MSB Select II arrival

Mike Lavigne

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great info, nice to know the details. not surprised with the deep thinking that goes into the MSB products.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
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Hi Mike,
I also own the Select 2 headphone amp with the Stax 009s phones. I also prefer, generally, listening from the Select DAC 2 with speakers using a dedicated preamp. However in this case, the music is simply stunning using only the MSB DAC, headphone amp and Stax headphones especially from the Extreme server via its embedded files. While the combination wont give you the power of your room setup, there is a purity and beauty of this headphone combination that, with the right recording, can be mind boggling.

hi Billy,

great minds think alike. :cool:

i have 3 Etsuro Gold cartridges, following your lead. and now i have joined you with the MSB Select Headphone amp + Stax 009S headphones (plus MSB Select II & Taiko Extreme). i've had this astonishing combo now not quite a week, the 009's are settling in, and i absolutely agree about the purity and beauty of this stripped down approach to the inner viewpoint of the music. i'm still getting my mind around what is so right about it. each session seems like the veils are more removed.

curious about what cables you are using? with a view this pure i think that the cables are really involved in it. i have some ideas on where i want to go.
 
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Billygxx

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The other day I was lamenting to my Psychologist friend about the fact that there are so many things I cant remember in my "golden" years and if that means my cognition is about as good as my knees. In her truly compassionate manner, she assured me that while memory may decline, our pattern recognition improves. So yes, great minds!o_O

Cables are especially important, IMHO, when listening in a set up as exquisitely revealing as this one. I was very fortunate that Vince Galbo sold me some Kubala balanced cables(75 ohm) that run from DAC to headphone amp that he had been using whenever he wanted a good demo. I don't know what model they are or exactly how old the cables are but they look well used. I love these cables. He only used these cables in their capacity from DAC to headphone amp. USB is another story. I have tried many. My favorites are the Ansuz DTC and the most recent Sablon. I have not tried the Gobel. The mono power bases for the DAC use Synergistic Research Galileo SRX power cords and the headphone amp uses SR Galileo SX power cord. Synergistic Blue fuses are in the Select DAC.

I am very curious about your ideas on where to go
 
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ariescerat-espana

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you know how sometimes you do stuff, then you think back why did i do that? then you think some more and realize it was the right thing to do? but then later....... :rolleyes: back in 2010-2011 i decided i wanted to investigate high level headphones. i wanted to see if they could reveal more of the music in some way. a part of the hobby i had not explored. i spent 2 years learning, acquiring a good dynamic headphone rig (HD-800's/Woo 6SE maxxed) and a good electrostat rig (Stax 007 Mk1/Stax-SRM-717 amp) and then later a Stax 009 and Headamp BHSE & Aristaeus amps, which at that time was fairly top drawer. i learned a little and enjoyed it, but then in 2012 had to sell it all to fund my dart mono blocks and MM7's.

since then i've looked into headphones from time to time thinking i would at some point get back into it.

then i started watching Youtube video's and other stuff on my laptop and got frustrated with the sound quality. so about a year ago started checking out headphones again. i knew i did not need to go hog wild, but my way is to jump fully in so i have been more and more checking them out. mostly what i had been watching were the planar dynamics and the new Stax 009S's and appropriate amps to get the most out of them. one issue was how would they integrate into my system when i was not using them for Youtube video's?

this weekend i noticed an MSB Select Headphone amp for sale. one thing led to another and......well......i now own it. and today the Stax SR-009S's i ordered to go with it showed up. i'm listening to the combo right now. i'll not yet comment on the performance. headphones take time to break in.

the Select headphone amp does integrate really well with my system, and i'll be able to plug my laptop into an analog input on the MSB Select II dac and use the Select passive pre volume control for it. i'm waiting for the cable to allow that to work seamlessly; s/b here tomorrow.

one thing, the amp is anodized silver, my dac and power supplies are black. if i decide to keep it long term i can send it in and have it anodized black to match. or if i sell it later it can be matched to that buyer's Select II.

did i need to do this? will it still be here in 6 months? god only knows.

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Indeed, a top headphone can give you something even a million dollar 2 channel can't. Not for everyone but I love both TBH. I had the Stax 009 and various Kevin Gilmour HP electrostatic amps. The DIY T2 is the best I have heard on Stax. I now favour the Abyss as it has bigger soundstage than the 009, and deeper bass, plus the 009 speed. The Stax needs a super smooth front end to work right. On lower end systems the Planars sound best IMO, more forgiving in the treble regions. Best sound on headphone I have heard is the Abyss out the back of the Aries Cerat Genus, sublime.... on the Moon is good, but way off the Genus.
 

