Signature Data CD IV

Signature Data CD IV

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 Signature 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). Just as the Platinum Data CD sends perfected, jitter-free digital audio data from its solid state memory to any Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC), the Signature DataCD does this better and has the ability to operate in sync with the DAC clock, using the MSB PRO I2S interface.

It accomplishes this task in a manner quite different than other CD transports and players. Using an amazing, rugged optical ROM reader, with metal drawer, 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 with perfect timing, synchronized to the DAC, with extremely low jitter using our proprietary clocking technology and the MSB PRO I2S Interface.

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 the highly stable clock of the DAC.

The results are remarkable. Based on comparisons with the Platinum DataCD, any standard technology CD or computer based system, the Signature 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 Signature DATA CD IV has several unique features. First of all, the player uses the metal MSB Signature drive. The drive is rugged but can still be replaced easily. With this feature, the drive can be updated as technology changes so 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.

The Signature DATA CD is also special in that it is the first transport MSB has produced which includes the super low jitter PRO I2S interface which transmits the DAC reference clock to the transport and transfers the data back to the DAC all in perfect synchronization.

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 and the metal drawer is stunning. It has much needed integral heat sinks, our amazing MSB Isorack Damping Feet as well as a clean front panel. The transport can be controlled with the MSB remote or with an iPad or iPhone using the MSB WiFi System Interface.

About Output Clocking

All this work to get a bit perfect read is lost if the output is not timed right. Depending on if you are using this transport with an MSB DAC with the PRO I2S input or another DAC, the data is output 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.

Now the data is sent to the DAC. With an MSB DAC with the PRO I2S input, the data is sent using the reference clock in the DAC itself. With a non-MSB DAC, an ultra-stable internal clock is used to output the data for the best possible DAC performance.

About Upsampling 

Upsampling is an option with this transport. Having solved the disc read and output issues, upsampling is 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. So when you use the Pro I2S input the transport knows you are using a MSB DAC and turns the upsampling off. But for any other DAC, you will probably find the default MSB upsampling a significant improvement.

Signature Drive

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 entirely on the quality of a mass produced drive. This new computer approach to reading a CD divorces us from total dependence on the drive stability, letting us focus on 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. We then packaged it in a solid mechanism, added a gorgeous metal drawer. Now the drive performs one function perfectly. It reads the data perfectly from the disc. 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, or can use the supply included in any of the MSB Platinum Power Bases, allowing the transport and DAC to be powered by the same base (shown below). Another option for the discriminating user is the Signature and Diamond Transport Power Bases. These are dedicated high-power 12 V supply just for the transport. See the details below.

Signature and Diamond Transport Power Bases 

As always, power makes a difference. The Signature and Diamond Transport Power Base offers twice and four times the power capacity of the standard combination Power Bases. They are ultra clean linear supplies and provide complete isolation.

Up to Seven Transformers!

Four transformers are used in the Signature supply for the main power requirement, and seven are used for the Diamond supply and finally another small transformer for standby power. The Diamond also includes other improvements including extensive shielding. The supplies have 12V trigger lines so they work with other MSB products and the WiFi Interface for complete system management.

These supplies come with a heavy duty power cable. These heavy supplies provide more power than needed, so the power is clean and the grounds quiet.

Can you hear the difference?

In a good system these power supplies represent a significant sonic improvement. It keeps the DAC supply totally isolated from the transport.