MSB Technology Analog DAC D/A converter and Analog Power Base power supply Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Digital Sources: Apple MacBook Pro computer (2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD) running OS 10.6.7, iTunes 11.1.3, Sonic Studios Amarra 2.5, Songbird 1.9.3, XLD; Western Digital 2TB NAS device; Oppo BDP-103 universal Blu-ray player; Meridian (formerly Sooloos) Digital Media System Control 15, TwinStore (3); Universal Media Transport plus; Apple iPad Air, mini; Apple iPod Touch 1G; Apple iPhone 4S. Digital processors: Benchmark DAC1 USB & DAC2 HGC, AudioQuest DragonFly USB DAC.
Preamplifier: Marantz AV7005 in Pure Direct mode.
Power Amplifier: Classé CAM 350 monoblocks (2).
Loudspeakers: MartinLogan Prodigy & Descent subwoofers (2).
Cables: USB: AudioQuest Victoria (for DragonFly) & Diamond, Cardas Clear. Interconnect: Cardas Neutral Reference, XLO (S/PDIF); various Kimber Kable, XLO HT Pro (line level). Speaker: Kimber Kable BiFocal XL. AC: manufacturers' own.
Accessories: Dedicated 40A line (amplifiers) & 15A lines (digital & analog components).—Jon Iverson

MSB Technology Corporation
625 Main Street
Watsonville, CA 95076
(831) 662-2800

iosiP's picture

I would have preferred a comparison between the balanced/unbalanced outputs, and also one between the MSB set to output a fixed level (and using a pre) and the same using a variable level.

I think the main questions the potential buyer faces are if the DAC volume control is good enough to get rid of a good preamp ("good", as in a pre usually included in systems that can take benefit of a $7,000+ DAC) and which trade-off is better if the rest of the system is fully balanced: using the "native" SE outputs or the "artificial" XLR outputs.

Also, since I have never listened to the DACs used for comparison (and even do not know how their price compares to that of the MSB), the only valid information I could gather is from the Measurements page!

Sorry for being candid but I really expected more than a nice rant about Bee Gees and tiny buttons with a green/red glow. 

HeadMania's picture

This is my favorite DAC until now. I've never tested / reviewed another dac to sound as natural and still with an incredible amount of detail within a very holographic / 3d sound presentation.

These being said, I managed to buy one for myself. I have tested the single ended outputs vs the balanced outputs ( with Audio GD Master 9) and I think that the single ended outputs are better overall with more detail, focus, better instrument separation, etc. This is a dac that excels on single ended, as it really is a single ended DAC. The balanced outpus adds some other circuitry that takes away from the transparency of the sound, to transform the single ended to balanced. However, I am not sure that balanced design is better than single ended design. I've heard absolutely superb single ended dacs which sounded much better than some balanced dacs. I think that it depends mostly on the matching and each component in the system.

So the main problem will be with the amplifiers you use, as some of them are of balanced design, and might sound better on balanced inputs than on the single ended ones.

navr's picture

All major amplifier brands moved to balanced designs. Does this mean the buyer must invest in XLR input? And what are the repercussions if not?