MSB REFERENCE or SELECT II - SEEKING AMP SUGGESTION

Kingsrule

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Feb 3, 2011
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Why do I think the best setup with the SII is no preamp but using Totaldac d1 drivers?
I use the SII with M500's, no preamp. But no way to try d1 drivers.....
Just a gut hunch on the d1's
 

koalakoala

Well-Known Member
Aug 10, 2017
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I am using Select + S500, no preamp and very happy about it.
A year ago, the local Nagra agent in Hong Kong offered me the much vaulted HD Pre at some usd55000 - I declined politely. No I' m not spending that (plus accessory cost usd20000?) for loss of transparency and gain in dynamics...
 
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Centralnature

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Dec 16, 2020
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There are pros and cons in omitting the preamp for MSB Select/Ref DACs, even if pairing them with MSB's own poweramps.

I did test the MSB poweramp with and without preamp :
1. Select DAC direct
2. Reference DAC via a Nagra HD Preamp

Although the comparison was not in the same syatem nor with the same dac, I got a glimpse of the effect of both of the ways.

I personally prefer using a preamp : the sound got better dynamics/authority/stability.
If without preamp, there was more transparency.

Therefore I use my Select DAC with a Bespoke Ultimate Silver passive preamp and a pair of Totaldac D1-Driver xlr version.
:)
When you use the preamp, do you bypass the MSB volume ?
or set the volume to the max (100)(and still use the remote volume function) ?
Thank you !:)
 
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CKKeung

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Jun 18, 2011
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A Select DAC owner friend and I tested the effect of different Select DAC volume levels when using a preamp with it.

We found that vol level of 100 didn't give the best sound.
Levels of 9x were better.
My personal preference is 93.
YMMV. :)
 

chuck

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Dec 20, 2011
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I suggest you strike the Boulder 2160 off your list. You apparently favor the tube sound in your amplifiers, and want a more "natural/organic" sound to replicate the real "thing." The Boulder does not have any of that. I have owned Boulder amps for over 10 years, now a 3060 driving YG Sonja XV speakers. The local dealer, Alma, would have DAG, Luxman, MSB, Gryphon or Audio Research amps on their YG Sonja 2.2 speakers, they even had XVs for a short while -- always with MSB DAC. I recently auditioned T+A M40HV amps on my XVs. All had an immediately noticeable "organic/natural" sound to varying degrees no matter what recording was playing. The T+A has a switch so you can vary that sound.
 
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Centralnature

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Dec 16, 2020
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A Select DAC owner friend and I tested the effect of different Select DAC volume levels when using a preamp with it.

We found that vol level of 100 didn't give the best sound.
Levels of 9x were better.
My personal preference is 93.
YMMV. :)
Thank you very much for your reply, your thoughts and experience is very helpful!
May I ask if you adjust the volume level via your preamp mostly ,and the MSB volume remain at 93 ?
I’m experimenting
1) Dac direct to amp (Burmester 909mk5) (MSB as pre)
2) Bypass MSB pre with preamp (Burmester 077)
3) Use both MSB pre & 077

As you said , there are pros and cons in omitting the preamp for MSB Select. MSB pre is a very nice module, especially its price compared to 077. However I feel singers seems to sing much more emotionally and with skill with 077.
 

CKKeung

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Jun 18, 2011
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May I ask if you adjust the volume level via your preamp mostly ,and the MSB volume remain at 93 ?
Yes, that's what I am doing.

With diff preamps such as your 077, the effect can vary.
Please share with us your experience.
Thanks!
 
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koalakoala

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Aug 10, 2017
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Curiously, the early version of the Select manual (2015) stated that 94 would be the optimal level when using external preamp...
 

CKKeung

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Jun 18, 2011
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Curiously, the early version of the Select manual (2015) stated that 94 would be the optimal level when using external preamp...
I know ah, but ...
 
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Blackmorec

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Feb 1, 2019
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Last year in Munich Show, MSB used Select direct to M500 driving a pair of Magico M6.

I sat down and listened for some time, 15 minutes or so which was quite a lot of time given there were some many rooms to go to. My impression at the time was very detailed sound but rather plain and gentle. Dynamic could certainly be better. I use a pair of Magico M6 in my home, so I have a good idea of what M6 can do.

