Review: MSB Technology DAC IV Signature DA converter

Category: Digital

I typically don’t write reviews, and quite frankly find them confusing at times. However, I feel I need to make sure other members are aware of the MSB digital front end, as I was surely not.

I also want to state that I’ m a private user with no affiliation to MSB or any other audio company.

Speakers: TAD Reference 1
Preamp: Octave HP 500 SE
Amp: Octave MRE 130 monoblocks
Cables: Stealth Sakra IC, Dream SC.

Digital front end:

1. dCS Puccini /with U-clock


Music taste:

Classical (orchestral, chamber, and opera), Jazz - 90%

Material: 85% red book, 15% high resolution files.

I don’t have any audiophile demonstration material and don’t care about it.

I’ve owned the dCS P8i followed the Puccini and finally added the U clock. I’ve used dCS for 7 years now and think that overall, they are among the very best digital system available. I did have some issues with the P8i (transport had to be replaced) and upset about this event I replaced the P8i to the EMM CDSA SE which was a mistake, as it sounds okay, however not as resolving, detailed and musical as the dCS. Only two years later, when I auditioned the Puccini, I appreciated what I’ve been missing with EMM labs. I love the Puccini and could have lived with it for many more years. However had the drive to go up the line. While I was waiting for a Paganini audition, I had the chance to borrow the MSB DAC IV signature, I knew nothing about and did not expect much of.

The MSB replaced my Puccini as a DAC and I’ve used the iLINK /iPOD system to listen to red book material. I also used the USB to listen to both redbook and high resolution files. I did not use the MSB as a preamplifier.

I would like to start with the bottom line and say that after extensive listening sessions, I found the MSB DAC IV signature among the very best digital front ends at any price.

I would characterize the sound as very transparent, specious with large (life- like) soundstage with tremendous amount of macro and micro dynamics. To that you should add the overall envelope of a very coherent and musical presentation, which does not add a "warm/euphonic" feeling, but just make it sound very relax and real.

I found the sound to be much closer to dCS as opposed to EMM labs. However it had even more resolution than the Puccini/U clock combination in redbook material, and sounded more harmonic and complete, more analog if you will.

During the past weekend, I had listened hours to the Bernstein cycle of the Mahler symphonies, with more enjoyment than ever, and not a moment of fatigue. I’ve considered going up the dCS line to the Paganini or Scarlatti line, however with such high level performance, one would need to spend over $40,000 to maybe match the DAC IV performance.

Associated gear
Loudspeakers: TAD Reference 1
Preamp: Octave HP 500 SE
Amp: Octave MRE 130 monoblocks
Cables: Stealth Sakra IC, Dream SC, PC.

Similar products
1. dCS Puccini / U clock
w. EMM labs CDSA SE
Which filter you usually use during playback?
Nice!!! I have been trying to get people to see that MSB stuff is superior to most of the repackaged hype out there in the market place. I have to power Dac but I am looking to get a platinum diamond Dac for another system.