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Newport 2016: MSB Technology

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Newport250x2501Back at RMAF 2013, I got to experience the MSB Analog DAC.  It was their entry level DAC priced at $6995. 2 minutes into listening, it was clear…. I wanted to hear more and more of it. I had never experienced digital reproduction that precise, that engaging, with no listening fatigue.

Little did I know that I was in for a real treat again @ T.H.E. Show 2016, as MSB sets the bar higher again with their new reference – the MSB Select DAC II.

Before we press play, let’s take a minute to appreciate the look of this lovely piece of equipment. It reminded me of a time piece, propped up on its two independent power bases . The fit and finish was top notch. Custom colors are also available (at no extra charge). When your spending this kind of $$, it has to look as good as it sounds!

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MSB Select DAC II details: (taken from the MSB Technology site)

  • Includes eight of our new MSB Hybrid DAC modules
  • Includes our famous Galaxy Clock or optional new Femto 33 Clock
  • Includes 2 Input and 1 Output modules – others are available
  • Includes higher power rated connectors and cable
  • Includes a DUAL SELECT Power Base with the Isolation Base built-in
  • Includes a 10 year replacement warranty
  • Includes an upgrade guarantee for 10 years (you only pay the difference)

The upgrade program means that customers who had previously purchased the MSB Select DAC I, can easily swap up to the MSB Select DAC II. A really nice benefit.

Base price: $89,500 (Gulp! )

How did it sound?

OUTSTANDING. We go from room to room at these shows. We see disappointing stuff, good stuff, great stuff, and then stuff that is just flat-out outstanding. This was one of those memorable ones. I wish I had had more time to spend listening to the music here.

What I appreciate is that MSB could have easily played some fancy hi-rez DSD/PCM, blah blah blah, but they didn’t. Vince Galbo always demos using standard Redbook CDs! We hate those, but darn, MSB makes those shiny discs sound amazing!  While listening to an orchestral piece that features a large pipe organ, the soundstage was huge, and the reproduction of the organ was flawless. An experience that I have never had before with a Redbook CD, and something I would  have only expected on a wonderful analog rig.

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T.H.E. Show Newport coverage brought to you by Underwood HiFi, Exogal and Emerald Physics

Other MSB DAC Updates

MSB now supports a new network renderer card for the Analog DAC. It allows streaming over DLNA directly to the Analog DAC. Vince Galbo explained @ T.H.E Show that support for both Roon and MQA are in the works! No ETA, but I was happy to hear that it is in development.

MSB M204 Mono Amps

Alongside MSB Select DAC II, was a wonderful set of MSB M204 Mono Amps driving YG Sonja 1.2 speakers.

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The cylinder same of the amplifier was to optimize signal and power paths. MSB claims that there is no signal or power path longer then 1 inch!

Key features:

  • 200w at 8ohms, capable of driving a 1ohm load
  • Zero feedback  design
  • True balanced and single ended inputs
  • Ultra short signal and power paths
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: >130dB
  • Dual 600W Toroidal Transformers
Summary

I had chance to hear many DACs this year @ THE Show, but the MSB Select DAC II and the Meridian Ultra DAC topped my list! Both produced engaging musical experiences.  How do they compare… I don’t know, since I only had a few minutes with each, and since it may not be a fair comparison (Price and type of content auditioned were different).  But I will say, after experiencing MQA on the Meridian Ultra DAC @ T.H.E. Show, I look forward to one day experiencing MQA with the MSB Select DAC II.

Full Room Equipment List

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Newport-MSB-4

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4 Comments on Newport 2016: MSB Technology

  1. Gavin Hadley // June 21, 2016 at 10:59 AM //

    so…$90K for a DAC…hmmm. This stuff is literally killing the high end…sad..

    • Mohammed Samji // June 22, 2016 at 12:40 PM //

      I agree its very expensive, and out of reach for most of us. But I see this as their statement piece, where the technology will trickle down to their entry level products. The fabulous Analog DAC was a trickle down.

  2. Did you hear the Kassandra DAC by Cerat? I guess not…

    • Mohammed Samji // June 22, 2016 at 12:38 PM //

      I did get a chance to see the Kassandra DAC by Cerat paired with Vandersteen 5A speakers @ T.H.E. Show, and it was one of my favorite rooms at the show. Room summary coming soon.

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