MSB Select II arrival

Elliot G.

[Industry Expert]
Jul 22, 2010
686
11
18
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Hi Elliot! After signing into WBF using your username and password, you can click on my name, then the silhouette icon "View Profile", and finally the tab "About Me" to see a detailed list of the components in my system.

I confess that I'm actually taking an expensive wager that the addition of the Ayre KX-R Twenty (to be delivered in March) will enable my Select DAC II to reach the next level of performance in expressing even wider dynamic swings, particularly in the low end, and introduce a balance to music which more closely resembles the effortless and exciting dynamic range present in live instruments.

Please don't belittle the more mainstream audio companies, but this video by PS Audio's Paul McGowan describes well what one should expect to hear with the addition of a preamp to help the source component better deliver the requisite dynamic swing(s) in current. Warning: product endorsement contained within!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh27E7YKN9s

Here are the measurement of the Ayre preamplifier, as published in Stereophile - not too shabby!
https://www.stereophile.com/content/ayre-acoustics-kx-r-twenty-line-preamplifier-measurements

To help me have some basis for comparison, I have requested MSB to provide me with quantitative data on the ability (%THD, frequency, voltage) of the Select II's output section to deliver current into challenging loads of 600ohms, as well as a more modest 10Kohms (into the full spectrum of 10Hz to ~48kHz across a range of voltage outputs, as well as a 19kHz+20kHz IM graph at full output), but I'm still waiting. My JRDG 725 S2s have an input impedance of 40Kohms which is on the low side for solid state amps, and I want to verify for myself that the Select II indeed has sufficiently abilities to qualify as a bona-fide standalone preamplifier. I'm one of the select (no pun intended) owners of MSB's hyper-expensive, US$108,000 retail price, top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art, "you can't touch this, wannabes!" DAC, WITH purportedly an output section rivaling (and obviating the need for) a standalone preamp - so I hope my request is a very reasonable one! :)

I see that the CH Audio M1 has a nominal input impedance of 95Kohms (balanced), which is more than double those of my amp. For reference, the KX-R Twenty's input impedance is 2,000Kohms which is significantly less demanding for front end components to drive. The progression of higher and higher input impedances between components is the way it SHOULD be - the role of the preamplifier is (among other things) to preserve the fidelity of the line level input signal while performing as a buffer to deliver sufficient current into the power amplifier's inputs.

Here's an EXCELLENT video by Paul McGowan on the principles behind understanding input and output impedance coupling between source components, preamps, and power amps:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HGS6W7ZiGY

I would like to extend a big invitation to all WBF members and readers to share their experiences with either going direct or inserting a preamp between their DACs and their power amps, and articulate what you heard ! :)
Hello and thank you however I am even more confused after reading the list of gear in your system.
I am not familiar with your speakers but you list them as active.
You also have amps and a room correction preamp, plus the MSB and you said you were getting an Ayre.
SO how in reality is the rig set up?
Are you using a room correction device? do the speakers have amplifiers or an amplifier in them?
I am not putting any of this down I just am trying to figure out why you are hearing something very different to my experience.
In the examples I have experienced the system is simple DAC to AMP I am thinking that is not the case in yours.
Please explain.
E
 

edorr

WBF Founding Member
May 11, 2010
3,151
0
36
Smyrna, GA
I would like to extend a big invitation to all WBF members and readers to share their experiences with either going direct or inserting a preamp between their DACs and their power amps, and articulate what you heard ! :)
I take some credit for turn Paul on to inserting a preamp in the chain. He used to be religiously opposed on theoretical ground, and I kept harassing him insisting with a good preamps you simply get better sound. He finally saw the light and came around. So in my experience, a top quality preamp will improve SQ, period end of story - I'm not into the ultra expensive gear, but in my experience you need something like AR Ref 5 caliber pre. I currently use the PS Audio Tube pre, which works beautifully.
 
Apr 3, 2017
23
1
3
Hong Kong
Elliot, I'll be uploading a revised WBF avatar photo which you can click to see my setup; my current photo is outdated.
Yes, I'm using my Trinnov Amethyst, but will also be adding a USB data cable to have the option to send data directly from the Aurender W20 to the Select II DAC.
Here's an URL of Absolute Sound's review of the VR-55 Aktives: http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/von-schweikert-audio-vr-55-aktive-loudspeaker/
 
Last edited:

Priaptor

Member Sponsor
Jan 29, 2012
929
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I take some credit for turn Paul on to inserting a preamp in the chain. He used to be religiously opposed on theoretical ground, and I kept harassing him insisting with a good preamps you simply get better sound. He finally saw the light and came around. So in my experience, a top quality preamp will improve SQ, period end of story - I'm not into the ultra expensive gear, but in my experience you need something like AR Ref 5 caliber pre. I currently use the PS Audio Tube pre, which works beautifully.
I really don't want to get into a "audiophile fight" but when you post some dogmatic nonsense, like "a top quality preamp will improve SQ, period end of story" I am going to call you out on that comment as it is BS!! I owned a REF10 and compared it extensively to the Select II direct. Not even a close comparison IMHO, so there goes your theory, sorry. When you make these absurd claims you lose all legitimacy

