Valin's new MSB Reference dac & transport review, AS Product Year Award

May 30, 2010
No you are comparing different brands of the same tube. That is also what Keith is referring to when he says tube rolling preamp.... Mullard telefunken, 12ax or Au. Now imagine your VTL allowed you to change from.12ax7 to PX4, PX25, 101d, 300b (and of course different brands for each tube)... But different tubes, it does not let you do right now. And other dacs don't let you do anything
I referring to different brands of the same tube to explain you that there are technically and in sound quality two very different kinds of tube rolling. You can't mix both in a debate.

Swapping tubes just because they are pin compatible is possible, but most of the time changes significantly the technical specifications of the equipment, including distortion.

Again, my point is that simple measurements would clearly explain most of what happens when you swap tubes with very different gain.

BTW Luke Manley optimized his circuit around the 12AU7 - it is the tube I am using.


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Feb 26, 2014
I thought the OP was about the MSB DAC?
Did you see the pics of the two dacs, and Ron's post that this would result in a compare report, or didn't you?

Al M.

Sep 10, 2013
Greater Boston
I thought the OP was about the MSB DAC?
No, the OP was about Valin's review of the MSB DAC.

That's what the title says. With all its consequences, including rightful complaints here about the lack of comparisons in the review, and actual comparisons outside of the review.
Likes: KeithR


Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2011
I don’t think this is a valid analogy. A turntable does not come with a stock cartridge because those are two separate components. A turntable itself is a complete component. If a turntable came without a platter, that would be a different matter. A car comes with stock OEM wheels of some kind so it can function immediately as a transportation machine, although aftermarket wheel replacements can be attached.

A tube DAC tube must come with tubes so that it functions and satisfies its innate purpose, just like a hybrid tube amplifier must come with tubes for the first gain stage. I just think the turntable analogy is inapposite.
Are you saying a TT can work without a cartridge? I don't follow...


Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
Caesar, there is a lot of truth to what Keith states above. The 30.7, while an excellent speaker, brings with it a host of issues. Those issues are well known to Wendell Diller and most a'philes! The biggest issue is the room requirement of the speaker...which mandates a very large room indeed. Most folks that can accommodate a speaker of this size, probably already have large high performance speakers. The other issue, one that I think most Maggie's have, is that the speaker needs a very stout amp upstream to sound its best. Again, the mid powered tube amp or ss amp need not apply! Add up these factors and the resulting sales aren't that anyone...including, I suspect, Magnepan themselves.
Hi Davey,

Sorry for the late reply - working and traveling. A few thoughts and points...

Yes, I do agree that Keith makes a good points about panels and box speakers. Yet medium to big box speakers take over a living space just like a big panel does. I think the new Magico M2 is trying to be clean and slick, to be able to fit into a shared living situation. But anything beyond that will pretty much require a dedicated space, unless the wife doesn't really care...

And yes, also agree with Keith that someone who imagines box speakers as sounding "real" in their imagination and inside their mind will not usually like panels. Panel owners happen to be a minority in the marketplace. (I happen to hate box speakers with exception of Zu and other single driver box speakers.) Yet a small number of guys do swing both ways. So when a great company like Magnepan can sell only 30-40 (at that time) units of a great speaker to both panel lovers and to guys who swing both ways is a very depressing number. Very tiny hobby!

Yes, the 30.7 rollout was mostly botched. A few guys like me got lucky and were able to hear its greatness. But the majority heard it just ok, but many also think it sucks. A shame. Their marketeer needs to travel with big powerful amps and room treatments and set them up right so everyone gets a consistent flavor. Also, such a shame that there are so many idiots who have heard this speaker in a bad and mediocre setup and have concluded from a single listen that it sucks. Conformation bias and group think on primary display. Excluding mis-incentivized individuals spreading incorrect information, a lot of idiots out there.

Anyways, back to DACs... For those who understand how to get digital to sound great, really understand that regardless of price of the digital rig, if your power sucks - and it does suck whether people are aware of it or not, spending any money on digital is a waste of money if one doesn't have excellent power conditioning. Does anyone know which power conditioning Valin used? Does MSB recommend certain digital products and cabling?
Feb 27, 2019
My ego and pocketbook aren't big enough to jump in the dcs/MSB/CH debate. But kudos to those of you that are in that league. I have heard all 3 digital systems as a source, although not played through the same gear/speakers. They are all 3 fantastic, but I know they would sound much differently played through my mediocre system. I think most people would agree that the quality of the source signal is impacted/shaped by the electronics that amplify and reproduce that signal. So maybe some of the differences people perceive aren't altogether attributable to the DAC stack. Just a non-confrontational thought.

As with all forums, someone invariably gets their feelings hurt because their gear isn't acknowledged as the "best". It's comical to hear seemingly sophisticated grown-ups argue about opinions. We all know Opinions are like (you can fill in the blank): everybody has one.

Look at the big picture and be happy you have the wherewithal to experience these exceptional pieces of equipment. Most of us are not that lucky. Be friendly and respectful. Life's WAY too short.

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