msb Ilink vs. wadia 170i ipd docks

I have finally gotten a weeks worth of critical listening of the msb ilink and the wadia ipod docks and I must say that the msb is truely better in every way and it's not subtle. I am running them both directly to the benchmark dac/pre and through atc scm20-2 active speakers running balanced with an analysis plus gold coax cable. The detail is much higher in the msb, the bass is not as tubby, and it's almost like a blanket was lifted off the speakers after I switched to the msb. I know there is a huge difference in price but I know alot of people were on the fence about this one so I wanted to help them put and give my 2 cents worth. This ipod dock is pretty killer and I can't even imagine what it's going to be like when I hook it up to a great dac.
The Benchmark is not a great DAC? Wow, that's an elevated playing you're playing on!!

RW what's "an elevated playing you're playing on" mean
I have two ilinks one for my main system an other for my second system. I purchased the second one because the first
one sounded so good I wanted the same sound on my second system. It's sound superior over any Cd Player and I have over 150 cd's at my finger tips. I spoke to someone from the CES and the told me that the wadia is having some preformance issues both connection and sound quality
That's good to know. I've been considering getting the MSB iLink. However, once the iPod has been modified, will it only work with the MSB unit? Currently I listen to my iPod connected via a dock connector from ALO, to a Ray Samuels Audio Predator headphone amp. Great sound. With the modification, can I still listen to my iPod on-the-go using my current set-up? Or is audio out, via the dock, disabled entirely on the iPod?

With regard to the Benchmark, it's a good DAC for the money, but not as good as the DAC I use in my main system (EMM Labs DAC2).
1,- AFAIK the MSB is an ADAC (it is fed passing thru the iPOD's DAC - such as Krell's KID) - not good. The Wadia should be better IF you connect it thru its coaxial digital OUT connector to a good DAC.

2,- The Benchmark is a good DAC for the money, one of the best options at that price range, I have my 170i connected to a Reimyo DAC and sounded, at keast, equal to my Reimyo CDP777 CDP, if not better with some musical material.

Hope this helps.
any feedback on the wadia 170i transport and using the cambridge 840cd as dac
That should work Jorge - The Wadia route is critical in the DAC selection, but I must say that I am not familiar with the Cambridge unit.
I have the msb ilink and wadia i170 gns mod. The msb ilink is better in every aspect than the wadia. I had both units fed to my wadia 521 dac greatnorthern sound co mods. I replaced my cd transport in favor of the msb ilink. The msb unit uses fifo buffer and has very low jitter output. The wadia has one of the worst case of jitters. I am not knocking the wadia i170 most of my digital audio gear is wadia however in this case the msb ilink is far better unit.
RW what's "an elevated playing you're playing on" mean

Sorry, typo. I meant: "That's an elevated field you're playing on."

I'm not sure about the Wadia 170i since I never had the chance to listen to it. However, I can say that the MSB iLINK/iPOD system has been my largest surprise in audio for many years. This set replaced my MBL 1611/1621 followed by the dCS with so much better results. Well done.
The wadia i170 has gotten a lot of press however msb was the first to come out with an ipod transport. For the price the wadia i170 is an ok ipod transport. I was not really impressed with the unit. The best ipod transport out their is the msb ilink, far better than the wadia unit.
What goes into the great norther sound mod. of the 170i? Also, if I use the video outputs to my tv can I see the ipod screen for remote control use. I can't imagine trying to use the remote with such a tiny screen from 10+ feet?
The user interface on the 170i is not their best feature - one needs to create many different playlists to manage the music library in a convenient way - what really makes the Wadia itransport a great option is its performance.
Almost 2 grand for the msb???, iPod well under $300 used. Hmmmmm. Is that really a fair comparison?
Dreadhead i never said it was a fair comparison. I was simply saying if you want the very best possible ipod transport then go with the msb. The msb can replace your hi end cd transport and you would never miss it. Msb deals with the jitter with fifo buffers and the jitter output is very low. The wadia is a good piece of gear don't get me wrong. I own wadia gear, wadia i170 and wadia 521 gns mods. I am sure their will be better ipod transports in the future from other companys. I don't use a cd of any kind in any of my systems. My main 2 ch system is where i use my msb. I have a few other systems, in one of them i have the wadia i170. I hate it when people say wadia ipod dock, its an ipod transport.
I wish I had one.
I had both pieces in my system and I have some thoughts about this post:

2. I did my comparison using an iTouch with my Wadia and the iPod classic with the MSB. The iTouch uses a solid state HD's which has no mechanical noise. This can't help but improve the sound quality. Which begs the question does a solid state drive reduce jitter in any way? As a side note I am not sure MSB could even fit their electronics into my I Touch(I don't know if I showed it to you but it's super thin).

