MSB Select DAC-II PCM-32/3072 4xDSD w Preamp module - optional in/output modules

MB 20 DC SEL DAC
NZ$ 146,000.00 ea (incl. GST)
MSB DACs

Creators of the world's most technically advanced DACs

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“If you want the best then look no further. The amazing musicality, resolution and clarity is too hard to resist if you’re serious about your high-end system. “Don’t miss out on your chance to experience the best conversion the industry has to offer. Your search stops here".

REDEFING WHAT IS POSSIBLE - THE WORLDS MOST REVEALING DAC:
MSB Technology is one of the best companies out there when talking about DACs. Their newest program is called the MSB Technology Select DAC II. The MSB Technology Select DAC is more or less like a blend of the best of the Analog DAC and the best of the DAC V. It combines the Analog DAC construction, user interface and modularity with the DAC V’s upgradeability and refined sound taken to a whole new level. It offers the most life-like sound possible. It has a level of realism never heard before. Both the DAC and Power Base are milled from a solid billet of aluminium in the MSB Technology factory. Both inputs and outputs are modular and user replaceable. It features the new MSB Hybrid DAC modules, the Galaxy clock, a whole new digital architecture, new volume technology and a new direct coupled output stage.

THE SELECT PROGRAM
The Select DAC is MSB’s reference DAC for the future. It is all new and promises great potential for continued development and improvements. Right out of the box it dramatically exceeds all the company has done to date, and it is still new and developing. But don’t worry, you can upgrade as often as you want, so you will never be left behind. The Select model comes with a 10 year warranty and upgrade guarantee so as MSB Technology makes improvements, you can return your DAC and get the latest performance without having to worry about selling the old model and buying the new one. These upgrades are simply the difference in cost between what you paid for your DAC and the current Select DAC for the remaining years.

The MSB Technology Select DAC has amazing resolution. In fact, for the first time ever you can just barely hear the quantisation noise of a CD, a noise that disappears with 24 bit sources. The clarity and the absence of any texture “between the notes”, that “dark background” are all attributes ascribed to this MSB Technology Select DAC. All the circuit boards are assembled in-house. The Select Power Base is quite remarkable. It contains two independent supplies. One for the digital and one for the analog sections.

Eight Hybrid DAC’s
With eight Hybrid DACs, we yield an unmatched level of detail, reproducing the musicality, soundstage, and texture of an original performance, bringing the artist to you. A fully balanced, ultra-high precision, discrete ladder DAC architecture ensures each note tells a story. Additionally, MSB’s robust in-house design enables the finest quality playback of PCM and native DSD, while our low impedance circuitry drives your amplification directly without adding coloration or buffering noise. The end result is a digital experience defying expectations.

Simplicity
Smooth chassis lines, few controls, focused modularity, and high-end quality. Our design statement ensured there was no compromise as we set out to create a new level of digital-to-analog conversion. The resulting product set a benchmark in the listening experience.

Each DAC is unique
If you choose to deviate from the stock silver or black finish, there are other bold choices you can make. To ensure the Select DAC is uniformly customisable in every regard, production time is increased to provide you with the the richest and most dynamic product available. All MSB DAC’s have the serial number and customer information programmed directly into the unit. As a result, each DAC is unique, singular, and unparalleled.

A display for the listening chair
Equipped with high-visibility and a wide viewing angle, the display is both easy-to-read and stunning, exhibiting our love for intuitive features.  The LED display, slaved to the audio clock, is refreshed between data processing to drastically reduce electrical interference. The in-house discrete design is then constructed into its own shielded CNC pocket for optimal isolation. Sit back and be immersed.

The Dual Powerbase
The importance of a clean power supply can’t be under estimated.  A re-imagined design paired with the Select DAC reduces the noise floor even further. There is a single supply for the digital side of the DAC, along with an isolated supply for the analog side. This yields an unprecedented level of performance.

The Mono Powerbase
Moving to two dedicated power supplies, we provide increased isolation and electrical performance for both the digital and the analog power. With the increased space, each Mono Powerbase has a much lower electrical noise design.  

Completely Moduar
Paired with performance increases, our modular design ethos increases flexibility for future updates and product support, guaranteeing a long-term product investment. As you pursue higher levels of playback, an MSB upgrade path is always available to help drive your own desire for innovation. Whether it’s a software update or a leading-edge modular component, we’re here to help the most valued aspect of MSB—our customers.

Future Proof
MSB thrives off the innovation required to meet consumer demands. We’re constantly improving digital input modules to stay at the forefront of the high-end audio industry, ensuring you’re always equipped with the most current digital file formats and interfaces. Focusing on our network renderer and USB input, your audio tech will be on the cutting edge. Put simply, your DAC is ready for the future.

The last preamp you will ever need
With the high-output power provided by the Hybrid DAC modules, the need for amplification is eliminated. The signal is attenuated with new technology that provides a constant low impedance output without any active circuitry (no transistors, buffers or op-amps). This allows the Select DAC’s remarkable audio quality to be truly independent of volume setting. It’s a remarkable feat of electrical design that sets a new benchmark in the industry. The output modules are individually tuned for maximum quality balance or single-ended audio.

Expand your analog audio
With sideways expansion, the preamp has the ability for additional analog inputs, isolated sub outputs, and extra analog outputs.

CNC Billet chassis
Starting with an 85lb plate of ‘Kaiser Select Precision Plate’, material is machined in our own in-house CNC shop. After eight hours of machining, 85% of the aluminium is removed, resulting in a 17lb finished product. The integration of our CNC shop allows for design optimisation to create the best possible product. We use the high quality premium ‘Select’ metal, giving us the best anodised finishes on the market. There are no shortcuts with the Select DAC

Anodised Finishes
Elegant yet commanding, our finishes are available in a matte silver or matte black anodise. Replaceable foot guards are included to protect the chassis from damage. Any audiophile M6X1 foot can be installed to optimise your system.

