There is a lot of interest about the MSB Technology brand and their new products. I've asked Daniel and Jonathan Gullman to answer a wide array of questions, that's covering most important points. It took quite some time to complete this and I'm sure you'll enjoy the in-depth insights into the MSB Technology Corporation...

There were quite a few changes with the brand recently. The new website, updated name - MSB Technology, you (Jonathan and Daniel) taking over the leading/owners roles in the company etc. It seems, that MSB Technology is the state of fresh and creative energy-momentum?

Indeed. MSB Technology has transitioned to ‘the sons’ now owning the company over the last few years. Going from employee to owners. We are young and are bringing lots of energy and inspiration to the new product lines. Even with all the current developments, we think MSB is just getting started!

Please explain both of your roles in the company?

Daniel and I work closely together. I’m an electrical engineer and Daniel is a mechanical engineer, making us a very good team. 

As the CEO, I oversee our big picture projects and am responsible for all engineering project development and sales. My main focus is on the electrical engineering of our products. I leave the mechanical product design, machine shop, production, and facility management to Daniel. 

Would you consider yourselves as audiophiles?

We both grew up in the industry and the world of high-end audio has been the entirety of our lives. We both love listening to music and enjoy our equipment for hours on end, so in that regard, we would be audiophiles. Jonathan’s wife Karen is quickly becoming an audiophile--he enjoys making small changes at home to see if she will notice. Without fail, she always does. 

You've told me once, that MSB Technology is a technologically driven company. What does this exactly means?

Instead of being driven by a marketing department or a group of investors, our products evolve from new technology we create. Our team of engineers are always developing and testing new ideas. We’re not afraid to innovate. When we land on something unusual or boundary-pushing, we build a prototype and see how it would do as a product. We only invest in output that will push the market forward, but getting there takes a lot of experimentation and discovery. This is evident with our headphone amps. These products began as an idea we wanted to test. Once we built the first samples, we were so surprised by their performance we decided to make them a product. This has remained the company culture for many years. Without it, we wouldn’t be pushing the technology to the limits.

Kindly list all the current production models?

We are known as a digital company. Our main focus has been and will always be our Digital-to-Analog Converters. Products by the family are listed below:


-The Discrete DAC
-The Premier DAC
-The Reference DAC
-The Select DAC


-The Reference Transport
-The Select Transport


-The Reference Headphone Amp
-The Select Headphone Amp
-M204 Monoblock Amp

There are quite few new models coming out. Can you tell us more about them…

We’ve been working hard at adding more information to our website. MSB is constantly working on new technologies. It can be hard to keep up with Digital technology, so we do our best to offer solutions as soon as they become available.  Our two newest DACs are the Premier and Discrete DACs. These DACs have trickle-down technology from the Select and Reference DAC. We have a new Reference Headphone Amp which has 139dB of Dynamic Range for Dynamic Headphones. We also have our new Reference Transport featuring our new ProISL (Pro Isolated Synchronous Link) interface. We have a thorough description of the ProISL interface on our website.

Recently introduced Reference DAC seems to be taken a highly important role in the company's product line?

Yes, the Reference DAC took an important place in the product line. We utilized everything we learned in developing the Select DAC to make a DAC at a nominal price. While the Select remains the top performer and the most exclusive DAC, the Reference DAC still has a similar sonic signature and retains much of the magic you experience with the Select DAC.

How would explain the difference between DAC V and new Reference DAC in terms of technical aspects and sound?

It’s hard to compare the Reference DAC to the DAC V series. The Reference DAC contains all-new digital filtering algorithms, new input module architecture, new power supply designs, new DAC module technology, and a new output/preamp concept. The true major breakthrough in the Reference and Select DAC series is our Hybrid DAC modules. Sonically, there is no comparison; the Reference DAC is better than the V series in every way. It’s more detailed, has more soundstage, more life, more magic. The Reference DAC is best thought of as the younger brother to the Select DAC. It uses much of the same technology while incorporating something completely new. 
The Select DAC made quite a stir in the digital world. It was quite a bold move to present 100k DAC, but as it seems the reaction from the market was more than just good? 

The Select DAC was very well received. While it’s an exclusive DAC, the price is justified by the performance. There are more expensive products for every other component of the system (including cables). We can’t ignore what we believe is one of the most critical pieces of the system. If the conversion from Digital-to-Analog is done poorly, it doesn’t matter what you put down-stream, the result will always be limited. If you have a harsh DAC, the system will sound harsh. If you have a lifeless DAC, the system will be lifeless.