3. I ripped my files with the WAV format(with a slightly higher sampling rate) vs. the apple loss-less on the MSB which also could be contributing to my belief that the Wadia sounded as good or better.

4. Optarchie ended the "comparison" in an odd way: "This iPod dock is pretty killer and I can't even imagine what it's going to be like when I hook it up to a great dac." He spent the whole paragraph saying how the MSB blew it away and then ends it like this?

5. Here is a response from someone else to that thread:"1,- AFAIK, the MSB is an ADAC (it is fed passing thru the iPod's DAC - such as Krell's KID) - not good. The Wadia should be better IF you connect it thru its coaxial digital OUT connector to a good DAC."

6. Is the Re-clocker in the Lector DAC good enough to correct a lot of the jitter produced by the Wadia (if it is in fact producing as much jitter as MSB claims) MSB claims they have reduced jitter to 7ps. My understanding is that 1000ps of jitter is considered good. We really don't know what the measurements are for the Wadia. I mean in fairness to Wadia we haven't heard their side of the story. MSB says the Wadia produces the most jitter they have ever seen right? Why don't they give an actual number so we can understand on what magnitude they are talking about?

7. MSB claims "the wadia grabs the digital stream AFTER apple touches it i.e converts the raw feed from the drive to spdif...etc. MSB modifies the unit and grabs the digital stream DIRECTLY off the hdd before anything is done to it, then with there proprietary tech they convert the signal to spdif and return a signal with a measured jitter of around 7ps. There is a big difference." We actually don't know this is true. That is what MSB says. I want to hear Wadia's side of the story.

7. In both cases I think the Lector transport is the superior transport if I want to enjoy a CD that was not released on LP.

8. The Wadia does have the added benefit of access to the video out in high def which is a nice feature.

9. I am going to call Wadia to day to at least get their side of the story. It's only fair.

10.Both transports produced sound quality that was between 95-98% of what my Lector transport produces. I picked the Wadia for the following reasons: 1.Sound is very close to CD when run thru Lector Digicode DAC and felt closer to analog to me than the MSB(I suspect the MSB's DSP has something to do with this. 2. The Wadia is 1/4 the price. 3. The Wadia allows me to use my iTouch which has none of the mechanical noise produced by a hard drive. 4. For reference listening here is my order: 1. L.P. 2. CD using Lector Digicode/Digidrive 3. Wadia for more casual listening.
Nice post Nrostov! I have the Wadia 170i and without knowing the exact jitter figure, I can state that with the addition of a jitter buster in the shape of a Monarchy DIP Classic ($250), there was a night and day difference - everything from bass taughtness to resolution and a quieter background was immediately noticeable. Full details of the comparisons I did are in my review of the 170i here on Audiogon.

I have not heard the MSB so cannot make any comment on that comparison.

Given what you said about the jitter buster I am guessing that the Lector digicode has an excellent re-clocker in it because the sound I am getting is so close to my Lector transport it's amazing.

By the way if you can get a hold of the Yamaha crw-f1e external cd drive for the computer and use it to import your cd's into iTunes the Wadia will sound even better. This is an incredibly well built external drive that does not record any of the noise that the internal drives on the computer do.

I had the MSB and I have to say it had a digital sound to it that the Wadia does not. One of the reasons I went with the Lector DAC and transport is that they are the closest to analog that I have heard from a digital music player.

MSB claims that the Wadia produces around 10,000ps of jitter. I find this hard to believe unless my Lector has the most amazing re-clocker in the world. Also, there was an erroneous post in one of these threads. The Wadia does have an internal re-clocker inside(not just wires) that detects any signal that is not lossless and re-clocks it. For anyone that one who wants to argue about this there are plenty of reviews on the web that point this fact out as well as Wadia(all of whom I trust more than some guy on Audiogon with a screwdriver).

