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MSB is an unconventional company, so why not make our review page a little unconventional. What follows is a blog style series of reviews, comments and emails that we receive from reviewers, distributors and customers. Last names are removed to protect the privacy of the submitter. Unlike most companies, we do not solicit formal reviews, rather depending on word of mouth to spread the news. Any comments printed here are reproduced as received.
Feb 2012 - MSB System at CES 2012
"One of the biggest surprises - and Best Sounds - at this year's CES came when I entered into the Volent room and heard their new VL-3 Loudspeakers ($11k). Driven by a slew of MSB electronics, I was absolutely astonished at the incredibly high resolution - coupled by a natural and vivid presentation - this system had going for it."
Sept 2011 - Signature DAC IV and Data CD IV with Signature Power Base, UMT and M202 Amplifier
"The MSB system - consisting of the Signature Platinum DAC IV Platinum Data CD IV, the Universal Media Transport and the Signature Power Base - is so far the only digital source system that has managed to give me weeks of listening without languishing for my favorite LPs. A greater compliment I can not give a digital source. Even without the CD player the DAC creates a reference level set that can handle all the existing digital formats. The modularity and the ability to download new software updates makes a guarantee for the future that sets a very high standard. I'd almost forgotten them, the mono amplifiers from MSB. Probably because they, like their digital relatives, completely disappeared when the music sounds."
Full Review (In Dutch)
August 2011 - Signature DAC IV and Data CD IV with Signature Power Base and M202 Amplifier
"The MSB system shows a very natural sense of the whole, whether chamber music or symphony, with a clear account of each instrument and its location. On a whole, the listening experience is very similar to a concert hall. The overall three dimensional sound field and character is very close to the top vinyl system with all the ‘digital sound’ disappearing without a trace. The MSB system took me into another realm."
Tao Zhonghao ,
Audio Art, Taiwan, Issue #275
Full Review (In Chinese)
Aug 19, 2009
I was first introduced to MSB about 18 months ago. I was casually walking around a show at the Park Inn when i bumped into Sodders and Papa who mentioned there were some very nice sounds coming from a certain room. So in i went . The speakers used in the demo were Maarten Miles (iirc) and the source was an MSB transport and DAC . As my own speakers use ceramic drivers i took a keener interest in what was happening. The sound was extremely clear and maybe a bit too dry for some tastes but i was duly impressed. Well when the next show came along i managed to bag a trade pass from ABC Audio and was very impressed yet again from the sound that was coming from the room. Paul Benge was very excited showing me the innards of the Platinum DAC but my eye took a fancy to the rather strange looking amplifiers. He mentioned the price ..i had a heart attack and that was that . They were and still are out of my league . Anyway i managed to borrow a MSB transport and DAC combo for an up and coming bake-off at my house. So not all was lost. :D So it is with great gratitude to Paul and Tony at ABC Audio that after a throw away comment by me they are now sitting in my lounge. Paul mentioned that there had been a new review in Hifi-Choice by Sir Paul Messenger:^. I knew of the review and with no disrespect to Mr Messenger said it was bit short :shock:. Well i should of kept my big mouth shut because its a case of see if you can do better. I know i can't but the chance to have a play with these was too great. So last week they were dropped off at Chez Duvet and the game began.
Heavy . Heavy . Heavy. These won't fit in any conventional rack . They come supplied with a round receptacle with spikes which raises them a couple of inches off the floor. There are no grab handles so you better be sure to place them where you want them ;-). They basically look like two enormous circular heat sinks in a touching shade of blue with a gold plaque on top with a blue led and a key slot . At the back is a cut out for the connections with an iec inlet ,speaker connections, balanced connection and single ended plus a toggle switch. Well beauty is in the eye of the beholder and to be honest they are a bit of an eyesore and would look more at home in a factory than a modern lounge. On the top of them is a gold plaque as i have said and a key which you have to turn ninety degrees to ignite them :cool:. Turn on the power and a blue led is all that lets you know that they are operational . The design according to MSB is a case where function defines form. This cylinder shape allows the shortest signal paths in the design. The guys designed this because they felt there was not an amplifier out there that could showcase their products. A bold claim but could they back it up. Well lets see.
Like most people i always think of an amplifier as adding to the party . A better amplifier will always add more quality .more dynamics, more detail, more tone and on and on .Are you getting the picture. Well how about we look at it from a different angle where a good amplifier actually takes away less from the signal being sent to the speakers. Its only when you hear these amplifiers that you grasp that concept. I could simply run out of superlatives if i tried to describe these amps but lets try. First off one has to accept that i could have been extremely lucky and that i happened upon some real synergy here so please bear that in mind . What at first seemed eerie was the detail that the amps deliver from your source and pre to the speakers. Play any cd or vinyl you think you know well and i guarantee you will hear stuff you never knew was there. And when i mean hear stuff i mean crystal clear. Up close to the amps there is no audible hum or noise. The only way you'll know they are on is the prodigious heat haze being generated.:shock: After 10 minutes from cold do not touch any part of the casework . Unless of course you are planning a robbery and want to erase your fingerprints. They are extremely hot . In winter you could turn off your radiators if these were in the same room. Ok they're hot. This was the distributors demo pair and the bias is set to the max so if you order some you could have that changed but they will still get very hot.
Like most good things in life they managed to make everything sound effortless . From a hush to a roar and back again with no fuss whatsoever. They control your drivers perfectly. Your ears will bleed well before they run out of juice. They don't distort or sound shrill at any point . The aural image they project is not the widest i've encountered but its certainly precise . Sounds do not wander unless they were meant to. Basslines are neat, tuneful and nimble . No thickening whatsoever . Mids are to die for . Female vocals have a lovely silky quality and that holographic presentation into the room that gives you goosebumps. Arieal by Kate Bush was a joy to listen to. Top end which is often the bug bear of solid state were clean well defined but no nasties. I couldn't get enough of playing Stevie Ray Vaughan , Gilmour, Clapton, Pink Floyd or Waters. A choral version of Adagio for Strings was about as emotional as i could take. Simply stunning .
If you ever get a chance to demo these amplifiers take it . If you are thinking of dropping £13000 on a pair of amps you must audition these as well. Quite simply i will cry myself to sleep when they have to be returned . I drink a lot so need my kidneys but if i didn't ;-)
Downside are the looks and the phenomenal heat output. Thats it .
More may come to me so i might insert further ramblings but i'll say it again . In any system i have listened to or owned, these are the best amplifiers i have ever had the pleasure to sit down and listen to.