We’d hoped for more from Myryad’s first attempt at adding a DAC to its extensive range of AV and hi-fi kit – especially as the Z20 has the same chip-set as its high-end MX Series CD players.
Understated in its design, there’s no flashiness here: a simple line of LEDs shows what’s playing and its sample rate, alongside two physical buttons for power and source selection.
‘Simple and functional’ is all well and good – design-led kit isn’t for everyone – but the Z20’s sound is similarly plain, and failed to leave a lasting impression on us during testing.
There are three inputs – one each of optical, coaxial and asynchronous USB-B, each capable of 24-bit/192kHz. There are also two sets of standard RCA line outs, but no headphone socket for desktop use.
Also mounted on the back is an input and output for Myryad’s ‘My Link’ system – a communications bus allowing you to link other Myryad kit so they will operate together.
We hook up a MacBook Pro via USB and play Lorde’s debut album at 24-bit/48kHz. Playing Tennis Court demonstrates a clean and detailed character, with direct vocals, and a tonally neutral presentation.
However, the unforgiving metronome-like beat punctuating the verses shows up the Z20’s less-than-perfect timing, particularly when compared with the beautifully rhythmic NAD D 1050.
Dynamically it’s not as subtle as the NAD either, failing to demonstrate the changes in tempo between the verses and chorus quite as adeptly, and there’s just not the same punch.
The major problem with the Myryad is everything it does is ‘just okay’; there are no serious grumbles of note, but no flashes of brilliance either.
This is most obvious when you compare it with any of its testmates and realise how good it could be.
We tested its performance via the other inputs too and found it to be largely the same: when connected to our reference £12k Naim NDS streamer via coaxial, it didn’t sound much different to our MacBook Pro over USB.
Better DACs would show more difference between these sources. The Myryad is out of its league a little.
While it performs adequately and offers a well-balanced and ultimately inoffensive sound, it doesn’t push sound quality to the levels we’d hope for.
Nor does it provide anything extra, like a headphone stage or wireless connectivity, to help its cause.
Existing Myryad owners may well consider adding the Z20 to their system because of its ability to communicate easily with other kit, but – for us – it doesn’t do enough to stand out from the increasingly competitive crowd.
MORE: See all our DAC reviews