years ago making amplifiers, and even designed his first DAC way back in 1986 (called the “Zenith”). Now Brinkmann has come full circle with the new Nyquist DAC, a product that is designed and built with the same fanatical attention to detail as the company’s turntables. Moreover, the Nyquist is brimming with advanced features, including MQA decoding, high-speed DSD sup-port, Roon-ready operation, UPnP connectivity, and upgradeable digital circuitry. Yet for all its cutting-edge digital prowess, the Nyquist’s output stage is built around that most ancient and venerable of audio technologies, the vacuum tube.
THE PRODUCT OF a recently expanded digital-design team, the Nyquist is a three component affair: the DAC itself, the 24 pound granite base on which it rests, and the outboard power supply. In Brinkmann tradition, the granite base isolates the DAC from vibration. Four vacuum tubes are mounted horizontally outside the chassis (two on each side), but encased in large fins that resemble heatsinks. The front panel offers three buttons, two knobs, a headphone jack, and a comprehensive display. The latter indicates the incoming signal’s format and sampling frequency, output level, and whether phase inversion has been engaged. The display also shows when the Nyquist is decoding an MQA file. A period after the MQA initialism indicates “MQA Studio” mode files that have been auditioned and approved, in MQA format, by the artist, producer, or record company representative. The left knob adjusts the analog output signal’s level (limited to a range of 10dB for the line output, but with a full range of level control when the headphone output is engaged), and the right knob selects the digital input. Volume, input select, and phase inversion are available on the supplied remote control. Balanced and unbalanced analog outputs are offered on the rear panel. The Nyquist is supplied with a Brinkmann designed AC power cord. Brinkmann recommends connecting the AC cord directly to the wall outlet rather than through a power conditioner.
The Nyquist is fully up to date with the latest in streaming tech-nology and connectivity. In addition to decoding any PCM sample rate up to 384kHz, it is DSD compatible all the way up to DSD256 (four times the standard DSD rate). An Ethernet port provides network connectivity, allowing you to stream music from any UPnP (Universal Plug ’n’ Play some wags call it “Universal Plug ’n’ Pray”) device. Some NAS drives incorporate an integral UPnP server, which obviates the need for a PC or Mac. If you want to use a computer with the Nyquist, you can configure most music playback software programs to operate as a UPnP server. The Nyquist is a Roon certified endpoint, allowing you to stream from any Roon core server on the network to the Nyquist via Roon’s superb interface. The Nyquist supports Tidal, Deezer, and vTuner Internet Radio.
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