High Performance DC cable for MSB DAC by Angus Leung and Westminster Lab Takes My System to Another Level

Mobiusman

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May 25, 2010
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I was asked if I would review a new cable that goes between the power supply and the digital section of my MSB DAC. This cable is a power supply cable from Westminster Labs and designer Angus Leung.
With nothing to lose I said yes, even though it made no sense to me since there is no signal passing through this connection. Having invested heavily in MasterBuilt Ultra interconnects, USB, speaker wire, and power cords throughout my entire system, I could not imagine how it could help since I think the stock MSB cable and the MasterBuilt USB cable are quite good. However, Steve Williams suggested I give this cable a listen since I am a seasoned listener and have an MSB DAC, so I decided to try it.

I will provide some system information, my core biases and a brief mention that mentally I am at the weirdest stage of my life 10 months after becoming totally septic from 37 radiation sessions for my reoccurrence of prostate cancer. This unfortunately put me into congestive heart failure, a month long coma, led to a quadruple bypass and two days later an occipital lobe stroke that kept me in inpatient facilities for 7 months. I tell you this because when I got the cable to evaluate, I had no interest in listening to music because I was so lost about where my life was and is going, and it took me a while to learn how to listen to music again because all of the connections between the many brain nuclei that enable complex thoughts, behaviors and my ability to hear needed to be reconnected and relearned. What is really remarkable is the impact that this power supply cable is so huge. As a bit of background my system is one I have written about extensively on this forum under the thread “My Bucket List System”. It was intended to be my ultimate system that I would use during my retirement until I could no longer hear.

In brief, my system is a slightly downsized version of the Von Schweikert Audio and VAC reference system that regularly wins best of show, in association with the Audio Company. Instead of Ultra 11’s I have their smaller footprint model, Ultra 9’s which have the same drivers and network as the 11’s but is more useable in my space than the 11’s would be. To my hearing they sound the same, possibly with the 9’s having a slight edge in my space. My electronics are a pair of VAC 452 monoblocs, VAC Reference Preamp and Renaissance phono stage, a Taiko Audio Extreme connected to a MSB Reference DAC with a single power supply. I have a Bergmann Galder turntable with an Odin arm with a My Sonic Labs, Signature Platinum cartridge. The entire system is connected using MasterBuilt Ultra cables, USB, power cords and speaker wire.
While audio is my main hobby, I also used my system as a way to get out of my head after a long day working as a psychiatrist and addiction specialist. In fact, I use how long it takes for a system to get me out of my head as one of the core indicators of how “believable” the system is, and most important how much I enjoy listening to it. I used to say that my system was so good that even on my worst days it could get me out of my head within 10 seconds

I had decided to buy the new Lampizator Horizon DAC to step up the digital processing but had to cancel my order due to my serious medical problems that have turned my life upside down. Unfortunately, facing a likely move to a medical facility for the balance of my life and a major financial hit to my retirement fund, I very reluctantly decided to cancel my Horizon order. It was supposed to be the finishing touch to my audio creation, the cherry on my audio sundae, but instead it became a clear and undeniable indicator that the direction of my life was going to take going forward would be totally foreign to me and forever changing. It was also likely that I would have to sell my system due to where I would be living in a facility. This decision was very depressing and extremely scary and foreign to me. Said another way, I really was not in the right spot to do a cable evaluation, let alone one that does not carry the signal path, because I was so overwhelmed and scared in general I tell you this so you can truly appreciate my comments about the sonic benefits of this Westminster cable at a time when I was not into listening to audio because I had much more important things to do like figure out how to live.

The Sound Improvement from the Westminster Labs power supply cable when I first put it into my system, was truly staggering because instantly there was marked increase of acuity of the sound, although the sound stage was off. By the second day, the sound stage anomalies started to resolve and then the magic show began. Fortunately, over the next 10 days I was progressively drop-jawed as the sound improved and especially the way it improved. During my time as an audiophile since age 10, and breaking in many systems and their components, I never heard this type of break-in progression. In fact, the Westminster cable makes such a huge difference that exceeds almost all of the other changes I have made over the years to my system on a sound for dollar basis. This is a huge claim after being a dedicated and knowledgeable audiophile for more than 60 years.

