MSB Technology Gold DACs

Gold

Black, with flat vibration isolation chassis

User Reviews (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6  
Jonathan Lo   an Audiophile [May 27, 1999]

I've listened to numerous DAC's, CD players, transports over the years, and many times I've felt many of them tend to sound "different" rather than better or worse. This has always been more true for players using same DAC chip sets, such as Ultraanalogue or Crystal. To explain what kind of sound I prefer, let me say that I am not impressed with Mark Levinson 36, 37, 39, etc, which sound unnatural to me and overly detailed without musicality or bloom. I have enjoyed tubed DAC's in the past, such as Audio Research DAC and Audio Logic DAC, which sound more "right" with more air and bloom around intruments, voices. Even the lowly Cal Alpha (with proper tube replacement) sound preferable to the garden variety solid state DAC's (Classe DAC, for example). However, tubed DAC's do have limitations in bass slam and sometimes in upper frequency detail. The MSB DAC combines many of the virtues of solid state DAC's with tubed DAC's.
It uses multiple Philips DAC chips to achieve 20 bit resolution. The Philips DAC chips are not the latest and the greatest, but they do sound the most "analogue." Voices sound human, with bloom, air, and immediacy. Bass is warm, yet very taut and has great slam. Upper frequencies are smooth, articulate,and extended if not possessing the Nth degree of "detail" as Mark Levinsons do. But then again, you would be too busy listening to music to notice such audiophile cliche. The "MSB effect" button is supposed to make sound even more smooth, but I personally don't think there's significant difference. Also, the whole DAC is built inside a large, heavy,and thin "vibration isolation" platform, sort of like the Brightstar effect. It's great to be able to place transports, etc on top of this instead of having to buy another platform. To get the best out of this DAC, I would recommend using the Nordost Moonglow digital cable, which is the most neutral, extended, smooth, powerful, wonderful digital cable I have ever heard. I have listened to cables that cost 3-4 times more that don't even come close. Now, some people will prefer the sound of such DACs as Levinsons, Theta, etc, but if you are like me, and own tubes gears despite their cumbersome nature, you will probably agree with choice of the MSB Gold DAC.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Bil Crane   an Audiophile [Jul 19, 1999]

I previously had a standard LINK DAC and this unit improved the sound once again. (Before that I was using Audio Alchemy DDE 3.0 and a DTI PRO.) It has four Burr-Brown 1716 DACs where the non-GOLD has only one. Apparently this, and other internal circuit enhancements, attribute to the increased resolution. It brings out hidden details of my CDs. The bass is much tighter, the mids clearer and there is a further reduction in digital grunge in the highs. This is one sweet box; a true AUDIOPHILE DAC. Even better the price has been dropped to $995, an incredible bargain!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
JC   an Audiophile [Aug 09, 1999]

The MSB Gold Link DAC took a very long time to be fully burn in roughly 600 hours to reach its full potential. It replaced an Audio Alchemy DDE 3 in my system. It outperform the DDE 3 easily. To my surprise, it sounded even better than my friend's Mark Levenson #36 in terms of harmonic richness and bass potency. The soundstage and treble pruity are about equal. I A/B compared the two units in my system (see below). However, in order to achieve this level of performance, make sure you burn in your unit for a very very long time (about600 hours) also use better power supply. I use an Audio Alchemy power station 3 and a ESP Essense power cord. This combination of power supply gives the unit even more detailed, extended treble and deeper, tighter bass. The image inside the soundstage also becom sharper with this power supply upgrade. I use the Audio Alchemy DTI Pro 32 in the 24 bit dither setting to help achieve this level of sonic performance from the MSB gold link.
My System:

Audio Alchemy DDS Pro with Synergistic Reference AC Master Coupler power cord
connected via Camelot silver I2S cable to Audio Alchemy DTI Pro 32 with power station 3 and ESP essence power cord, Convergent Audio Technology SL-1 Ultimate preamp with Synergistic Reference AC Master Couple, Krell FBP 200 power amp with ESP essence power cord, Thiel 2.3 speakers, Cardas Golden Reference interconnect cables and Cardas Golden Cross speaker cable. I also use vibropod under my components except under the Transport I use the Seismic Sink. Chang Lightspeed and Power wedge.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
mikel lobosco   Audiophile [Feb 17, 2000]
Strength:

Price and sound, I dont think theres a DAC out there that sounds this good and also this review goes for the link 2 also. Great product thanks to msb a have some money back in my pocket and realize that I can stay away from some snob companies. MSB can reach out to the average person who enjoys music and DVDs and home theater stuff also if thats what your into although I never heard there home theater equipment I can say there DACs gave me faith that this company is in the right direction on who they are reaching out to. You can also upgrade the power supply.

Weakness:

If your into looks more than sound and you want your audio gear to shine in everyones face well Msb might not stand out that far in looks but its not my worry. It looks good enough for me and it doesn't take up much room at all. No real weakness.

