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Athens 2014: High-stakes poker with the Tidal-MSB system

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hes-2014While I was enjoying the Athens show, my editor Scot was publishing a mini review of a full TIDAL Audio system with Contriva Diacera SE speakers (SE stands for “Special Edition”) paired with the Preos preamplifier and Impulse dual mono power amplifier. Auralic’s Vega DAC acted like source and cables were from Purist Audio Designs.

I see his mini-review and raise with a custom version Contriva Diacera SE from TIDAL Audio and full stack of MSB electronics, including the Diamond DAC IV with Diamond Power Base and Signature Data CD IV which served as transport. Cables were Argento Flow and Transparent reference series.

With the Diamond DAC IV, the system performed exceptionally well. Over my long session at the room, I managed to hear some of the best male voices of this entire show, like Doug MacLeod singing “You Can’t Take My Blues”. Drums were precise, fast and detailed, while guitar was very life-like.

This would have me win the hand with Scot, but I wanted the game too, so a few hours before the show was over we went all in with the Select version, equipped with femto-clocks and just about every possible upgrade MSB can offer as we speak. Now you might think, how much of a difference can the Select offer when compared to the already fantastic Diamond DAC for more than double the price?

Well, the answer is a lot.

I would not expect it to be much of a difference, if any, but it was there. In Dick Hyman’s “You’re Driving Me Crazy / Moten Swing”, the piano grew in dimensions while the orchestra gained space among the various instruments. After adding a few of my sample tracks to the Audirvana playlist, I heard Mina and Cocciante sing “Amore” like never before, it gave me the goose bumps.

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