MSB Technology: about us and new developments

Vince-Galbo

MSB Technology USA
Nov 12, 2020
3
26
5
Introduction
Located in Silicon Valley, MSB's dedicated engineers and production specialists work to bring you the best in high-end audio. Combining elegant design thinking with a passion for natural and lifelike reproduction, our close-knit team, led by brothers Jonathan Gullman and Daniel Francis, build and curate a wide array of hifi products—DACs, transports and amplifiers— setting industry milestones in each category. By relying on tight integration between electrical, mechanical and consumer performance needs, we constantly strive to push the listening experience further. At the end of the day, our joy comes from innovation and sharing our leading-edge technologies with the world.

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Designing DACs for more than 25 years has given us keen insights for future ready products. Now, more than ever, our product range has the most flexible architecture yet. This has been achieved with ladder DAC modules that are ready to convert any digital signal into audio without compromise including formats that do not even exist yet. MSB has been evolving ladder DACs for 21 years with the latest Hybrid and Prime versions yielding near immeasurable noise floors, capable of 6 MHz for PCM and 50 MHz for DSD! It is unlikely these speeds will ever be needed for audio but MSB’s ladder modules are ready if the time ever comes. Designed and built in-house, MSB introduced the Femto clock in 2010. MSB’s newest Femto clocks lead the industry. All DAC models now allow for Femto clock accuracy to the four corners of the motherboard and with our ProISL system now allowing the DACs’ Femto clock accuracy to source playback memories outside the DAC over an industrial grade laser driven dual path optical system. This system is employed in MSB's ProUSB system allowing outboard Femto clock accuracy and control over virtually all computer audio sources and servers.

MSB’s power bases are designed in-house using the best transformers, extraordinary regulation and ultra low noise. The various power bases allow specially designed grounding schemes further reducing power line and ground noise to the DAC.

MSB DAC’s features user-installable input modules. Each one of these special modules is a significant reach into the core DAC architecture with each one optimizing its intended function and format.

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The function of a preamp is to make the signal louder so you can….turn it down again!
MSB ladder DAC modules put out a full volume balanced signal so no gain or buffering is needed. We only need to attenuate the signal from full volume (turn it down). The newest MSB DAC modules are the first to have the DAC modules drive the output directly attenuating through a proprietary constant impedance resistor design using absolutely no transistors, op amps, or any active devices. The analog signal path is pure and simple offering extraordinary clarity, definition, soundstage, and beauty in the upper harmonics we never knew were there on CD, hi-res, and DSD. Many, if not most, “second tier” recordings are often shown to be as good as our best recordings revealing new information that is natural even in the worst places in the recording like sibilance, massed horns, massed violins, etc. It is surprising to hear for the first time. Each recorded venue is “dropped” into our listening room tending to make our own room disappear. The natural sound coming from the speakers reduces the idea that a room needs some level of room treatment. It can often become unimportant with careful speaker placement.

Many would say that digital has been the worst thing in our systems for the last 30+ years. We ask our customers to consider that the DAC is now the best component in our systems, maybe by far. This is good news since the DAC is the source of the analog sound. We find, along with our customers, that there is less “matching” by compensating for digital glare, harshness, artificial detail, etc. Matching or compensation is most often done using components like overly colored tubes and overly colored cables downstream. (There are many great tube and cable designs). In the past we tried to pick a point between detail and a natural presentation. No More! We suggest customers re-evaluate previous choices. The silver cables you thought were bright maybe used on “lesser” digital, are now the cables that show that last bit of soundstage realism and the beauty in the upper partials of delicate instruments. The beryllium tweeter that seemed almost brittle and separate from the speaker may now imperceptibly integrate with the rest of the speaker revealing all of the nuance and again…beauty. On recordings we know very well the interplay between musicians becomes more obvious. The band sounds more cohesive.

Future ready
MSB has always had an upgrade program as far as the physical hardware would allow. Between 1999 and 2008 one could upgrade from the DAC 1 to the DAC 2 or DAC 3. From 2009 one could upgrade from the DAC IV to the DAC IV Plus to the DAC V. The current DAC models are designed to be the most upgradeable yet. MSB’s ladder DAC modules do not know they are playing music. These modules evolved over 21 years are hyper accurate data to voltage converters. It is all they do. The core engine of the DAC is simply the ladder modules and the Femto clock. Therefore everything else that is “the DAC” lives in very large scale programmable devices. These devices contain all of the operational instructions and general housekeeping. They also contain very large and elaborate digital filters which are written in-house. Firmware updates are performed by downloading a WAV music file from the MSB support page. This file is played like a song in your media player. A voice comes on the speakers describing the process. Two minutes later the DAC is upgraded in any way MSB chooses. New digital filters, new operational changes, new instructions for newly installed input modules, new Roon updates, etc. Almost anything is possible. Input modules can be added at the back of the DAC by the user with the simple flip of a lever. By having two previous decades of upgradable DAC platforms, MSB has proven its intent to always bring the customer along with new improvements and DAC model upgrades. The current models are the most upgradable yet. The customer can ask his dealer about an upgrade from one DAC level to the next which should be very attractive. Your digital investment is safe with MSB’s upgrade paths.

