Audio Excellence YouTube comparing DS MKII with MSB Discrete

Just watched this video claiming the MKII sounds best in its price point, but no match for the MSB which is about 50% more.

He claims the MSB conveys the emotion much better than the MKII.

Anyone else compared these units?

I’m wondering about the MSB’s output stage topology and If that is giving the excellent results?

Wondering if the @jkrichards new transformer I have on order will help it to reach the MSB’s performance?


It is a bit early in the life cycle of the mk 2 to make this comparison. We all know Ted is continuing to work on the fpga code which will bring more magic from the mk 2. Not to forget the MSB costs twice what the mk 2 does.


The video mentioned the MSB in use was about $12k, so not double the price. While I too have high hopes for the MKII, the reality is that the product sounds like it does now. Would love to know more about how the MSB does it’s magic.

The MSB is simply built to a different price point.


But don’t you need to add the DSD module? Which puts it at about double. Apples to apples. But yes a very mature product vs new kid in town.

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I’m having a home audition of MSB DAC to compare it to the MK II during last 10 days. It’s the Premier and I tried with 2 Discrete power supplies for a while and now with the Powerbase. Using the PST via AES/EBU and the Innuos Statement via ProUSB/ProISL interface.
It’s an unfair comparison due to different cost, the MK II is 1/3 the price of the MSB.

Within the next week I’ll take my final decision. They sound different, of course. Is the performance proportional to the price? Due to a special offer about a ex-demo unit and a generous valuation of my MK II, in my case the difference to be paid would be a little bit more than the price of a new MK II (Italian price list). A true bargain I’m having the chance to take into consideration (never thought to buy a new MSB unit at its official price otherwise).


Luca, when you switched to AES/EBU from I2S with PST, did the SQ change to better, worse, or just different? I am wondering because I like USB more than I2S, and it’s mainly due to the cable I used, I believe.

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I know someone who compared a MK2 to a dCS Bartók HDAC 2.0.


Donald, the MK II is a game changer. We were thinking to I2S as a dogma sculptured in the rock and all at once Ted says “I suggest you to consider the USB input as well” and, as usual, he was right. He made the revolution!

I remember last summer, when I studied the Innuos philosophy, based on USB connection, we all were so skeptical about it and I considered that choice as a limitation. The Matrix thread on this Forum has been the most read, at that time, not to mention the AirLens zillion posts.

I have to admit that a few of us weren’t so sure about the unconditional I2S supremacy, @stevensegal was debating about USB performance related to certain products (Innuos) and @aangen was declaring from the top of his hill that he was so happy going AES/EBU (MU1 or Ethos) regardless DSD multiple resolutions.

How different is the scenario now! Vince went to dCS route and you discovered the Omega and I feel is growing the general consensus about possible I2S alternatives, we considered unthinkable before. I don’t think the cable you are using has the merit of this mind change, I’m quite sure it comes from Ted genius after he designed the MK II, honestly.

As per your question: you can’t imagine how many CDs I’m playing (again) during last days via PST/MSB AES/EBU connection, I’m loving them again. And it’s very odd, thinking about the perfect equivalence in sound quality I finally discovered using the MSB both streaming and playing CDs. Why this never happened before with PST/MK II combo via I2S? I really don’t know, sorry.

Let me say that I’m experiencing a sort of different attitude, following more the music than other technical reasons and happily jumping from Qobuz to CDs indifferently in a totally casual and illogical way. It’s so fun, I’m literally enjoying the music so much, especially jazz albums I was rarely listen to during last months.

A big smile on my face is talking more than other possible audiophile words, my friend. It seems I’m learning another lesson along my journey in this crazy hobby.


That is audio nirvana in its simplest form…not listening to the gear but listening to the music.


The deal with I2S and the PST and PS Audio DACs is simple. Sony forbids transferring the SACD layer from one device to another. Their preference is the SACD player contains an internal DAC. For PS Audio to be allowed to transfer the SACD layer from a transport to an external DAC something had to be done to control the situation. That control is the PST can ONLY transfer the SACD layer via the I2S interface. You cannot do it with USB, AES/EBU, SPDIF, or HDMI.

This is why I2S is so important to the PST.

As far as USB goes, the DSD MK1 DAC had a poor USB interface. This is not debatable, it is a known fact. On this forum USB was unfairly criticized as a weak interface. It has issues, to be sure, but other manufacturers solved these issues and many prefer the USB interface. And now, with the MK2, PS Audio has embraced the USB interface as Ted was allowed to do what needed to be done to solve issues of the USB interface in his newly designed DAC.

In conclusion, if you have an MK2 DAC, use whatever interface you wish. Ignore the anti USB messages you have heard for the past five years.

If you have a PST and a PS Audio DAC, and you listen to SACDs, use an I2S cable.

It’s as simple as that.


This may have been mentioned in December during the Beta :thinking:


I remember a post from Ted dated July or August, when he already knew the ability of his creature even before having a vague idea of the launch of the product.

And I thought: nah!

How a newbie I am!


That seems so long ago. Then again I really don’t remember last week.


What should have been a clue to everyone was that plugging a USB cable, into a Matrix or similar device, converting it to I2S, solved* the problem with USB. You are still using USB, but using a little external box to convert USB to I2S solves* it. Why didn’t they put the contents of the little external box inside the DAC?

In truth, they did pretty much that with the MK2. Not actually the same device, but a very similar process.

Other high quality DACs do this, and now so does the MK2.


Luca, very happy to hear that you’re back to becoming a music lover again! I admit I am not quite there yet since I am still climbing the upgrade mountain (or digging a deeper hole) :laughing:

The Mk2 is a game changer. With PST I’m sticking with I2S because of SACD, but I found other links are as good as I2S when using the streamer. The MK2 is so resolving that I found I still need a better streamer to get me to a level close to your nirvana. :slightly_smiling_face:


The slightly ironic thing is that the Matrix used a very similar USB solution to the DS Mk I. The Mk II has a much quieter USB chip. The bigger part of the equation is that the Matrix and the Mk II use galvanic isolation for the USB connection.


I can’t wait for the TSS to come to life!


The irony is that the first DAC I ever bought (I’ve only ever owned two) was a PSA PWD Mk2, which was called a usb DAC. Since then, 10 years ago, I’ve only ever used USB or CAT6a.

Some companies have worked hard to optimise USB, like Innuos, Devialet, Holo, SGM and others. Now PSA thanks to Ted.

@aangen is absolutely correct - I2S was driven by the need for a proprietary communication from SACD transport to DAC. This is because Sony do not allow the data from SACD to be copied, so no manufacturer is allowed to use a cable that can feed SACD digital data into a computer. Hence I2S, Marantz used MMM, dCS used 2xAES, etc.

Paul’s marketing brain always says his way is the best and often rubbishes other approaches, like power conditioners. So USB got bad treatment here because of Paul’s comments, ironic because he got me using USB in the first place. He is not alone, dCS and Linn also avoid it, still do.


Minor clarifications:

PS Audio was using I2S over HDMI long before they did any SACD or DSD.

We had to get away from the USB solution in the DS Mk I and other PS Audio products, their availability was a problem even before COVID. PS Audio had already converted other products to a quieter, lower power, more capable device. I was happy to use it in the Mk II.