What would you say, that is so special about the Select DAC?

New technology and an advanced ground-up design. With the development of the Select DAC, we took a step back and started over. We asked ourselves some tough questions. What makes a DAC obsolete? Is it the D to A conversion? No. Is it the Analog Stage? No. Is it the inputs? Yes. The number one thing rendering your DAC obsolete is the input stage. With this in mind, we made the Select DAC completely modular. The output stage is a module, the DACs are a module, the clock is a module, and all of the inputs are modules. We’ve already created two different versions of the USB interface, two different versions of our network renderer interface, and introduced a new format called the MSB ProISL input. With the addition of a new format, the DAC can be upgraded to use the new format in less than five minutes without any need for tools. Simply unplug the old module and plug in the new.

What makes the Select sound so special are the Hybrid DAC modules. These modules are a truly balanced discrete DAC design. Each module is equivalent to two DACs and we pair them together for a low noise and high current output. The reason behind the name “Hybrid” is simple: the modules are either a discrete multi-bit PCM DAC or an array of single-bit DSD DACs. If you want to learn more, our website has more information on this technology.

How much of the Select DAC is carried down to the Analog DAC?

Very little. The Select DAC was developed after the Analog DAC. The Analog DAC technology was derived from the DAC IV Plus series products and put in a smaller case with modular inputs. The success of the Analog DAC’s modular inputs confirmed that our new design ethos can be successful and innovative. This is why the Reference and Select DACs have modular input slots.

Can we expect the matching Select DAC amplifiers in future?

There might be something coming in this area, but not in the immediate future.  We have plenty of designs, but are working on developing a truly beautiful and only the highest performing product before releasing any news.

What MSB Technology approaches are being unique?

In our products, we’ve developed every aspect of the DAC using our own designs. We’ve developed and perfected our digital filtering over the last 10+ years. We’ve developed our own clock technology. We’ve been manufacturing our own discrete ladder DACs for 15+ years. At every stage of development, we push for innovation. 

Some people were surprised by the introduction of MSB Technology power amplifiers. What is the exact story behind it?

At first, we didn’t want to become an amplifier manufacturer. But as we pushed the boundaries with DAC technology, we kept finding ourselves limited by the rest of the system. It got us thinking about some concepts, and before we knew it, we had a working theory about amplification we wanted to try. The theory was to make an amplifier that was high performance, with no specific power requirements, and no feedback. The first units were made and they sounded fantastic. We took them to CES strictly to demonstrate our other products. But people kept asking about them. Many said they needed a pair. It became apparent the demand was there. So we started making amplifiers and then our M200 was born. It ran extremely hot. To turn it off, you had to pull the AC plug because there was no switch. So we’ve definitely made some adjustments since then. We’ve made huge improvements in sound quality, user interface, and cosmetics. 

What makes you different compared to the competition?

MSB offers great value through vertical integration of manufacturing and design. We created our own products that speak for themselves with leading- edge performance. With so many competing brands, it becomes difficult for customers to decipher what’s being marketing as real performance and what’s not. MSB offers honest measurements and honest products. Our products perform through design, not what the marketing department says. 

Would you say, that at this point there is a recognizable DNA across the complete MSB product range?

Over the last few years, we’ve focused on unifying our product offerings.  With the new Premier and Discrete DAC, we finally have universal input modules and shared DAC technologies. This gives way to unprecedented value and quick production of new formats.

What do you think about streaming services?

Streaming services are the future. If you look at anyone under 30 today, most don’t own physical media. Most don’t even own downloads. Why buy music as a download when you can stream whatever you want, whenever you want it? I think there’s still room for improvement, but it’s on its way to becoming the industry standard.

Attached to the previous question. What is the current status of highly anticipated Renderer Module. Can you explain what will be so special about it?

We’re still in development of the renderer version 2. It’s something we work on every day. We’re getting  close. This renderer will replace our previous design and add full hardware MQA and Roon support. It will support 768kHz PCM and 4x DSD. We’re focusing on very high audio performance without making any compromises. This is why it’s taking longer than expected. 

You've lately entered the rapidly and ever-expanding market of headphone amplifiers. Is that an important market segment for you and what are your plans, when it comes to the headphone/amplifiers?

We started with the Select Headphone amplifier because we thought having one might be helpful for in-house development. We were so happy with what emerged from that little experiment that we incorporated it into our product line. We wanted to make a headphone amplifier that matched the performance of our Select DAC, and in our opinion, we did exactly that. 