The Select DAC includes:

  • Optical and Coaxial Input Module
  • Standard Output Preamp Module
  • Femto 77 Clock
  • Dual Powerbase
  • MSB Remote
  • Stock Colours: Silver and Black
  • Custom colours available with extended manufacturing time and custom colour charge.

Features

Specifications

Reviews

Videos

Features

The Select DAC - Redefining what is possible. The world’s most revealing DAC.

Eight Hybrid DAC’s
With eight Hybrid DACs, we yield an unmatched level of detail, reproducing the musicality, soundstage, and texture of an original performance, bringing the artist to you. A fully balanced, ultra-high precision, discrete ladder DAC architecture ensures each note tells a story. Additionally, MSB’s robust in-house design enables the finest quality playback of PCM and native DSD, while our low impedance circuitry drives your amplification directly without adding coloration or buffering noise. The end result is a digital experience defying expectations.

Simplicity
Smooth chassis lines, few controls, focused modularity, and high-end quality. Our design statement ensured there was no compromise as we set out to create a new level of digital-to-analog conversion. The resulting product set a benchmark in the listening experience.

Each DAC is unique
If you choose to deviate from the stock silver or black finish, there are other bold choices you can make. To ensure the Select DAC is uniformly customizable in every regard, production time is increased to provide you with the the richest and most dynamic product available. All MSB DAC’s have the serial number and customer information programmed directly into the unit. As a result, each DAC is unique, singular, and unparalleled.

A display for the listening chair
Equipped with high-visibility and a wide viewing angle, the display is both easy-to-read and stunning, exhibiting our love for intuitive features.  The LED display, slaved to the audio clock, is refreshed between data processing to drastically reduce electrical interference. The in-house discrete design is then constructed into its own shielded CNC pocket for optimal isolation. Sit back and be immersed.

The Dual Powerbase
The importance of a clean power supply can’t be under estimated.  A re-imagined design paired with the Select DAC reduces the noise floor even further. There is a single supply for the digital side of the DAC, along with an isolated supply for the analog side. This yields an unprecedented level of performance.

The Mono Powerbase
Moving to two dedicated power supplies, we provide increased isolation and electrical performance for both the digital and the analog power. With the increased space, each Mono Powerbase has a much lower electrical noise design.

Completely modular
Paired with performance increases, our modular design ethos increases flexibility for future updates and product support, guaranteeing a long-term product investment. As you pursue higher levels of playback, an MSB upgrade path is always available to help drive your own desire for innovation. Whether it’s a software update or a leading-edge modular component, we’re here to help the most valued aspect of MSB—our customers.

Future proof
MSB thrives off the innovation required to meet consumer demands. We’re constantly improving digital input modules to stay at the forefront of the high-end audio industry, ensuring you’re always equipped with the most current digital file formats and interfaces. Focusing on our network renderer and USB input, your audio tech will be on the cutting edge. Put simply, your DAC is ready for the future.

Superior streaming
The MSB Renderer was developed using an in-house hardware design running an ultra low noise A5 processor for optimal audio playback performance. Over the air updates will ensure that your renderer always has the latest capabilities and ultimate convenience.

– Up to 32 bit – 768kHz
– MQA decoding
– Roon Endpoint
– Up to 4X DSD
– UPnP Protocol
– DLNA Protocol

The last preamp you will ever need
With the high-output power provided by the Hybrid DAC modules, the need for amplification is eliminated. The signal is attenuated with new technology that provides a constant low impedance output without any active circuitry (no transistors, buffers or op-amps). This allows the Select DAC’s remarkable audio quality to be truly independent of volume setting. It’s a remarkable feat of electrical design that sets a new benchmark in the industry. The output modules are individually tuned for maximum quality balance or single-ended audio.

Expand your analog audio
With sideways expansion, the preamp has the ability for additional analog inputs, isolated sub outputs, and extra analog outputs.

CNC Billet chassis
Starting with an 85lb plate of ‘Kaiser Select Precision Plate’, material is machined in our own in-house CNC shop. After eight hours of machining, 85% of the aluminum is removed, resulting in a 17lb finished product. The integration of our CNC shop allows for design optimization to create the best possible product. We use the high quality premium ‘Select’ metal, giving us the best anodized finishes on the market. There are no shortcuts with the Select DAC

Anodized Finishes
Elegant yet commanding, our finishes are available in a matte silver or matte black anodize. Replaceable foot guards are included to protect the chassis from damage. Any audiophile M6X1 foot can be installed to optimize your system.

Specifications

The Select DAC

Technical Specifications

Supported Formats (Input dependent)

44.1kHz to 3,072kHz PCM up to 32 bits

1xDSD, 2xDSD, 4xDSD, 8xDSD

Supports DSD via DoP on all inputs

Digital Inputs

4x Advanced isolated input module slots

XLR Analog Inputs

100kΩ Balanced

12Vrms Maximum

Isolated when not selected

XLR Analog Outputs

3.57Vrms Maximum (Digital Input)

12Vrms Maximum (Analog Input)

 

75Ω Balanced

 

Galvanically isolated

Volume Control

Purely passive constant impedance analog attenuation

1dB steps

Display

Custom discrete LED audio clock synchronous display

Adjustable brightness and auto-off feature

Controls

Isolated RS-232

IR Remote

Knob + 4 Buttons

Chassis Dimensions

Width:

17.5 in (444 mm)

Depth:

17.5 in (444 mm)

Chassis Height (Without Feet):

3 in (79 mm)

Stack height:

3.625 in (92 mm)

Weight:

25.5 lbs (11 kg)

Shipping Dimensions

Width:

25 in (635 mm)

Depth:

25 in (625 mm)

Height:

10 in (254 mm)

Weight:

55 lbs (24 kg)

Included Accessories

User manual

MSB Remote

USB charging cable

4X Spiked feet

4X Plastic foot inserts

 

Select DAC Dual Power Base

Technical Specifications

AC Voltage

100V (Fixed)

120/240V (Auto switching)