Paul is a salesman. He has vacillated as to what is best, how it should be used, like many others in this industry based on what he is selling at the time. I know you for a long time, you are "trader" and now using PS Audio, great, but please for the benefit of discussion let's tone down the dogmatic rhetoric.
 

asiufy

Member Sponsor
Jul 8, 2011
2,764
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38
San Diego, CA
almaaudio.com
I take some credit for turn Paul on to inserting a preamp in the chain. He used to be religiously opposed on theoretical ground, and I kept harassing him insisting with a good preamps you simply get better sound. He finally saw the light and came around. So in my experience, a top quality preamp will improve SQ, period end of story - I'm not into the ultra expensive gear, but in my experience you need something like AR Ref 5 caliber pre. I currently use the PS Audio Tube pre, which works beautifully.
While that is very true with the PS Audio DAC (it doesn't sound nearly as good as when used with a proper preamp), it is not universal truth, as Howie eloquently put it.

With the SELECT II, it is absolutely not necessary to have a preamp, and in most cases, it'll actually be detrimental.

QuadDiffusor, if you still can, cancel/return the Ayre, you're not going to need it :)


cheers,
alex
 

edorr

WBF Founding Member
May 11, 2010
3,151
0
36
Smyrna, GA
I really don't want to get into a "audiophile fight" but when you post some dogmatic nonsense, like "a top quality preamp will improve SQ, period end of story" I am going to call you out on that comment as it is BS!! I owned a REF10 and compared it extensively to the Select II direct. Not even a close comparison IMHO, so there goes your theory, sorry. When you make these absurd claims you lose all legitimacy

Paul is a salesman. He has vacillated as to what is best, how it should be used, like many others in this industry based on what he is selling at the time. I know you for a long time, you are "trader" and now using PS Audio, great, but please for the benefit of discussion let's tone down the dogmatic rhetoric.
I was not making the comment with PS audio gear in mind but based on broad range of experiences with lots of different gear. In fact, the aforementioned Ref 5 SE was inserted before a (lowly $25K) MSB DAC, and improved SQ.

While without context my use of "period end of story" language can be construed as an absolute statement, the whole sentence I wrote was "So in my experience, a top quality preamp will improve SQ, period end of story". I recognize this is still a little ambiguous, but I intended to convey this is all strictly based on my (limited) personal experience. I also mentioned I never used ultra expensive DACs like the select II. But point taken - I'll use more precise language next time.
 
May 30, 2010
14,110
77
48
Portugal
(...) With the SELECT II, it is absolutely not necessary to have a preamp, and in most cases, it'll actually be detrimental. (...)

Interesting. Can you refer us of a few real cases where the preamplfier was detrimental? I can easily see that the introduction of a "foreign" preamplifier is not welcome between MSB units, but would like to know if there is any systematic in this preference.

I know people debate a lot this aspect. I was told that for example in the DCS listening rooms they have one system with preamplifier and another without so people can listen both ways.
 

Priaptor

Member Sponsor
Jan 29, 2012
929
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0
FL
While that is very true with the PS Audio DAC (it doesn't sound nearly as good as when used with a proper preamp), it is not universal truth, as Howie eloquently put it.

With the SELECT II, it is absolutely not necessary to have a preamp, and in most cases, it'll actually be detrimental.

QuadDiffusor, if you still can, cancel/return the Ayre, you're not going to need it :)


cheers,
alex
Alex

Couldn't agree more. I was one of the biggest disbelievers and indeed when I initially had Paul's early DAC I tried direct vs. a Ref 5 and the latter was better. I never believed Vince when he recommend that I try and bypass my REF10, which I didn't for several weeks. When I finally gave in, the difference was revelatory.

Now there are people who need a preamp, such as with certain amps that have unique interfaces or that are running analog as well (although MSB has a solution for that) but I agree that as it pertains to the Select II, going direct, IMHO, is better than anything I got from a SOTA preamp like the REF10
 

Priaptor

Member Sponsor
Jan 29, 2012
929
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FL
Interesting. Can you refer us of a few real cases where the preamplfier was detrimental? I can easily see that the introduction of a "foreign" preamplifier is not welcome between MSB units, but would like to know if there is any systematic in this preference.

I know people debate a lot this aspect. I was told that for example in the DCS listening rooms they have one system with preamplifier and another without so people can listen both ways.
In my case using a REF10 with a GS150, Dag Momentum S250 and with my current CH Precision M1 was detrimental. The CH works amazingly well with the Select II as it has adjustable gain among other things. Personally, as a digital only person, I can never at this time, go back.
 
May 30, 2010
14,110
77
48
Portugal
In my case using a REF10 with a GS150, Dag Momentum S250 and with my current CH Precision M1 was detrimental. The CH works amazingly well with the Select II as it has adjustable gain among other things. Personally, as a digital only person, I can never at this time, go back.
Did you try introducing a CH or Dag line preamplfier in the system with their own amplfiers? My experience with REF40 in ARC amplfiiers was inconclusive - sometimes I preferred direct, others with the REF40. And I dislike ARC preamplifiers with D'Agostino - they need their own preamplifier. But is is just me!
 

