Signature DAC IV <i>plus</i>

Signature DAC IV plus

" This is an uncannily revealing player that exposes the vast differences between recordings like no other digital source I've encountered."

"I very much enjoyed the way you can follow individual instruments within a mix."
Jason Kennedy, HiFi+ Magazine
“There is no doubt, MSB's Platinum Signature DAC 4/Data CD 4 / Signature Power Base is the best digital systems I have heard in the world. Why? ... the brass was light, and charming, not at all harsh, kind of easy like the artist playing in the street, it sounded so true...piano wood is there, the texture is so real I can reach out and touch the keys... the 'round' sound of the wooden tube in particular instead of the 'flat' sound I normally hear. ”
Tao Zhonghao, Audio Art
“...the MSB Technology Platinum Data CD IV Transport and Platinum Signature DAC IV sound as good as digital gets. Dynamics were better straight-in than with my Parasound JC-2 preamp in the chain.
While listening to 176.4-kHz/24-bit hires music from Reference Recordings' HRx Sampler 2011 DVD-ROM disc, the sound was nothing less than astounding. The MSBs let me hear more low-level (quiet) sounds in my CDs. Reverb, whether natural or added in the mix, seemed newly apparent in recordings I'd heard hundreds of times. It's always been there, but no digital playback system I've had at home boasted the resolution to reveal it. Having worked on a number of Chesky Records sessions, including dozens recorded at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in NYC, I can state for certain that the MSB Transport and DAC resurrected more of the 173-year-old building's sound than I've ever heard from the CDs, SACDs, or DVD-As.”
Steve Guttenberg, Tone Audio

Simplicity

The Signature DAC IV plus was designed in a way that it can be used as the last component in your system before the amplifiers.  With the added convenience of having multiple digital inputs and one Analog input you can easily eliminate your preamp. You may connect your turntable through the analog input and all your digital sources directly to the DAC IV plus.   The Analog Output can be volume controlled (if the optional Volume Control is installed).  

About the DAC

The MSB Signature DACs are designed specifically for ultra-high resolution audio. They allow the DAC to resolve with greater accuracy, low-level signals with very low distortion. Varying in design and using tighter tolerance / lower noise components has allowed us to come up with a very precise Signature DAC that more accurately reproduces audio.  (For more information on How DACs Work!   see this simple but accurate explanation.)

The Signature DACs use high precision resistors that selected and matched specifically for use in the Signature DAC Module.  These resistors and our unique design allow the DAC to convert more accurately with less distortion and lower noise.  

About the Sound

The Signature DAC IV plus takes your listening experience to a new high.   The lower noise and distortion allow the dynamics to come to life with more room for the music.   The top end is much more open and the bass response is more musical and more resolving.  It may be hard for owners of the Platinum DACs to believe that their Platinum can get much better, but it can.  For me, one of the best improvements are found in the little things, the ring of the cymbal that regardless of how many different instruments are playing, still rings out audibly until it is finished moving, and remains perfectly stable in the soundstage while doing so.  DACs that don't have as much resolution in the low level signals will start to replace a ringing cymbal (or any other low volume audio) with distortion, which quickly starts to sound like white noise within our hearing range.

About the Measurements

THD Graph

The graph demonstrates the percentage of Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) in reference to the volume level of a recorded signal.  There are three DACs on this chart, the Platinum Signature Ladder DAC, The Burr-Brown PCM 1738  (a high performance delta-sigma DAC), and another ladder DAC by Burr-Brown, the PCM 1704.  The Delta-Sigma DACs do spec very well but they do not tend to sound as good as the Ladder DACs.  Take a look at the horizontal 0.1% THD line of the graph.  This line is the general rule of thumb for the maximum amount of distortion in a signal that is undetectable.   If you follow the red line straight down from where each of these DACs cross the 0.1% THD line you can see the signal level at which the respective DACs output will have audible distortion. Playing a 1 kHz signal at ~ 48dB below 0dB (0dB being the loudest reference volume on a CD) , the PCM 1704 DACs output signal has an audible 0.1% distortion.  At -57 dB the PCM 1738 will output 0.1% of the signal distorted.  The MSB Signature DAC is rated at more than 78dB below 0dB for the same signal,  more than 20dB quieter than the competition!  What does this all mean?  In short, it means more music! With the MSB Signature DAC, signals that are lower in volume will still have much more resolution than with any other DAC available today.  This is very important because there are many low-level signals recorded in music, and where the other DACs will start to distort these signals the Signature Platinum DACs will retain the signal integrity with out the added distortion.