Don't get me wrong. The MSB is a nice piece but it's grossly overpriced. Of course this is all academic because I don't expect them to be in business much longer(I know one of their dealers) while the Wadia is selling like hot cakes.
Nrostove Msb has been around along time, they came out with one of the first dacs. Your telling me msb is going out of business, hard to believe. Msb makes very good digital products. I have a few ipod only systems wadia 170, krell kid and msb ilink. The ilink is the best ipod transport out their period. I have hooked up my msb ilink and my wadia 170 with great northern sound co mods to my wadia 521 gns mods and their was no contest the msb ilink had better bass and the sound stage was wider. The msb ilink has replaced my mark levinson 37 transport.
I never said they were definitely going out of business but there are lots of big name companies that have been around a long time that are barely hanging on. I know people in the industry so I am not just pulling this out of the sky. I don't know if you have noticed it but we are in the worst economic crisis since the 81-82 and 70's recessions combined.

Anyway, thanks for your service in the army and enjoy your msb. In my system I preferred the Wadia. However, if you read my post there are other variables involved. I own an iTouch. It has a solid state hard drive that produces zero noise unlike the classic iPod you have which has a standard hard drive. Also, I own one of the finest DAC's on the market at any price(the Lector holds its own with the $65,000 Burmeister). The Lector re-clocks the signal. So this factors have to be taken into consideration.

At the end of the day who cares. If you love the MSB then that's great. I think it's a great product too. I just think the price is too high. Especially in these times.
Nrostov thanks, your right "at the end of the day who cares" As long as your happy.
Nrostov i also have an ipod touch 32gb with only itunes plus and it sounds great hooked up to my krell kid, better than my ipod classic. I guess the solid state hard drive is better like you said.

Am I correct that MSB can't modify the iTouch? I think it's too thin too put their DSP in but I am not sure. Just wondering if you knew.

They only modify the ipod classic, i called them and ask if they could modify my ipod touch to work with my msb ililnk.
I spoke with Wadia today to get their side of the story.

First let's clear up some misconceptions:

1. The Wadia re-clocks all signals before digital output.
2. The Wadia is not just a bunch of wires inside. It actually has 2 very large circuit boards inside. The reason they used such large boards was to isolate the video, digital, and analog sections from one another to prevent any leakage.
3. The difference between the MSB and the Wadia is that the Wadia let's the Apple chip convert part of the apple loss-less data into a format that a DAC can understand(no dac would understand the apple lossless signal. The Wadia finishes the process. MSB does the whole process thru it's DSP.
4.The engineer at Wadia laughed when I told him how much jitter they claimed the Wadia is producing. I will have the exact specs in a couple of days of what the actual amount of jitter the Wadia is producing but it is no where near 10,000ps which is = to 10ns of jitter.

It's only fair that we get the correct information to members of audiogon so that they can make an informed decision.

I am in no way putting down MSB. They make a great product. I just don't like propaganda. People shouldn't be lazy. Call companies and find out both sides of the story. Most companies appreciate people who take interest in their products and are glad to give out information.
Nrostov i agree, i would like to know what the exact amount of jitter the wadia i170 produces. My question is why didn't the wadia engineer give you the jitter levels of the wadia i170 then? you would think he knows. I called msb and they told me the msb ilink has 7ps of jitter.
Hi Usarmyvet,

What's your real name? Mine is Justin. Just like to be more personal.

Okay, the reason the engineer didn't give me the amount is because he was not the one who designed the 170i. That guy was out of the office yesterday. I am hoping to know by today.

I too spoke with MSB and got the same info about the msb. They also gave me misinformation about the Wadia. I don't blame them it's just part of the business. My experience has been that almost everyone fudges their numbers. I am going to take what Wadia tells me with a grain of salt. The same goes for MSB.

At the end of the day all you can trust is your ears. You like the MSB better and I like the Wadia. Who is right? Both of us. People like different sounds. Otherwise there wouldn't be so many audio companies.
my compliments for taking so much trouble in finding out the info from both Wadia & MSB. You certainly have gone above & beyond all other members who have participated in this thread.

