The Digital Director - A new MSB product improving everything from the source to the output

matthias

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Mar 14, 2019
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"Yes, but integrated in a system, I can't tell you much about it except throughout the rooms where there were MSB DACs, they appeared to share a recognizable smoothness and treble reproduction that I liked. Interestingly in all the rooms where they used Wadax, the sound suffered from the exact same linear-sounding dynamic compression, so much so that in those rooms where the playback alternated with vinyl, it bordered on the ridiculous. Bottom line, best digital playback throughout multiple rooms were Lampizator Horizon, dCS Apex and MSB, each brand portraying its own specific 'sound'."
Interesting :cool:
I also could not detect any superiority of Wadax equipped rooms in Munich in comparison to rooms with other HQ server/DACs.

Matt
 
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Armsan

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Jan 28, 2016
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I asked a friend from Switzerland, who goes regularly, to check out the MSB setup. He's a dCS owner, but I've found him to have a great sense for the nuances of audio gear. Unfortunately he doesn't tell us much (having been in 2019, I found it hard to hear anything with all that going on inside the place):

"Yes, but integrated in a system, I can't tell you much about it except throughout the rooms where there were MSB DACs, they appeared to share a recognizable smoothness and treble reproduction that I liked. Interestingly in all the rooms where they used Wadax, the sound suffered from the exact same linear-sounding dynamic compression, so much so that in those rooms where the playback alternated with vinyl, it bordered on the ridiculous. Bottom line, best digital playback throughout multiple rooms were Lampizator Horizon, dCS Apex and MSB, each brand portraying its own specific 'sound'."
Couldn’t agree more.
 

Armsan

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Jan 28, 2016
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In the context of a MSB setup with Director a fiber connection UPSTREAM to the Director makes no sense, IMO.

Matt
I thought so too and I regret now for not asking Jonathan and Daniel all the details about that “strange“connection. On the first photo posted by CCKeung you can see the thin black fiber cable, crossing over the left loudspeaker cable and coming from the side wall where the server was. By then I was concerned about the length of the control link cable, as I need a 10 meter one. They haven’t tested yet such a long run, but they will do it for me, and for other future needs, and report me back. What a fine gentlemen this guys are!
 
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Armsan

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Actually, the fiber cable was running over the power chord cable of the amp.
 

divertiti

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Jan 12, 2021
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Interesting :cool:
I also could not detect any superiority of Wadax equipped rooms in Munich in comparison to rooms with other HQ server/DACs.

Matt
A Dealer I know went to Munich and said he thought the Wadax sounded overly smooth and soft, like it’s been DSP’Ed. I heard the combo at Cap Audio Fest but wasn’t impressed, but I attributed that to the Parasound amps they were using.

Of course when something doesn’t sound good at a show, it doesn’t mean much since the conditions are terrible, but multiple data points and impressions are interesting
 

sbnx

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Mar 28, 2017
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DAC's are all about timing. Superior DAC's will maintain better timing of the digital signal. The downstream system needs to be capable of revealing this improved timing. IMO the most critical of these is the speaker setup as this is the easiest to mess up and blur the timing. Not an easy task to get right in one day at a show.

All that to say I would not judge the relative difference between MSB and Wadax by comparing different rooms at a show. If you are interested then at their price point it should not be difficult to arrange an in-home demo to hear the DAC in your own system. Then you can decide if the price is worth it to you.

I have heard the Atlantis DAC (not the reference) in a system I know well and have heard many different DACs and it does perform at a very high level.
 

divertiti

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Jan 12, 2021
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DAC's are all about timing. Superior DAC's will maintain better timing of the digital signal. The downstream system needs to be capable of revealing this improved timing. IMO the most critical of these is the speaker setup as this is the easiest to mess up and blur the timing. Not an easy task to get right in one day at a show.

All that to say I would not judge the relative difference between MSB and Wadax by comparing different rooms at a show. If you are interested then at their price point it should not be difficult to arrange an in-home demo to hear the DAC in your own system. Then you can decide if the price is worth it to you.

I have heard the Atlantis DAC (not the reference) in a system I know well and have heard many different DACs and it does perform at a very high level.
+1, there are too many uncontrolled variables at the show and any single one of them can throw off the sound. Overall if it can sound

Also as a recent witness to and beneficiary of the speaker setup magic done by @sbnx, I can attest first hand to the importance of speaker setup to actually allowing you to hear the true nature of your components and judge each change properly. In certain situations, half a millimeter can make the difference between a bright sounding system vs. a balanced sounding system.
 

pleroma

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Jul 7, 2018
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I have a different thought. Based on the information posted in the topic by MSB, you put your digital inputs in the Director. The Director not only provides noise isolation but also provides processing power for the digital inputs leaving the DAC to do the analog conversion.

Now this is just my thoughts as I have zero inside knowledge of this. For me why would one not want to utilize the ProISL/ProUSB combo in the Director? I thought the initial promo photo was just showing a digital input. I didn't take it to mean a special emphasis on the Ethernet input.

I guess time will tell.

Well, you were right. I guess I liked the thought of the extra interfacing going away, but here we have it from Jonathan:

"The digital director takes all the same input modules as the current DACs. We have NOT developed a new USB module for the DAC or Digital Director. For current users whatever inputs are installed in the DAC should simply be moved over to the Digital Director. If the ProUSB is used it doesn't need to be replaced with the standard MQA/Quadrate USB module. They will both perform and function the same way.

The Digital Director will improve all sources including the ProUSB for two main reasons:
1. The added isolation improves all inputs including the ProUSB because the data is buffered and clocked out again using a low noise power supply. Both the ProUSB and the MQA USB modules are USB bus powered so they both benefit from this.

