Data CD IV

Data CD IV

“ This is an uncannily revealing player that exposes the vast differences between recordings like no other digital source I've encountered."
"The MSB drive brought harmonics, image solidity and vibrancy of tone.”
Jason Kennedy, HiFi+ Magazine, UK February 2011
“ This year I bought a Data CD IV/DAC IV Diamond (Monster ethernet link between the 2 units). This system is really fantastic and I enjoy hearing music like "live music" (I told you that I go often to concert, sometimes 2 or 3 times a week). The DAC IV Diamond is huge in term of musicality Yesterday, I ordered the "volume option" to get rid of my Lamm L2 Ref preamp and I intend to replace my Lamm M2.2 with your Platinum 202 mono amps. Bravo and best wishes for 2011.”
JPhilippe - Paris/France

Technology Leadership

MSB has lead the industry with the perfection of new playback technologies. We produced the first high-end CD player using Ladder DAC technology in the 1980s. Then the first AC3 player and first THX approved laser disc player in the 90s. Our XPORT upgrade finally gave access to SACD and high resolution music on discs and our groundbreaking iLink digital iPod system introduced in 2007. Now the MSB Platinum DATA CD IV Transport is an optimized player for standard CDs and high resolution audio from CDs and DVDs (like the HRx discs by Reference Recordings). It sends perfected, jitter-free digital audio data from its solid state memory to any Digital to Analog Converter (DAC).

It accomplishes this task in a manner quite different than other CD transports and players. Using an optical ROM reader , the data is read from the disc in bit-perfect condition. Instead of smoothing over any read errors as other transports do, the MSB transport reads the disc again and again until the file is read perfectly, much the way a computer reads a data disc. The stored musical information is then played back to your DAC with perfect timing and extremely low jitter using our proprietary clocking technology and the MSB Network.

Data CD board

Just as with our iLink transport technology, there is no connection between the input and the output of the transport. Unlike a traditional CD transport, you are never listening directly to the data from the optical disc. Instead the data is pulled off the disc, stored, rebuilt and clocked back out using a highly stable clock.

The results are remarkable. Based on comparisons with any standard technology CD or computer based system, the DATA CD IV produces remarkably better sound quality for any listener on any system. This transport unlocks all the musical magic stored in your CD library and hidden from you up until now.

The MSB DATA CD IV has several unique features. First of all, the player uses an entirely stock computer DVD ROM drive. The drive is easier to install or replace as it is in any computer. As the only unreliable part of any transport, this feature allow quick replacement of the drive. As drives are inexpensive and can be obtained anywhere, we recommend replacing the drive as soon as reading sluggishness is noticed. As new drives come out, they can be tried out with ease. With this feature, the DATA CD IV will last a life-time.

The most exciting feature of the MSB transport is the ability to read high resolution computer files, without the use of a computer. Not just common resolutions, but .WAV files up to 384 kHz sampling rate and 32 bits! As of this writing, NO computer based system and NO other transport in the world can play back a 384 kHz x 32 bit file! Computer data files, recorded on a CD or DVD can be played just as easily as standard CDs.

As usual with MSB products, it is simple to use, without unnecessarily fancy menus and gimmicky features and provides solid accurate playback in a great looking package. The Data CD IV package is simple and elegant. It has much needed integral heat sinks, our amazing new MSB Isorack Damping Feet as well as a clean new front panel.

How to make a Data DVD

The best way we found to make a DVD Data disc is to use iTunes. It is free and works perfectly on the MAC and PC. Select the music you want to burn to disc and put it into a playlist in the order you want them on the disc. All files must be .wav file type. Select the playlist and find and press the BURN DISC button. The window below pops up. Select Data CD or DVD. Insert a DVD and press BURN. Thats it!

The future of audio may well be found in higher resolution media than CD's. CD's are limited to 44 kHz and 16 bits. For CD's to dramatically exceed the musicality of vinyl and master tapes, higher sample rates and bit depths are required. 24 bit, 96 kHz is a minimum for high resolution audio and even higher sample rates (up to 384 kHz) are better. The future is bright indeed with high resolution audio now entering our lives.