>> They also gave me misinformation about the Wadia. I
>> don't blame them it's just part of the business.
Yes, it is unfortunately the truth in this country! It just plain sucks!
From where I come from, no negative advertising is allowed - You want to sell your product more? Advertise the positive things about it & show the public what benefits they would be getting if they bought your product compared to the others WITHOUT bashing or providing misinfo on the competitor's product.
I personally think that this is a better way to do biz rather than getting your sales up by bashing the other guy.
I think that MSB could have easily made their point by advertising their 7pS of jitter & stating that it was the lowest in the industry for this type of product (if it turns out that it actually is. we need to wait for Justin to post the info from Wadia) WITHOUT giving misinfo on Wadia. I would have had more respect for MSB than I do now. I think that this is piss-poor attitude from MSB. :(

Unfortunately, this trend of bashing & misinfo on companies does not stop at manuf only; many of the members here are happy to post misinfo & bogus data on companies' products. Worse, they state/write it with much conviction as if it were the truth! :(
Hi Justin my name is jerry. Justin i have gear from wadia and msb and i have e-mailed and talked to both companies about which product is better and of course they will tell you their product is better. I have the wadia i170 mod version by gns and it's great piece of gear. I hope that wadia will come out with a higher end ipod transport in the near future. Until then i am using the msb in my main system.
Not to change the subject but if you want a really good ipod player, check out the krell kid it rocks. The kid has taken the place of my bel canto cd-2 player in my paradigm system.
I'm also very interested to see the jitter figure which is quoted by Wadia. I have no doubt that it will be significantly higher than the MSB as otherwise I would not have expected the Monarchy DIP jitter reduction box would have had such an impact. For the Wadia, I've seen one review in a UK publication (Hi-Fi News, I think) publish a figure of 115ps and other references online stating jitter in the realm of 3000ps - will be interested to see the manufacturer figure. I would prefer to see an independent measurement but not sure if this is likely.

Regardless, a low jitter figure doesn't guarantee better sound, it is just one of a number of factors and the bottom line is that if you have a DAC that can reclock the signal and eliminate most of the jitter, this is an even less significant factor. So just like most hi-fi, it comes down, not to measurements, but to our subjective listening preferences. As long as we're enjoying what we've got we can stop thinking about upgrades for a while and enjoy the music.

Thanks Justin for going to the effort to get the information from Wadia - much appreciated.

You make an excellent point. The Wadia does re-clock the signal. How could two different publishers come up with different measurements that are so different? 115ps is very low and 3000ps is very high. That's really weird.

Hens when you import your albums are you importing them as WAV files with 48,000kBS sampling rate?

The Lector DAC is one of the finest on the market. It's no joke that it competes with the Burmeister which is $65,000. So obviously the re clocking in there is superb because my iTouch sounds almost as good as my transport.

Hopefully I will have the manufacturers data today. Once I do I will post it.
Just to add some salt grains here - I had an audio-fools meeting last night (we call each other that way - no offense) and played for about 1 hour music thru the iPOD/Wadia/Reimyo set-up I have with my new Gryphon amps - No one ver noticed I was playing thru the iPOD until one "catched-me" playing with the remote control of the Wadia.

We listened to far more music than the all-known-boring 5 CD list we used to play over and over - it is indeed a great product.
>> How could two different publishers come up with
>> different measurements that are so different? 115ps is
>> very low and 3000ps is very high. That's really weird.

Nrostov, it's not so weird afterall - jitter is a difficult measurement to make. The setup has to be carefully done so that you are not measuring the equipment by mistake. If the person taking the measurement is not experience there could be a host of pilot errors. Altho JA of Stereophile often gets bashed on AA for his measurements, he does state the perils of making jitter measurements in the vignets of the articles. If you have a Stereophile issue that covers a CDP review his comments on this matter might be published. Most of the time people make jitter measurements using a 1KHz tone - it's much harder with program material.
Also, what units is the jitter measurement - RMS jitter? pk-pk jitter?
Hey Guys, I love my transport so much that I am doing the following mods too it(see below). It will be interesting to see how it compares to my Lector transport and the MSB after they are done. The new clock put inside will reduce jitter below 2ps. This is lower than the MSB's claim of 7ps. Plus I will now be able to plug my Shunyata Python into the power supply. Anyway see the upgrades below.

