Stereophile's Products of 2012 Digital Source Component of the Year
MSB Diamond DAC IV D/A processor ($43,325, including FemtoSecond Galaxy Clock, $9950; Diamond Stepped Attenuator, $2995; Pro I2S input board, $995; USB2.0 384kHz input, $1395; and Diamond Power Base, $5995; reviewed by Jon Iverson, Vol.35 No.10 Review)
As in our "Analog Sources" category, six of the eight "Digital Sources" contenders won first-place votes; and while more reviewers granted individual votes to the Meridian (Sooloos) music server, it was the MSB Diamond DAC IV that received the most first-place votes and is therefore the decisive winner.
At show after show, MSB's Vince Galbo has tried to explain to me, in the simplest possible terms, the intricacies of the Diamond DAC's design and technology. I listen, smile, nod, take notes and stuff, but I never really know what the heck Galbo's talking about. There's a lot going on in MSB's gear, and I'm not the only one who has a tough time following along. It took Jon Iverson about 15 minutes just to figure out how to turn the thing on. But once the Diamond DAC IV was running, it made some of the smoothest, most detailed, most dynamic music JI's ever heard.
Where does all that smoothness come from? We think it has something to do with the FemtoSecond Galaxy Clock [cue Star Wars theme]. As JI explained in his review, a femtosecond is one quadrillionthone millionth of one billionthof a second. Why do we even know this stuff, and what has it got to do with music? Well, with the FemtoSecond Galaxy Clock in place, the Diamond DAC IV is claimed to produce less than 0.1 picosecond of jitter. That's like a real small amount of jitter. And when the jitter is small, the music is big.
JI concluded: "I'm unashamedly enthusiastic for products from companies like MSB, which push what technology can do in the service of beautiful music, which in turn makes life that much more worth living." Right on!
Runners-up (in alphabetical order)
AudioQuest DragonFly D/A processor ($249; reviewed by Art Dudley, Vol.35 No.10 Review)
Bel Canto Design e.One DAC3.5VB D/A processor ($5440 as reviewed by Erick Lichte, Vol.35 No.1 Review)
Bricasti Design M1 D/A processor ($7995; reviewed by John Atkinson & John Marks, Vol.35 Nos. 2 & 3 Review)
Halide DAC HD USB D/A processor ($495; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.35 Nos. 8 & 10 Review)
Meridian (Sooloos) music server (from $7000; reviewed by Jon Iverson, Vol.35 No.7 Review)
Musical Fidelity M1CLiC media server ($1999; reviewed by Jon Iverson, Vol.35 No.3 Review)
Simaudio Moon Evolution 650D CD player ($9000; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.34 No.11 Review)