By day 4 the image started to resemble a new flower with regard shape and emotional impact and its ability to captivate my desire to listen to my system much more. With each day the bud sized image bloomed and became dramatically more beautiful, detailed and captivating. At the same time this image evolved, I felt myself constantly wanting to go back and listen to the progressive break-in so that I could be captivated more each day, and because it was getting me out of the dark space I had been in with no desire to listen.

To give you the full power of the sound stage produced by this cable, I need to state that this cord gets me out of my extremely dark space in less than one second, even when I am listening to music that I do not particularly like, compared to 10 seconds with the MSB cable, listening to music I enjoy. The only way I can explain this is the detail, reality and sound stage produced by having Westminster Labs cable in my system became the most powerful force to get me back into a happy audio space, perhaps happier than I have ever been with my system or most other serious sound systems.

The sound of this blooming beautiful flower of a sound stage, instantly pulls me back to my happy audio space once again. That is how intriguing the impact of this DC power cord with allegedly no signal path has had on my system and my very preoccupied state of mind. Said another way, it has driven my desire to listen to music back to where it used to be pre-illness. For me that is something really special as I struggle down the medical road that totally changed my life and at times has me feeling totally lost and not very happy, let alone desiring to listen to music.

I realize that this is probably one of the weirdest reviews you may have ever read for a product that should not have this truly dramatic impact. But then, whatever the designer, Angus, has done with this cable demonstrates that he hails from a different design planet and truly possesses very special skills. It will be amazing to see what he has up his sleeve, because this cable is nothing short of amazing.

After not listening during a dark period that lasted 5 days, I sat down to listen again before re-inserting the original MSB cable for an A-B-A comparison. The best way I can put it is that my last listening session with the Westminster power cable reinserted was 3+ hours because I could not get out of my chair as I worked on making a bunch of new Roon playlists because everything sounded so good. What is really amazing is that everything I was listening to from all over the music spectrum had this eerie three dimensional ultra-live highly detailed sound that is not only captivating, but actually addicting. Reluctantly, but in the name of objectivity, I reinserted the factory MSB connector, which produced an immediate and multi-dimensional change, that overall makes my system sound more like a good system, rather than “being, there” live under incredible sonic circumstances.

The entire sound stage collapsed back to the plane of the speakers, rather than emanating from the center and blossoming as it works towards it edge. On the reality front, it was not even close to being as believable when the Westminster Labs cable is inserted. Unfortunately, this also means the overall sound is less inviting, thus not as enjoyable and my listening time instantly reduced, with me frequently not getting through an entire song.

Now it is three days with the original MSB cable installed and the sound is improving somewhat, but absolutely lacking the very special qualities of the Westminster Labs cable. I no longer sit down for extended listening sessions, because all of the extra musical information and imaging are missing. I frequently jump to another song rather than listening to the entire cut

Yesterday, I sat down to evaluate the Westminster Labs cable again 7 hours after being reinserted into my DAC. To my surprise, while not the pinnacle of its sound, it sounds incredibly good and I then became unable to get out of my listening chair for more than 2 hours. Everything, and I mean everything, sounds better and more captivating with me losing all sense of time and thoroughly enjoying listening to music.

End of Part One of This Post. Part two follows immediately.

westminster-power.jpg
 
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Mobiusman

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May 25, 2010
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Continuation of Part 1 of this post directly above
I will give the cable another day or two before writing my final thoughts, but I already know that I will be blown away, even more than the first time I inserted it into my DAC. It is like having an audio experience that exceeds all that have preceded it and goes to places that I did not know even existed. Remember, this is happening at time when I inherently do not have a desire to listen.

There is really no way to properly explain the impact of this cable because it is do dramatic and so exceeds almost everything else I have heard during the past 50 years, including most of the best systems at major audio shows. I have not heard Angus’ amps, but I can only imagine their impact considering what this cable does in its weird locale without signal path.