Power Consumption

100 Watts with fully configured Select DAC

Less than 2W standby

Chassis Dimensions

Width:

17.5 in (444 mm)

Depth:

17.5 in (444 mm)

Height:

3 in (79 mm)

Stack height:

3.625 in (92 mm)

Weight:

45.8 lbs (20 kg)

Shipping Dimensions

Width:

25 in (625 mm)

Depth:

25 in (625 mm)

Height:

10 in (254 mm)

Weight:

65 lbs (29 kg)

Included Accessories

2X Hybrid power cable

Ground cable

IEC power cord

4X Spiked feet

4X Plastic foot inserts

 

Select DAC Mono Power Base

Technical Specifications

AC Voltage

100V (Fixed)

120/240V (Auto switching)

Power Consumption

100 Watts (Total combined) with fully configured Select DAC and two Mono Power Bases

Less than 2W standby

Chassis Dimensions

Width:

17.5 in (444 mm)

Depth:

17.5 in (444 mm)

Height:

3 in (79 mm)

Stack height:

3.625 in (92 mm)

Weight:

45.8 lbs (20 kg)

Shipping Dimensions

Width:

25 in (625 mm)

Depth:

25 in (625 mm)

Height:

10 in (254 mm)

Weight:

65 lbs (29 kg)

Included Accessories

Hybrid power cable

Ground cable

IEC power cord

4X Spiked feet

4X Plastic foot inserts

Reviews

Speaker completely gone. Endless space, solidity, and precise position even for piano keyboard which is physically present in space. F*cking lovely."
Michael Lavorgna

 

 

"Speaker completely gone. Endless space, solidity, and precise position even for piano keyboard which is physically present in space. F*cking lovely."

To say I was jazzed with the sound of music in the MSB room would be an understatement. I was lit up with musical joy. The MSB Select DAC with the Femto 1033 clock option sending the converted bits to the MSB M203 Class A monoblocks driving the YG Sonja 1.2 speakers (US$72,800) brought all of the power and glory of John Lee Hooker singing "I Cover the Waterfront" to Las Vegas which is quite a feat since sincerity and soul are endangered species in sin city. These were some of my favorite sounds at the show.

 

As Vince Galbo of MSB explains it, the Select DAC "is as much a program as a piece of hardware" since MSB will send new Select owners free upgrades, the Select DAC is completely modular, for the first year after purchase. The product is also covered by a 10-year warranty and owners can opt to upgrade after the initial free year "for the difference between the price you paid and the current price."

“Don’t miss out on your chance to experience the best conversion the industry has to offer. Your search stops here.”
Stuart Ralston
“It’s time to discover how much of your music you’ve been missing while using lesser devices,” says Director of Audio Fidelity Stuart Ralston.

“Be prepared to be absolutely astounded by this DAC. Respectfully, I believe it is quite literally the best in the world.

“With the ability to drive the output directly from the DAC stages, without the need for any output op-amp or buffer stage, the SELECT DAC II is designed to be the last component in your system before the amplifiers. There isn’t anything else on the market that offers this feature. The result is unprecedented fidelity and transparency,” Mr Ralston says.

The particular unit on display in Melbourne is the first SELECT DAC II off the production line, displaying the special serial number 001.

The SELECT DAC II is stellar in performance and appearance, with captivating features which include 8 new MSB Hybrid DAC modules, low noise display, and a DUAL SELECT Power Base, containing independent supplies for both digital and analogue, with built-­in Isolation Base. For the ultimate experience, the power base can be upgraded to a pair of single SELECT Power Bases, completely isolating the digital and analogue supplies.

“The SELECT DAC II easily surpasses its competitors and exceeds high-end expectations,” Mr Ralston says.

“The design and construction of MSB Technology’s range offers unprecedented resolution, an unbelievably low noise-floor, and the lowest levels of digital jitter of any such product.”

The DAC and Power Base are milled from a solid billet of aluminium and the modular design makes future upgrades easy. The added 10-year upgrade guarantee seals the deal, with owners given the option of improvements as they become available, paying only the difference in price and the return postage.

Earlier this year, MSB Technology released measurements which provided solid proof of the DAC’s performance. The results were astonishing, revealing an effective bit depth of 28.5 – exceeding the already full 24 bit resolution of MSB Technology’s Diamond DAC V. This previously unheard of result means that the SELECT DAC II easily surpasses the performance of its closest competitor, a discrete delta sigma DAC, which only came in at 22 bits.

Testing also revealed that the SELECT DAC II produces the lowest level of ultrasonic noise of any DAC on the market, preserving the fidelity of the sound in an unmatched capacity. The SELECT DAC II epitomises Audio Fidelity’s dedication to and fascination with assembling playback systems which reproduce audio with the highest possible fidelity.

“If you want the best then look no further. The amazing musicality, resolution and clarity is too hard to resist if you’re serious about your high-end system,” Mr Ralston says. “Don’t miss out on your chance to experience the best conversion the industry has to offer. Your search stops here.”
MSB SELECT DAC 2 review - part 1
Matej Isak

SUMMARY: "What struck me from my first encounter with MSB Select DAC 2 was sense of ultimate timing, absence of any signature sound, submarine like depths, enormous sense of space and instant ability to lock into the music. On my path I’ve encountered on some attributes that pointed toward something special, yet never under one “roof”..... MSB Select DAC 2 refreshingly comes with vivid presentation, absence of technology imprint (or what usually happens specific  brand imprint), filters sonic DNA etc. Its by far most fatigue free DAC I’ve had pleasure to listen. Comment like this are coming from the guy who few years back didn’t even want to lurk back into the digital universe for many obvious reasons.......The Select DAC manifested exemplary gradients of the sound, with impressive flow, that I’v yet to encounter in digital. Same goes for non fatigue, stressless aural composition.......Being struck with the unrivalled, life/feather like consonance of Select’s macro/micro scale and overarching narrative kept me dumb struck.".

