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

last night i received my Jan 19' Absolute Sound Magazine, and there on the cover is the MSB Reference Dac.

i still get Stereophile and Absolute Sound in the mail, and must admit to mostly just scanning them here and there and rarely reading any review from start to finish. it's just not what i spend my time doing anymore. but an actual MSB review is pretty rare, and obviously as an MSB Select II owner, i was a little curious what Mr. Valin might have to say about it.

Jonathan makes no direct A/B comparisons with other digital, but does offer how he thinks the MSB Ref is somehow different than other digital he has encountered, both relative to other digital and compared to his vinyl. his points are not altogether different than my own postings on that subject relative to my Select II, which is to be expected. Mr. Valin does wade in to the whole MQA issue and comes out very positively on the side of MQA......which mirrors my own MSB <-> MQA experience. he also complains about streaming and wifi in his home which is curious since streaming ideally should be over a network and only be controlled by wifi. interesting.

overall a very positive review.

Absolute Sound also named the MSB Reference DAC and Transport their 'Overall Product of the Year'.

Congrats to the whole team at MSB and Vince Galbo, their director of sales, for the great review and the Product of the Year Award.
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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?

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