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Signature DAC IV plus Specifications

Inputs:
All 384 kHz, 64x and 128x DSD on all inputs, .DFS, .DFF and .DXF files played native
Coaxial (RCA and BNC), Toslink, Balanced AES/EBU, MSB PRO I2S (32 bit) and Balanced Analog input (<600 ohms)

RCA Outputs:
3.6V RMS (10V pp)

Balanced Outputs:
7.5V RMS (20V pp)
Output Impedance:
50 ohms at 0 dB

Volume Control:
1 dB Stepped Attenuator with 1/2 or 1/4 db steps selectable
(+9 to -69 dB)

Sampling Frequency:
1.5 MHz up to 3 MHz
64x and 128x DSD

Digital Filter:
Digital Filter Suite by MSB Technology

Slew Rate:
>1000 V/Microsecond

Settling Time:
<90 Nanoseconds

Dynamic Range:
136 dB A Measured

Noise Floor:
<-145 dB

THD+N:
.002

Signal to Noise Ratio:
140 dB

Channel Separation:
>130 dB

Control Features:
Aluminum Multi Remote
Display Dim Mode
Phase Invert
384 kHz Upsampling
Volume Control
Maximum Volume
Input Selection
Filter Selection Bit-Perfect Test


Upgrade Options:
Signature Volume Control
USB2 192k input
USB2 384k input
Additional S/PDIF inputs
Pro I2S or MSB Network Input Option
Galaxy Femtosecond Clock Upgrade
iLink II Upgrade


Power Base:
Signature
Diamond
Power Base Manual

About the Signature 384 kHz Upsampler

The upsampling technology applied in this upgrade is based on years of development, experimentation and speculation. It goes beyond what should matter and has really only been enabled by the continuously improving DSP technology. This upgrade, standard on the Signature DAC offers several advancements:  

  • It upsamples 44.1, 88.2 and 176.4 to 352.8 kHz at a resolution of 32 bits
  • It upsamples 48, 96 and 192 to 384 kHz at a resolution of 32 bits
  • Upsampling is asynchronous so all original data points are preserved
  • Multiple upsampling algorithms are offered to best match your system.
Signature Back Panel

About the Digital Filter

Now after years of development, we have included our own Custom 32x Digital Filter in the Platinum DAC IV plus.  Previous versions of the Platinum DAC used the MSB 16x filter, and before that, the Burr-Brown DF1704, which at the time was the best Digital Filter on the market.  Our new 32x Digital Filter is built to our specifications and standards, and is designed to get the most out of the Platinum DAC modules.   

The performance of this new Digital Filter is amazing.  Here is how one dealer described it:

When my client described an "uncluttered" sound, I think he is describing another commonality that people notice and talk about. They say " the music is coming from dark back grounds" or, "there is silence between the notes" . It is my contention that common digital harness (in the vocal range and above up into the harmonics), results in the human perception that there is a "continuum" or "smear" across the music that is not natural. When the digital harshness is not there, then there appears to be more discrete notes and silence between them. It is also described as organic and natural, etc. I think it crosses a threshold that makes the presentation believable and the music then gives up the emotion that the musician was trying to convey. You start to notice things like the natural sound from another room. Some other indicators in this category are: Am I thinking about the equipment or am I pulled in by the music? Am I listening to a song here and there on a disc or am I listening to more cuts, maybe whole CDs? Am I listening way too long when I should be doing other things? 