Thank you Angus for restoring my love of listening to music and helping me feel some joy again—no small feat considering my state of mind before inserting this cable into my system in the weirdest of locations.

Now the Westminster Labs cable has been back in my system for just shy of 3 days. It seems to have gotten to it’s sweet spot much quicker the second time, but yet the qualities that knocked me out the first time are still present, as is my thrill from listening to music with the incredible acuity and nothing short of amazing sound stage filled with so much music detail, that it regularly fools my brain into thinking it is real.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Terrific write up Russ. I was eager to read your review because by all accounts this cable made by Angus is truly special. Gary told me it is so labor intensive and takes so long to build that Angus does each of these cables himself rather than letting his workers do the cable
 
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GSOphile

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Sep 4, 2017
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Russ, this is a terrific review, but more than that, your story touches the heart.

A couple of questions:
1. Does this cable have other applications outside of the MSB universe?
2. What's the MRSP?
 

gleeds

Industry Expert
May 29, 2018
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Hi GSOphile,

Currently, Westminster Labs has DC cables available for the MSB Reference and Select DACS and Lumin X-1 DAC/streamer only. Westminster may consider offering a DC cable for other top equipment using a separate DC power supply in the future based on interest. Feel free to DM me and let me know any product where you would like to see this product made available.

The price for a (.6 )meter length with carbon shield is $5450 each. Longer versions are available upon request. Please DM me if you are interested in an audition.
 
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ICUToo

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Sep 20, 2021
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Mobiusman, thanks for the review. It was very helpful and enjoyable.
I am sorry to hear of your medical problems and wish you the best possible outcome from them.
The gestalt of the cable's effects is clear (and probably the most important thing) but I wonder if you can comment further on the specific sonic differences between the WL and standard cables?
Having said that, when gleeds showed the MSRP (10900 USD a pair- that's 15 000 AUD, which is 25% of the mean yearly income in Australia!), I am sorry to say I pretty much lost genuine interest in buying a pair!!
 

gleeds

Industry Expert
May 29, 2018
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ICU Too, I may have confused readers and, if so, apologize. Russ uses one cable with his single power supply (not a pair) with his MSB Reference DAC. MSB Select II owners using two power supplies naturally require two.

Those of us who enjoy perfectionist audio are very fortunate! l It is indeed an expensive hobby, and IMO it's good to take a step back and reflect on the inequalities in today's world. I know I do. Thanks for the post and perspective.
 

Tam Lin

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Mar 20, 2011
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I lost interest in Westminster Labs after reading their claim that ambient sound effected the thermal performance of a heat sink. That and other dubious claims and demonstrably false assertions. They appear to thrive on the gullibility of deep pocket audiophiles.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
I lost interest in Westminster Labs after reading their claim that ambient sound effected the thermal performance of a heat sink. That and other dubious claims and demonstrably false assertions. They appear to thrive on the gullibility of deep pocket audiophiles.
Using the term “ deep pocket” for a pair of amps that are $28800 is far from deep pocket in todays world. Tam , I was a disbeliever like you and many others today. I heard the amps and preamp in my room and they were simply spectacular. Not sure if you’re in the USA but if so hearing is believing. Reach out to Gary for a demo. I did.
 
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BlueFox

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As a side note, I have the Westminster Labs cable for the Lumin X1, and I was just amazed at the sonic improvement it provided. Without a doubt it was one of my better cable purchases.
 

Easy Gliders

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Oct 22, 2021
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ICU Too, I may have confused readers and, if so, apologize. Russ uses one cable with his single power supply (not a pair) with his MSB Reference DAC. MSB Select II owners using two power supplies naturally require two.

Those of us who enjoy perfectionist audio are very fortunate! l It is indeed an expensive hobby, and IMO it's good to take a step back and reflect on the inequalities in today's world. I know I do. Thanks for the post and perspective.
I am confused now. The single power supply (ie. Dual power supplies in a single chassis) for the MSB Reference DAC has two separate DC power supply outputs - one for the digital and one for the analog sections of the Reference DAC. The Select II DAC has two power supplies in two separate chassis (ie. Mono power supplies) - one power supply in each chassis. So for both the Reference DAC and Select II DAC, two DC power supply cables are required.
 
