MSB S202 Stereo Amp

I’m a little bit embarrassed each time I share on this PS Audio forum some comments about gear of different brands. So first of all I would like to thank Paul and all the staff for this forum and how the members are allowed to express opinions, reviews, thoughts. Even if reporting about competitors. Hats off!
I respectfully apologize if what I’m writing here below could create any sort of disappointment. I’m and will ever be a loyal customer and fan of PS Audio products.

Having said that, as I promised, here below I’m happy to report my week with the MSB S202 stereo amplifier.

I’m not a reviewer or an expert audiophile, so please take my comments with a grain of salt. I’m just a music lover with no competence, two ears and a (Italian passionate) heart.

You can find my system on my forum profile, here I need to premise just that:

  • the amplifiers I’m familiar with, are the M1200s. Any comparisons would be pretty unfair so my intent is just to express what I liked about the S202
  • I plugged all week long the S202 to a Puritan 156 conditioner by a Dragon HC
  • I used the BHK Pre between the DAC and the amp before. Then I went direct from the MSB Premier DAC to the S202. The sheet below shows my valuations in both set ups.

Here a few numbers able to describe my thoughts better than words

White noise/Hum 9 10 9 10 8
Background 9 10 9 10 8
Naturalness 8 9 8 9 9
Image precision 8 8 8 8 8
Soundstage depth 8 9 8 9 9
Soundstage width 8 8 8 8 9
Separation 9 9 9 9 9
Voice 8 9 8 9 8
Hights 7 8 8 8 8
Bass 9 9 9 8 8
Presence 9 9 9 9 9
Transient 8 8 8 8 8
Clarity 8 9 8 8 8
Airy 8 8 8 8 8
Detail 9 9 9 9 9
Unveil 8 9 8 9 8
Realism 8 9 8 9 9
Calm 9 9 9 9 9
Control 9 9 9 9 9
Engagement 9 10 9 10 9
8,4 8,9 8,5 8,8 8,5

Listening to albums I know very well, from different genres like rock and jazz, I took instantly a few notes, I’m glad to share with you here below. Take these as spontaneous thoughts put black on white on paper just to remind what I felt.
Especially I’m referring to impressions during my last two days, when I connected the S202 directly to the Premier DAC, it means without the pre in the chain.

What did impress me more?

BODY, in mid bass area there is a fullness expanding the music in the room, a smoother richness of texture from wall to wall in front of me.

DECAY, each note lasts way way longer before disappearing

BLACKER BACKGROUND, the music seems to come from a silence, like a deep immensity

SPEAKER DISAPPEARED, on the front wall the sound is painting a strong image, it seems that the speakers are completely off

MUSICAL, you are more into the music, like the performers were here at know, in a larger room where you are in too. All seems to be exactly in its right place, tonally correct and natural, you’re tempted to turn the volume up a notch, and again and again. And every increment is enjoyable, enriching the sound image with nuances without the slightest noise or distortion or excess. especially the mid-low frequencies take on body, consistency, structure. the sound is full, round with a perfect detachment from the mid-highs which instead are pleasantly detailed, precise, with small details that emerge continuously by shifting the attention from one instrument to another. The inflection of the voice is so articulate that even the most intricate and complex passages are rendered easily and realistically.

AUTHORITY, it reminds me of the power of a car engine, when silent it goes uphill without the slightest difficulty and you clearly feel that if you accelerate, an important starting point and recovery is immediately available but it is not necessary to deliver power because traveling at idle you feel safe and relaxed.

SILENT CHASSIS AND DEAD SILENT TWEETERS, due to tubes in M1200s I was always used to listen to a subtle white noise from speakers, with the S202 the room (acoustically treated and therefore very sensitive) is completely silent. It means that also on delicate passages the subtle nuances like whispering, singer breath or rumors on the stage are clearly audible and it brings a realism very very immersive.

LIQUID, the music flows like suspended in the room, ethereal vivid palpable as if it floated on placid waters with such enjoyable delicacy.

Did I decide to buy it or not in conclusion?

Some guys in California are assembling a unit for me in a warehouse right now, black of course,



1 Like

That is a great review as always. Your comment on the decay strikes a note! If there is one thing I missed from M1200, it was my last amps seemed to provide a longer ending on notes. The MSB combo without BHK pre sounds like a great combo, and a meaningful upgrade for sure!

I noticed you gave stream/DAC the higher score than vinvl/pre. I don’t know. Your analog friends may be jumping up and down now. :laughing:


I thoroughly enjoyed reading your in depth review.