A good preamp will certainly enhance the dynamic.
Its quite an achievement to get it to sound anything like good in those show environments, with feeble, noisy mains, poor earths, EMI soup, high ambient noise, lots of seismic vibration, ever changing room acoustics and speaker positioning designed to sound good for a larger audience. Challenging, to the point its not really possible to overcome all the problems effectively. Compare in your mind that environment to a fully optimized listening room and you can imagine the scale of the improvements / deficits. Magicos in an optimised environment will sound truly stunning, but its not the MSBs that are at fault. Hotel rooms during show time are positively torture chambers for highly resolving equipment, testing their abilities to sound good under extremely adverse conditions.
 

gds7368

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Jan 9, 2015
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Just ordered a Bryston 14B SST3 stereo amplifier for my theater, but I think I'll also try it for the M6 speakers to compare its sonic signature to the MSB S500. I know that might not be a typical pairing price-wise, but all I care about is how something sounds ... I'll report back (assuming I can move it upstairs by myself) but this will take a while (needs to be delivered, burn in, etc).
 

Motoman

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Jul 25, 2021
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I have a short (3’) run of 10 ga romex running to an outlet connected to the subpanel that feeds my room. I plug the typhon into that outlet. It reduces the line noise going into all the 5 outlets by 50%.
Vince Galbo, National Sales Manager for MSB has been a huge believer in clean power for many years. He swears that running a separate twisted 6 gauge ROMEX (if the run from the main panel is over 50ft, 8 gauge if less) to a dedicated four outlet panel will be one of the biggest improvements you can make in a system. For me, the only way I can do that realistically is to run a conduit on the side of the house up to the attic and then down into my dedicated music room. Not exactly winning over the wife with that idea, though!
 

Ron Resnick

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Jan 25, 2015
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For me, the only way I can do that realistically is to run a conduit on the side of the house up to the attic and then down into my dedicated music room.

Welcome to WBF, Motoman!

You should do this!
 
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Brucemck2

Member Sponsor
May 10, 2010
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Just ordered a Bryston 14B SST3 stereo amplifier for my theater, but I think I'll also try it for the M6 speakers to compare its sonic signature to the MSB S500. I know that might not be a typical pairing price-wise, but all I care about is how something sounds ... I'll report back (assuming I can move it upstairs by myself) but this will take a while (needs to be delivered, burn in, etc).
Did you ever get a chance to try this combination? I’ve enjoyed (bigger) Bryston amps more than their reputation on this forum would suggest is likely.
 

LL21

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Dec 26, 2010
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Did you ever get a chance to try this combination? I’ve enjoyed (bigger) Bryston amps more than their reputation on this forum would suggest is likely.
Most intrigued as well...particularly given that he uses MSB500 with the Magico M6 and is using the Bryston 14BST3 with a superb Magico M Project...would be interesting to hear how the 2 amps compare.
 

gleeds

Industry Expert
May 29, 2018
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On impedance issues, I would consult with Marty as he went through several leading amplifiers in his system and had I believe impedance matching issues before with several before settling on the Big Gryphons to power his Wilson Alexx V. He did, however, use a Solution pre-amplifier and did not go directly from his Lampizator DAC to the amplifiers.

Based on my experience with directly driven DACs I still prefer a pre-amplifier and IMO there is little doubt tonality and balance will change from your current experience. A recent experience with Tidal electronics going direct from the DAC/streamer with VC, then switching to using their pre-amp further cemented my view pre/no pre, debate.

Certainly, there will be major improvements in many areas at this level of investment, however, on the tonal balance question, I would offer that the tonal balance on your chosen amplifier and whether or not you use an active pre-amp will have a material effect. Cables, of course, offer you options on achieving your preferred "tonal balance", as does the amplifier Architecture Class AB (Boulder, MSB, Dagostino) or Class A (Gryphon, Pass), etc.

It all sounds very exciting to be moving up the ladder. Good luck!
 

gleeds

Industry Expert
May 29, 2018
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Gadzooks, welcome!

I was recently speaking with an MSB Select II owner that is running his DAC directly into MSB mono amplifiers and powering Magico M9s. He is looking for a different sound and will be auditioning our Westminster Labs Class A monos in June running directly into the Select II.

Another client auditioning the WL amplifiers I believe also owns a Select II, VAC Master Pre, VAC amplifiers, and Tidal Contriva G2s. These demos should tell me what the differences are between the pre/no pre sound and be especially valuable input. I am happy to report back directly or ask the system owners (also WBF members) to post their findings as well.

Please consider adding the Westminster Labs Rei amplifiers to your list of possible amplifiers capable of achieving your sonic objectives and mating well to your system with or without your pre-amp. FYI, two monoblocks fit comfortably on one level of an equipment rack.

For a recent overview of the amplifiers please take a minute to see Steve's write-up of the sound after my recent visit to his listening room.
https://whatsbestforum.com/threads/re-imagining-class-a-amplification.34468/page-4#post-796219

I'll circle back after the aforementioned demos are complete. As always, best of luck completing your system!
 

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