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Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
I am confused now. The single power supply (ie. Dual power supplies in a single chassis) for the MSB Reference DAC has two separate DC power supply outputs - one for the digital and one for the analog sections of the Reference DAC. The Select II DAC has two power supplies in two separate chassis (ie. Mono power supplies) - one power supply in each chassis. So for both the Reference DAC and Select II DAC, two DC power supply cables are required.
I thought the standard power supply to both Reference and Select was a stereo one and each had the option to upgrade to dual mono power supplies.
 

Easy Gliders

Member
Oct 22, 2021
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I thought the standard power supply to both Reference and Select was a stereo one and each had the option to upgrade to dual mono power supplies.
The standard power supply for the Select II is now the dual mono Powerbases. And for the Reference DAC, the standard power supply is now the single dual Powerbase unit. The dual mono Powerbases are no longer available as an option for the Reference DAC.
 

Mobiusman

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May 25, 2010
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Mobiusman, thanks for the review. It was very helpful and enjoyable.
I am sorry to hear of your medical problems and wish you the best possible outcome from them.
The gestalt of the cable's effects is clear (and probably the most important thing) but I wonder if you can comment further on the specific sonic differences between the WL and standard cables?
Having said that, when gleeds showed the MSRP (10900 USD a pair- that's 15 000 AUD, which is 25% of the mean yearly income in Australia!), I am sorry to say I pretty much lost genuine interest in buying a pair!!
They are expensive, but the sonic benefit is so significant in every way. More acuity, an absolutely unique sound stage that is so enveloping and has so much detail it makes my MasterBuilts sound kind of average and they are excellent.

What is most impressive and unusual is that the music has a three dimensional sound with so much detail, that it fools the brain into thinking that the sound live and at your feet. Like I said, for me believability is what matters and these make my system SO believable.. I only am using one between my DAC power supply and digital chassis.
I thought the standard power supply to both Reference and Select was a stereo one and each had the option to upgrade to dual mono power supplies.
It is not about stereo or channels. Both the Select and reference come with a single power supply that powers both channels in the single digital chassis. You can also buy two mono power supplies, which most people who buy a Select do, but very few do with the Reference. A better value for sonic improvement is to buy a faster clock with 33 and 70
 

Pokey77

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Feb 17, 2022
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Though I could never understand all you have been through, I do appreciate you sharing your journey with us Russ. Prayers for you and blessings on your continued recovery.

Your comments on Westminster Labs wire continue to peak my interest in their wire and I'm thankful for the insight. Your sharing with us that they bring that live sound is very intriguing as I think many of us are looking for just that.
 
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Mobiusman

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I am both excited and embarrassed by an error I innocently made, by using only one of Westminster Labs power cord for my MSB Reference DAC. This is not an excuse, but rather an explanation. As a relatively new stroke victim recovering in ways that I never could imagine, and still have some balance issues 10 months post stroke, I do not like having to get into tight places where I have to assume weird postures. As a result I did not realize nor remember that I have two connectors between my MSB power supply and the MSB audio chassis, one for analog and one for digital,, because I wanted to get out of the awkward space behind my rack before I fell into my equipment and do who knows what damage to my somewhat valuable equipment. I already had this experience knocking over my 77" LG OLED tv which landed on my amps and totally missed my Von Schweikert Audio Ultra 9's. by inches..

I still stand by everything I wrote, and saw that a review in Mono and Stereo reviewing the same cable with a Select 2 and two power supplies hooked up properly produced much the same findings, except that they described it better than I diid, focusing on the nature of the impact and its believability and sonic accuracy.

So I now have an opportunity to potentially produce even more benefit with this amazing cable as I am about to replace the second MSB cable with a second Westminster Lab cable, that I mistakenly assumed was sent to me assuming I had a Select 2 with two power supplies. So now I will get a better idea of its potential, despite the fact that I have no idea which cable , digital or audio, I replaced. I do not expect to double the improvement, but who knows? I will keep you posted and apologize to everyone who has read this post for my error in this area of new awareness on the audio front.

