MSB DAC Experience

You are right about the BHK review. The last two phrases of the conclusion is: “the best hybrid amp of all time. Who applies to listen to this wonder?”

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I guess a lot of people love the BHK monos. Jays Audio Lab, is a YouTube reviewer who reviews a lot of high end amps. It’s pretty interesting to watch his videos since he reviews a lot high end stuff that I’ve never had a chance to hear. I don’t believe he did a video review of the BHKs but he did write about them in Audiogon post, which goes into more details on everything he’s reviewed. He said they were amazing but didn’t have enough power to drive low impedance speakers. I found the last part strange since we both were using Salon II’s and I have no issues with them going into protection mode. I remember Paul or someone saying that there was an issue with the early models of the 300’s and there was a firmware fix. I wonder if he had one of these early models.

Thanks John H. That thread was a wealth of information. I just heard the Select II with the dual mono powerbases today and that was the most impressive digital, I’ve ever heard. I can’t believe I’m now seriously thinking of purchasing it.

Do you have the Pro USB option? If so I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts. I only stream so I’m thinking either the renderer v2 or the pro usb and utilizing my Aries G2 as the streamer.


Yes, I’m using the Pro-USB and Pro-ISL interface between the Aurender W20 and Select II DAC, listening to a lot of streaming content via TIDAL.

Extracting maximum performance, I’m afraid, will require multiple external devices such as a network switch, top quality USB cables, a Master Clock, and multiple DC power supplies. The good news is that this is a well-trodden path which has been proven to be worth the extra investment, and that it can be done incrementally. The bad news is that the wallet will need to be emptied beyond what may have originally been budgeted for.

Are you a member on WBF? My name there is “QuadDiffusor”. Perhaps we should chat over there from here onwards? :wink:

I just finished a demo of a MSB Premier with both the Pro USB and Render V2 module. For me I prefered the Pro USB but both were outstanding to my ears. I doubt you can go wrong with either option. I will say after listening to the Premier I can only drool over how much better the Reference and Select II are.

Thanks. No I don’t have an account yet, I’ve just been browsing a bunch of the threads. When I create an account we can talk there. Thanks again for your help!

Thanks. I’m leaning toward the ProUSB also given I already have a streamer that supports WiFi and also more sources than the renderer V2.

I’ve only heard the select and the ref but they were in two different rooms and systems, so it’s hard to compare. I’m working on getting a demo unit of the ref, so I can hear it in my own system.

I replaced my DSD DAC with a Nagra Tube DAC. The performance improvement is not small. I’m not knocking the DSD DAC at all — after all, it is about 5X less expensive.
The Nagra Tube DAC is the first DAC (with a good music server) that makes me not miss vinyl. And Nagra build quality and customer service is second to none. They also make all devices upgradable and designed to last decades.


Have u compared Nagra Tube dac with MSB dacs ?

I haven’t, but this reviewer has. I find he’s one of the most detailed reviewers out there.

He ranks the Nagra HD DAC-X as the best - at least from his perspective. You certainly can’t go wrong with MSB. But it’s a lot more expensive than the Nagra HD DAC-X - around 2X more. And note the Tube DAC is basically tied with the MSB Select DAC in his review, for about 1/5 the cost.
I also think the Nagra looks far better.


He is indeed a very nice guy. I have listened to the nagra hd x (in fact it is my current DAC) alongside MSB select. Nagra sounded to me more musical and natural than MSB.

You have to bear in mind that nagra employs a tube output stage, so you have the common trade off of lowest distortion vs musicality applies.

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I will always favor musicality. That’s what this hobby is all about, ultimately.
Have you compared the Tube DAC with the HD DAC X? I’m contemplating the switch, and will continue to use the Tube DAC for a second system. I love the Tube DAC.

Yes, I did have a listening session comparing the two dacs.

The hd x was considerably better. They share the same sound signature, but dynamics, decay and background are just unrivaled with the hd x.

It is the same when comparing the classic and the hd preamp.

Just so you understand where I come from, my system is all Nagra HD (dac, preamp and amps), playing through YG Sonja 2.3. Before the Nagras I had a full dCS Vivaldi paired with audio research ref6 preamp and audio research ref160m amp.

I find the HD line absolutely spectacular. But for me, the main star of the line is the HD preamp. It is on a class of its own.

Hope it helps. Should you want more details, just let me know.


Great inputs.

One Qs (please bear with me - I am new in exploring Nagra range of products) - It seems to me that Nagra HD Dac X also uses Tube based output stage. In that case what is essential difference between Nagra Tube Dac and Nagra HD Dac X ?


The Playback Designs DAC looks like it’s worth considering as well.

As far as I understand it, the main differences are:

  • hd x is dual mono topology, using 1 tube per channel. The tube DAC uses only 1 tube for both channels (better channel separation, with crosstal better than -110dB, while the tube DAC is spec’ed at -99dB)
    -hd x outputs without any gain stage beyond the tube stage and no negative feedback
  • power supply is radically different
  • tube DAC sports a headphone amp

OTOH, the digital board is the same for both DACs.

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Concerning the MSB Premier: A German Highend Magazine (“Fidelity”) has had a 10 years anniversary. They tested 1.000 units + in this time and came now out with a special issue. The editors selected the 25 best components from these 10 years. The best DAC for them was the MSB Premier. This machine won the award.

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I am seriously considering MSB. (hey MSB factory is 60 miles down from my house in Santa Cruz , California !!!).

I was thinking of starting from Discreet itself with Premier Base. Then moving to Premier (they offer free replacement when u r ready).

However, reading the comparision here with Nagra I was wondering whether to go MSB path or not. Though I dont know whether I can ever afford Nagra at minimum cost of $49K USD.



Coming to tube based DAC have you guys see the latest from McIntosh - MCD12000. It is a full functional reference level dac integrated with cd/sacd player with configurable tube/solid state output stage.


A dealer told me a nice story about MSB.
Some gentlemen talked about cars. The first said: I’m a Ferrari driver - wow, the second said: I’m a Porsche fan - wow-wow, third one said: I have a Ford GT40 - hyper-hyper ! And some more excellent cars were in the room. Big discussion about pros and cons of the different cars. Than the question to the last gentleman what car he owns. He said: a Rolls-Royce. The discussion ended.
Rolls-Royce equals MSB in this comparison in accordance to the dealer.

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