How good is MSB Discrete Dac?

On Dec 6th, 2018 I had attended Launching event of YG Acoustics Hailey 1.2 speakers in Seoul, Korea.

MSB Select II Dac and Pre was connected to Viola Legacy Mono Amplifier to drive the speakers.

Nordost Valhalla cables were used.

The system gave wide and deep soundstage with tight and tuneful bass.

There is no doubt it was top notch system in every way with the total cost of component over 200K $.

At the end of show, we decided to do interesting comparison between MSB Select Dac II (85K$) and vinyl system using Kronus turntable.

Kronus turntable was fed to Octave phono amp and Viola Pre amp,

MSB Select was used as Pre and Dac.

I got surprised to find that MSB and Kronus gave very similar sound.

MSB Select provided slightly more dense sound with little bit more details.

Kronus gave slightly more relaxed sound.

If I had to choose one, I would take Kronus over MSB on this music since I like relaxed sound as I get older.

But it could change with different music.

Unfortunately we could test only one music.

Other people may have different opinion.

Despite this conclusion, MSB Select II gave one of the best sound from any DAC that I had ever heard.

But Select II with price tag of 100K$ is out of reach for most of people.

Base Model of MSB Discrete Dac is under 10k$.

It is much affordable.

Now the question is how good MSB Discrete Dac is.

If possible, I would like to audition MSB Discrete Dac at my home.

But I could not find any dealer around Seattle area.

The closest one is located on Vancouver, Canada.

I welcome input from who experienced MSB Discrete Dac.
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Email Vince from MSB: [email protected]

They have a mobile demo service, and may be able to let you borrow one for in-home audition

Thanks a lot for your valuable input.

I will contact Vince after being back to my home at the end of this month.

The MBS Discrete DAC is priced at $9,950 and this includes one external power supply. The recommended optional 2nd power supply is priced at $1,450. The DAC comes equipped with a single power supply, but can be augmented with a second discrete power supply to enable optimized power isolation between all major components.  One power supply is for the laddered DAC section and the 2nd power supply is for the analog section. 

I am also considering the MSB Discrete DAC with the 2nd power supply. 

Add one module, either Renderer (Ethernet streaming) at $1,950, ProUSB module with Converter Dongle (also $1,950 for the set that includes the fiber cable), and with the optional second PS you are looking at $13,400. Not cheap, but well worth it.

I had both Renderer and regular MQA USB modules on trial (this one is $1,595), and opted for the MQA Quad DSD USB module, as I felt it worked better SQ wise with my Innuos ZENith MK3 as a streamer USB out to MSB.
How does it compare to other dacs like DAVE or Bricasti M1 SE ?
It totally smokes / blows Bricasti out of the water! I guarantee you that. 
I heard Dave with or without Blue II transport at the shop last week.

Without upsampling with Blue II, Dave is just good not extraordinary one.

With Blue II, Dave sounds very nice with deep and transparent soundstage although not in a same league with MSB Select II.

Please note that Dave with Blue II will cost more than 20k$.

It will be hard to compare Dave with MSB Discrete.

It is up to personal taste and system.

I have an appointment to audition Trinity Dac, Golden Atlantic and MSB analog at the shop coming this Sunday.

I will let everybody give my impression.

While staying in Seoul, Korea for dental work, I made an appointment to listen to MSB Premier and Discrete for comparison on 23rd Thursday.

Seoul is much better than Seattle to audition high end system with access to all major brands.

It may be one of the best city to audition high end at the same level as Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore.
Lot better things to do in Seoul than audition equipment.
Things you can't do in Seattle for sure.
I was born in Seoul and had lived there for 35 years( more than half of my life).

Seoul is such a big city that I had not visited part of it.

But I had been to most of the big sightseeing attractions in Seoul.

While in Seoul,the most joyful thing is to listen to high end components that I am interested in.

Seoul is five times better than Seattle regarding accessibility to high end.

thyname try the Bricasti M21 I think it will change your mind.
I have not heard the MSB discrete DAC. But wait, i do have a point.... :-)
I have a 15 year old MSB Gold Full Nelson. I also got the pinouts for the power supply, and built my own, external, franken - supplies (totally independent analog and digital back to the wall plug (well, fuse), and both passive filtered and discrete custom regulated to a silly degree.
With upsampling enabled, driven by   Macbook Pro from FLAC/ALAC and bitperfect (bitperfect is very, very good, alas itunes is very, very bad), the gold full nelso link DAC (Base price like $500 in the day) is astonishing for an old, relatively cheap device. very un-digital (non fatiguing, warm, easy to listen to), and yet dynamic, detailed and extended frequencies like digital should be. And this is through a very revealing system.
If Mark could do THAT with zero resources, 15 years ago, what can he do with $10k today? A lot i would assume.
So i’d bet its a great product.
I auditioned MSB Discrete, Premier and Lampiziator Pacific on 23rd May in Seoul, Korea.

The source was simple Ron Nucleus with Octave Tube pre and Viola Monoblocks.

I also added just one more power supply to MSB Discrete, Premier as suggested by other member.

I started with Discrete first.

It sounds balanced with good details which belies its price tag of 11,500$ with one more power supply.

I played two vocals(one classical and one Jazz) one classical concertos and one New Age.

After switching to Premier, the sound changed drastic with more refined sound and tone color.

The difference of sound between Discrete and Premier is not minor.

After listening to Premier, I can not go back to Discrete.

MSB discrete sounds just slightly better than my 10 years old EMMLab Dac2 (New price 9K$) .

No consideration for upgrade at all.

After switching to Pacific, the sound had more body, timber and bass slam.

Pacific cost 25K$ in USA so It may be fair to compare it with Premier with improved clock.

Unfortunately they did not have upgraded clock.

But the difference of sound between Pacific and Premier is not so drastic as those between Premier and Discrete.

I say Premier is better than Discrete by 40% but Pacific is better than Premier by 15%.

With power bass block or upgraded clock, Premier may match the sound of Pacific.

I try to limit my budget to 20K$.

Thus I had hoped that the difference between Premier and Discrete shall be that I can be happy with Discrete.

But I will not consider Discrete at all after this audition.

On 26th, I will audition Trinity Dac and Aqua Formula XHd with SGM Extreme server.

Let us see what happens.

Just on Base price, the Premier is double in price of the Discrete. So better sound significantly better than the Discrete. Let alone the clock upgrade, and the power base, that can bring the price to a nice Mercedes car.

Also, double in price is like $10K. It's not like going from a $2K piece to a $4K piece.
MSB Discrete Dac sounds decent.

But after listening to MSB Premier, I can not go back to it.

Of course the price difference of 10K$ is not small.

Since I already have decent EMMLab Dac2, I wish to get substantial improvement over it.

Premier and Pacific Dac could be  substantial improvement over EMMLab Dac2, but Discrete not.

As Discrete can be updated to Premier later by paying difference in price, one can consider Discrete if he has budget of 10K$ only.