REVIEW: MSB SELECT DAC 2 review part 1

 

“Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.”Johannes Brahms

 

"It is my belief that music is great if, at some moment, the listener catches 'a glimpse of eternity through the window of time'... This, to my mind, is the only true justification for art. All else is of secondary importance." — Einojuhani Rautavaara

 

Before even getting into the whole “hot” topic of vultures dealings let me refer to other Über products, industries and most importantly followers. Utterly expensive spirits, cigars, sports cars, paintings are unlike in high-end audio, not a subject of constant critics from those who cannot afford them. 

 

Presently, state of the art comes with price. Hefty one I know, sadly not always (or almost mandatory) justified. Still… Some of the products do carry a “burden” of mighty R & D, funds and time being invested into their creation. Top fliers like MSB Select DAC 2 are not magical, one day magic wonder carvings of some alchemist. In MSB case, three decades of constant evolution assured their steady pace of innovation and push forward mentality. Yes, minority of people are capable of affording such gems, but in the grander picture these gentleman might carry a different torch then they are usually associated with. Select few, surprise-surprise comes as supporters of the broader public. What!? 

Like in other industries, a lot of state of the art features and solutions are coming to a wider public in due time as trickled down technology solutions, being implemented to much more affordable products. A sobering reality…

 

Let us reflect military high-tech for a minute. Ether we like it or not, being pacifists, anti military corporation establishment  activist, industrial revolution critics etc.. Every day contemporary tech manifestations like internet, mobile phones, communications etc. are “side” products of military giants. Big devil corporation’s devices are embraced even by the most passionate critics. Hmmm… I’m not comparing military industry to high-end audio, but making a point. In the long run we do benefit from something that might not be our raison d'être and in our particular situation money is not coming from tax payers pockets… 

 

 

Like with some others high tech products, true to its high-end given name, MSB Select DAC 2 represents technologically profound intake and result of a lifetime pursue for perfection. I for sure, like many of you out there would love if this extravagant machines would hit us with much lower price tag, but the reality is what it is. 

 

On that note. Even far crazier priced high-end audio products are hauling in our niche industry, firmly falling into the expensive jewelry category rather then trademark high-end audio. 

 

THE RACE

Digital audio is changing rapidly. To fast to handle one can say. While one can feel much safer with investment in reference preamplifier and power amplifier on the digital front things are changing to quickly. Logically it surely feels more sane to not bet on one horse at such fierce digital race. 

 

 

Is there a solution? One of the things that act as a strong advocate for device like MSB Select DAC 2 is modularity. This changes a game. Select, like even their lover end models offer a true modular structure. This means easier future upgrades and safer investment. Easy and cleverly designed locking system at the back side of the DAC offers instantly exchangeable modules, that can bring different inputs, outputs, renderer input etc. 

 

 

And second thing? The company! Considering investing into a brand, with team of almost twenty people, doing what they do  best for almost thirty years surely gives more confidence in the long run. Larry is/was always the driving force behind the company, but MSB got also a life of their own. With two Larry’s sons being fully and proudly engaged in the company this gives completely different longevity even if Larry retires.

 

 

At present global affairs and especially in our beloved high-end industry people are planning their purchasing differently, by more rethinking, monitoring and evaluation. They want their investments to be safer, worthy of given money, ready to be serviced for a long time and keeping the value over time. Delusion? It shouldn’t be!

 

IMPACT

 

I’ve had a luxury to hear and try quite some of top tiers. Its always impossible to do a complete, full scale ground zero testing, comparing and evaluating, but I’ve “forced” my self to get out and try to listen to what I’ve felt it was worthy of the sin and what I could stress out critically. I wouldn’t call it a disastrous quest. Let me me rather stick the disappointed label on to it.

 

 

Moving from subjectiveness to objectiveness. 

 

What struck me from my first encounter with MSB Select DAC 2 was sense of ultimate timing, absence of any signature sound, submarine like depths, enormous sense of space and instant ability to lock into the music. On my path I’ve encountered on some attributes that pointed toward something special, yet never under one “roof”. 

MSB Select DAC 2 refreshingly comes with vivid presentation, absence of technology imprint (or what usually happens specific  brand imprint), filters sonic DNA etc. Its by far most fatigue free DAC I’ve had pleasure to listen. Comment like this are coming from the guy who few years back didn’t even want to lurk back into the digital universe for many obvious reasons. 

 

 

So, what happened along the way!? Vincent Brien’s Totaldac and Stavros Danos’s Aries Cerat Kassandra DAC’s changed my mind with a huge impact due to their approach digital conversion and technology used. On the other side of ladder DAC fence only Nagra HD DAC managed to get my guards down, but this has to do with Nagra’s electronic wizard Philippe Chambon little secrets in play. More about this in different, upcoming article… 

 

 

MSB Select DAC 2 explores the uncharted realms of abstract thinking and dealings where one forgets about mathematical equations, formulas and all technical paraphernalia and simply immerse into the music. 

 

 

At this level of operation and sound reproduction one must deliberately avoid typical dogmas and astray ways of established dogmas. Select brings the sound without colourations. It surely wont suit the followers of the saturated sound. I’m not talking merely about the tubish golden era warm sound, but any scent of coloration added in the signal path to address certain personal quest for sound. Yes, this can be attached to both solid state and tube designs these days. Generally, ultimate quest for sound perfection should embarks technology that follows no signature sound regardless of circuits implemented. 

 

 

In any given ladder DAC the sonic outcome is directly connected to the precision of the ladder as R-2R converts the digital stream direct to voltage. Eight DAC’s in Select DAC 2 ensure enough voltage for the proper gain and absence of Opamps. There is no output buffer, no amplifier stage and zero active circuitry. You can even drive headphones like Sennheiser HD 800 directly from the XLR outputs. By such approach horizon of feather like lightness, natural sense of atmosphere and stressless music reproduction is taking 

 

 

Getting these ladder resistors laser trimmed and expecting the miracle is an utopian dream. Picking the best ones up with selected tolerance and avoiding to destroy them suddenly translates into $$$$. Heavenly transparency comes with price… 

 

LADDER DAC?

