Break in of Link DAC III

I purchased a link DAC III with half nelson upgrade a couple of weeks ago. I'm not overly impressed with it so far. While it is an improvement on my Rotel RCD 971, it's not night and day like I had heard in the audio store. I understand that break-in is required, but just how long are we talking here? So far, i have about 50 hours on it. Will there be a significant improvement in overall sound?

Associated equipment:
Rotel rcd971
Nakamichi AV10 top of line surround receiver (I suspect this is part of the problem)
NHT 2.5i speakers
KimberKable DV90 (i think that's it - silver coax cable)
audioquest type 4 speaker cable.

I'm starting to think that I got scammed into paying for a half Nelson upgrade that was never done. In other words, i'm worried that I just have the base model WITHOUT the upgrade, but that I paid for the upgrade (i'm not that trusting of the dealer - he seems like a scammer).

Main questions that need answering are:

1. Is break-in a significant improvement in sound quality? and if so, then how long does it take (and will it be a 'sudden improvement' or just gradual)?

2. How can I check to see if I ACTUALLY got the half Nelson upgrade?

any help for my worried mind would be appreciated...

Do you have the P1000 Power Supply? The P1000 made a big difference to my DAC III. Also switching from Toslink to Coax input helped a lot.
Nope, I don't have the p1000. Can't afford it yet. The dealer I bought it from said that the difference between using the p1000 or not is like the difference between upsampling and no upsampling (in terms of degree of improvement), so I opted to go without the P1000.

I do, however, use coax and not toslink... I use the KimberKable D60 (sorry, i posted DV90 earlier - oops!)

Thanks for the input..
come on people!!! Help me out here!!!


Open it up and look. From

"The Full Nelson version—named after Carol Nelson, the MSB sales rep who arranged to get the mod into production—transforms the unpretentious Link III with wholesale component swaps that preempt much of what the cottage-industry modifiers do for a living. The major effort is put into the analog stages, including using 2% Wima PP caps in the output filters, 75-ohm low-inductance Caddock ceramic resistors, and ultra-high-speed AD827 precision op-amps. Signal-path resistors are replaced with Roderstein 1% helical metal-film resistors, and the internal PS rails are upped from 8V to 12V. Finally, an AES/EBU digital input replaces the TosLink of the stock Link III. The Half Nelson version ($385) includes all of the above enhancements except for the AES/EBU input."
Hi it's me again!!


The half nelson upgrade was never done!!!!!!!! Can you believe that???? I paid for and waited for a link III with the upgrade. I was patient. I took the dealer's word, despite the fact that he screwed me on a previous transaction. Unbelievable.

I KNEW MY EARS WERE NOT PLAYING TRICKS ON ME (this time)!! assured...I WILL raise hell!!!

(just so you know, when I called MSB, the tech guy said that the best way to know from first glance is to look for red wima caps - which weren't there!!!)

Back again...

To update my situation, I spoke with MSB to find out exactly what components were to have been included in the Link III half Nelson upgrade and made a list of the specific items. I opened up the unit and discovered that there HAD in fact been some parts upgrades HOWEVER the parts that were NOT what MSB specifies. The distributor, who claims to be certified to do the upgrades, stated that the parts that were used were, in fact, higher quality than the ones specified by MSB. Regardless of whether or not this is the case, the parts used were still NOT what MSB specifies, and, as a result, the sound characteristics of the unit are not those of a half-nelson link dac III (because as we all know, any change in parts can result in a wide variance in sound). Further, the fact that one particular item may be more expensive than another does NOT mean that it will work as well in the given application.

Four of the five items that were to be upgraded were incorrect. The WIMA caps were not installed; ERO caps were used (in one stage). Supposedly ERO caps are better quality, but I am skeptical (although admittedly, I'm not an electronics technician/engineer). What I can say, however, is that the ERO caps had lower-end specs than the WIMAS. The OP amps were not by Linear Techologies as MSB specifies, but were some unknown brand. The OP amp Caps were not WIMAS, but again, some unknown brand. And finally, the resistors were not Caddock resistors, but supposedly Vishays (which as apparently better), although still not what MSB specifies. Effectively, this is not the Half-Nelson upgrade, but in fact the 'distributor's' upgrade. NOT THE SAME THING.