We just announced the Reference Headphone Amplifier. This is an ideal amplifier for Dynamic headphones and synchronizes perfectly with the Select and/or Reference DAC. Each of our headphone amps are an extension of our product--they both possess low input impedances many other DACs won’t be able to drive.

Sigma-delta vs ladder DAC. What’s your take?

Ladder DACs. Ladder DAC technology is fundamentally better. The basis of Ladder DACs is an analog process and yields an analog sound. Delta Sigmas are the driving force behind “Bad Digital,” which has soured many audiophiles to accepting digital sources. We always recommend and encourage everyone to give Ladder DACs a shot. You won’t be disappointed. Check out why here: link.

Did you ever consider the addition of tubes in your products?

We have no plans to introduce tubes into our products. We would use them if we thought it would give us a sonic performance increase. We are driven by sound quality first.

Do you think balanced topology is a must for the state of the  art performance?

With the (electrically) noisy environment we live in today, balanced topology is critical for state-of-the-art performance. With cell phones, wifi, LED lighting, etc, there’s an abundance of electrical pollution in the air. Eliminating it keeps everything balanced. 

The importance of selected electronic parts in the circuit design?

We choose the parts we think will perform the best. We look at performance, long-term reliability, manufacturability, and overall quality. If we’re designing digital elements, we consider operating frequencies and the ability to control and reduce noise from processors.

In past few years, the transparency is often the topic when it comes to the sound. How do you see the definition of transparency?

What we’ve noticed most over the years is different regions use different terms. I would define transparency as how closely the system recreates what the real world sounds like. It’s a hard term to define. Transparency is best described as having no artificial artifacts while only creating sounds possible in the real world.  A well-assembled system should fool a listener. It should give them chills, transporting them to where and when the recording was made.

How important is the measuring and listening part in the development and final stages of the products?

Listening tests are critical. We’ve been developing products long enough that what we see in measurements can predict what effect it will have on sound quality. Before we announce a product, we have a group of listeners evaluate it. We always do blind A-B testing and if we don’t have 100% agreement on the performance, it doesn’t become a product. We’ve shelved many designs that do not perform to our standards.

General audience, music lovers, and audiophiles are finally starting to understand, that handling zeros and ones are as complicated or even more complex than dealing with the mechanics of the analog realms. How do you see and deal with the complexity of the digital?

It requires a lot of engineering, design, and experience. We’re constantly learning, researching, and developing. The evolution of our products can be traced from model to model as we improve different components. New software updates will reflect improvements in our coding. New DAC modules reflect improvements in our hardware. We’re always moving forward and innovating. 

You’re offering separate power supply for the complete range, so you’ve surely found it very important. Still, how much?

We’ve done external power supplies for the last 10 years. We’ve found the best way to isolate noisy AC is to remove the AC from the box completely. Every product has the AC to DC conversion with filtering done in an external chassis. This keeps the magnetic coupling from the transformers away from the audio signals. It’s becoming more important as power quality is decreasing worldwide.

How about the importance of master clock and its importance?

We’ve done many years of research in clock performance to discover what matters. What’s most important is the lowest possible jitter at the point of digital-to-analog conversion. The only way to keep the jitter low is to place the clock as close to the modules as possible. In each of our DACs, the clock is located only a few inches from the DAC modules.

Which brings us to the Femto 33…

The femto 33 is our second generation of femtosecond clocks. The first was our “Galaxy Clock,” now called the Femto77. The Femto33 was the product of a year of development and many prototypes. The result was the lowest jitter clock in the industry. We specify it as 33 femtoseconds of jitter because that’s the lowest we could measure. It could be lower--we simply don’t have the ability to find out how low. 
What’s your take on the external master clock?

The problem with an external clock is you have to transport that clock to the DAC. This requires cable drivers, connectors, cables, protection for the connectors, etc. Everything you do to a clock adds jitter. All jitter is additive. To keep the lowest possible jitter, the clock should be as close to the DAC modules as possible.

Each brand sees the jitter in its own way. What is MSB Technology take on it?

Jitter plays a very large part in the performance of Digital-to-Analog conversion. We’ve found reducing the jitter reduces the harshness. If you reduce the harshness, it requires less filtering. Therefore you retain more of the detail in the music.

Upsampling. Yes or no?

