MSB Premier or Lampi Pacific

wil

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Jul 22, 2015
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To follow up on the previous locked-down discussion:

I was able to compare the Premier (w/ upgraded clock, power base and Pro USB) to my Pacific.

The difference was pretty striking, for me, in favor of the Pacific.

While the MSB sounded very good with a full and rich tonality -- The Pacific, by comparison, sounded more "lit-up" and exciting, with greater delineation between notes and greater dynamics.

Relative to the Pacific, the MSB sounded thick and congested. The Pacific just seemed to open up the sonic space and give the music more room to vibrate through the speakers like the real instruments.

The difference was pronounced enough that I know I could tell them apart, blind, 100/100 times.

Of course, this is only in the context of my system, and
maybe the MSB Reference or Select would be a different story, but they are way outside my price range.

What I'm left curious about: what might be the technical explanation for the difference in sonics between these two high end dacs? What is causing one to sound more dynamic and one to sound relatively thick?
 
Last edited:

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Hi Wil

I've posted this before but as Dave Wilson used to say “everyone needs a tube somewhere in their system” ;)
 

Alrainbow

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As I owned an msb stack for a few years and did upgrades to it. I did the extra psu too. What a waist of 6k for that and it had the best clock too. As LAMPI got better msb got worse. Then msb got better with updates
I’ll say this there umt plus was very good and it took me two years to make a server to best it.
As the LAMPI got better it did make the msb seem like you say. But this is also With speakers and headphones too.
Faster is better
Thicker is slower
Brighter seems more detailed.
A given setup has needs and this must be met to get it to there.
A LAMPI pac can be made to fit anyone’s setup an msb is a one trick pony in this.
But don’t feel an msb is that far off always in some ways it can excel. Price wise it’s just Insane and I can’t Imagine a msb flagship or even one below warrants this cost.
Like I said I spoke to Vince at length to make a dac be able to vary its voicing to for more setups. His thought like most all dacs made is they know best. Enjoy your pac
 
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bonzo75

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To follow up on the previous locked-down discussion:

I was able to compare the Premier (w/ upgraded clock, power base and Pro USB) to my Pacific.

The difference was pretty striking, for me, in favor of the Pacific.

While the MSB sounded very good with a full and rich tonality -- The Pacific, by comparison, sounded more "lit-up" and exciting, with greater delineation between notes and greater dynamics.

Relative to the Pacific, the MSB sounded thick and congested. The Pacific just seemed to open up the sonic space and give the music more room to vibrate through the speakers like the real instruments.

The difference was pronounced enough that I know I could tell them apart, blind, 100/100 times.

Of course, this is only in the context of my system, and
maybe the MSB Reference or Select would be a different story, but they are way outside my price range.

What I'm left curious about: what might be the technical explanation for the difference in sonics between these two high end dacs? What is causing one to sound more dynamic and one to sound relatively thick?

What tube do you have on your Pacific?
 

bonzo75

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Alrainbow

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Imagine that and it Already trashes msb lol. How much is the msb dac he has to compare ?
In observing many Headphones and dacs. Digital audio is very much unlike analog. where analog even bad is not like bad digital. Our brains need time to absorb and compare new digital far more then analog too.
At times I wound perceive blurry or congested sound. It’s very much as he posted.
here is another observation.
analog when done well has a brain pleasing effect and to get this in digital it’s more difficult.
It seems when someone has good analog the road to great digital has many turns to get there. again this is my observation. I own a pac ,gg2 and now trp too. a Lampi dac has many analog qualities and is pleasing to my brain like analog is. other digital is not on this type of playing field. While it maybe tubes somehow i think it’s a path Lampi has learned over time and refined it as he went along.
the rest of dacs seem to have a similar sound where a Lampi has a analog sound to me. A while back many claimed of having an analog sound. Most times it showed me it was slow and rounded. That’s not analog. good analog is very fast and soo not rounded. It’s very spiked but has a linear feel to the brain. so far to my brain the TRP has this speed in spades ♠️. while the pac has a more detailed powerful sound. More closer to a moving magnet cart yet has the finesse of a MC cart. it’s tough combo to achieve and I have yet to hear any dac have these qualities at any price.
I’m not trashing msb but if you have both in one place and your not stuck purely on pride of ownership the choice becomes simple.
There are two ways to get digital to match analog
one is build your entire system around a dac
Or buy a lampizator and make it be like analog how it sounds in your setup. the last concept makes much more sense to me.
In fact as I was digital only for years I realized this as I re introduced analog both vinyl and tape back in to my setup.
Tubes are just analog in nature to me and a lampizator is analog every step of the way.
 

KeithR

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As I owned an msb stack for a few years and did upgrades to it. I did the extra psu too. What a waist of 6k for that and it had the best clock too. As LAMPI got better msb got worse. Then msb got better with updates
I’ll say this there umt plus was very good and it took me two years to make a server to best it.
As the LAMPI got better it did make the msb seem like you say. But this is also With speakers and headphones too.
Faster is better
Thicker is slower
Brighter seems more detailed.
A given setup has needs and this must be met to get it to there.
A LAMPI pac can be made to fit anyone’s setup an msb is a one trick pony in this.
But don’t feel an msb is that far off always in some ways it can excel. Price wise it’s just Insane and I can’t Imagine a msb flagship or even one below warrants this cost.
Like I said I spoke to Vince at length to make a dac be able to vary its voicing to for more setups. His thought like most all dacs made is they know best. Enjoy your pac

no offense, but the MSB stack you owned was 10 years old. MSB got way, way better.

