A $170k headphone system experience!

When Daniel Gullman (MSB Technology co-owner and product designer) and Frank Vermeylen, EU Sales Manager at MSB Technology Corporation offered me unique opportunity to pair my MSB Select DAC II with all new MSB Technology Select Headphone Amplifier, that was designed to work directly (through powerful DAC outputs) with Select II I’ve had no second thoughts. 

This headphone amplifier was designed particularly for Stax headphones and it was developed with their flagship Stax 009 from ground up.

So how does $160k headphone system sounds alike? 

Any hefty price high-end audio gear will instantly ignite hot reactions. Even start talking about $160.000 headphone listening system will surely led to quite few minds exploding.

But, first and foremost, one of my goals and luxury is the ability to explore state of the art, cost no object products and systems. I’m more then sure, how many of audiophiles and music lovers out there share the same interest to at least experience what’s possible sound wise regardless of the price sticker. Something that sport car enthusiast share more genuinely. 

Imagine for a moment almost complete absence of room acoustics. Add head amp fully optimized to drive Stax 009 headphones and mate best attributes with MSB Technology Select DAC II characterless potency. 

The results is sort of Shangri-La harmonious place, where one fully and completely immerse into the grand illusory of music reproduction. 

Yes, its a closed headphone system with its own set of rules and limitations. Trust me I’ve explore this intimate listening profusely back in 2000, spending a small fortune in exploring the ultimate pendulum and I’ve learned a lot. As contradictory as it sounds this overwhelming quest eventually pushed me out of headphone listening…

Fast forwarding into the present... 

MSB Technology Select Select headphone amplifier connected with MSB Technology Select DAC II and Stax 009 headphones let you buoyantly flow on the top of the music, with feather like lightness, sort of reflecting the leaf being carried by the wind and transcending the sheer reality.

Its something more then worthy to experience. You won’t be smacked by anything hyper, when you start listening. Everything just feels right and the ebullient experience starts to win you over by each minute passing. 

Any effervescent listening experience of the high-end audio shortly after the initial impact starts to translate into something that lacks actually balance and harmony. Its like an adrenaline shot, that gets you high, but this energetic high-spirited spike shows its true nature after a while. Something is overly accented. This is why some of the exhibitors at high-end audio shows or distributor/dealers at their showroom compose such systems, that instantly grabs listener attention, but over the time (at home after purchasing) they can become unsatisfied and ready to continue the expenditure path. 

Point is, if something sticks out it usually means that something is not right…

With the latest Roon 1.3 update the Crossfeed options pushes the headphone experience even further. If MSB Technology - Stax system might feel a bit too much of in your head experience (for hard core loudspeaker fan), either Meier or Chu Boy crossfeed filters transfer it into more of a two channel speaker setup listening feeling. 

MSB Technology Select Select headphone amplifier, MSB Technology Select DAC II and Stax 009 headphones setup encapsulate one of the kind audio virtual reality experience, that its hard to forget once being exposed to it.

In reality, having a trouble free and ultimately optimized,  dedicated listening room seems even more like an utopian dream after this particular headphone listening impact…

More to come… 

Matej Isak