Envision the task of transferring the flow of the water. There are two ways to conway such flow in digital world. Delta Sigma acts like a little measuring cup distributing the water. There is huge amount of the water needed to be transferred via the cups and such endeavors is always under or over shooting. 

 

On the other side ladder DAC comes with whole range of measuring cups ready to be used at any time. You can decided which size of the jugs is right for certain momentum. Standard ladder DACs by default always fills jugs starting empty, at the place where music is at full level, but with sign magnitude ladder DAC you start half full, at the place were music is quiet can adjust the transfer of the water and chose appropriate jug. Thins analogy-process can be very accurate for each bit and at any time largest cups can be used when larger energy flow transfer is needed. For example with the large Kodo drum. At such occasion bigger jug can transmit needed energy in much more optimized way then other processes.

In theory this translates to analog like process that is instantly adaptable, reacting more on the level of minute change  of the music’s pace, rhythm and speed, rather then working constantly with the larger frequent flow of smaller package transfers.

 

Delta sigma is by nature fast switching device. If you don't filtered it's just a multiple processing hash. On the other side ladder DAC operates at voltage change and it doesn't require any type of filtering, translating to much more vivid and fluent rendition of the music.  See link for details here.

 

Ladder DACs requires a precise resistor to be accurate. That why makes it much more expensive solution and the sole reason why Phillips moved away from ladder DACs.

 

There is a lot of philosophizing in the digital audio world with very little practical sonic results. Sadly even with some if not most old “players”. For Larry the most important thing is factuality and real world accomplishing of the elaborated and contemplated ideas. Without objectifying and materialization of even most wildest ideas and out of the box thinking all seems like a dream.

FEMTO 32

Femto 32 is the MSB’s lowest jitter clock and one of the brand's most important breakthroughs. Effect of the jitter is directly connected with the clarity and harshness and one can heart the difference instantly. Most interestingly and intriguingly, the refinement of the Femto32 clock resulted with a sudden change of gain level. On the white paper this shouldn't happen, but the lower phase noise gave to the ear the effect of sounding 2 db quieter. The lower jitter resulted in the extended headroom, dynamic range and most importantly in the absence of the listening fatigue that affects directly un-disturbed listening.

There are a lot of confusions regarding the clock and jitter. It's hard to understand the real science and tech behind with every company claiming of manufacturing their Femto clock. In reality most of them are just using the Femto clock designed for some other application and different industry.

MSB clock is actually running on audio frequency and not on 10 mhz (rubidium clock etc.) as the clocks designed for satellites and other equipment. There are two clocks being active and running on t the correct multiple of 44 and 48 kHz, namely at 22.5792 and 24.576 MHz.

On the upper plane of state of the art digital audio second biggest requirement is the integration of the clock with the DAC. This usually introduces many other problems and timing wise one femto seconds at the starting path morphs into one pico second once it reaches the DAC, consequently showing not so little audible shift in the performance.

Those two principles mentioned above eliminates 90 percent of the typical industry claims. MSB was the first company that manufactured Femto second clock and its the company best kept secret. MSB was also first company that embraced discrete sign magnitude ladder DAC back in 2000. 

 

SONIC MARVELING

Select DAC manifested exemplary gradients of the sound, with impressive flow, that I’v yet to encounter in digital. Same goes for non fatigue, stressless aural composition. 

 

I’m prone to sense any tension in higher spectrum. Event a tint of brittle hubris instantly spotted via cymbals, rides, and other percussive instruments for some reason pushes my inner ear to start ringing like a hell. Imprint of real world metallic instrument and their tension is deeply written in my DNA, going back to my time of vocal/orchestra ensemble concerts. 

 

 

Luckily, or stressfully I’m not fooled even by best so called digital filters. Its not a matter of ego tripping, more of a heavy burden to carry around, especially visiting different systems, audio shows and events. People sadly embraced unnatural, squashed and distorted sound as reference. In real world metallic instruments do get loud, but in the way of rising amplitude and not by imposing hiss, brittle character and screaming sound. 

 

 

MSB Select DAD 2 reflect analog sound in the way its supposed to sound. Not by embracing typical false attributes mirroring impressionist painting. It comes as an avid rendition of reality that is not easily effaced.

 

Ultra high end reproduction demands an juxtaposition of opposites in order to create believe scale of reality. On the upper echelon of audio affairs performance should leave something to the listener. That's what separates ultra high end audio from hifi or to often appraised high-end. Select DAC professes music for what it is avoiding digital Ad nauseam too often connected to even most regarded digital machines.

 

 

By default we might still strive to understand mechanics of the ultimate performance. As a human beings we want/need to be in complete control. As long as clear establishment of musical emotions act with life like motion, we don’t always need to understand all the logics. Its actually impossible to do so. 

 

 

Harmonic structure, rhythmic revolt and emergence of a subtextual musical rendering encapsulated my enthusiasm and I’m not trying to keep it bottled. Profound tension should be mandatory on the ultimate plane. Without experiencing compulsory sublimely ecstatic interaction and call-response exchange with music on an earthly plane, natural sense of motion will always be far away from the revelatory impact. 

 

Select DAC 2 profound, insistent and cathartic ability to evoke incantations harmonics, so far unheard level of focus and atmospheric anchor points is so far beyond anything else experienced by yours truly in digital realms. 

 

BATTLE OF THE OPAMPS

Select DAC started as a battle of the Opamp. Larry wanted to explore ability to drive power amplifiers directly without the Opamps and that led to the prolonged researched. After all calculations and explorations they did the math and concluded that 8 DAC’s per channel would provide enough gain, that could server the variety of power amplifiers directly with no output drivers, output stage or opamps involved with the output stage.

