Home Review MSB Premier with Director – Silence of the bits

Review MSB Premier with Director – Silence of the bits

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Pros

  • Very clean playback
  • Easily install upgrades
  • Beautiful pre-amp
  • Beautiful design

Cons

  • Quality costs.... money
  • No analog input

Price: € 47500

Build quality
Usability
Sound
Price
MSB Premier - Director

The MSB Technology Sound

Contents

So what does an MSB Premier dac like this with Director sound like? Well… let’s start by saying it’s very different from the Sonnet Pasithea! And that’s not surprising, because MSB takes a very different approach. Whereas Sonnet uses no filters, MSB uses relatively much processing. There is no right or wrong in this case. After all, there are countless roads to Rome. But the fact is: it provides a different presentation of the source.

Rest

We have been playing with the Pass Labs XP-12 in part of this review. But honestly: it’s better without the Pass Labs in the chain. Also with the Pasithea. We know that, but we also need to be able to test analog sources, and we can’t do that without a decent pre-amp.

However, the MSB (and Sonnet) are of such a level that the Pass Labs get in the way. Bizarre. But true. And something to keep in mind.

Without the XP-12 in the chain, we hear the sound image open up even more and we can hear even better how silent the MSB plays. There is simply no more distraction. The silence is … almost touchable. Is there an audible difference in -155 and -165 dB below zero? Your author honestly does not dare to answer that question. But if we have to make a direct comparison between our Sonnet and the MSB, the MSB instruments perhaps mark out a bit more. A solo guitarist really stands in the “void”; playing in front of us. That’s pretty special to experience.

Various modes

But it doesn’t stop here. In fact, there are a few options for ‘tuning’ the MSB. These include a Video mode and there is still the new MSB Director. Video mode is a low-latency signal path that basically bypasses processing. But more is happening. In the measurements you can see that post- and pre-ringing is less in this mode ánd that the phase behavior is different. This is incredibly audible in both sound and rhythm.

The Video mode sounds a little ‘rougher’ than the normal mode, but the rhythm and placement is more precise according to your author’s idea. What you like better is up to you, of course.

The Director is simply explained a galvanic decoupling (with pre-processing / filtering) for the DAC. We can have that filtered or bypassed. Again, this is audible. Filtered brings a touch of extra calmness, which of course is nice. The Video mode with the Director is actually ideal, we have noticed in our system: it has the attack and rhythm as well as the extra calmness.

However, we estimate that a lot of people will choose the ‘normal’ mode, because it sounds a bit more ‘polished’ and friendly than the Video mode. Some may find that one a bit too harsh in the mids. The question is: what is reality? Measurement-wise, Video mode is “better”. Impressively good even.

Bottom line?

It is extremely difficult to summarize the MSB Premier with Director’s playback. But let’s take a shot. In regular mode, it’s a lovely, somewhat warmer sound with remarkably smooth behavior. A lot of music sounds pleasant. And that’s without sacrificing resolution.

In fact, video mode transforms this dac into a rhythmic-sounding converter with sharp placement. The mids and highs get a little more energy. That has to be your taste. Fortunately, it can simply be turned on or off.

The Director brings some additional blackness / quietness. That’s not very surprising, given the resolution of the MSB and the ultra, ultra low noise floor of this system. Any interference is visible in the measurements and thus potentially audible. A dedicated system for inputs that guarantees complete decoupling will bring peace of mind. And so it does.

It is not directly that we hear more music with the Director. It is that we experience even more calmness. And a demo with filtering on or off will make this clear to you as well. We dare to say that.

Type test
Single Test
Inputs
  • Digital Coaxial
  • Digital Optical
  • Digital AES
  • Digital USB
  • Streamer ethernet
Outputs
  • Analog XLR
Product type
D/A-converter
Max samplingrate
3072 kHz
Max bit depth
32 bit
Weight
21 Kg
Dimensions
  • Width: 43 cm
  • Depth: 30 cm
  • Height: 5 cm
Production country
United States
Measurements
MSB Premier - Impulse - 24-44 - with director - passthrough
MSB Premier - Impulse - 24-44 - with director - passthrough
MSB Premier - Impulse - 24-44 - video mode
MSB Premier - Impulse - 24-44 - video mode
MSB Premier - Impulse - 24-44 - normal mode
MSB Premier - Impulse - 24-44 - normal mode
MSB Premier - Impulse - 24-44 - with director
MSB Premier - Impulse - 24-44 - with director
MSB Premier - Imaging 24-48 - normal mode
MSB Premier - Imaging 24-48 - normal mode
MSB premier - imaging - 24-48 - video mode
MSB premier - imaging - 24-48 - video mode
MSB premier - imaging - 24-48 - Director passthrough
MSB premier - imaging - 24-48 - Director passthrough
MSB premier - imaging - 24-48 - Director mode
MSB premier - imaging - 24-48 - Director mode
MSB Premier - Freq response - Video Mode - 24-192
MSB Premier - Freq response - Video Mode - 24-192
MSB Premier - Freq response - Director Video Mode
MSB Premier - Freq response - Director Video Mode
MSB Premier - Freq response - Director Mode
MSB Premier - Freq response - Director Mode
MSB Premier - Freq response - 24-192
MSB Premier - Freq response - 24-192
MSB Premier - dynamic range
MSB Premier - dynamic range
MSB Premier - Director Passthrough - Freq response
MSB Premier - Director Passthrough - Freq response
MSB Premier - THD_N vs Freq
MSB Premier - THD_N vs Freq
MSB Premier - phase response
MSB Premier - phase response
MSB Premier - phase response theatre mode
MSB Premier - phase response theatre mode
MSB Premier - noise and interference
MSB Premier - noise and interference
MSB Premier - noise and interference - 24-192 with Pasithea
MSB Premier - noise and interference - 24-192 with Pasithea
MSB Premier - noise and interference - 24-192 with director
MSB Premier - noise and interference - 24-192 with director
MSB Premier - noise and interference - 24-48 - video mode
MSB Premier - noise and interference - 24-48 - video mode
MSB Premier - noise and interference - 24-48 - Director
MSB Premier - noise and interference - 24-48 - Director
MSB Premier - noise and interference - 24-44- video mode
MSB Premier - noise and interference - 24-44- video mode
MSB Premier - Lineairity
MSB Premier - Lineairity
MSB Premier - Jtest - Director Mode
MSB Premier - Jtest - Director Mode
MSB Premier - Jitter 24-48
MSB Premier - Jitter 24-48
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