Im using a pioneer 525 dvd player and its the only company to allow up sampling for dvd audio and also many other pioneer cd players like the 414 or 626 and the Elite series.Other products say 96k 24 bit but they don't up sample to 24 bit 96k do some research and you'll find out the truth. Its amazing how they hype some people into this 96k stuff and its not the real thing there should be some complaints about this CONSUMER AFFAIRS maybe. WEll.. back to the review the gold link is better than the link 2, Its bass is tighter and the highs more natural than the link 2 but the link 2 does better than cd players in the 3 grand range so don't laugh at the price and try it out for yourself. People are always gonna think.. if something is selling for 5 grand or more its going to be better well does money make the sound or does the equipment make it, seek and you will hear. I want to thank MSB, The sound is so wide open. If it was not for a friend where I had a chance to listen and have it at my house I still would have been searching for something else and maybe blaming my speakersor etc. The bass on the MSB was tighter than the naim 3.5 and the highs where just the way music should sound. The naim 3.5 had edges at the upper highs and the bass was loose on the lower end of the spectrum. I now have a second gold link I had some kind of problem with it but I have gave it another try this can happened to any company with defects and with no problem music direct gave me another one. Im in no way worried about this. The problem was a sound that sounded like a digital interference which happened to me once with a C.A.l cd player cL15. I will get back and tell if this gold link stands up to its name. GREAT SOUND this dac was in different systems. My system is a SIM audio w3 amp Sim audio P5 pre amp, DYNaudio 1.8 speakers and monster cable retro sigma, cable great cable too, tried many like transparent cardas and so on.

Similar Products Used: The products I had you will notice I was not at happy with and if I where happy I would have never been righting this review on this product(MSB). Products I had; KRELL KAV300cd-WADIA 830cd-C.A.L cL15cd player and the NAIM 3.5 with flat cap power supply. Pioneer Elite pd65- I also had the chance to keep the Wadia 850 for a few weeks and was not at all taking away by it, it was the least musical cd player I had heard, The best one from this group would be the NAIM 3.5 but not better than the msb yup thats right not better. I just have to say that these cd players I have spoken about where in many different set ups to judge them by so my mind is made up of why Im so blowned away by these MSB dacs.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Wilford Sardonne   Audiophile [Jul 02, 2000]
Strength:

utterly natural sounding,fuller sounding than normal
link DAC, tremendous performance for a sub $2k product.
true 24/96

Weakness:

looks very functional

Im using this Gold Link premier DAC now for 3 mths and as what they say is true,it takes forever to run in.
It works wonders with my ML 31.5 and has replaced my 36s
as current reference.

Sweet extended highs with excellent detail retrieval and warm full tonality, the 36s is slightly more mechanical sounding.

Was Thinking of upgrading the 36s to 360s but when the MSB is truly this awesome, decided to sell it, and spend the money on a better power supply for the Gold Link.

Standard link DAC is rough sounding at extremes and a little merciless in the mid to highs but is a good value product , the Gold link is miles ahead and a true no holds barred reference though.
a liitle niggle, Doesnt have AT&T though.

Similar Products Used: Mark Levinson 36s. Standard link DAC, Camelot Uther,
Wadia 860.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Louis   Audiophile [Nov 12, 2000]
Strength:

Very detail and dynamic. True 24/96. Price.

Weakness:

Too analytical - not musical enough. Only has RCA out (no balanced out). Only has Toslink and Co-axial in.

This review is for MSB Gold Link DAC II, not III. Since Gold III has just come out last month, I'd assume all previous posts are referring to the Gold or Gold II.

(you may want to confirm what you're buying if you are looking for used product - the front looks almost the same for Gold II and Gold III - but Gold III has upsampling built-in).

--------------

I got this as an store demo (used with the P/1000 power station) which has been well burnt-in. The improvement over MSB Link DAC III is significant. I'm not going to add to the many positives that other reviewers have pointed out.

However, without balanced out and AES/AT&T digital in, I think MSB Gold could only be classified as "poor man's best DAC". The value is of course tremendeous, but if you are truely audiophile you'd feel your system's potential is restricted by this design limitation.

Well, the unit is analytical to a point where the music is cold and too analytical. For example, it's nice to hear distinct string parts clearly in playing Debussy's "Prelude to Afternoon of the Faun", but the parts don't sound blend in at all as they should.

Sonic Frontiers SFD1-Mk II (I used Telefunken NOS tubes) is not as detail (but very very close) but it sounds much warmer and musical. Compare MSB Gold with EVS ($650 new) and Classe ($1650 used) would further confirm this comparison.

I may be just plain picky here. MSG Gold is an awesome unit to have. May be it just doesn't fit my taste when playing classical music.





Similar Products Used: Sonic Frontiers SFD-1 MkII. EVS Millennium DAC. Classe DAC-1. MSB Link DAC III.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-6 of 6  

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