As the MSB DACs evolved, and especially after the development of the Femto clocks, we noticed that system component changes, power quality improvements, and cable changes were revealing bigger and more definite differences than ever before. We theorized if the analog outputs of the DAC were virtually like the signal that came down the mic feeds in the studio during the recording then the challenge would be to preserve that resolution and time coherency all the way to, and including, the speakers. MSB set out to stabilize a popular tuning component, the interconnect cables. To do this, we decided to manufacture the interconnects in house for best control over quality and performance.
The DAC is the source at the “front end” of the system and so the system can never sound better than the DAC output. The caveat being the tuning efforts downstream using overly colored components (some tube gear), and overly colored cables to reduce the digital artifacts that are the annoying result of conversion errors produced by inaccurate digital. The digital artifacts have a certain technical characteristic that allows them to be attenuated downstream by certain components and of course, cables! Assuming a DAC does not have these artifacts we feel strongly (and have discovered), that system tuning will take an entirely different direction. As an example, the silver cables we may have thought were bright are now, not bright, and essential to reveal that last bit of delicacy and sound stage. The metal dome tweeter in a speaker thought to sound “too obvious” and somehow separate from the rest of speaker now undetectable blends in beautifully.
A scientific approach.
Like everything MSB designs and engineers, we approached cable testing and design from a scientific perspective. The relationship between the source (DAC or preamp output), the cable, and the receiving component (preamp or amp), is very complex. Due to basic electrical laws describing capacitance, inductance and resistance present in all of these components. The cable does not live alone and the final result must include the capacitance, inductance and resistance of the components it’s attached to on each end. The total result of this 3 way interaction yields the final sonic result.
Blind tested performance!
The lowest to highest frequencies in music continuously exist at the same time in the signal and we do not want that time to be corrupted lest the arrival times of the highest frequencies are slightly different than the frequencies just below it. This seems to be the analog equivalent of jitter (time corruption across the spectrum), yielding similar poor analog results as jitter produces while the signal is in the digital domain. It explains why music with the densest information (classical with 100 instruments on the stage, or big band jazz), is the hardest to reproduce accurately with no annoyance. This is especially true as the frequencies get higher (and more of them and closer together). It explains why the midrange and upper frequencies are the most difficult to be satisfied with in the listening chair.
MSB’s testing of existing cables looked toward complete coherence of the signal entering the cable and leaving the cable with no time-smearing and no amplitude (loudness) changes anywhere in the spectrum. The result is the MSB Diamond XLR and Select cables. The goal of these new cables was first determined by best possible theory, then testing showed what is wrong with virtually all cables, then the final cable was designed and tested to meet the goals of the theory. Not surprisingly, in extensive blind testing, the new cables were chosen every time. The superior performance and sonic “believability” of these new cables has been further proven among customers and dealers. The MSB Signature and Diamond XLR cables can be used with any amp or preamp combination.