2. The added digital filtering is a MAJOR improvement. This improves all digital sources regardless of isolation. This process expands the digital filter in the DAC with the end result of a better soundstage and a more natural, real sound."


Still leaves a lot of questions and comparisons to be made.
 
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divertiti

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Jan 12, 2021
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Well, you were right. I guess I liked the thought of the extra interfacing going away, but here we have it from Jonathan:

"The digital director takes all the same input modules as the current DACs. We have NOT developed a new USB module for the DAC or Digital Director. For current users whatever inputs are installed in the DAC should simply be moved over to the Digital Director. If the ProUSB is used it doesn't need to be replaced with the standard MQA/Quadrate USB module. They will both perform and function the same way.

The Digital Director will improve all sources including the ProUSB for two main reasons:
1. The added isolation improves all inputs including the ProUSB because the data is buffered and clocked out again using a low noise power supply. Both the ProUSB and the MQA USB modules are USB bus powered so they both benefit from this.

2. The added digital filtering is a MAJOR improvement. This improves all digital sources regardless of isolation. This process expands the digital filter in the DAC with the end result of a better soundstage and a more natural, real sound."


Still leaves a lot of questions and comparisons to be made.
I think that's inline with my expectations, hoping for some first hand demo A/B impressions or just feedback from early adopters
 

matthias

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Mar 14, 2019
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Can someone explain how to connect the ProUSB to the Digital Director?
In my understanding it is not a module which can be inserted neither into the DAC nor into the Director.

Matt
 

matthias

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You insert the fiber receiving module into the Digital Director, and use the other part of pro USB as you do today from your source
Then you have:

Pro USB(copper > fiber)
Director(fiber > copper > fiber)
DAC(fiber > copper)

Four conversions from copper to fiber or fiber to copper:

Does this make sense?
 

divertiti

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Jan 12, 2021
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Then you have:

Pro USB(copper > fiber)
Director(fiber > copper > fiber)
DAC(fiber > copper)

Four conversions from copper to fiber or fiber to copper:

Does this make sense?
From MSB's perspective they seem to think so. According to what Jonathan said above, the magic comes from the DSP inside the Director, and the double isolation (conversion) will help further reduce noise from USB bus.

From a consumer perspective, I think that question can be answered only when we evaluate the product ourselves individually.
 
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matthias

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From a consumer perspective, I think that question can be answered only when we evaluate the product ourselves individually.
Agree,
at least in Munich I was not convinced of the sonics with the Director in the MSB room.

Matt
 

divertiti

Active Member
Jan 12, 2021
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Agree,
at least in Munich I was not convinced of the sonics with the Director in the MSB room.

Matt

Interesting, what did you hear in the room that gave that impression? It's really hard at shows as the sound could be any part of the room or system. The only real way is if they did an A/B demonstration with and without the DD in it.
 

matthias

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Mar 14, 2019
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Interesting, what did you hear in the room that gave that impression? It's really hard at shows as the sound could be any part of the room or system. The only real way is if they did an A/B demonstration with and without the DD in it.
See post #77, further I have seen now that they used the Stromtank. :-(

Matt
 
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bryans

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Dec 26, 2017
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Then you have:

Pro USB(copper > fiber)
Director(fiber > copper > fiber)
DAC(fiber > copper)

Four conversions from copper to fiber or fiber to copper:

Does this make sense?
Sorry but my brain is moving slow today. I currently have the ProUSB/ProISL combo in my Premier DAC. If I get a Director I would just move the ProISL from my DAC to the Director.

Source > Copper Ethernet to ProUSB
ProUSB > Fiber to Director (Current ProISL is installed in Director)
Director > DAC is Fiber (Director has ISL module and DAC has ISL module)

There is only 1 Copper to Fiber unless I am missing something. When you purchase a Director you get an ISL module for your DAC (based on the info provided by MSB).
 
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QuadDiffusor

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Would MSB Technology *PLEASE* post a schematic diagram, showing the various input/output modules in both (Digital Director, and DAC) chassis, and how they all connect together? A third of the ~100 posts on this thread are questions about the modules and the interfaces… a picture is worth a thousand words!

I’m most curious about how/where a USB output/source should optimally connect to the Digital Director. Optically, through an outboard optical-output Pro-USB module, or electrically, through a USB input module inside the Digital Director?
 
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matthias

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Mar 14, 2019
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There is only 1 Copper to Fiber unless I am missing something. When you purchase a Director you get an ISL module for your DAC (based on the info provided by MSB).
You are missing that the fiber signal after entering the Director gets converted into copper, then is filtering etc. applied and before leaving the Director it gets reconverted into fiber.
Similar when entering the DAC the fiber signal will be converted into copper before the DA conversion is performed.

So we have four conversions.

For example Taiko Audio got rid of conversion to fiber and feed the Extreme server with copper ethernet for a more natural sound quality.

Matt
 

bryans

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Dec 26, 2017
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You are missing that the fiber signal after entering the Director gets converted into copper, then is filtering etc. applied and before leaving the Director it gets reconverted into fiber.
Similar when entering the DAC the fiber signal will be converted into copper before the DA conversion is performed.

So we have four conversions.

For example Taiko Audio got rid of conversion to fiber and feed the Extreme server with copper ethernet for a more natural sound quality.

Matt
Gotcha that makes sense. Yes honestly for me I really don't concern myself on what MSB does inside the DAC. I would expect if that is a concern one could just use an Ethernet or USB module into the Director. That would cut down on one of the fiber to copper conversions.

Regarding Taiko sorry I can't comment as I have never heard the Extreme.
 

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