 

After years of R & D they MSB team was ready to start the all new challenging project with completely new proprietary architecture. There were many high expectations and with the rising demand of DSD this was a mandatory addition. MSB engineers went back to the drawing board and put their efforts into developing new and unique hybrid DAC module that was dynamically reconfigurable to do the best possible job with DSD and do the best possible job with PCM. There is no compromise with ether music format andDSD module  integrates directly within the Select ECO system. 

 

After developing ground base for the Select DAC next step was materialization of the DAC running on the lowest possible jitter. This was not easy task and everything needed to be revisioned and upgraded. New DSPs with faster speeds were implemented and the select DAC was treated from the ground up as RF device rather then typical DAC. MSB forward thinking was always about refining all the little details and creating a seamless synergy between all parts and modules. By cleansing up the menus and simplifying the operations in Select DAC it was possible to finally focus on cleanest and simplest possible signal path. 

 

New input modules offered much better isolation and pushed the performance of each format. The module format also makes the DAC future proof. Each of this modules has I2S connector and only one module is active at the time. By rediscovering some of the old technologies and adding some new approaches MSB moved few steps further.

 

Select sports two power inputs for both the analog and digital sides. Power supply comes in dedicated chassis and this can be upgraded with additional mono power supply for even greater performance. 

 

As Select DAC is completely modular,  output modules can be both balanced or single ended. All of the modules are interchangeable and can be optimized to work in the best possible way. Larry’s philosophy always follows the simplistic, yet highly refined approach avoiding the unnecessarily features being there just for sake of it. 

 

For example, stepping further into the realms of complex digital audio world… Every DAC on the market comes with SPDIF receiver with its own clock. This adds it's additional noise and jitter to the internal clock and in most of the DACs clock is usually running all the time, producing amount of noise and jitter that shouldn’t really be there. Which brings us to the hearth of the matter…

NUT JOB

My reference gear was selected step by step, during countless hours of listening, comparing and is based on the actual performance rather then marketing mumbo jumbo and self proclaimed industry throne positioning. I’ve chosen to pursue Mono & Stereo venture with different pace, where little to non compromises are being be made. 

 

 

People always look upon your choices and even more importantly on your actions. If music is truly such s precious, transcendental thing then ultimate quest carries the weight of utopian space travel. For me, musical universe comes as unique, rewarding and in almost still unattainable good, going beyonds mortal compassion and holding sacred place on the throne of divinity. 

 

In the era where’re were pushed to take an idea of constant future hunts and pleasure delaying, reality check of right here, right now comes as mandatory logical process.

 

 

The problem!? My last week experience with Ubiq Audio power amplifier prototypes blew my preconception up in pieces. Synergy and magnitude of sonic outcome still lingers via perplexed  daily contemplation. 

 

 

I’m still trying to fathom  and this insurmountable impact and I’ve incentivize myself to find a proper langue without loosing facts with ungrateful task conveying the exact conclusion into words. Too much, to easily is lost in translation.  

 

Being struck with the unrivaled, life/feather like consonance of Select’s macro/micro scale and overarching narrative kept me dumb struck.

 

Stay tuned for part two… Matej Isak

“If you want the best then look no further.
John H. DarkoJohn H. Darko

SUMMARY: there’s no mistaking the Select DAC II’s talents with tonal depth and body that isn’t artificially inflated such that it squeezes out the spaces between the notes. The TOTL MSB sounds spectacular.

Making its worldwide debut is MSB Technology’s new statement D/A converter, the Select DAC II.

From MSB Technology’s website: “The SELECT DAC is more or less like a blend of the best of the Analog DAC and the best of the DAC V. It combines the Analog DAC construction, user interface and modularity with the DAC V’s upgradability and refined sound taken to a whole new level. It offers the most life-like sound possible. It has a level of realism never heard before.”

msb_select_DAC_ii_9

“Hey Barry – have you heard about the new US$90K (excl sales tax) MSB DAC that’s just arrived?”enthused I. “You mean this one?”, came the smart-ass reply as Barry pointed to his hifi rack.

Unbeknownst to me, the Select DAC II home auditioner turned out to be the very audiophile pal. The upshot? An opportunity to take this news announcement beyond press release dissemination, to chat to Ralston who was present for the install, to shoot my own photos and – of course – to grab a quick, comparison-free listen.

Barry’s system runs as follows: “The dual mono tube amplifiers are based on the Cymer SE-35 Southern Star but have been customised with all Dueland CAST caps and a copper chassis. A DEQX HDP-4 handles subwoofer integration and speaker correction. Talking of which: Bastanis full range drivers and Gemini dipole tweeters. The subwoofer amplifiers are Anthem M1.”

Before we get down to brass tacks, brace thyself: the Select DAC II is the highest of the high-end D/A converters – a zero compromise solution. 

A rare chance/close encounter with a DAC that attracts such stratospheric stickering is the reason why it sees coverage here. This isn’t a review but a proof of life.

And if MSB Technology’s decimal point positioning has you asking WTF, poised to let off steam in the comments section below, first consider this: you’re probably not the target market. Secondly, ask yourself if you’d feel such outrage at a car or luxury watch costing a similar amount?

msb_select_DAC_ii_7

The Select DAC II arrives in two separate flight cases. The DUAL Select Power Base’s two outputs independently juice the DAC’s digital and analogue sections (see rear panel photo) whilst doing double duty as an isolation platform. Both DAC and Select Power Base are milled from a single billet of aluminium.

Listeners wanting to further separate analogue and digital power supplies can opt for the three box version in which a pair of single Select Power Bases sit beneath the decoder.

The DAC box’s implementation is modular and therefore goes someway to being future-proof. Looking at the rear panel, we see the leftmost socket accommodates either a balanced or single-ended output module with the remaining four sockets to the right given over to input modules. Your choice of two modules – USB, I2S, S/PDIF, AES/EBU and network streaming – come fitted as standard with the remainder optionable as needed.

