MSB Reference DAC - Another thumbs up vote and quick review
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  1. #1
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    MSB Reference DAC - Another thumbs up vote and quick review

    It was hard to do, but I recently decided to give up my VAC Master Preamp and Lumin X1 to move to an MSB Reference DAC with the preamp module.

    First, let me say that the VAC Master is a very special piece, and all of the positive comments about it across the boards were completely true in my experience. I loved it and will miss it.

    I decided to go 100% digital streaming for now, and that lead me to look for a truly great and focused solution. I just don't have the time these days to deal with downloads, vinyl, etc. Yes, vinyl will forever be great to hold in your hands, and vintage vinyl is like holding a piece of music history... But, Roon with Tidal and Qobuz is almost like living in the matrix of most of the world's greatest music at your fingertips. With the MSB Ref, 4 boxes were cut down to 2 in my rack, and cabling was reduced as well... simplification. But, what I was chasing was that ever elusive analog sound from a digital source.

    I'm now a few hundred hours into the MSB Ref, and could not be happier. After listening to many products on the market over the years, I was questioning if all the MSB accolades were truly appropriate. For certain, at the price point of the Ref, any buyer should expect sound that is VERY special. That is exactly what you get. Outside of the MSB Select, there are very few competitors (if any) who can challenge what the Ref can do. It's a proprietary sound designed by MSB, and one that matches my ears better than any other I have heard.

    Most of all, I think the sound MSB provides with the Ref and Select is extremely close to the analog sound we have all been chasing in digital over the years. Those with very experienced ears can talk about how vinyl has more bloom, or 1/2 inch reel to reel has more of whatever, but my personal conclusion is that MSB has brought digital within a hair of equal quality level to any format. I think the MSB sound seems closest to tape. In the past there was no argument that analog was better... now it is becoming MUCH more of a choice.

    The future is here, and I like it... I just can't wait for this type of technology to graduate from being only for the esoteric / high experience buyers out there. It sure would be nice to hear this type of technology in home theaters, and all the other uses for DAC's.

    As the many reviews say... MSB is in a league of their own. Forum arguments on this stuff seem to be endless, but I truly believe MSB is an exception... The digital game is finally in the era we all hoped for so long ago.

    Thanks to Mike for his guidance on this journey!

    Cheers
    Jeremy

    Speakers: Magico S3 MkII
    Power Amp: VAC 200iQ (stereo)
    Source/DAC/Preamplifier: MSB Reference DAC (Femto 77 / Dual Powerbase)
    Power: Shunyata Triton V3 / Shunyata Typhon QR / AQ NRG 20 Outlet / Dedicated 20 amp circuit
    -------------
    Power Cables: AQ Dragons to components / AQ Hurricane to Typhon QR
    Speaker Cables: MIT Heritage MI 2C3D - Level 1
    Interconnects: MIT Heritage MI 2C3D - Level 1 (XLR)
    Ethernet: AQ Vodka > Aqvox SE > AQ Diamond > MSB Reference DAC
    Racks: Critical Mass Sotto Voce with Black Platinum shelves

  2. #2
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    Re: MSB Reference DAC - Another thumbs up vote and quick review

    congrats Jeremy! and nice write up.....I wholeheartedly agree with your comments.

    enjoy your MSB Reference Dac!

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  4. #3
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    Re: MSB Reference DAC - Another thumbs up vote and quick review

    Congrats Jeremy. I’m delighted you are so happy, but I knew you would be! The REF DAC is extraordinary. The MSB DAC’s are truly on another level.
    My Systems: http://www.audioshark.org/showthread...481#post158481

    "We can hear everything we measure, but we can't measure everything we hear. Let your ears be your guide."

    Dealer for: Aqua Hi-Fi, Audio Research, Aurender, AudioQuest Cables & Power Products, Avantgarde Acoustics, Avid HiFi, Ayre Acoustics, Berkeley Audio Design, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), Bryston, Chord, Constellation Audio, FirstWatt, Focal Headphones, Furutech, Fyne Audio Loudspeakers, GigaFoil, Gryphon Audio, Harbeth Loudspeakers, Hegel, HiFi Man, iFi Audio, ISO Acoustics, JL Audio, Keces Power Supplies, KL Audio Record Cleaning Machines, Lumin, Luxman, Magico Loudspeakers, MBL Speakers & Electronics, MIT Cables, MSB Technologies, Naim Audio, Ortofon, Pass Labs, Quadraspire, Rega Turntables, Roon Labs, Shunyata Research, SimAudio, SRA, Stein Music Products, Stillpoints, T+A Electronics, VAC, Vicoustics, Viva Audio, VPI Industries.

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  5. #4
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    Re: MSB Reference DAC - Another thumbs up vote and quick review

    Congratulations Jeremy! I’ve listened to the Reference DAC and it’s a magical sounding component. It’s magic is stunning realism.

