MSB Technology LINK DAC 2 DACs

LINK DAC 2

24/96 dac

User Reviews (24)

Showing 1-10 of 24  
Rick   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 24, 2000]
Strength:

A great chance to rediscover your music collection.

Weakness:

A little weak on cabinet quality. It had all of the LEDs light up and did not work(no on off switch) I unpluggged it and plugged it in 10 min. later and has worked fine for 5 months.

If you cannot afford a $800 - 1200 Rega Planet or ARcam 9 cd player and you have a digital out on your current player get good Kimber or AQ digital coaxial and splice the LINK into your system.

Even trashy mastered CDs from the early to mid 1980s are totally different in clarity of the instruments and soundstage.

Recently mastered HDCDs, WHO "Quadrophenia" or the Simon and Garfunkle Sony Legacy boxed set sound great.

20 or 24 bit mastered CDs from Narada or Windham Hill Jazz labels make me question why the huge fuss over SACD that most sensible enthusiasts will never buy at $2000 for the unit and $30 for a disc.

For you early 70s rockers the remastered CSNY "4 way Street" and Deep Purple "Made in Japan" make you remenber why we loved live albums as kids.

For around $400 with a good cable from Audioadvisor.com you cannot go wrong.

Similar Products Used: none

had considered Music Fidelity but tooo expensive
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Jeff Delman   Audiophile [Apr 29, 2000]
Strength:

DETAIL, imagining and soundstange, clarity, crisp yet smooth.

Weakness:

Occasional manufacturing faults.

This made made an amazing transformation in the sound of my system. Very very impressive upgrade, especially at this price.

As regards Carolyn's comments, I don't really know why she would mention that CD skipping started after hooking this up if it was the fault of the CD player. Maybe she banged it around in setup? It's also hard to believe it would make everything sound worse, so perhaps there was more trouble with the transport.

MSB is a small young company with alot of sudden recognition, and they are simply having problems keeping up. They do manufacture where the labor is inexpensive to halp keep the price down, but they have occasional bugs slipping through.

I can sympathize with Carol having some frustration with trying to deal direct with the company. You have to keep after them. You are better off buying this from a service oriented authorized dealer who has experience in dealing with manufacturers and can interface with them for you. A good dealer can also help you get replacements and repairs arranged quicker. Typically, this unit actually sells for less through many dealers than ordered direct.

As to her frustration with having to pay a 20% restocking fee on a non defective unit, I couldn't find anywhere on the MSB website saying that they even took returns. Therefore, charging a restocking fee seems pretty fair.

Buy this from a good dealer and any problems should be resolved quite quickly. It's a startlingly great piece, especially at this price.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
James   Audiophile [Apr 19, 2000]
Strength:

Incredible transparency and detail for the price

Weakness:

Slightly soft bass (in my system)

I've owned two of these. The original, which I foolishly sold, and now the DAC III. The lady that didn't like this unit either had a defective unit, had poor cables, or never spent the time to properly break the unit in.

The Link DAC needs a minimum of 100 hours of playing before it starts doing it's thing (500 is even better). It just takes a long time to break in.

I've compared it to DACs costing $1,500, and I prefer the MSB. It does sound better with a Toslink cable with most transports. And yes, some transports just don't sound good with it. I suspect Carolyn had the wrong cable or transport.
And no, the people at MSB don't tell you that the built-in DACs on CD players sound better. The built-in DACs on most under $800.00 CD players are pieces of junk compared to the MSB. Pop the top and look at 'em!! Carolyn's review sounds a bit strange compared to what I've read here and elsewhere.

Based on my experiences with two different units and the sound quality vs cost ratio, I don't see how the Link DAC could get anything under 5 stars for value. Up against the
cost-no-object products it holds it's own with most and even beats up on some of 'em.

Similar Products Used: Musical Design and Cal Audio
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Al   Audiophile [Nov 09, 2000]
Strength:

The LINK II delivers very great sonic detail, especially in the bass and midrange. Incredible cost/performance ratio. Makes low-cost jukebox changers sound like high-dollar audiophile units.

Weakness:

No input switching. Coax input over-rides TOS. Bright glaring blue pilot light. No line-driver output level adjust; More below on that.