The Signature DAC IV plus comes with a family of digital filters for you to evaluate and best match to your system. Updates to this suite of filters will be available as time goes on.   

The Digital Filter is a 32x oversampling, single stage filter with 32-bit input resolution, 80-bit computation, and 36-bit coefficients.  More information on this custom MSB Digital Filter can be found here.

About the Clock / Jitter Control 

Jitter control devices (and inputs on most DACs) normally clean up or phase lock loop the input signal from which the DAC clock is derived in an attempt to lessen the jitter of the DAC clock. The Signature DAC IV plus does no such clean up. We actually pay no attention to the clock on the input signal.  All DAC clocks are generated by the Femto 140 clock. This extremely low jitter - less than 140 femtosecond clock sets a new industry standard. Since the input clock is no longer related to the clock of the DAC, an intelligent half-second buffer is used to maintain data synchronization. 

The Femto 140 clock is mounted in a clock socket and it can be replaced with the amazingly low jitter Galaxy Femtosecond Clock. This clock is the lowest jitter clock in the world, with less than 77 femtoseconds of jitter. This clock can be easily installed and any time. No setup is required.

Keeping the Source in Sync 

We have demonstrated very clearly that a major sonic improvement can be experienced if the source device can be clocked off the DAC clock. Our PRO I2S interface keeps our transports in sync, by sending the super low jitter clock generated in the DAC out to the transport. Some servers also support this PRO I2S interface and run in sync. Other servers provide a clock input, and the MSB Clock Adapter can be plugged into either the PRO I2S output or the older MSB network output. The BNC output is a LVDS level 512x master clock output that can be used to keep the server in sync. This is a great upgrade and has already been approved by Aurender.

About DSD playback

The DAC IV plus is able to accept DSD in all of its digital inputs, not just the USB input like most DACs. You can play .DXD, .DFF and .DFS files and can play 64x DSD and 128x DSD. Please note, you must have a 192 kHz USB input rate for 64x DSD and a 384 kHz USB input rate for 128x DSD. (You have been wondering why MSB has been shipping 384 kHz inputs for years now!) The extreme speed and resolution of our DACs provide a DSD experience unlike any in this world. You must hear it to believe it.

About the Optional Attenuator 

Our Preamp philosophy is based on the belief that from the moment analog audio is created, every transition that is made degrades the quality. This is why we have used a passive attenuator within the Signature DAC IV plus and a single OpAmp, to achieve the simplest, shortest possible signal path with the least possible degradation of the true music.  The Signature Volume is controlled in 1 dB steps from +9 to -69 dB.  Half or quarter db steps can be selected as a menu option. The Volume Control is completely bypassed when at 0 dB.  

This attenuator section is also designed to serve as a way to match the naturally high output level of the Platinum DACs to any desired outboard preamp. This has proven to be extremely useful for many of our customers that are happy with the Preamp they have known and used for years. It allows the two devices to be correctly matched with each other.

About the Power Base 

The DAC IV plus is equipped with an outboard power supply. This remarkable power supply has separate toroidal transformers for each voltage supplied. See Power Base Comparisons for an upgraded power base.

The Signature Power Base includes a positive and negative analog supply and a digital supply to run all the digital processors. But it also contains an entirely separate extra clean digital supply of twice the power of the standard power base to run the sensitive digital clocking circuits on the DAC modules themselves, and the sensitive transition circuits, that interface to the analog world. Each of these Signature supplies is tightly regulated, filtered and shielded in the box, so no noise is introduced into the DAC chassis.

This Power Base can be upgraded. A digital only supply can be added to operate an MSB Transport. These supplies are completely independent and their combination do not degrade performance.

An optional front panel control can also be provided. This option moves the power switch from the back panel to the front panel.

 

This is the Signature Power Base with DC transport supply installed.