I do not know if the mental health benefit I have experienced so far will change and hopefully increase, but my guess is it will only improve, and for me what I have gained on this front was by itself worth the effort associated with this process. I now have a better understanding of the interplay between my enjoyment of listening to music and improving my post stroke negative impact on my mood..

Another benefit has been is that this process has initiated a friendship with Gary Leeds,, the US importer for Westminster Labs, which has also helped me feel more connected with others, something I lost following my stroke.. So to put it another way, I much better understand the role listening to music through a good system is, at least for me, is a very powerful tool in shaping my being, which was so severely negatively altered by my entire illness.

If there is such a thing as a "joy index" from listening to one's audio system, I think I have found a major aphrodisiac for my medical scenario. I would love to hear how this amazing audio product impacts audiophiles without the medical problems I unfortunately have and hear what it has done for them on both the music and state of mind level.

Thank you again Angus, Gary and Steve. This has done at least as much for me as everything else my large team of doctors have done. . I also forgot to mention that the impact on bass is huge in ways that I am still trying to grasp, although in synch with the rest of the sonic spectrum..
 
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ICUToo

Member
Sep 20, 2021
54
47
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I am both excited and embarrassed by an error I innocently made, by using only one of Westminster Labs power cord for my MSB Reference DAC. This is not an excuse, but rather an explanation. As a relatively new stroke victim recovering in ways that I never could imagine, and still have some balance issues 10 months post stroke, I do not like having to get into tight places where I have to assume weird postures. As a result I did not realize nor remember that I have two connectors between my MSB power supply and the MSB audio chassis, one for analog and one for digital,, because I wanted to get out of the awkward space behind my rack before I fell into my equipment and do who knows what damage to my somewhat valuable equipment. I already had this experience knocking over my 77" LG OLED tv which landed on my amps and totally missed my Von Schweikert Audio Ultra 9's. by inches..

I still stand by everything I wrote, and saw that a review in Mono and Stereo reviewing the same cable with a Select 2 and two power supplies hooked up properly produced much the same findings, except that they described it better than I diid, focusing on the nature of the impact and its believability and sonic accuracy.

So I now have an opportunity to potentially produce even more benefit with this amazing cable as I am about to replace the second MSB cable with a second Westminster Lab cable, that I mistakenly assumed was sent to me assuming I had a Select 2 with two power supplies. So now I will get a better idea of its potential, despite the fact that I have no idea which cable , digital or audio, I replaced. I do not expect to double the improvement, but who knows? I will keep you posted and apologize to everyone who has read this post for my error in this area of new awareness on the audio front.

I do not know if the mental health benefit I have experienced so far will change and hopefully increase, but my guess is it will only improve, and for me what I have gained on this front was by itself worth the effort associated with this process. I now have a better understanding of the interplay between my enjoyment of listening to music and improving my post stroke negative impact on my mood..

Another benefit has been is that this process has initiated a friendship with Gary Leeds,, the US importer for Westminster Labs, which has also helped me feel more connected with others, something I lost following my stroke.. So to put it another way, I much better understand the role listening to music through a good system is, at least for me, is a very powerful tool in shaping my being, which was so severely negatively altered by my entire illness.

If there is such a thing as a joy index from listening to one's audio system, I think I have found a major aphrodisiac for my medical scenario. I would love to hear how this amazing audio product impacts audiophiles without the medical problems I unfortunately have and hear what it has done for them on both the music and state of mind level.

Thank you again Angus, Gary and Steve. This has done at least as much for me as everything else my large team of doctors have done. . I also forgot to mention that the impact on bass is huge in ways that I am still trying to grasp, although in synch with the rest of the sonic spectrum.
Great job with the honest response, Mobiusman.
We greatly look forward to hearing what TWO of these cables can do!
(Meanwhile: is there a contact route for Angus Leung?)
 
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