I don't care if you prefer a Pacific or not, but to say that MSB got worse is 100% wrong.
 

LampiNA

Well-Known Member
Jul 1, 2015
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To follow up on the previous locked-down discussion:

I was able to compare the Premier (w/ upgraded clock, power base and Pro USB) to my Pacific.

The difference was pretty striking, for me, in favor of the Pacific.

While the MSB sounded very good with a full and rich tonality -- The Pacific, by comparison, sounded more "lit-up" and exciting, with greater delineation between notes and greater dynamics.

Relative to the Pacific, the MSB sounded thick and congested. The Pacific just seemed to open up the sonic space and give the music more room to vibrate through the speakers like the real instruments.

The difference was pronounced enough that I know I could tell them apart, blind, 100/100 times.

Of course, this is only in the context of my system, and
maybe the MSB Reference or Select would be a different story, but they are way outside my price range.

What I'm left curious about: what might be the technical explanation for the difference in sonics between these two high end dacs? What is causing one to sound more dynamic and one to sound relatively thick?

We are thrilled to keep you on team Lampi, Wil. That Pacific is not an easy DAC to best by any means. The Takasuki combination you are running in it is nice, and I understand why people are fond of it--that said if you're looking for a different flavor, even more solid state like, I and the others here would be happy to guide you towards that.

Like Kedar, Steve Williams and Al, I am a huge fan of the KR 242s in the Pacific, for example. As long as the system is in balance and the next component in the chain isn't overloaded by the high gain tube, the transparency and dynamics they bring to the equation are exceptional.

The beauty of our DACs is that you can easily scratch the 'new gear itch' with a simple tube roll and still be way ahead of the curve SQ wise.

Happy listening.

Fred
 
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PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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I have a good friend who tried a Lampi and an MSB in his system. I heard both and always preferred his analog. I think he did too as he ended up passing on both brands at the time. I can't remember the two specific models because it was a couple of years ago. I am told that both brands have had remarkable improvements to their respective sounds. I believe that as I have witnessed the same remarkable progress in digital in general recently and specifically in both dCS and in less expensive brands like the Yggy. Digital seems to be progressing quickly and I respect and appreciate that there are strong brand loyalties. These kinds of threads seem to invite tension or at least disagreement about brand approaches.

My local group of audio buddies has been comparing DACs lately. Could owners of Lampi and MSB describe what it is specifically that convinced them to choose one brand over the other?
 
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bonzo75

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I have a good friend who tried a Lampi and an MSB in his system. I heard both and always preferred his analog. I think he did too as he ended up passing on both brands at the time. I can't remember the two specific models because it was a couple of years ago. I am told that both brands have had remarkable improvements to their respective sounds. I believe that as I have witnessed the same remarkable progress in digital in general recently and specifically in both dCS and in less expensive brands like the Yggy. Digital seems to be progressing quickly and I respect and appreciate that there are strong brand loyalties. These kinds of threads seem to invite tension or at least disagreement about brand approaches.

My local group of audio buddies has been comparing DACs lately. Could owners of Lampi and MSB describe what it is specifically that convinced them to choose one brand over the other?

As far as I can see Mike is the only one who has compared the two and preferred the MSB.

Of the others who have compared the two and preferred the Lampi, I can say for myself the Lampi had better tone, better complexity resolution that in an orchestra it made each section have is individual tone and decay and nuance better, it has more stage and air, way more energy and excitement. When the Lampi tube is rolled to match the downstream system, the whole gain, drive, all clicks into place. Dctom has Lyra atlas on kuzma 4p with Ypsilon phono next to his Lampi, audioquattr has very high end tables, carts, and phonos next to their Lampi, so instead of just comparing dacs you can also take their opinion.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
As far as I can see Mike is the only one who has compared the two and preferred the MSB.

Of the others who have compared the two and preferred the Lampi, I can say for myself the Lampi had better tone, better complexity resolution that in an orchestra it made each section have is individual tone and decay and nuance better, it has more stage and air, way more energy and excitement. When the Lampi tube is rolled to match the downstream system, the whole gain, drive, all clicks into place. Dctom has Lyra atlas on kuzma 4p with Ypsilon phono next to his Lampi, audioquattr has very high end tables, carts, and phonos next to their Lampi, so instead of just comparing dacs you can also take their opinion.