IMO, the demo/home audition experiences of consumers like us is more plausible than some of the professional reviewers out there…

Congratulations on your new purchase!

I look forward to reading your assessment of how the MSB settles into your system during the burn in period…

1 Like


1 Like

Thanks, it takes 5 weeks to arrive here, as per the importer. Need to schedule my summer holidays to be sure in August my wife won’t reserve hotels, trips and so on. I WANT to stay at home this year!


Great writeup Luca. Congrats on your incredible system.

1 Like

I’m sure that, ‘come hell or high water’, you’ll manage to ensure that you have the perfect reason to be at home!

Like you, I’m eagerly awaiting the delivery of a new ‘toy’…
an Antipodes K41 server, which I’m told won’t be in my possession until mid/end of July.

As you may be aware I’ve recently invested heavily in upgrading my system (to amazing effect), so my current server (and some of my power cables) are the relative weak links in the chain.

I’m waiting for my dealer to receive stock of the p/c’s, and I’m told that my K41 should be available “mid July”…

In any event, happy days for now…

Even happier days to come! :laughing:

Now back to the music!

1 Like

Luca, thanks for the thoughtful and interesting review! I know that even small differences in sound can matter, but I was struck by how similar your numerical ratings were. In fact, for the streaming and CD listening, all of the ratings were either equal or different by a single point when comparing your system with or without the preamp. I think it shows how critical the MSB DAC was for the overall sound quality, since that DAC was used throughout your testing.

For the descriptive comments after the numerical ratings, were your listening notes referring to only how your system sounded without the preamp between the DAC and the S202 or were you also commenting on how the change from the M1200 amps to the S202 affected sound quality?

1 Like

Thanks, call it diminishing return score! I usually don’t want to use numbers like hyperbole words.

In my description I was mainly referring to the S202 in general in my system compared to the previous set up. I wanted just underline that I wrote these notes when the pre was not in use during last 2 days of listening sessions. Each quality above described was already there since the very first minutes I hooked up the S202, just all shined at its best when I went directly from MSB DAC to MSB amp. Hope this clarifies better.

1 Like

If I understand the numbering chart correctly, it is a comparison between DAC/202AMP vs DAC/PRE/202AMP right?

Your following notes are more to do the comparison between M1200 and MSB202. That is how I read it.

1 Like

Congratuatlons luca…

Beautiful amp, for beautiful music…
Thank you for sharing…

Best wishes


Yes and yes, you are right.


Congratulations on finding a better fit. Do you get to keep demo unit or must you send it back in the interim?

1 Like

thank you for your detailed review… and again I confirm that once again when reading, the internal bug begins to kick!!!

1 Like

We may have to file for divorce. I have failed you Luca.


Unfortunately the demo unit must leave my room, the owner is missing it. Yes a customer/friend of the importer was so kind to borrow me his S202 (I suppose to try at his home a S500 demo).

Jumping back to the M1200s is allowing me a better comprehension of the differences and peculiarities of the amps.

For instance I immediately noticed with the M1200s back in the system

  • the image is less focused with the voice forwarded, like if mid high frequencies were much more pronounced compared to mid low and low ones.
  • the soundstage is less deep and a bit less wide, no more detached from the speakers like before, speakers are reappearing in a way that I never thought possible
  • the sound is thinner, I’m missing something and is the most evident lack
  • the music is pleasant and transients seem to be well defined during attacks but a general dryer feeling is easily audible and some magic is gone
  • it is loosing body, even if the sound is warm I can clearly understand now that is not enough warm, like if the strength and power were inferior or limited to mid upper frequencies. Think about a car with a different horse power engine and prone to perform better torque only pressing deeper the pedal, so to speak
  • I love the M1200s sound, I could happily live with them for the rest of my life but is pretty evident that the S202 is superb in different areas and degrees, like resolution detail separation refinement texture liquidity and, let me say once again, body body body

For your safe: go out, think about vacation, have a special dinner at you preferred restaurant, elaborate a project for your future happiness but stay away from this forum!

Do you think it is possible to eradicate a convinction so easily from an Italian dumb mind? Don’t give up, it just requires more and more time, my “silver” friend!


I think you have explained yourself.though I am likely more a PSA fan than you are now. How’d that happen?
At least we still share a P20 live . I have not given up on the DS MK2 willing to tweak it up despite the reviews.

It remains about the music. Have fu! Love hearing about your journey!

At this point it is possible to improve any audiio gear to a point. I salute how far you took those Class D Amps!