Priaptor

Member Sponsor
Jan 29, 2012
929
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0
FL
Did you try introducing a CH or Dag line preamplfier in the system with their own amplfiers? My experience with REF40 in ARC amplfiiers was inconclusive - sometimes I preferred direct, others with the REF40. And I dislike ARC preamplifiers with D'Agostino - they need their own preamplifier. But is is just me!
I did not try the Dag preamp or the CH. When Elliot gets a CH preamp I will give it a try. My theory about all "things" like De Niro said in Heat, is never get attached to anything you aren't afraid to walk away from in 30 minutes. Now as it applies to high end audio, I need to live with something before I buy it and/or walk away from it. At this point, in my system, with the products I have tried and as skeptical as I was regarding going direct, I can say, going direct, for me, is the best my system has ever sounded. I get thrilled every single time I turn it on.

BUT......
 
May 30, 2010
14,110
77
48
Portugal
I did not try the Dag preamp or the CH. When Elliot gets a CH preamp I will give it a try. My theory about all "things" like De Niro said in Heat, is never get attached to anything you aren't afraid to walk away from in 30 minutes. Now as it applies to high end audio, I need to live with something before I buy it and/or walk away from it. At this point, in my system, with the products I have tried and as skeptical as I was regarding going direct, I can say, going direct, for me, is the best my system has ever sounded. I get thrilled every single time I turn it on.

BUT......
Curious I always heard it as "walk away in 30 seconds" - you like to take your time ... :) But my favorite De Niro quote is from Ronin "“I never walk into a place I don't know how to walk out of.” IMHO audiophiles should never ignore it ...

BTW, the M1 stereo is a dual mono unit?
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
9,002
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63
London
I feel like asking most cone speakers if they are talking to me because I cannot make out whom they are talking to since the sound never leaves the boxes
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
9,002
102
63
London
Is that a quote from Jack Nicholson in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo´s Nest"? :D
Cuckoo's nest is the term for an audiophile's abode. This is a quote from Taxi Driver which is what my career will be if I keep reading forums at my current job
 

Elliot G.

[Industry Expert]
Jul 22, 2010
686
11
18
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Elliot, I'll be uploading a revised WBF avatar photo which you can click to see my setup; my current photo is outdated.
Yes, I'm using my Trinnov Amethyst, but will also be adding a USB data cable to have the option to send data directly from the Aurender W20 to the Select II DAC.
Here's an URL of Absolute Sound's review of the VR-55 Aktives: http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/von-schweikert-audio-vr-55-aktive-loudspeaker/
Thank you for some clarification. I believe you are trying to judge the MSB when you are not using it as it is intended. A preamp is probably required in your case to drive the equalization device, all the cables and different amplifiers.
I feel that this is the issue not the preamp stage of the MSB.
 

Priaptor

Member Sponsor
Jan 29, 2012
929
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0
FL
Curious I always heard it as "walk away in 30 seconds" - you like to take your time ... :) But my favorite De Niro quote is from Ronin "“I never walk into a place I don't know how to walk out of.” IMHO audiophiles should never ignore it ...

BTW, the M1 stereo is a dual mono unit?
Lol

Your right my bad.

Actually we could use both quotes in different ways to the approach to the high end. I love it

The M1 is stereo. The speakers I am using them with are the Nola Concert Grands which are very efficient drives them wonderfully. Nice thing about the CH is you can convert the stereo to a dual mono without having to sell the unit. I’m really impressed with it
 

asiufy

Member Sponsor
Jul 8, 2011
2,764
18
38
San Diego, CA
almaaudio.com
Interesting. Can you refer us of a few real cases where the preamplfier was detrimental? I can easily see that the introduction of a "foreign" preamplifier is not welcome between MSB units, but would like to know if there is any systematic in this preference.

I know people debate a lot this aspect. I was told that for example in the DCS listening rooms they have one system with preamplifier and another without so people can listen both ways.
Sure, ARC REF 10, D'Agostino Momentum Preamp. Both times, with MSB SELECT II and MSB Reference, everybody preferred going direct, both with D'Agostino monos as well as MSB's own 204 monos.

I did this exact test just this morning. Adding the preamp (REF10) decreased impact and energy levels considerably. The preamp added headroom, because of its overall gain being far greater, so we didn't have to run close to the maximum volume, like we usually have to with the MSB going direct. Again, if the overall gain structure of your system is already on the low side (with inefficient speakers, low gain amps, etc.), the MSB might need the help of an external preamp. That I could see happening, but you'd be trading transparency and resolution for that little extra headroom for sure.

I've had dCS before, and I would go direct from time to time, just get that "rush", the immediacy. But I'd switch the preamp (darTZeel NHB-18NS) back in within the hour, since the harshness became unbearable.

And frankly, in previous MSB generations, it was sort of like the dCS experience, when going direct too.

I'll have to agree that, in general, a preamp is preferrable. But that just proves that this new generation of MSB products is far beyond everything else out there, even their previous DACs.


cheers,
alex
 

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