Mike Lavigne

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Apr 25, 2010
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Indeed, a top headphone can give you something even a million dollar 2 channel can't. Not for everyone but I love both TBH. I had the Stax 009 and various Kevin Gilmour HP electrostatic amps. The DIY T2 is the best I have heard on Stax. I now favour the Abyss as it has bigger soundstage than the 009, and deeper bass, plus the 009 speed. The Stax needs a super smooth front end to work right. On lower end systems the Planars sound best IMO, more forgiving in the treble regions. Best sound on headphone I have heard is the Abyss out the back of the Aries Cerat Genus, sublime.... on the Moon is good, but way off the Genus.

i'm sure the Abyss/AC is outstanding. it is hard to imagine a finer headphone result than the synergy of the Select II dac + Select amp + 009S headphones. this is leagues beyond the BHSE + 009's.

i have wadded back into the headphone forums, lots of enthusiasm and energy there, and i am tempted to put together a planer magnetic headphone system just to play around with. the Abyss is the top level of that for sure. my conflict is redirecting more assets toward it when i have all the performance i could want already.

with my 2 channel speaker system, some attributes of headphones are not priorities for me. they can never get there or even come close. but other things are magical about them. i'll see in 6 months if i am still making the case to continue. this time with the MSB approach i expect to keep them.
 

dan31

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Jul 22, 2010
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There is something great about well set up headphones. Guessing the MSB stack is pushing the limits of what’s possible. I would think it’s a keeper just for a little variety with a speaker system. I use my phones about once a week just based on my mood. A more relaxed session usually.
 

Mike Lavigne

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Apr 25, 2010
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There is something great about well set up headphones. Guessing the MSB stack is pushing the limits of what’s possible. I would think it’s a keeper just for a little variety with a speaker system. I use my phones about once a week just based on my mood. A more relaxed session usually.
the word i would use is "chill". i'm finding my last listening session at night sometimes has been headphones, and it's seems like i get farther into my 'zen' place than before. is it because it's new and different?

with the world going to hell, we have to take our 'zen' where/when we can.
 

CKKeung

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Jun 18, 2011
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The MSB Reference Headphone Amplifier is for dynamic headphones.
I wonder will it be good for the Abyss?
:D
 

Mike Lavigne

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The MSB Reference Headphone Amplifier is for dynamic headphones.
I wonder will it be good for the Abyss?
:D

my guess is that the Electrostat experience with the 009S will take a high level 2-channel speaker system listener farther into listening nirvana than the best planer magnetic will. what the stat does is a deeper dive into the music. the planer magnetic gets that part less right, and still can't compete with the 2-channel on it's terms.

OTOH the planer magnetic might present a better whole picture to a less high level 2 channel speaker listener.

i'm doing some dot connecting, but expect that is how it would play out.

done right either approach would be great, just which way do you have the higher experience that justifies the effort. i can tell you i would not give up one drop of stat clarity and purity i'm hearing for more 'stuff'.

YMMV.
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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Mike, is there a "different" perspective on analog versus digital on phones as opposed to spkrs? I don't mean better/worse, I just mean do the formats present more uniquely, or contrast more, ahem, contrasted, on phones?
 

Mike Lavigne

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Apr 25, 2010
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Mike, is there a "different" perspective on analog versus digital on phones as opposed to spkrs? I don't mean better/worse, I just mean do the formats present more uniquely, or contrast more, ahem, contrasted, on phones?
Marc, the Select Electrostatic Headphone Amplifier is designed to be mated directly with the Select II dac, where you run a set of XLR cables from the dac into the Select Amp and then another set of XLR cables out into your preamp, direct to your amps. in a system with both headphones and speakers, the amp is designed to be a transparent pass through to the speakers when it's switched off.

and that is how i have it currently set up. i've also activated the second analog input on the dac that allows me to listen to my laptop music sources through the headphones (quite a boost in performance). i can use the remote to switch to the second input, then switch on the headphone amp from my remote.

so how i have it now i can't listen to vinyl with headphones. my listening culture for the headphones is not really vinyl listening. it's shut out the world listening where i don't really think about changing a record.

yet i do plan on using the headphones for cartridge tuning real time. i can stand at the turntable and make adjustments and hear some pretty clear things going on. but that is just a theory right now, not been there yet.

i can feed my CS Port phono output directly to the Select, or my dart pre has an RCA 'record' out which i can use for feeding the Select amp, but then in either case i would need a stand-alone volume control (below), which i did acquire to use if i do that. or, i could use the RCA outputs from the dart using the dart volume control, and unplug my 'zeel' BNC's. so i can listen to vinyl or tape with the headphones. of course, i can listen directly to my tape decks too.

Goldpoint Precision Balanced Level Control, P/N SA1X wide

 
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Alrainbow

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Dec 12, 2013
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enjoy the combo mike , headphones that sit on your head over the ears yield a close up presentation . in some ways they can show details not heard on speakers . i use the headphones i own stax 09 being one as a tool . it can show alt stage and instruments in locations and presentation .
where the wheels come off on phones is ambience . the stax is way above the hd800 in some ways but the hd 800 has weight the stax lacks . the best headphones i ever heard are neither of the above mentioned . the jeclin float was the first type to allow a truly speaker sound on my head . but they and newer ones and the old look odd and have no way to keep out room noise . lastly that combo is spectacular at showing all be it good or bad . i cant imagine an mp3 on them lol. but many mp3 are very good just lacking dynamics . if the stax are new please make sure both sides work well . use test tracks to confirm . mine are old now but when stax was sold many complained .
 