First let me qualify my remarks by saying that I am a semi-retired rocket-scientist/electronics engineer. Hence, my subjective assessment of almost anything is strongly colored by my professonal respect for, in order of decending signficance:

(a) Reliability: This unit is very well built, and I can see no technical reason why it should not deliver its high-level performance for its owner's lifetime. The robust constructon of its large foot-print case permits using it as the solid foundation upon which one can safely stack a tower of several heavy audio components. Since the power supply is located remotely in the AC cord, there is no cause for concern over excessive heat build-up.

(b) Technical performance: The LINK II has a fixed gain output level that is somewhat higher than my other units; hence, I had considerable difficulty in trying to match output levels for A/B listening comparisons. After considerable A/B testing contrasting the LINK II with Denon's 20 bit 8X oversampling units (one with and one without Alpha processing), and a cheap 101 disk Pioneer juke-box changer, I judge performance as follows.

Compared to either Denon system, there are consistently noticeable improvements in midrange imaging and definition, and somewhat greater improvements in bass solidarity and extension. The Denon Alpha system seems very slightly smoother in the highs. When compared to any Denon, the Pioneer changer sound quality is, as one might expect, a disapointing non-starter in every domain. When either the cheap Pioneer and the high-dollar Denon are played through the LINK II no audible differences seem detectable. Let me make this perfectly clear; The best that I can judge is that both the Pioneer connected through its TOS output, and the Denon connected through its coax, sound virtually identical when played through LINK II. I you want a great sounding juke-box the LINK is a hands-down winner.

When the LINK sound is compared to Denon Alpha (which in itself is real easy to live with), I must give the edge to the LINK. The Denon's slightly smoother highs are inadequate compensation for giving up the LINK's better bass and mids. Maybe if your principal musical interests are violins and string quartets you might slightly prefer the Denon Alpha system, but otherwise I suspect most people would favor the LINK overall. I cannot conceive how a D/A converter could sound materially better.

(c) Cost/performance ratio: As some other reviewers have previously complained, the remote inline AC power supply might be just a tad weak, but its design seems to be very close to where the cost/performance curves cross. Spending more bucks on the power supply might make a tiny audible difference, but spending that same money somewhere else in the system, like on speakers or bi-amping, would surely make very noticble improvements. This is a great product, and I know of nothing else that is as good a value.

My overall impression is that the LINK DAC is an excellent tool to reveal the fantastic sound stage and exquisite details to be found in HDCD CDs mastered using Pacific Microsonic's 176 kHz sampling rate standard. HDCD disks are, without question, audibly superior to ordinary disks mastered at lower sampling rates. Try Jessey Cook's Gravity or Govi's Andalusian Nights for example. While MSB's latter model LINK III with the HDCD chip might be just slightly better, I'm so happy with my LINK II that I have almost no interest in MSB's HDCD upgrade kit.

Similar Products Used: None
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Randy Bey   Audiophile [Jul 07, 2000]
Strength:

modularity, capacity for upgrades

Weakness:

stock power supply is a blue light special

I have had the MSB Link III DAC for over a month now. It has taken a long while to break in, but now I will say the unit has come to life.

I use the DAC with my existing CD player (a NAD midfi model) and the improvement is no less than phenomenal.

Without it the CD player had a grainy, edgy quality to female vocals. Clear sounds, like bells, for example, had a white noise component to the ringing.

With the DAC, bells sound clear as a, ah, bell. Female vocals and the silibants therein are tamed into submission, and graininess is greatly reduced.

The all important midrange has new breath and depth. And oh yes, the bass has more slam, more bang. But it's the highs that pull this unit out into the lead.

I did replace the stock power supply, which was a joke, with an HC2 bigger, beefier model. Seperate circuits for analog and digital voltages.

This is a moderately priced unit, you can buy them new for $350, although the HC2 PS addes another $280 to the price tag. Even so, you would need to spend twice that, or more!, to improve on the performance, and the gains would be hard to discern in all but the most no-holds-barred systems.

I would recommend this to anyone in the under $5000 stereo group. Those with rigs going for less than $1000 might want to reconsider the purchase, but again, there is no better place to put your money than on the SOURCE! Every link in the chain depends on quality going in. No link can put music back that didn't come out of the source in the first place.