    Enjoy,
    Ken
    "No summit worth climbing is easily attained."
    --------------------------------------------
    Source: MSB Select II DAC with
    Two Mono Powerbases, Femto 33 Clock,
    Renderer V2 and Roon Nucleus Plus
    Amps: Vandersteen M7-HPA Mono Amps
    Speakers: Vandersteen Model 7 Mk2
    Power: AudioQuest Niagara 7000

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  7. #5
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    Re: MSB Reference DAC - Another thumbs up vote and quick review

    I hate to say it, but no surprise here

    just think MSB is in a class of its own at the high end of the digital spectrum
    Brinkmann Bardo w/ 47 Labs MC Bee cart, MSB Premier DAC --> Music First Baby Reference v2 --> Audio Research Ref 75SE --> DeVore Fidelity Gibbon X

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  9. #6
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    Re: MSB Reference DAC - Another thumbs up vote and quick review

    I wouldn't say MSB are in a league of their own. At this end of the performance spectrum they have worthy competition, the different brand offerings are all different flavors of excellence. It's difficult to criticize any aspect of any of them. I heard an optimized fully tricked up MSB Select and I prefer my Esoteric Grandioso. I'd be happy with either. As I say, different flavors of excellence, choose the flavor you prefer.

  10. #7
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    Re: MSB Reference DAC - Another thumbs up vote and quick review

    Quote Originally Posted by brodricj View Post
    I wouldn't say MSB are in a league of their own. At this end of the performance spectrum they have worthy competition, the different brand offerings are all different flavors of excellence. It's difficult to criticize any aspect of any of them. I heard an optimized fully tricked up MSB Select and I prefer my Esoteric Grandioso. I'd be happy with either. As I say, different flavors of excellence, choose the flavor you prefer.
    May I ask for specifics why you preferred your Esoteric to the MSB? Did you hear both DACs in the same system?
    Simaudio Moon Neo 260 DT CD Transport / MIT SL-Matrix Plus AES/EBU digital cable / Schiit Yggdrasil Analog 2 DAC / Tripp Lite 1000HG isolation transformer (only digital front end) / Octave HP 700 preamp / Octave RE 320 stereo amp with Super Black Box / Reference 3A Reflector monitors on Sound Anchors Signature Stands / dual JL Audio Fathom 112 v2 subwoofers on ASC SubTraps / ZenWave Audio D4 and SMSG cables / Acoustic treatment: tube traps, Tri-panels, window plugs, ceiling diffusers (all ASC), large absorbing panels (Acoustics First), diverse carpets chosen for acoustic properties: wool, polypropylene basket-weave

  11. #8
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    Re: MSB Reference DAC - Another thumbs up vote and quick review

    Quote Originally Posted by brodricj View Post
    I wouldn't say MSB are in a league of their own. At this end of the performance spectrum they have worthy competition, the different brand offerings are all different flavors of excellence. It's difficult to criticize any aspect of any of them. I heard an optimized fully tricked up MSB Select and I prefer my Esoteric Grandioso. I'd be happy with either. As I say, different flavors of excellence, choose the flavor you prefer.
    Hi Brodric,

    Which model Grandioso do you own? I owned the Grandioso K1 Player and G1 Master Clock. They were outstanding sounding components and I have nothing but excellent things to say about them. But to my ears, the Select II DAC produces a significantly higher level of realism. I was able to do a direct comparison in my home system. I’m not trying to invalidate your opinion. Audio component tastes are, as we know, highly subjective.

    Best,
    Ken
    "No summit worth climbing is easily attained."
    --------------------------------------------
    Source: MSB Select II DAC with
    Two Mono Powerbases, Femto 33 Clock,
    Renderer V2 and Roon Nucleus Plus
    Amps: Vandersteen M7-HPA Mono Amps
    Speakers: Vandersteen Model 7 Mk2
    Power: AudioQuest Niagara 7000

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  13. #9
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    Re: MSB Reference DAC - Another thumbs up vote and quick review

    Quote Originally Posted by Al M. View Post
    May I ask for specifics why you preferred your Esoteric to the MSB?..
    I like the sound of both, and don't have a preference for either on sound quality. I preferred the Esoteric because it's less than half the price of the MSB.

  14. #10
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    Re: MSB Reference DAC - Another thumbs up vote and quick review

    Congrats, very nice DAC.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    “Life’s too short to listen to bad audio.”

    Big rig: AMG V12 + AMG 12j2 arm + Benz Micro Gullwing SLR MC/ Cardas Clear Beyond phono cable/ Stillpoints LPI/ Soulution 520 preamp with phono section/ Synology NAS with Roon and HD Plex linear PSU with Shunyata HD/ AQ Vodka RJ45 + Aqvox Network Switch SE/ AQ Diamond RJ45 into DAC/ Brinkmann Nyquist MK II/ Soulution 511/ WyWires Platinum ICs + power cables/ Magico S3 mk2/ Inakustik Reference LS 4004 AIR/ REL S5 SHO/ REL Blue/ Audioquest Niagara 5000/ Shunyata AlphaHC (x2)+ Alpha+Alpha Analogue+Alpha Digital/ Finite Elemente Pagode/ Stillpoints Ultra SS.

    Small rig: Naim UnitiServe/ Curious USB/ Tidal/ Ayre Codex/ Auralic Aries Mini/ Sbooster LPSU/ Pass Labs INT-60/ Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II/ HiD Diamond 8/ Harbeth 30.2 40th Anniversary/ Shunyata Venom EU7 & Venom 3 HD.

    HP rig: MacBookAir/ Tidal/ Auralic Gemini 2000/ Sbooster LPSU/ Audeze LCD-2 Classic + WyWires Red/ Shunyata HD/ Shunyata Hydra 2/ Shunyata Venom.

 

 
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