Mike Lavigne

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Apr 25, 2010
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enjoy the combo mike , headphones that sit on your head over the ears yield a close up presentation . in some ways they can show details not heard on speakers . i use the headphones i own stax 09 being one as a tool . it can show alt stage and instruments in locations and presentation .
where the wheels come off on phones is ambience . the stax is way above the hd800 in some ways but the hd 800 has weight the stax lacks . the best headphones i ever heard are neither of the above mentioned . the jeclin float was the first type to allow a truly speaker sound on my head . but they and newer ones and the old look odd and have no way to keep out room noise . lastly that combo is spectacular at showing all be it good or bad . i cant imagine an mp3 on them lol. but many mp3 are very good just lacking dynamics . if the stax are new please make sure both sides work well . use test tracks to confirm . mine are old now but when stax was sold many complained .
thank you Al for the headphone pointers.

so far the new 009S's are performing flawlessly. doing quite a few A/B's with my speakers and all is well. i'm getting some true ambience and sense of venue, but not seeking space per-se.......my speakers do that in spades. and i am getting a balanced degree of bass content, but again my system does that so well that i don't need that part with the headphones. i'm looking for the ultra direct connection of the intimate type sonics and the sense of escape. less about the parts, more about the whole and how it sucks me in. the experience.

and when i do use them for the laptop audio, it's way better than the laptop speakers, and even much better then using my system speakers. when i try my system speakers for the laptop audio, it's off putting that the sound is so disconnected from the video (and the speakers do expose the MP3 as not ready for prime time). the headphones work just right for that. and the video adds enough sensory effect and involvement to the equation to mostly make up for the fact that it's MP3. now i look forward to the laptop video's; it's time well spent and enjoyable. use to be i endured them to get the information.

so short term this headphone direction has improved my system and overall hobby enjoyment. will it endure?
 
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Alpinist

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so short term this headphone direction has improved my system and overall hobby enjoyment. will it endure?
Hi Mike,

I think it will. The reason is because the headphone system gives you something uniquely different from your main system. A level of intimacy that only a headphone system can provide. If it was very similar to your main system, the redundancy would eventually spell the end of it.

Ken
 
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Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
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Hi Mike,

I think it will. The reason is because the headphone system gives you something uniquely different from your main system. A level of intimacy that only a headphone system can provide. If it was very similar to your main system, the redundancy would eventually spell the end of it.

Ken
you might be right......

MSB Select II + MSB Select Headphone amp + Stax SR-009S + Flamingo Sketches 192/24 file + a few sips of Lagavulin = perfect zen state. :cool: i was floating into another dimension.
 

Gregm

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Mar 14, 2019
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Inspired by the original thread title "MSB Select II arrival", I thought I'd share my latest development which is much less exciting and the reverse of Mike's: MSB Select II departure.

A very kind gentleman picked up my Select last night, quite hurriedly, as he was leaving on a trip today.

I am no longer a member of the Select club :) !

Many thanks to the WBF members who kindly expressed their interest in these items, and to all who put up with my off topic post!
 

Alpinist

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Jun 17, 2014
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Inspired by the original thread title "MSB Select II arrival", I thought I'd share my latest development which is much less exciting and the reverse of Mike's: MSB Select II departure.

A very kind gentleman picked up my Select last night, quite hurriedly, as he was leaving on a trip today.

I am no longer a member of the Select club :) !

Many thanks to the WBF members who kindly expressed their interest in these items, and to all who put up with my off topic post!
Hi Greg,

Just curious what you are replacing it with?

Ken
 

Gregm

Active Member
Mar 14, 2019
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France
Hi Greg,

Just curious what you are replacing it with?

Ken
Hi Ken, I am not replacing it (unfortunately) -- I enjoyed my Select immensely.
I had to sell for financial reasons.

The only other contender I listened to that inspired me was the Ideon Absolute. Regards
 

Alpinist

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Jun 17, 2014
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Hi Ken, I am not replacing it (unfortunately) -- I enjoyed my Select immensely.
I had to sell for financial reasons.

The only other contender I listened to that inspired me was the Ideon Absolute. Regards
Hi Greg,

Sorry you had to sell it. Happy to hear that you enjoyed it while you had it.

Ken
 
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Alpinist

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I just purchased a lightly used MSB UMT V Signature Transport with two power bases. It is built like a tank. The transport has a solid aluminum tray and is based on the Oppo BDP-105D. The two power bases are really heavy. They feel like solid blocks of aluminum.

I think the sound quality of my Select II DAC with Renderer V2 Module and Roon Nucleus Plus is terrific but the asynchronous transport with its proprietary Pro I2S connection surpasses it in transparency, ease and noise floor. Stunning vocals and instrumentals emanate from dead silence. The noise floor isn’t quite as low as MSB’s new Pro ISL optical connection but having listened to this transport and the new Reference Transport, I can tell you that sonically, it is damn close. The Pro ISL optical connection really excels when used with the Pro USB Module for computer audio, where electrical noise is much more of an issue than on the transport.

Consequently, I am very happy with this purchase as I can now spin CDs and SACDs again, and have improved sound quality for a fraction of the price of the Reference Transport.

Ken
 

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