Although some of these upgrades may in fact be better in theory than what MSB specifies, I believe that all parts have to work in a synergistic fashion for optimal performance and this 'parts switching' does not complement the other parts of the Link DAC III.

I am very disappointed in the attempt to having the 'wool pulled over my eyes', regardless of the 'favour' the distributor was attempting to claim. Also, I was disappointed with the treatment I received from the distributor - the sheer leering arrogance and sense of condescension I experienced was terrible. MSB should strongly reconsider the Canadian distributor for their product or at least make it clear that upgades should follow MSB specification.

Hell, if at a restaurant I order chicken, I expect chicken, not fish (regardless of whether or not fish is 'better for you').

My understanding of the Half- and Full-Nelson mods was that they were ONLY from the MSB factory. Has the situation changed and is the distributor, or others, permitted to do this?
Well, according to the retail store and the distributor, the distributor has been given authority to do the upgrades. When I questioned MSB on this matter, the gentleman with whom I spoke was not certain as to whether or not the Canadian distributors was authorized. He DID state, however, that if they were in fact authorized, they would have to follow the specs that MSB puts forth and by no means make their own 'improved mods' while calling it a half nelson upgrade.

I will be hearing back from MSB shortly with the info as to whether or not the Canadian distributor is authorized. I will post my findings shortly.

Hey, lets name names! Who's the creep,so others don't get ripped off!!!!!!
Having owned a Link Dac II, III and a Half-Nelson w/upsamling I assure you that you should hear a dramatic improvement with the .5-Nelson: More body, weight bloom, better placement of instruments in the 3D soundscape, same esquisite detail but a touch smoother, more natural extension top to bottom and much better bass articulation over the lesser models and over your CDP. Don't give up on the Nelson, just your dealer! Good luck.
Get into a habit of opening the hood of your gear before listening haha... I am playful, I do so to all my gears...
Hello again...

As an update, I still have not found out whether or not the distributor is, in fact, authorized to do the upgrades. I will not found out until about mid-January or so (after the show in Las Vegas), as the owner of MSB is in attendance.

I will say, however, that although the distributor was quite rude to me on the telephone and questioned my intelligence and knowledge, he agreed (through the retailer, who was also VERY surprised with the supposed 'Half Nelson Mods') to upgrade a new unit to spec - making sure to use all the proper components.

I am patiently awaiting the new unit and in the meantime I was told that I could keep and use the existing dac. I have decided, however, NOT to use the dac at all. Heaven forbid that a problem arises with the unit and I am held responsible.


MSB was unable to confirm whether or not the Canadian distributor for their products IS, in fact, authorized to do the Half Nelson upgrade. Seems strange, I know, but after much hemming and hawing, I did not get a clear cut answer. What I did get was 'Perhaps they were once upon a time, but I don't know about now...' (and this was from the Sales Manager!)

Why she did not take the time to find out for certain and get back to me with the information, I have no idea...(and this is after MANY conversations with the company LONG DISTANCE at MY EXPENSE! One would at least expect a courtesy call).

The Canadian distributor has since replaced the parts with the correct ones and I got the unit back about two and a half weeks ago.

Unfortunately, about a week after bringing it home, I discovered that the optical input was DOA. I could not believe it! I'm not sure who QC's these products, but one would think that something as simple as an input would be checked before delivery.

I initially purchased the unit (paid in full) 2 weeks before Christmas... today is February 19 and I STILL have not received the unit AND when I call the retailer, he keeps telling me that he'll call me back (Which he never does) AND the distributor is not returning my calls either.

I cannot believe how much of a nightmare this has become. I will NEVER purchase a product from MSB again. And I ESPECIALLY will not purchase from the retailer again as this is not the first shifty activity to have taken place.

Deeply disappointed in the whole situation.