Wadia 170i Transport mod done by ASi Teknologies. The following upgrades will be done: Power Supply Replacement and Upgrade-I will now be plugging in my Shunyata Python into it.
Ultra low impedance capacitor replacements DEXA UWB (Ultra Wide Bandwidth)
Ultra Low Noise Voltage Regulators Internal Wood Damping High Quality Vampire RCA Connectors for Digital output, DEXA Neutron Star Flagship Clock Upgrade
Here is a link to the site if you are interested in upgrading you Wadia:
My God, this is the Squeezebox, Empirical Audio, Wavelength Altmann thread all over again, jitter figures, lowest jitter ever, direct connection vs spdif, internal conversions mods mods etc. etc.
I got an early version of the Squeezebox, then got the best modded version and when the excitement cooled down I compared the highly modded Squeezebox running direct with only WAV files harvested with EAC, against my old Musichall cd25 the cd player was sooo much better as a transport it was ridiculous.
I finally got a Forsell transport....
Dont get me wrong I am all for playlists and downloads and computer or Ipod. I always said after listening to the Forsell transport, When I find something that is better then I will get into computer audio again...
I have kept my eye open!
Turntables have had trouble beating the Forsell.

There were sooo many threads, squeezebox replaced my DCS rack, Wadia etc..

I will try the Wadia against the Forsell soon...

I guess the ultimate will be when we can download high resolution files directly into a memory player (like the Ipod 32mhz) or maybe a one box internet player wich connects downloads stores and plays high resolution files is the answer.
Something like the Altmann, high resolution direct from internet with no upsampling...but firewired to the DAC, without spdif which seems to be the devil!!!
did Wadia ever get back to you re. how much jitter they actually have in their i170? I remain interested in this bit of info. Thanks.

I believe that Hot Rod Audio Mods (HRAM) also mods the i170 along those same lines (as does GNSC & maybe a bunch of others).

>> The new clock put inside will reduce jitter below 2ps.
>> This is lower than the MSB's claim of 7ps.
does the jitter really have to be sub pS?? I know that lower is better but beyond a certain low number, it makes no further difference (besides it being a marketing gimmick to charge more money!). Do you/anyone else (Audioengr?) know what that low number is??
>> I got an early version of the Squeezebox, then got the
>> best modded version and when the excitement cooled down
>> I compared the highly modded Squeezebox running direct
>> with only WAV files harvested with EAC, against my old
>> Musichall cd25 the cd player was sooo much better as a
>> transport it was ridiculous.
I believe that you ran an experiment with the wrong sort of device for a transport. I have read in another thread in another forum that the SB was basically not upgradeable in sound. This particular owner tried a bunch of mods: upgrading the power supply, upgrading parts, damping, Bybee filters & the like. If I remember correctly he did not replace the DAC (I think it's an AKM DAC?). He tried very hard to upgrade the sonics but finally gave up.

Now, I have not run any experiments w/ the modified i170 but I have a feeling that this gadget might be more amenable to sound upgrades after mods & it just *might* change your mind. Just a recommendation - (I have not done this myself). Looks like you are already on the job of doing the comparison soon.
DO post your results in this thread at the appropriate time. Thanx.
Justin hi i was thinking of going with asi mods. I would really like to read your post on the difference of the stock and the asi.

You are correct that jitter rates of 7ps or 2ps are silly in the sense that at that low of a rate I am not sure you can hear a difference in noise, resolution etc. At the end of the day I am paying for a much better clock that will reduce jitter. This is worth it for me.


The Forsell turntable smokes the Forsell transport. In fact the Lector transport smokes the Forsell. The Forsell was top of the line when it came out, but there have been a lot of tech. changes since then.

Usarmyvet91, I will let you know when they are done.

"I got an early version of the Squeezebox, then got the best modded version and when the excitement cooled down I compared the highly modded Squeezebox running direct with only WAV files harvested with EAC, against my old Musichall cd25 the cd player was sooo much better as a transport it was ridiculous."

Who modifed the digital output of your Squeezebox?

IMO, The Duetta by, turns a SD Duet into a world class transport.
Vinny modified the Squeezebox, a very nice job but ultimately... IMHO it is a technological shortcoming, not the modders fault.

The digital output was also modified but compared to my outboard DAC it was useless.

I havent got a Forsell TT, but maybe in the near future... I tried a couple of mid level TTs with no luck, I guess I need to spend a lot more to start comparing.