WAV is an uncompressed audio format that is open to the public, can handle high resolution audio files easily and is being adopted by many record labels as the format of choice.

The disadvantage of WAV is that, up until the introduction of Data Transports, you had to rely on a computer to read the WAV files from a disc or from downloads; and computers and sound cards are notorious for NOT playing back files bit-perfect.

The MSB Data CD IV can read WAV files directly off a DVD and present jitter-free digital audio data to your DAC with resolution up to 32 bit and samples rates as high as 384 kHz. This is a stunning achievement and once again, MSB is the first company to do it.

Reading the disc bit perfect is the other feature previously only possible with a computer. Standard error correction uses a predictive system that "guesses" what the data should be if there is an error detected on the disc. We read and then reread the data as many times as necessary until a bit-perfect match is achieved.

About Output Clocking

All this work to get a bit perfect read is lost if the output is not timed right using an asynchronous ultra-stable clock. An asynchronous clock simply means that the master clock is completely independent from the optical disc reader.

In a standard CD player or Transport, the master clock is synchronized to the optical disc reading mechanism. This means you are basically relying on a mechanical spinning mechanism and all of its correction systems to give you a perfectly stable, fixed clock to feed the DAC. It does not work and it is not stable.

Here's the problem. Optical disc readers are constantly changing the rate at which the data is coming from the disc. Sometimes it comes faster and sometimes it comes slower than the fixed speed of an asynchronous clock. If that data is coming in faster than the clock, you get a traffic pileup and the system crashes. Too slow and nothing comes out.

With our large and smart memory storage buffer. It's big enough to handle any speed variation of the optical disc reader. Because it is an intelligent buffer, the length of the memory is automatically adjusted to fit anything the optical disc reader is doing and feeds the master clock what it needs and wants. The system is really quite simple.

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Vince's View

Data CD IV Specifications

Coaxial, Toslink, Balanced AES/EBU and MSB Network (384k)

RCA Outputs:
1.3 Vpp AES3

Balanced Outputs:
2 Vpp AES3 Balanced

Sampling Frequency:
up to 384 kHz

Output Jitter:
2 psec

Control Features:
Display Dim Mode

Upgrade Options:
384 kHz Upsampling

Power Supply Options:
Desktop Supply
MSB Platinum Power Base
MSB Signature Transport Power Base
MSB Diamond Transport Power Base

About Upsampling 

Upsampling is an option with this transport. Having solved the disc read and output issues, upsampling is not an option that needs to be selected to optimize the performance of an individual DAC. Different digital filters are used for different input sample frequencies. Most DACs will sound much better with an equivalent higher frequency input, and for those, upsampling can be a real benefit. The MSB DAC IV includes upsampling internally so we do not recommend using upsampling in the transport. But for any other DAC, you will probably find a significant improvement with MSB upsampling.

About the Drive 

The drive is the key component of most CD Transports but over the 20 plus years we have been designing and building CD Transports and players we have always sought a way to gain the performance we wanted without having to depend on the quality of a mass produced drive. This new computer approach to reading a CD divorces us completely from total dependence on the drive quality and reliability. We listened to, and tested dozens and dozens of drives and found performance all over the map. Finally we found the perfect drive. It would give us bit-perfect playback, was quiet running, was robust mechanically and had amazing error recovery, tolerating even badly damaged CDs. The drive performs just one function, it reads the data from the disc, the same exact function the drive performs in the computer. As we control the drive, and it does what it is told, it performs better than any CD player can, with a single read playing at real time. The art in this product is picking the right drive, and knowing what to tell that drive to do, and finally, what to do with the data once we have it.

About the Power Base 

The Data CD IV requires an outboard 12V power supply. This supply can be in the form of a desktop supply (below), or can be used with the transport power supply included in the MSB Platinum Power Base, allowing the transport and DAC to be powered by the same base (shown above). The next step to improved performance is a stand alone dedicated Transport Power Base. We offer both a Signature and Diamond level Transport Power Base. The Diamond has twice the power of the Signature and extensive shielding.