Honestly, it used to be yes--but now it’s a hard no. In the early days, upsampling in our products boosted sound quality. But as we improved our digital filters, clock technology, and DAC technology, it started to hurt. Therefore none of our new products have separate upsampling filters anymore.

Are current digital protocols potent enough to deliver best possible result?

There are two sides to this discussion: Studio and Listener. There’s definitely more potential on the studio end for higher quality recordings with more detail and data. When this happens, MSB will be ready and excited to work at bringing that new information to our customers. For now, we’ll keep improving what’s possible with current formats. And yes, there is always more room to improve; DACs are an art form we intend to keep working on.

Do you think, that we came to the point where physical mediums are obsolete?

Inevitably we’ll lose physical mediums moving forward. High-End products will hold on through that shift and keep the art alive, but the next generation won’t even know what to make of a CD. Consumer electronics have already left them behind. But vinyl will always hold a place in people's libraries and hearts.  

Please tell us about importance and future of your transports?

We just released two new transports. In pursuit of new levels of playback, MSB developed a new interface, Pro ISL (Isolated Synchronous Link). This technology has complete electrical isolation, clock feedback, and intense data redundancy. How a user chooses to consume media is unique to each individual, so we strive to offer the highest quality playback for each medium. These transports set a new level of performance that must be heard to be believed.

Do you produce everything in-house?

Our products are designed and manufactured in-house. We take pride in our design and engineering abilities to create fantastic products we can make in-house. MSB established a CNC shop for manufacturing The Analog DAC, and now we manufacture all of our chassis and modules on our machines. Our employees check and hand-finish each part. Our in-house SMT machine line is used to assemble every PCB that ships from MSB. This allows tight control over the solder, components, and end performance of each PCB.

Made in the USA. Is this still important and important for you?

We Make our products in the USA to both support our local economy and to control quality. Controlling material and component quality is immensely important as you push what is possible. One counterfeit part may test and function properly, but will impede the end performance. Additionally, we can ensure our employees have fair wages and are being ethically treated. This also allows us to take environmental responsibility for our manufacturing line.

What is your take on the endless debate of analog vs digital?

What sounds better? It always depends on personal preference. We’ve seen digital surpass analog for soundstage and detail, but it will remain subjective. A favorite vinyl will always sound best if it’s your favorite. If you care more about the perfect sound, digital can do one better for reproduction.

How would you describe the ultimate high-end audio reproducing through the eyes of MSB Technology?

A high-end audio system is only as good as its weakest link. Reducing system clutter and components and focusing on the signal path will always yield great results. MSB integrated a preamp within our DACs to remove additional chassis, power supplies, and cables. Pure audio is always truer to life than colored audio. It’s important to use the blind AB as the final say. Trust your ears over what the marketing is telling you. 

How do you see the current state of the high-end audio?

Technology moves forward.  We’re enjoying the ride. The new interfaces and formats offer new ways of listening that are hard to ignore. Our new renderer interface makes listening a dream. It will only get better. As it improves, I think we’ll see growth in new directions that will expand the High-End market to new listeners.

What would you say, that is the role of MSB Technology in the world of audio?

MSB offers an American Manufactured product that sets the reference for great digital. That reference comes with long-term support and the backing of individuals who care for the customers who support us and what we do. When choosing a digital front end, we want MSB to be recognized as a safe investment where you know you’re being given a quality manufactured product.

Rising high prices in high-end. A lot of people have a hard time justifying them. What’s your take…

As the limits on what’s possible and the budget cap are removed, and engineers are given the freedom to develop the very best technology, we can expect to see great things. Naturally, this can escalate the cost, but high-end is always at the bleeding-edge and is a necessary cost to move the industry forward. This is the price of art. 

What is the future of digital audio and what do you feel is the role of MSB Technology in it?

Focusing on pushing the boundaries of digital audio remains the core of MSB Technology. Bringing the best quality to new digital forms such as network renderers will take more than settling for what currently exists. Our newest custom designed renderer sets the bar for renderer performance. Pioneering new technologies will keep us ahead of the market and at the forefront of digital playback.

What can we expect from MSB Technology in near and not so near future?

MSB will be focused on filling out features and products in our current lineup. We’ve entered a new era for the company, requiring a lot of hard work to establish a consistent brand aesthetic across our products. With the newest Premier and Discrete DAC, we are well on our way.
Any last thoughts for our readers?

Always. Always. Always enjoy the music.  We are all doing this because it is what we enjoy. We plan to keep it that way.

Questions by Matej Isak