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Amplifiers
MSB decided to take a look at amplifiers to see what could be done to bring amplifier measured performance up to the level of MSB’s DACs. The result is some innovations in how amplifiers work. The unavoidably noisy input stage was reimagined. Along with other newly invented circuitry the amplifier noise floors have dropped dramatically lower than any previous designs. Even though we cannot hear the previous noise performance when the music is playing, the assumption is there are interactions of the lowest level and densest harmonics like full orchestra or close miked piano producing artifacts into the audible range. The harmonics are slightly smeared, stealing that last bit of soundstage and truth in the overtones. Customers repeatedly tell us these qualities are immediately obvious with MSB amplifiers cold out of box! The S202, S500 and M500s need to be heard to be believed.

The People
Check out our website for details on who works at MSB.

MSB in-house manufacturing
MSB DACs are designed completely in-house. A long standing design goal has always been to do it better than has ever been done before. This often results in things being accomplished very differently than any previous industry designs. In some cases MSB even gets rid of things we don’t like. As an example, output transistors on the DAC or negative feedback in the amplifiers. The open architecture sometimes allows for other newly invented improvements all using the existing models. MSB is always thinking and improving designs bringing the customer along with the new improvements. Design pics here

MSB DACs are manufactured in-house using the latest leading edge technology CNC machines, robotic circuit board manufacturing machines and other highly efficient processes. MSB is continuously improving production efficiency in all ways resulting in the ability to do lean manufacturing. This results in cost reduction and better quality.



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K3RMIT

Active Member
Sep 4, 2020
113
26
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im very interetsed in the volume concept . i know previous msb dacs had relative high output analog . does anyone own one or is there anyone else who does this .
 

Vince-Galbo

MSB Technology USA
Nov 12, 2020
3
26
5
MSB has begun its second year as a WBF sponsor. WBF is a high quality resource for hobbyists to communicate directly, compare notes, and share ideas. MSB is proud to be a contributor and a member of this great community.

MSB has been in the digital audio business for over 25 years. In 1999 MSB introduced the first ladder DAC modules. These modules were the core engine featured in a new high end DAC called the Platinum one. Over the next 8 years the Platinum One evolved to the Platinum Three with upgrades available back to Platinum One owners.

In 2009 to 2015 MSB produced the DAC IV, DAC IV Plus and DAC V with upgrades available to DAC IV owners. In 2015 MSB introduced the Select DAC with the Reference, Premier and Discrete DACs soon to follow. These newest DACs are the most flexible yet being highly upgradeable using firmware, plug in modules, and other upgrade programs through an MSB dealer.

One of the missions has always been to design DACs using the best science and importantly, the best measurements. MSB’s lab continuously pursues new and better measurement techniques to prove new designs and to see the ultra low numbers that elude most off the shelf audio measurement equipment. The majority of sonic accomplishments over the years have been the result of newly invented designs and extraordinary levels of measurement. Decision by listening is much less than one would think.

With a focus on “Made in the USA” products, we have brought manufacturing in-house, sourced local North American materials, and continued to work on improving our environmental impact. This tight control over manufacturing processes along with lean manufacturing improvements has resulted in increased quality and performance.

We recently moved into a new facility that was engineered from the ground up for improved work flows while providing a world class manufacturing environment for our highly skilled staff.

MSB’s most important mission is customer satisfaction in all aspects. First and foremost of course is the sonic performance. We enjoy continuous customer comments about MSB's surprisingly natural presentation.

Just as important is one-on-one support before, and long after the sale. MSB customer’s know that in conjunction with our MSB dealers we are eager to help with technical questions about MSB's products and system integration questions. MSB DACs are very responsive to other improvements in the system environment. Therefore we encourage customers to work with us and the dealer if needed to help evolve their systems.

MSB looks forward to a long term association with WBF and the forum community.
 
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Kingsrule

Well-Known Member
Feb 3, 2011
1,141
336
525
Good section on the preamp/volume control. Many get confused on how the MSB volume works

BTW, why isn't these posts all in the MSB Forum?
 

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