I hope the Lector transport is better, but for the moment the Forsell does an almost magical job in my set up... I hope my next transport will be a computer-ipod-thing one!!

My local dealer was a Forsell dealer(before Dr. Forsell retired). He has the Forsell transport and the Forsell Turntable. Trust me the Forsell turntable is the best turntable out there. You can pick them up used but it's a great risk because there are so many parts that can be damaged.

He also carries the Lector digicode and digidrive(which I use for my digital setup) and trust me they are amazing. They produce the most analog sounding digital music I have ever heard. Also, my turntable is better than any digital rig out there. I am not being arrogant it's just I have heard the best and they don't do 50% of what my turntable does.

I hope one day we will have super high rez digital downloads because I love the convenience of my iPod setup but until then, when I want to do serious listening it's analog(unless I can't get the recording on Lp, which is rare now a days).

If it's not connected to a DAC, the Squeezebox's digital output would be useless.

AFAIK, Vinny's mod did not improve the clock and or voltage regulation feeding the Squeezebox's SPDIF chip.

IMO, there's nothing wrong with the technology. SD has continued to improve their software and firmware.

Has anyone compared the digital outputs of the SD Duet and
Wadia 170i?

Full Mods at the time, dont get me wrong it is a nice playback, but it is not better than a very good transport and DAC. Personally I found that the battery used limited dynamics in a critical way. I dont remember what was done (I have the emails somewhere) but yes regulation at a certain point but with batteries remember than is not so important, some changes to the clock but not a new clock....


Nice playback you have, a couple of friends have the same speakers but with Chord electronics and Halcro, we listened to them with a Hovland tube amp (2 el34 about 40 watts) but it didnt have the power to move them properly, I did like tubes with those speakers but there was an Accuphase integrated amp that almost made me cry... the blend was that good!

The Forsell has a certain magic that blends wonderfully with my Non-upsampling DAC, I traded a CEC TL1 for it. I guess my curiosity with CD playback stops here. I am putting together a TT, right now I am waiting for the final protoypes of a very special tonearm!
I have just bought the upgrade to the ilink. The upgrade makes the ilink upsample to 176.4 Khz. Now the ilink is a complete different monster to the wadia. Now the gap between the 2 docks are obvious. All the good stuff associated with upsampling is true about this ilink upgrade. I wasn't expecting this, but I'm hearing instruments in familiar recordings that I never heard before. I thought you may like to know. MSB made a good decision to widen the gap with the wadia. The only complaint would be that MSB could have thought of this without an upgrade now. But the difference is no longer subtle
Sonusdude nice i have both wadia i170 gns mods and msb ilink and i have always said the msb ilink is better. I will have to send mine in for the upgrade. I have a question what if you dac upsamples already?
To all forum members who have vigourously participated in this thread:

I got tired waiting for Justin to provide some feedback re. the 170i Transport jitter which he was supposed to get from Wadia. I was surfing the 'net & I found this info re. the Wadia 170i Transport which was posted by J. Gordon Rankin. I'm surprised that nobody else discovered this info (which seems to be available since Summer 2008. OR, if you did you been mighty quiet about it) given that most of the participants here *appear* to be avid computer audio enthusiasts.

*** cut & paste from '' *******

FYI it appears the jitter (Prism dScope III, Nirvana T2 cable, BNC input to Prism, RCA->BNC adapater on the Wadia side) is actually pretty good for the SPDIF port at better than 4ns and deviation of only 63ppm with a differential data stream of about 850mv (correct).


you can read all of the tear-down info & the flurry of posts thereafter here:
Bombaywalla, I had come accross this information and it was actually Gordon Rankin's figures which were in my mind when I stated earlier in this thread that some online sources had jitter in the Wadia at aound 3000ps. It doesn't change the fact that Hi-Fi News published a figure of 115ps! Nevertheless, I go back to my earlier point that if your DAC has good jitter reduction processing, this could be largely irrelevant.

Personally, I've never heard the MSB, nor would I ever look at modifying my iPod for that sort of cost. For me, the Wadia is now the equal of my (admittedly not high-end) Musical Fidelity A5 plus all the convenience that the CD player doesn't provide. That's good enough for me. But for those that are enjoying their MSB IMods, I say good luck to them - this hobby is all about enjoying our music and our systems and their's more than one way to skin a cat!