I was able to compare the 2. The MSB Select ll is a beautiful and seductive DAC. I loved it and had every intention to buy one. My world changed however when I purchased the Taiko Extreme and it became immediately apparent that I could build my digital side around the Extreme rather than building my digital system around the Select ll. This plus the fact that my system is all tubes helped with my decision. In my system I can say that the output stage of the Pacific easily bested that of the Select ll. The reality for me is how my Extreme/Pacific sounded so much like analog which has been my go to mode of listening. As the Pacific continues to burn in it seems to constantly improve , so much so that my listening habit has changed to almost all Taiko/Pacific as it is just so easy and so damn close to my analog rig. As Ked says you can tune the system with tube rolling. I am not a tube roller and even though I bought a second set of output tubes (RK-KR PX25) I still have yet to roll them into my system because I am so damn happy with the standard KR 242. For my ears this is the closest I have ever gotten to analog with my digital side
 

KeithR

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I was able to compare the 2. The MSB Select ll is a beautiful and seductive DAC. I loved it and had every intention to buy one. My world changed however when I purchased the Taiko Extreme and it became immediately apparent that I could build my digital side around the Extreme rather than building my digital system around the Select ll. This plus the fact that my system is all tubes helped with my decision. In my system I can say that the output stage of the Pacific easily bested that of the Select ll. /QUOTE]

you compared both A/B in your system? under what circumstances and for how long?
 

KeithR

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As far as I can see Mike is the only one who has compared the two and preferred the MSB.

Of the others who have compared the two and preferred the Lampi, I can say for myself the Lampi had better tone, better complexity resolution that in an orchestra it made each section have is individual tone and decay and nuance better, it has more stage and air, way more energy and excitement. When the Lampi tube is rolled to match the downstream system, the whole gain, drive, all clicks into place. Dctom has Lyra atlas on kuzma 4p with Ypsilon phono next to his Lampi, audioquattr has very high end tables, carts, and phonos next to their Lampi, so instead of just comparing dacs you can also take their opinion.

ask Jordan on AS. He replaced a GG with a Reference. I guess you knew that already though.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
you compared both A/B in your system? under what circumstances and for how long?


I was not able to test both in my system together for an A/B test. The reality however was that for my ears and my system the Pacific simply sounded better. I don't know what else to say as I had every determination to buy the Select ll as I love that DAC. What changed all that was receiving the Extreme first before making a DAC decision allowed me to hear both in my system albeit not together. In my system, the Pacific together with the Extreme sounded better.
 

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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I was able to compare the 2. The MSB Select ll is a beautiful and seductive DAC. I loved it and had every intention to buy one. My world changed however when I purchased the Taiko Extreme and it became immediately apparent that I could build my digital side around the Extreme rather than building my digital system around the Select ll. This plus the fact that my system is all tubes helped with my decision. In my system I can say that the output stage of the Pacific easily bested that of the Select ll. The reality for me is how my Extreme/Pacific sounded so much like analog which has been my go to mode of listening. As the Pacific continues to burn in it seems to constantly improve , so much so that my listening habit has changed to almost all Taiko/Pacific as it is just so easy and so damn close to my analog rig. As Ked says you can tune the system with tube rolling. I am not a tube roller and even though I bought a second set of output tubes (RK-KR PX25) I still have yet to roll them into my system because I am so damn happy with the standard KR 242. For my ears this is the closest I have ever gotten to analog with my digital side

Tube rolling is only fur the initial part to see which is best suited to the system. Lampi sounds best when it works properly with the 242. Though in my compares against select 2 and vivaldi and Nagra i
ask Jordan on AS. He replaced a GG with a Reference. I guess you knew that already though.

No I hardly go to AS any more. I don't even know Jordan
 

DMSB

Industry Expert
Aug 10, 2017
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I was not able to test both in my system together for an A/B test. The reality however was that for my ears and my system the Pacific simply sounded better. I don't know what else to say as I had every determination to buy the Select ll as I love that DAC. What changed all that was receiving the Extreme first before making a DAC decision allowed me to hear both in my system albeit not together. In my system, the Pacific together with the Extreme sounded better.

Well I’m glad you were able to borrow a Select to try in your system at another time since our demo never made it to you because our sales manager was sick.
 

wil

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Jul 22, 2015
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Ok, so there is much more room for improvement on the Pac.

Yes, Tak 300b and 274 Recti.

I am curious to try the KR 242 and PX25 someday. Not too big risk at $400/pair.

The RK limited editions are twice the price. Are their significant sonic differences? Better construction?
 

PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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As far as I can see Mike is the only one who has compared the two and preferred the MSB.

Of the others who have compared the two and preferred the Lampi, I can say for myself the Lampi had better tone, better complexity resolution that in an orchestra it made each section have is individual tone and decay and nuance better, it has more stage and air, way more energy and excitement. When the Lampi tube is rolled to match the downstream system, the whole gain, drive, all clicks into place. Dctom has Lyra atlas on kuzma 4p with Ypsilon phono next to his Lampi, audioquattr has very high end tables, carts, and phonos next to their Lampi, so instead of just comparing dacs you can also take their opinion.

Thanks Bonzo. I think it really helps to spend time with the various options in one's own system and to go from there.
 
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HughP3

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There are other decisions points in a purchase like this. I choose to buy the Msb Reference because I felt more comfortable with a local company and my perceived level of corporate stability. Plus my dealer has a direct line for any support issues. No I did not demo as I am building a system en-mass. I am kinda a fire and forget person. However I don’t think I will be dissatisfied in the decision.
 

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