When it comes to the business end of decoding digital audio, MSB don’t do delta-sigma. Theirs is a preference for multi-bit solutions, not taken off the shelf but built in-house and from the ground up using high-precision, laser-trimmed resistors. Eight of MSB’s own ’Hybrid’ R2R ladder DAC modules can be found slotted side-by-side inside the Select DAC II.

select_dac2_open

Those same modules not only handle decoding but allow for a direct-coupled output stage. With the Select DAC II acting as pre-amplifier via its digitally-controlled analogue domain volume attenuation, the signal moves directly from DAC module bank to power amplifier. Sharper eyes will note that the output module also features a single analogue input. Turntablists, come on down!

Furthermore, MSB challenge the notion that a digital audio data clock is best externalised, independently powered and then umbilically-linked to the DAC via a cable. Ralston point outs that the connecting cable’s inductance and capacitance, as well as internal reflections, can introduce jitter – the very thing we’re trying to eliminate in the digital audio world.

Instead, MSB’s Galaxy Femto clock is positioned as close as possible to the ‘Hybrid’ DAC modules. The twice precise Femto 33 clock is available as a user- or factory-installable upgrade.

On measured performance, MSB promise an effective resolution of 28.5 bits. However, the lower noise floor’s benefits are likely to be system dependent. 

msb_select_DAC_ii_4

That said, there’s no mistaking the Select DAC II’s talents with tonal depth and body that isn’t artificially inflated such that it squeezes out the spaces between the notes.

The TOTL MSB sounds spectacular. Such enthusiasm is tempered by a caveat: I only get to hear this system two or three times a year. One would require a more familiar setup as well as immediate access to rivals product from the likes of dCS and Light Harmonic in order to properly substantiate claims that this is indeed the best sounding D/A converter in the world.

Back to the press release: “If you want the best then look no further. The amazing musicality, resolution and clarity is too hard to resist if you’re serious about your high-end system. “Don’t miss out on your chance to experience the best conversion the industry has to offer. Your search stops here.”

....my body feels like 'all-analog'. not 5+ hours of digital.
Mike Lavigne Premier Club Member - Sept 2017

The MSB Select II arrived yesterday, and I listened for 6-7 hours.....then this morning for another hour or so.

I removed the rubber stock footers from below the power supply and am using BDR cones on top of the Symposium Svelt Shelf. the dac is using the rubber stock footers into the detents in the case of the power supply.....for my initial listening.

right now using a generic USB cable and an Absolute Fidelity power cord with Furutech NCF plugs. settings on the SGM are 'bit-perfect' through HQ Player.

just how good is the MSB Select dac?

I'm not really ready to answer that. there is quite a bit of investigation needed to go there. but I will say that the musical experience of every track I've listened to in the last 5 and 1/2 hours is significantly improved over any previous digital experience.

and it's not so much that it sounds better, but in the ways it sounds better that so far is impressive. there is just a sense of easy musical expression without stress, and with such natural speed, separation, clarity and command. nothing forced or confused. like other digital is a bit constipated and filtered. yet the flow is hypnotic. make your audio checklist and check every box. it does it all.

and my body feels like 'all-analog'. not 5+ hours of digital.

so I'm explaining my emotional and physical reaction to an extended session with the MSB Select II. I'm not assigning any rank or attribute.....or trying to describe it's sound.

I've heard nothing so far that would limit my opinion of this product......but don't have the complete picture.....yet.

No doubt I've not yet heard the best of the Select II. there are a number of areas where the performance should improve to some degree going forward. I will say it seems to fit right into my system and my expectations of a synergy with my system appear to be right on.

Cutting-edge digital-to-analog conversion continues to chip away at achieving that analog liquidity that many of us strive for in our own systems
Hans Wetzel

Digital-to-analog conversion has come a heck of a long way in a couple of years, and while today's offerings, from affordable on up to the cutting edge, are very, very good, the performance envelope continues to be pushed. MSB Technology and dCS are two of the oldest and most respected names in the digital business, and both brought some rather interesting new products to Munich this year.

Hans and Raveen
Hans with dCS’s Raveen Bawa

The four-box, $100,000+ Vivaldi system from dCS continues to be one of, if not the, most comprehensive assaults on state-of-the-art digital performance to date. With its new Rossini £15,000 DAC and £18,000 Player, dCS is replacing the Puccini models in its range of electronics and bringing Vivaldi's advancements to a more affordable price point. As with any dCS product, Rossini's casework is conservative, with a simple flourish expanding from left to right on the front panel. The only difference between the two models is the Player models' addition of a high-quality Compact Disc transport (note that SACD is not supported).

Rossini DACRossini DAC

The products are deeply flexible, as they're able to stream music from NAS drives as well as streaming services such as Tidal, Spotify, and Deezer. Inputs include the standard fare of USB, AES/EBU, and S/PDIF, as well as Ethernet and Apple's AirPlay. The company has integrated its vaunted "Ring DAC" into the new workhorses of its line, while also introducing the latest generation of its digital-playback system. A variety of DSP filters are offered, and support for all resolutions up to 24-bit/384kHz and DSD128, as well as DSD in DoP format, is built in. The power supply is multi-stage, with a separate transformer dedicated to the analog and digital circuitry. With a digital volume control for use as a digital preamp, easily updateable firmware, and a bespoke control app, the Rossini DAC and Player models offer a taste of Vivaldi for a far more palatable hit on your wallet. There is no shortage of digital front ends out there, but cost-no-object, this is what I'd probably buy for myself.

MSB Technology has brought something quite a bit different to the Munich Order Center. The company is one of a select few that eschews the ubiquitous delta-sigma oversampling architecture in favor of a resistor-ladder configuration. The advantage of MSB's ladder DAC, according to company cofounder Larry Gullman, is that the topology does not require the aggressive filtering that a typical delta-sigma DAC does. The company's new flagship, the Select DAC, retails for $89,950, and is one of the most unique digital products I've ever seen.