Similar Products Used: Adcom DAC
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Chris K   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 30, 2000]
Strength:

smooth d/a conversion, imaging, tight & deep bass, ease of use

Weakness:

only one coax digital input - have to use toslink for second digital input

What a wonderful piece of equipment! Threw in some Diana Krall and BOOM!!!-there are the instruments, hanging in the air between the speakers. Channel separation on some cds has the far left and far right instruments getting a little outside the speakers; a nice touch. The reverb on her voice had depth and width to it that had not come out of my (admittedly humble) system before. Smooth, smooth, smooth. I threw in some rock, and it rocked. Harmonics from the overdriven amps crackled and buzzed like the real thing. (I have played in several rock bands, so I know the way an amp should sound).
I bought mine (Link DAC III)from Alan Grau at Audiowaves with a Harmonic Tech Cyberlink Copper coax and an MSB Toslink. I ran the coax from my Audio Alchemy ACD-Pro to the Link DAC, and the toslink from the DVD to the Link Dac.

PS - Don't listen to "Carolyn" with her pathetic rant submitted here. She has a crap system anyway. I gave up on Carver equipment years ago after the disgusting TFM series amps that broke down constantly. After reading some reviews about recent Crutchfield er, Carver stuff, I stand uncorrected. Go back to school and learn something Carolyn!

Similar Products Used: audio alchemy dac-in-a-box
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
mark palmer   Audio Enthusiast [May 16, 2000]
Strength:

analog tube like quality to sound, a fullness of sound and it sounds more 3dimensional

Weakness:

still new, it seems to have problems with each new cd I put on, but by the time the song has played for a while, it sounds great!

I have an old 380 watt carver amp; and carver preamp ct-23-I use monster interconnects and speaker wire running to a pair of Paradyme t-100's-a hk 8350 cd player-
What a difference, this system had a 8550 hk that broke every 2 mos-(See hk 8550 reviews) and I put a 8350 and hooked up to this DAC-what a difference! It sounds much smoother, more bass definition and a musicality (is this a word?), even my family (who finds all this stereo stuff overkill) has noticed!

I strongly recommend this product, and I have not even broken it in yet!

Similar Products Used: none
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Pete   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 20, 2000]
Strength:

Tight deep Bass

Weakness:

None not at $350.00

I am using this DAC with a Sony XA20ES (as a transport). Toslink cable into a Monarchy DIP II, Kimber Digital coax X, Dip to DAC. Transparent Musiclink Plus interconnects to Amp. This set-up sounds as if I spent Thousands more!! Great open soundstage.
B&W CDM SE-7 speakers (awesome!!)
Hey James, who listens to women anyway!?

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
DS   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 15, 2001]
Strength:

Great sound at a bargain price.

Weakness:

Limited in/outputs.

This DAC makes great audio strides over the onboard DAC's on my Pioneer Elite Laserdisc player and my Sony ES DVD player. A distinct clarity in tonality can be heard throughout the midrange. The highs loose their 'digital hash' and gain some 'analog sizzle'. Definitely use the digital cable from MSB and an appropriate line filter. I don't use a dedicated CD player because of the HDCD, SACD, DVD-A wars going on.

Similar Products Used: Brickwall.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Nepnep   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 18, 2001]
Strength:

Smooth overall sound, clear imaging, deeper soundstage.

Weakness:

None for the price

Fantastic DAC for the price. It eliminated the forward sound of my Rotel RCD 971, giving it a more smooth (analog? not quite yet) sound. Details are the same but the soundstage deepened by at least a few feet. Bass is about the same as the Rotel.

Connecting it to my Pioneer DV 525 made the bass tighter and extended. The musical presentation became fuller, warmer. Although this is the case, it’s still not quite up to the Rotel-MSB combo.

The MSB exhibits a different characteristics depending on the source. It will not make a bad cheap source sound like a Wadia or DCS. But it will improve the sound up to a certain extent, to the best of its ability.

Great product MSB!

Bryston B-60
Rotel RCD 971
MSB Link DAC III
DH Labs BL 1 S2
Monster Datalink 100 Digital Cable
Radio Shack megacable (waiting for delivery of T-14 biwire, performance should be a big improvement from Radio Shack)
B&W 602 S2 (see my review of this in the speaker section)
Custom made sand filled speaker stands on spikes

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Showing 1-10 of 24  

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