Hans with LarryMSB's Larry Gullman explains the Select DAC

The two-chassis design is milled from solid billets of aluminum in MSB's shop, with the DAC itself resting on a matching Power Base power supply. Far from simply a pretty piece of aluminum with a generic, off-the-shelf DAC chipset shoved into it, the Select uses eight of MSB's own Hybrid two-channel DACs in a user-replaceable setup. Each of the Select's inputs, including USB, optical, and coaxial, as well as the Select's XLR analog outputs, is modular in nature. So, too, is MSB's Galaxy Femto 77 clock, which has less than 77 femtoseconds of jitter. An optional Femto 33 (predictably, offering less than 33 femtoseconds of jitter) is also available and easily replaceable. The flagship MSB DAC can support pretty much any existing digital format, and it decodes PCM and DSD natively -- no conversions one way or the other like so many DACs do. So if it's not future-proof, it will certainly stay up-to-date longer than most anything else on the market. Finally, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Select is its direct-coupled output stage, which has enough current to directly drive a pair of headphones, modulated by the built-in digital volume control.

MSB's Select DAC

The Select comes with a ten-year warranty and a guarantee whereby any and all future upgrades will be performed by MSB for the retail cost of the individual components. With a stylish appearance, simple interface, and high-quality display, the Select will be relevant long into the future.

Cutting-edge digital-to-analog conversion continues to chip away at achieving that analog liquidity that many of us strive for in our own systems, and it sounds like dCS and MSB Technology are, if not already there, within a stone's throw of achieving that.

Hans Wetzel
Senior Contributor, SoundStage!

 
This is true state-of-the-art stuff.
Doug Schneider

Last month, I highlighted my picks for the 5 best loudspeakers at Munich High End 2015, held May 14-17 in Munich, Germany. This month, it’s the best electronic component:

Best of High End 2015

MSB Technology Select II digital-to-analog converter

At the other end of the price spectrum is MSB Technology’s Select II DAC, a two-box digital source -- D/A circuitry in the top box, power supply underneath -- whose retail price begins at a mind-boggling $89,950, and can stretch to a beyond-belief $130,000. The higher prices depend on which options you add: subwoofer outputs, additional digital inputs, a better power supply -- or the Femto 33 Clock, which MSB says is the most accurate digital clock in all of hi-fi. As far as I know, the Select II is the most expensive DAC on the planet.

I think that any component, whether electronics or speakers, whose price approaches or exceeds $100,000 is a bit ridiculous. Can any single piece of audio gear really be worth so much? Perhaps in rare cases . . .

MSB Technology Select II

What impressed me about the Select II is that it’s so unlike the many high-end, high-priced DACs that are chock full of off-the-shelf parts but nothing really innovative.

The folks at MSB seem to have gone all out by using in the Select II a boatload of bespoke parts -- including their own discrete DAC boards, which are huge -- in an original design that, if the company’s specs don’t lie, push the limits of DAC performance far past anything I know of.

This is true state-of-the-art stuff. For instance, MSB claims for the Select II 28.5 bits of resolution (173dB of dynamic range), which not only far exceeds what’s required for 24-bit sources, but is about 6 bits better than most manufacturers’ flagship DACs. My jaw dropped when I read that, and I’m still not sure I believe it -- I’d always thought that 22-bit resolution was as much as any electronic circuit would allow.

I remember thinking, “Well, if it does that, maybe they can justify the price, because that’s really pushing the envelope.” After all, serious R&D costs a lot of money, and creating something that performs that far beyond the competition might justify so high a price. The Select II DAC is also beautifully built, fully modular, completely upgradeable, and its warranty of ten years is longer than most.

I have finally found the answer in the Select II DAC. I strongly urge you to try and listen to it with the dual power supplies, it lifts the performance to out of this world musical quality.
Simon

MSB Select DAC II impact/letter

 

Its always reviving to receive letter like this one from Simon. He’s conclusion about MSB Select DAC II are mirroring my experiences so far. I did hear SELECT II with two power supplies, but this will be summed up in the upcoming review. Below are his comments...

“I have been an avid reader of your site for some time. I thoroughly enjoy it and it is my go to place for up to-date high end Audio news, I particularly love the photographs you supply with each story.

I am writing to you about the MSB Select DAC II, I have one, I use it for Headphone use only and have built a ultra high end system around it. I have my Select configured with two of the power supplies, Femto 33 clock and both Balanced and Single ended outputs. It was not an easy decision to spend a lot extra for the dual power supplies so I had on loan the local distributors Select DAC II with a single power supply and the same Femto 33 clock. I was lucky enough to be able to directly compare my DAC with the dual power supplies with the same spec with a single power supply. 

Putting it simply there is no comparison it is a major upgrade and when I read how enthusiastic you were about the standard Select I thought it was appropriate to write to you and let you know my experience. My next upgrade is going to be the Headphone amp for the Stax SR-009’s. 

I have experimented a lot with different cables and inputs and was easily able to discern that the Aurender W20 with the additional word clock being directly fed off the Select’s clock and using AES 110 ohm produced the optimum sound. I used Gen 5 Transparent Ref XL BNC 75ohm for the Word Clock and the same cable in 110 ohm for AES. I also use the I2S connection for a MSB Transport, the Optical cable directly into my Mac Pro running Roon, I also have the USB connection so I have been able to compare it to the other outputs. I did not believe MSB when they told me that there would not be any difference at all between the outputs, however this is largely correct, the only difference being in the quality of the cables.

I have owned a succession of very good DAC’s, Audionote DAC Signature, Gryphon Kalliope, Nagra HD, Light Harmonic DaVinci Dual with seperate DAC’s for DSD and PCM, I have auctioned at length the full dCS Vivaldi stack and I found that not at all to my liking and frankly it sounded like something was wrong with it. I was assured that nothing was, however the 3 other people listening with me had the same reaction. 

I have been a vinyl lover all my life, I am now 50, so I have been searching like you for a DAC that finally could close the gap between what digital has been promising for so long but unable to deliver. I have finally found the answer in the Select II DAC. I strongly urge you to try and listen to it with the dual power supplies, it lifts the performance to out of this world musical quality. 

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Best of high end | MSB Technology Select DAC II manufacturing